I am an undercover fiancee. However, I blow my cover all the time- to the wrong people. I tell the internet, my hair stylist, my friends, and random strangers on the bus that I’m getting married.
We are saving money, and have even transferred it to a bank account.
All of Mexico probably already knows.
The police even know.
But my entire family does not- most especially my parents in particular.
Ohhh don’t get me wrong. I’m sure they know unofficially- I’ve been dating Mr. Serrano for 3 years now, and its obvious we love each other. So it probably won’t come as a surprise- or will it?
The thing is, I think I tell everyone but them right now because its like some sort of a confession. I feel guilty, I feel like I should be able to tell them everything, and I know some people consider me to be some sort of sniveling little child for failing to do so. (I’m looking at *you* Office Queen). As fast as I announce my marriage, I follow it up immediately with the obligatory information that my family doesn’t know.
And the thing is, with a normal family this is something that I would have told months ago. Mr. Serrano and I would both love to break the silence, and announce our engagement. In a normal family, this would work out.
But I don’t have a normal family. I have an emotionally abusive mother who was physically abusive in the past, and Hell itself will either freeze or thaw before she finally admits even to herself that she was so. I have a father that is submissive, and follows that carrot of sanity dangled on a stick- he hopes and hopes that someone, something will save her, be it the Mormons or psychiatric drugs. Both of them feed off of misery and stress, and I honestly think that they don’t see themselves as living if they aren’t suffering.
People wonder why I can be so negative. My family is the answer. Its rather difficult to develop positive views when you’re constantly bombarded with negative ones, even the negative ones that are dressed up to look positive. People wonder why I can laugh at absolutely anything- again, my family is the answer. If all your positives were negatives in disguise, you’d have to grab a sense of humor to survive.
If I were to tell my parents right now, they’d have very good reasons against getting married. Financial stability would be a major roadblock, and it is a major roadblock, and it would be brought up. I’m still living with these people! The reasons wouldn’t be too far off. For some people, I could see how it would worry them that Mr. Serrano is my first long-term relationship. I wouldn’t agree (seriously, do I need to try every flavor in the ice-cream shop to know that chocolate covered lemon in a small cone with rootbeer is my favorite?) but I could see the reasoning.
What I would not be able to handle would be the constant flow of negativity. I will never make my parents happy. At least, I will never please them if I follow my heart. I know that they will criticize everything down to how much I pay for a dress to the fact that I haven’t had sex yet (although I’ve purposely made suspicious noises which has taken off the pressure slightly). The more I discern marriage, the more I realize that my values are completely different from my parents’.
I believe in waiting for sex until marriage, marrying in the Church, that marriage is actually worth something, and that I shouldn’t limit the number of children I have by using contraception. I believe in marrying sooner rather than later, that marriage is a spiritual partnership, that the man is the head of household, and that my worth has nothing to do with the dollar signs I trail behind my name. I believe that unlike my parents, Mr. Serrano and I are going about this the right way. We are discerning, talking, discussing children, finances, education, religion, and family.
We are not screwing like bunnies, making “oopsies” and then discussing those things well after conception has occurred. We’re doing pretty damn well, although I honestly would appreciate advice. Can’t say I’ll follow it, but food for the brain is delicious to the soul. I know that on some level, my parents are just wanting the best for me, but the way it comes out is often patronizing, and quite frankly humiliating.
So, hopefully, Mr. Serrano and I will announce it this July or December- whichever month has at least one of us living on our own. Who knows, I might be a bad Catholic and co-habit with him. I would rather not, but if the fallout from announcing something that should be joyful proves more nuclear than squee, living with Mr. Serrano might not be such a bad idea. I really hope that its not a sin… Mr. Serrano and I won’t be having sex…but I will be saving my sanity. I suppose we could even have separate rooms, and introduce someone else to the house so that there is more accountability (and less rent to pay).
Hypothetical Kids and Education
As I’ve said before, Mr. Serrano and I have been discussing, among other things, children and education. Like anyone else, we find education to be very important. And here, I must admit, I go from Misteriosa Namaenai, the sweet college girl, to the Education Nazi.
