The Long Transition from a Gypsy to a Rose

Roses Turn (the re-invention anthem, out of order on purpose):

 Mama’s talkin’ loud.
 Mama’s doin’ fine.
 Mama’s gettin’ hot. 
Mama’s goin’ stong.
 Mama’s movin’ on.
 Mama’s all alone.
 Mama doesn’t care.
 Mama’s lettin’ loose.
Mama’s got the stuff.
 Mama’s lettin’ go.
 Mama’s got the stuff.
 Mama’s gotta move.
 Mama’s gotta go.
 Mama? Mama?
 Mama’s gotta let go.

 Why did I do it?
What did it get me?
 Scrapbooks full of me in the background.
 Give ’em love and what does it get ya?
 What does it get ya?
 One quick look as each of ’em leaves you.
 All your life and what does it get ya?
 Thanks a lot and out with the garbage,
 they take bows and you’re battin’ zero.

Ya either got it, or ya ain’t.
 And, boys, I got it!
 Ya like it?
 Well, I got it!

 Some people got it and make it pay.
 Some people can’t even give it away.
 This people’s got it
 and this people’s spreadin’ it around!
 You either have it
 or you’ve had it!

Well, someone tell me, when is it my turn? 
Don’t I get a dream for myself?
 Starting now it’s gonna be my turn. 
Gangway, world, get off of my runway!
 Starting now I bat a thousand!
 This time, boys, I’m taking the bows and

everything’s coming up Rose!
 Everything’s coming up Roses! 
Everything’s coming up Roses
 this time for me!
 For me! For me! For me! For me! For me! 
For me! Yeah!

 The general patriarchic summary of the stage play “Gypsy” often describes the mother, Rose, as a self centered harpy- but as I watched once again with an older, and more nuanced eye I saw the subtlety and wit that would make Nora Ephron (RIP) proud.  There is a reason the character of Rose can be on stage for almost the entire show and still be engaging.  If she truly were a one-note character largely made up of a self-centered harpy the show would not work.  The greater themes about parenting, aging, and the necessity of adapting are what keep us engaged as they play out in a larger than life woman and her relationships with those she loves.  That Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurent got it right is really impressive (and that some of their other work is such schlock makes me think they both might just BE versions of the Rose character).  Clive Barnes understood the psychological and entertainment brilliance of Rose when he said she was one of the few truly complex characters in the American Musical (Thank you Wikipedia for reminding me of this review: Barnes, Clive. ” ‘Gypsy’ Bounces Back With Zest and Lilt”. The New York Times. September 24, 1974).

While Rose is deeply and uniquely gendered, I think the character and the struggles she experiences (warts and all) as well as the impulse for reinvention goes beyond gender and is a truly humanist construction.  For decades swaths of people in LBGT communities have been drawn to the story of theater, parental conflict and the character of Rose.  So much so, fandom of Rose has become a sort of “hair pin”, and I would like to think I can make a claim to affinity for Rose without the hair pin, and reappropriate her for middle aged women.

I am struck by how well the tension between Gypsy and Rose captures the continuum all women face.  We start out as young women, exploring our lives as sexual beings, “pretty girls” (if you recall the mirror scene), resisting the objectification that comes with that time of life, and fashioning our presence as our own.  Slowly, over time, we grow and change and there is an epiphany many, many of us go through when we sing the “Rose’s Turn” song in our own way as we become a Rose, and leave Gypsy behind.  Oh, and all that “Mama’s getting’ hot”?  Layered meanings, folks- and the multiyear wind up to menopause is in it.

The necessity in middle age of taking stock and reinventing ourselves is not special to women, but can play out in very different and gendered ways that “Roses Turn” deftly captures.  What superficially may seem grasping, even delusional, is not.  The song is fully self-aware and instead of devolving into self-pity, asserts the character as adaptive and open to a new time in life with fierceness, intelligence, charm, and gusto (but does not avoid the attendant sadness and regret either).  We should all be so lucky to have the bravado of Rose!

I am still on the continuum, shifting.  I think of all the Red Hat ladies who designated women my age as “Pink Ladies”, not yet old enough, not yet ready to wear the brash, assertive red.  Aging and parenting can have dark, cruel, cruel sides for women.  Marketers count on that.  But it is the infinitely creative, funny, and strong presence of all the Roses I have known that provide my texts as I advance, and a bulwark against the all too common reductive, diminishing, and dismissive forces of culture towards middle aged women (in arenas of employment, entertainment, health care, and journalism especially).

