Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Post about Lifetime Movies (Among Other Things)

This week, bullying has been on my mind. If you are a parent, it has probably been on yours too. With all the recent news of suicides and other catastrophic events it is hard for it not to be. Especially when the media has decided this is AN ISSUE. Yesterday I was trying to get a recipe for pumpkin spice bagels (which are DELICIOUS...I'm eating one right now!) and Jane Lynch (otherwise known as Spencer Reid's crazy mom if you are like me and never get in on the ground floor of these shows and will end up watching Glee approximately 3 years from now) was accosting me from a side banner about monitoring my kids for bully behavior. Thanks, Jane, for reminding me. Now I'm wondering why my first grader wanted a pair of brass knuckles... Maybe I'll talk to him about it. Or I'll just send a text. Yeah, that's what I'll do. Text him. But only after I update my Myspace page and finish my morning beer.

Anyway, I also watched a Lifetime movie I had tivoed yesterday while I was waiting on my dough to rise and picking up the approximately 4 foot pile of debris that my children throw off of them when they come home from school. The movie was Reviving Ophelia, which was inspired by the book of the same title, and a movie about teenage relationship abuse. Basically Reviving Ophelia is 2010's answer to this:

If you haven't seen this movie, I hate to tell you this, but your life is incomplete. It is a Lifetime movie, and, yes, that is Candace Cameron. And Fred Savage! Besides showcasing some of the most awful vest and pegged jean outfits of all time, it is a movie in which Candace Cameron dates Fred Savage and Fred Savage is this big high school wrestling star, but it turns out he's also a big douche and he beats her and is obsessed with her and generally makes her life a living hell. She has a friend who tries to step in, but it ends up being too late when ultimately, he kills her. And dumps her body in a lake. At the end, there is this horrible hodge podge of kids talking about how they knew about it, but didn't tell anyone. And for some reason, they are telling this to Sally Jesse Raphael, who is wearing this absolutely huge pair of red glasses. Seriously, foks. I haven't seen this movie in probably 5-10 years, but I remember those glasses like I saw it yesterday. So, the moral of the story is NO ONE WOULD TELL. Get it?

Reviving Ophelia is the same concept, except the socioeconomic status of the kids involved is considerably higher, and the friend who tries to step in is a cousin who likes giving blow jobs. Or doesn't "like" it, but she does it because teen oral sex is another Lifetime movie ISSUE. Which you would know if you had seen this movie , which basically teaches kids that if you go down on someone, you get syphilis. If they are teaching my kids though, I want the message to be "If you go down on someone, you get running sores all over your body. And then your head falls off." Interestingly enough, the "good boyfriend" in She's Too Young, the only one who is looking for something other than a hummer while he plays Mario Kart, is played by the same guy who plays the "good boyfriend" in Reviving Ophelia. In She's Too Young, he is an amateur photographer, which means being his Facebook friend is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment, but in Lifetime movie lingo, means he is sensitive. In Reviving Ophelia, he wears cardigans a lot and is in a band. Which means he is sensitive. Awww....

(I promise I'll get back to bullying. This all makes sense. In a cosmic way.)

Reviving Ophelia, however, scared the absolute shit out of me. In No One Would Tell, Candace Cameron's mom is this total mess who is in an abusive relationship herself and is a single mom who may or may not be a waitress or some other low-wage type earner. So it is easy to say, "Well, if she'd just had her shit together, maybe her daughter wouldn't have ended up getting killed by Oswald." However, the girl in Reviving Ophelia has a mom who is a lawyer. And is totally invested in this kid's life. It is a two parent household, and these parents are all about knowing the names of their daughter's friends, having their cell phone numbers, baking homemade cakes, having discussions around the dinner table and generally being awesome, stand-up parents. They have a big house, and they look worried a lot, but it is in that good parent way, that "I'm so worried that my kid will not get into Barnard" way and not in the "I'm worried my daughter might be eating pot brownies and having oral sex right now. But oh well. Pass me that Tall Boy! Mama's gotta life too!" way. The movie is basically about the fact that these parents did things right, but their daughter ended up being with a boy who slaps her around and is just generally douchey. Which is a very sad thought, if you think about it. Of course, in the end, everything turns out ok, because it is a Lifetime movie after all, but still. Not a good heartening message for us parents.

Especially when you have an 11 year old daughter that you worry enough about as it is. This week is Homecoming Week at my kid's school which means that everyday is a different theme to dress up as. Monday was slouch day, Tuesday was blast from the past day, Wednesday was cartoon day, and today is pajama day. It has been fun for the kids to pick out an outfit, and we have tried to really get into it. The last couple of nights we have laid out clothes for both kids to fit the theme, and the whole family has gotten excited and laughed and joked together. However, both yesterday and today, Gabby has emerged from her room wearing a drastically toned down version of what we have discussed (and what she has been excited about the night before). When I ask her about it, she has this quiet, almost affected tone in her voice and some kind of excuse as to why she doesn't want to wear what we talked about. The hat might harm her vision, she won't be comfortable in those shoes. However, I know it has to do with wanting to fit in and not wanting to stand out in the least. And it is like she knows that I know and is almost daring me to say something about it. I don't. Wearing your pajamas to school is fun in theory, but when you are 11, someone might say something and then life would suck. Suck like woah. For some reason, I don't want her to know that I know that. Especially not when I have about 6 minutes to feed her, smile at her and get her out the door before we are all late.

And had I not seen about 3,456 Lifetime movies and had Jane Lynch not accosted me from the side of my computer screen, I might take this for what it is. Preadolescent angst. But now I worry. Is her self esteem so low that it puts her at risk for being beaten by some douche bag with a shitty homelife? Is someone bullying her? What should I do? Do I talk to her about it obsessively? Do I read Reviving Ophelia? Good thing I have Amazon Prime--maybe that can be in my hands tomorrow.

Raising kids is crazily tough. I mean, I know this is not a new thought. In other news, water is wet. Right? But the more I imagine bringing up my kids now, in this time of total access through Facebook and cell phones and texting and sexting and all of that, the more I want to move to New Zealand and become a sheep farmer. I know this is crazy, but someday it just seems like an almost insurmountable task, this raising of well-adjusted kids. And when I see Gabby coming out of her room, not dressed up like the cartoon penguin that we had planned, my heart hurts because I see the future and it is not a future that I want for her. I don't know. I worry. Such is life, I suppose. Sigh.

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