kids at Ocean Crest, Ocean Shores

Non-Punitive Parenting: A Starting Primer

kids at Ocean Crest, Ocean Shores

This piece was written as a participatory exercise for The Great Spank Out. All comments on this post will be heavily moderated. No comments endorsing punitive parenting will be allowed through.

***

I’ve heard every rationalization for punitive parenting in the book, and then some.* I’ve heard that using these strategies doesn’t really hurt nor humiliate a child. I’ve heard Yeah, it hurts/humiliates, that’s the point, and it works well! I’ve heard “I was hit, and I’m fine” (about… a thousand times).

I’ve heard punishing/hitting/grounding/time-outs are necessary and if you don’t do them, you will absolutely end up with “spoiled, entitled brats”. I recently had a friend tell me he thinks something is wrong with my partner and I that we do not spank (hit) our kids as a parenting tool – although he grants my children are the first children he’s ever liked. He envies our family life but holds no hope he could raise children without violence. He explained to me his carers “beat the shit out of him” (his words), but it was for his own good; he lived in a dangerous and crime- and drug-laden neighborhood.

I bring up this anecdote because it is an elegant example at the more extreme end of this (common) worldview: “the world is tough and my kid needs to know about it. I’m going to help him learn early to keep him safe.”

Even adults who admit that “spanking” is just hitting, and that we should not do it, usually still maintaining we should absolutely exploit our power position to “mold” them. These adults hold that spanking is inhumane and/or child abuse, and instead advocate for so-called “gentle discipline” methods cited as time-outs, restriction/grounding, removal of privileges, lectures, etc.

I’m going to get down to brass tacks to state in my opinion there is little difference between the following: hitting (also called “spanking”, “swatting”, “smacking”, or “beating”, depending on your culture/family), yelling at, scolding/lecturing, grounding, removing toys/items as a lesson, and “natural and logical” consequences (crafted and applied at the discretion of the parent/carer in order to groom for desired behavior or eliminate undesired behavior).

On the flip side of the coin, praise and rewards are perfectly complimentary to this type of punitive/manipulative parenting schema – and those “carrot” (as opposed to “stick”) systems are relatively common too. In fact most parents who use time-outs, threats, removal of privileges, scarcity/reward system, rely on a lot of behavioral praise as well.

So I’d imagine some people are reading (if they’re still reading) with their jaws on the floor – or perhaps they’re sporting a sarcastic smirk. To skeptics it would seem I don’t hold there’s any way one is allowed to raise a child. Next you’ll be guessing my house is a loud, craven mess with children shouting at me at the top of their lungs, their mouths set in garish and sticky Kool-aid grimaces, and that these children are the terrors of the town, and I’m in “denial” about it all, and I’m Ruining America.

Well, first of all, let’s banish this “allowed” business.

You’d be surprised what you’re “allowed” to do as a parent. Actually, everything I’ve listed above in what I’d call punitive parenting is fair game and usually encouraged in our country. Indeed, in the United States you are legally sanctioned to hit your child – as long as you don’t use an implement nor leave a mark (adult humans and domesticated animals are protected by at least the letter of the law). As for grounding, restrictions, time-outs and the rest – these are generally thought of as Good Parenting. So let’s stop with this “allowed” business. I have neither the ability, the right, nor the interest to drive around inspecting how each and every household runs their home. If you parent or care for a child you are pretty much free to do as you see fit and nothing I say here can force you one way or another.

Secondly, you should know I do not think parents/carers who employ the above listed strategies are bad people, monsters, stupid, “crazy”, or any other pejorative. If I thought that I’d pretty much think all parents/carers were jerks. I’d also have a hard time forgiving myself for my own monstrous behaviors and missteps, because for reasons I won’t go into detail here and now I have let myself and my children down many times, yes, even against my own better judgment or principles.

Shame and guilt as forces for improving one’s parenting don’t work very well. I am not here to wield a cudgel. Sadly, when it comes to parenting – or mothering, as most finger-wagging diatribes usually concern, implicitly or explicitly – almost any discussion of bad strategies vs. better ones will prod the guilt and shame injuries most parents and carers hold. Mothers especially, are held to account for any real or perceived errors, and missteps. This shame and guilt can sometimes prevent us from openly hearing what we need to. This is a sad thing, but perhaps unavoidable unless we decide not to speak frankly on these matters.

The good news is, I’m here to deliver some hope.

Because what many people are too afraid to hope for, or too convinced otherwise to entertain, is the possibility of raising a happy, healthy child – complete with a compassionate and moral and fierce spirit – without punishing them, or at least while actively resisting punitive methodology throughout their upbrininging. That’s right. No grounding, yelling, lecturing, time-outs, spanking. Yeah, I wouldn’t have believed it either – until I started experiencing it firsthand. It’s been one of the most humbling and exciting and amazing partnerships of my life. And as each year passes, our children prove we made the right choice.

