Like A Prayer

(Excerpted from something I sent to my mailing list, you should subscribe)

The other day I was hanging out in a local coffee shop with Rips (my 5yo son for anyone who doesn’t know) when Madonna’s “Like a prayer” came on the sound system, he started dancing in his seat and said he really liked the song. I’ve been trying to take note of what music he reacts to and encourage it when I can. Since I bought him a record player for his birthday, I pinged my friend who has a record shop near by and told him I needed to get that record. He only had “Like a virgin” in stock, but tracked down “Like a prayer” for me in a few days. I bought “Like a virgin” too just for the hell of it. When I got home and gave them a listen I remembered one of the formative moments of my childhood that I’d long since forgotten. I suppose everyone has a point growing up when they realize their parents/family aren’t flawless, and maybe they are actively misleading them. Unintentionally Madonna tipped me off to that.

Mid 80’s, early MTV days. Madonna was everywhere. My very Catholic family was not impressed and took every opportunity to tell me how horrid she was. Unsolicited. She was a blasphemer. She was mocking *our* faith by calling herself Madonna and wearing a crucifix. She was probably a Satanist. Definitely a slut. A hussy. She was certainly trying to corrupt innocent minds. Etc. etc. As a kid, hearing this from authority figures I assumed it must be true. But it had a contrary impact on me, rather than scare me away which was the intended motivation, it made me curious. Who was this lady who would make such a public attack on a group of people. Why would she do that? What was her story?

Once I started digging into it a different story came out, of course it’s much easier to find now, but I learned then that she wasn’t using the name “Madonna” as a slam against Catholics, but rather that was her actual name given to her by her very Catholic parents – it’s on her birth certificate. And her music, her art, was influenced by the imagery she’d grown up around. Like almost every other artist I’d learned about. An anti-climatic end to a story that had been so built up. I have to say, it was a little disappointing. (Luckily I soon found Slayer) But that got me thinking – if nothing my family had told me about Madonna was actually true, what else had they told me wasn’t based entirely in fact? And why would they tell me something like that?

Either they were purposefully trying to deceive me, or more likely someone had told this to them and they’d just accepted it as truth. Or maybe no one told them and that was just their gut reaction having been conditioned to react certain ways to certain things and assumed they had it all figured out – also a very real possibility. Maybe they were so insecure about their own beliefs that they had to proactively attack anything that they felt challenged them in the slightest bit. All options – but regardless, none of those options were reassuring. All of them lead to the inevitable truth that I could no longer accept anything they told me as the truth. I guess that stuck with me more than I realized. Thanks Madonna.

Subconsciously I’ve incorporated that lesson into my own parenting efforts, when my son asks me a question I make sure to answer honestly or if I don’t know, I tell him that I don’t know. Sometimes we look up the answers together. When I talk to him about my opinions I make it clear that people have different opinions and feelings about things, that this is what I think but he’s welcome to think about it and decide what he wants to think. I know I’m setting myself up for him eventually making decisions I don’t agree with, but he’s his own person and that’s his right. And him having his own opinions is far more appealing to me than him someday coming to the conclusion that I’ve been lying to him.

Ripley for Ripley

Me, Myself, and this blog,Parenting — Sean Bonner @ 2:49 pm

Last month I saw some of Adam Lister‘s work on Tumblr and immediately showed it to Tara. We’ve been buying artwork for our son Ripley for a while and had talked about getting him somethings personal/significant each year for his birthday so that later on in life he’ll have this collection of pieces that we got for him. We had the idea of commissioning Adam to do a scene from Alien’s of Ripley (the character) in the power loader, We named Ripley (our son) after Ripley (the Alien killing character) and thought this would be fantastic. I contacted Adam and he was psyched to do it, and the result is everything we hoped it would be. Rips turns 4 next month, no one spoil this surprise gift for him, OK?!

Sean Commission

Long Term Storage

Parenting — Sean Bonner @ 10:49 pm

Ripley Scooting

Ripley’s first day of pre-school is tomorrow. I think this is a big milestone as far as growing up goes.

My oldest memories date back to being in pre-school. My oldest real memories anyway, of actually doing things. I have flashes of images or of someone saying something, or being somewhere that might be older than that, but I actually remember doing things when I was in preschool. I remember an art class making bowls and self portrait figures out of clay. Apparently there was some kurfuffle because I sculpted myself naked and hadn’t skimped on the twig and berries. I think my mom actually still has those things in a box some where. Speaking of twigs, I remember playing outside of a classroom in a tent/igloo thing that someone had fashioned out of sticks and leaves. I remember climbing through these damp leaves in what I probably thought was a magnificent fort but was probably just a pile of yard scraps filled with worms and begging my father to come join me inside and him standing outside of it wanting nothing to do with it. He might have even been annoyed as he was probably there to pick me up and I was having too much fun playing to consent to leaving.

