Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Doing Life Right

My 4-year-old son has his own sewing kit filled with thimbles, stitch markers, a measuring tape, and sundry. Said kit happens to be a Cars lunchbox.

He helps me in the garden and around the house with his own tools, including a purple garden hoe and pink Disney princess hand shovel and kneeling pad.

He picked the paint color for his room when we moved in. You can see his rad room, including the deep purple walls, here.

His favorite color is blue, but his favorite chair is pink.

The list of social anomalies goes on and on.

He's doing life right, because he's doing it his own way. He doesn't buy into gender stereotypes or social constraints, because we don't foist them upon him. I think we could all take a lesson. Don't care to learn a lesson? No problem, at least keep your opinions to yourself and he'll still be good.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Circumcision in Seven Sentences

Don't do it.

It's not your body, so it's not your choice.

Consider the source. Are those telling you it needs to be done truly educated (can they name all the functions of the foreskin?), do they stand to make money from you doing it, or are they culturally conditioned to believe it is a must?

91% of the world's men are intact and live a life without penile incident (unless self-inflicted, which is another Oprah), but medical professionals in the U.S. swear that there is a slew of elderly men whose penises become gnarled and excruciating, which should leave us to question and fight to improve medical training, not jump to the extreme conclusion that we should all cut off 1/3 of every newborn's penis.

Statistically, chances are higher of him dying OF a circumcision than ever NEEDING a circumcision.

If you need more reasons, click HERE for a list of resources.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How to Test a Friendship

I got to thinking last night about the number of relationships I've lost due to one little thing: a single instance of dissidence.

Here's what I mean:

A family member who asked me for an opinion on a Precious Moments decorative plate (yes, seriously) and when I gave it, it became instantly clear that it was the wrong opinion. Boom. Years of not talking to me. Guess I should've been given script ahead of time. I didn't know my lines.

Another family member who asked for suggestions on what to do with her kids, one of which is autistic, because yelling didn't seem to help. When a friend suggested spanking and the family member agreed, because that had always worked in the past, I offered another suggestion. Boom. Years of not talking to me. I always get confused when suggestions are asked for, but clearly not wanted.

A friend posted a hurtful, fat-shaming meme. I sent him a story I had just read that day about the woman featured in that meme. Boom. Haven't heard from him since. That's something I would've wanted to know. Turns out, not everyone does.

Another friend, a self-described defender of women, allowed a friend of his to attack me and other sexually assaulted women on his page. I said two words to him about it, "I'm disappointed." Boom. Evidently, that was too much for our friendship to take. That's some strength right there, I tell ya.

Now, in the name of full disclosure and fairness, I used to be the exact same way...when I was a teenager. It didn't take much for me to write someone off. One little disagreement had me sending you packing. When I think back on those days, I cringe. Thank goodness for time and the growth that, hopefully, comes with it.

I have no real point. I have no answers. I guess I naively figured that this character flaw (and yes, having been there myself, I do believe it to be a flaw) was one of youth and immaturity, one that would have long ago been outgrown by those my age. I just don't know, but I know it wasn't likely to get off my mind until I wrote it down, so here we are.

I'm not sure I'll ever figure folks out, so I'll just keep trying to be the best me I know how to be, learn lessons and improve along the way, and teach my son to do the same.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Way #7699 to Mess with a Child's Head

Every summer from the time I was 6 until I was 16, I stayed with my grandparents. Aside from some truly fun and lovely memories and in addition to some really ugly ones, there is the vivid memory of being measured on the wall each year. Now, I don't know a kid who doesn't love seeing how they've grown and I was no exception. I had the added bonus, however, of having my weight policed.

Before anyone says the standard, "That's not very Zen of you,"
let me just say, "I know and I don't care as long as it
helps put a stop to body policing."
As I neared 5' tall, my grandmother started telling me that the "norm" for a girl is that at 5' tall, she is to weigh 100 pounds and 5 pounds for every inch thereafter. I was asked how much I weighed in comparison to this norm. This happened every year. Every single year for 10 years.

Guess what I have never gotten out of my head? And guess what I'll be damned if I allow myself to repeat aloud, even if it does sometimes creep back into the forefront of my mind from where I keep it hidden in its ugly place in the back?

