All This and I Paint

I’m sorry. I’m having such a nice day I can’t hardly get worked up about anything, even with all the good things to get worked up about (Ginger’s awesome smackdown of Terry Frank’s abusive nonsense, for starters*).

Here’s a picture I painted of Mrs. Wigglebottom to have with me in my office, to remind me why I work. Please ignore the seeming tumor on her neck. I was trying to capture the way her skin puddles around her when she sleeps (would a “puddle” be a pug/poodle mix? And don’t you kind of now want a “puddle”?) and failed.

paintdog.jpg

And let’s listen to something fun and beautiful, too.

Here’s my question for you. How is it that Frank Sinatra is kind of the “better” Rat Packer? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I get that he’s badass. But it seems like Dean Martin is the guy that winks at you across a party, just to remind you he’s thinking of you, or who kisses you right on the ticklish part of your neck because it delights him to hear you giggle, or who you find yourself “accidentally” trapped in the coat closet at a party with. How is that not better?

And listen to that smooth voice.  If that doesn’t give you a little happy shudder in your pants, I don’t know what will.  That’s a voice that basically says “Someone very near you wants to touch your fun stuff.”

Woo-hoo!

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*I don’t recall ever disagreeing with the Vol Abroad before, and I’m not really disagreeing with her now, but I think we have to stop saying “A loving nuclear family with awesome support and relatives they can count on is the ideal way to raise a kid.”  If only just because of what the Vol Abroad and Ginger points out.  Those families don’t exist, at least not in any way that has any meaning for how most of us have to live our lives.

I come from a nuclear family that loves each other very much, with an extended family that was there for us as much as possible and we are still deeply fucked up.  And I know folks who grew up with single moms who had no help who are doing awesome.  There are no guarantees and I think it’s cruel–and I begin to wonder if, on the part of Frank and Rose if it’s not intentionally so–to make people feel like, if only they had managed to live some completely different life, their lives would be different and better.  Well, so what?

These are the lives we have and we do the best we can and the rest is up to our kids or our siblings or our parents or whoever else we’re sure we’re fucked up with.  You do the best you can and you let yourself off the hook for the rest.

Folks who continually bring up how we’re ruining, ruining kids by letting them live with single moms or with gay parents or whatever are masking their cruelty under the guise of concern.  Anyone who could look at someone who is happy (with the normal adult stuff thrown in), who loves their kids, who also seem happy (you know, with the normal kid stuff thrown in) and suggest that just because the way they live correlates with some bad stuff happening to people in similar circumstances, they somehow are living wrong is just an ass.

Why concede anything to them?

It’s best for kids when they have happy homes.  What makes up a happy home is as varied as the people who might live in them.  End of discussion.

2 thoughts on “All This and I Paint

  1. Aww. Mrs. Wigglebottom is cute! Even in a painting.

    As for the other bit, I think the argumentation for “best for children” takes us straight into Anselm vs. Guanlio territory (with a dash of Pascal’s Wager thrown in for good measure). The people you’re trying to argue with will just sit there and argue definitions of “ideal” until you give up and go home.

    The sentiment, as offered, is definitionally true (as I’d argue Anselm’s argument is), but functionally pretty useless – its truth (as much truth as there is in it) is tautological. Of course it’s ideal for kids to have the best possible people in their lives. Of course it’s ideal for the family to be loving. It’s the best because it’s the best (definitionally), not because of any sort of specific necessity.

    My instinct to challenge it is to wonder about the constraints. If two loving adults are good, why not three? Four? A village? There are practical answers, of course… two people is a number that’s relatively easy for our legal system to handle, the two people aren’t just two people (there are family members and friends and teachers, oh my!), just the two people who happen to be highest on the responsibility list and allowed to sleep with each other. And so on and so forth. But a) the first argument isn’t set up to deal with practical issues, and b) if it were really better, we’d want to change our systems to accomodate it, wouldn’t we? Isn’t it funny how “what’s best” and “what our systems are set up to handle” tend to coincide, even when we have evidence that shows this isn’t a necessary relationship?

    (I’m also inclined to point out that the abstract ideal and the actual “best” option don’t always resemble each other too much. I’d much rather have something unusual that works than something that looks good on paper but doesn’t pan out in reality. And this stuff doesn’t add up numerically. A child loved wholeheartedly is loved wholeheartedly no matter how many people are loving hir. A support system that works works, no matter who makes it up or how complex it is.)

    My instinct to clarify the statement, however (since I don’t think it’s wrong, exactly, just overly narrow) is to focus on the important bits. “Ideally, kids are raised by adults who love them, in environments that are stable and which have lots of support available for all involved.” For most people, due in no small part to the way our laws and systems are set up, that means a pair of loving adults in an officially sanctioned sexual relationship (and with the stability and legal ties that imparts/implies) raising children who are in some way related to them (through blood or legal ties) in a context supported by their family and friends. Hence your stable nuclear family with an extended support system. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and if and when it works, it doesn’t matter how you got to that point or what went into it… the point is that the conditions of love, stability, and support are met.

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