Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Heroes with clay feet

So some of you may not have ever really read anything by my heroes. You know how much I admire Dr.Suess, aka Theodore Geisel. Well, he is lovely, but he isn't the subject today.

Today we're going to talk about the funny ladies of the world. Specifically the moms. Erma Bombeck is a woman I have always deeply admired. She and her compatriots in comedy, made it okay to laugh about being a mom and a wife, and not just a stepford clone. We could tell the world about yelling at our kids and chill about it, and no one minded. Hell, most of them got journalism awards and Emmies. I am pretty damn sure that when Erma wrote,"Being a child at home alone in the summer is a high-risk occupation. If you call your mother at work thirteen times an hour, she can hurt you," that no one called the police. In fact, I'll bet that was published in her weekly column and repeated on network television on Good Morning America, and guess what? No one even freaked on her and called Children's Aid. Like twenty years before blogs were invented, and everything!

What's that you say? Oh, that she wasn't infertile, she didn't realize how preshuuss her kids were and that's why she made fun of them?! Yeah, except that she was infertile, and her first child, a daughter, was adopted after they got the news, and her next two boys came as a surprise to her fertility doctor. And her I'm betting.

And she still wrote, "Children should be judged on what they are - a punishment for an early marriage."

But she was sane, right? She didn't have ADD like me, or bipolar illness like certain other moms, or post-partum depression. Weeeellll, except that actually she did have post-partum depression, and way back in the seventies, when nobody on earth was talking about it, she wrote a book on it. Here are some more bits of her writing I like. You should definitely read page 18. Honestly, it's like a manual for mommyblogging. Frankly, that exact column, "Motherhood - Love and Laughter" is the reason I blog. Because if I wasn't making fun of them, I would lose my fucking mind as I flush yet another toilet full of shit, that some mysterious almost teenage boy forgot to dispose of on his own. (You know how you think that when they are toilet trained, you are done dealing with their poop? Nope... every.damn.day.)

(Did I mention that I like to swear?)

(Fuckin A alright baby!)

It really does make me sad that we just don't seem to have that kind of humour nowadays. Everyone seems just so determined to be the perfect professional parent that no one is allowed to make a joke unless it involves puppies or kittens, or muffin recipes. I tried to talk about how I gave ground up adult food to the baby and was just being a whatever mom about feeding the kid, and I discover that you overanxious new mommies have given it a bloody name? And there are books, to take all the slacker fun out of it? Helllooo? What's next? I'm afraid to even guess.... Someday Sarah Silverman will have babies, and please God I pray that she makes fun of her kids and makes videos ridiculing them! Please? Please God?

I love Carol Burnett, and Lucille Ball, and Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler, Roseanne Barr, Gilda Radner, Brett Butler, Jennifer Saunders, and Dawn French. And lots of them made jokes about wanting to strangle their children and yell at them, and guess what? Not only did they rarely get scolded, and certainly no one on the planet ever accused them of abuse, but surprise, they got PAID for it.

Just like a lot of mommybloggers do.

Gee whiz.

In all seriousness, if there is anyone in the blogosphere who does not know what I am referring to, just go here and here. I agree with Tertia and Cecily on this one as you might have guessed. I am not linking to the original woman involved, because she wants the linking to end, but I do support her and hope she is okay. And I wrote this, because I wanted her to know that she didn't need to apologize to me or anyone else, IMHO. Erma never did, so fuck em all.

As a former abuse victim, I get why some people think they need to act, but guess what asshole, you need to act when you see a child actually being abused, not when you see a random writer on the net making a joke.

But I know what you are thinking, better safe than sorry, cause hey, what about the children?

Actually they do better if they stay with their parents, even abusive ones. Concern trolling is not helpful.

Yes, yes, you are not convinced, well, let's link to The Goudge Inquiry Report. There was yet another case filed today for yet another wrongful conviction of an innocent man who disgraced pathologist Charles Smith sent to jail. The man was grieving, in total agony, and he was arrested and told that he must have killed the baby, since well, you know, babies hardly ever die on their own. Dr. Charles Smith was kind of a concern troll in a way. He assumed that if a baby died, someone must be to blame, and he was going to punish them. Any and all off-handed remarks were evidence of a killer's heart. He made up the rest from there. No, that isn't a misprint. He made up all the forensic evidence, and hid anything that would exonerate the parents.

(Did I ever mention that he tesitified all over the US? And that he admitted to making up that stuff as well? And that all over the US there are likely innocent people in jail? Maybe some of the lawyers/prosecutors reading my post might want to do a search on their records. Just in case.)

In too many cases to count, on little more than the say so of gossip, with very little forensic evidence, the grieving innocent parents were sent to jail, and their remaining children adopted out, and never ever told that their parents were forced to give them up. When the parents got out of jail, their fertility was monitored, and if they got pregnant, they were forced to either have an abortion or give the new baby up at birth.

These children's lives have been destroyed, and their parents lives were destroyed, because no one cared about actual evidence of abuse. Instead, they felt like being, you know, "better safe than sorry."

Seriously, to the grieving moms out there, if, after your baby was stillborn, or died of SIDS, or pneumonia, or heart failure, you were arrested, and called a murderer, and sent to jail, and your older kids were taken away and adopted out to possibly abusive foster parents, and you were never allowed to have another living child again; what would you do?