I’m sorry. I honestly can’t help it anymore. TOO. MANY. YEARS. OF. BULLSHIT. I have been all the way through school- from pre-kindergarten to middle to high to college. I will be graduating this semester. I have also gone most of the way through the defunct education program at my college. ( I was told by a fellow student that it helps to bring alcohol to class…and honestly I think that and pot explain my profs…)
I have been through Catholic School, Public School, and Catholic College. With the exception of ONE grade, in ONE Catholic school, it has largely been an excercise in the department of supreme bullshit.
If you want an idea of the absurd mierda that you’re going to be witnessing (if you haven’t already witnessed it) check out this blog (and to this blog I say…AMEN!).
Because of this push to have children crank out homework like sweatshop slaves in India, Singapore, or Pakistan (is this some misguided push for equality?) and perform to state standards that care more about the bottome line than some child’s mental health, you may have met students like me.
I loathed school. Not hated, not disliked- loathed. I actually started out liking it! I love learning. I have a virtual mini library in my room, complete with not one, not two, but three bookshelves- and that is after I went and gave a bunch to random schools that needed more interesting reading material. (How much you want to bet it was thrown out, after finding that students liked reading the books?)
I loved school until the testing began. By sixth grade I was convinced that my A’s and B’s were not good enough to get me into college, and that I would somehow end up working menial labor (because, you know, people who do that are *so* uneducated and therefore unintelligent.) By second grade I no longer wanted to learn. Why?
Because “learning” at some point got mixed in with “chugging out busy work until you literally develop permanent bumps on your fingers”. I’m not kidding you- my fingers are deformed from the hours and hours I spent writing in school, and then out of school. I was no idiot- I knew that my teachers weighed my self worth against that stupid state scale. If I didn’t “perform” then I wasn’t worth teaching.
It got even worse under the whole “No Child Left Behind” Act. What a freaking joke! I saw perfectly good teachers thrown out like trash because they didn’t have a major in their subject. Never mind that their students had higher than average test scores. Never mind that students actually liked them- in spite of being strict, firm, and having extremely high expectations (apparently, adolescents aren’t supposed to like that. maybe that only applies if you grew up in the 60’s?) this teacher wouldn’t go back to college and overload himself with more busy work, so he’s got to go.
And one would hope that college would be different.
Oh no. It can get worse. Consider this- I’m a Spanish major. First we learn reading and writing. Then more reading and writing. And more. But most of our reading and writing involves doing crossword puzzles (that are often faulty) and most of our reading involves either reading some of the more banal things in human history or old, tired out feminist rants from Mexican-Americans who are as Mexican as I am German. Our profs, many of whom seem to think that “luagho” is a word, or that saying “poopy-tray” is not at all ironic, spend their time coming up with reams of workbook assignments for us to do.
Juan le gusta __________. Maria le encanta ___________.Me gusta_____________.
Picture that going on for at least 3 pages. THEN, we have to write paragraphs. Yay, finally something that isn’t filling out a form! Something that we can base in real life! Something that…we get penalized for if we do better than the requirements.
For example, if we have to use the present tense, and write 5 sentences, and we write 6 sentences, the last sentence being something more advanced, like the future tense, then we are very bad students. I actually got graded down. For “writing above my level”.
What’s really fun is that while you’re in college, where supposedly homework doesn’t exist (HA!) you have to balance those (I’m not kidding you) 5 pages of mind-numbing busy-work that makes the prof look like they’re busy enough to get paid, 3 paragraphs about how men that open doors are nothing but horny rapists, and a crossword puzzle that includes directions written WAY above your reading level- you have to balance those with two 8 page papers, a project, a powerpoint, and studying for any number of other exams.
The prof actually has the nerve to get all in a huff when you decide that doing a bunch of busy bullshit is worth a lot less than those papers that are weighted so heavily you could hypothetically pass the class just by doing those essays. The prof especially gets in a huff when you speak Spanish better than she does, and you’re aware that paying upwards of 30,000 a year should get you just a modicum of respect.
Have you noticed that I haven’t even gotten into the speaking bit? That’s because, unless you’re going abroad (and therefore paying up the wazzoo for what you should already have been getting anyway), you’re not going to get more than 3-4 hours of speaking practice for an entire semester. Speaking isn’t really important, you see, because its really hard to test the shit out of speaking ability. Besides, your prof doesn’t want that one Mexican student in class speaking long enough for everyone to figure out that the prof sounds like a total güera who probably counts her shagging some fumado anarchist in Mexico City as “cultural enlightenment”.(As an aside, one of my former professors actually wrote a book about basically doing just that, only it was in Japan. OOooo so exotic!)