I took great pleasure in watching Rosalind Russell belt out “Roses Turn” today.  Pleasure of a complexity I never had before.  I can’t help but think so many of the women who stump and squawk about issues that force women into untenable corners (healthcare and abortion rights as one example) and are on the side of regressive, suppressive policies might gain something from watching Rose, and start to recognize the Rose’s in their lives, and in themselves.

There have been many extremely stressful, unasked for corners in the past few years and I am deeply grateful for the love and support of my husband, friends, and family.  Huge holes in this blog are one example of the collateral effects.  But today, this morning, if just for a little while, I am humming and singing to myself,  Mama’s talkin’ loud.
Mama’s doin’ fine.
Mama’s gettin’ hot.
Mama’s goin’ stong.
Mama’s movin’ on. . .

Thank you Rose. 

All you Roses, thank you.

To my peers, lets start to shimmy a little and get loud. . . 

She got it right

Heads up Hollywood.   I know entertainment is the number one US export.  Heck, it’s probably the number one US product, at home or abroad.  I know you bean counters and marketers out there think the main market for your products are young men.  Young men, then young people in general.  I also know from friends who work in “the industry” that there is crazy age bias when anyone is hired (and most productions are one shot companies that get dissolved after filming is done- so most people are “independent contractors” who must hunt for work constantly).  But wait a sec- how do you think all those young people get their discretionary income?  They are the most underemployed group outside of Hollywood.  Who do you think handles family finances?  Who do you think gives those kids their cash?  You got it.  The moms.

And how do you think any sort of expertise is gained?  Time doing a job, and doing it well.  So throwing out all the workers over 35 is a bad idea folks, no matter what the “hot” young marketing kids say.  Remember that when you want a sandwich on set, a light hung, or a box moved, or a scene shot, or actors controlled (who has more experience at handling pouty, ill tempered children than moms?).

Heads up Hollywood- grazing off the fast profits of a formula CGI spectacle is not the only way to make money.  Just ask the Cohen Brothers, or the Weinsteins.

I say this as I watch a clip  (  from the Jimmy Fallon show.  Which, I admit, I like best of all the late night talk shows.  He is just so earnest, and funny in a way that does not insult me.  And yes, he is young- but he admits it and moves on.

The clip has Amy Sedaris (who has a middle aged woman sideways feminist vibe that most moms can appreciate) pimping out a pair of leggings.  When you watch it, be sure to watch the reactions of all the young men on stage.  There is an embarrassed awkwardness, and in the faces of the band members I saw “Damn!  That is so wrong!  She reminds me of my mom!”.  But the women in the audience were howling.

There is a lot of comedic and dramatic ground Hollywood has not mined related to us middle-aged people.  Especially women.  I chalk it up to stupidity, ignorance, and that unease young people have with identifying with or thinking about people their parents age being fully alive human beings and all that entails.  Get with the program ‘wood.  You want to be fresh?  You want to make money?  Get us the products.  We’ll bite.  But because we ARE older, our standards are a little higher- we expect better than Hallmark channel formula dreck, and humor that is incisive, rude, and complex as we are.  Or can be anyway.  You get my point.

Now take this advice and move on.   I have to get my weekenders on and groove while I clean house.

All politics are local

I am writing this with the uneasy sensation of being hung-over, yet I have not been drinking.

I worked the polls (that’s POLLS not poles) Tuesday from 5 a.m. until I walked in the door to my home after 10 p.m.  I had no real breaks all day, and only had two monster java drinks and two doughnuts, and an orange to eat all day.  I was not in my home precinct, but had been assigned to one near by.  It happened to be an especially entrenched GOP loyalist precinct.  Of the roughly 2400 registered voters in that area, approx. seventy eight percent had voted, and of that, seventy five percent went straight ticket GOP.  Of the eight people working that site (all women), there were only two Democrats.  One was new.  New people in small cliques that have worked together often, and know each other reasonably well, are usually met with suspicion.  Educated Democrats who are new–well, are treated with special contempt.

