If my son actually read my blog he would be rolling his eyes right now. I say this to him over and over, every time he complains about something asinine, like having to mow the lawn or, gasp, clean up after himself. Let’s face it, as ‘Muricans, we all have our little first world problems. For example, your day might be ruined if your gel nails chip after only one week. They’re supposed to last at least two weeks! Or, perish the thought; your wifi might be slow. Time Warner is the devil; amiright? Your child might throw a tantrum because you bought the wrong cereal. How dare you get store brand trash with no toy? Have you ever said, “There are hungry kids who would love to eat Walmart brand Fruit Loops”? If so, you will understand what made me start talking about the children in Iraq.
We’ve all been there. The struggle is real. I started saying “The children in Iraq weep for you” when my son was 8. Let me take you back to September 10, 2005, otherwise known as my birthday. Yes, my birthday is the day before 9/11. In 2005, it was also a week and change after Hurricane Katrina. I know it’s not all about me, but can my birthday get a fucking break please?
Anyway, that year, my husband and I decided to celebrate my birthday on the 9th because it was a Friday and it had been a LONG workweek. So, my husband brought home a cake and prepared dinner. Before dinner, our son asked if he could spend the night at a friend’s house. We told him that he could go, but we were still going to celebrate my birthday without him. He skipped off to his friend’s house down the street. I blew out my candles, and the husband and I ate cake. Life went on.
Until the next day when our sleepy, cranky, 8 year-old came home. He stumbled in the door like he had been on a drinking binge during rush week on fraternity row. My husband told him to go take a shower because he was taking him shopping for a birthday gift for me. (Guys, why do you always wait until the last minute? Seriously, why?) At this point, our son asked if we had already “sung happy birthday and had cake.” I told him yes. Then, my almost as tall as me third grader had a toddler level melt down.
“WHY DIDN’T YOU WAIT FOR ME???” He screamed and cried.
“We told you we were going to celebrate my birthday. You opted to leave anyway.” I remained calm, even though I wanted to smack him.
The boy continued screaming and crying. I bit my lips together and wondered why my birthday always had to be fucked up by something. I rolled my eyes and looked around the room, trying not to yell back at him.
That’s when I saw the Time Magazine on the couch. There was a picture of two women floating in the flooded aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the cover. I picked up the magazine and flipped through to find more such pictures.
I held up the magazine to my son, showing him a picture of a little girl who was crying and standing on a roof, clinging to her teddy bear and a fire fighter. “See this,” I asked him.
He stopped crying and looked. “Yeah?” he questioned.
“Do you know why that little girl is crying?” I asked calmly.
At this point the spirit of Sam Kinison took over my body. “SHE’S CRYING BECAUSE HER FATHER DIED IN HURRICANE KATRINA! THAT IS WHY WE CRY. WE DON’T CRY OVER BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!” I took a deep breath and turned the page. (Yes, I did receive my mother of the year award. Why do you ask?)
The boy stared at me from across the room, and somehow knew it was time to get it together. I went through a few more pictures of hurricane destruction with him. With every picture, I emphasized that THIS is why we cry. We don’t cry over CAKE.
Finally, at the end of my Kinison like rant, I told him that the children in Iraq, who lived in destroyed villages because bombs were dropped on them, did indeed weep for him because he missed out on cake. The boy quietly walked out of the room and went to take his shower then.
Since that day, over the years, whenever the boy, or anyone that I am close to, including myself, has complained about some first world problem, I have told them that the children in Iraq just weep for them. I’ve also used the phrase in a few blogs; here are some examples.
I’m not trying to be an insensitive asshole by talking about the children of Iraq. I’m just trying to put things into perspective. If you compare your life here in ‘Murica to living in Iraq, you live like royalty, and you should shut the hell up about your crappy cell phone service with AT&T.
So, during this July 4th weekend, as we celebrate our Independence from England, I want you to really be thankful for living in a building with a roof and climate control, for having clean clothes, for eating non spoiled food, and for being free. Because even if you hate your shitty office job, or you despise doing yard work, or you are overwhelmed with your parenting duties, you are free. So, quit your bitching, enjoy the fireworks, and don’t make me go all Sam Kinison on you.
The Children in Iraq Weep for You by Lisa R. Petty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License