Parenting non-punitively is possible, rewarding, and incredibly freeing in about twenty discrete ways I could probably list (and will do so at some point). Most parents/carers are too scared to try. They intuit, correctly, that if they attempt to give up punitive measures they will have to give up things they want. And they’re right about that. They also believe – incorrectly – that if they give up punitive measures their children will suffer for it, and in effect grow up “bad”.

Here is, as of today, my best thoughts on the sacrifices as I’ve experienced them.

Primarily, we give up the illusion of control. We don’t really have control – we have the illusion of it. We maintain the facade of control as long as our child is not developmentally aware enough to perceive how she is being controlled.

As our child grows, we may maintain this facade if our child lets us win out – because we have made things so unpleasant for her should she assert herself. Some parents are very good at this. In this stage our child begins to hide her nature, opinions, feelings, struggles and/or actions (indeed, duplicity in a child is a first-string symptom of punitive parenting).

We maintain the illusion of control until we observe our child regularly employing self- or other-harm. I am often very sad to hear adults promote narratives where their teenager “suddenly” starts acting “crazy”/sullen/angry/anxious/”like an asshole”. Predicably, many parents and adults put forth junk-science rhetoric regarding the “teenage brain”, pathologizing teens themselves and/or setting down young adult expressions of anxiety, alienation, anger, sadness or severe disassociation to hormones or some kind of temporary innate contrariety, etc. (what’s deeply sad is to witness teens internalize and then repeat this denigration and erasure; I was one of them). I personally think espousing “teen brains aren’t ‘normal'” / “teens are jerks” rhetoric is a last-ditch attempt to avoid admitting the damage many endemic mainstream parenting and teaching practices have inflicted upon our children. It’s too bad, too, because even even in cases of severe teenage behaviors, there is still hope – but not much hope, if the parents, carers, and teachers in stewardship aren’t willing to admit their own faults. I’d like to believe it’s never too late to admit our mistakes, acknowledge our fears, and in doing so improve our treatment of the children in our lives.

What else do we give up, when we decide we will no longer punitively parent?

We give up many accolades and praises from mainstream parenting “gurus”, from our family and friends, and from our micro- or larger culture. Believe me, if your child has a loud emotional display in a store (for instance) you stand to gain approving nods if you come down on the child with a stern and/or loud voice, especially if delivering a threat. If you patiently say “Thank you,” to the clerk, let your child cry, remove your child as soon as you can (with gentleness), you may very well be glared at. Giving up punitive and public parenting strategies, then, means many adults will expect authoritarian displays of you and, when you do not deliver, tsk tsk – or worse.

You may be told to beat your child. You may be encouraged (usually implicitly) to put him down or speak about him in a sarcastic and dismissive manner so he at least knows what a pain in the arse he is. Your family and peers may not support you; this is based in their fear, and has little to do with you. But it can be hard to be so unsupported when what we need, is a community to lift us up.

Fortunately, although it can sting to give up the many surface-level commendations you receive as a demonstrably-“strict” parent, if you can cast off punitive forces or provide better caregivers or environs for your child, you’ll likely soon be receiving genuine expressions of delight regarding your children’s character and behaviors. The funnest part of this is, for me, a state of far less attachment to outcome; e.g. no longer interested in claiming virtue or value as a result of my children’s behaviors. When my children are complimented (as they often are), I can know it is not me in the driver’s seat, but the kids’ own individual qualities emerging. I do not accept compliments regarding my children’s behavior, because I did not engender their good behavior but merely didn’t thwart, suppress, and twist it. My children themselves are allowed to handle those compliments as they see fit (they usually say, “Thank you.” and leave it at that).

I’m wracking my brain to think more about what we give up, but really those two things are about it (although they’re biggies, I grant it). I suppose we give up allowing ourselves episodes of retaliatory anger. Or rather, when we inevitably give in to such displays (as I do, still), we can relatively quickly abandon the premise that this is our right or responsibility, apologize sincerely if we did something asshat, and return to our better selves a lot quicker.

So that, I suppose, is the bad news. (Except you can see it really isn’t. Bad news.)

That’s what we give up.

Now: what do we stand to gain?

For one, we stand to gain the experience of a healthier, happier, braver, more empathetic, more alert, more humorous, and more fair-minded child. We also begin to see how children raised this way are less likely to experience or evidence the following: depression, low impulse control, habitual duplicity, generalized anxiety disorder, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, repetitive bullying episodes (either as the bully or the target), self-harming rituals, and susceptibility to peer pressure. Please note I said less likely. Believe me, if I knew of any formula to raise a child safe from all large-scale harms, I’d be tempted to can it and put it up in my pantry.

What do we stand to gain?

