The weirdness of strangers.

So I signed up for this bible study class on parenting a young child and the Biblical traits that the children need to see in the parent.  Sound great, right?  I mean who doesn’t want to be patient and kind (I Corinthians 13:4).  I mean that’s what we think of when we think of Biblical traits.  Yeah, not so much.

It’s a video series with a workbook by these fine folks.  (Don’t click on it if you aren’t ready to vomit in your mouth just a little bit.)  And yes, they are Dr. Les and Leslie.  And they agree on everything.  She nods when he talks and he gazes at her like he has seen her naked when she talks.  I just about got hives in the first 2 minutes.

The class opens with introductions.  It’s being moderated by 2 couples, both new to our church (read: they don’t know me and don’t know my story) and they both have only one child who is under the age of 9 months.  So they are brand, spanking new parents themselves (who would never *dream* of spanking their child).  And it makes me want to lick my kid’s cookies from the floor and hand it back to them just to see the horror on their faces.  Or change a diaper on a folding chair.  But instead, I roll my eyes (quietly) and chuckle softly at how much they don’t know about being parents.  Then, on to the video.

It’s kind of Supernanny Lite.  20 families (16 married, 4 single).  Many, many southern accents…Texas if I had to guess…not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just an observation.  They went through the married couples first and spent, I’m not kidding, 10 minutes talking about how kids need to see a good marriage and parents working together and how you need to take care of your marriage and not wait until the children are grown.  I wanted to crawl right into a hole.  This? Is not what I expected.  I didn’t know what to expect but not that.  Then they moved on to the single people.  This category is, how you say in your country, more racially diverse.  And features the athletically challenged. 

The single people are all single due to divorce or never married.  Not one example of a widow situation (sidenote:  there’s a lack of check boxes in the world with a “widow” category…I don’t feel single and certainly don’t want anyone to think that my littles are the product of a midnight bar fuck).  And the talk is “I have one set of rules and his dad has a totally different one…what do I do?”  I.  Don’t.  Care.  Maybe if you’d given Junior a real name instead of a made up name with too many consonants and a few less apostrophes he wouldn’t be so confused.  That’s not nice.  Sorry.

The video ends as weirdly as it started.  I feel like I’m being sold something and I hate that.  I didn’t know this was going to be so corporate-motivational-speaker brainwashing.

And then on to the workbook.  In their defense, the moderators of this just got the teacher edition moments before the class.  So they were seeing some of it for the first time.  They were basically reading what we had in front of us.  There wasn’t a whole lot of discussion and a Bible was never opened, not once.  We didn’t get that far.  It ended with me.

It ended with me explaining to people who don’t know me what it’s like to be a single parent and how it’s very, very different from the divorce situation that was being discussed (and presumed) in the video.  And then the tears started.  I’ve been this way my whole life.  Tears, everywhere tears.  Tears of frustration, of anger…sometimes sadness but not usually.  It takes something that really hits home to bring on the sad tears.  You won’t find me weeping at the news at airplane accidents or pictures of war.  But tell me a story of a sick kid who just didn’t make it….I’m a mess.   I was also uncomfortable with all the eyes on me.  I detest being the center of attention (unless there are cocktails involved) but especially with strangers. 

And then it was over.  We could have sat there for another hour and not tackled the meat of the “bible” part.  I’m going to give it another week.  It was pointed out to me that week 2 was less about the parents and more about the kids so maybe that’s something.  But one more week is all that Dr. Les and Leslie get of my time if things don’t change. 

I don’t care if they were on Oprah.

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4 thoughts on “The weirdness of strangers.

  1. Jen-you have a gift for describing things to a T. Yes Les does gaze at Leslie as if she is speaking while naked!! Les and Leslie..seriously?

  2. Yet another example of society avoiding what makes them uncomfortable. Widows/widowers. They can mention, because they are soooooo open-minded (yeah, right) the “single parents,” and feel wonderful in their generosity. But widows? Must not speak of them, because then people might be uncomfortable, and perhaps have to exhibit compassion and empathy, and OMG, what if she gets sad, angry or otherwise emotional??? Yes, try another week… if it’s about KIDS then, fine. If not, I bet there’s a spouse-loss support group that would teach how to parent on your own, and WOULD understand! You deserve true support and friendship.

  3. I’m the same way with crying. Sometimes once the waterworks start they just won’t stop. I always wondered what I should put when asked for my mother’s maiden name if she was deceased? Do I put my stepmom’s name that I can’t stand or do I put the maiden name of my deceased mom? I went for the latter. I guess when I was in my teens this question was a dreaded one but as I get older it seems not as difficult.

  4. Karla, try this one. Shortly after Mother’s Day 1984. My 15 year old sister had bought a trendy (by 1984 standards) reversible rain jacket for my mom. We weren’t going to be able to give her the gifts till two days after Mother’s Day, because the day after that holiday she was having coronary artery bypass surgery. She died. When my little sister tried to return the jacket, the clerk put her through the wringer. “Why are you returning it? Is it defective? Doesn’t it fit?” Poor kid was near tears, and the clerk kept poking… finally she just said, “My mom DIED.” But how do we deal with the grief of others? It’s hard enough to deal with our own. I’ll never forget that experience, though.

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