Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Keep Your Bullets Outta' My Bubble, Fool

I'm writing to come down from a clammy three-mile run through our clone home neighborhood or should I say 'hood? Yeah, my 'hood, where last weekend there was a combination pistol-whipping robbery/gang shooting across the street from our house, an armed robbery at a McCrap a quarter(pounder)-mile away and a brazen broad daylight rape mere hours ago on a college campus I just now zigzagged through during my evening run.

Safety should not be a relative term. I wish I'd known about the rape before bounding like an uninformed, unarmed (mace-free) idiot toward the scene of the crime.

My husband is on duty tonight. Huge sigh of relief. I'm hiding out from the bedtime rigmarole while writing from my squat on the prickly backyard lawn next to the kids' flowering (and towering) jungle of purple and green basil. And I'm avoiding being sucked into the "bath, books and bed" routine while also attempting to avoid dwelling on the recent chain of exceptionally proximate violence.

Post-run muscle twitches are pinging off the backs of my thighs and (TMI warning) sports bra perspiration is gathering amid my anti-cleavage, mostly all that's left up top after breastfeeding three babies born practically one pregnancy after the other (and nursing for a minimum of eight months each and a maximum of 18 months with supernatural nurser Solenne).

The only sounds by our blooming herb and veggie garden (that daddy and the boys coaxed from hard-packed stubborn soil this summer with twenty back-breaking bags of organic mulch and twenty back--breaking bags of organic topsoil), are steady cricket songs and thundering booms from commercial airplanes taking off and landing at the nearby airport. A rocky auditory marriage at best, yet still a far cry from the recent gunshots next door.

We started gardening with the kids this summer partly to excite them about growing and eating their own vegetables (which practically cause their soda-swigging, bland meat-and-potatoes loving papa to gag when he just looks at them ready to be picked) and partly to show them the hard-earned value of seeing self-driven projects through to the end (an accomplishment they've almost never seen their slacker mama achieve. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. With eager help from their papa I completed them, didn't I? I didn't quit in the midst of pushing them out, right? At least I finished birth! So, there!)

Hey, that reminds me ... Did I finally empty the wet laundry into the dryer or is it the fridge that reeks like mold? Hmm ... that would be my third incomplete task of the day.

Short story long, as a super nice TV producer said to me today during a heavily kid interrupted phone call from NYC, perhaps we devised our family gardening experiment as a way to bring our children closer to nature and further away from the horrible things people do to each other in our world, our country (How do you explain war in Iraq and Afghanistan to a breathtakingly curious, precocious and impressionable 5-year-old?), our state (I challenge you to prove that California isn't as loopy as people say), our city (which touts the cheesy, unoriginal motto "Tomorrow's City Today." If the latest rash of next-door-neighbor violence is a slice of our city's "today" than I shudder to think of what our city's "tomorrow" brings.) and now on the very street we call home.

Ironically, a political "proposition" something or other TV ad just now aired featuring the following voiceover: "After all, our children are our most vulnerable citizens."

My very own sable-haired "most vulnerable citizens" have an overly idealistic mama who is infatuated with raising them in a romanticized "bubble" of perfection and protection. For better or for worse.

Perfection, well, that's not quite the right descriptor for what I'm trying to explain, being that I tell Aiden time and again that "perfect" shouldn't really be in the dictionary because as a concept or a goal for human beings, I believe elusive true perfection is unattainable and shouldn't be strived for in the first place (unless you're meditating your way to Nirvana ... Om on, my fellow yogis).

So what am I doing trying to create a perfect 'bubble" through which to filter my children's lives and experiences? My reasons must have something to do with my undeniable maternal instinct to nurture and protect my young, an impulse that flows thick and heavy like bittersweet molasses through my blood, the blood my children were born of, coursing from my mother-heart into theirs.

At the same time, I feel that one can protect her children to their detriment, to the point of sheltering them too much from the inevitable realities of the wonderful, cruel world around them.

I can't yet tell what my protective "bubble" is made of or what it's made to do. I just know that my motivations for keeping my kids in the "bubble," for now at least, are pure of heart and intention. That second-guessing ambivalence is me, through and through. I'm a paradox personified.

My husband is the wise-ass who came up with the term "bubble" as the home planet of my obsession with exposing our little chitlins to "passers only," that is people, concepts, ideas, images, experiences, institutions, web sites, etc., that only their ironically pessimistic, "glass half empty" complainer mom okays to "pass through" her "bubble" of unrealistic idealism, peace, love and lollipops.

Rejected items indefinitely on the outside of mom's idyllic rose-colored "bubble" (like your friendly neighborhood psychologist's tired old rose-colored eyeglasses analogy): Racists, sexists, homophobes, bourgeois elitist snobs and any other stereotype mongering, closed-minded, unevolved jerks mom can't stomach without eventually inserting her hefty size-10 foot into her mouthy-ass mouth.

Hey, wait. If we meticulously screened via lie detector machine for all of the above listed "bubble" rejects (and for many, many alternate and infinite disqualifiers I'll spare you the mention of) we wouldn't permit anyone to pass through our precious "bubble," now would we?

Maybe not even our own selves.

Naw. I take that back. We family of five deflecting the bad news of the world "bubble" dwellers, who don't yet wish to fess up to our own individual preconceived notions about groups, anything or anyone, will forever enjoy a lifetime membership and full, uninhibited access to our cozy little "bubble" of ahimsa (the Buddhist concept of "do no harm").

In time the kids will hate me when they unsuspectingly pop the foisted upon them "bubble" while watching breaking news of a violent car chase on the L.A. evening news at a play-date at a "normal," non-"bubble" dwelling friend's house.

Seriously, though, I do make a hell of an effort to screen assholes from the kids' lives while still remaining fairly open-minded, compassionate and on very rare occasions perhaps even forgiving in regards to how those assholes became assholes in the first place.

I simply can't and will not tolerate gunshot firing assholes running loose on my street, and I absolutely refuse to allow them into the sanctity of my family's esteemed fairy tale "bubble." Just you try it. (Am I going all vigilante mama, here? Potential pacifist conflict ahead?)

Also permanently exiled from mom's "bubble" of idealism are: violent TV (Are there any nonviolent shows on network TV anymore? We don't get cable nor do I ever want to, maybe not until our kids beg us into it. Mom-imposed TV age-appropriateness snobbery abounds at our pad, that is unless you are outside watching the brain drainer in dad's garage, his very own mom rule-snubbing monarchy), smokers (just kidding, daddy, and for the record I never, ever occasionally smoke cloves when I sip wine), too much sugar/candy/junk food/cosmic flourescent orange Cheetos, McShit in any hormone-laden, grease dripping, moldpress-shaped form (man, I sure miss McDonald's fries since watching the brilliant, persuasive SuperSize Me and reading Fast Food Nation) and especially in exile from the "bubble" are the few gun-toting fools running amok in our 'hood.

Helicopter lights flicker in the distance as I rap away on my laptop (and hopefully wrap up this extended rant). The mechanical drone of police choppers, a.k.a. "ghetto birds," a term I picked up not even a week after landing in crazy California from my humble home state of New Hampshire, served as the soundtrack for my run tonight unknowingly through the unfortunate site of a sex crime.

For now, back at home supposedly "safe" in my backyard, I escape into the calming, fragrant bouquet of our fledgling garden's basil, dill, parsley, rosemary, lavender and spearmint while tuning out the nervewracking buzz of neighborhood police activity and occasional wailing sirens.

From here I magically bounce it all away, off into the cloudy night sky, to any place but near my precious children and our sappy, unrealistic "bubble" of protection.


At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Dad said...

Good job Kim.

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