Thursday, July 26, 2012

An atheist's reply to "A Catholic's Reply to 'How to Suck at Your Religion'"

This is going to make people mad, but whatever. Matthew Inman of created a web comic titled "How To Suck At Your Religion." The comic has ruffled a lot of feathers and one religious (in this case, Catholic) blogger decided to refute the comic, panel by panel. However, he doesn't seem to realize that his arguments are all pretty asinine and rely heavily on the reader having the firm belief that Christianity isn't so much religion as fact. No. That doesn't work. I'm going to go point by point and show why his arguments don't work.

1. The first panel of the comic shows presumably a Catholic priest saying "Thou shalt not judge! Unless you don't belong to our church and then I judge that you're going straight to hell." The religious blogger says that this panel is erroneous because the Catholic church has never "declared anyone in Hell" in the way that it would canonize saints. This argument is hopelessly naive. For starters, Inman is hardly leveling this observation at Catholics alone. Yes, the character in the panel has a priest's collar but that has more to do with the familiarity of that image than a singular chastisement of one particular faith. More importantly, whether or not anyone has ever been "officially" declared to be hell-bound, anyone who has spent time on a college campus, walked through the busier parts of town, or even had the audacity to answer their doorbell has most likely been informed of just what awful sinners they are for not believing in religion X. My own grandmother told me I was going to hell for not believing in her religion.

2. Galileo. Oh, Galileo. The blogger's argument that Galileo's treatment by the Catholic church is misunderstood links us to an article on (which we can be assured is totally objective) in which Galileo is depicted as a megalomaniac who essentially bullied the Catholic Church into reluctantly persecuting him. The article even characterizes Galileo as "intent on ramming Copernicus down the throat of Christendom." This is kind of hilarious and hypocritical considering that Christendom was doing it's own ideological throat-ramming with its Inquisitions at the same time. The article is a, um, neat read.

3. The blogger actually equates stem cell research with Mengele's human experimentation in Nazi Germany. He actually draws this comparison. For real. He also makes the claim that there's a scientific consensus as to when life begins but there actually isn't! There isn't even a religious consensus! So, yeah, that there's a big, fat lie.

4. Inman argues against parents choosing their kids' religious views for them. This is pretty much the only area where I can see where the blogger is coming from. A great deal of parenting has to do with teaching your children how to be good people and to many, that means they have to be religious people. However, I do agree with Inman that children shouldn't be discouraged to question and find answers on their own. That's another big part of being a parent - getting your kids to the point where they can start making these big decisions for themselves.

5. The blogger really shoots himself in the foot here. He's making his way toward a legitimate argument and then lets it all fall apart when he conflates encouraging a child to come to their own conclusions about the afterlife to saying that the answer to "what's 3 x 3" is changeable according the child's fancies. No. A mathematical formula is not akin to religious belief. Can you imagine if math was as ambiguous and changeable and mysterious as religion? Do you think we could build things if measurements were always subject to someone's personal convictions? Sorry, Catholic blogger guy, that was a dumbass argument.

6. The blogger really misses the point, here. Right now, at this very moment, citizens of the U.S. are being actively denied basic rights because of religion. People are being told that they are immoral, sick, wrong, and subhuman because of the way certain religious people view their sexuality. And since I'm picking apart a Catholic blog, what about the church's long history of sexual abuse of children by priests? Isn't that messed up? Couldn't that have something to do with the church's treatment of sex which, to paraphrase Stephen Frye, is akin to an anorexic or bulimic attitude toward food? It's disingenuous to deny that religion hasn't played a pretty big role in why people have anxieties about sex and sexuality.

7. This is just silly. I have personal experience with door-to-door proselytizing and it's annoying at best and infuriating and invasive at worst. In this day and age when information is literally at our fingertips thanks to modern technology, is it really necessary to darken someone's doorstep with your unsolicited beliefs and opinions? If someone is looking for Jesus or a reserved seat on the rocket to Kolob, they can find the resources they need. It's great that you're looking out for my spiritual well-being but could you please take a moment and look at it from my perspective? I won't knock on your door and try to convince you of my beliefs, please extend to me that same courtesy.