I remember the smell of the kiln in that art studio, I remember the main hall/theater where we’d go for music classes and the piano there that our teacher would play and sing songs to us. I remember the slope of the hillside behind the building and how much of an adventure it seemed to me at the time to go down the side of the building that didn’t have the nice path way. I remember being really happy there.

I remember even more from the following year – I went to the same school for pre-k and kindergarten but the classes were on opposite sides of the campus. Ha. Campus. It was a collection of converted bars with a little courtyard in the middle. Opposite sides of the property. That makes more sense. Very little kids on one side, slightly older kids on the other with lots of play time in the middle with everyone. I wrote about an experience I had with one of the even older kids a while ago and I’m realizing now that Ripley is only a year or so away from being the same age as I was when that was all happening.

I say that because until now I’ve had no idea what if anything he’ll remember. I figured it’s all kind of a blur. Will he remember living in Singapore or Paris? Probably not. Will he remember last December in Vienna? Maybe? But I know that over the next year some of the stuff is going to seriously stick – in detail – and he’ll take it with him the rest of his life. I think about that and I think about what I can do to make sure that he is as happy as I remember being and that he only has awesome memories burned into that permanent storage.

I don’t want him to remember me ever being annoyed with him.

I’ll never refuse to play in the leaves with him.

Inspiration

Parenting,Philosophy — Sean Bonner @ 11:20 pm

Yesterday my (almost) 3 year old broke his leg and had a full leg cast put on. This is a kid who has been potty trained for barely 2 months, and now has to rely on us to help him even roll over in bed. We didn’t know how he would handle it.

You know how he spent the day today? Taking one lick of the lollipop he got from the Doctors office every few hours because “he didn’t want it to go away too fast.” Figuring out how to pull himself on his chest and get around the house. Figuring out how to stand up on his one good leg so he can pull himself up onto the couch. Hugging the dog that knocked him over yesterday. Telling his parents that he loved them. Saying that his cast looked cool. Playing with his trains on the floor. Being excited that he gets to use the big toilet since he can’t bend his leg to use the small one anymore. Going on with his life as if nothing was any different.

You how how he didn’t spend the day today? Complaining. Moping. Feeling sorry for himself. Being angry. Lashing out. Using this as an excuse why he cant do something. Asking “what if?” or even thinking about why.

I watched this with incredible fascination. This huge wrench just got thrown into his life and he couldn’t care less. He hasn’t let it impact him in the slightest bit. He knows what he has on his plate right now and is using that to his advantage, not wasting his time worrying about what could be there or why he doesn’t have something else. He’s just going full steam ahead, just like he was yesterday.

There’s a lesson here. I hope I learn it.

Broken

Parenting — Sean Bonner @ 9:52 pm

xray

Since the second Ripley was born I’ve been terrified of the day we have to rush him to the emergency room. And I know full well it’s a “when” not an “if” – kinda goes hand in hand with having kids, right? You spend 18 years trying to not to let them kill themselves by doing something stupid. So I guess I should be relieved that it ended up happening this way.

This afternoon after we’d just spent an hour walking along the LA River, Ripley and Tara were playing outside with the soccer ball and Sidney (the dog) ran over and somehow bumped into Rips or something – Not really sure what happened but Ripley fell down and we all heard a large “crack” – I was inside in the kitchen and I even heard it. Rips screamed like he’s never screamed before. Which in itself is odd because the kid usually bounces off walls without a hitch. He didn’t shake it off right away and said he couldn’t move it. We knew something was up. Tara carried him into the house and propped him up on the couch and assessed the situation. He couldn’t stand on it. It hurt to touch. He could wiggle his toes, but a bump was starting to show on his shin. I was pretty sure it was broken.

I called the insurance to ask if we needed to do anything special. We have “got hit by a bus” insurance which will basically prevent us from going bankrupt in a catastrophe but doesn’t cover dick in the mean time, so I was already anticipating massive bills. They lived up the cliché and basically told us that since we didn’t have a professional to tell us it was an emergency we were going to get fucked if we went to the emergency room. They suggested that we A) make an appointment with an in-network doctor to get a professional opinion or B) Stop by a local pharmacy to see if the pharmacist on duty could recommend something. I pointed out again that my two year old likely had a broken leg, and asked if any of the things they just suggested made any sense at all. They just reiterated that they didn’t encourage emergency room visits without a doctor recommendation. God bless America! (more…)

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