7.31.2014

If Evil has a best friend, it's Apathy.

Since my first exposure to the reality of sex-slavery and human trafficking, I've been trying to get my head around the whole mess of it. I wanted to understand it better, so I've tried to learn as much as I could about the history and the politics that drive it. I researched and read and talked to leaders in the anti-trafficking movement. I became aware of my own role in it, as I tried to see myself clearly in this injustice, both as a contributor to the problem and as part of the solution. (Yes, I'm both.)

But it's been a year now, and I'm still pretty confused.

I've spent the last 12 months trying to get my head around the language of modern day slavery and the fact that when we are using these words - word's like sold, smuggled, traded, transported, brokered, abused, starved, beaten, broken in – we're talking about human beings. Actual human beings. The kind with names and faces and families. The kind with dreams. The kind with hearts and souls. Real live people.

I've spent a year trying to get my head around the evil of it all, trying to figure out how anyone with an ounce of decency could treat another person – especially a child - like an object or an animal, a thing to be bought or bartered, used up, and eventually discarded. I've tried to understand the mentality of the mother who willingly sells her daughter's virginity, or the father who hands his son over to a sexual predator. I've tried to learn about the minds of the men and women who are drawn to the impoverished and needy the way vultures flock to the weak and dying. I've tried to find some sort of Grace for people who profit off the bodies of the young and vulnerable.

But, I'm still confused.

Initially it was hard to even consider how these terrible things come to pass, but it's not the “evil" part that has me baffled.

After looking at the big picture, I can actually kind of understand how slavery and trafficking have become so blatant in certain parts of the world. I can see how this particular brand of evil has been able to thread its way in to the moral fabric of the culture, eating away at the family unit and devouring the value of a life. It's not that hard to wrap your brain around how a murky cocktail of war and genocide, mixed with abject poverty, infant mortality, lack of education, and ongoing political unrest has created the perfect storm for exploiting the planet's poor and marginalized. There are millions of men, women, and children in SE Asia, perfectly groomed by the precariousness of their daily lives to fulfill the perverted demands of a broken world; cheap food, cheap goods, cheap labor, cheap sex. This is the survival of the weakest.

Last month, I sat in a dimly lit, sour smelling brothel and watched a group of men grabbing and pawing and touching teenagers dressed as half-naked school girls. Some of them wore pigtails to enhance the appearance of childishness, and they all rocked back and forth, with blank faces, to no beat in particular on an up-lit stage. Just rock step, rock step, rock step, forward and back, in tiny pleated skirts and towering heals, until some guy on the outskirts of the bar would pick them by number and they would be called down to sit on his lap for a while, or maybe leave with him for the hour. I watched a timid girl, repeatedly pulling her long hair forward to cover her exposed breasts, getting pointers from one of the veterans. “Rock step, rock step, rock step. You got it.”

Anyone you know?
That would be awkward.
I was supposed to be looking at the girls. I was supposed to be looking for the things The Exodus Road's undercover investigators told us they look for when they do “level one surveillance”, the little clues that can identify brothels with underage girls, and brothels who hold and sell women against their will, and brothels who traffic kids in from other countries. But I was staring at the men. I couldn't help it. In the Red Light districts of SE Asia, the brothel's guests hail from all over the world; white, black, asian, latino, American, European, African, Australian, Indian, Russian. You name it. You'll find sharply dressed business men and dirty hippies, muscle bound bros and scrawny geeks, old creepy pedophile looking dudes and young hot good looking guys - all there for the same thing.

Some of them don't even bother to take off their wedding rings.

I want to tell you that when I looked around at the faces of all those men, I saw evil. And maybe I did in some of them, but mostly I saw broken... I saw lonely... I saw addicted... I saw injured...

I saw men who believe the lie that wanting to have sex with a really young girl is normal. I saw groups of guys who believe the lie that “boys will be boys” and this is what boys do on a work trip. I saw men who could barely contain their shame, and I saw men doing shameless things. I saw them trying to drown their own brokenness in beer and bury it in boobs. I saw them pretending that paying for an intended act of love is the same as being loved. I saw the fear of rejection that lives in every man's heart made manifest. I watched it spill out and come to life in an eager willingness to degrade and abuse another human being, to devalue a soul, in exchange for a brief moment of pleasure - one minute to forget the pain of being fragile.

