Tuesday, 30 September 2014

My Son Doesn't Understand Me!

I am having a bad Mom day.

I've been trying to keep my head up for a little too long and this morning I just crashed, so I need to vent a little.

My son doesn't understand me, or anyone else for that matter.  At least that's how it feels right now.

Last night I had a meeting with Frack's teacher.  He doesn't understand her.  Which isn't all that surprising since she only speaks French to him.

After much debate and discussing it with Frack's teachers my husband and I decided to enroll Frack in French Immersion.  We are fully prepared to take him out at any time.  As you may already know Frack was speech delayed and had only graduated from his speech therapy about a year ago.  I have a certificate and everything: "Congratulations!  Frack is considered to be at his age level for language development."

But the thing is Frack has always had difficulty with abstract language concepts.  He can point to and name any object you like, count to any number, recite whatever you want him to recite.  But he will confuse "on" with "under" or "beside".  He gets confused trying to sort out the difference between "more than" and "less than".  He has a hard time following instructions and when he feels confused or frustrated he shuts right down and will only communicate the things he knows.  Or he will only agree with and repeat anything you say because he thinks that is the right answer and he doesn't know what else to do.

He is often afraid to admit that he doesn't understand you because he thinks it's "wrong".  He can't stand being wrong.  Trying to get information out of him is crazy-making.  You have a word limit.  After speaking about thirty or so words at him he just starts giving you answers he thinks you want because he no longer understands you, if he ever did in the first place.  On top of that he might change his answers several times during the conversation, trying to give you what he thinks you want.

The devil of all this is, like most small children, he is also capable of very shrewd understanding.  He often says things that let me know he understands far more than I give him credit for.  If he is relaxed and happy his comprehension seems to be very good, if limited from time to time.

I had to explain all of this to Frack's teacher last night.  And, yet again, I found myself in the position of having to apologize to a professional educator for having to have my son in their class.

Because Frack is not adjusting to grade 1 well at all.  It's hard to be at his desk all day.  The work is hard for him because he just does not understand what is expected of him.  So he gets frustrated, shuts down, and refuses to participate or put any effort forth.  And yesterday, he took things to a whole new level by angrily defacing his school work and being rude and disrespectful to his teacher.

At first I really tried to keep myself up.  Hey, at least I have a lot of practice dealing with frustrated teachers, right?  I guess we'll just have to come up with some strategies to help Frack.  Sure, we can do this!

But you know what?  I'm just so fucking tired right now.  I had a particularly bad weekend at work, but I stayed positive to help out my team.  My husband is out of town for work, so I'm missing my partner to hear me cry and rage and vent, and then help me come up with solutions.  I had to spend a lot of time on the phone with my mother in-law, who had been watching the kids for me while I was at work.  My older son, who I had hoped would know better, to whom I had promised very hefty bribes for good behaviour, was out of control for almost the whole time he was with her.  Consequently I spent a good part of my afternoon contacting his two social workers and pediatrician.

This meeting was the last straw.  I felt like I was being told, "Congratulations Mrs. Rotten, you've got another academic career full of parent-teacher meetings and disciplinary bullshit stretching out ahead of you!"

And even though I started off trying to be positive about it, my attitude deteriorated as I watched Frack spend his night moping and sullenly punishing himself.  He spent a good two hours sitting in the time-out spot even though I kept telling him I wasn't mad and he didn't have to sit there.  I tried to talk to him about it but I hit my thirty-word mark and watched him turn into an uncomprehending robot in front of me.  He got angry at me during cuddle time because he had asked me a question and could not understand that I was answering it, so he kept asking it over and over.

And all I could think was, "Why can't I talk to my son?  He's done with speech therapy, it's not supposed to be this way!"

And then this morning, he didn't seem to understand anything I was saying to him and I had a bad moment and I yelled at him.  And watching him stand there, heroically trying not to cry, I broke down.  I decided to keep him home from school for today, and I spent about ten minutes in our basement, selfishly sobbing my heart out.

Because I know I'm supposed to be stronger than this.  I know I'm supposed to be grateful for my son the way he is: healthy, strong and wonderful.  But right now I just need a little moment to wallow in self-pity.  Just five more minutes or so, please.  I think if I can have that I'll be able splash a little cold water on my face and get back to the business of figuring out what our next step is going to be.
   

