Saturday, August 29, 2020

Babbling Botkin: "What If My Husband Dies?" - Part Four

I'm in a busy time again here in Michigan.  After a cold, wet spring, we are having a wave of produce come in all at once.  That means I'm in the middle of harvesting or sourcing crops, processing crops and dehydrating them all at once.  Plus, Spawn's started preschool this week.   I've been sewing tiny little masks for the preschool - early elementary crowd for his school when I'm not processing corn, tomatoes or green peppers.

I won't belabor the point - but if all of the SAHDs who should have much better sewing skills than I do were spending their free time sewing masks for families who don't have spare cash right now, they could be making a real difference in their community.  

We are three and a half minutes into Geoffrey Botkin' YouTube video "What If My Husband Dies?"  So far, we've learned that Botkin is uncomfortable with talking about death in the present but waxes poetic about how many more people died in the good old days.    The next quote treats us to a reaffirmation of how awkward Botkin becomes when discussing a currently living wife to a man with COPD during a respiratory virus who is concerned with the future of her four sons if her husband dies:
[00:03:36] We just things have changed now and we don't have these realistic discussions of the shortness and the brevity of life.   you know it's uh.....  What does the Bible call the (stutter) the silver thread can be broken.  The fleeting nature of life (laughs).  It really is fleeting for anybody.  Even in a modern day when our life expectancy is going from 70 to 75 to 80 to and beyond.  We still need to think about these things and talk about these things and so if you can do this it can make any horrible transition in life like widowhood a lot more manageable if it happens to you
 For anyone who has forgotten, the realistic discussions that Botkin misses consisted of taking children through cemeteries while pointing out graves that were the same age as the kid to make death terrifying and real.   Added bonus if you could share stories of mothers who died in childbirth or dads killed by festering wounds.

Botkin flubbed a Bible verse - which threw me a lot.  From a public speaking perspective, Botkin should know  to practice a direct quote until he can recite it smoothly or insert a paraphrase rather than stumbling around through a verse.  From a public relations perspective, isn't smoothly memorized Bible verses a major selling point of primitivist Bible believers?   

The verse Botkin was trying to bring up was Ecclesiastes 12:6-7   "Or ever the silver cord be loosened, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain or the wheel be broken at the cistern. / Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."   

Or - as Catholics recognize a close paraphrase - "Ashes to ashes and dust to dust".   That's probably forbidden to a good Calvinist like Botkin, though.....

Fun fact: one of the main drivers of life expectancy increasing longer and longer is that so many fewer children die in infancy and early childhood.   I doubt Botkin recognizes the irony that the same medical advances that made it possible for him to be vital enough in his sixties to expect 10-20 more years of life are the same advances that reduced the number of children and young people who die.

Personally, I get irritated by people who catastrophize about my life.  Since Spawn was born, people occasionally respond to a discussion of his life history with "Oh, I couldn't deal with that!"  My completely straight-faced response is "Well, I suppose you could have given your kid up for adoption instead...." which shocks them.  The person is shocked by my reply because their initial response of being incapable is a form of superstition where the person hopes to avoid a bad outcome - not a well-thought out response.   

Botkin's throw-away description of a "horrible" transition to widowhood has the same feel to me.  All marriages end by divorce or death.  Because women tend to outlive men nowadays, many women have survived the death of their husband.   The painful part is the death of a loved one; surviving without that loved one is outcome of the painful event - not a separate horror.

I do wonder, though, if Botkin fears being a widower.   Victoria Botkin strikes me as a woman who would grieve the loss of her husband - and then continue on in her role as a homeschooling voice, conference presenter and grandmother smoothly enough.  Geoffrey Botkin, on the other hand, needs an audience - and his receptive family size is shrinking.  His sons have started their own lives through marriage or running a business.  This change means Geoffrey is revered - but not all-powerful anymore.   Botkin would still have his two daughters to listen to him - but as we've seen with Sarah and Grace Mally - a late marriage may well remove those audience members, too.  

Botkin's "horrible transition" speaks more to his fears than anything else.

Here's my new Botkin catchphrase:
[00:04:17]If you do lose your husband, go ahead and write to me for more specific advice and ideas, but for now let me give you three general concepts that will help you if you become a single mom with four boys.

He really said that.   

Look, if the letter writer's (LW) husband dies, she's got a huge pile of urgent responsibilities.  
She has to tell her four sons that their father died.   She's got a visitation,  funeral, and internment to plan.  There are relatives to inform and issues of transportation to smooth.   There are grieving children to care for.   There are scads of financial entities who need to be notified of her husband's death.  The family still needs food, shelter, clothing and schooling.  The family needs money.   