And maybe this sounds weird, but I can actually get my head around that. I'm not kidding. I can understand what drives it, for I, too, am broken, and I, too, am guilty of letting the shards of my shattered spirit cut their way to the surface of my life and hurt people. That kind of darkness isn't foreign to me. I mean, don't get me wrong; Sitting across from a greasy 63 year old who's groping a 17 year old who looks like a 13 year old still fills me with a special kind of rage (and it does make me wish I knew how to braid a legit, for real, Jesus-style bullwhip for some legit, for real, Jesus-style table flippin' and ass kickin'). I still believe that guy needs to be stopped. I still believe that girl deserves to be free. I still feel like the Red Light districts of SE Asia are crawling with... evil. But, what I'm saying is that I can see how we got here, to this place, where sprawling Red Light districts are plentiful, and where children's bodies are for sale, and where pimps and child molesters abound.

I guess it's just easy for me to see how a broken world full of broken people would have spots where the shattered pieces collect and congregate, surfacing like an open wound, in great need of care and healing.

I get all of that. I do. I believe that evil exists in the world (and in my own heart), so as I've spent this past year trying to learn as much as I could about all of this, it just wasn't shocking for me to consider the historical and cultural roots and the current driving forces behind modern day slavery and find the presence of “evil”. That really doesn't surprise me at all. I mean, duh.

But, you know what does surprise me? You know what I'm still super confused by?

Apathy.

I'm shocked by how easy it is to feel apathetic to the suffering of others. 

Sometimes it seems like we all know this atrocity exists, but we just don't actually give a shit.

That's the one part of this giant humanitarian disaster that lingers in my mind with a big fat question mark above it, like a huge neon sign, flashing “What-the-hell-is-going-on-around-here?!"

Most of us already know about human-trafficking.

A man directs a little girl to show off her flexibility...
in front of a brothel.
We know that young girls are being bought, coerced, or taken from rural villages and sold into slavery.

We know that children are being raped for profit on a global scale.

We know that bad men are traveling to certain cities where it's easier to buy little boys, or virgin girls.

We know that teenagers are being smuggled from one country to the next, to be used as sex slaves.

We know... but we don't really care. Or, maybe we just don't care enough to do anything about it.

One thing I've noticed this past year, as I've tried to understand this whole issue, is that we want to be entertained by the sad stories of slavery, but we don't want to be changed by them.

We want to pretend that perspective and awareness are as valuable action and service. But they're not. 

We want to be aware... but we don't really want to be involved.

Oh, how I wish I was pointing fingers at everyone else right now! I can't even tell you how much I wish I was talking about you, and not me. But that would be totally unfair, because I am so guilty of letting apathy rule my heart. It's hard to believe I could be apathetic after I've seen trafficked girls with my own eyes, and heard their stories with my own ears. It's hard to imagine that I could let those faces, those voices, those real live people, slip from the forefront of my mind, only to be replaced by grocery lists and orthodontist appointments and the numbers on the bathroom scale. But life is weird and it doesn't always make sense, so I find myself waffling back and forth between being a passionate advocate for The ExodusRoad's anti-trafficking efforts, and being a bored, self-absorbed, suburbanite who panics if there's no greek yogurt when I get home from the gym.

After a whole year of calling attention to the fact that real people are being bought and sold like cattle, it's my own apathy that I find so confusing.

I should know better! I've seen what happens when we stand by and do nothing because we're too apathetic to be affected, and I've experienced the exact opposite - the beautiful, life-giving things that happen when we choose to act on behalf of our fellow man.

I know "evil" is kind of a scary word, but there is real evil in our world. I don't care what your faith background is, this is a pretty undeniable fact. There are truly evil things happening right now to real people – real, living, breathing, dreaming boys and girls.

But we can't fight evil with apathy.

We can't change the world with inaction. 

We can't carry slaves toward freedom unless we, ourselves, can be moved. 

I do have sad stories of slavery to share with you, but when I do, I hope you'll do more than just read. Because I'm planning to invite you to become part of the solution. I'm going to ask you to care with a passion, and offer you a chance to take action. I'm going to invite you to do something small that will empower something big in the fight against modern day slavery. 