Friday, 26 September 2014

All About That Body Positivity


Well, I finally watched the "All About That Bass" video I've noticed  being passed around facebook and whatnot, and I thought, "Huh.  This is kind of super cute in a totally uncomfortable way."

Cute, as in super cute girls in cute dresses on a cute set singing a cute song.  I love seeing *non-skinny people glamourized in media.  Watching these cute non-skinny girls (and guy) look beautiful dancing makes me feel better about my non-skinny self.  Really.  More of that please!

Uncomfortable, as in the words "skinny bitch" make me cringe.  "Stick figure silicone Barbie doll" doesn't sound like something a person promoting body positivity should say.  It sounds like something a deeply insecure person would say.

There are also potential racial issues with the song and video.  Pop music has a history of cultural appropriation that is problematic.  If you want a good break down of the problems with this song, Jenny Trout's post I Am Not All About That Bass is a pretty good read.

*I prefer to use the word "non-skinny" instead of "fat" or "normal" here because 1) are the women in this video fat?  I kind of think not.  But do I call them "normal" because 2) what actually is a "normal" body anyway?  "Non-skinny" just seems like a more accurate and inclusive term.

As someone who has struggled with eating disorders in the past, I am no stranger to a negative self-image.  I find it ironic (but also great!) that I love my body way more now, even though I am heavier, than I did when I was 23 and super-skinny.  I don't love my body the way it deserves all the time.  Of course I have days when I feel fat and unattractive.  But for the most part I feel much more content with my body and comfortable in my skin than I ever have before.

This isn't something that came with age or wisdom.  This is something I work on.  I don't live in a bubble, and I am as much affected by Photoshop and the glorification of skinny bodies in the media as the next girl.  But these are things that I do that really help me.

1) Put down the magazines.

Photoshop is a very real problem in our culture.  But why?  We are usually told because Photoshop helps sell stuff: clothes, makeup, magazines.  Photoshop is going to be around for a long time, but the way it is used could be changed if altering women's bodies stopped selling.  That's not going to realistically happen when I wake up tomorrow.  So while I'm waiting for a new feminist utopia to emerge, I find that not looking at Photoshopped women has had the immediate benefit of making me feel better about myself.

2)  In fact, take a break from media in general.

It also really helps to just stop watching TV or movies for a while.  It really sucks that non-skinny people are so under-represented, and unattainable skinny ideals are so glorified, that in order to clean my headspace I need to opt out.  But here we are.   All I can say is that when I take a week or so off from sitcoms, soap operas, and the commercials that go with them (advertising is the devil) I just feel a lot better about myself.  Because then all I get to see are regular people.  When I come back it's a lot easier to see those bodies as not reflecting what people in the real world actually look like.

3)  Be a conscious consumer.

Not all media is bad.  There is some great stuff out there, you just have to seek it out.  Some of my favourite shows include Orange is the New Black, Inside Amy Schumer, The Mindy Project, Bob's Burgers, The Daily Show, Drunk History, and lately the ladies of Saturday Night Live have been killing.  For my part, I have found these shows to be much easier on my psyche, and more reflective of my experience as a woman in general.  Also, all of these shows are funny (Yes, even OITNB) and, as everyone knows, laughter is the best medicine.

And hey, even "bad" media has it merits.  When I'm not filtering my media it's an opportunity for me to recognize where and how it is missing the mark when it comes to representing women (eg. Meghan Trainor).  It's an opportunity to articulate what is wrong with our representation and to ask for - no, demand - better.

4)  Wear clothes that fit.

A couple of years ago I put on an extra ten pounds.  It seemed like nothing I could do would help me shake that weight.  And you know what?  I'm not all that worried about it.  Now.  But at the time I was very uncomfortable because my clothes didn't fit anymore.  They were too tight, no longer flattering and made me feel self-conscious.  At first I resisted buying new clothes because I thought I could lose the weight.

After about six months of trying I realized that I was just going to have to break down and buy larger clothes.  It made a huge difference!  I felt better and more confident.  People thought I had actually lost weight but really I was just wearing clothes that flattered my figure better.