I am still struggling with what to say about the experience.  It was exhausting- that much I know.  I was ill from a virus (the runny nose, sneezing, achy joints variety, which my kids also had- and I brought my own tissues and hand sanitizer to share) and that didn’t help.  I felt like an intruder, and that was exacerbated by the clique somewhat.  I was put off by the managerial skills of the young woman who was captain, after her phone message ordered me to get down to the county offices to learn the computer system, new this year (I had never spoken to her before), and meet the day before elections to help set up the site.  I had already attended one required “training” day at the county offices, a two hour affair with handouts for which I was to be paid thirty dollars.  I had been sent a letter several weeks prior explaining each worker also rec’d two hundred and forty dollars for election day.  At the training day, one week before the election, we were told it would be one hundred forty dollars.  No explanation about the change.  To back out on the commitment I made months ago would have been wrong I thought, but it stunk that they pulled a bait and switch on the pay.  I was also not pleased at the last minute required meetings as I have two small children and no one was paying for childcare for those meetings.  I called the captain back and politely told her I could not go to each new meeting, that she should choose which she thought was the most important and I would find childcare.  She chose the computer training, and asked if I had ever worked on a computer.  I dryly replied that I had a PhD and had been working with computers since 1982.  She appeared not to have heard me.

I went down, one son in hand, and “learned” the software.  It took me about three minutes.  I cannot imagine anything more simple, and was pleased it was such an easy database system.  It replaced the old paper poll books, and proved to be very useful for input and cross-referencing.  I volunteered to be one of the two to use it first on election day, and ended up being one of two people using the computerized poll books and ID scanners for the first five hours, which turned out to be our rush period.

The six ladies working the site were between fifty-five and seventy-one years old, and had done this many times before.  The captain was a young, recently married woman who by her own description had not traveled, or really gone beyond the limitations of where she grew up.  The older women reminded me of my mother and her friends, the biddy buddies I used to call them, and the area is very much like where I spent my childhood.  These women were unfailingly polite, offering to share the soup, sandwiches and snacks each had brought.  They carefully avoided discussing politics, as is the law at these events, but animatedly discussed their grandchildren and lives.  They also had polite curiosity about me, showing sympathy when I called Husband to ask how the kids were feeling and if he had been getting them to drink enough.  But the underlying current was clear:  I did not belong.  It was also clear that there were agreed upon ways of doing things that I had no power to comment upon.  The most egregious being the talk of prayer before we began, and the required group prayer before opening the doors.  I knew where I was though, sucked it up, and wrote it off as one of those when in Rome, local custom things.  But I am still annoyed about it.  When small talk popped up late in the afternoon, I was asked what my husband did.  I told them.  “Oh, one of those.”  was what the woman sitting next to me actually said.  I was surprised to be on the defensive about him, and said “He works in metals, he’s not a jerk.  More like a big big geek.”  The response went ignored.  I was also told by a couple of the women that they were not “into book learning”.  These well dressed, well spoken ladies were not stupid, and were not some sort of back woods hicks.  They had much more in common with their suburban evangelical counterparts around D.C. than they know.  

I am used to people thinking at first that I am “one of them”.  White, middle aged, soft looking, has kids, I don’t know what all.  Many people around here speak in front of me assuming tacit agreement with their points of view.  People speak of race privilege, but “passing” for a bigot or a fool is not something I relish, and have usually sought to reject with humor and wit.  They knew here I was not one of them from the get go, and I did not have to do anything to make that clear.  

Delegating tasks was not something the captain was very good at, and the women were expected to step in through some sort of telepathy they had as part of a crew.  I grew resentful of being brushed off when I did step in, or with annoyance when I did not jump in, or know what to do.  Breaks were never scheduled, but assumed to happen whenever people felt like it.  And in this crew, it seemed a point of pride to only take very small breaks if any.  I offered to switch jobs with people, which also should have been scheduled, and felt like a third wheel when I did.

Many people were first time voters, coming with parents.  Excited and nervous, they would solemnly hand over their ID’s, confirm their identities, then take their ballots and walk off to vote.  The very old and the very young came in, some parents bringing young children and explaining to them what they were doing; some parents were pushed in wheel chairs by their gray haired off spring.  Turn out across the county had been exceptionally high all day I was told.  At a macro level, it was exciting.  I wondered what the rest of the country was doing, and when people from other precincts stopped in to talk, we were told about long lines.