More enjoyment of our time together. More knowledge of who our children really are (and who they continue to grow to be). When we trust our children, we really trust them. It’s a wonderful experience. I’ve often been told by other parents, “Wow, I can’t believe you let your kids run a restaurant / ride the transit / pay your bills / use your phone / walk to the library. I couldn’t trust my kids to do that.” At first I thought these parents were talking into their sleeve, essentially chastising me for being me too permissive (and perhaps some of them were). But I began to understand I really do trust my children in a deeper way than many parents trust theirs. This wasn’t necessarily easily won nor is it perfectly accomplished, but is not only my experience: it is regularly remarked upon by others. I am their advocate, I am their mentor and advisor (when they need me), but mostly I am their nurturer as much as I can be.

What do we stand to gain?

Children we want to spend time with, and children who want to spend time with us.

What do we stand to gain? A home that is peaceful, fun, funny, compassionate, fierce, tender – and doesn’t feel scary … to anyone (including the parents… many whom I believe are often very scared indeed, hide it as they may try).

And a final note: although I have met other grownups who agree with principles of non-punitive parenting, I haven’t yet met one who claimed he/she had raised a child to adulthood and never hit, grabbed, yelled, or performed mean-spirited lectures, petty theft, or retaliatory creepitude (many parents/carers have done all the above). In other words, believing in a better way doesn’t automatically make one a saint. I have never represented myself this way and a parent who thinks I am doing so, is too defensive to really listen to what I’m saying.

But believing in a better way is the first step to living a better way.  I have had the honor in helping other parents and carers find this believe. And so far, it has been the most encouraging experience of my life. Not just living this way in our own household, but helping other households to find this path.

***

* Here is a working definition of “punitive parenting”, from a site called the Positive Discipline Resource Center (I have not read nor formed opinions as to the site’s content, but do find this definition to be pretty good):

“Punitive parents assume children have to feel bad in order to learn – though they may not use those words to describe it. When confronted with inappropriate behavior in their children, punitive parents search for a punishment to extinguish the behavior. Punitive tools include: time outs, spanking, lectures, grounding, loss of unrelated privileges or property, physical exercise, and physical discipline such as hot sauce on the tongue. Reward/punishment systems are part of a punitive paradigm.”

Episode One: We’re on the air!

Hello and welcome to Radio H*, our family’s broadcast! Our first show covers a lot of ground including an introduction to the broadcast, a discussion of education models, parenting methodologies, pop culture and very fresh news, as well as a few social justice topics from around the world. Also, I’ve included a few readings and a first-time interview for both my daughter and myself.

All music is licensed under Creative Commons.

Disclosure: this podcast contains one incident of mild language.

Listen Now
 
[podcast]https://kelly.hogaboom.org/radio/20110410.mp3[/podcast]
 
Download as MP3 Subscribe in iTunes get the RSS

Links, more or less in chronological order:

Introduction
My blog: kelly.hogaboom.org
My social justice project, Underbellie
My husband’s work: Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Washington

Featured podcast from Idzie Desmarias, “Unschoolers Are Us”. Also, Idzie’s blog: “I’m Unschooled. Yes I Can Write.”

News / Twitterfeed
“Worst Bullying PSA Ever” by Rosalind Wiseman

“Couple plead guilty in fatal Paradise child beating” at ChicoER.com

Child Training resources, at Michael and Debi Pearl’s site

“Anti-Childhood Obesity PSA Shames Fat Children” at Sociological Images

“Australian Ad Compares Junk Food to Heroin Abuse”

The Discourse, Dr. Samantha Thomas, award-winning Health Sociologist in Australia

“Nicole Richie shoots down pregnancy rumors” at NicoleRichie.org

Personal
The Conch Shell Deli, our subscriber-service home-gourmet restaurant

Readings
A passage read from the chapter “A Long-Expected Party” from The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, purchased from (Jackson St) Books on Seventh.

Unplugged Mom Radio (the cited Wendy Priesnitz quote was from an interview featured April 9th, 2011)

From Wendy Priesnitz’s blog: “Devaluing the Currency of Education” (December 29, 2008)

Dan Savage and fat phobia, a Google search

Ben Hecht, American screenwriter

Music
Intro: “Velvet-Browned Brilliant” from the freely downloadable album Lucky & Wild by Ben Seretan
Break: “Computer… Enhance” by Ralph Hogaboom
Outro: rough cut (not mixed) of “Carve Away”, recorded today by Ralph Hogaboom of Liights. Mighty Kitten Records for more info.

***

Thank you so much to all the artisans, authors, blog writers, and social network contacts and friends who have been such a rich source of growth, challenge, and joy for me. Special thanks to my children and partner, who daily inspire me to live life to the fullest I know how. And finally: Ralph, sa my audio engineer, web master, techie, and coffee-brewer, you’re at least half this effort.

***

* Tentative title

when Black Friday comes / I’m gonna dig myself a hole

Friday links, and I’m owning it!

1. This weekend we watched Trail of the Screaming Forehead courtesy of sundancenow.com, a project by Larry Blamire (who also helmed one of our family-favorites, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra). It was so much fun – so funny, clever, silly – and beautiful color (it was filmed in CRANIASCOPE). Truly a treat! The children laughed at the jokes but also took the “tension” very seriously!

