Friday, August 09, 2002

Class over, Road Trip, Parental responsibility (or, the time Jessie almost drowned with 3 adults watching).

Class is over. Everyone in it got at least an A-. A couple A projects there. The students were splendiferous. I can say no more to praise them. Amazing. An institute week like this is pretty intense. 8:30am-4:30pm DAILY for the same amount of credits you get in a semester. They worked so hard, and I am so amazingly drained by this that I could sleep all day now. I am also amazingly proud of them for how hard they worked and all the effort they put in.

And working with Professor CM is always so much fun. When we get together we get silly. And he so praises me when we're done. This is the third class we've taught together. And each time he tells me that I need to be doing this vocationally and not just for fun. He tells me I have such a natural gift for teaching teachers.

I also am a complete whack job.

One of the kids lost his entire powerpoint presentation, and he was rebuilding it and working hard yesterday afternoon. Three or four students were left and CM and I were joking around about how this particular lab machines are so evil. And I brought up the scene in "Office Space" where Peter gives a "gift" to Samir and Michael. You know the scene. They take the fax/printer out into a field and beat it to death with a baseball bat. I told the kids I'd make the same gift to them, and started picking one of the monitors up singing the "don't it feel good to be a gangsta" song or whatever that lyric is, and they all laughed and laughed and laughed. It was priceless.

By this time tomorrow we should be north and east of Pittsburgh heading in on our final approach. It all seems so surreal. I still have to pack. Laundry. Still so much to do. I've gotten a lot done though. Movies to the Media lab to digitize for Professor 2's project, edits done and ready to FTP after I do this entry. Dog to Dan's for dogsitting, that's done. Oil changed in the car, yes. Still have more work for Professor 2's site, but may just do something like wake up early and do work. I don't know if I can sustain thinking much past 6pm tonight.

So in all this week I've seen some amazing stuff and have wanted to write about it but actually having a job has prevented me from having a moment to write. Plus, if I didn't have the job, I would probably not have seen some of the stuff I saw, so I will just say that it is a double edged sword of sorts. Not getting out into society/the world/traffic/stores means you don't see crazy stuff to write about; but getting out into society/the world/traffic/stores means you are wiped by the time you get home.

Oh the horror.

I can't outline everything. This entry would be 1000000000 characters long. And I don't have the energy, but I've got enough to give you a good entry before I vanish for 10 or so days.

One of the amazing things I witnessed this week was a woman. She was walking a baby in one of those baby jogging jalopies that all the yuppie schmucks use. A regular stroller is no good for these people -- they need to pay 200 bucks for a lightweight, shock absorber equipped piece of space transportation for their kids so they can walk fast or jog or run or whatever and the kid won't get retinal detatchment from all the stress.

You know 'em. You've seen 'em.

Anyway, I'm sitting at a stop sign with my mom in the passenger's seat, my kids in the back. I'm waiting for traffic coming from my left so I can make a right hand turn. I look to my right and watch this woman, walking at a really fast pace talking on a cell phone and pushing a baby jogger.

She walks RIGHT off the curb and in front of me and keeps going, laughing and talking. She didn't even LOOK at me. I was just about to go, and totally would have killed her kid.

Mind you, I was at a stop sign, I wan't moving. Had I been and I didn't stop in time... baby fricasse.

So I roll down the window and tell her that next time she doesn't look before stepping into the street someone is going to hit her. She looks over her shoulder and yells "I was in the cross walk, you had to stop."

That's not the point, you've obviously applied too much peroxide bleach to your already mentally defected head, bitch.

So I tell her that is not the point (leaving the bitch and peroxide comments out) and she continues to yell at me.

I started to drive off and yelled "good luck with your child."

I would have liked to have told the child "good luck getting raised by a mom who thinks crosswalks are magical places where no one can hit you," but the kid wouldn't have understood.

The thing that gets me about the whole interchange is that folks seem to think that they are entitled to do whatever the fuck they want without giving any thought to anything, and that if something bad happens they are a lawsuit away from being justified in their stupidity.

This woman is in Massachusetts. When you are out for a walk in any town or city in this state you should be on heightened awareness of crazy assed drivers who take stop signs as suggestions or think that the ones with white borders are optional.