The last voters entered minutes before seven.   The most disturbing thing of the day occurred when a young African-American woman, dressed like all the college students do in sweats and flip flops (per many who had come in that day), came in and was wrapping up a phone call as she checked in.  The women were guffawing under their breath, and I think she had the good grace to ignore them.  She used the touch screen and left.  When she walked out the door, a series of exclamations about her apparel, and her manner (and cell phone use) and her hair arose.  I said nothing, and was shocked by their responses.   The very last voter soon entered, a youngish man proudly struggling through the doors on his crutches, and we all cheered as he approached the desks.  He was known to several of the ladies, and I was told he had Parkinson’s.  I checked him in, he voted, and left.  The meeting hall rang with the sudden silence.

After the doors closed, the captain tallied the numbers and all was put to rights over a few hours.  One of the women commented she thought it had gone well, and that we were leaving long before many of the other precincts would. 

I am ashamed of how exhausted I was at the end of the day, and of how much I needed to get home and check on the boys, of how defeated I felt at how the local elections had gone, and of how much I let my annoyance affect my attitude at that point.  I am also naturally shy, and saying goodbye was not something I am very good at.  We all left for our cars, and I waved, and was not very vocal.  I had appreciated the experience and their collective generosity, but was also uneasy and angry that I had once again been unable to respond to the subtle bigotry, and felt again the outsider, the object of suspicion and sometimes contempt. IS this my country?  IS this my county?  IS this my city?  IS this as much my home as theirs, or anyone else’s?  Why can’t I be myself, and feel as smug and self satisfied as anyone else?  I know part of the answer.  Because my identity is not rooted in who I exclude, who I fear, or who I think I am different from.  As such I cannot be smug or self-satisfied, but at the very least, should be able to feel comfortable and at home as we all should– especially when coming together to do a civic duty.

I worked the polls for my mother as much as anyone.  She had been gradually becoming more and more the model citizen before she was diagnosed with cancer at fifty-nine years of age, racking up several hospital volunteer pins, and always being current on local election issues and helping out.  I know if she had lived, she would have entered a whole new phase of her life; probably without my father, in the terrific shape she had been cultivating for a few years, and with ever more community involvement (but probably in an entirely different town and state).  She showed me by her example how to be congenial, how to get along, and how to be vivacious and social.  None of which I believe I picked up.  She also showed me how to be involved, not on a grand scale, but on a useful local scale.  So I signed up to work the polls this year as a silent tribute to her, and to know I did it when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. And it was no certain thing that he would be elected.  Not around here.

The Obama sign has been on our lawn since his candidacy was announced after the primary elections.  It was stolen on election day.  There are many more McCain/Palin signs than Obama in my neighborhood, and certainly a greater sense of freedom to put stickers on one’s car if one is a Republican, and fear to not express oneself if you are anything else.  The local newspaper is egregiously biased to the far right, and trash talk radio is extremely popular around here.  It is, as I have been told, smart to know how to blend in- especially when travelling in the county.

When I got home, I shed my clothes, picked up one of my husbands’ old sleep shirts, and crawled into bed with a handful of tissues.  I cried, and told Husband that I was depressed, that I wanted to live in a place where I was not constantly feeling like an outsider, where I felt good about raising my kids, and where I did not feel like I needed to wear a mask outside of my house just to get along.  I said I felt weighed down and trapped by our mortgage, our house, and our student loans; but luckily not by him or the kids.  I told him I knew all these things were wearing him down too.  I said I didn’t know what we could do for a living, if we moved somewhere else and there were no academic jobs.  I said I didn’t know if anything was ever going to change, that life was short, and I didn’t want to end up like my mom.  Mom who knew she had spent a large chunk of her life treading water in a place she didn’t want to be, doing things she didn’t want to do, because she thought it would be best for her kids and because she was afraid she didn’t know what else to do.  She only realized she had options, and could take them, and then was told she had terminal cancer.  The irony was not lost on me, and went unspoken by her.

I was afraid to watch the election results.  I passed out and slept.  I woke up needing desperately to blow my nose, some time before 6 a.m.  I crept around and plugged in my laptop, and checked the results.  I found myself listening to Obama’s acceptance speech, and I cried again.  This time because I was out of energy for anything else.  I could not whoop, I could not smile.  I just felt, for the first time in a long time, a sense of irrational hope.

It will not change where I live, how poor we are, or our obligations to our extended family.  It will not make my region more civil, open minded, educated, or kind.  It might not even have any real effect on the U.S. or the world.  But it might, just might, make living here a little more freeing, even if it is just in my mind.