This is the world I’m going to be bringing my hypothetical kids into. Summer homework, teachers who honestly think they have more parental rights than you do, and a government that switches its political philosophy as often as it should change underwear.
So, how am I going to be the Educational Nazi?
Well, here is my litmus test (which is a work in progress):
- What is the purpose of a Catholic School? (If the answer that the school is “inspired” by some sort of BS about Dominican charisms, especially inclusivity, its out.)
- Is there a religious program? (If no, I’m leaving. Immediately.)
- What does the religious program teach? (I want a syllabus, or something concrete.)
- Is there a sex ed program, and what is the philosophy behind it? (If there are condoms, or waffles, I’m leaving.)
- What age does sex ed begin? (if at 6…um no.)
- Have you read Humanae Vitae, and what do you think of it?
- What does it mean to be Catholic?
- If my daughter wants to wear a veil to Mass, are you going to treat her badly?
- Do you have anything here written by Sister Joan Chittister or her lovely ilk?
- How about Papa Benedict? (If no to 9, and yes to 10, I will be SO happy).
- Do religious teach the school?
- Are they Jesuit?
- Are they crazy? To what degree? Some crazy I can accept.
- Is Latin A) the language of the male patriarchy that causes pain to vaginas everywhere or B) the universal language of the Church?
- How about those women priests? How do you spell “woman” anyway? Does it have a “y” in it?
- Are we an “Easter People”?
- Have you ever witnessed a Liturgical Dance? (If the answer is an immediate paniced “dear GOD NOOOO!” then I’ve possibly come to the right place.)
- Are the uniforms hideous? (I would like the kids to find something other than plaid…).
- Is there daily prayer?
- Do you have a class on Church history?
Since this one overlaps, include the academic portion with the Catholic School
- When you say you have a Spanish program, I’d like to interview the teacher myself. Better yet, let Mr. Serrano do that.
- What is your policy on homework? Let me see the homework.
- Do parents have the right to teach whatever they like concerning religion, sex, and politics?
- What would be the reaction if I took my kid out of school for a few days due to sickness or a family vacation?
- I want a syllabus of all the courses my child(ren) will take.
- I want to review your history, science, and literature books.
- What is your sex-ed program like? If its abstinence, does it teach about the actual statistics? Is it run by Planned Parenthood?
- Do you offer abortion referrals at high school (that one actually has happened!!!)?
- What is your discipline policy? What do you mean by zero tolerance? Do you have a problem with the word “discipline”?
- Speaking of which, what is tolerance and what are you doing to teach it?
- Are Catholics or other Christians tolerant, or are they bigots?
- How is religion in general handled at school?
- If my 10 year old gets in a fight, are you going to call the police (that one is straight from my school. the one that was in the middle of nowhere. Apparently high corn yields lead to aggressive gangster behavior.)
- What’s the school’s opinion on home-schooling?
- I want a tour of your libraries.
- I want to sit in on a class or two. Or three. Or four.
- What’s the policy on political expression?
- Are there field trips?
- Could you pass your own exams?
- How do you implement the government standards into your classroom?
- How many projects will there be? What purpose will they serve?
- How are my kids going to be graded?
- What are classroom procedures?
- When you send me an e-mail or newsletter, do you yourself know how to tell the difference between there, their, they’re and your, you’re, yore? Will you mispell rly basic wrds in super crappy Comic Sans font?
- How do you use technology in school?
- What do you do for students with disabilities? How are they treated?
- How are struggling students treated?
- What amount of busy work do you have?
- Do you provide books from a variety of sources for students, or just a few?
- Is parental involvement a hindrance or a help? What qualifies as a hindrance?
- If my child has to miss class because of a Holy Day, is my child going to be singled out?
- Do you offer music, art, sports, theater, vocational classes, home-ec, special classes (radio, computers, video, teaching) etc etc. (This is one area where my high school wasn’t half bad).
- Are there volunteer opportunities? Where at? When?
This is a work in progress, but its a good place to start. I’m off to bed.