Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanks

I guess I should start putting up the Christmas decorations then.

We went up to the in-laws for Thanksgiving. Hold on....

I suppose I should preface things at this point to remind everyone that I didn't move to the US so that I could wantonly parade through a Walmart pepper-spraying middle aged women in order to fight them off whatever Next Best Thing Ever electronics item is all the rage come this Black Friday sales event. Well I kinda did, but maybe 2% of my being cares about that. And if you're British and watching crap like that from the outside please don't extrapolate the behavior of a handful of windowlickers to explain the rest of the 300 million people in the US. Or I'll point out the ridiculous numbers of people in the UK who's weekend is spent dribbling on each other and desperately searching for a woman/man/kebab to have unprotected sex with. And by weekend I of course mean all the time. A few "morans" (sic) out of three hundred million Americans is actually comforting to me because then I know where they are. Back home you couldn't wander the streets at night for fear of someone leaking some Chav on you. And I know which one I'd rather be around. "Oh but your morons have guns" I hear you say. Yes well, so do I.

...Anyway, I live in the US so that my kids can grow up in this area. Nice house and land. Four seasons. Huge open spaces. The Adirondack Mountains. Dual Visas. Access to the in-laws midlife crisis toy collection. A direct escape route to Canada. It's pretty simple. I sort of ran an equation in my head after my daughter was born and figured I was more comfortable being able to give her all that and an owned family home and she'd just have to miss out on cheese and onion pasties and The Daily Sport (two great gift ideas for your four year old girl this Christmas) in order to get it. I did also not want to have to live in a place that oftentimes seemed like it was a nation-wide seedy pub. I'm sure you've been out somewhere for a big night out when you were sick or as a designated driver and didn't drink. Almost every other person to a tee behaves like a pillock. So as someone who hadn't had a serious night out in a very long time - and had actually stopped drinking the demon drippings almost entirely save a few random moments - life was a lot like that at times. Moving away from a country besotted with pub culture at least allowed me to indulge my idiotic belief that I could educate my own daughter into a different mindset than the usual 18 year old slappers I would hope to come across (literally) of a night out. Of course college is college and once my kids (hopefully) go to university here they will have to as adults meander there way through it all hopefully seeing it all for what it is - temporary silliness. As long as they see the jock behavior epitomized by Penn State football fans (which seems to be, "Don't Take Our Rape Away!") as vulgar and grotesque then I'll be happy.

But that equation had one fundamental part to it as well that was somewhat shaky. And that was that the quirks and foibles of family on this side of the Atlantic wouldn't spill out and splash my children also. I'm not even talking about feet here either. But I strongly believe that you can and should be allowed to hold whatever beliefs you want. Even if they are puerile and I think lesser of you because of it. Just don't go telling my kids about it. And frankly this weekend the number of bigoted small minded prejudicial offhand comments started to piss me off because my kids had to hear it too. My four year old can comprehend almost everything. So when someone complains that they thinks it's patently ridiculous that NBC insists on putting Muslims on television (Racism Disclaimer: They were actually Latino, but that seems to magnify the point even more) on an American day like Thanksgiving - well that pisses me off. And snide they-all-look-and-act-the-same comments and African Americans on a show like Judge Judy is fine if you want to say it by yourself or when someone like me is in the room who knows you're an idiot for thinking that. But don't do it when all four of your grandchildren are in the room. And don't act all high and mighty about it either - you're watching Judge Judy for goodness sake. But that 1% of prejudicial twatness almost overcame the other 99% of kindness and family warmth this Holiday. And lately it seems to be happening all the frikking time.

And it's a large chunk of the family too. I have heard (and these are just a few of many many instances) someone tell me in all sincerity and with warmth in their voice that they liked working in the same field as I used to (insurance) because, "there are no blacks in it." What. The. Fuck? I've also head someone tell another person that they walked into an auto-parts store and, "there was a black guy in there behind the counter." That was it. Cue smirks and amused looks from three people about how that is inherently ridiculous on it's face. Astounding stuff.

Now obviously I don't think my kids will somehow absorb just those instances over all the other ones my wife and I teach them. After all in this family there are plenty of people who find that repulsive. The stark difference between the older generation and most of the current one (one small intensely-bigoted holdout aside) could not be greater. But I am almost at that point where I will have to say something. My wife and her cousins have said it plenty of times. But I'm an outsider and I don't have to talk to these people if they piss me off.

Anyhoo - the food was good and we, in general had a good time. Even watched a chunk of the parade, part of the dog show and my wife even watched a movie (her one for the year, I'm guessing) that she liked. I was going to say that was odd because it didn't have horses in it, but now I think about it it did. We also took a short train ride that is put on for kids to go and see Santa Claus. Thanksgiving is very nice to have a starting-point for the Christmas period. Add it was an oddly mild few days too so escaping outside for a breather wasn't bone chillingly painful either.

I did find it hard to stomach being around other people's children for two straight days mind. Most of that is just me. My own prejudice is exemplified in that way in the sense that I don't like other people's children, but oddly the one's I've met have been okay. My wife's friend's kids have all been fine. Outside of that though my skin starts to crawl. It is weird how I can fob off my own kid's whining and fits because I understand them. But one warble from another kid and I start to understand infanticide just a little bit. Not a whole lot - but I get how the argument forms in someone's mind at least. Actually as far as fits go it's almost an unwritten agreement between all parents that you all just let it go. It's a really tough thing to deal with when your kid just loses it and has a meltdown. This weekend that happened with the other child and they went nuclear. Think of that iconic photo of the naked Vietnamese girl after a napalm attack and you're on the right track.

But that's par for the course. That didn't get to me at all and shouldn't. My kids have done the same. But the incessant whining and shocking rudeness was a bit much. I don't recall my daughter having what seems like a three year slow-leak tantrum. I have my own feelings as to why that is the case, but I just couldn't take the constant fake whelping. I am in the very uncomfortable parenting position of believing deep down in my core that if this wasn't family then they would not be mingling at all.

My kids had a great time though on the whole. So while I was ecstatic to be back in my own house with my own massive bed, my own comfortable temperature (why would someone want a house at 75/76 degrees?) my own rectally-comforting toilet paper (their stuff was like wiping your arse with a laminated map) and my own couch to splodge onto last night, I know that my kids had a good Holiday.

And at least I'm thankful for that.

3 comments:

  1. I hears you on the casual throwaway racism thing. There's a reason I don't spend any time around her relations. I try really hard to be understanding and non-judgemental ...but I can't.

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  2. I was reading an advice column and the person was asking what to do about a neighbor friend who is generally a good guy, their kids get along great, but treats his wife like shit when they're all hanging out (to the point that they start arguing in front of everyone). She advised that when they're at his home (the guy asking for advice) that he certainly has the right to say something like, 'Dude, we don't talk that way to each other in my home' and hopefully he gets the hint. If they're in HIS home then they should just leave because it's a bad influence on the kids. They need to show that bullying isn't tolerated by their family. Are you indirectly showing your kids that you tolerate racism because you don't react when these comments are made?
    I know it's not as easy to do when it's family (and your hours away from home), but it certainly is something to think about.

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  3. Oh believe me I'm all ready to up and leave at that point. I do take my daughter aside as soon as I can and tell her what's what. My wife told me today that next time I can just say flat out that if it happens again we will be on our way.

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