In an effort to decompress after getting through three chapters of the Wake, I decided I'd do some catch-up news reading.
My internet use is divided into three categories. First, there is video games. I'm rushing to get my 41 Undead Warlock to 42 for the new spells, and next time I log in I have to remind myself to head over to Undercity to I can reset my talents. Second, there is news-gathering. Since I am not much of an online-community goer (even where WoW is concerned, I don't socialize much), E2 falls into this category. Thirdly, and most importantly, is everything else that I learn: how to write better, how to code this or that, educating myself basically, learning anything that's around to learn. Sometimes this includes current events. Most of the time it does not.
See, a decent chunk of my gray matter falls into a trance bordering on catatonia when matters of current import spring to mind. The War in Iraq. The War on Terror. The tsunami. Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. My brain automatically accepts the info, and just rolls along unabated and unaffected. I don't know if that's what's known as "being desensitized", but I know it's close. I don't watch television (gave it up to practice writing) so I don't have Fox News, or any other news. So, once in a while, I have to catch up on the world's last few months of news. I don't mind. It's a pleasurable experience. I didn't know who Terri Schiavo was until they'd taken the tubes out of her.
As I get a little older and my daughter gets a little older, it's always the stories about kids that get my attention. Last night, as I sifted through the internet, I happened upon an article in The Smoking Gun about a female teacher in Tennessee who's been arrested for engaging in sexual congress with a minor. The various charges could earn her decades in prison. Because court documents are like catnip to me, I read it, was sickened, and pressed Firefox's back button, and searched for something else to read. In between celebrity riders and drunken has-beens I found not one, but four more of these teacher-has-sex-with-student things. And that was just in TSG's archive for 2005. Now, either I went to the wrong school, or something is seriously amiss.
I didn't read the rest.
Of course, I am not completely oblivious to the world around me, and I did know about the Michael Jackson case. It is my opinion that he's a goddamned nutcase who is more than likely guilty of fucking around with children. But, I wanted to know the particulars, so I looked at this court doc and that court doc. Here's what I've come up with, unwieldy, half-there court docs or not: you should not, under any circumstances, be hanging around in a bedroom with someone else's child.
I also found an article about a father who used a stun gun on his child because he was misbehaving. A few weeks ago I was riding the bus and I heard some woman tell her child to shut up. It was all I could do to hold myself back from slapping her in her stupid fat face and telling her to shut the fuck up herself, before she goes around doing it to a kid. A few years ago, my daughter must have been a year old or so, I was dropping her off at her Day Home and some guy got on the bus, and looked at her. Maybe I was tired, maybe I was just over-protective (probably true), but I had this distinct feeling that he was looking at her in an inappropriate way. He had this look on his face that I automatically disliked. And that's all it took. I took her out of her stroller, and held her tight, and glared at the dude until he sat down.
A few days ago, the girls at work and I were finishing up the night's chores, getting ready to go home. My daughter, now six, had come in earlier with her mother and visited while I was on my break. The girl I was working with said, she's pretty cute.
Who, I said, Alia? She's the best there is. She likes robots, hates techno, and knows how to chop a person across the neck in self defense. She's the best there is.
Sarah, the girl, laughed. She asked me, is it hard being away from her? Like, in my own apartment, not with the mother any more?
I said, sure, it's hard. About as hard as things get. But we talk all the time. She tells me stories. She loves me. She bought me a cream soda a few weeks ago, because she knows it's my favourite.
Then, she asked me the question of all questions: what would you do for her? This question, from a sixteen year old cutie who doesn't know her dad, never did, told me the stork dropped her off at the door.
What would I do for her? I think of cases I've heard about on the news, and on TV, where some parents shook their kid to death, or a baby goes to the hospital to get immunized and the doctors find three broken ribs and a fractured tibia. I hear about parents driving their kids around drunk, or driving the carload of kids into a lake. Or teachers having sex with their students. Or whatever. Stun guns.
I told Sarah, well, it's like this. Say I was in a mall somewhere, anywhere at all, and Alia asked me, Dad, would you destroy everyone in here, with fire and brimstone, rain hellfire down upon their heads? Say she asked me that. Sarah nods. I continue: if Alia asked me that, I wouldn't ask why, or how, or what for. I'd simply ask: how much time do I have?
Do me a favour: hug your kids today.