2. At Underbellie: I published my piece for the Squat! Birth Journal. I encourage you to buy a copy (print or download). It’s a lovely zine by passionate people!

3. I was very impressed with “Ami’s Guide to Food Privilege: How classism, fatphobia, and various other “-isms” control what we eat”. Such a great 101 for the classist and orthorexic bile I am sad to say, I hear often enough – maybe even daily.

4. Join the “I LOVE MY BUM” Campaign! at The Discourse. AU Dr. Thomas continues to prove her awesomeness. I think I got firsties when I sent in my email, too. Hee.

5. “Guest Post: Transmisogyny is Misogyny Against All Women”; another one to sink your teeth into, featured at TranArchism.

6. Laurie Couture writes, in her typical direct and passionate manner, “Unschooling Parents (Not School Teachers) Best Equipped By Nature to Guide Learning”. As a friend at lunch said yesterday, she thinks parents truly aren’t aware there are options besides school or at-home-school. You know… as an aside, I would hope any of my work encourages parents to find ways to be with their children and live life well. I know I’ve made a difference – and I have people like Laurie and Wendy and Idzie and Cheyenne and Jeff and Daniel, to name a few, who’ve helped me find my own way.

7. Did y’all catch the title of the last Friday link post? [ tumbleweed blows past ] Anyway, 17 year old Fiona at Rachel Simmons’ site writes the first thing on the “Rebecca Black phenomena” I’ve seen so far that was worth reading. You know what’s pretty pathetic? Full-grown people making fun of thirteen year olds (yeah, this is happening. LOTS). And saying stuff like, “I’m going to ass-rape you” and “die in a fire” (but you know, it’s just a joke! And so are all those other instances of child abuse and terror, and actual thirteen year olds that get raped! All jokes! Um… er…). Yes. That is actually happening.

8. On a lighter note, and at The Retroist: “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Memories”. As I commented, I have a special place in my heart for this film; likely primarily because I saw it as a young child. Interesting it is one of two films responsible for the PG-13 rating. Also from the Retroist: Patrick Warburton for Bugle Boy. Look, PW is a handsome guy, and that’s a very nice bod he’s sporting there outside of blue latex and all. But the soprano sax and the come-hither-I’m-dressed-in-your-shirt-teehee!, not so much.

9. “Study: 87 Percent Of Movies Would Be Better With Michael Keaton In Them”. So true!

10. While I’m excited as anyone at the so-called trend Penelope Trunk identifies in Sara McGrath’s piece, “Entrepreneur with Asperger’s on getting unschooled” (I say “so-called trend” because of course, school is the relatively new invention, not “unschooling”), I didn’t like the tone of some of her comments. Specifically: “Over the next ten years, Trunk predicts that we’ll have two classes of kids: one set who knows how to run themselves in this world and another set who needs to be told what to do.” Hissss! While I have absolutely seen many differences observable in self-direction, independence, assertion, fairness, anti-bully mindset, varied and complex social skills, and real-life skills observable in non-schooled while well-nurtured children (not just in my own children but in reading countless testimonies of other life learning / consensual living / unschooled families, children, and grown non-schoolers), I think ultimately framing parenting and childrearing in competitive terms is both a very schooly thing to do and quite unhelpful – but, unfortunately, as American as deep-friend asshattery.  In this country, raising your own children without the use of state institutional instruction/care is damned rare, and I’m wondering if the few and the brave who do it might consider distancing themselves from or even denouncing outright too much Special Snowflake MY KID WILL HAVE AN EDGE OVER ALL OTHER KIDS. Caveat: in exploring the amazing multilayered awesomeness that is life without school and non-punitive parenting, it’s been like scales falling from my eyes daily and a lovely journey. I think any amount of talking about one’s experience of this Wonderfulness is going to necessarily bring to light some of the silliness or awfulness of the live lived before, and I’m aware that be threatening for some to read. It’s a conundrum I haven’t quite figured out myself (for my part I try, when talking about our homelife, to speak in first person). I’d also point out many passionate life learners are very concerned with improving outcomes and scenarios for all children, including the 98% enrolled in compulsory schooling, and have some of the most incredible ideas about how to go about these goals.

11. Film: live-action akira adaptation: starring white people! at Angry Asian Man. This film is a classic, much beloved, and Hollywood won’t do well by it. The typical racebending aspect is just another soggy slap in the face. SMH as per usual.

12. Speaking of movies: I’m loving Anita Sarkeesian’s vlogs times one hundred. In “Tropes vs. Women: #1 The Manic Pixie Dream Girl” she does not disappoint. But you know, Portman’s character in Garden State *totally* had her own story arc. Like how she was epileptic, and her hamster died that one time.

13. Movies, again: screen giant and philanthropist and lovely woman Elizabeth Taylor dies. A lovely photo-perspective at all things amazing.

