Yesterday, we had a family reunion of sorts at a local water park. Cousins, aunts, uncles, friends who basically are family...Three of our group had diligently made about 350 water balloons, we had huge watermelons on ice, beer and kooshies, large thermoses of ice water, and many bottles of sunscreen to help combat the blazing 100 degree heat and sunshine still beating down at 4:00pm. Many families had a similar idea, and when we arrived, a dozen little kids in bathing suits were scurrying happily about in the fountains and under the buckets that dump gushers of water at random on hopefuls waiting below. The water guns were manned, and those not lucky enough to commandeer one tried to stay just beyond the range of reach. Mom managed to claim the last empty gazebo but just after she did so, another foursome moved in. Mom kindly said, "we have fourteen people coming so really need this space," to which she received little more than an angry look and animalistic grunt. I tried to ease the situation by suggesting we split the table (tiny though it was) and received a similarly rude response. Ok. We set down our coolers and our bucket of water balloons; immediately, one of the little girls (not part of our group) started taking and breaking them. Mom, again kindly, said, "sweetie, we spent a long time making those and all our cousins are coming to play." The response from this girl's mom: "I am just trying to hold my temper."
Really? There just isn't any excuse for that kind of entitled BS. It's ugly and gross, and in those moments, it is easy to see how divisions among people can start, can take shape; how negative impressions and mutual suspicion can harden or become more entrenched. We quietly moved our party to the grassy space under a shady willow, and I then watched as that same little girl (no more than 5), got down on her hands and feet and started bouncing her butt up and down in the air in a sadly sexual way. Hip rolls, hip thrusts, sassy talk followed; she was definitely used to having an appreciative audience for this show, and I found it so utterly depressing.
Our society is so hyper-sexualized today; I often feel lucky to have sons as I think in some way I'll have a reprieve from the emphasis on bodies that is all around. I look at what young girls wear these days, and I am often appalled. Last week, in my DC neighborhood, I saw a young teen walking with her mom. The girl's shorts were basically just a pair of underpants; you.could.see.everything. Maybe I'm just getting old (I know I wanted to wear short shorts when I was young), maybe I'm just super maternal now that I have children, but I know that I would not let my daughter out of the house wearing shorts with a hem above her crotch. And I certainly would not teach, encourage or let my daughter act like that little girl in the park in Lake Charles was.
~~~~ Regarding a completely different form of unsavoriness: we saw a cockroach this morning that made me scream bloody murder. Jack ended up on the dining room table in tears (he is so my child; sorry, Jack), Oliver was calling for Poppy, and I threw my cup across the room at the roach as if it would capture and do away with him magically. See, at first I thought -because I haven't seen a Louisiana cockroach in a really long time- that this elephantine bug was some kind of beetle. He was so sturdy, and his reddish-brown shell threw me off. He was just tromping across the kitchen floor like a misguided sergeant, so I planned to catch and relocate him to the great outdoors.
As I approached him with my cup, however, the truth of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks: this was no beetle; this was a LOUISIANA COCKROACH. Y'all, these suckers are serious. They are huge. They are ugly. They can fly. When you smush them, pus and guts ooze out forever. LA cockroaches are nothing to trifle with. They won't hurt you, physically. But they continue to startle and scare the shit out of me (and apparently my city'fied children too) with the same force as when I was little. That's when I threw my cup, sent Ol to find Poppy, hid in a corner of the kitchen and hoped for the best. The roach made tracks and hid under the bar.
It was a stand-off.
Dad came down, laughing his head off at our pitiful inability to deal with this roach's presence. At one point I spied the roach peeking out from under the northwest leg of the bar; I yelled for Dad who came barreling towards it armed with nothing more than a kleenex. A lame, thin tissue. I'll be damned if I ever approach a roach with a kleenex.
I ran outside and hid on the porch. Jack cowered upstairs. Oliver ran around with a chopstick wand. Dad smushed the roach with the single tissue and showed us the guts for proof of its demise. I about hurled but was relieved; Oliver cheered and ran to find Jack. "Jack, Jack, Poppy smushed the cockroach with his HANDS." Poppy is now a legend. I'm looking around with eagle eyes, just in case.