8. Blogger, do you realize that to a non-religious individual that this is how your religion sounds to many of us? In my mind, Scientology and Catholicism are equally bizarre. It's not just Scientology and Catholicism that are strange and ridiculous to me, it's every religion. There are good things sprinkled throughout a bunch of illogical rambling about hidden kingdoms for good people vs. horrible dungeons for bad people and invisible whatsits that tell you what to do and resurrections and strange laws about what to do if your neighbor's donkey falls into a pit that you dug.

9. People vote according to their religious beliefs all the time, which is why people will consistently vote for someone who doesn't have their best interests at heart but will really stick it to "teh gays." Also, stop bringing up the mythical scientific consensus about when life begins. THERE IS NO CONSENSUS.

10. This is where the blogger heavily implies that Muslims are all "violent, intolerant psychos" unlike fuzzy Christians who are never mean, ever. Do I have to get into why this is a shitty argument?

11. Killing for religion is an awful thing to do. Don't do it. Also, calling someone or something out on their bad behavior isn't the same as saying "I hate you because God tells me to."

12. What the hell is this "placebo religion?" Inman ends his comic strip with "just keep it to your fucking self." He isn't saying "don't have your beliefs." In fact, there's a whole section that the blogger ignores wherein Inman indicates the ways religion doesn't suck - "Does your religion inspire you to help people? Does it make you happier?" And does it help you with the metaphysical mindfuck of being human (I'm paraphrasing). Those are good things. But using religion as an excuse to hurt people, stifle discovery, and justify awful behavior is crap.

I have religious friends and family members who I love and respect. Their religion helps them make sense of the world and is a positive force in their lives. They don't use it to make people feel like they are less than human. They don't try to force others into believing as they do. They don't blame senseless tragedies on a lack of God. That's how they don't suck at their religion. I don't know why that's hard to understand.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I've been saying that turning 30 is better than the alternative. Today, I am painfully reminded of how true that statement is. Horrible, senseless, and tragic events happen all over the world but I believe their actual physical proximity to a person influences how much that person is affected. It's not a ground-breaking statement, I know. My brain isn't working too well right now. Someone shot a lot of people in Aurora, CO last night/early this morning during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie. He just walked into the theater and started firing indiscriminately, killing 12 people and injuring 50 others. I don't know why or even if "why" matters at this point. What difference does it make to the victims of violence if the perpetrator did it for a cause or just because he felt like it? Hurt is hurt. Dead is dead. Those 12 people will never celebrate another birthday, watch another movie, receive another hug, eat another meal, or laugh at another joke. The people who love them will always have that empty space.

I don't feel celebratory today but I do feel appreciative. I can still do things, like write a tiny and pointless blog entry. This evening, I'll go home and hug my kids.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I'm a nerd and I'm okay if you are, too.

I am a geek. I am a nerd. I have been a geek/nerd for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" series with my family and enjoying it. One of my favorite films at a very young age was Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Henry V and I memorized the St. Crispin's day speech from that play when I was 8 years old because I thought it was moving and awesome, because I wanted to impress my parents, and because I was showing off. I watched Star Trek, TNG religiously, wrote awful fan fiction about it, and spent hours drawing what my quarters would look like with my best friends at the time. I am forever grateful that I had enthusiastic collaborators in weirdness. I have always loved science fiction and fantasy novels and films and enjoy board games and video games.

Despite what so many films made during the late 80's and 90's sought to portray, I never wanted to be part of the "popular" crowd. I thought they were all jerks and befriending them would have been self-sabotage. Looking back, it almost seems as though I went out of my way to keep being an outcast. I didn't, though. I was just awkward. I was painfully shy, I wore my grandmothers' hand-me-downs, I developed a liking for button-down silk shirts and men's ties. I started wearing gloves in class because I hated the way my fingers felt when they were pressed together in order to hold a pencil. (Incidentally, the glove thing also brought about the first time I ever heard someone use "faggoty" as a descriptor. Can you blame me for not wanting to be friends with these schmucks?) I swear to you, I was afraid of Jupiter. That planet SCARED me. My brother had this awesome book about all the planets in our solar system (including Pluto, damnit) and I remember he showed me a picture of Jupiter and pointed to that perpetual storm - the Great Red Spot - and told me that it alone could swallow several Earths. I apparently interpreted that to mean that it wanted to swallow the Earth.