Never, NEVER will I police my son's body. Never, never will I police anyone else's. Want to mess with your child's head? Police away. Otherwise, let them be.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Expectations for the Grieving Soul

I have two dear friends who have both, sadly, lost a young child. You're probably familiar with them. If not, you can read about Rissa, Jessica, and Rocky HERE and Patrick and Julie HERE. And you should read about them.

Julie and Jessica grieved and continue to grieve, but they do so differently. What isn't different, though, is what I've noticed about those around them, which is the inspiration for this post. I've noticed that we, those around the grieving, place impossible expectations on them that I'd like to point out here:

- grieve the way I want you to grieve, the way I would grieve
- don't grieve for too long
- don't grieve too little
- be soothed by what I'd be soothed by
- be thankful for the time you had
- be angry for the time you didn't
- be grateful for everything I say
- let me do whatever I need to do for you
- help me feel better about your loss by saying "thank you" and "it's OK" a lot
- comfort me while I'm comforting you in the way that I want to be comforted
- fall apart, so I know you really care
- don't fall apart more than I deem appropriate
- come up with something for me to do for you, so that I can feel better
- don't ask for too much, though, because my empathy only runs so deep and stops when it gets inconvenient
- answer all of my questions, however prying they may be
- come to me with your feelings, because I need to feel like I'm the special one you lean on
- believe as I believe regarding God, gods, the Goddess, reincarnation, etc., so that I can comfort you as I wish

The list goes on and on.

Stop it.

It's likely you don't see yourself in this post. I don't believe anyone places these expectations on the grieving soul purposely, but I do believe the majority of folk do, indeed, make this grave mistake. So before you write this post off as not pertaining to you, as being for "those other people," reflect deeply on your interactions with those who grieve and maybe, just maybe, make a few adjustments as needed for them and the next grieving person you encounter, because, sadly, there will be another...and another and another and another...and what they need from us is whatever they need, which has not a thing to do with you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One of the Many Ways We Dismiss Kids as Less Than

My son has thick, curly, red hair. It's stunning. That on top of his gorgeous face makes for a very outwardly pretty kid. Strangers regularly comment, point, and do that little squeal-y noise. We smile and thank them. Strangers don't know him, so they don't know all the other things that make him so much more beautiful than what they see.

This is all fine and good until they cross the line into touching him. This also happens with disturbing regularity. And it pisses him off. I can't say as I blame him. It pisses me off for him.

Most strangers would never dream of coming up to an adult and tousling their hair. Likely, this is out of fear that the person under the hair would break the stranger's arm as the first finger came to rest upon them. Yet, this is done to kids with wanton thoughtlessness and a gross dismissal of the fact that they're people, too, with the right to bodily autonomy and personal space that the rest of us claim and expect.

If you wouldn't do something to an adult or wouldn't want it done to you, don't do it to a child. Simple. Respectful.

Now, I get a lot of flack for complaining about this on my son's behalf. I'm supposed to excuse it, because "it's always old people who do it and they come from a different era" or "some people can't help themselves around such cuteness" or some other flimsy excuse. I'm not here to advocate for those who cannot think through their actions to the consequences they might have for others. I'm here to advocate for my son. As such, I'm here to say:

Stop petting my son as you would a dog. He is a person. He is not an animal. He deserves the respect you would afford anyone else. This goes for his peers, as well.

Kids learn respect by observing it. Give it to everyone, yes, even kids, and we'll be well on our way to a more respectful world. Funny how that works out, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Can't" in Seven Sentences

There's a scene in Mr. Peabody & Sherman in which Sherman wants to fly a Leondardo DaVinci machine, but he's sure, though, that he hasn't the ability to do so, since Mr. Peabody has told him as much on many occasions. That voice is in his head, paralyzing Sherman even as he finds himself in the sky, plummeting to his certain death, while he repeats what he's heard so many times, "I can't fly."

Until he does; he flies.

Then Mr. Sherman calls up to him, afraid, of course, "But you can't fly, Sherman!" And all of a sudden, Sherman can no longer fly.

This is my favorite scene for what it tells us about what fear and lack of confidence in both ourselves and others who look up to us can do. So, to myself and my son, I say, "You can do it - whatever it is."