14. Bri writes a wonderful post on her experiences with a lap band. You know, that surgery that is rather dangerous and doesn’t work, but people are still quite eager about.

15. In ridiculous and gratuitous cupcake awesomeness, I submit the Cupcake Cupcake Topper and homemade Hostess cupcake cake balls (as seen on my blog yesterday).

16. Wednesday night we saw Handsome Little Devils at the college (they were fabulous!); Monday it’s the Reptile Man’s Serpentarium, and a few weeks later, the Kenya Safari Acrobats. I can speak highly of the first two experiences and I look forward to the third; what are you up to?

17. Currently listening to: Vetiver, Au PairsAdele’s “21”, and Kelis (Phoenix loves the latter two). What are you listening to?

18. Live bunnycam featuring new babies. LIVE BUNNYCAM FEATURING NEW BABIES. There is no better link to leave you with, people. P.S. a baby rabbit is called a “kitten” or a “kit”. Excuse me while I punch myself in the face. Because of the cuteness.

Herpetology

It’s finally Friday, I’m free again

The More You Know
Homographs, homophones, heteronyms, polysemes, and capitonyms – do you know the difference?

Debbie Drake’s Easy Way to a Perfect Figure and Glowing Health (Drake, 1961). You know. Before I do my scissor kicks, I fix the hell out of my hair and makeup, then put on my perkiest bullet bra.

“OTL: Dark History” at ESPN.go. A very brief glimpse into the Santa Anita racetrack and our human capacity for cruelty.

A Clinical, Searing Memoir Of Abuse in Tiger, Tiger at NPR. Library hold, placed.

“Male-Centric Plots and the Oscars” at SocImages (and then, “There Are More Sites Of Oppression Than Gender”, Womanist Musing’s response)

Amelia Earhart’s plane found? (Answer: no)

I got into Noisettes this week. It’s only a matter of time before Ralph does. Oh, and I totally know which album he’ll like.

“Talking to Your Daughter About Beauty” at The Good Men Project. Not so much a fathering article as one anyone identifying as male should consider. This is a good 101 article; sadly, there is a dearth of them, and more in-depth stuff is nary to be found. I’d love to hear a male author weigh in on this topic; men are usually so silent at speaking out against beauty performance, instead of being powerful allies.

At NPN, photos of natural birth. How fucking awesome is this? Including the following sentence: “Acknowledging that many parents cannot or choose not to have this kind of birth, next week’s photos will show other birthing experiences.”. NPN, that is rock-tastic.

Society
“Dear Brian McFadden: I was damaged after being taken advantage of”. Brian McFadden’s song “Just as you are (Drunk at the Bar”) – and every pro-date rape song out there – suuuucks. This piece illustrates why, rather well. Particularly good is Nina Funnell’s answer to “Anonymous”. Kind of stunningly good.

“Ensuring the Male Gaze” at PostBourgie. Someone wrote something pretty damn smart on the potrayal of “reverse sexism”.

“Suicide” by Jeff Sabo. This piece and the commentariat is so far an incredibly illustrative discussion of youth depression and suicide (given it is written by a non-youth). The “It Gets Better” campaign irritates me for a few reasons, one of which the tone often seems to be: don’t kill yourself, your life hasn’t even started, just wait to grow up, we won’t help you NOW.

Parenting
“Taming the Tiger Mother” by Naomi Aldort at Life Learning Magazine. Nuanced article about the balance of control vs. neglect.

“So You Want to Unschool Your Child or Teen? Yes, you CAN do it!” by Laurie Couture. What can I say, today’s all about some 101!

Make/Craft
Salted Caramels & Homemade Cadbury Eggs, both from Instructables. My friend Sophiea and I made these caramels Monday and they were delicious!

“Building Cookies is Not SEW Easy!” at Sweet Sugar Belle

“Celebrate Women’s History Month by Picking Up a Needle and Thread” at CRAFT

The Incredible Edible Abacus at The Hokey Pokey Kitchen

“Home”, a French knot masterpiece.

Hilarity
Cat vs. Internet, a comic

“Open-Minded Man Grimly Realizes How Much Life He’s Wasted Listening To Bullshit” at The Onion

Herpetology, close to our hearts:
Herpetology

"Wisdom Teeth" at xkcd

hey yo it’s pink Friday

This morning when I woke up I observed my daughter had found a discarded t-shirt of mine and slipped it on and slept in it all night.

Which I love, more than anything.

OK so, aw hells yes! Another Friday and I am scaling back my linkage, or trying to, still. And what-do-you-know, I’m still on some very similar topics. Well OH WELL, what can I say, I am just very excited about them all!

Parenting
“I don’t love you enough” by Jeff Sabo. This piece is a worthwhile refution of the “tough love” sentiment and just how bad things have gotten if you’re proud of “stalking” your child.

P.S. I emailed Jeff and he told me his blog should be up and for public viewing (earlier there were problems).