5)  Exercise.

Every day I take at least fifteen minutes of exercise.  Any exercise.  It really doesn't matter.  The thing that matters to me is my intent.  I try to center my fitness goals around things that go deeper than how I look.  I tell myself that I want to be stronger.  Or I want to be more flexible.  Or I want better endurance.  These fitness goals are healthier than simple weight loss (which isn't the best indicator of health, anyway) and the results are more immediate.  I didn't lose any weight last week but I can do more push-ups than I ever have before.  And I can run all the way to my kid's school without having to stop and catch my breath.  That makes me feel awesome!

I now look at weight loss as a potential side effect to regular exercise instead of seeing it as an ultimate goal. It's not like I wouldn't be happy to experience that side effect, but I'm not going to get hung up on it because maybe I'd like stronger muscles instead.  And I'm super jazzed that becoming more flexible means less arthritis pain for me.  Also, people who exercise even moderately are happier and benefit from better self-image.  Science says so!

6) Stop dieting.

Life is too short for restrictive diets.  I swear I would much rather be a little heavier and eat wonderful food than have a perfect body while watching everyone else eat cheese and chocolate.  Victoria Beckham doesn't even let herself eat a piece of cake on her birthday.  No wonder she looks so miserable all the time!

But I notice that I feel really good when I am nourishing my body with good wholesome food instead of punishing it with denial.  I am discovering the joys of trying new fruits and vegetables.  I've been trying to re-examine vegetables I used to hate as a child.  Right now I'm learning to love mushrooms and brussels sprouts.  I like thinking about all the good things this food does for my body when I'm eating it.  Mmmmm, Greek yogurt....healthy gut bacteria.  Mmmmm tomatoes....lycopene.  Avocadoes...aghaghagagh.

Sorry.  I got a little distracted there.  Just....food is so fucking awesome!  Why make yourself eat like you're in prison?




Crack almonds.  I want me some of those crack almonds.

And every once in a while, what the hell, have a cookie.  Have two.  Because cookies are awesome.

7)  Changing perspective.

I've stopped looking at other women's bodies with envy.  Because I finally realized a fundamental truth: there is always going to be someone, somewhere, who envies my body, no matter how shitty I feel about it.  Some may envy that I weigh less than they do and some may envy that I weigh more.  They might envy my breast size, butt shape, waist to hip ratio, or my height.  They might envy my relative health or youth.  They might envy something as simple as my ability to walk.  I'm not happy that there might exist people who envy me.  But realizing that there might exist people out there who would be grateful to have the body I'm hating on right now, made me feel like kind of an asshole.

So instead I'm learning to marvel at all the cool things my body can do.  I dance with my kids and, when I can, I run because it's fun.  I go outside as much as possible because I am healthy enough to leave my bed.  I enjoy the feel of grass under my feet and the sun and wind on my skin.  Because someday I'll be too old to do what I take for granted now.  Some tomorrow I may long for the body I despised today.  I'll wish I had loved it when I had the chance.

If I love my body right it might keep doing amazing things for longer than I thought possible.  If I love it right it will give me an improved quality of life in my old age.  And who the hell is going to care what my body looks like when I'm a shriveled old lady?  Not me, that's for sure.  I'll be grateful to get out of bed without breaking my hip.

But right now I'm going out to my living room to dance to this song because it is cute and it has a good beat and if there's one thing it got right it's this:

"Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top."

Thursday, 14 August 2014

My Almost Bill Murray Moment

The other day, while on my travels, I stopped at my local bus station to get a bus pass and then use the bathroom.

This bus station is a very nice one.  It has a very retro 1920's feel to it (Okay, I'm no historian.  Anywhere from 1920's to 1950's even.  Doesn't matter, just know it's pretty cool).  They keep this place in almost pristine condition.  I believe one of the reasons is because Anytown is a bit of a hotspot for Hollywood to come and shoot their movies here, and this bus station makes an excellent location for a period piece.

As I walked into the gleaming ladies room I saw the penthouse stall wide open, immaculately clean, kind of beckoning to me.  It was pretty quiet at the bus station and I figured I wasn't hurting anybody by using that one so I went in and that's when I saw this on the shiny, stainless steel partition wall:



Is it?