I credit my family for my geeky qualities. My parents are both nerds and I say that with great affection and admiration. My brother is probably the nerdiest of us all and even though I didn't appreciate that for many years, I love the living daylights out that fact (and him) now. I was taught to enjoy learning and exploration. I was shown that scientists and writers and scholars and mathematicians are the real freaking rock stars in life. To my continuing shame, I still freeze up in the face of math and end up spewing random numbers until someone intervenes out of embarrassment and sympathy. That being said, I have a lot of respect for people who can make numbers dance and sing.

I'm not writing this to be a douchebag and be all, "I was a nerd BEFORE it was cool!" I want to be clear about what nerdiness/geekiness means to me because I know that my definition of those terms is somewhat more generous than how other self-proclaimed nerds/geeks define them. Patton Oswalt (a person I respect and admire) wrote an article for Wired Magazine in 2010 where he laments the death of nerd culture because it's lost its elitism, its street cred. More and more people are calling themselves nerds, even if it's just because they played Skyrim for an hour that one time. While I do agree that many so-called "nerds" are not deserving of the title, I don't share Oswalt's despair. I don't think that nerd culture is being destroyed as it's being embraced. New artists continue to pop up. Thinkers and dreamers keep tumbling out of the womb. We're not running out of drive and inspiration. The more people in the world who are thirsty for knowledge and enjoy experimenting and creating and tripping and falling and getting back up to do it all over again, the better.

I get cranky when my nerdiness is called into question. Saying I'm not a nerd because I don't have a giant comic book collection or because I suck at math or because I can't recite Boba Fett's origin story is a bunch of crap. I don't have to have read every comic book to be able to appreciate comic books. I don't have to be able to do calculations in my sleep in order to feel sufficient awe and respect for mathematics. You know what? I think Boba Fett is overrated, even WITHOUT the crappy Star Wars prequels sullying his character. As Nicola Foti would say, "Sahrry." I'm not going to take away your nerd hat if you disagree with me. I think the spirit of being a nerd/geek is pursuing knowledge, creating, inventing, not being ashamed of your love for anime/Star Trek/board games/science fiction/D&D/calculus/Shakespeare, etc., and letting yourself get lost in excitement and squeal-filled glee when you participate in the things that get your mental gears turning.

Putting things more succinctly and eloquently than I can is John Green, YA author and 1/2 of the Vlogbrothers: "Saying, I notice you're a nerd is like saying Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?"

(And how on Earth could it be bad if more people felt that way?)

Now put on a fez, roll a d6, and contemplate the vastness of the universe.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I was visiting my family a few weeks ago and my mom reminded me to take my medication one morning. I dug into my purse, explaining that I keep my pills in there so I don't find myself at work and suddenly realize, oh crap, I haven't taken my damn pills! I have learned the hard way that I will forget to take my pills in the morning before leaving for work and if I do that for 2-3 days straight, I am a complete mess. So I take my medication at work and I take them stealthily because they are antidepressants and I'm kind of, sort of ashamed to be taking them. I'm ashamed of my shame, too, which is great.

The medication I'm taking and have been taking for a while now is sertraline (generic Zoloft) and the (for me) unpronounceable bupropion (generic Wellbutrin). I've been taking sertraline since before my second child was born and the bupropion came into the mix maybe 2 years ago. As I have written about before, I went through postpartum depression after my oldest son was born. While the crushing sadness and feelings of helplessness and terror subsided after a few months, they never went away entirely. I was angrier, more worn out, and sadder than I had been prior to the whole ordeal. I was encountering more and more days during which I could barely bring myself to get out of bed because I felt so worthless and awful. I hit a particularly low point and scheduled an appointment with my doctor at the time who prescribed the sertraline. It made a very positive difference. However, all medications have side effects and the sertraline, while doing a great job of keeping me from feeling miserable, also sapped me of my energy. Another doctor's appointment (with a new doctor b/c we had moved back to Missoula by this time) resulted in me walking away with a new prescription for bupropion to take in tandem with the sertraline. With their powers combined, I would be functioning at a more reasonable capacity!

