Thursday, May 10, 2007


Mark’s kids were over tonight.

I really don’t enjoy children; I tend to think of them as miniature embodiments of everything that I don’t want out of life. They represent the minimization of self and the forced maturation that comes with society’s version of adulthood. I, of course, have my own thoughts on growing up – mainly that I have earned the right to do what I please, not stay home and change somebody’s diaper and wipe strained peas off a messy chin. Even if I stood to inherit an Anna Nicole caliber fortune, I can’t see myself doing the diaper thing. And I’m not real big on peas, either.

Mark’s older daughter is not bad, for a nine-year-old. She is rather sweet in a drama-queen princess way. She really does like a lot of the things that I do, and we can discuss topics like shopping and gossip without the glazed eyes of many of her contemporaries. I let her take more liberties than I probably should, like running around the house in my expensive heels, carrying my Pradas when we go out to lunch, and getting a new outfit or accessory now and again.

I admit, half the time I do these things because I feel bad for her. She lives with her mother, her mother’s new husband, Mark’s younger daughter and her mom and step dad’s new baby. Her mother is rather unsophisticated – she is often unkempt and looks like her wardrobe has not been updated since some time in the late 1990s (but her NASCAR tee shirts are new, I guess.) Her step dad is a slob of the highest order. Mark’s younger daughter is an absolute brat, and the baby is fussy and probably on the brat path himself. They live in a dumpy house in the most lowbrow neighborhood of the most white-trash town for miles. This is the type of town where anybody who doesn’t leave after high school finds themselves living in a trailer full of badly dressed kids, blowing their disability checks at the Moose lodge every month. The poor kid won’t have a chance without Mark’s and my influence.

She goes to a small, private Catholic school. Her mother, I’m convinced, intends to send her there straight through high school to combat what she perceives as Mark’s ungodly influence. Mark shares my attitudes on many things esoteric; funny how his ex-wife used to e-mail me, his girlfriend, when she was looking for tricks of Tantra and Laya Yoga to keep him around. Her hypocrisy is stupefying.

His daughter is treated very well, by comparison, when she is at our house. Mark always lets her use his laptop, because the one they have at her house is frequently either occupied or broken. She is always encouraged to do things other than watch TV. She spends her time here listening to different kinds of music (no more fuckin’ Shanaya or Carrie Underwood – redneck does not look good on a woman! Classical, metal, techno, hip hop – those are fine), drawing, painting, playing in the yard, learning to play cards, learning to cook simple things, learning to enjoy food not from a box or a can, improving her table manners, shopping, learning about finances and generally encompassing new experiences all around.

She is developing a love for couture, and learning the lessons about budgeting, getting a good price and spotting fakes that come along with it. She’s learning important lessons about buying classic wardrobe pieces from outlets and discount stores while accenting with current-season department store pieces to keep with the times on a budget. She is learning about supplementing one’s Design Within Reach (yeah, right) purchases with reclaimed flea-market finds, and how to put it all together to make a really beautiful house, instead of the overstuffed-recliner-meets-cheap-Queen-Anne-repro stuff she’s used to.

She’s learning about living, embracing pleasure, seizing the days she has on this earth, and she’s coming to disbelieve all that hellfire and brimstone bullshit on an intellectual level. In a word, she’s growing.

But it is a slow process. Sometimes it’s hard for her to understand that when she looks over my shoulder while I’m balancing my checkbook on the computer and sees money present, that does not always mean she’s going to be treated. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand why she doesn’t always get what came so easily to me, but then I realize that I’m battling the negative imprinting she’s experiencing the other five days of the week.

Mark thinks some day she will want to come and live with us. If I’m still with Mark when that happens, I will be OK with that.

But I’m still nobody’s babysitter.

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