 Addendum:  Two days later, I am still annoyed.  But a friend I know in town had been at a gathering with people we know and their kids on election night told me, “At one point we were all looking at the TV and then I said Carol is working the polls right now.  No one said anything.  Then several people said I feel better knowing she is there.”  It didn’t make everything better, but she validated my efforts in a way all the new voters, kind patrons, and general feelings of good duty done did not.  This particular friend had been living in one of the counties in Florida in 2004 that had egregious voting shenanigans, and out right voter intimidation occurring that went completely ignored.  While that did not happen this time, here– I am glad to know my participation helped some others who are outsiders feel a little better about where they live. 

An open letter to Warren Buffet and Bill Gates

It has been said in many research reports that the way to improve the lot of the world is to educate women.  “Sure” I have heard in response, “because those models assume what women will do AFTER they have been educated.”  Yes, they have fewer children, are more capable of combating illness and disease in their homes and communities, and yes they feel empowered to become leaders in their immediate locales.  But lest we forget the lessons of Iraq and much of the Middle East as it became awash in fundamentalism (or our own country for that matter), women can be bloody PhD’s and get persecuted for their “education”.  That makes them very capable, don’t you think?

I do believe the formal, scientific and humanistic education of women is essential.  Do not get me wrong.  But there must be attention paid to what happens after said educations.  In the U.S. I know many educated women, highly educated in fact.  They are capable, responsible, funny women on the whole.  Several have blazed their own paths in areas not traditionally run by women.  But there are still power games, sexism, and established ways of doing things that prevent many of these women from getting their best done.  Hence the proposal for Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, two good friends who pride themselves on being practical, innovative people.

Consider that one of the criticisms of the U.S. is that it has slipped quite a bit in how well educated, literate, and scientifically able it’s people are on the whole.  Consider that innovation in products is a lament.  Any anthropologist with a brain in her head can tell you to go to the source of problems, and ask what the people directly involved think and do.  So Mr. Buffet and Mr. Gates- form a think tank.   Hire my friend Carolyn who has worked for IBM research her whole life and is tired of that wage slave arena.   She is very smart, disciplined, and experienced at being a creative problem-solver.  Hire Jennifer, an experienced anthropologist who moved across the country because her job and her husband’s could not be reconciled (she had to give up hers).  She is a practical, innovative, smart woman who is underutilized.  Hire me, who did PhD work in cognitive/educational psychology and is off the academia ladder.  Hire more women in their 40’s looking for transitions, those educated women in engineering, anthropology, psychology, education and the like, those very capable women who are underutilized in their ability to improve the lot of the world.  Go ahead and write the mission statement, and let them shape it.  Have them meet in a physical space on a quarterly basis, and produce white papers on topics of everyday objects, how to green and innovate, and frame problems in the best ways to think about them.  Save money on other regular meetings by- here’s Mr. Gates investment- meeting virtually the rest of the time.  The real innovation for women is respecting their complex family lives.  Many are either caring for aging parents, their own children, or have extended lives into their communities that require actual physical presence most of the time.  Let them do their job as a group for 3-5 years.  Then look at what they have produced.  Kill the project if you don’t find it useful, tweak and extend it if you do.  Oh, and pay them living wages as employees of the think tank.  You will, I am betting, find this project more worthwhile than you ever anticipated.  Funding for research in the U.S. is at a low point, and this project could spawn others.  Take a chance gentlemen.  What have you got to lose?



Of Rap, Opera, and sippy cups

There is no rap music for middle-aged women. 

A warm day in the midst of winter is an opportunity to open the windows and air out the house.  This is not a fortune cookie statement, but a fact of domestic life.   I have a 4-disc set of Rai, what one might think of as international rap music, and cranked it up as I cleaned.  Passers by might have thought an annoying teenager lived here, but lo- it is I, Middle Aged Woman!  The MAW whose husband and children had gone off to decorate Christmas cookies with a couple of other dads and kids, leaving me a rare afternoon alone in the house.

What would you do if you saw my neighbors and I dressed in baggy but comfortable clothes, no makeup, and rapping out sharp lyrics about our lives?  It might make U-Tube, and people would get a good laugh.  We are not male, and while female, we are not young.  The image would not fit the standard mental slot for rap.  Yet can’t we empathize?  What legitimacy do middle aged woman have?  Can’t MAW’s of all colors rap-out about their lives and what they see as repressions, frustrations, threats, and sins?