Now, I know that these medications have been working for me. I'm less moody, a little more energetic, and the hopeless feelings are fewer and further between. My brain wasn't functioning as it should, so I started taking medicine. What's shameful in that? Nothing! Except...depression is sort of treated like a weakness of character rather than an actual bonafide...thing. There's still this attitude of, "you're depressed? Well, boo-friggin'-hoo! Go for a jog and quit your bitching!" Other mental illnesses like schizophrenia and autism are treated more seriously but Hollywood has made sure that everyone still gets them wrong. Schizophrenics are all ticking time bombs and autistic kids are all super good at math and hold all the secrets of the universe if only Jack Bauer would come along and see the signs or whatever. The truth is, most of us really don't know what to do or think about mental illness because it isn't something that we can point to and say "there's the problem," so we either write it off as something frivolous or stereotype the crap out of it.

I take my meds as inconspicuously as possible because I don't want my coworkers to see the bottles and hear the word "antidepressants" and judge me as deficient. I also don't want their pity or to be treated with kid gloves as though I would totally jump out my window if only it would open. This problem that I have is a real thing but I'm handling it. Well, handling it except for the whole "DON'T JUDGE ME!!!!" part. That still needs work.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My bloody weekend

Last night, I was lamenting that the kids and I didn't do much over the weekend. However, it occurred to me that the weekend featured more blood than usual. Not in a way that would make passers-by stare in horror, fortunately. Still, though... Events were bloodier than normal.

Saturday night, after I put the kids to bed and informed them that wolves would eat them if they didn't go to sleep, I went downstairs to enjoy some quiet time. The peace was soon broken by the sound of Ethan screaming. Then, Ben called down to me "Mom! Ethan's got blood!" Damn it. I told those wolves to wait for my signal. Seriously, though, I ran upstairs and saw my little baby boy with blood covering the lower half of his face and both hands dripping with blood. It seems he was doing a little recreational furniture climbing and broke a fall with his face. This is not the first time it has happened. Last summer, Ethan gave himself a half dozen nose bleeds from similar activities. Just like those times before, once I cleaned him up and snuggled him, he calmed down and all was well. It's worth pointing out that he gave himself a bloody nose at daycare earlier in the week from running into a pole. He's going to end up looking like Owen Wilson if he keeps this up.

Sunday afternoon, I was outside with the boys when I decided that they both looked really shaggy and could stand to have their hair trimmed. I thought I'd give it a go, despite the fact that I have never, ever, ever given either of them a decent haircut. Ever. You know that Ben Franklin quote that goes, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?" That totally doesn't apply here. Shut up.

I got out my hair cutting scissors and a comb and decided that Ben would be the first sacrifice upon the altar of really bad ideas. It was going fairly well right up until I snipped off a tiny chunk of his ear. He sat screaming as I ran to get some tissues and blood dripped onto his shirt and got in his hair and... oh, the humanity. I am such an ass. He stopped screaming once a bandage was applied but there was no way in hell he was going to let me near him with scissors. He didn't even want to go and let a professional finish the job I had started. I couldn't just leave him with a quarter of a haircut, so I found my clippers. Unfortunately, they were missing the adjustable guard. "Oh, well," I thought. "I'll just eyeball it," I thought. "Can't be that hard," I thought. Actually, I didn't think any of those things. I was just batshit crazy. As you can probably guess, I made the kid look ridiculous. If I had smeared some dirt on his face he could have been "Urchin #4" in a production of Les Miserables. I decided to head out and buy some brand new clippers to at least try to even things out. I told my mom my plan and her response was, "you're letting him out in public like that?!" Look, he's lucky he still has both ears, mom. Sheesh.

