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Monday, November 18, 2013

Santa Claus and Elf on the Shelf - Not in Our Home

We don't "do" Santa Claus. We don't "do" Elf on the Shelf. I know, I know, I'm taking all the magic out of Christmas and essentially making my son's life a broken misery. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's go on to the meat of the issue:

"The Elf on the Shelf® is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus..."

So, basically, he's the tattle-tale for the big guy. Oh goody. As if Santa's whole naughty and nice list weren't manipulative enough, now he needs a helper in his quest to control and manipulate? I think not.

I don't seek to control or manipulate my son at any time of the year, least of all during the Christmas season when we're especially focused on the kindness, generosity, and loved ones. This is one of the myriad reasons we don't lie to him about the existence of Santa Claus. We both grew up with Santa. We both loved him. We both have fond memories of those years. That doesn't mean the jelly-belly wasn't open to scrutiny when working out our parenting ideals. The fact is that Santa Claus is a lie. We can debate all day long about the definition of "lie," but I'm not looking to have a Bill Clinton-esque conversation here. We can further debate the egregiousness of certain lies over others, but to me, someone who values honesty above most else, a lie is a lie is a lie. I never want my son to doubt my veracity, so I'll never lie to him. I make it simple for him to trust me.

Of course, then, Elf on the Shelf isn't a "thing" in our home. Now, I grew up with them around, but they were mere decoration in my great-aunt's and grandmother's homes - they didn't dabble in shady dealings in the dark, they didn't tattle, they didn't animate at all - they were decorative Christmas decorations only. It wasn't until I was older that I found out about their intended purpose. It was like someone stopped the record. Uh, no. We'll not be doing that with our son.

I'm not up for telling him that he has to be "good" or someone or something is going to punish him. I don't do that to him, so why would I let some other fictional folk do it? We know punishments don't work anyway. I don't want my son to obey me or Santa or some elf with a penchant for destruction and mayhem. I want him to do what he needs to do based on his own judgement and self-control. He's a person. He's got this. And when he doesn't "got this," I am there to listen, empathize, help, and hug. I'm not there to say, "Do this or else..." nor are a couple of dudes with sugar addictions and long records of breaking and entering.

Look, I'm not trying to convince anyone to do things my way. I see why people like the Santa myth. I see why people enjoy the Elf on the Shelf kooky nocturnal antics. I'm simply asking you to consider the bottom line to these, as with all other choices that affect our children.

(for no other reason than this movie flingin'-flangin' cracks me up and I thought we needed levity)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Today, I Grieve

Today, for the very first time, I grieved for the loss of my son's twin. Didn't know he even had a twin? That's by design. I never talk about it. Precious few people even in my personal life know he did. Yep. He did. And I imagined, but never knew, that it was a girl - his little sister that he would wrap up tightly in his arms in the womb.

We went through IVF to get pregnant, as some of you may know, so to find we were going to have a baby at all was the greatest joy in our lives up to that point. When we found out there were TWO, we were over the moon! We had dreamed of having twins, because we knew it was likely our one shot to have kids at all. Then our dream was a reality. We immediately had the same lovely image of twin babes inside of me, occupying space together, getting to know each other intimately, forging an unbreakable and lifetime bond - one boy and one girl, one was more protective, one more antagonistic, both the closest of friends.

Then, one day, "she" was no longer. My husband grieved immediately. He cried all the way home. He mourned for some time. I never did. I never shed a tear, I never seemed affected at all...even to myself. I kept my sights focused on the one babe I still had and after he was born my attention was on the present.

Today, I saw this video

and all of a sudden the grief was upon me. I said to my son, "That could've been you" and it hit me. My heart sank and an almost overwhelming sadness came upon me. I felt (still feel, as I write this) an emptiness in my chest and I could burst into heaving sobs at any moment. It's a feeling I've never felt and know now why I stuffed it so many years ago - it hurts indescribably.

If she had been a girl as we imagined her, she would've been named Ellison, "Ellie" for short. She would've shared a wardrobe with her brother. She would've snuggled with him in our big bed. She would've held hands with him while they breastfed together. They would've laughed, cried, fought, and played together. There's so much...and I can't write it all down right now, because right now I'm grieving and am struggling to find a way to express all of the feelings.

All I know is that today, I grieve.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mammals Breastfeed - What I Thought Was Totally Obvious

I recently got this comment: "Breastfeeding is weird" and when I asked for an explanation, I got, "you don't see that something that is supposed to be a higher form of life has the same processes as a cow. #PeopleUdders"


Let's review. People are mammals. Cows are mammals. It never occurred to me that I would need to state this OR define the word, but it seems I do (given the rest of the mind-melting conversation), so here goes:

mammal (noun) any of a class (Mammalia) of warm-blooded higher vertebrates (as placentals, marsupials, or monotremes) that nourish their young with milk secreted by mammary glands, have the skin usually more or less covered with hair, and include humans (courtesy Merriam-Webster)

The very word "mammal" comes from the fact that we have mammary glands from which we nourish our young. If that's weird, wrong, gross, or any number of other negative slurs we all regularly hear and read, I don't want to be normal, right, prim, or any number of other positive adjectives used to describe those who do things "properly."

Cows make perfect food for baby cows, dolphins make perfect food for baby dolphins, cats make perfect food for baby cats, baboons make perfect food for baby baboons, and human mothers make perfect food for young humans. It's quite a simple concept.

Can we all move on now?