She's got a massive heap of responsibilities to take care of - and she's grieving the loss of her husband which saps every bit of energy she has at the same time.  

You know what she doesn't have time for?

Writing Geoffrey Botkin for a follow-up list of ideas.    

In fact, only a complete idiot would think that a widowed mother of four would have time to email a random stranger who couldn't be bothered to send detailed plans prior to her husband's death for plans once he was dead.  


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Babbling Botkin: "What If My Husband Dies?" - Part Three

I'm enjoying the last week or so of summer vacation with my son.   He's grown so much over the last year that I honestly can't believe it.   

For one small example, our house and land is carved off of a larger dairy farm operated by my in-laws.  Because of the location of our well, the fuel depots for the farm are all located on the farm behind us rather than the main well.  We live on a clay hill with a 'deep' well which means a fuel spill would take much longer to contaminate groundwater than it would on the main farm which is sandy and has a shallow well.  What this means for my small son is that we have an ever-changing and fairly random assortment of farm vehicles that drive by our house and park at the fuel cell.   

Spawn LOVES looking at vehicles up close - but the distance is around 1.5 city blocks from our house.  When we got home from PT, his legs were exhausted; his legs would shake when he walked.  He really, really, really wanted to see the small combine that was gassing up - so I put him on my shoulders and walked with him hanging onto my head.  

That's a small thing - but it's huge.  When he started PT 2 years ago at 18 months, his muscle tone was floppy enough that I couldn't carry him on my hip easily because he couldn't keep his head and chest up without my arm locked across the middle of his back.  I essentially carried him like a sack of potatoes or a paper bag of groceries with his legs dangling free.  This bothered Spawn none at all - but it was rough on my back.    Last year, I could carry him on my hip with my arm slung across his hips - which was so much easier - but to have him on my shoulders, I had to give him support by locking my hands behind this back to form a seat back for him to lean on which was rough on my shoulders.   Now, he can essentially ride piggyback  with me occasionally steading him by having him grip my hands as I held them up above my temples when we were moving over unsteady ground. 

And - because good things happen to little boys and their mamas sometimes - we also saw the gasoline truck come to refill the diesel AND a small haybine working in a nearby field!   

Now, I'm taking a few minutes while someone eats lunch to punch out another set of awesome Botkin quotes from "What If My Husband Dies" on Geoffrey Botkin's YouTube Channel titled "Stand Up And Lead":
[00:02:17] So.  Alright.  Let's talk about three practical things to be thinking about and talking about with your husband and even with your boys together.  I mean, this is, you know, COPD is a very serious thing.  I mean, you know, any chronic illness that could lead to death is something that should be talked about in the family.  It shouldn't be just brushed under the rug.  It should be brought out into the open and talked about in the future. 
We're a few minutes out from when Geoffrey Botkin brings up the three practical things and I feel like this section was a poorly thought-out ad-lib.     He has far more filler phrases than he's had in a few minutes - and I don't know if that's because he's uncertain of the value of his advice or he's flying by the seat of his pants.

Either way, I'm struck by the complete and total lack of practical advice for introducing the concept of death to four boys whose ages we do not know.   Botkin, after all, is the father of seven adult children so he must have done this at some point with his kids.  Right?  His adult kids know death exists.....right?  Presumably so.

Introducing death to little kids is....fraught.  My son got a crash course in death this summer.  My husband's grandfather died a few days before my parents' dog died.  Spawn didn't know Opa at all - but he saw a lot of adults in his life were sad.   Spawn was very aware of Maggie Dog - and hated her and her barking ways.   I quickly read some best-practices for introducing little kids to death and came up with a standard spiel that Maggie died.  When someone dies, their body stops working and we put their body in a cemetery.  We won't see Maggie anymore.   

That was the easy part.  Now, we are figuring out what that means.  It doesn't mean she's on a long car ride.   Or at work.  So far, no games that Spawn has started have involved dead animals - but that may come next.   

I think there could be some use of discussing Dad's COPD if it makes him visibly sick in some ways - but jumping to "Dad's COPD is gonna kill him!  Death is real and coming for Dad!" is too much unless his COPD is very advanced.  If the family is entirely of preschool kids, maybe wait until they are old enough to understand time because none of this will make sense to them.   

