Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t know whether to laugh or cry? When you’re faced with a story so patently absurd you aren’t sure which response would be appropriate?
I don’t hear from the Fixer all that often these days, but when I do it usually goes something like this:
“Hail and well met, my verbose compatriot. I trust this missive finds you in high spirits – given the number of scotch-related purchases I found on your last invoice, I certainly hope my spirits have lifted yours! I jest, of course. In any event, my sojourns across the World Wide Web have once again borne inspirational fruit. I felt this particular story would incite the sort of unbridled callousness upon which you have built the integrity of State of Affairs, and so I have included the hyperlink to the aforementioned tale of woe. I await your thoughts with eager anticipation. I remain, humbly, The Fixer.”
Yeah, and he calls me verbose.
Anyway, of all my Correspondents, the Fixer is probably the one who sends me the most stories of the ilk I mentioned previously, and this morning was no exception.
I never saw this blog as being the type of publication that would visit and revisit a topic like Christmas, but what can I say? This time of year lends itself extremely well to the sort of ridiculous stories that constitute my bread and butter.
Of course, this story is less bread and butter and more akin to a full-course meal.
A lot of jokes get circulated this time of year about the concept of the “redneck Christmas”. You know the jokes: they never have to put up Christmas lights on their wheeled homes because they never take them down; that sort of thing. Well, the Fixer managed to find what might constitute the best Redneck Christmas joke I’ve ever heard, and the worst part is it’s actually true.
Here’s the video if you want to watch it:
For those of you without earphones, here’s the gloss.
Early Tuesday morning in Middle Valley, Tennessee (where else but Tennessee), a four year-old boy named Hayden Wright was found by police, wandering the streets of his neighbourhood wearing a girl’s dress, carrying stolen Christmas presents, and drinking a beer.
Your interest is piqued now, isn’t it? It gets better.
Apparently young Hayden is rather resourceful for a kid who might not even be toilet trained yet. He managed to circumvent the security measures his 21 year-old mother placed on the doors of the house and filch an ice-cold Bud Light from his grandfather’s cooler outside, open the tab on the beer (no small task for a kid who doesn’t even have the fine motor skills required to tie his own shoes) and pound it back on his way to the street. I’ve known grown men and women with less constitution. He proceeded to saunter into his neighbour’s unlocked home (Michael Moore told me all Americans locked their doors, the filthy liar) and pilfer what lay invitingly beneath their Christmas tree like he was some kind of pint-sized Grinch. After having absconded with five gifts he made good his escape, pausing along the way to unwrap only one of the five presents, confusingly (what four year-old can resist opening all the gifts at once, even if they aren’t his?), donning the contents of the package, which was obviously intended for the neighbour’s female toddler, considering the outfit consisted of a brown dress. That is how he was discovered early Tuesday morning by police, who had been notified by an early-to-rise Neighbourhood Watchman who was either extremely vigilant or else trolling the pre-dawn streets for potential victims.
The police took Hayden into custody and delivered him to his mother, April Wright, 21, who is currently involved in a heated divorce with her convict husband. Yes, she’s 21 with a four year-old son, and is married to a guy in jail. You can fill in your own redneck joke here, if you want – it’s too easy for me, frankly.
According to the report, she considers herself a good mother who loves her son, but this incident makes her feel like a failure. And at the risk of alienating young mothers everywhere, I kind of agree with her.
Before you leap down my throat, let me qualify that statement. In an interview, she had this to say:
“…kids do things like this, and it’s out of your control. It was an honest mistake.”
Now, granted, she took the necessary precautions to keep her kid safe while she slept. I don’t fault her entirely for her kid’s staggering propensity for escaping lockdown (one hopes her ex-husband doesn’t have the same skill set, though I’m inclined to wonder where else little Hayden might have gotten the trait). I’m especially sympathetic when I consider Hayden’s motivation: he wanted to get in trouble so he could go to jail and be with his dad. Aww. Comments like that make it very difficult for me to stand in judgment, because really, I might not like kids, but I still have some semblance of a heart, and a heavy statement like that from a child his age kind of breaks what’s left.
But we have to consider the larger picture here. I’ve always been inclined to follow the “nurture” versus “nature” argument when it comes to a child’s development – I think it’s in all of us to be great people or contrarily to be monsters; it all depends on where we come from and how our experiences affect us. Granted, I’ve known people who have come from truly horrifying backgrounds who’ve gone on to be contributing members of society, and we’ve all heard the stories about children from moderate suburban homes who grow up to be serial killers; both of these examples call into question whether we’re drafted at birth to be particular kinds of people. But in the case of Hayden Wright, I think it’s safe to say he wasn’t genetically designed to be a thief or a drunk – certainly not during his formative years. I can only conclude that he’s learned by example, and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable leap of logic when you consider his parents. His father is in jail – the report didn’t say what for, but somehow I doubt he was wrongly accused or framed for something. And his mother is a struggling single woman who, based on her demeanour in the interview, doesn’t seem to have much in the way of education. Add into that basic math – she had Hayden when she was seventeen – and you’ve now set up a lot of pins to be knocked down.
I’m not trying to be a jerk here. I can only imagine the kinds of hardships faced by young single mothers in this day and age, and I’m in no position to even pretend to understand. That said, however, it comes back to my basic stance on parenting: if you aren’t capable of supporting a child, you probably shouldn’t have one.
I’ve spoken before about the need for some kind of regulation as it regards parenting – I’m only half-joking when I say there should be licensing in place for those who want to be parents. Is April Wright a bad mother? Can’t say, but given the path her son is traveling down right now I’m not going to be first in line to nominate her for Mother of the Year. Whether it’s negligence or just plain inexperience, I think it’s safe to say she’s not in a position to be raising a child.
But my opinion doesn’t count for much in the grand scheme of things. Case in point: Child Protection Services decided to award custody back to April, even after all that went down. Somehow that doesn’t jive with my conception of what a name like “Child Protection Services” denotes, but like I said – I have all sorts of great ideas that nobody listens to.
Except you, dear readers, and for that, I thank you.