On the please-do-not-do-it-this-way parenting bit, here are some “treasures” from Love & Logic (a parenting/teaching philosophy fairly popular in my peer set which demonstrates the phenomenal and deep-level breakdown of trust that many mainstream parenting strategies perpetrate). Here’s their most recent update, on some “tough love” (same ol’ same ol’, although L&L seems to hold itself as something different than typical old-school punishment techniques) regarding shoplifting; then follow this with this delightful screed comparing children to “growling and foaming at the mouth” “rabid dogs”. Fun!

Sandra Dodd: Unschooling & Real Learning, a six and a half minute clip of a Sandra Dodd interview that I like (what she says between 0:50 and 1:01 gives me the shudders… because I have seen and experienced this firsthand). I like the word “unschooling” less and less – not that I have any problem with others using it. Maybe I’ll write more about that soon.

Health
“Iron-deficiency is not something you get just for being a lady” by Dr. Kathryn Clancy. Consider your blog FOLLOWED, Doctor-Woman!

“Lactate Your Ass Off (Or Not)”; JJ Keith drops some realities regarding breastfeeding and “baby weight”. I notice people brag about losing their baby weight (which helps other people feel terrible about themselves for this or that reason). What I know now is, that’s a pretty individualistic thing and people should consider STFU on the whole thing.

Michelle Allison asked her readers what questions they’d have for her regarding food, nutrition, and eating competence: “how to eat in front of other people” was number one (this is quite sobering and sad). The pdf material she provided in response is incredible. Even if one doesn’t think they have any issues with disordered eating, a read-through is highly recommended.

“Real Quick: Actresses who eat things are FASCINATING” by Lesley Kinzel. Ha! Nail, hit on the head. Also, “fatassery” is the best word I’ve heard this week.

Make/Craft
Fringey streamers at Oh Happy Day

Guess what’s gonna be happening in our house this next week. KOREAN COOKERY!

Just Awesomeness

National Geographic‘s Photo of the Day, won’t you?

Minecraft + pharmaceutical humor! (WIN) (& – thanks, Ryan!)
"Wisdom Teeth" at xkcd

Three years ago, Valentine by yours truly (and yes, this still happens to me)

Back to the future by photographer Irina Werning. ZOMG do I love this times one hundred.

Action Figure Slow Motion Punches:

***

Of winter’s lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer’s secret
Deep down within its heart.
– Charles G. Stater

im-a-mother-fucking-creeper

“Pull in your navel! Relax your shoulders! Is that the best you can do? Really?”

I feel sheepish about how little I understand some of my children’s computer activities and passions. Currently Ralph and Nels are discussing the best way to learn Java in order to write class files for modifications to Minecraft. Daily the children install mods and texture packs with fluency; they discovered, installed, and self-taught usage of an inventory editor (I’m told this is no big deal, by Ralph) and get into very excited conversations with one another, or other teens / grownups when the opportunity arises, about these features and their own methodologies and – of course – gameplay and strategy. I think of all the goatee-stroking and chortling grownups are wont to do, thinking they’ll top-down “teach” kids some skill, while anyone who’s been around a freechild for long soon is humbled at their dexterity, perseverance, logistical skills, and flexible intelligences – and, often, how quickly they surpass us when it’s something they’re interested in.

My lack of understanding when it comes to computer programming is largely a function of personal disinterest. It’s a position I can afford to take, since there is another person in the house who serves as a mentor and assistant (don’t ask me why the kids are so hopped-up on computers but have shown only passing interests in sewing – my equivalent passion, I suppose, to Ralph’s mad tech skillz; I suspect, however, the kids are learning to sew and will sew well and at least semi-regularly in the future). I know in the end I don’t need to be an enthusiastic fan to still be a supporter and advocate for the kids; it was in fact me who squawked rather loudly and uncharacteristically, knowing a while back laptops were the best next tool for our family. And, of course, our entire life is structured around supporting them in the exploits they choose whilst not wasting their times with ones they have no use for.

But the truth is my ignorance and slow-wittedness serve to imbue me with unease. Several times today Nels asked if I would look at his newest installation. I kept saying “no”, not because I was so busy but because there’s something in the whole business that panics me. It isn’t that I think I won’t be able to understand the tech aspect – the other day my daughter patiently explained the horse breeding schema she was using within the game mod, including genetic values and a complex series of stables (read through this and tell me if it makes sense) and it was like this dim lightbulb flickered and I kind of got it – it’s that I’m worried upon my grasping more I’ll feel even worse for not previously knowing more about what they love, and why. So I sit here on the fringe dithering about it, I guess.

Gee, when I write it out I sound like a tremendous assy coward.

