Monday, March 29, 2010

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lion

I sat down to write a bit ago and the computer did that sneaky thing it does so well. Sucks me into a rabbit hole of different things I want to know more about. Disks of photos I want to do something with. Photo books I need to prepare for publishing. Interests I want to explore. Concerns I need to address. And not much to show for it an hour or so later.

The wind is whipping outside. I hear yard debris (though I’m not ruling out soda cans and other garbage we find in our yard) hitting the windows and I wonder that it’s actually the end of March. So much for ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’. Not exactly what I was looking forward to for spring break this week but there is a bright spot on the horizon. I looked up the weather forecast for Cannon Beach and it looks like Thursday will be the one day in the next ten that the sun might shine. That’s the day we’ll be there so I hope it actually works out this way.

The weather’s kept the kids inside more than normal and this afternoon I found the youngest four cuddled up with each other on the couch playing with their Game Boy contraptions. I was feeling a little guilty for how much time I was allowing them to waste playing around with them but it was nice to see a little togetherness without fighting.

I’ve been meaning to mention the library again. I wrote the other day how much I love the library and especially the 2nd floor. Not long after this I heard on the news and read in the newspaper (and of course, saw all over Facebook) that some man had followed women into the 2nd floor bathroom on two separate occasions, turned out the lights and proceeded to make sexual advances. I think he grabbed someone’s leg, but I’m not sure what all else might have been accomplished toward whatever sick goal he was after.

When I first heard about this I wondered if maybe the person was mentally handicapped in some way. I know that sounds bad but I couldn’t figure out how an adult male would pick a place like that for that purpose. First of all, there would be cameras. But additionally, there’s a good amount of library a person would need to get through before they could make a break for it outside. People who do things like this are behaving in an evil, sick manner but that doesn’t necessarily make them stupid. When the perpetrator was caught and we learned it was a 13 year old boy, the stupid part suddenly made sense. I couldn’t tell you what would drive a 13 year old to do something like this but once driven, I’m not shocked that his methods were sloppy. My gosh, he’s just a kid.

Some of my friends on Facebook discussed how something like this might come to pass. I think a few of us agreed that it seems less a matter of lack of parenting than really bad parenting. I guess. I know as a mom that you can teach and cajole and nag and prod but it doesn’t always have the effects you’d hope for. It’s hard to believe that a kid from a family with parents who try would be capable of something like that but I guess you have to make allowances for the possibility of mental illness too. Because even under the most neglectful circumstances, I think stalking strangers in a public bathroom would be a pretty unusual result. One friend mentioned the evils of kids surfing the web without parental supervision and easy availability of pornography. This is a huge concern, though personally I wonder if that would lead to the stranger stalking. The truth is, I don't know exactly what it takes to flip that switch and turn someone into, as my dad would say, an excellent addition to the inmate population.

The whole computer thing is something I talk a lot to the kids about but I think they don’t really get it. They know that we don’t want them to see or hear anything inappropriate. They don’t want to see or hear anything inappropriate. What they don’t get is just how easily they can become visually assaulted. How one word, taken another way perhaps, can yield visions of perversion and human degradation that they’d never be able to wipe from their minds. They don’t get that once it’s in there, it’s there to stay. And once there, it can either haunt them or pique their interest. Either scenario is completely unacceptable.

Some days I really do want to pack up my family and isolate them. I can’t and I won’t but some days, when the wind is howling and the world seems especially wicked, easy answers are all I want.

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