After purchasing the fantabulous new clippers with their various adjustable attachments and "self-sharpening" blades (how??), I finished the job while lamenting how short his hair is now and muttering that "your daddy's gonna kill me." Ben was a champ. Then, I turned my lunacy on Ethan. Ethan, who had beheld the entire spectacle from the beginning, was not going to put up with my crap. He screamed like a beast. He thrashed, he clawed, he fought, he wiggled, and he spat angry defiance at me. I bribed him with cookies, though, and got him to hold still long enough to give him a slightly longer and much more even-looking version of his brother's haircut.

Both boys have since informed me that they like their haircuts and that they still love me. Ben even told me, "I don't want daddy to kill you." I can't say that I would be as gracious and forgiving in their shoes. A good friend of mine has assured me, though, that I have definitely scarred Ben and that he'll probably fear scissors for the rest of his life. Just one more way I have made a mark on his delicate psyche.

The point I want to drive home is, I had nothing to do with Ethan's bloody nose. That's all on him.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Challenge

I just read an article on that pointed out how fat-shaming isn't going to make people thinner and really just creates a toxic environment. It doesn't do anyone any good, in other words. Then, I watched a snippet of the news on about a girl who was driven to suicide from bullying. This is certainly an all too familiar issue, isn't it? Topping this cake of despair is the recent passing of Amendment 1 in North Carolina that prohibits same-sex marriage AND same-sex civil unions. True, President Obama freaking finally spoke out in support of marriage equality, but it's just not enough to turn my frown upside down.

I mean, what the fuck is wrong with people?

How hard is it to be nice? How difficult can it possibly be to not bully someone to the point where they feel like death is their only option? How laborious is it to bite your tongue instead of calling someone a "fatty" or any other of the far-too numerous synonymous insults? And why the HELL is there even a debate going on as to whether or not consenting adults should be able to get married? What is this crap about the "sanctity" of marriage? You know what? Only my husband and I have any effect on our marriage. Kim Kardashian's 72-day circus of a marriage didn't undermine ours. Newt Gingrich's numerous affairs didn't hurt us. So how on earth will allowing loving same-sex couples the same damn right enjoyed by hetero folks cause marriage to suddenly become sullied? Answer: IT WON'T.

Just be nice! I don't care if your religion dictates that you can't support gay marriage. Not supporting something isn't the same as acting like a dick. Suck it up, go to church, and freaking move on. I don't care if you don't like fat people. Truth is, they probably hate you, too, or they would if they knew how hard it is for you to not be such an asshole. Fat people are out there, ladies and gents. Pointing and screaming isn't going to do a damn thing. I don't care if that kid who sits across from you in English class is socially awkward and you think his glasses look funny. If you derive pleasure from another person's suffering, you are the real freak. It's not him.

I'm throwing down this gauntlet, people of the world. Stop being mean. Try to go just one day without throwing out a racial slur or a fat joke or calling someone a "fag." For once, don't taunt that kid from your English class (or wherever). Refrain from polluting the atmosphere with hateful words/signs/slogans and then be amazed at the end of the day when you find that you didn't implode and your god didn't smite you. Check your blood pressure - I bet it's lower. And if you're up for it, take up the challenge the next day and the next. Take it up for a week, a month, a year, the rest of your life. There's this part in "The Brothers Bloom" when the character Penelope tells one of the Bloom brothers that his soul is constipated and full of grumpy, petrified poop. That's you, mean people of the world. It's time to unclench and let all that awful, spiteful poop go. You'll feel better and you'll no longer be full of shit. (ba-dum bum)


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bits and bobs...and cookies.