If evil has a best friend, it's apathy. The two seem to go hand in hand. And I don't know, but I think maybe it's time for us to forcefully push apathy out of the way, so we can kick evil right in the balls. 

Are you with me? 



7.23.2014

I'm on vacation to nowhere in particular....

....and the spotty wifi won't let me upload the pics I need for the posts about human trafficking and the SE Asian sex trade that I promised would go up this week.

A good blogger would have formatted them last week and scheduled them to post at a certain time on a certain day. But I am not a good blogger. I'm the kind of procrastinator who brings her computer on vacation and makes her family mad because she spends too long trying to format something that should have been done before she left. So, I'm gonna close my mac and stick it in the trunk and not think about any of this for 2 days.

Sorry.

I can upload pics from my phone which doesn't help me at all. But it let's me leave you with this:

The absolute WORST picture ever taken of me in my entire life... 

I don't even know.

7.17.2014

Thinking about doing something is not the same as doing something.


So a couple of weeks ago, we had a well known humanitarian aid organization at our church. They were there to sign people up to run a half marathon with a goal of raising funds to bring clean water to people who desperately need it. I'm supportive of their efforts and their goal, and I can't tell you how much I love seeing my church family extend themselves both physically and financially for the benefit of others. It's pretty cool.  

The two women who joined us from this NGO are obnoxiously obviously passionate about their work, and they were super enthusiastic in their encouragement for folks to get on board. A bunch of us went to dinner with them and throughout the evening one of them kept trying to convince me that I NEEDED to run this half-marathon. Apparently, my life would not be complete if I didn't sign up and start training. I admire her passion and loved hearing her tell stories of reluctant runners who signed up and were changed by the experience.  But I am not running this race. I have no intention of signing up, and I'm not gonna pretend "I'll think about it" just to get this chick off my back.

Yes, that's how it is.
I tried to let her down gently by explaining that it actually says “NEVER RUN A MARATHON” on my bucket list, but she didn't care. So then I alluded to the fact that I have a minor medical condition which keeps me from running, but she wasn't cluing in, like, at all, and since we were eating with some guys I barely knew I felt like I couldn't just blurt out, “I PEE when I RUN and I need SURGERY to fix it. But thanks for bringing it up...”, so she just kept pushing me to sign up for her cause.

Again. I actually loved this about her. Some people need a little push to do the hard things in life. Some people need some persuading. Some people need to be challenged. I get that. 

But what my marathon loving friend didn't know is that I had only been home from SE Asia for a few days. I was fighting to keep my eyes open from jet lag, I was still swollen and puffy from the 13 hour flight, and I was utterly heartbroken by my brief exposure to human-trafficking and slavery. What she couldn't know was that I was a girl with a cause of my own. So when she started to tell me about how good it feels to do something really difficult, to put yourself out their, to burden yourself for someone else, to sacrifice your time and energy on behalf of justice - as if I was just another spoiled suburbanite who'd never done anything that might break a nail - I only had one thought...

Bitch, please. You don't KNOW me.”

I sat across from her, picking at my burrito bowl and steeping in my own arrogance. I was doing self-righteous circles in my mind around the difficulty of the trip I'd just taken, how I put myself out there all the time, I have a huge burden for the victims of trafficking, and she has know idea how much time and energy I'd given up to go and hear about the work being done in SE Asia; to “tell the story”. I felt myself getting kind of pissed by the lack of recognition, by the silence of my husband, who surely should have spoken up on my behalf, like,  “Whoa now! My wife is practically a social justice HERO. Can't you see how fat her ankles are?! That repulsive bloating is from her selfless trip to rescue sex-slaves in Asia! She doesn't have to run your little race, because she's already doing her part... and also because she pees herself... but mostly because she is already putting herself out there. Did I mention she's A HERO?!

Alas. El Chupacabra was completely silent on the matter.

All I could do was sit there quietly, smiling and nodding like a smug, bloated douchebag, thinking about how awesome I am, and how she was way out of line if she thought she could guilt me into running a half-marathon for poor people with dirty water. Nope. No way. Not gonna happen, lady.

I didn't say anything though. I was content to let my pride swell in an internal dialog. But I lost my delightfully self-absorbed train of thought when I let my guard down for a second to pick cilantro out of my teeth, and that's when God slipped into the conversation in my head. 