On the flip side, a preteen or teen can probably understand COPD when it is explained to them.  If the COPD is limiting his activities, it is past time to discuss what is going on.    In terms of death, I'd be honest about what the doctors know - and don't know - about the husband's life expectancy.

Notice how much Botkin's fluency improves in the next section where he spins his version of history:
[00:02:44]  I mean, families you know so used were so used to doing this because life used to be really short and you could be cut down by almost anything any given week or month.   You you go to church and a typical church was surrounded by a church yard that had gravestones in it and the family is going to church passing through these gravestones. Seeing the dates on them seeing the many different little children would die at age 1, age 2, age 3, age 5 age 10. And young mothers would die in childbirth.  Fathers would die young.  You know, chopping an axe if you if it slipped and you cut your cut yourself on the shin and you got an infection.  And there were no antibiotics in those days.  Yeah, you could be gone in three or four days.  And so, you know people understood that life was short back then.
Botkin is really into harkening back to the historical glory days of the past when the Puritans ran everything the right way.   

When he brings those days up, remember that those days also came with heartbreaking death rates.

Those good old days when a man who was 80 might be married to the wife of his youth - or he might be married to his third wife after his first two wives died.   My maternal great-great-grandmother married in her late 20's to a much older man whose first two wives had died.   He died while she was still raising their children (with the help of her step-daughters who were the same age as she was) - and then she raised five grandchildren after one of her daughters died during the Great Depression on a failing farm.   Thank God for those step-daughters; they worked in Chicago and brought home produce, meat and clothing for their step-nieces and nephews.   

The fact that women died in such high numbers because of the dangers of pregnancy, childbirth, epidemic diseases, and accidents is part of why relatively few daughters were lifelong stay-at-home daughters.   The deaths of married women caused a much larger pool of widowers to be available to single women who were past ideal first marriage age than exists now.   

The ironic bit is that Botkin ignores how amazingly oblivious humans can be to obvious things.  I've met plenty of people who grew up on farms and saw animals mating - but were absolutely horrified when they learned that humans have sex too.   The dangers of drinking and driving or texting and driving are not a secret - but every year people choose to drink or text and drive and die - or kill an innocent victim.   Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is a great way to get a fatal head injury - but various groups worked to overturn a law that required everyone riding a motorcycle to wear a helmet.

The reason is simple: humans compartmentalize.  Bad things happen - but not to me.   This is not a new trend - there are plenty of sermons reaching back to Puritan times of pastors telling their congregation to go look at the graves in the churchyard because any congregant could be next.   That sermon only makes sense if the pastor thinks that many - or most - of the congregation is ignoring the specter of imminent death.  

Fortunately, far fewer people die in midlife.  Ironically, this makes the letter-writer's life a lot harder.  In the good old days, she would look around at the older bachelors* or widowed men and take note at who was looking back at her.   Because of the impossibility of doing domestic chores while earning wages, a healthy widow with a solid track record of pregnancy would be remarried within a year.   With luck, she'd be married to a good man who would raise his stepsons well.  If not, hopefully there is some extended family that could raise the boys to keep them out of harm's way.

None of this helps the letter writer, though.   Too bad Botkin doesn't seem to notice.

*I first read Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God" when I was in college and was twenty-something.  Last year, I watched the movie version with a high school class as a sub.  When I was a youngster, I was disgusted that Janie's grandmother arranged a marriage between teenage Janie and an elderly church member who owned 40 acres of land.   As an adult woman, I watched the teenagers express the same disgust - and told them that I'd arrange the same marriage because I'd be leaving my granddaughter with a roof over her head, food in the pantry, a good-enough position in society, and financial freedom once her husband died.  I left out the fact that I'd also be hoping that the husband's age would keep Janie from an endless cycle of pregnancies and births in her late teens and twenties - but still leave her a young enough widow to have a few kids with a husband of her own choosing.   I'm not much of a romantic, I guess.....

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Maxwell Mania: Only If You Commit Insurance Fraud.....

 We had a lovely, cool day here in Michigan!   This time of summer any day without 110% humidity is rare; one with a high in the high 70's is my version of heaven.    

I spent the day playing with my son - who right now says "vehicles" as "beagles" while also being able to say "excavator" and "front end loader" perfectly which leads to some confusion at times - and prepping a half-bushel of sweet corn for dehydrating.  I've shucked and grilled the 60 ears; now I'm relaxing for a few minutes before starting to plant a fall crop of peas and cutting a whole lot of corn off the cob.