And if it was because of a nosy neighbour, or a tweet, or bit of gossip, or a blog, would that make it okay, cause it was better to be judgemental and safe than sorry?

I don't think so.

I'm letting Erma have the last word.

There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.


  1. I heard about the fiasco and all I could do was roll my eyes.

    It reminded me of a story many, many years ago I heard where a mom was in the shower area at a pool with her young daughter shampooing the clorine out of her hair. Unfortunately, soap got in the girl's eyes and she started to scream in pain. An onlooker decided that it looked like the mom was forcing the girl and the girl was screaming trying to get away and the cops were called.

    Common sense, people. Common sense.

  2. Jeez I'm probably glad I have no idea what fiasco you're talking about. But I'm sorry for the family.

    After teaching last semester, I wondered what's happened to our sense of humor. I tend to joke a lot with my kids, in a light teasing manner, and in the past they've understood and laughed. Last term, only one student ever got it.

  3. I was just talking about this sort of thing with my brother-in-law. When she was 4, my niece had a terrible urinary tract infection (and they couldn't diagnose it or treat it or something for some reason - I don't know the full details, but the kid was having some trouble). My sister's family came to visit, and we went to a local attraction. While we were there, BIL had to take the niece to the bathroom (because my sister was TIRED of the screaming). So there they are in the men's room, locked in a stall with my niece screaming "No, Daddy! No!" Yet, no one called the police on him (which might have happened today, 7 years later).

    I'm all for watching out for kids, but use some common sense, please.

  4. I'm not caught up on what happened, but I detest talking to people who always tell me how perfect everything their children does is... I have a kid with ADD and severe learning disabilities another who needs to be on meds (but isn't for now), one who has entire afternoons during which she won't stop whining and some days I actually calculate how long I've got left until my twins turn 18 (5-1/2 years, I can survive that, right?)...
    Maybe that's one of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog. You're what I refer to as 'a real person' :-)

  5. I heard the piece on "The Current" this morning and I was completely appalled. Charles Smith is a monster and I can't believe that he's walking around free, although without a valid medical license, but free nonetheless.

    As for perfect kids: I deal with dumbass parents that have no idea what their kids are capable of and get angry at me when I tell them the truth. Honestly, what do I have to gain by making phone calls about their child's struggles in my class? It's not easy to give D's and I give them only after giving the child A LOT of extra help. I sometimes wish I could tape the kids in my class and show it to their parents when they are insisting that their kid is perfect!

  6. Wow. Some people are truly fucked (I like to swear too). We need to support and laugh with each other more and stop being so stupid.

    Bring back the sense of humour.

  7. Oh yeah, I read about this over at Cecily's and my eyes ached from all the involuntary rolling they did.

    I'm a sarcastic person and being a mother did not lobotomize that portion of my personality. One of the reasons I like reading Dooce is because it is so refreshing to hear another woman say "My adorable child is also demon spawn who drives me bat crazy." Of course, there are lots of people who attack Heather Armstrong for writing that way, too. Same people as those who call CPS on ladies who joke about smothering sleep-refusing kids, I guess.

  8. The Charles Smith scandal and tragedy is really just a tiny picture of how utterly irresponsible and downright cruel the authorites are. The "better to be safe than sorry" mentality is destroying so many families lives. And even when these people are let out of jail, some of their subsequent children have been adopted and there is no legal recourse or framework set up to repair the damage. Our society is turning into a nanny state with no accountability. It's sick really. They are actually creating the abuse they were meant to prevent

  9. Yes, yes, yes! The best commentary on this whole cluster-fuck I've read so far. Good on ya, Aurelia.

  10. I guess a part of me just keeps hoping the story isn't really true. But, I'm guessing it is... darn. Sigh...

    I'm all for keeping the humor in parenting. How else are we going to survive?

  11. Coming from the Blog Round Up...I did not know anything about this incident--and I guess it was good for my blood pressure!

    I totally totally agree with you!! And I fucking love Erma and all the rest.

    Some people need chill pills.

  12. I've been too busy wonder about the energy-harnessing capabilities of my newborn twins' farts to read about these incidents. Very disturbing.

    I love Erma Bombeck. My mom and I especially like her column about the kids taking the entire house back to college with them.

  13. Erma was, is, and always will be my hero.

    I read my first book of hers when I was 14 and haven't stopped since.

    I know some people might say "better safe than sorry" and I can see some need for that - but good grief - if I truly was going to do something heinous, I probably wouldn't twitter about it, even if just from a witness standpoint!

  14. Amen...I am horrified that poor woman went through that because someone had a stick up their ass and couldn't relax enough to laugh at a joke. I frequently joke about my 3 boys being hellions or 3 out of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse. I threaten to give them away to the passing gypsies too. But, I have never had someone take that shit seriously. I can't imagine how I would react if they did.

  15. Oh good grief.

    No, I've been sitting here trying to add to the above comment, and I just can't. Good. Grief.


  16. crawling out from under my rock to say hey...you said just about everything i'd wanted to say about last week's ridiculousness, and better. nicely done.

    i don't know if this linked back to Thordora directly, so just in case she hasn't seen it, i'm sending it on. and we Maritimers are getting together next weekend with her to drink off the aftereffects of the stupidness: perhaps i'll dig out my mom's old copy of Erma Bombeck to read aloud. :)