He came at me, as He often does, with the tenderness of One who brushes my weak spots with a fingertip, gently pointing out the flaws, and speaking new Truth into my dark heart. There is no audible voice, no booming baritone, just a better understanding, a clearer line of thinking, a soft invitation to release what's broken inside of me and cling to His mercy, instead. God spoke no words to me that night, as I brooded at Chipotle, but what I got from Him in a brief moment of clarity was something like...

Baby Girl, you can hop down from that rickety, homemade pedestal, because really?
You haven't done shit yet.
                                    
                                      ~ Relax, I'm paraphrasing

And He was right. I was giving myself a pat on the back for what?! Taking a trip? Flying far away? Sweating for a few days?... I HADN'T EVEN DONE THE WORK YET. I hadn't written the words I intended to write, I hadn't told anyone the stories, I hadn't done my job – but I sure as hell wanted credit for my good intentions.

This is a common and destructive theme in my life. I forget that thinking about doing something is not the same as doing something.

This is why my email is overflowing. It's why my bills get paid late. It's why my friends feel neglected for lack of texts, calls, and coffee dates. This is why I don't send birthday cards to my nieces, and it plays a pretty big part in why it took me a full month to put down my thoughts about my trip to Asia (which I promise you'll find here next week).

think about doing it, and then I just... don't.

I think to myself, “I'm going reply to this email and, when I do, this is what I will say.” And somehow in my head that translates into checkmark, done.

I'm going to call my Dad. Check, done.

I'm going to see if this or that friend can have lunch next week. Check, done.

I'm going to pay my phone bill before I get a text saying it's overdo. Check, done.

I'm going to buy toilet paper so my kids don't have to wipe their butts with dirty socks and dry leaves. Check.

I am going to write about the incredible things I did, the beautiful people I met, and the life-giving work I saw overseas. Check. Check. Check.

Seriously. If I acted on the things I think about doing half as often as I think about doing them – or even like 1/10 of the time – I would be living a much fuller life. Not busier, but fuller, richer, deeper; My life would be a better outward reflection of my heart. If I actively lived out my intentions, my life would be a greater expression of the Faith, Hope, and Love that I intend to share with those around me.

I believe God wants me to tend more, and intend less.

I once told one of my beautiful sons, who struggles mightily with this same affliction, that he needed to ruthlessly eliminate the phrases “I'm going to” and “I was going to” from his vocabulary, and replace them with, “I am” and “I did”.

True dat, Pablo. 
Ha! I thought I was so clever... and then I tried it for myself. Turns out? Redirecting a soul-level character flaw is, like, really hard work, you guys. It's been so difficult for me to figure out how to turn my inner intentions into outer actions. (I mean, like, the good intentions. This world cannot handle a physical manifestation of my bad stuff. I'll just keep those thoughts to myself. And Jesus.  Cause he can deal.) Anyway. My spiritual epiphany at Chipotle was a like fat spotlight over my lack of self-control and my abundance of self-gratification. 

I'm gross.

Now you probably think I'm gonna wrap this up by telling you I relented to that chicks appeals and signed up for the half marathon because I need to put my money where my mouth is, or something like that.

Yeeeeaaah. That's not gonna happen.

NOT running a marathon really is on my bucket list. And there's the pee thing. So I will not be participating except to encourage my husband and son as they torture themselves for fun for clean water. 

My point is that whether we're thinking about running a half-marathon for clean water, or we're thinking about writing a blog post for abolition, or we're thinking about scooping mashed potatoes for the hungry, or we're thinking about making a charitable contribution, our intentions don't matter half as much as our outcomes. Thinking about doing something is not the same as doing something. We should not be satisfied by our own good intentions. 

The world needs more tending and less intending. 

In order to tend, I have to accept that I was never meant to be a cheerleader or a hero, because He put me here to be a servant and a cultivator. He put me here to do the work, to write the words, to say the things, to listen and learn, and even to obey. He put me here to be humble and bow low, to stoop down that others may rise.

He put me here to tend the Earth.

So... I am.


.....       .....       .....

Is there something you've been thinking about doing that you should actually be doing? 
What did He put you here to do


7.15.2014

Tired of caring.


