Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Bad Father: What's It Take?

I know this is not new ground for me, but I continue to get a kick out of the emerging spiritus mundi in which we prance around deeply pleased with our highly evolved common sense and our tie to the scientific over the intuitive or to (God forbid) the principals of faith in anything we can't see.

For all of this, we remain, as I put it recently in a Facebook post, the most wish-upon-a-star, fantasy land dwelling generation in the history of the planet. We're afraid to say things that we think are true if they should lean toward anything that has been labeled either politically incorrect or just plain against the aggressive Tweet, post and blog-supported parameters for current morality.

Yet, we commonly disregard empirical evidence or circumstantial proof and we bypass logic altogether to make statements that we wish were true as if simply stating them as fact is going to make them factual.

"You can be anything you want to be." That is a lie. A complete fabrication based on the desire to encourage kids to work hard and to instill confidence in them.  It would be nice, but it is a lie. It is a good thing I didn't put everything I had into becoming a professional baseball player, because I simply don't have the talent.

You get the picture and I'll bet you can generate a whole host of statements like this.

Never has this notion been so driven-home for me as with the statement made by the wife of a man who (the determination has not been made) either purposefully or accidentally left his 22-month old child to die in a hot car.

I realize the mother is either an accomplice or that she could be just driven slightly out of her tree by grief, but the statement she made at the little boy's funeral could, as far as I can reason, only come out of a mother born and raised in our current "make-a-magic-wish" culture. She said this:

"Am I angry with Ross? Absolutely not. It has never crossed my mind. Ross is and was and will be, if we ever have more children, a wonderful father. Ross is a wonderful daddy and leader for our household. Cooper meant the world to him."

He's a wonderful father? If he is a wonderful father, then I and all of the other dads who didn't either forget out kid in a hot car or who didn't intentionally leave our sons to die a horrific death in brutal pain must be the Jesuses of all fathers.

Can you  imagine anyone feeling okay to make that statement after such a tragedy? Am I wrong in thinking social context has a lot to do with such a feeling of license? I'm all about forgiveness, but this is not something you get to have ignored. I'm sure the guy made a mean PB&J; I'll bet he looked cute sleeping on the couch with the kid on his belly. But one cannot be "a wonderful daddy" and forget one's boy in a car on a summer day. I wonder what might have happened if Cooper hadn't "meant the world to him."

I really hope no one wants to point out that he might have been a good dad but that he made a mistake; that everyone makes mistake. No. You are not allowed to make that mistake. And, if you do, you are you are not a wonderful father. You are a failure as a father. A complete failure. Am I harsh? If I seem so, maybe we need to recalibrate everyone around me. Maybe I am the last one to avoid drinking from the poisoned well. Being forgiving doesn't mean tossing aside standards and avoiding tough statements.

The Dalai Lama has said: "Forgiveness doesn't mean accepting the wrongdoing of the other person."

You can't wish upon a star on this one.

Truth is, I think the woman is either cracked or she was part of a more insidious scheme. (She and her husband had both looked up children dying in hot cars online...) But what mother would make that statement about the man who killed her baby? Maybe it is a combo of insanity and citizenship in a wish-it-were-so society. Either way, I call B.S.

Once, the family were on vacation in the mountains. Only one room of the house was air-conditioned. My oldest son was a baby and we put him down to sleep in a room that was incredibly hot. He was sleeping soundly. We were playing a board game in the air-conditioned room and I had to quit. I couldn't stand being that comfortable while my boy slept in such heat. I went to sit by him and sweat and to watch him breathe well into the night.

Leave him in a hot car? I don't think so. Real dads don't make that mistake. (And, of course, they don't murder their kids, if thast was the intention...)


  1. I think that you're 100% correct in this post about the father and his wife making absolutely outrageous statements about her husband's aptitude as a father. That being said, I simply can't leave this post without fulfilling my role as the verbose, antagonistic undergrad.

    Love can make people say and do insane things. While illogical, I'd say it's completely expected for a woman to make a crazy statement when she just lost her child -- someone she should love more than anything in the world -- and also has to deal with her husband being accused of murder -- also someone who she should love more than anything in the world.

    Her statement in itself isn't evidence that she was an accomplice or that she was crazy, but merely a grieving mother and wife. However, given the other evidence that turned out (such as him sending texts to young women saying he wish he led a childless life) then I think it's pretty obvious what happened here.

    1. This story just keeps getting creepier and creepier, Alexis -- even since I wrote this. Eesh.