While relaxing, I checked in at Titus 2 - the blog of the Maxwell family.  It's birthday season so there was a nice tribute to Terri Maxwell written by Sarah.  Stay tuned in January to see who writes a bland, underwhelming post for Sarah on her birthday.    I looked into the articles section and was mildly surprised to see that Steve was writing short articles instead of his usual multi-page behemoths.  In the third section of "Building a Godly Legacy Through a Husband's Leadership" , he shared what I hope is a badly thought out example of lines of authority rather than admitting his family committed insurance fraud:
Many dads have experienced heightened emotions–okay, terror–on handing their car keys to their son for the first time. The combination of the son’s driving ability, attitude, and level of responsibility all might proportionally affect Dad’s emotions. Dad is giving his son the authority to drive the family vehicle, registered in Dad’s name, and hereby Dad might have over-the-top liability should something go very wrong.
Fun fact: my husband is licenced to sell a whole slew of insurance types - including auto - in Michigan.  I read him the last sentence of this quote and asked him how true the statement is.

Long discussion short: That sentence is only true if the family commits insurance fraud.

If the Maxwells - or anyone else - followed the rules of their insurance policy and put the teenage son on the insurance policy prior to letting him drive, the liability of the family is no higher or lower than if any other insured member of the family.  Paying the deductible, dealing with insurance and the higher resulting premiums all suck - but none of that really fits under "over-the-top liability".

Now, the family would be in seriously over-the-top liability if the family decided to allow the son to drive without being put on the insurance.  That would void the policy - and the family is on the hook for the damage to their own car, any medical bills of the son, the damage to the second car or object, and any medical bills to any other people hurt in the accident.  

Teenage boys and young, single adult men have high rates of auto accidents and so they receive high insurance rates.   I can see where CP/QF families with many mouths to feed on one blue-collar income might skip putting a son or two on their insurance because they have nearly no assets to lose if there is an accident. 

The Maxwells, though, are not the standard CP/QF family.   Terri and Steven both are college-educated.  Steven worked in the corporate world for decades. They had 8 kids - which is a large, but not huge family - to support.   They own a nice house on a fairly good sized plot of land.   If Jesse - their youngest son- had been in a car accident where someone else had a non-fatal, but disabling injury without being on his family's insurance, the family could have lost everything.   If nothing else, the lawyer fees for the resulting lawsuit (and potentially for bankruptcy if they lost) would hurt.

Therefore, I'm skeptical that the Maxwells honestly committed insurance fraud - but that makes it even weirder to use as an example of lines of authority.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Babbling Botkin: "What If My Husband Dies?" - Part Two

Hello! I hope you are having a great day!

A few days ago, I found a cute, small play kitchen at Goodwill.   Spawn is at an age where he loves to pretend to cook and he likes me to narrate what I'm doing in the kitchen so he can 'do' the same thing with his cups and spoons when he's corralled in the attached dining room/living room. 

Have I mentioned how much I hate having an open plan living space with a curious little boy who cruises as a primary form of movement?  I live in fear he's going to get minor burns from our heat-proof-but-still-hot oven door one of these days.  I digress. 

I loved the kitchen set - but there was one minor problem and one major problem.   The minor problem was it was a lurid pink covered in crayon scribbles.  I could live with that.  The major nearly deal breaking problem was that the set had a "Beauty and the Beast" theme.   I loved "Beauty and the Beast" as a kid - and am terrified that I was so in love with a story of an abusive man who kidnaps a girl who becomes brainwashed enough that she decides to marry him.   This is not a story I want to expose my son to - but man, the kitchen set was perfect.

Then I remembered that I work in a freaking paint department of a DIY retailer - so I presumably have the skills to refinish the damn thing.   

I took photos and will post a "how to" guide someday - but long story short - several coats of primer, some spray paint and a few paint samples turned the lurid mess of misogyny into a cast-iron stove with a white countertop, electric range and sink overtopped with a brown pantry that has some doors.   

I was hoping to have the countertop, range and sink detail painted tonight - but I found out the hard way that some paper wasps were building a nest on a dead microwave we had left on the porch.   I got away with a single sting, but my adrenaline is pretty high right now so my hands aren't steady enough to do the detail work.

