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Creepers Gonna Creep

I am a lousy blogger. There, I said it. My intentions are good. I have so much to write about, but then  all that stuff I have to write about — life — gets in the way.  The life of a single parent, full-time worker, part-time student never seems to slow down. It seems that when I do have a spare moment, all of my good blogging intentions go out the window and instead I end up spending time with my kids doing what we love.

We aren’t the “let’s go to the mall,” kind of folks — not enough disposable income. We aren’t into nature much either. The Arizona summers are brutal and the winters are spent celebrating the fact that we can be inside the house without the air conditioning on. One thing we do like to do is play video games together, and our favorite is Minecraft.

Minecraft Creeper

For the uninitiated, Minecraft is a game that requires the player to find resources in the environment and use those resources to build a shelter, farm or hunt for food, and craft tools, armor, and weapons with which to battle the undead creatures of the night, namely zombies, skeleton archers, and big green baddies known as creepers.  Creepers, true to their name, creep up silently behind you, make a short hissing noise and explode, destroying everything and everyone within a several meter radius. (Yes, I said meter — Minecraft was created by a Swede.)

Every Minecraft player hates creepers. They serve no useful purpose. Unlike zombies, which upon their deaths may drop some tasty rotten flesh or in rare cases an iron weapon or tool, or skeletons, which drop bows, arrows, and femur bones, a creeper drops nothing but gunpowder, which can be used to — wait for it — blow up more things.  Spend hours building a beautiful house out of wood and stone? Hissssssss — BOOM!  Start again.  Find some valuable diamonds at the bottom of a deep cavern? Hisssssss — BOOM!  Into the lava you fall, along with your hard-won gems.  You are dead, the gems (and anything else you had in your inventory) are gone.  You start again, minus your valuables and back where you started.

I play Minecraft with my kids because it’s a creative game that lets us build a world of our own design and then defend it against fantasy bad guys using swords or bows and arrows. There are no guns in Minecraft, and although players can fight one other (player-vs-player mode), this is an option I turn off.  One of my girls loves to build her world and tame wild animal; she plays on ‘peaceful’ mode and never has to battle the monsters. My other daughter and I like to suit up in armor and kick some undead butt while gathering diamonds and emeralds to fill our storage chests. She is always jumping in front of me, stealing my glory and my loot, and loving every minute of it.

Lately though, it seems like my real life is a lot like Minecraft. Whenever I manage to get all my ducks in a row,  hisssssss —BOOM!! A creeper sneaks up and makes a big old mess. There are final exams to pass, college financial aid workers to argue with, and ex-husbands to  barely tolerate.  Get the kid’s braces paid off? Time for the cat to get sick — really $ick. The car breaks down, eyeglasses get stepped on, and Christmas comes with its financial demands.  A creeper lurks around every corner, just waiting to blow up in my face — or overdraw my checking account.

When a free moment comes along and I just know I should sit down and write, I can’t help myself. I have to grab my kids and slay some zombies, mine a few diamonds, and kick some serious creeper hiney.  They’re only kids once and when they’re hanging with their friends on the playground, I’ll bet they are bragging about my creeper killing skills, not my blogging prowess. I guess I’ll write some more another day.

Bling ‘em back to school

It’s back-to-school time… That time when parents rejoice and kids mourn the passing of yet another summer gone by too quickly. It’s time to go shopping for pencils and binders, for crayons and rulers, and for a wardrobe full of clothing designed to make a fourth grade girl look like a budding hooker.  Apparently, the designers of our children’s fashions believe that all little girls want to grow up to be Lady Gaga, so why not start ‘em off young?  I disagree and instead foolishly believe that little girls should dress like little girls and not Lolitas in training, so imagine my dismay when a visit to my local mall revealed that the latest in clothing for the elementary school set consists of chiffon miniskirts, animal prints, and more sequins than a Miss Redneck Toddler beauty pageant.

Even when my 21-year-old daughter was younger, I lamented the fact that middle school girls were dressing like backup dancers for Madonna. In the decade since, it appears that children’s clothing designers have decided not to make a girl wait until she hits puberty before beginning her collection of streetwalker-inspired apparel. Take for example the “new arrivals” over at the popular Justice website. I’m not sure which I find more appalling, the skin-tight animal print leggings, or the sequined one-shoulder circle top that exposes a bare shoulder with only the tiniest of spaghetti straps to hold the thing up in hopes of preventing a preteen wardrobe malfunction. I actually refuse to buy anything at Justice on principle. How can they sell back-to-school clothes when they can’t even spell, as evidenced by the nearly daily emails they insist on sending me, swearing that they’ve got the looks I’ll “luv”? What I’d “luv” would be clothing choices my girls could make that won’t have them feeling like tiny NFL cheerleaders. Of course, Justice is not the only offender. It seems that every retail buyer out there is perpetuating this unfortunate fad.  Even duller-than-dirt JCPenney can hook your 7-year-old up with a nice form-fitting, tie-dyed, cheetah inspired short skirt. Or is that a wide belt? It’s hard to tell when it’s so skimpy.