Could it be?

I wasn't sure but I was very excited at the possibility.  And by "excited" I mean I couldn't have been more thrilled if I had walked in on a real live unicorn taking a rainbow coloured dump in there.  I don't have much of a bucket list but, at the top of that list is to have a Bill Murray moment.  I mean, there can be no doubt as to just how awesome Bill Murray truly is.  He is  BETTER than a unicorn, because he's twice as magical and actually exists!


For a moment I believed that I was sharing a personal moment with Mr.  Murray.  I stood there, where he might have once stood, reading his personal special message for me written by his hand, that should have been in the men's room but wasn't.  I got to see this because I am a woman using the women's bathroom!  I felt like I knew how Mary Magdalene must have felt when Jesus appeared to her after His resurrection.  I had to go and spread the message of Bill!

I have no internet on my phone so I had to wait until I got home to try and verify this graffito.  I wasn't about to call City Hall, the local media and the bus station and demand they turn that bathroom stall into an historic monument without proof!  It took freaking forever.  I had so much nervous energy I ran part of the way home.  I did a Google image search and came up with this:



So not a precisely, exactly matching.  There is enough of a difference to cause my skeptic senses to go all tingly.  What do I do?  I pride myself on being skeptical, of not just believing something simply because I really, really want it to be true.  But I really, really, REALLY, want this to be true.  It's not quite a Bill Murray moment but this is probably the closest I will ever get.  This is the most magical thing that has happened to me since that night my parents got one of their friends to dress up as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and woke us kids up to meet him.

So I'd love you readers to weigh in.  Here is my case:

Reasons Why This Isn't Really The Bill Murray's Real Graffito:

1) The hand-writing isn't a perfect match.

2) Anyone could have written this.  It is a public bus station after all.  Maybe it was just a BIll Murray superfan expressing their appreciation of Bill "Facking" Murray.  Or maybe it was just someone who happened to have the same name and thought a lot of that fact.  And then decided to put it on a women's bathroom wall.

3) Nothing this awesome could really happen to me in real life.

Reasons Why It's Totally, Really and For True, Bill Murray's Graffito!!!

1)  He could have been in Anytown.  As I said, lots of movies are shot here.  For all I know Bill Murray was in that bus station filming a movie and had this opportunity to leave his mark, knowing full well the staff would remove it probably soon after.

2)  If Bill Fucking Murray were to write his name on a bathroom wall in Anytown it would be done in this way, in this bus station, in this bathroom in this stall.  He would write "fucking" as "facking".  He would do it with a flourish and he would put a period of emphasis at the end because he is Bill Fucking Murray.  He would see this empty bathroom in an empty(?) bus station and say "I am Bill Fucking Murray and I will piss in the ladies' room right now just because I can (and maybe no one else is around) and hell yeah, I will piss in the penthouse stall and if I'm going to do that I will make sure at least one person has some idea that I did it."

3)  If Bill Murray were to do all of the above he would do it in just such a way that no one will ever believe you.

4)  The signature isn't an exact match  but it's also not that different.  I would argue that the "m" is very similar.  Also, when you write your name on a wall OF COURSE it's not going to be the same as your signature on a piece of paper!  Why would it be?  It's just graffiti, not a cheque (or autograph).  Writing on an upright surface is very different than writing on a horizontal surface, so why wouldn't the hand-writing have some differences, too?

And since it seems I have more reasons to believe this was really and truly Bill Murray, I am going to go ahead and believe.  Because it makes me feel happy.  This is the Magic of Bill Murray.  I still want to know in the comments what you all think of this, but I'm just saying my world is a brighter place because of my near-Bill experience.



Bill Murray, I have loved every single thing you have ever done.  Everything.  Even Garfield.  Thank you for taking an unconventional leak in my town.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Drama at the Swimming Pool

My kids have been bugging me all summer to go to the public swimming pool at the end of our street.  It's a really nice outdoor pool with a little splash pad in a corner of the shallow end for the babies and plenty of pool toys: noodles, beach balls, colourful rings and the like.  I've been waiting for the perfect day to take them but it's been a cold and rainy summer this year.

Well, today was that day.