On the other hand, I'm in a great head space to laugh at Geoffrey Botkin's blather.   We are just under 90 seconds into the YouTube video "What If My Husband Dies?"  So far, Botkin has explained that COVID isn't as scary as it seems - but people die and this lady is far more likely to have her husband die so we should talk about America.    Here he goes!
[00:01:29] Some men would never be missed if they died because they basically checked out of life and responsibility early on in their marriages.  And these men are pretty much dead weight in the home.  A lot of them don't even don't even work.  The wives are carrying the load financially.  Their families have no other option but to fill the void with mom doing all the leading and providing and the nurturing and the training of the young men. 
I wondered how Geoffrey Botkin's spiel to keep Anna Sofia and Elizabeth content with living at home now that they are both in their mid-thirties.   His spiel when they were younger was that there was no way either of them could safely determine the intentions of a man and that the world was filled with rogues and rapists looking to hurt them. 

I'd mistakenly assumed that spiel might shift to "God's Plan for you is to serve your family and nieces/nephews" - but he's so smooth during this point that I think the new talking point is "You might be the only unmarried CP/QF SAHDs of your age group - but all of the married couples are miserable! The wives work!  The husbands sit on the couch all day and play video games!  Their sons are being raised by women!" 

I guess that's a horror story - but those women do have her own home, her own job, their own children and a socially acceptable option for sex while his daughters do not.  Every option has consequences - and I sincerely hope his daughters are content and happy with living at home.

I know this part is supposed to sound horrific - but most marriages outside of CP/QF split up the leading, providing, nurturing and training across both spouses anyways.   I do help out with providing for my family - and my husband nurtures and trains our son, too.   I take the lead in some areas - housework, shopping, education and medical care for Jack - while my husband takes the lead in finances, home/automotive repair, and musical play with Jack.   We both seek the other person's opinion on major decisions - but my husband is much better at running down the best price to durability options for a lawn mower while I'm better at laying out which options are available for PT during a pandemic with Jack.   

Random subject change: what is Geoffrey Botkin's way of supporting his wife and two or three dependent adult children?  Investments?  Royalties from books?  Independent wealth? 

[00:01:53]  But in your case, I'm gathering that what we've got here is a whole different ball game with a really good father whose head is in the game.  He's totally engaged in the lives and the development of his boys. Right? Ok.  I also gather that your husband's health condition makes it hard to get adequate insurance so if he were to die you would be required to be the sole breadwinner.  
*slow claps*

Excellent delayed realization by Botkin! 

Yes, a woman who is writing about her worries when her husband dies presumably feels her husband is a vital part of the family!   She likes him as a husband.  Heck, even if she's feeling so-so about him, his kids love him as a father.   No one likes thinking about watching their children grieve the death of their father.

Actually, I jumped the gun a bit, didn't I?

Botkin never asks how the man is as a husband - he just chimes in that the guy is a good dad - and that the wife is financially dependent on him.  Let's talk about that for a second.

A COPD diagnosis would making getting life insurance harder.  The husband is not going to get a premium plus or premium rate from any underwriters - but he might qualify for the standard rate or the tabled rate (which is substandard).   If his COPD is severe enough, he would be denied.  If accepted, he's going to have to pay more than someone with a better health record.    So - contrary to Botkin's broad denial - talk to an insurance agent about getting life insurance for the husband and the wife.  The answer might be "You are not insurable" - but it's better to know that than assume that life insurance is impossible when the family may be able to get a small amount.

A small amount of life insurance isn't ideal - but it will act as a cushion during the time around the father's death.  Meanwhile, the wife needs to re-enter the workforce.   The husband's death is a pressing concern - but there is a larger possibility of the husband being disabled enough to be unable to work while still being alive.  Life insurance is not going to cover that so hopefully the father already has long-term disability insurance through his job.   That will only replace 60% of his wages - so having the wife in the workforce could make up the remaining lost income.  If he doesn't have long-term disability, the wife will need to replace 100% of the income.

Hopefully, the wife worked before she was married and had kids.  If her kids are young and closely spaced, she may only have a few year gap on her resume - and getting any job would help bridge that issue.  If she's not worked before or hasn't in decades, getting a job is even more critical.  Starting a career midlife or late in life is not easy - but the more the wife can do while her husband is alive and stable the easier it will be if he dies.

Does Botkin recommend this?  *laughs*   Of course not!   

I do, though. I don't have an ideology I'm trying to sell you - just some basic life advice from one adult woman to another.   Good luck!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Babbling Botkin: "What If My Husband Dies?" - Part One

 Hello, folks!  I hope things are going well for you and yours!

We're getting ready to send the Spawn back to school in early September. 

