On exhaustion and bad parenting

I have done some grading tonight, but not much, and I regret to inform you that you cannot make me do any more. Nor can you make me get any lesson planning done; this week is going to be by the seat of my pants, more or less, and it’s going to be fine anyway because this shit is muscle memory by now. This weekend was kind of nuts; my father-in-law’s memorial service was Saturday morning in Plainwell, Michigan, which means I got up earlier on Saturday than I typically get up during the week and spent the drive up hurriedly composing the eulogy I was supposed to deliver in my head, sans paper, because for some fucking stupid reason I hadn’t written it yet.

Don’t leave eulogies to the last minute, people. I pulled it off and everything went fine because I am exceptionally talented, but … don’t do that.

Oh, and the … hole? Is it still a grave if you’re just using a box with an urn and some Beefeater Gin in it and not a casket? Well, whatever it was, the Goddamned thing was too small, and everyone got to take turns digging the hole wider and deeper with what I think were technically stolen shovels before the service started. My wife briefly considered putting the box in sideways, an idea that was quickly vetoed out of existence, and we all just sucked it up and got to digging, my father-in-law’s amused laughter echoing from inside his box.

Afterwards the whole extended family went out for Mexican, because really, what else are you going to do? Sure.

And because emotional whiplash is how we do things nowadays, we had tickets to see Barenaked Ladies Saturday night. By “we” I mean all three of us; it was slated to be the boy’s first concert, and I think he was pretty excited about it. Which meant we were all a bit surprised to be leading a sobbing child out of the theater barely four songs into BNL’s set, meaning that we really only got to hear the (shitty) opening band’s set, and we didn’t get to hear the one BNL song that the boy has memorized and really wanted to hear, as I’m sure it was the last song of the night.

Parenting advice! Concerts are fucking loud. This particular concert was perhaps too loud. And, like, I mean that as a reasonably veteran concertgoer; it was too loud for me, and I’ve seen shows in that venue before. That said, though, like, BNL doesn’t need to be blowing my Goddamned eardrums out. This isn’t a hard rock band or some shit like that, and even the shitty opening band was too fucking loud, and they were going for some sort of pop/bluegrass nonsense or something like that, so they definitely didn’t need to be super loud.

Anyway, we were unprepared. We should have brought headphones and/or earplugs, or at least warned him thoroughly, and we did none of those things. I’m not mad at him and this is one hundred percent our fault as the adults in the scenario. He doesn’t necessarily Have Sensory Issues in the way people generally mean that, but we should have been able to see this coming and we didn’t. The worst thing is that he was clearly upset about ruining the concert for us, and it’s hard to convince an upset eleven-year-old that you’re not mad at him and you’re not disappointed in him when he’s absolutely certain that both of those things are true.

So … yeah. I’ve mostly laid around like a lump today. I have started the new Stephen King book; it is terrible, and I am currently deciding if I’m going to drop it or hate-read it. It is about a seventeen-year-old who is somehow actually however old Stephen King is, and said fake teenager uses slang that no teenager, including King when he was a teenager, has ever used, except it’s not about that somehow. We’re supposed to believe that this ancient old man who refers to earning money as “folding green” is just a regular teenager and pay attention to the rest of the story, where he’s inexplicably befriending an old man, except the old man is actually an old man and not an old man masquerading as a teenager.

Anyway, it’s bad and I’m tired and I’m a shitty dad and somehow I have to go to work again tomorrow and I kind of want a redo on the last couple of days.

One down

My wife is in Boston for work until next Saturday, so I am entirely responsible for keeping our pets and son alive until she returns, which sounds like it ought to be a lot of work but I think I can probably handle it. I’ve got about a page and a half of stuff I intend to get accomplished before she gets back, and despite spending several hours with an extra fifth-grader in the house this afternoon I managed to cross several items off of my list. Most of them were what a motivational speaker might call “quick wins,” but fuck it, they still count. I have a couple of Projects in mind for tomorrow, so we’ll see how we do.