“Sorry, not today.”

That's what I say to the big guy sitting in a lawn chair in front of Walmart with an American flag and a 52oz soda who is trying to get me to stop and sign something on his clipboard. He wants me to know it's very important and it will only take a minute of my time.

But I keep walking. I don't even make eye contact.

I have no idea what his cause is. I sincerely have no clue why he is sweating through his Nascar button up at 3 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon with some kind of petition in his hand. If I'm leaving Walmart, I assume it has something to do with gun-rights. Target? Voter registration. Trader Joe's? Environmental protection. Taco Bell? Legalizing weed. PetSmart? Euthanasia. Walgreens?...Euthanasia.

Anyway. I honesty don't know and I really don't care.

I've got enough crap to care about on my plate. I'm already aware of too many things to fret over and feel sad for and want to change. On the internet there's a new calamity every day. I can't open my laptop without seeing that I should be enraged about something; immigration, pollution, privilege, persecution, child abuse, animal abuse, drug abuse, wars in other countries, wars “in our own back yard”, the war against poverty, the war on crime, the war on terror. There is a war against obesity, but, also, a war against body shaming. And when there's not a war, there's a battle! Because we're battling depression, malnutrition, gentrification, slavery, racism, agism, ableism, alcoholism....astigmatism.?... Basically, like, all the isms. And all the addictions. Plus, the economy is a real pain in the ass.

Issues! There are just so many issues, and they are all so big and so important and many of them are completely legitimate.

We've all met this guy and his clipboard. 
That's why I feel bad when someone lunges at me with their clipboard-for-a-cause on my way out to the car, and I kind of, sort of - we're talking ever so slightly - want to take it and fling it across the parking lot like a frisbee. And ,*ahem*, I might consider stabbing them with their clicky pen, too. It's so bad, I know, because I totally get that they're sold out for their cause. I know they want to tell me about something that means something to them. I know they are, in their own way, trying to change the world for the better.

Generally, I applaud that kind of behavior. But I am just so tired of... caring.

I'm tired of caring.

My compassion plate is full. It's overflowing.

I just can't care about all of the brokenness happening around us. There's so much going on, it's overwhelming. It's confusing. It's paralyzing.

The truth is, I've grown so skeptical, so wary of scandal, so observant, and so critical that even when I do start to care about something, I hesitate to get involved. I'm afraid to say the wrong thing, to contribute to the wrong people, I worry that my money will be misappropriated, and I'm fearful of causing harm in an effort to do good. As far as I'm concerned, gone are the days of flippantly signing petitions outside of grocery stores. Sorry, pal, I like your camo hat and your fishing lure vest, but I've gotta do my homework before you get my autograph. *flings clipboard* *eyes pen*.

Caring has become exhausting. With a never ending stream of fundraisers, awareness campaigns, blogger trips, micro loans, monthly sponsorship programs, sustainable businesses, and compassionate clothing in our news feeds, it can be hard to decide where to even start. It's so much easier to just kind of ignore the issues when they aren't right in our faces and go about our daily lives, but, as a culture, we are more engaged in the activities of the world than we have ever been. We are more aware, more informed, and more interested in seeing justice and equality happen on a global scale than ever. But I fear that, as a whole, we are growing tired. I think this constant inundation of giant problems and perceived solutions is leading us into a state of compassion fatigue.

Sadly, it seems like we're becoming desensitized to the relentless, overwhelming needs of our world.

We're getting tired of caring.

….. ….. …...

The first time I met Matt Parker, CEO of The Exodus Road, I told him “I'm not a cause kind of girl.” I wanted him to understand that I would be happy to come and see what they were doing in SE Asia to end trafficking and slavery, and if it was good stuff, I'd be happy to write about it on my blog, but he should know I was not going to take up his cause. I was not going to turn into some crazy abolitionist freak who wears “rescue” t-shirts and awkwardly brings up sex-slavery in the checkout line at Whole Foods. By this time, I'd seen lots of non-profits and lots of good work, and I'd happily passed their info along, but I never felt the need to become anyone's champion and I wasn't about to start. I think I wanted him to know that I cared, but like, not that much.

I was in the throws of compassion fatigue.