 I'm nervous because his school is too rural and too poor for COVID preparedness to mean much.  We're rural enough that high speed internet is not available out here.  My husband and I willingly pony up $54.00 a month for the highest speed we can get which measures between 9-13 Mbps.   What this means practically is that we can stream one video from Netflix or YouTube as long as we don't try to do anything more complicated that loading a single webpage or refreshing a Kindle at the same time.   We can kind of do a live stream for Zoom or Facebook Live - but it's glitchy.  I can't complain much; we are ideally located in line with a tower and can afford the cost.  A lot of families are less well situated or can't afford the cost. 

I'm excited because Spawn did really well at school last winter and he's much stronger and sturdier now.  His class is fairly small - there were 7 little boys in his room last year - and the school is doing what it can to keep the kids from sneezing in each other's face for the fun of it.   

I also expect that Michigan will be unceremoniously dumped backwards into Stage 3 where schools have to be online only within 4-6 weeks.  After that, Michigan will either keep moving between Stage 3 and 4 all winter - or worse - we'll stay in Stage 4 with districts having close randomly when their student body drops below 75% attendance.  It'd be a bit like snow days meeting whack-a-mole.

I needed something to amuse me - so I was incredibly happy to see that Geoffrey Botkin has made another stab at becoming a media mogul. The fifth times a charm I'm sure!  He's created a dotcom website of his own name and linked that to the a YouTube channel he titled "Stand Up and Lead".  It looks like he did a dump of a bunch of videos and podcasts in mid-July and has been posting a few new videos a week.   

He seems to be attempting to position himself as a source of information in a world that is falling apart due to a pandemic.  That surprises me none at all.  See, Geoffrey Botkin's free podcasts from back before Vision Forum imploded always began with a section about how Western Civilization was teetering on the brink of complete collapse into anarchy.  Honestly, I find those kind of doom and gloom predictions funny because Americans often do their best when faced with stressors.   In true American fashion, most people have responded responsibly to the pandemic - and the increased sense of duty helped Black Lives Matter focus on police brutality finally receive the public support it deserves. 

Most of his videos and podcasts seems to fit into revisionist history, lightweight prepping, and advice column fare.   While revisionist history is fun when I'm looking for a rabbit hole of White Supremacy to debunk, today I'm picking "Advice column fare with a CP/QF twist" for $100.   

The first video column that caught my eye was "What If My Husband Dies?".   Since half of my objections to the meager educational offerings given to SAHDs can be summarized by "What if you need to support yourself?" I was extremely curious to hear Geoffrey Botkin's take on this one.  

Let's dive in!

The video opens overlooking a fog-filled forest as gray clouds roll overhead.   Soft music plays beneath. The title "What If My Husband Dies?" appears in the lower right hand corner as the mystical chimes swell.    Suddenly, we are in Geoffrey Botkin's study.  There is a large slider door behind his right shoulder, bookcases in the corner directly behind him and a leather couch in front of a window behind his left shoulder.   He's working at a L-shaped desk as we see him working at the computer.   He completely believably pivots from the spreadsheet/corn futures report/widgets screen of his computer to face the camera.
[00:00:05] Ok.  This uh tough question that we get today is from a a wife and mother whose says she's concerned about her husband dying.  He has apparently chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  It's a chronic inflammatory lung disease and there is no known cure at this at this point right now.  And I could say `you know to this mother and wife you know something really cheery about  you know "Don't worry.  Uh.  The death rates are so way far below early projections.  The infection rates are lower than the projections.  You know.  It's that he's probably not going you know gonna get this coronavirus thing and have to go to the hospital where there are other people with the coronavirus. 
We are less than a full minute into the video and I've already created a macro so that typing "yk" substitutes "you know" in my transcription program.     We all have filler  phrases we use when our fluency fails - mine are "like", "uh" and "you know" - but I'm more interested in when Geoffrey Botkin uses more stutter phrases and when he uses less. 


Fluency drops for a lot of reasons - but emotional reactions and cognitive dissonance both tend to increase filler words.    

Geoffrey Botkin is struggling hard with describing a man who has an untreatable chronic lung disorder in the middle of a respiratory virus pandemic.    I can't blame him for that; it's a scary situation at any age.   Botkin comes up with an allegedly upbeat comfort line for the mother - but nothing in his body language or voice makes me believe in his dismissal of coronavirus.   And honestly - I suspect Geoffrey Botkin knows his words of comfort ring hollow because he's inserting multiple filler phrases per sentence.  