I think tomorrow I’ll write the Obi-Wan review; I meant to do it today but the day got away from me and all the sudden it was 8:00, which is sort of the unofficial “Goddammit get something on the screen” deadline for blog posts around here, and the review is going to demand at least a little more thought than I think I’m ready for at the moment. I am also considering a Manifesto of sorts; a What Do We Do Now type of thing that no one will listen to and will never come true. And it’s all going to come down to vote, you morons anyway. I’ve blocked, conservatively, dozens of idiots today, and there will likely be more tomorrow as I continue to lose even the vaguest vestiges of patience with what are either young progressives without a single stitch of sense about how things actually work or, perhaps more likely, Russian bots.

That said, I can’t really blame The Youngs, at least not exclusively; I put this on Twitter already, but this little bit of Fucking Nonsense From People that Should Know Better showed up in my text messages yesterday, and, uh, I wasn’t in the mood:

Probably shoulda just typed STOP, as Kati-from-the-DSCC never responded and likely also wasn’t actually a person, but whatever. A fucking petition. No, I’m not signing a petition. Petitions are for twelve-year-olds. Nothing that mattered has ever been changed by a Goddamned petition.

(Prove me wrong, if you can; I’m pretty sure I’m right here, but if you know of a counter-example, I’d genuinely love to hear it.)

So, yeah, everything still sucks and I still hate it here, but at least for the time being I’m no longer, like, actively marinating in hatred. Progress? Sure.

Before I forget

Hosea showed up to class this morning in a new mask, if in fact I’m actually allowed to use the word “mask” to describe a cut-up sock. Because he had a cut-up sock on his face. When I gave him a new mask from my stash and told him to put it on, he asked me why he needed it.

“Because you have a sock on your face, Hosea,” I said.

“No I don’t,” he said. (Remember, reflexively denying anything is a big part of whatever is wrong with this kid.)

“Yes, you do,” I said. “You are not wearing a sock on your face at school. Put the mask on.”

There then followed a ten-second stare down while I stood there holding the mask, at which point he said “Fine,” took it, and put it on. I don’t know what happened to the sock.


I was going to tell a whole story here about a bit of delivery nonsense involving UPS delivery of my son’s new phone– yeah, that’s a thing that’s happened now– but I no longer have the energy for the entire story so I’ll just tell the important parts: I had to redirect the phone to a UPS location because Verizon insisted on a signature and they weren’t going to be delivering while anyone was home. They did not give me a choice of locations, and directed me to their main distribution center, which is out past the airport, which you should understand to mean far away from everything. I got an email that said it was there and waiting for me.

When I got there yesterday, this sign was on the door:

You may note several possibly relevant pieces of information missing from the sign.

Despite that, the door opened as I was standing there trying to decide what to do and someone let me in, telling me she hoped she didn’t get in trouble for letting me in. She then told me that my package was still on a truck, despite the email that I’d gotten, and that it would be ready today. Okay, fine. Are you sure it’s not going to get redirected? No, it won’t be, but if it is, you’ll get an email.

Oh.

I did not get an email. When I got there today, this had happened:

The story ends with me getting the phone, which was indeed at that location, behind the caution tape and the locked door, but … well, imagine trying to explain this to customer service robots over the phone. I was moments away from my nuclear method of reaching a human when stuck in customer service robot hell (start swearing and yelling racial epithets into the phone; believe me, these systems recognize profanity) when the door opened and half a dozen UPS employees poured out, all carrying various broken pieces of wood, and threw everything into a nearby dumpster, an act that provoked a surprising amount of rejoicing on their parts. Then the lady I’d spoken with yesterday recognized me, ushered me past the caution tape and past the locked door with the “don’t come in here” sign, gave me my package, and sent me on my way.

I swear everything in this post is true, and I dare you to make any of it make any fucking sense.

On adult responsibility

Before I get too far into the meat of this post, I want to say something that will, perhaps, not endear me to some of you. News media have gotten some abuse for using the photograph on the right of this person rather than his post-apprehension mug shot on the left, a supposedly humanizing touch that is never, ever granted to mass murderers when they are people of color.

I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but the picture on the right screams “school shooter” to me every bit as much as the picture on the left. That kid is visibly deeply fucked up; there is nothing at all behind his eyes, and the fact that he’s holding his hands in a posture of prayer, to me, just means that he’s coming from an environment where it’s incredibly unlikely that he’s actually going to get any help for whatever is wrong with him.