[ * cough, cough * ]

Tonight my mom literally rescued me from an intense case of ennui by taking the kids and I out to a burger joint (where I had my all-time tired-ass choice, a veggie burger and fries). It was pretty funny (to me) that we ordered all this food, and they didn’t have what my mom wanted (a corndog), so she said, “That’s OK!” and sat with the kids and snuggled and loved up on them, and after the lady rang me up I said, politely and all classy-like, “Are you paying?” and my mom said, “Oh!” and grappled at her wallet, and I laughed because I got one over on her and I always feel appreciative when she helps support us but it’s also just kind of funny, like she’s getting screwed, which is kind of how I feel about this whole having-kids business, although I love them dearly of course, and it just is what it is, including Grandma’s generous support. The bill was a little over twenty dollars and my mom waved at me to give a few dollars tip (which, judging by the near-empty jar, is not something most customers do). Speaking of the tip bit, she’s always like that. Really an incredibly kind-hearted person.

Her car wouldn’t start so we walked home in the light rain. Nels was dismayed about this and wailed loudly for about a block, then soon he and Phoenix were running full-tilt down the wet and scary sidewalks in torrents of musical laughter while my mom and I hoofed it behind them and I texted Ralph to help her out with her new and temporary car-ass scenario.

After we got to my house my mom headed home and the kids and I settled in; while I await the opportunity to purchase carbon chacopy paper I am sewing a decidedly-custom coat for Phoenie. Ralph arrived home late after his class and brought in Jasmine – they have a drag act they’re performing on Friday, my birthday (not for my birthday, just a coincidence). As they got started on the choreography I made coffee and watched for about two minutes before intervening. Look, Jasmine had one hundred percent talent but Ralph’s dancing concepts and skills in moving less like a huge energetic man were just not cutting it. I’d been thinking about how often I don’t claim my talents and you know what? I can dance OK. What followed was an intensely funny, as in peeing-our-pants-laughing, two and a half hour series where I am not lying when I say I turned into a sweaty and intense dance monster and at practice’s end frenetically smoked on the porch while seething the show acts were not open to the general public and even considering some kind of sabotage. Later in the evening, after Jasmine left, Ralph would be washing dishes or something and I’d say, “Look, let’s try it again, don’t move the rest of your body, for a shimmy just punch one shoulder forward then relax, let the other one follow.” He eventually told me I’d worn his body and mind out and that he wasn’t sure if he had it in him anymore to do even one more move.

Hee.

OK – it’s almost 3:00 AM as I type this and I suppose I should go take a look at what that Nels has been making a fuss about.

Deep breath.

im-a-mother-fucking-creeper

fridays are not pants optional

Health

I live in Washington state and it’s totally not like this! There are high fevers all the time! & hardly anyone ever does handclaps in music!!!

“Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences”; a report from the USDA (pdf). According to this report my family qualifies as a “food desert” family, one we join an estimated two percent of all American families in. Ralph and I have made the deliberate choices to have a fulltime at-home parent (which means reduced income); we also spend about two and a half times the American average income percentage on (what we believe to be) nutritious, from-scratch food. This report (amongst other observations) confirms my experience this can be difficult work! (Bonus points for anyone who reads the entire report!)

“Diet for a baby” by Hathor the Cowgoddess. Yes. Baby diets are real and receiving notice and promotion. And yes. I am terrified.

And on that note – “Sunday Surf” at Authentic Parenting. Some great breastfeeding links; mamapoekie also answers some of my concerns regarding the subject.

Social
“‘No Touching’ at High School? A Student Protests!” at FreeRangeKids. This is a truly sad and nauseating measure; I am inspired (but not surprised) students have launched a petition against it.

“Hugs, Twisty: Pornsick dudes give blamer the screamin’ mimis”; A reader confesses confusion and sadness at anti-women pervasiveness in the media; commenters respond with support.

“Rejecting the notion of ‘Black People Twitter'” at What Tami Said. Whites may be unfamiliar with endemic pressure to be “a credit to their race” (a phrase that will likely always remind me of Hattie McDaniel)… and what does that say?

The other day while being served Chinese-American food by a Korean-American proprietress I remembered these two oldie but goodie entries on stuffwhitepeopledo: “Seek Authenticity” and “Carelessly Exoticize and ‘Other’ Food”. The phrase “authentic” when referring to food makes me laugh pretty hard. If you find yourself looking for “authentic” food or tourist locales, you may want to check yourself for Special Snowflake Syndrome. The story of in the second link of the The Urban Vegan’s recipe for or “Blue Mosque Ayran” reminded me of a recipe site I found when searching for an Eithiopian recipe – apparently if you eat anywhere in Eithiopia you are guaranteed to be served by Iman (yes, I know she is Somali-American).