When we got there Frack managed to find us a ball and the boys started tossing the ball back and forth over the buoy rope that separates the deep end from the shallow end (Frack's not allowed in the deep end, not even with me).  I liked this game because it was the nicest they have played together for the longest stretch of time so far this summer.

I didn't much like getting hit in the face the odd time by one of these balls (who would?) but it was never a big deal.  It was always by accident and the kids were always quick to apologize.  Hey, what're you gonna do?  You're at a public pool with lots of kids.  Balls go flying (snert), people sometimes get hit.  That's why it's a good thing these beach balls weigh next to nothing and it doesn't hurt at all.

So I thought it was very interesting when one time Frick failed to catch the ball, it landed a few feet away from an older woman swimming and, unlike every other person there who would have simply passed the ball back to him, angrily grabbed the ball and hurled it out of the pool.

Overreact much?

Frick climbed out of the pool to get it and gave me a bewildered "what the hell is her problem?" look.  I just shrugged my shoulders back at him and we went back to playing.

I've been observing people for a lot of years, and I have developed a pretty keen eye for crazy.  My gut was telling me to keep an eye on this woman because it would be only a matter of time before she delivered some quality WTF behaviour.  And deliver she did....

We spent another 15 minutes tossing the ball back and forth when Frack, trying to throw the ball as high and far as possible (as 6-year-olds do), unintentionally hit her square in the face as she was floating on her back.  Of all the people he could have hit, of course it had to be her.

I have to confess: being the awful and terrible person that I am, my knee-jerk reaction to this was to laugh.  I know.  I am going to hell.  I covered that shit up quickly though, so as to attempt to be a good role model for the kids and turned to Frack to tell him to be more careful when throwing the ball.

Then I turned to look over at the deep end where Frick and the lady were to make sure she was okay, and this is what I saw:

This woman was angrily grabbing Frick with one hand, twisting his arm in an unnatural direction, and holding the ball up out of his reach with the other while yelling at him.

Here is a list of possible reactions she could have had with which I would be totally okay:

-yelling at Frick (I'll disagree with the necessity of this, but I get it.  You're irritated and not very well-adjusted and you just got hit the in the face with a ball.  This at least has the advantage of not involving a physical altercation.)

-yelling at Frack who, after all, was the one who threw the ball.  (But if you have to get that angry at some strange 6-year-old kid for what was obviously an accident, then you need to step back and re-evaluate the situation.)

-complaining to the lifeguard (What a sane person would do)

-complaining to me (Also what a sane person would do)

Or you know, rub your face a little, maybe glare at the kid a little, and then move on with your life.  What most people would do.  I know this because I watched several other people get hit in the face with these balls (snert) and that's exactly what they did.  They didn't even find the glaring part necessary.  I guess because they realize that they are at an open swim at a public pool where about a hundred kids are splashing and throwing balls around and have adjusted their expectations accordingly.

I am definitely NOT OKAY with anyone man-handling (woman-handling?) my son for any reason whatsoever.

"HEY!  YOU GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF MY KID RIGHT NOW!!!"

I am not easily ignored.  I was in drama for years, bitches.  There they teach you how to PROJECT.  From the DIAPHRAGM.  Everyone around us had stopped what they were doing to stare, but this woman kept going as if she didn't hear me at all.  I don't know for sure how long the altercation took.  All I can say is that I screamed at her to let go of my son half a dozen times before she finally did.

Looking back I have no idea why I didn't shout for help.  I totally should have.  It's just that no one has ever been able to ignore my screaming-from-the-diaphragm-mama-banshee voice before. When I looked at the lifeguard she just looked really confused like she had only just now noticed what was happening.

Crazy "It's MY ball now!" Lady swam over to the lifeguard to complain, while Frick swam over to me.

"I tried to apologize to her but she just grabbed me and kept yelling at me!"

He said his arm hurt but she didn't leave any marks on him and he was otherwise okay.  As soon as I knew he was okay I marched the three of us over to the lifeguard to do some complaining of my own.  At first the look on her face said "That lady told me what your son did to her".   But by the time I was finished talking she just looked horrified and apologized profusely.

Next she called over the other lifeguard who was older and more intimidating looking than her.  About a minute later he is talking to Crazy "I have no sense of boundaries" Lady.