My son had damaged lungs from birth until he was around 18 months old.   For the first year of his life, an ordinary cold would have likely sent him to the hospital.  If he caught RSV, he would certainly have back in the hospital with a life-threatening attack on his lungs.   From that experience, I'm well aware that the overall death rate and overall infection rates mean nothing when the one person you care desperately about might die if he catches a minor virus that most people never know they have.  

The fear never really left me during the first year.  I couldn't let it; being aware at all times of proper handwashing and isolation techniques was all we had to keep Spawn safe.   We did keep Spawn safe - but it's much easier to do so with an only child who has two parents and grandparents who are onboard than an adult man who has to support a family and has children at home.

Bluntly, 160,000 people have died in the US from COVID-19.  The lower infection rates and lower death rates are of little comfort to their families and friends.

[00:00:51] Yes, it is a - quote - comorbidity that he has but this is not really the heart of your question. It's not really about worry, but it's about a situation that could happen not just to you but any mother.  The death of your husband.  I mean it could happen to anyone of you wives and moms out there so let's talk about life for you and your sons - a life with no dad in the house.  That's what you are really asking about.  And what your future could be. Yes, it could be.  And statistically more than a lot of other moms and wives out there.
Statistically speaking, marriages end in two ways: death or divorce.  This mom is more likely to face an early widowhood - but CP/QF moms still face divorce far more regularly than the death of their spouse.  Of the five CP/QF mommy bloggers I followed starting around 2010, two have divorced in the last decade.

Let's be honest here - there's another set of dependent children we need to be thinking of.  Stay-at-home daughters (SAHD) who are deeply sheltered from the scary world of working outside of family businesses are in perilous positions once the primary breadwinner of the family dies.  Alison Greene of Ask A Manager recommends people work while they attend school  because by 20 job candidates who do not work are being compared to other candidates who have worked four years in various teenage jobs.    Sarah Mally would be compared to candidates who have worked for two decades or more if she needed to enter the workforce now.   So would Sarah Maxwell, Anna Sofia Botkin and Elizabeth Botkin.

Geoffrey Botkin is directing this at an unnamed woman - but Victoria Botkin should be taking notes for how to support herself and her two unmarried daughters if Geoffrey dies before them.

[00:01:25] Now. let's look at the situation in America for a second.  
Where else would we look, O Guru of Global Perspectives?   

Geoffrey Botkin was born in the US.  He was raised in the US.  He went to college in the US and married an American woman.  He worked for a US lobbying group trying to bring Biblical norms back into power.  To the best of my knowledge, all of his kids were born in the US.  There was that time that the Botkin Family moved over to New Zealand for two years to try their hand at creating a media empire Christchurch. Spoiler alert: It failed. (That was Attempt Two of Five based on my informal, off-the-cuff reckoning.)  So....he could talk about the situation in New Zealand a few years after the turn of the millenium compared to now - but would that attract an audience?   Hard to tell - but since he and his  family's returned to the US, I'm gonna guess not.  

The letter writer - if she exists - will probably never read this - but my advice based on the first 90 seconds of this talk is to loop your husband's pulmonologist in on any concerns your family has.   If your husband doesn't have a pulmonologist, please get a referral from his general practitioner.   COVID-19 has made life a lot more frightening for everyone - and triply so for people with chronic lung conditions.  Having said that, a discussion of what your husband can do to improve his lung health right now and what to think about if he does come down with COVID-19 will likely be less frightening than feeling helpless and hopeless.  Good luck! 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 13 - Part Four

As I've been learning more about CP/QF culture, I find that looking at families that stand out from the average family teaches me about the unspoken portions of the culture.  For example, watching how the Rodrigues Family interacts in CP/QF society shows how the family accidentally violates some unspoken tenets of the culture. Jill's palpable ambition for her daughters to marry into more visible, richer families is frowned upon.  While Jill's personality might be changeable, the family also struggles under being of Spanish descent (rather than the preferred Anglo background) and as poor as every CP/QF family remembers being, is struggling through and/or fears their children will be in the future.

In the last section of Chapter 13 of "Joyfully At Home" by Jasmine Baucham, young Jasmine attempts to navigate minefield of college education.   The standard talking points for CP/QF beliefs on education are blissfully simple: NO ONE EVER NEEDS COLLEGE.   

Isn't that easy?  If only it were true......

The claim that everyone can succeed at homeschooling (if female) or running their own business (if male) removes all sorts of potentially awkward moments.   For homeschooling moms, worrying about how ready their kids are for college becomes a non-issue.   For men, concerns about providing for an ever-increasing family can be swept aside by assuming that his business will be in a much better position next year.

