20 December, 2012

bullet the blue sky

My parents came to town for a visit. It was really nice. They spent a couple of days in San Diego, and then came up here and we played L.A. tourist for a week. There were museums, safari parks (technically in San Diego, but who's counting?), and large malls full of Christmas decorations, which my mother adores and my father tolerates with his customary good humor.

It's been a couple of years since we've seen each other. Since  our neighbor moved away, we haven't been able to just take off and go to Colorado. Boarding three cats is prohibitive. And now that we have one old cat who's blind and deaf, and another who's mostly blind and needs daily medication, we're sorta chained to the day trip. The parents understand this: Mom spent two years not leaving home because her old dog was blind and needed his meds. So.

They were meant to come this summer, but then Colorado Springs caught on fire, and more specifically the part of the Springs very near their house, so the visit didn't happen. Mom wanted badly to come in September, but that's the month school starts, and I am crazy-busy then, and most of the way into how will I do this teaching thing this time. Also, it's wicked hot in September.  So plans were made for December, but not actually Christmas, because she had to be back for a doctor's appointment this week. 

Of course, it rained. And it was what passes for cold in SoCal, which earned an admission from my mother that yes, 50 degrees and raining with an ocean wind does count as unpleasantly cold, even if no body parts can actually freeze. 

(Now that rain has turned to snow and they're driving home through it. I tell my mother not to worry so much, so I am trying to follow my own advice. Dad's an Iowan who can, and will, drive through anything. They have a good car. They have chains, food, survival gear, and cell phones. All Dad has to do is keep Mom calm while he's driving through a freak December snowstorm in a state that usually has brown Christmases.  This is my mother's fault (not really), because she worried for THREE MONTHS that it would blizzard on their drive to, or from, California. The weather gods listened, and they have a very Scandinavian sense of humor. "Oh ho. You didn't think Los Angeles was cold, is that it? You said, over and over, we need your rain! WELL, my dear, you can have the cold and the precipitation!"

I will make an offering.)

They also got to meet Shan, finally, and see the Rat again. I think my mother finds it hard to see "us kids" with grey in our hair, or the beginnings of crow's feet, or whatever other marks one has at forty. I think it's harder to see the age in them. They're always talking about "when we die, be sure to..." and then listing a litany of instructions or whatever. But I always think: What about before that? Will you move to wherever we live? Will the surviving parent move in with us?

 Bleak thinking aside--it was a fun time. This is not always the case, if there are Politics(tm) involved, of which there were blessedly few this year. Nous fielded those discussions. He can have more beer for that act of bravery.

But there was one thing we did agree on, the conservative parents and the not remotely conservative daughter/son-in-law: The very idea that Nous and I should be armed, as teachers, is absurd.  

I grew up in a household with weapons. Rifles, mostly, a couple of revolvers, a shotgun or two, a handful of bows with arrows  tipped for target and hunting, both (one of which was mine; all my arrows were target-tipped). The firearms lived in Dad's basement, unloaded. The bows lived down there, too. The difference was, I knew where the bows were, and where he kept the hunting tips to the arrows. I had no idea about the shells and bullets.

Point was: my father keeps guns, which I will someday inherit. I knew better than to pick them up or point them at anyone. I knew that if you picked one up, you checked it to see if it was loaded. It was never, ever loaded, but you still checked. Always. Even the single shot .22 that you just fired...you put it down, you picked it up, you checked it.

I think it's absurd that I have to go through more of a background check to adopt a cat than I do to own a gun. California is pretty strict, in that they require gun safety courses. I don't think that's unreasonable. I knew how to drive before I was licensed, too, but I still had to prove that to someone qualified to make that judgment. What's the big deal?

But if you want to arm the teachers... okay, let me borrow from the Twitter thingie floating around: if you think (you, monstrous hegemony of teacher-haters) that I am either a union thug or an incompetent, why in the name of small flowers would you want me armed? Why would you want me to be a de facto cop? Why would you think I should learn to decide when, and if, lethal force is necessary?

I don't think that idea will get too much serious consideration...I hope...but let's pretend it does. O Teachers' Union: if they insist we carry guns, then you insist we get the students capped at 15, and a serious pay raise, and a reduced course load so we can keep current on our weapon retention classes and our marksmanship. Seriously. Also: better benefits.

I can't even deal with the stupid people who think that more male bodies in the Newton school would have helped (because bullets don't kill men? Didn't seem to work in Aurora, or Columbine, or Fort Hood, or...) or who think we should teach kindergartners to bum rush armed men. That's even dumber than arming the teachers. And they say that we gamers don't understand the consequences of violence. Right.

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