"Ma'am?  I'm going to need you to get out of the pool."

Crazy Lady sashayed out of the pool with her head held high and her nose in the air.  Seriously.  I don't throw around the word "sashay" lightly.

I'm trying to get the boys to play a different game that doesn't involve balls (snert) when I notice that she is packing up her things.

"I think they're kicking her out!" laughs Frick.

He's right because now she is sashaying herself out the exit.

"Shh!" I tell him.  "Don't laugh.  Not right now anyway.  When we get home you can laugh all you like.  But it's not nice to look too happy about this."

"But you are happy about it, right Mommy?"

"Yes I am.  I am very happy about it."

Monday, 30 June 2014

Sluts vs. Touch-Me-Nots: The Catch-22 of Being a Girl

Summer vacation has begun!  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

This is Frick's summer before 8th grade.  What a magical time.  It really takes me back to my own "Wonder Years".  For me the summer before 8th grade was when I got my first period.  It was a time where me and my girlfriends talked endlessly about sex and spent lots of time watching the boys skateboard out in front of my friend Jen's house.  We also spent lots of time talking and worrying about high school.

I remember being a little concerned about grade 9 initiation, mostly because me and my other friend Jen managed to piss off the entire graduating class of grade eight girls that year.  They were bullies who liked to push around us grade 7 girls because they felt, as 8th graders, they ruled the school and Jen and I were having none of it.  (Fun fact: I got into my first/only school yard fight with a grade 8 girl that year.  It was a bit of relief that aside from being much larger than me, she had no idea how to throw a punch.)

But what worried me more than getting bullied as a "minor niner" was trying to understand what it meant to be a teenaged girl, socially.  It turned out to be way more complicated than I had imagined.  One night, I think it was at one of our slumber parties, the Jens and I were all talking about what it was going to be like in high school.

Jen B:  I heard that in high school, if you're a girl, everyone calls you a slut or a touch-me-not.

Me:  What?  Really?  How does that work?

Jen B:  Well if you do anything with a boy, even just kissing, you'll be a slut and everyone will talk about you.

Me:  Well, that's easy.  I don't want to be a slut.

Jen B: Yeah, but if you're not a slut everyone will say you're a touch-me-not and no boys will ask you out.

( I don't know what your middle school culture was, but for us "touch-me-not" was our standard expression for some goody-two-shoes who never does anything bad and is a total loser and no one would, like, ever want to be labeled as a touch-me-not.  A touch-me-not can NEVER hope to be popular and being popular was a big deal.)

Me:  But I want boys to ask me out.  I don't want to be a loser.

Jen B:  Well then you'll have to be a slut then.

Me:  That's not fair!  What about the boys?  Does anyone say anything about them?

Jen B: (just shrugs.)

Me:  So those are our only choices?

Jen B:  Pretty much.

Me:  What do we do?

Jen B:  I don't know.

What I didn't know was that we weren't the ones who got to choose.   You got labeled by others whether you liked it or not.  You were held entirely responsible for any attention or lack of attention you got from boys, as if that were a thing you could possibly control.  If you were invisible to boys it proved you were an ugly, boring loser through your own choices like not wearing the right clothes or make up.  If you got attention from boys it proved you were a big whore through your own choices like not wearing the right clothes or make up.

The only way to avoid slut or touch-me-not status was to get a special magical talisman called a BOYFRIEND.  Girls with BOYFRIENDS were the only ones you couldn't mess with.  When you got a BOYFRIEND you got elevated to the status of being Bobby's Girl and that would make you popular because other girls would like you again and stop talking about you behind your back.  Having a BOYFRIEND proved you weren't an invisible touch-me-not loser.  Having a BOYFRIEND made other boys stop paying attention to you which proved you were not (or no longer) a slut.

The problem was, the only way to get a BOYFRIEND was to risk being called a slut because in order to get a BOYFRIEND you needed to attract the attention of a boy somehow.  And attracting the attention of boys on purpose?  SLUTTY McSLUTTERSON you are!

(Le sigh.)