The most infuriating part about the lack of appropriate clothing for young girls is that the trend doesn’t seem to extend to the boys departments of America. Styles haven’t changed much in nearly half a century for the miniature male population. Racks of blue jeans, khakis and polo shirts still fill the aisles of nearly every department store and discount outlet. Aside from “graphic T’s” that are sometimes too graphic, boys clothing is rarely as offensive as that of their feminine counterparts. Sure, you could buy your sons those pants that hang down so low that you can see their underwear – all of their underwear — but if you simply add a belt, voila! Problem solved.

As with every kind of retail ridiculousness, the horror (or is that whorer?) that is tween fashion is driven by the almighty dollar. Parents are buying this crap. Worse yet, moms are buying this crap!  Whenever I hear a mother declare with a sigh, “I just can’t get her to wear anything else,” I always wonder how their kid became wealthy enough to buy her own clothing. Oh, that’s right, she didn’t. Some little girl’s mother bought that too-short skirt or those blue jeans that rest a smidge above her pubic bone. (The better to show off your thong, my dear!)  Why is it that some women will dress their little girls in this way? Is it because they tire of arguing over fashion choices and just buy whatever the kid wants or, even more disturbing, out of some misguided desire to relive their own childhood, only in a much “cooler” wardrobe? Either way, it isn’t a movement I’m buying into. My girls are already growing up too fast for my liking; I’m not about to accelerate the process.

In disgust, I flee from the mall, determined to find some Diva-approved school clothes before the summer ends.  As I make my getaway, I hold tight to my fist full of dollars lest I be tempted to shove a few bills into the waistband of the pint-sized mannequin in the display window. She really does deserve a tip for having to model such skankery, don’t you think?

Not My Kid!

Nothing pisses me off more than perfect strangers who think they know how to parent my kids better than I do. No one has the right to tell me how to raise my children. I gave birth to (and in my case also adopted) my kids and I don’t need other people pointing out my parental failings, especially in a very public forum. That is why one of the online news stories about the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting last weekend really had my blood boiling.  It appears that some people felt the need to attack the parents of the youngest shooting victim, a 4-month-old boy who was attending the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises with his parents and an older sibling, insisting that he shouldn’t have been there at all.

The majority of the comments left in reply to the CNN.com story suggest that babies don’t ever belong at the movies, especially not at midnight. While I may have my own opinion about rug rats at the cinema, the current subject of my fury is the cruel and self-righteous horde of people who feel that this debate is even worth having in light of what has just happened. Why are they not more focused on the horrific individual who could even think of shooting a baby?

I know the world is a sick and twisted place, but I hoped there was still some kindness left out there. I’m sure that the parents of that young boy don’t need to be told how ill-advised it was to take him to a late night movie. You can bet they’ve been regretting that decision every minute of every day since it happened. Chances are it will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

After reading all of the comments about how babies disturb other moviegoers and how their rude parents refuse to remove them when they cry, not to mention how irresponsible it is to bring any child to a midnight flick, I was left wondering why this type of knee-jerk response is so common following a tragedy involving a child. You see it whenever there is news coverage of a kid being abducted or murdered; the public response is nearly always to find fault with the parents.  Some people will insist that the parents weren’t supervising their child well enough or they allowed the child too much freedom.  Parents are certain such a horrible thing would never happen to one of their kids!

This thinking is what I believe is behind all of the finger pointing and allegations of neglect.  It’s the little voice that whispers, “If you don’t parent your children the way those people did, then nothing bad will ever happen to them.”

Of course this isn’t the case.  Any one of us could turn our back at a critical moment, or worse yet trust the wrong person around our kids. The truth is, no matter how fiercely we hold on to our kids the unthinkable can happen.  When it does, shouldn’t we turn our outrage toward the monstrous perpetrators of these crimes instead of blasting the already anguished parents? Ridiculing other families during their time of grieving won’t protect our own and it just adds insult to unbearable injury.

So tonight I think I’ll save my opinions about crying infants in public places for another less sensitive time, and instead I’ll just be thankful that my kids are sleeping safe and sound in the next room. Anyone wanna join me?