I go through an awful lot of dry spells when it comes to this here blog. I'm in a dry spell right now, matter of fact. It's not necessarily because nothing is happening in my life that is noteworthy; it's mostly because I have no idea what to say about the things that are happening or even if I should say anything at all. The month of April has been pretty nasty, to tell you the truth. There have been bright spots, however. My oldest son turned six this month and had a pretty darn nice birthday. I went to see a play for the first time in years (unless you count MCT's production of "Winnie the Pooh," which I don't).  I'm also still employed at a job that I enjoy with people I enjoy seeing on a daily basis. All of these things provide some warm fuzzies. Beyond listing these bits and pieces of the Sarahverse, I don't know what to write. *looooooooong sigh*

I turn to you, my few and valiant readers. What would you like me to write about? Shall I try a story? A poem? Do you want to know my opinion on condensed vs. home-made soup? What shall I do? Leave a comment and then eat a cookie. I have no cookies to give you but I think everyone has cookie rights and if you don't have cookies in your house then you have my full permission and support to go get some.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Merrily we roll along

I've shamed myself into writing today. Two very good friends of mine have both been productive with their own blogs and it reminded me that my own has been sorely neglected. It basically just sits in a corner of my brain, forlornly nudging it's favorite chew toy and looking at me with big, soulful eyes. I submit. Plus, stuff has happened and this blog is about stuff that happens to me so I should write about that stuff.

What's the stuff? Well, I am a working mom again. Now, I will be the first person to jump down the throat of anyone who accuses stay-at-home moms (or dads) of not "working" but I must make it clear that I am not defending myself and my own experience when I go into attack mode. I am a crappy stay-at-home mom. I am terrible at it. I have no idea what the hell to do with myself and my kids and usually end up doing next to nothing and then wrapping myself up in guilt along with my blankets when I go to bed at night. My righteous indignation bubbles up out of a deep respect for the SAHMs and SAHDs I know who are actually good and enthusiastic about what they do - my idols to whom I beg forgiveness after disappointing my kids yet again. So when I say that I'm working again, you are free to assume that I wasn't doing anything before besides occupying space.

I'm extremely excited to be working at the University of Montana again. My confidence in my abilities to be a productive employee was dealt a very hard blow with my last experience so I entered the workplace with some trepidation. I am now ending my third week and the difference between this time around and the 4-month horror show at the sleep clinic is night and day. The sense of belonging that I had when I last worked for the U has returned even though I'm working for a different department. The people here are warm, friendly, helpful, fun, and blessedly free of psychotic, micromanaging battleaxes. Joy! I am being reminded of what my last job caused me to doubt - that I am a good employee. It's silly that I let that ONE experience overshadow all my other years of employment but I tend to focus squarely on the bad while ignoring the good. And now I will tell myself, for the millionth time, to stop doing that.

Of course, this has been a huge change for our family. I stressed myself out trying to figure out the logistics of daycare, after school care, and (the part that caused me the most stress) how Ben was going to get to school each day if I couldn't take him. I despaired that the Y doesn't offer before school care and fretted over whether or not I could get away with coming in to work later and halving my lunch break. I eventually called upon my awesome neighbors who stepped up to the plate and agreed to walk Ben to school. Through all my scrambling and worrying, it never occurred to me to just get another car seat for my husband's car so that he could take Ben to school. Thankfully, this idea DID occur to my husband and that big, scary Issue is no more and I just feel silly.

So now Ben gets picked up by a bus and taken to his after-school care on days when Clyde is working. Ethan, meanwhile, goes to a full-time daycare in a different building. Ben has had some behavioral issues pop up since I changed our daily routines but he's handling everything much better than I thought he would. Ethan has been a different story altogether. He tends to cry every morning when I get him dressed and we've had two mornings so far in which he seemed to be vying for the coveted "Loudest and Most Violent Hissy-Fit Award.". I'm positive that if such a thing existed, he would have won. My neighbors would probably agree, too, considering how they were all treated to his banshee wails of outrage when I carried him to the car during the first fit. You're welcome, neighbors. Although the second fit was as recent as yesterday, I am confident that things will get better. He's always smiling and playing when I pick him up and the people who work at the daycare seem to really care about him and enjoy having him.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that my job continues to go well and that the kids settle into the newness of it all. They've done it before and I'm sure they can do it again. However, I don't want to keep putting them through so many drastic changes. Hopefully, this go around as a paid worker will stick and what's new will become normal. I have many different items on my self-improvement list and a long road ahead of me but I feel like I'm on pretty steady footing. I'll take a lesson from the British and keep calm and carry on.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Small Sociopath Causes Mom to Consider Becoming a Hermit