Oh I hear the standard backlash now- you are appropriating our form and messages.  Hmm.  And who started this form?  How long has it been going on, transformed by every user and communicator who has opened his or her mouths?  You might want to listen carefully too, because aside from the subtle forms and change ups musically, the messages will be very different.

This got me to thinking about David Byrnes 2004 “album”, Grown Backwards.  On it is a rendition of the grand opera classic Au Fond du Temple Saint (G. Bizet, The Pearl Fishers– re passion, friendship) .  Much like Harry Chapin describes in his classic song Mr. Tanner, there is a quality about Byrne’s rendition that is so raw, so innately human, that it reminded me of what happens after one attends a particularly good opera production.  You might find yourself standing under a streetlight late at night, after the post event meal and wine, singing.  Singing at the top of your voice with like-minded friends, singing the aria that captured all the pain, symbolism, and raw emotion of the show, of life; singing slightly out of tune, off tempo, but engaged.  Engaged fully in the human experience, in the joy that can be music, joy even when it transmits pain.  Byrne’s voice is not well suited to singing, but it does convey a very sincere and engaged quality that is compelling to listen to.  When this voice is married with his own lyrics and musical fusions of sound, it is repeatedly worth listening to.  When singing grand opera, it is the person on the street, the everyday nature of music, the– dare I say it– Humanist quality that draws me in.  I have sung grand opera arias, and I know that if one can get beyond the cultural stereotypes, the anticipated problems with different languages, all the “baggage” that most often accompanies opera, it can be a powerful musical experience.  Often a character is singing out about his or her tragedy, asking the listener to witness- just like good gospel or rap does – hear, learn, and at best, to understand.

My father knows this.  My factory worker, ashamed-he-never-went-to-college father, who tried one evening many years ago to take his wife and young son to hear a traveling company perform a grand opera, a one-night-only-performance at the local higher education outpost.  He could see as the doors closed that less than a third of the seats were filled, but the box office attendant stood firm that he had not reserved his ticket, this was a special fundraising performance, and his family could not go in even as he could pay.  He had listened to classical music his entire life, and knew the story of the opera, knew it’s power, and only wanted for once to see it performed live.  He didn’t bring a pocket lighter, he wore his only suit and tie- he knew how to behave.  He begged the attendant, explaining he had brought his wife and son; they needed to see this, to really hear it, to understand what he understood.  He was still turned away.  They drove the hour back home in silence.  He is 71 now, and he has still never seen an opera performed live.   Yet when he is cleaning, he will occasionally crank the worn audiotape I made him of “popular” arias and sing out at the top of his voice.

What I sing about today as I throw the plastic sippy cups into the trash is an angry lament for plastic.  Recent reports of exceedingly high lead levels in children’s toys, baby products, and even vinyl decorations on children’s towels (!! What the hell is THAT about?  Who puts lead into vinyl and why?  What known chemistry would have that make sense?).  Many parents jittery, but more disturbing is that yet another company( has begun ceasing the use of bisphenol-a, or B.P.A, a common plastic chemical. 

The research so far is clear, there is a low baseline of toxicity for this product and the effects are decidedly carcinogenic (cancer causing) as well as endocrine-disturbing, to the sex hormones of boys in particular.  Amidst junk food (see or read Fast Food Nation if you have not), amidst air pollution, amidst the tainted food and slack FDA enforcements of this administration, we also have pervasive toxins that alone, in small concentrations, others would argue are “safe”.  Sure, if you only come into contact with the substance once in your life, in a small amount.  But the truth is that we come into contact with these things everyday, everywhere, and under less than perfect conditions (mixed with other hazards, and under heat and cold that break them down and make them more available to our bodies).   As a parent, my job is to educate and protect my children.  Convenience be damned, bye bye sippy cups.  You don’t want a mentally deranged, damaged adult ruining your nice dinner or drive someday, so we as parents are expected to help “train up” children to be socially responsible, contributing members of society.  It isn’t easy, and it isn’t always clear how to do this- so forgive my caution.  Forgive my anger.  My children, your children, are not commodities to be drained of all value and discarded.  They are not just little consumers who ought to be treated as if caveat emptor was the primary rule, and if you can get away with hurting them then do so. 

Rap that ‘fiddy, or shut up and listen.  Hear and understand.  Sing it out.

I gotta go open a window.