From last year, Matt Parker and El Chupacabra
talking about important things that matter.
Obviously.
I had only been off the mission field for a year, and I'd spent that year struggling to reconcile the ease of my life in the American suburbs with the poverty and injustice I had become familiar with overseas. So I came into meetings with non-profits, looking for partnership, with a really stupid disclaimer that was like: I'm sure your work is awesome, but your cause cannot be my cause because I don't only care about one thing... I care about a lot of things... a little.

Matt graciously accepted my douchey words of non-commitment and went about the business of teaching me everything he could about The Exodus Road coalition. Over the course of our week together, he kept emphasizing the words “core competency”. In the context of The Exodus Road, this refers to how each member/organization of the coalition specializes in just one area of work. So an aftercare facility doesn't do search and rescue, and a prevention org isn't moonlighting in rehab. Each organization is free to do what they do best – their core competency – and by doing so, they've created a network of skilled, equipped, and prepared workers in the anti-slavery movement. They each care passionately and expertly about only one aspect of the work, but they also work together, streamlining the process and sharing information, with the same end goal. Freedom.

The concept of “core competency” stuck with me.

On the long flight home, I kept thinking about how brilliant that is, and how with so many problems in the world, if we could all just care really deeply about one big thing, but partner in helpful ways with the people who care deeply about the other big things, we could make this a better place to live.

So I gave myself permission to stop caring a little bit about everything I saw and I spent some time figuring out what I felt most passionate about and how I could focus my energy into that one thing and, hopefully, use it to make a difference. I decided to be a girl with a cause.

I'm telling you all of this because.... well... I think you might be tired.

I think you might be sick and tired of hearing about sex-trafficking, or poverty, or malaria deaths, or whatever, and I want you to know that I get it. I totally get it. And I promise not to think you're a dick for wanting to roll your eyes because, OMG, another chick with a cause is mucking up your Facebook feed.

And I'm telling you all of this because... well... if you don't already have a cause, like, if you're not already participating in being the solution to just one of the world's problems, then I want to invite you to make my cause your cause.

Next week, I'm going to share stories from my latest trip, and then I'm going to tell you about ways that you can partner with The Exodus Road, and me, to focus on one cause in one place, and to change the world for the victims of sex-trafficking.

But I'm writing and posting this first, because I want to joyfully release you to love your one thing, ...even if it's not my thing.

Once I felt free to pick my one thing, the apathy I'd begun to feel for all the other things disappeared. What I found was that one cause leads to another. I have a passion for Search and Rescue, but becoming an active participant in the rescue of victims has led me to consider the next precarious steps of those who are entering freedom and how I can consciously participate in their success by using my buying power and my politics on their behalf. It's all connected. We're all connected. So do your thang to make the world better, whatever it may be.

But, seriously. DO SOMETHING.

Do your homework, sign your name, give your money, volunteer your time. Find a cause and fall in love, and give yourself away to it. Don't let compassion fatigue turn you into a Starbucks swilling zombie who only reads People.com "because everything else is just too depressing". 

Do something for someone else.

And come back next week to find out what I'm doing and how you can do it to. 

.....         .....         .....

What's your thing? Whose world are you changing? (Humble bragging is allowed for once!)


7.08.2014

We're having a killer summer.


I love my kids. I really do. Like, I LOVE THEM... a lot.

But summer, you guys. Summer is killing me.

Summer is... how do I say this nicely?... Summer is putting a strain on our relationship. (That sounds better than "Summer makes me want to eat my offspring", doesn't it.) 

Don't get me wrong, I love the carefree feel of summer break. I love the days of no schedule; sleeping in, laying around, grazing all day, hanging out, going wherever whenever. I love having my boys around and spending time with them and feeding them and listening to them joke around the way brothers do.

It's all so relaxed and fun and enjoyable. For like a week. 

That's how long the “Summer is awesome!” feelings last in our house. One week. Summer would be so awesome if it was one week long! 

But it's 10 weeks long. 

