Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Teenage Daughter Chronicles, Part I

My oldest daughter turned 13 this year, and the parent's curse has come to roost in a big way. In the past few weeks, she has been unhappy, and determined to share this experience with her mother and me. She's running the whole gamut: inappropriate clothing, lying, keeping secrets, refusal to obey even the simplest family rules and traditions, all the while complaining that we don't respect her, that we yell at her (usually, ironically, said at the top of her lungs), and acting as if her mere presence in the household is a gift we should properly appreciate.

In an effort to come to grips with this, I figure what better way than to keep a running, intermittent chronicle of the adventure of raising a teen-aged daughter. Tempting as it may be to do otherwise, I will leave her name out of it, partly to avoid embarassing her, partly to avoid providing sexual predators any more information to target her.

The hardest part is the inconsistency. The past few days have not been hideous. She has taken a part in family life, and at least pretended to enjoy it. So, given the circumstances, I consented when she asked to go out after dinner tonight, with the promise that she would be back by 8:00 pm. So, when 8:35 rolled around, I set out on foot to track her down.

She loves her littlest sister, she hates her middle sister and both brothers, but she can act with great consideration and kindness. She is whip-smart but strong willed. Tell her not to do something and you guarantee she will do it. She is smart enough to understand the argument, but she is still 13, so everything becomes emotional. If behavior is any indication, she has been suffering PMS for the past 4 weeks.

What can you do with such a combination? I'm trying prayer. After family dinner is the family rosary, which she takes part in, usually with the baby on her lap. I am placing my confidence in Our Lord and His Blessed Mother to do what I am patently unable to.

Right now she is in her room, expressing ignoring us, because we had the temerity to hold her to her word. Options sway between outright acceptance to selling her to an Arab prince. Maybe not the last one. I would be in favor of a burkha. But if you are from good Catholic background and are in need of a 13 year old girl, make an offer.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Juggling with Hand Grenades (or, Never Trust an EOD Expert Nicknamed "Fingers")

The President has come out of the closet, so to speak, at least on the subject of same-sex marriage. This after Joe Biden went a bit off script on a Sunday talk show. They both used highly emotional language, including the word "love" liberally, thus ensuring that anyone who might challenge this will be perceived as a hard-hearted bastard, which most people would prefer not to be considered. Except for me. I am a hard hearted bastard. I am a bastard-coated bastard with a hard bastard filling.


Those poor Jesuits who had the unenviable task of teaching Joe "Neal Kinnock" Biden must be rattling their Rosaries in heaven now as they watch Joe toss aside all that fine scholastic theology they attempted to drill into that oversized melon of his for mushy sentiments of love.

(As a bit of an aside, I have always told my students that the firm foundation of a marriage is not love, but friendship. If you don't like the person you are with, there  isn't love enough in the world to keep you together.)

So here  goes. Marriage, like anything, must be considered in light of it's proper function: safe guarding chastity, mutual support in the pursuit of our best good, and to provide a secure environment for the propagation of the species. While gay marriage might consider the first two (although even the most liberal reading of Christian and Hebrew scripture pretty much forbids homosexual behavior, condemning it as a sin, so it is hard to see how this relationship could lead to the pursuit of the best good), the third is not possible, without the intervention of science or some outside force. Within the self-contained society of husband and wife, sex can lead to babies. If it doesn't you keep trying, and as long as nothing is done to interfere with the marital act, babies should  start a-popping. If not, you keep "working at it" (As another aside, who do they think they are fooling - "working on having a baby"? You're having sex. A lot of it. If you're working at it, you must be doing something wrong). This doesn't work in a homosexual relationship. No matter how much they may "work on it", no babies are born from that act. Not even lawyers, despite the joke (A blonde goes to her OBGYN and asks 'can you get pregnant from anal sex?' 'Of course,' the doctor answers, 'where do you think lawyers come from?').

The function of marriage, then, is to provide a stable framework for the birth and development of children. Because our society ultimately rests on the continuation of the species, it is critical to protect them and provide for our babies until they can take their place in society. Marriage does that. And a society has the right to define the limitations for something that is critical to its survival. If love were the only criteria for what constitutes a marriage, then the practice of marrying off a 12 year old girl to a 25 year old man should be perfectly acceptable, but we as a society have deemed that immoral, and hence, illegal.

An objection that could be leveled could point out the failure of many marriages, which is true. Many marriages fail. But our own language points out the ideal standard that we hold marriage to. We speak of "broken marriages", or "failed marriages", meaning they have failed to live up to the standards we come to expect. We as a society expect marriages to succeed and to provide stable relationships for their families. Additionally, it is bad practice to dismiss something because of perceived failures. Were we to do so, we should have tossed out representative democracy ages ago.

Does all this mean I hate gay people? Not particularly. I really can't muster up the energy to care much at all, and would like to continue to not care. Unfortunately, by forcing these issues into the public square, and requiring us to look on their behavior (sometimes quite literally), I have to express an opinion. I really would like to not care about the sexuality of anyone, straight or gay. But our culture has undergone a "pornification" to the point that a young woman can publicly shame herself through an online sex video, and far from suffering humiliation, she becomes a D-list star.

Another motivator is the simple distaste I have for people believing that sentiment constitutes an argument. Our heads were placed on the tops of our bodies for a reason. Our brain is supposed to be in charge. Why don't we try using them, instead of "feeling" our way?