I am very glad that Frick doesn't have to worry about being a slut. I'm not saying that his behaviour won't be strictly policed by his peers (Hello, Heteronormative Bro-Culture).  I'm just saying that at least his social navigations don't involve this lose-lose kind of bullshit.  At least with boys there was a possibility of winning that didn't involve some kind of relationship status symbol.

As for us girls, it seems we must lose no matter what we do.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Parenting For Company: It's Different!

Have you ever been treated to a lecture about your parenting?  I have!  Aren't they terrific?   I swear just hearing the words "I know it's none of my business but..." is enough to send me into a frenzy of anticipation over what I am about to hear because it can ONLY BE AWESOME!!!

You'd think that in this day and age people would know better than to offer unsolicited criticisms of your parenting.

They don't.

Hearing this kind of bullshit friendly advice is only marred by the fact that I know how far off the mark they actually are.  Because the truth is that unless this person lives in my home and cares for my children they really can't know what kind of parent I am.

Generally speaking, when you are on the receiving end of a parenting lecture the person delivering it is someone you know very well like a family member or a friend.  They feel compelled to speak to you after keeping their mouths shut for so long.  They are trying to help you because it is so obvious to everyone but you that you are doing everything wrong.

They feel confident in their right-ness in telling you how wrong you are "because," they will say, "it's been like this every time we visit."

So I would like to explain to all the Well Meaning Dispensers of Wisdom out there on behalf of all us Terrible Parents, why you are wrong.  Dead Wrong.

I, and I suspect the majority of parents, parent my kids differently when I am around company.  I do it differently, but I also do it consistently.

Parenting, when done right, is difficult and time-consuming and complicated.  My kids fight just about every ten minutes.  They fight over toys.  They fight over the best spot on the couch.  They fight over breathing the same air.  When you are not here I would deal with the fighting by first, trying to ignore it in the hopes they will resolve the issue on their own.  If I paid attention to every fight they have I wouldn't be able to get anything else done so I will only interfere if I hear repeated crying or some kind of physical altercation.

At that point I sit them down and cross examine them.  Then I have to play detective to figure out which one's version is closest to the actual truth.  Then I have to come up with some kind of appropriate consequence to help them learn to get along better.  Then I have to oversee that the consequence is being carried out.

Does that sound like a lot to you?  Imagine having to go through this roughly half a dozen times in a three hour period.  Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Do you really think they are going to put their fighting on hold just because I am trying to have a visit with you?

Bwaahahahahahaha!

But when I am with you Wise Friend, it is my wish to enjoy your company and conversation.  As a result I am naturally anxious to put the kibosh on any unpleasantness brewing between my kids so as to maximize the pleasantness of our visit.

And so I will jump on them the moment I hear even a whisper of dischord when I would otherwise try to ignore it.  Because I promise you no one wants to listen to them loudly bicker, whine and scream at each other while they sort their shit out.  I will resolve the issue quickly by placing the blame on whichever child is statistically to be most likely at fault and then issuing a quick and easy to enforce, all-purpose consequence.

If it's the first fight during our visit you may have to watch me go on about it a little too long to my kids because I am hoping that I if I lay down the law then and there I might not have to deal with them for the rest of the visit.  A little naive, I know, but believe it or not that sometimes works.

None of this is what I would call top-notch parenting.  At best it is merely unfair.  Sometimes I make a mistake and blame the wrong child (which will happen anyway no matter how good your parenting is).  At worst it would only serve to damage their relationship even further thus causing more fighting.  I already know this just like I know my kids way better than you do.

So understand that when you see me engaging in shoddy parenting it just means that I am putting my concern for their self-esteem and well-being on hold for a few hours out of consideration for YOU.  Because I am trying to enjoy the time we have together.

It is completely unfair to hear the things you imply in your well meaning lecture.  You imply that I favour one child over the other.  You imply that I am making things worse between my kids.  You imply that you have no faith in my ability to raise my own children without your interference.  Do you realize how much you cross the line here?

With all due respect you are just not there to see me being awesome at what I do.  You're not there with me through the parenting classes and meetings with social workers.  You're not there with me through the meetings with concerned teachers.  You're not there with me and my husband as we discuss parenting strategies together.  You're not there with me when I'm talking my kids through problem solving strategies so they can learn to resolve conflict on their own.

