Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Too Much Mean

This afternoon, once preschool closed down, we headed to DHS. For those of you fortunate enough not to know, DHS is not the name of a pub--it's the Department of Health Services. And we were applying to get Kiddo insured.

Although we can't afford the continuance coverage offered to us there's no way we can apply. Well, we could, but there's 52,000+ adult applicants already waiting for the lottery system to pick them. So we adults cruise along without insurance, just taking extra care to stay healthy. Joe got a Neti pot, at long last, to keep sinus troubles at bay. He's liking it. I'm washing my hands a lot and feeling thankful for the years of illnesses past that have now made me immune to most anything a kid can smear on me in snot form.

But really, 52,000 people, at least, waiting for health coverage? And I'm sure that some of them are far worse off than I am. AND that huge 39% increase in insurance premiums in California, in a crap economy? C'mon! Somebody's gotta fix this!!!

The world has just felt a little mean these days. It's not just faceless corporations (oh, yeah, nice going to the guys at AIG who just earmarked another $100 million for--you guessed it!--bonuses!!! Ka-ching!), or the horrible disaster in Haiti, it's also just been out and about. At a supposedly kid-friendly cafe last week, it was more meanness, but worse: it was mommies being mean.

In my head, the title to that post would have read something like "And what fresh hell is this?" Besides the dismal service--Kiddo's bagel was left in the toaster to cool until is was rock hard and then only given to me because I asked for it--three of the few mothers there were appalling. After bragging about her kid's expensive Montessori school, one mother of a maybe-two-at-the-most toddler saw her daughter take a toy from another little person. Mom forcefully ripped the toy out of her child's hand and said angrily "We don't take things from people!" Later, when her child said they needed a toy, she sneeringly corrected, "No, you don't need the toy, you want the toy." and then turned to her adult friends, explaining that she was trying to teach this concept to her teeny little kid. Besides being sarcastic and developmentally inappropriate, this sort of turn of words always makes the adult speaking them seem very selfish, shallow, nasty and mean. I hear this self-righteous correction every season or so and really want to sit that person down for a little chat.

I know if someone I loved spoke that way to me, they'd get the cross-eyed "Oh, you so can't be serious, right?" look of mingled disgust and pity. Why do people talk to their kids this way? (I know, I know...more than you can possibly imagine.) In a separate area, two mothers ignored their children to chat while the five children were in various stages of upset; the older ones were dealing with what I like to call 'property issues' (taking turns with toys), the wee ones were wanting to roam beyond the closed door of the room and the middling was getting into some dangerous situations because he was really too young to be exploring the space. I did rescue him a couple times, to the point that another patron asked how old he was, assuming he was my son. Later, one mother actually used her Loud Mean Scary Voice to tell her 20 month old "You stop!" because her kid was still sad that she couldn't go out. Ugh. Fresh hell indeed.

It just seems like there's so much meanness right now. Is this what we've come to? Some days I feel like buying the side of a building and painting in huge letters something along the lines of "The Shit May Be Hitting the Fan, the World May be Crumbling, Still: BE NICE TO YOUR KIDS! They will remember this." I know that there are a lot of people in a bad spot right now. Many are feeling upset and are facing things they never dreamed of facing. I get it. But I've also got to say, the mothers at DHS were far nicer to their children, even the mom whose 16 month old daughter screamed her head off for 45 minutes--that mother looked beleaguered and exhausted and she never once yelled, threatened, or said one nasty thing to her kid. So, then again, circumstance isn't everything.

Folks, this is my plea for today: try to see yourself through your child's eyes. Kind of the way we wish the powers of bureaucracy (and insurance companies) could see themselves through the eyes of the consumer-- so it is with our kids. Are you a big, faceless uncaring corporation, or a friendly, helping hand? I think the prevailing attitude at DHS was one of silent accord: we're all in this together, so why have an attitude? Yes it sucks, but getting ourselves into a snit isn't going to make things any better. So let's remember, no matter who's screwed your family over, let's not screw our own families over. Be kind to our kids. We really don't need any more mean.

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