Friday, March 7, 2014

Pipers and Dances

If you are lucky enough to find Love
Remember it is there,
And don't throw It Away.
-Stephen Hawking

Practically every person with access to a tablet, phone or computer and opposable thumbs has offered an opinion as to the legal wrangling that took place earlier this week in the courtroom of the Hon. Peter Bogaard, J.S.C. in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Morris County, Family Part, which wrangling shall be renewed with likely the same amounts of venom and vigor in His Honor's courtroom on April 22, 2014.  It is legal wrangling of the most unseemly nature - pitting an eighteen year-old high school senior named Rachel Canning against her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning. 

Unless the rock you live under has neither WiFi nor cable, you recognize the Cannings at the First Family of Discord, battling over whether Ms. Rachel - having apparently opted out of living under the parental roof when she turned eighteen - is entitled to put the arm on Mom and Dad for various and sundry items such as (a) her high school tuition (she attends a private school); (b) college application fees; (c) college tuition (beginning with the 2014-15 school year); (d) medical bills; and (e) miscellaneous expenses including but not limited to legal fees.  This week's hostilities focused on Rachel's effort to secure what we in the trade refer to as "emergent relief" from the court - an Order compelling Mom and Dad to pay certain expenses immediately so as to avoid Rachel suffering irreparable harm.  His Honor denied the request.  http://www.nj.com/morris/index.ssf/2014/03/judge_issues_ruling_in_teens_suit_against_parents.html

Judge Bogaard is a smart man.  Too bad it appears as if neither the combatants nor their respective legal counsel - and I am wholly unfamiliar with the attorneys involved in this case and I shall not here (nor elsewhere for that matter) besmirch the reputation of fellow professionals who I do not know - paid one goddamn bit of attention to the bits of wisdom His Honor attempted to dispense.   Too busy reducing their family to some type of blood sport or entertainment for the world, near and far, and turning one another into targets of each other's derision to listen to reason, the Cannings have surrendered the most sacred and the most basic of all of the core familial rights:  The right to conduct important family business away from the eyes of those who should have no say in its outcome.  

That which should have remained private and which this group should have worked together to ensure was preserved inviolate has been utterly trampled upon by each and every one of the Cannings.  Their collective lack of self-awareness and their collective dearth of even a modicum of common sense is worse than disappointing.  It is heart-wrenching.   A young woman decided that fifteen minutes of notoriety was a price worth paying for her self-respect.  And while recognizing that it was Rachel who started the courtroom drama, the tango has never been a dance for one.  At some point in time, Mom and Dad joined her on the floor and cued up the orchestra themselves.  

At some point during the hearing on Tuesday, which lasted upwards of two hours and reportedly featured daughter/parents avoiding making eye contact with one another throughout, Judge Bogaard said something that likely prompted any significant reaction from either side when he said it.  Maybe upon further reflection His Honor's words will resonate with them: 

"This family is well worth the effort to salvage.
It does appear more energy has been utilized to tear up this family
than to figure out how it can be brought back together."

Or perhaps they will resonate not even a little bit.  There is a fundamental difference between hearing and listening after all.  Unless and until this collection of individuals - who whether they wish to admit it or not  is in fact a family moves this sordid mess out of the public eye their energy will continue to be focused on razing their home life and not on rehabilitating it.  There is a proper venue for this disagreement to be hashed out.  It is not the court room.  It is the dining room - seated around the table.  

Young Ms. Canning, four words of unsolicited advice from an angry old asshat of a human being who watched his wife raise two terrific kids into outstanding adults while he stayed out of the way:  Grow the fuck up.  And Mom and Dad Canning, while the Pez-o-Advice Dispenser has its over-sized head tilted back and is locked and loaded, some pearls of wisdom for you two too:  Do not be afraid to help your daughter in the growing the fuck up process by doing so yourselves.  The three of you might actually enjoy it.    

Regain control over this - your most intimate and personal business - and then maybe just maybe other, less important things will return to you as well.  For starters, your dignity and your self-esteem.   

-AK    

   

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