“I’m From The Government, And I’m Here To Help…”

One of the true joys of going through a divorce is the fact that you have to turn part of the accountability for your life over to government. That’s right, the same government that can’t run a Cash For Clunkers program and provides subsidies to butt ugly pieces of “art” that couldn’t be sold even if you put a gun to somebody’s head now wants to be involved in your post-divorce decisions. Especially those involving your children.

Now I have never gone through a divorce, so I wasn’t sure what all to expect, but imagine my surprise when I was told I had to attend a Parenting Seminar. I was going to have to give up for hours of my life to have some government stooge lecture me on how to parent, and here’s the best part….I got to pay them $30 for the privilege! Does this sound like a racket or what? You’d think if government was that convinced that the service they were offering was valid, they would advertise it and garner revenue from people who actually found it a worthwhile investment. But no, it comes in the form of a court order from a judge……as in “you will attend and you will pay us”. Not a good start.

Well, I had to hunt high and low for a class I could take, since most of them are offered during the day when most of us have, oh I don’t know….JOBS. I finally found a night class offered by an adjoining county (they offer the night session a whopping once a month), and signed up.

I went to the class last evening, and the government building wasn’t hard to find, just look for the one building with a really hideous piece of “art” on the front grass. I went in, found the jury room, shelled out my $30 and sat down. The class was scheduled to run from 5PM til 9PM. At 4:30 they began showing a video on divorce and its effect on kids, and it was exactly that, a VIDEO, as in VHS (or Beta, for all I knew). So many tax dollars at work and they can’t even spring for a DVD player in the jury room.

At 5PM we met our instructors, Diane and Carl, both of whom went out of their way to tell us that they themselves were divorced (I felt a Bill Clinton “I feel your pain” moment coming on), and they started the evening by quoting, in all seriousness, what Ronald Reagan coined as the nine most terrifying words in the English language…..”I’m from the government, and I’m here to help”.

Thus began the four of the most useless hours I have spent in my 44 years on this planet (and that is saying something). Diane apparently could not grasp the concept that when you are speaking in a room designed to hold a couple hundred people, a mousy, timid vocal delivery is probably not your best option. Carl was somewhat better, at least possessing a personality and punctuating his illustrations with some well timed profanity (which summed up the feelings of those of us in attendance quite nicely).

For four hours, we sat at their feet and drank from their fountain of wisdom. I was especially slain by such insightful, though provoking observations as “When you are divorced, you will no longer be living together”. By hour three, I found myself gazing pensively at my pencil and wondering if it would indeed pierce the flesh of my temple with sufficient depth to release me from this hell.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I fell asleep during the presentation, and the guy two rows down from me did, too. I did manage to shake myself awake before anyone could call me out on it, and I soon discovered that by angling my legs the right way, I could hide my phone and Facebook all night to keep myself entertained.

On the plus side, we did get our $30 worth, as they kept us right up until 9PM (no letting out early for good behavior or anything). As the clock approached the top of the hour, several of us closed our books, put on our coats, and sat up straight, looking expectantly at our instructor. She finally gave up and wrapped up her presentation rather quickly. We were handed a certificate of completion (which was nice, but I’d much rather receive a certificate for my living in hell the last ten years), and I was out of there and sprinting towards my car like I was being shot at.

The good news is that completion of this course is the final hurdle on the path to making this thing final. The bad news is that we still have a government who believes that it is their place to try and tell us how to raise our children. I could see such a program being warranted if there were cases of violence or abuse, or even a particularly spirited split, but in cases where the parties are amicable, such as ours, the government has no place in our lives or our homes.

It is a simple concept, actually. We are grown adults, mature, educated, and intelligent, and perfectly capable of acting in not only our own best interests, but the lives of those we brought into this world. Government has no place educating anybody on how to raise their children.

Perhaps when they manage to get their own collective house in order, more of us will actually care what they have to say.

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