It's been a while since my last blog. I would love to say that I haven't written anything because I've been tremendously busy and productive but it would be a filthy, shameful lie. I've been browsing the web for jobs, spending WAY TOO MUCH TIME on Facebook, rereading my Terry Pratchett books, and blundering through the whole parenting thing (as per usual). We had a nice Christmas with my family, I spent some time with good friends, Clyde and I even attempted a date night which lasted less than two hours because we're old and have no idea what to do with ourselves. We need to work on that, I suspect. We actually decided that the next time we have an opportunity to go "out" without the kids, we need at least one other couple with us to sort of guide us on how to have a Fun Evening. We know how sad that is. But that isn't what prompted me to write. The reason I have decided to write this evening is because I have made a startling discovery. It's a discovery that I'm not sure I should have made, to be honest. However, I feel compelled to share it. I have discovered that my youngest son, my darling boy, my precious little one is a total jerk face. Yep. I said it.

Please understand that I love him tremendously. I think he's adorable and I love to dance with him and cuddle him and I find his chubby cheeks to be irresistibly smoochable. But he's a jerk. I think it's because he recently turned 3 and despite what we've all heard about "the terrible twos" it is actually the "apocalyptic threes" that parents need to worry about. Ethan has always been stubborn and willful but these traits have come to utterly dominate his personality. He has brought me to tears. The stress from dealing with the little goblin can be plainly seen on my face that has broken out worse than it ever did when I was a teenager. He has stopped me in my tracks and sent me searching my pockets for a white flag to wave.

I am sure that I have mentioned that Ethan's scream could make a banshee go into early retirement from shame. The scream, actually no... the Scream - because it deserves the capital S and could make your vision blur and distort like the Edvard Munch painting of the same name - the Scream is being used much more frequently and pretty indiscriminately. Basically, any time I tell Ethan to do something, he busts out the Scream. The other day, I ended up slinging him over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carrying him home because he unleashed the Scream when we picked Ben up from school. I told him to hold my hand. That was it. That earned the Scream. Later that same evening, I had to take the boys shopping and Ethan didn't want to sit in the seat in the shopping cart. Patrons of the Safeway on Reserve were introduced to the Scream. I was horrified and embarrassed and at a complete loss. Eventually I went through those feelings and out the other side to hysteria. Some poor woman turned the corner into our aisle and was treated to the Scream with Manic Laughter as accompaniment. Poor Benjamin was terribly confused.

It's not just the screaming that makes Ethan a jerk. He's also violent. Today, we went on a play date with a friend and her son to the train at the mall. Ethan became very possessive of the train and had no problem exerting his dominance over any hapless child silly enough to think that the play area was for everyone. Ethan made a baby cry! This adorable baby girl was just sitting on the train, minding her own business and Ethan clobbered her! A baby! This was after he sent another poor toddler crying to his mother because Ethan yelled at him, "MY TRAIN!" and shoved him. It's heartbreaking that MY kid is that kid. He takes swings at anyone who makes him mad. There have been many times when I've been in the kitchen and suddenly heard the "thud thud thud" of Ethan's running feet followed by a clumsily delivered swat to whatever part of my anatomy that he can reach. Why does he do this? Pick a reason! He's mad that his food isn't ready right now or he's furious that he can't eat nothing but marshmallows all day. Maybe he's mad because I told him we're out of something. Maybe it's a full moon. You know what? Maybe he doesn't need a reason because HE'S A JERK.

I am holding tightly to the belief that this is a phase. Ben was pretty rotten when he was 3 and now he's very sweet and gentle. However, until this phase is over with I kind of don't want to take him with me out in public anymore. He's the honey badger of toddlers lately and the public must be protected. But who is going to protect me? I can't help but ponder the expense of building a padded cell as an addition to our home. I'll let him out when he's 4.