samedi, mars 17, 2007

Singing lessons

If I had the permissive parent squad (close relatives of the La Leche ladies someone plants in in neighborhood playgrounds) on my case, they would probably nail me as one of those "permissive" parents. The proof of guilt?

The fact that my kids very often seem to barrel right past my sometimes feeble prohibitions and get what they want.

Take tonight, for example.

We have a rule that there will be no more than an hour of computer or gameboy time on weekends (half an hour on weekdays)-excepting when they are in the car, on a trip, or staying with their dad. Because they had a new game tonight, I let them play for an extra half an hour. After that, I was ready to enforce the shower rule-in other words, you get in, soap passes somewhere near your body, and your hair gets wet. But in a masterly feat of special pleading, Colin conned me into allowing him to watch a new half hour show on TV.

At that point, Sian confessed that she had made an awful error the hour before, when she said she didn't want dessert. Could she atone for her mistake by indulging in some hot chocolate? Having already given in to her brother, what could I say?

Hmm...what I can say is that, in the goofy way of young and older women, we very much enjoyed our kitchen time. Drawing back the veil that should cloak our private moments, I confess that after subjecting her to a medley of musical tunes that most likely will never make it onto her IPod (Life Upon the Wicked Stage (Showboat), If I were a Bell (Guys and Dolls) and If I loved You (Carousel) ) I was moved, possibly by by a leprechaun (?) to belt out King Tut.

Sian is attending the King Tut exhibit next week with the rest of her classmates from St. Joseph School. Perhaps she will now be capable of enlightening them as to what really happened to Tut:

Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia...

Warmed by tea and hot chocolate, we ambled into my bedroom, where Ensued a heated but slightly muddled conversation about metaphors and Burmese mountain dogs (it is hard for her to tell the difference).

Gentle reader, you may think nothing much happened here tonight. But I beg to hope wish is that when and if she remembers our conversation, it will be as snatches of melody, moments of laughter, and my dogged, if often scattershot commitment to making even our most frivolous moments opportunities for learning.

If she approaches learning with the joy and curiosity she brings to our stolen family time, it will have been well worth my temporary abdication of parental controls.

I just hope the Permissive Parent Squad was holding court somewhere else tonight.

mardi, mars 13, 2007

Capitol Vice

It was only a month ago that I finally got the TV I received for Christmas set up in the bedroom. At the moment it has been consecrated to American Idol on Tuesday nights. A truly mean mom, I don't usually allow my children to watch television in my bedroom-I banish them to the dungeon (I mean, the cellar) instead.

Thank goodness that our local Y has CNN, or I might never have learned about the Washington scandal de jour, the exploits of Deborah Palfrey, AKA the "DC Madam."

It baffles me that this story hasn't made the front page of the NY Times (or possibly I've missed it?)

In case you have been living in neverneverland, also, here's a brief summary of the story to date. This itidbit is stolen from the online webzine Salon, which purloined it from Politico:

Deborah J. Palfrey, former owner of a "high-end adult fantasy firm which offered legal sexual and erotic services across the spectrum of adult sexual behavior" in Washington, D.C., announced Thursday that she's putting the phone records of her business -- which include the numbers of her Washington clientele -- up for sale. Palfrey's financial assets were seized by the IRS as part of an investigation into her business, and she hopes to sell the phone records -- all 46 pounds of them -- to raise money for her legal defense. Her lawyer says a price hasn't been set yet, "because we haven't finished mining the data to identify the individuals. Obviously if Bill Clinton's on the list that's a different matter than, you know, somebody nobody's ever heard of before." (Politico)

Selling her phone records to raise money for her defense? Ain't free market capitalism wonderful?

I learned somewhere else that Palfrey allegedly has 15,000 names in her phone records-which could, and probably should, have some guys in official Washington waiting for the next shoe, or pair of knickers, to drop. But in Washington morality is apparently like carbon credits-traded in the volatile exchange of public confidence. If Bill Clinton's name is indeed found on those records, will it affect how we see the Presidential prospects of wife Hillary? What about Newt Gingrich?

I care more, or at least I should care more, about the constitutional battles beginning between this outlaw Administration and the as yet untried Democrats in Congress .

But it's a lot more fun to speculate on who was reckless enough to book an hour, or a weekly visit with one of Ms. Palfrey's ladies. Apparently only women with two years of college under their belt (or wherever) could work for her. Perhaps I've leaped to judgement too soon-could it be that Palfrey's customers only wanted a quiet conversation in between votes on the floor of the House?

lundi, mars 12, 2007

No idols, please, we're human

Pushing my cart out of the grocery store on Saturday, I saw a couple from the parish where I had worked before moving into more secular pursuits five years ago. I had presided at Dave and Ronnie's wedding. In the evangelical church I used to serve as associate rector, they had been one of the couples willing to be married by someone who was not the head pastor (and by a female, to boot).

I'm always pleased to see that one of "my" couples is surviving-though I take no credit for it at all. Mostly, I'm thrilled when they are happy.

Naturally, we started talking about the current drama in the Episcopal Church.

In the course of many heated discussions, I have discovered that I have a self-anointed role as devils advocate. There are few things that tick me off as badly as certainty-about almost anything but the belief that God exists and loves us. And there are moments when, being a broken woman, I doubt that!

I doubt it was the better angel of my nature that spoke up when R. started talking about leaving the Episcopal Church for an "Anglican" congregation led by an African bishop.

Those bishops aren't as saintly as some of us would like to think, I said to her. Not all of them really care about human rights, I muttered, knowing that my words were probably as incomprehensible to her as they would have been if I were speaking in fluent French (say).

Waving cheerily as them as they drove away in their SUV, I wondered what impulse had driven me to bring up such a politically incorrect topic. After all, it comforts many of us to think that there is, somewhere, a safe port for our driven little ships when the waters are stormy. I doubt that my yen for grey areas and need to question is really a helpful pastoral strategy. Yet blind idolatry isn't the answer, is it? It didn't work in the Hebrew Scriptures!

It's a hard time to be a pastor in the Episcopal Church, or in any mainline denomination-it's like living on the San Andreas fault. That being said, I hope that our leaders have the courage to step out of their foxholes and be critical, not just of their opponents, but of themselves.