I didn't cross into the cross walk, I was behind it. My point to her was that she didn't even look. She didn't even LOOK at me. Did she think I was a parked car? Did she think that perhaps I was a figment of her overactive imagination? Was her pony tail too tight? Had she not had enough protein or carbohydrates that day to cause brain function to operate normally? Whatever her reason, she obviously is in need of some guidance and should not be allowed to walk and talk on a cellphone at the same time.


Can you tell I'm still irked by this incident which happened last weekend? I am just amazed. I mean, so the fuck what it was the crosswalk? Does that make you safe just because it is green and white paint? Does it by its simply being there suddenly create some sort of space buffer zone thwarting danger?


So that's a rant that had to get out of my system. Which leads me into softer territory.

The other day Tess wrote about a small child who drowned in a lake near her house in Alaska. Sounds like another case of parents thinking that just because there is a life guard there they can cease being responsible.

While I agree with her overall general assessment of a lack of parental responsibility in general in life, I can't be too harsh on those parents or adults in that situation (as opposed to cell phone baby jogger girl above).

I cannot remember if I've written this before so forgive me in advance if you've already read this here. I had a situation when Jessica was 2 that almost resulted in her drowning, and all it took was a split second of distraction to nearly lose me my daughter. I was at a lifeguard free lake out in Western Massachusetts one hot August day with my roommate from college, Laurie, her husband, and their two kids.

Laurie was on the beach standing and looking out at us in the water, her son Elijah was digging in the sand at the water's edge. Jessie was playing in about 2 feet of water not too far from where Laurie was standing, and I was out in 4.5 feet of water with Christopher and Sarah. Christopher got bit by a huge horsefly and I looked at his shoulder and put some cool water on the bite, Sarah was hanging around his neck, and he was squatted down holding on to her. Laurie looked at Elijah digging.

Then I looked up.

All three of us, 2 seconds -- Jessie's not visible.

I felt my stomach drop, and I yelled to Laurie "Where is Jessie?" She turned and looked behind her and saw no Jessie on our towels, and I started running toward the lake shore. Laurie was in the water with both hands down and face in. The water was filled with silt from Jessie kicking and splashing and was the color of a large cup of coffee with not enough cream in. She was invisible.

We couldn't find her.

I was starting to panic when Laurie found her hand and pulled her up out of the water. In my mind I still see her face as she inhaled that first breath, like the first breath from birth almost, her eyes wild and open and crazy. A film of water across her eyes and mouth, a cowl almost. Laurie had her by the wrist and yanked her up six feet in the air and immediately wrapped her arms around her.

All told -- 10 seconds. Seemed like a goddamn lifetime. She coughed a bit and I spent the rest of the day sitting on the lake shore next to her, next to Elijah, still digging in the sand as she did nothing but sit there next to me close.

Parental responsibility is a beautiful thing for sure. But once in a while, I can attest, that line of sight between you and your child gets severed and something happens. And then they are gone. I am so damn lucky and will owe Laurie for this for the rest of my life.

When I was little I remember always playing in the clothing racks at Sears while my mother shopped. I would get inside the house of shirts and pants and stand on the frame of the large circular chrome frame. I would hear my mom calling, and sometimes I would giggle and laugh and hide. Hiding and playing were things that we did, and at any time, someone could have said to my seven year old self "hey, come over here and look at this shirt! I bet your mommy would buy it for you!" and they would lead me towards the children's department and out the side supply door to kill me.

I am amazed sometimes that I've made it to age 35.

My mom was a responsible parent. I am a responsible parent. Jogging cellphone girl, well... perhaps she is a responsible parent. We all think we are responsible parents. But sometimes... perhaps we all need a refresher course.

Tomorrow I depart for a trip with my son and daughter and husband that will result in our being in a car for way too many damn hours, through too many states and a province, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Canada, New York, maybe Vermont, Massachusetts... It'll be a longassed trip. I hope my parenting skills are superior in the process.

Alright. Enough rambling. More when I get back. I'm outta here, and Tess -- thanks again for the doggie biscuits. They were a big hit. Congratulations to Carrie for becoming an aunt for the first time ever on 8/8 (to Elijah, second white boy we know named Elijah). Talk to you in a week or so. Be good. Enjoy the dog days of summer.

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