Monday, February 23, 2009

also known as the Southern Default Brain

Okay, this is the last one - I swear. I even pinkie swear. With peanut butter fudge and maraschino cherries on top. I mean it this time. I thought I was done, until I read something that made me change my mind.

This is an awful story, and I'm just as horrified by it as the next guy, but it really strikes a note with me in light of recent events. An eleven year old boy in Pennsylvania has been accused of shooting and killing his father's pregnant fiancee as she slept in the house they all shared, along with her two children from a previous relationship. Various family members have been quoted as saying that there had been jealousy issues in the past, and some have even claimed that the boy had actually threatened to harm the girlfriend. And what does his dad have to say about all of this?

According to the defense attorney assigned to the child, the father is "a mess" and "had no indication that his son had a problem with [the fiancee]. He's in a state of actual shock and disbelief."

Why am I not surprised?

I'm not making light of his shock and grief. This whole thing is a god-awful tragedy and it's probably going to get even worse in days to come. Something tells me (based on too many days brainstorming with the Social Workers lately at work) that there are some seriously funky family dynamics at play here. But how is it that so many other family members knew there was a problem and the dad had no clue? Was he really that ignorant, or was he so preoccupied with keeping his Southern Default Brain satisfied that he couldn't be bothered to pay attention to his own child's emotions?

This is not a rhetorical question. How the hell does something like this happen?

I know men who are amazing fathers. Men who are totally tuned into their kids and what they're feeling and needing. Men who have no problem putting their kid's needs in front of their own. But I have to say, in total honesty, that these men are by far the minority. A whole stinking bunch of them are just clueless when it comes to their own children. They're so busy looking out for Number One that they forget all about Mini Me. No doubt I'm a little sensitive to this right now, but how could you not be just outraged by this story?

And in the same vein, but with a 180 degree twist, I humbly admit to all of you who commented that you're totally, absolutely right and I need to let go of the whole idea of a lost 21 years. Of course they weren't lost. I wouldn't be the person I am without the experience, I wouldn't have the perspective and world view that I have, and most importantly, I wouldn't have the three overgrown rugrats that make my heart go pitter pat on a regular basis. I have to get over this notion, and I will. It's all part of the process, but I'm sure I'll get there. I've already got a pretty good start.

I took my new Shuffle running today and forgot that I had loaded on this song that I loved way back in the 80's. And as I kind of zoned out and ran, I thought that this song did a pretty good job of saying what I have so much trouble spitting out. (And how about those 80's music videos, huh?)

And now, I'm done. I promise.


ped crossing said...

Sad to say, but it isn't only fathers that can be clueless. I have met a fair number of mothers that are out of touch with their kids and their needs.

Such a sad story.

my two cents said...

The story of the 11 year old killing the father's girlfriend upset me - all stories of children doing things like this upset me. The boy has been charged as an adult and the shotgun used appars to be his. I don't think that eleven year olds have the maturity to have their own firearms and unsupervised access to them.

aims said...

Whatever happened to that hottie in FYC? I use to think he was the sexiest thing! I loved their music!

Maggie May said...

That is a terrible tale.
I think men ARE clueless when it comes to feelings.
Also children can seem to be functioning fine, when they are not.
A bit of communication is needed. Maybe it is up to the mothers to talk. In fact that is why we are made the way we are. To talk and bring things out in the open.
We are the counter balance.

The Finely Tuned Woman said...

I think most men are totally clueless when it comes to emotional stuff and the feelings and needs of their children. I say this with a lot of regret and hindsight, because I counted too much on the father of my children having these capacities. I needed for him to be there and counted on it, but I shouldn't have and I regret it to this day. He simply was unable to do the job and made a bigger mess of it than I would have.

Cath said...

That is a tragic story and sadly, you are so right. Thank goodness for great mums (moms) like you. :) You help redress the balance.

And the video is even more tragic! ;0)

laurie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
laurie said...

RC, i have never thought of you as a catastrophizer, but now i'm beginning to.

put all thoughts of the murdering 11 year old out of your head. there is NO similiarity, no comparison at ALL to your family situation.

the FX may be clueless but he's not anything like that father, who clearly had issues way beyond what the news stories revealed. that father's problems weren't that he was clueless. he had much, much, much bigger problems than that. he was probably a drunk and an abuser and all kinds of other things.

trust me. an 11-year-old doesn't murder out of jealousy alone.

you must not borrow trouble. you have enough legitimate worries without taking vague and dire news stories and trying to apply them to your life.

Rudee said...

That won't happen to you. I'm willing to bet you don't even have a gun in the house. Secondly, I'll bet you a dollar that 11 year old has been poorly raised since the moment of conception.

And oh my! I love Laurie's big word of the day: catastrophizer. I'm going to use that in a sentence today.

Daryl said...

Please dont listen to anyone but your own head/heart/gut ... if you need to vent .. do it .. 21 yrs is a long time and letting go cannot be easy ...

That story about the dimbulb dad should surprise me but it doesnt .. most people seem to not understand pre-teens can be just as hormone-driven as older 'kids'...

Marti said...

Loved the video RC! That brings back memories!

Sorry you are stressed out about the 11 yr old. I have to agree with some earlier posts...there was more to this than a clueless father - much more.

the rotten correspondent said...

I'm NOT a catastrophizer - dang, laurie, is that even a word?? I'm not for one single second comparing my/our situation with the one in Pennsylvania. Not for an instant. And remember, I said that I was pretty sure there was a lot more to that story than originally came out.

My point is that people can be oblivious to what is going on around them - and I think that a lot of time dads lead the oblivion pack.

That's all I'm saying. Not that we're anywhere near that league. Not in a million years.

laurie said...

sorry, when you compare the two situations, you compare the two situations.

and catastrophizer is a great word! my friend ann made it up.

it's very handy.