Quite frankly, you have no idea what you are talking about.

But since you have decided against your own better judgment to offer me advice I would like to return the favour.

The next time you hear yourself saying the words "I know it's none of my business but..." JUST STOP TALKING.

Seriously.

Nothing good ever came of anything said after those words.  And it really isn't any of your business so you can relax and just learn to trust me when I say I've got this parenting thing.  As soon as you go home I will be all over it.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

8 Reasons Why Men Can't Take Pictures of Themselves

Selfies are everywhere and mean lots of things to lots of people.  I've seen selfies used to raise awareness for political causes.  I've seen selfies taken for fun like the famous Ellen Celebrity selfie.  And sometimes selfies are taken just because you look good and want a decent picture for your profile.

And while I personally tend to avoid taking selfies (mostly because I am camera shy and my face tends to do weird things in pictures) I don't have a hell of a lot of judgment for those who do indulge because, why not?  Have a little fun.   To each their own.  Hell, even the POTUS and the Pope take selfies.  They honestly seemed mostly harmless to me.

But recently, after James Franco's rather unfortunate, pale and clammy half-naked selfie (blech!) was uploaded, then taken down, and then gone viral (because the internet forgets NOTHING!) talk about selfies seems to be at the forefront of social commentary.

There has been much hand-wringing about the selfie.  Selfies are a cry for help..  Selfies either cause/indicate the presence of poor mental health.  Selfies are addictive.  The pressure to take the perfect selfie is driving teenagers to suicide.  Selfies are going to usher in the END OF AMERICA!

Apparently I was wrong about selfies being harmless fun.  Selfies are super important and super dangerous and can indicate everything and nothing about you!  This is kind of confusing but fortunately for me the internet, in the form of online trashmill of "ironic" misogyny Elite Daily, is here to help you understand.

8 Reasons Why It's Never Okay For a Man to Take a Selfie

I kind of chuckled at the title.  I'm interested in reading articles about selfie-etiquette because the phenomenon interests me as an outsider who does not participate.  I have read a few that seemed to give reasonable advice on the subject but this was the first one I have ever seen that was gender specific.

I didn't expect it to be a good/well-written list of rules (gender specific codes of behaviour rarely are) and it did not disappoint.  As a woman, I am not entirely confident that I can refute such iron-clad social logic so instead I will only attempt to understand it by rendering a rough translation into terms my feeble girly brain can grasp.  So here are...

8 Reasons Why Men Can't Take Pictures of Themselves

1) Selfies are strictly for women.  Women like to brag about what's really important to them: being pretty.  If you don't have titties to display no one wants to see it.

2) No really.  Chicks only.  Men are allowed to have two (or an absolute maximum of three photos if they should be unfortunate enough to get married....shudder), preferably taken by someone else, or you have to officially trade in your dick for a vagina.

Special allowances will be made for more than three photos but only if you are in full Batman costume, which is the most manly of all the superhero costumes.

3 & 4) If you take selfies you are a shallow, attention whore.  Remember: only chicks are allowed to be shallow attention whores.

5) You won't get laid, so why bother?  Nothing is worth doing unless there is an absolute guarantee of a "happy ending".

6) If you insist on taking a selfie like some brainless chick, we'll tell everyone that your penis is small.  Not because there's any research behind that.  Just because we think it's funny to humiliate you if you decide to shamelessly act like a woman according to our arbitrary rules.

7) Real men (like racist, homophobe Chuck Norris) don't take selfies.  Aren't you fucking listening, brah?  Don't you want to be a REAL MAN???

8) You can't be a bad ass and take selfies.  Only chicks and Justin Bieber take selfies and everyone knows it is impossible for either to ever be bad ass.  Don't you want to be a BAD ASS???

(Not paraphrased) "The next time you think about posting a selfie, ask yourself the following: Am I an unmanly, attention-seeking, shallow, small-penised, sissy girl?"

That is a very good question to ask.  Unfortunately Samuel L. Jackson didn't get your memo, guys.  Which one of you Real Man's Men are going to tell him (preferably in person...oh, please make sure it is in person) that he's an "unmanly, attention-seeking, shallow, small-penised, sissy girl"?



What?

No volunteers?