Thursday, July 30, 2009

"I Used To Do A Little But A Little Wouldn't Do It So a Little Got More And More"

So I'm going to take a kind-of break from ME ME ME for a second to address something that was troubling me as I watched episodes of A&E's Intervention on Wednesday (yes, instead of working that what I was doing. Suck IT! And yes I've slowly but surely been rejoining the land of the living, actually doing things with myself like showering and eating before noon and reading. BTW, Julia Alvarez's "Before We Were Free" is AMAZING and you must read it now or I will hate you forever.).

In case you aren't familiar with the show, here's a trailer/clip:

(if you kind of chuckled at this clip it's OK... she does look stupid inhaling that shit)

So I'm watching this show, completely disgusted with actually watching someone put a needle in their arm (I CAN'T WITH NEEDLES!! AAAACK!!!!) but not able to look away, when I begin to notice a pattern with these addicts and their families.

More often than I cared to keep track of, when the parents/families of the addict starts talking about how their little crackhead USED TO be, they use phrases like, "she was the perfect little girl" or "she was the smartest" or "he could do anything he ever wanted to do" or my favorite, "she had the perfect blond curly hair & big blue eyes everyone wants."

See that right there? Do you SEE what I saw? PERFECT.


Now, I'm not going to sit here and say these kids are doing meth because mommy said they were perfect, but think about this for a second:

Imagine you're a kid and lets say you're in 2nd grade. So imagine you're this kid and to date your grades and state test results are through the roof, so all of a sudden you're super smart to anyone who knows you, i.e. you get "perfect" marks and it's all anyone can talk about.

Now imagine you're that same kid and for the most part you're pretty well-behaved, but not just that, you're pretty well-behaved in a family full of kids that run amok like animals. So the grown-ups start labeling you as this "perfect" kid.

So this same kid, you, with the perfect grades and the perfect behavior starts to get singled out by the adults in front of the other running-amok kids with statements like, "Why can't you be more like X?" And at first you feel a sense of pride n shit, until you see the other kids looking at you as if the minute the grown-ups leave they're gonna beat your ass.

And then, imagine you're still this kid and one day, down the line, you get back a test that's not so "perfect," lets say it's an 89 instead of 100. And while your teachers are like "You did better than a lot of the other kids" you go home to show off your test and hear, "What happened to the other 11 points?"

Right before your eyes... perfection that was bestowed upon you like a gold medal snatched away as if you'd tested positive for steroids and didn't even know it was wrong to take it.

Don't you think you, as that little kid would panic and stress about getting that medal back? About being perfect? And don't you think you, as that little kid, would be so fucking wigged out by the pressure of it all- even if you live in the perfect house and have tons of friends and are a beauty queen or QB of the varsity team- would start to break you into a million tiny pieces? And seek some way to cope?

Listen, I'm not here to advocate for addiction or make excuses for these people. I just want us, especially us parents, to take a step back and really pay attention to the message we send our kids. Many of the back stories I heard on these addicts could have easily been K or N's back story: good grades, into sports, loved to laugh, loved to play music, etc. So what's to say my kid won't do meth or crack or inhale some fucking duster?

Sure, I could also argue that these kids probably weren't given enough boundaries or whooped enough at an early age, but seriously, what's to say it won't be my kid?

Perfection is a TALL, TALL, TALL order for a kid. It really truly is. So let's just say this is my PSA advocating for realism in parenting. Don't bullshit your kid and tell them things that aren't true, or label them something so impossible as perfect. Let them know that an 89 is not bad, and instead go over the test, see where errors were made, and set up a strategy for how such an error can be prevented in the future. Show them that mistakes are OK as long as they learn from them. Some people really think they're doing kids a favor with that "you're perfect" schpiel, but trust this crazy depressed writer, they're really, truly not.

All they are doing is setting them up for what could possibly be the biggest failure of their lives.

*smooches...trying to be OK with imperfection*
talk about TALL orders...sheesh...might as well ask myself to find a cure for the common cold!