I got into a Twitter conversation the other day with someone, and in that conversation made the point that my ability to feel shared humanity with and compassion for terrible people had diminished significantly over the last five years. And the interesting thing about that tweet is that the one immediately before it is about a discovery that I had made about the family of a former student. I had found out a couple of years ago that this particular kid had been locked up for thirteen years (minimum) for armed robbery. Yesterday I discovered that his little brother, who I never had in class but I knew, has been convicted of murder and was sentenced to 75 years in prison.

My student, as it turns out, was also sentenced as an adult. This school shooter, 15 years old, is also going to be tried as an adult.

This kid who, either the day of or the day before the shooting, wrote “The voices won’t stop. Help me.” on a note, a note that led to him receiving no help of any kind. The kid whose parents bought him a semiautomatic handgun for Christmas four days before he used it to kill four people. The kid whose parents are such subhuman trash that upon finding out they were being charged as accessories to their son’s murders, went on the lam and attempted to flee the country.

Imagine that. Imagine that your child is charged with murder and your reaction is to leave him behind and run.

And as angry as I am with his parents, I’m even angrier with the school officials at Oxford High School. Their most important job is to keep their students safe. That responsibility extends to the shooter as well as the other students in the school. The very first thing that should have happened upon this not being discovered is this kid being brought to the attention of mental health professionals and social workers– the first fucking thing, even before notifying the parents. I’m seeing that his mother and father resisted removing him from school. That’s where the “protect everyone else” thing kicks in– yes, you are going to take your son to get some help, and if you refuse to do so, he is not entering this building again. I have not been in this exact situation before but I have been in some that are very close, and schools are absolutely within their rights to refuse to allow a child back on campus until a psych evaluation has taken place. And when a student combines hearing voices with violent imagery and an explicit request for help, it is absolutely criminal on the part of the parents and the administration of Oxford High School that he was allowed to remain on campus.

This is unforgivable. It is a dereliction of responsibility at the highest level and it led directly to four dead kids.

I don’t know what to do with a fifteen-year-old who murders. Part of me is screaming for vengeance the same way it might be had a fully capable adult performed the killings. Part of me is still trying to hold onto the scrap of me that can still see humanity in those who perform inhumane acts. And ultimately as the person who pulled the trigger, the greatest responsibility falls upon him. But the failure of every adult in this young man’s life cannot be passed over. The parents have been charged with involuntary manslaughter; bury them under the jail and let their names never be spoken again.

But it should not end there. Early reports in situations like this are always wrong in some way; it may turn out that my understanding of what happened is flawed in some critical way. But if the events unfolded according to the timeline I’m currently aware of, all of the adults who had a responsibility to keep this child and those around him safe should face consequences for their actions. All of them.

Some quick notes

I went to McDonald’s the other day, as I am still occasionally wont to do, and the gentleman in the first window was wearing a shirt I’d not seen before: Baby Yoda, holding a Big Mac, with the McDonald’s logo floating behind him. I laughed and told him I liked the shirt, at which point he revealed that it wasn’t actually an official McDonald’s shirt– he’d found it on eBay, and apparently the day after he got his shirt the shop that was selling it got shut down. Now, I’m aware that I’m saying this as someone who owns a Wu-Tang Clan Baby Yoda shirt, but pissing off Disney and McDonald’s with a single shirt design is an impressively ballsy business move. Or an impressively stupid one; I’m not sure there’s much of a difference.


I finished Isabel Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea yesterday, and I’m issuing it a qualified, but strong recommendation: I was never quite able to shake the feeling that a story about an enslaved person in Saint Domingue before Toussaint L’Overture’s rebellion and in New Orleans right around the time of the handover to the United States was quite Allende’s story to tell, and the book ends on a really strange, incest-is-super type of note, but if you’re able to get past that, it’s a hell of a read. I’m not sure how much of it is based in history and how much is made up– the broad strokes are historical, of course, but I’m not sure if any of the main characters or families are real people– but this is the second of Allende’s books I’ve read and there will be more.


Damn. Ten minutes ago I had a parenting thing to put here too, and it’s gone. Shit. I’ll put it back if I remember later.