Is the unquestioning rejection of college - or any post-secondary training that cannot be accomplished through self-study or apprenticeship to a safely vetted church member - realistic?  Oh, God, no!  The leaders and influencers of CP/QF culture carefully conceal their degrees, training, and struggles while confidently parroting the joys of self-employment.

Steven Maxwell - who can keep three SAHDs in middle-class comfort - has a college degree in engineering.   Gil Bates - who runs a tree removal service with some of his sons - has a college degree in business.   Jim Bob Duggar does not have a college degree - but his family has a long history in commercial and residential real estate management and sales.    Obviously, there's nothing wrong with getting a college degree or being born into a family with self-owned business experience; the problem comes when young people are taught a ideology that obscures the factual basis of their family's income.  

That leads us to the last portion of this chapter where Jasmine attempts to reconcile the reality of her parents' educations and her plans for education with the SAHD philosophy that housework and child rearing is really complicated so young women need to apprentice under the mothers after finishing high school to have any shot at being able to run their own household.  The portion in ellipses are overwrought conspiracy theories about how the government is going to impinge on homeschoolers.

Question 4: What if you need a college degree to homeschool your children?


An answer to the question: does a homeschool mom need a degree to teach her own children? I have to answer a resounding no! And this comes from the daughter of a woman who graduated magna cum laude  from one of the biggest historically black colleges in America with a teaching degree, and a father who likes to joke that he has " more degrees than a thermometer," and has experienced the rigorous academic environments of schools like Rice University here in the states and Oxford in England. 


Because these laws are a very real threat, the decision to get a college degree to promote homeschooling security should be one that you and your parents should make together. This decision does not negate the experience of living at home between high school graduation and marriage; on the contrary, I myself am in the process of working towards a fully accredited degree in English from the comfort of my own home.

I decided to give the English degree for a number of reasons, homeschooling laws being an extremely peripheral one. For the most part I was very interested in the online program being offered, and wanted to challenge myself in new ways. If homeschooling laws are your reason for getting a college education, though, I would strongly caution you; a nation that tries, constantly, to make it more and more difficult for homeschoolers, will not stop at legislation that would make it illegal for mothers to homeschool without a college degree; it's a slippery slope. I don't think that any type of degree - even the Doctorate in Education - is a safety net against home-school laws.(pgs 154-156)
Young Jasmine Baucham doesn't think that a mom needs a college degree to homeschool her kids - but her experience is much different than the "ideal" CP/QF homeschooling mother.  Bridget Baucham earned a college degree in education.  At the bare minimum, that means that Bridget Baucham was exposed to the idea of developmental milestones, different methods of showing competence, the existence of learning disabilities, and methodologies in teaching.  At the same time, she also had to take courses in post-secondary math, science, language arts and social studies.

Compare Bridget Baucham's educational background to Jessa (Duggar) Seewald.  The Duggars used a combination of computer-based CD classes and ATI booklets.  While I'm sure the producers of "Counting On" edit out plenty of times that Ms. Seewald answers questions sensibly, she's had a number of times where she struggled to recognize basic concepts or vocabulary terms.  That would make homeschooling more difficult especially if those represent gaps due to lack of a quality education.

Young Jasmine failed to appreciate the benefits to obtaining a college degree for a homeschooling mothers - but I doubt Mrs. Jasmine Holmes feels the same way.  Voddie Baucham's multiple degrees gave him entry into CP/QF circles that he would have normally be shut out of due to racism.  Those same degrees have allowed him to earn more than the vast majority of husband and fathers who do CP/QF ministry in the absence of any post-secondary degrees. Bridget Baucham kept her wits about her while her husband and daughter were descending into the dual madnesses of emotional purity and stay-at-home daughterhood - and eventually told her daughter to start her own life and family.   Would she have stayed as grounded if she hadn't lived as a single adult while attending college prior to marriage and motherhood?  Jasmine herself learned that a college degree allows a young wife and mother to find enjoyable part-time work in education; a field where most SAHD would be unable to apply for entry level jobs due to lack of college credits.

So Geoffrey Botkin - the father of her chums Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin - has resurfaced with a YouTube channel.   I made it less than 2 minutes into a video answer to a woman's question about "What If My Husband Dies?" before I was blinking repeatedly and saying "Yikes....that's a hot mess."  Hopefully, I'll have a post on that trainwreck soon!