Did you hear me?! I said T-E-N

That's ten whole weeks of having these two teenage boys in my house with nothing to do. They're just here; sleeping til noon, laying across the couch, eating all day, lingering at home, expecting me to drive them wherever whenever. They are always around. Everywhere I turn, I can see them. I can smell them. And they want to be fed. They are so hungry. The hungriest. However, despite their ravenous appetites, left to their own devices they will only consume food that can be pawed directly out of a bag, or eaten with a spoon. If it requires washing, cutting, mixing, cooking, or really any kind of preparation at all, then it doesn't exist to them. Like, they can't even see it. They don't see bread and ham and cheese apart from each other and think those things could become a sandwich – they actually believe that a sandwich simply appears by some sort of magic still unknown to them. I am dead serious. Wild chimpanzees have been known to do more in the way of food prep than my kids can be bothered with.

Oh, and the fighting. The “joking around”. The challenging and disagreeing and name calling. It never stops. Ever. These two can fight about anything. I mean that. If it can be spoken out loud, it can be an argument; the actual subject matter is completely irrelevant. Fact or fiction, history or contemporary, literary, science, philosophy? Doesn't matter, let's fight. I swear, I should start a twitter account called @fightsmykidshave and fill it with their ridiculousness all day long...

Seriously. No one cares. 

“Our cat doesn't have balls anymore, dumbass.”
Yes he does, they just cut the tube thingies.”
No, he doesn't. They took 'em out”
#ballsornoballs?



“If the chili is too hot, milk will help. It's chemistry.”
Actually, It's physiology.”
Chemistry.”
PHYSIOLOGY, moron.”
YOU'RE SUCH AN IDIOT. IT'S CHEMISTRY.”
#gotmilk


Batman could kick Spiderman's ass.”
You're stupid. Spiderman would crush Batman.”
#OMGWHOCARES?!

“The sky is blue.”
Um. Actually....”
#Shootme #Please #Imbegging

Can I tell you how many times a day I have to yell, “WHY ARE YOU FIGHTING OVER THIS?! JUST GOOGLE IT AND SHUUUTT UUUPP!”

A million times a day. That is not hyperbole.

But the worst thing about summer is the invisible man who lives with us. Seriously. Some invisible douchebag moved into our house and does random things all day long just to piss me off. I know this because when I ask my boys who left the toilet seat up, they both look at me like they're astonished just by the thought of it, and say, “It wasn't me.”

If I ask whose glass is on the coffee table, they're practically offended by the question. “Well,” they both huff, “It's not mine.”

An invisible hipster is ruining my life. 
Who wrote 'bite me' in the steam on the bathroom mirror? Who left an apple core in the dryer? Who dropped a plastic bag full of dog poop in the recycling can? Who opened the windows with the a/c on? Who put their underwear in the freezer? Who ate an entire box of Cheez-its? Who put a laundry basket over the cat? Who farted?

The invisible man, that's who.

I'm really starting to hate that guy and we're only halfway through summer.

I mean, what am I supposed to do for five more weeks while the invisible man leaves dishes all over the house and pees all over the bathroom? How will I tolerate five more weeks of this bickering and butting of buttheads? Who can afford to feed these animals all day everyday for weeks on end. WHO INVENTED SUMMER BREAK AND WHY AREN'T THEY IN PRISON FOR THIS CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY?!?!?

Oh, relax, I'm just kidding.

Remember? At the beginning of this post I said I love my kids in all caps! (In internet language that means I am super passionate about it and it is indisputably true.)

Honestly though, I do cherish every minute of having my boys here... in my face... all the time. I know summer break is a gift. These kids won't live at home forever and someday I'll look back and wish I could spend ten weeks in a row with them again. But probably not.

So it's true we may survive the second half of summer by the skin of our teeth, but we will survive. We might even have some fun along the way. I've already got my boys cooking dinners from scratch in an effort to show them where food comes from. Plus, they finally figured out that bikes and skateboards are actual modes of transportation that can be used to take them places. Now, if they can get rid of that pesky invisible a-hole, the next few weeks are sure to be quite a bit more enjoyable for all of us. So there's hope.

We're gonna make it.

When summer break finally comes to an end, my beloved children will get back to the basics; they'll brush their teeth again, and they'll put on some shoes, and then they will triumphantly return to school -- lethargic and malnourished, dumber than ever from a summer full of video games and youtube -- but, as God is my witness, they will return.

Because I love them... and want them to live.  

....          .....          ....

How do you keep your kids alive all summer long? I'm open to suggestions.