Parenting
“The Words We Use: Living As If School Doesn’t Exist” by Wendy Priesnitz
“The generic term is “homeschooling.” For the first decade or so of the modern homeschooling movement, that word worked fine, since the few thousand of us living that way shared a general understanding that we were experimenting with something that was as far away from the school model as possible. However, as the movement has grown, the number of approaches used by families has grown too. And now, the word “homeschooling” has come to be identified with the parent-driven, school-at-home end of the spectrum. It no longer accurately describes a curiosity-based, learner-driven, self-managing style of education, which uses life and the world as its resources, and that doesn’t look at all like school. […]

“We are now seeing the next step toward a world without school. Web-based information and the devices to access it have become widely available, allowing learners to bypass schools altogether, even if they don’t consider themselves to be “unschoolers” or “homeschoolers” or have never even heard the terms before. Nevertheless, the concepts of learning and schooling are still synonymous for most people. Most have yet to leave behind the belief that one “gets” (or is given) an education through attendance at school, and that “unschooled” therefore means “uneducated.”

Of every post I submit today, this is the one I most strongly identify with – enough to cite a heavy dose of it – and I endorse every letter on the page.

“Minimalist Parenting” at Authentic Parenting. This post is very sweet but it made me think of the many “minimalist-porn” media images saturating the mainstream. I personally believe these “minimalist” lifestyles we read about in blogs and see in magazines are ones bolstered by a lot of privilege. Nothing wrong with that; I wish more eco-, ethical-, and enviro-minded bloggers and authors would own up to this privilege.

“Motherhood: Electric Boogaloo***” from Navalgazing Bajan
This is a great review, a thought-provoking read, and a wonderful guest-blogging opportunity!

“So you wanna ride in Oregon with your children??? Well…you may want to think twice…” at bikecommuters.com
My observances on “heavily debated topic[s]” that involve kids and carers is the debate is predicated on the shoulders of the following: 1. children don’t deserve the same rights as grownups, full stop; 2. a sarcastic and vitriolic response when people object to measures that make life harder for parents/carers – because “you should have thought of this before you had kids”, and 3. a total and endemic avoidance of the inherent operational and oppressive sexism that results anytime you restrict the movements of kids. Being this is a bike issue in America, this particular piece of legislation also holds that cars are mysterious elven wraiths that have nothing to do with the injuries to and death of cyclists (hey, car worshippers and rape apologists could probably appreciate one another!).

“Two Conversations” by Jeff Sabo (now blogging at Daddy 365)

Pop Culture
“Donkey Kong High-Score Belongs To Hank Chien Again!” at The Retroist

Art
“Beefranck’s Emporium – The Be Nice Project”

I think it’s obvious this Ghostbuster Wedding Cake is ART and food – simultaneously.

Make/Craft
“French Fridays, Uhm, Sunday, with Dorie: Gnocchi a la Parisienne” shared by reader and friend Jeanne
I put the source book on my library holds. I can’t wait to make these although the one time I tried Béchamel sauce my results sucked.

“How to supreme an orange” at freshcatering. If you’re buying oranges here in the PNW, navels and bloods are the way to go.

Plush Mollusk Anatomy at WunderKammer

“DIY Sriracha”: Why would you need to? I dunno, maybe to see if there are additional layers of DELICIOUSNESS to plumb!

Tweet of the Week
Linked to this. Cool beans.

Quotable
“Hatred will not cease by hatred, but by love alone. This is the ancient law.” – Buddha (posted by mamapoekie)

Random Awesomeness
“This is groovy”, from The Stranger and as shared by reader and friend Jeanne

Even my curmudgeony ass-heart got pretty soft for this. A very cool viewing of a very personal yet public event.

you are what you love not what loves you back

Today I was published in the January / February issue of Life Learning Magazine, found my work extensively quoted on HoboMama, and named as “one of the most compassionate persons on Twitter”. I am imbued with a sense of gratitude I am reaching the people who find me helpful. Especially in working with the magazine. Editor Priesnitz is one of those real-life mentors I actually get to work with in, you know, real life. What a world, this inter-netz!

Speaking of Priesnitz her blog entry today, “How to Work (Learn) in a Sausage Factory”, is its usually compassionate, insightful, whip-smart example of acute brevity. Contrasted with the condescension of school officials expressing the importance of teaching high school students the value of “rules” (high school! My kids knew what “rules” meant long before kindergarten age and you probably did too!), she has this to say:

“I would imagine that by high school, kids have either learned most of what they’re ever going to learn about following rules or not (and it’s likely a bit different than what the school folks think they are teaching). What these young people really need is to learn how to make their own decisions, including how to decide which rules are still relevant and which not; how to democratically collaborate with others to change rules and policies; and how to challenge disrespectful people trying to enforce arbitrary or insulting rules – without losing their livelihood.”

Um, yes? Yes! The breathtakingly good news is, many young people are finding their way despite this sort of (endemic and oppressive) business. Writer Idzie Desmarais has collected some wonderful interviews of extraordinary young people who are hitting it out of the park. That collection of interviews is even better than Cute Overload for lifting my spirits.

Ergonomically Positioned

My kids’ weird positions they adopt while on the laptops is very amusing to observe. They are as dextrous lying on their backs with the laptop against their chest as they are sitting up. Nels dances and moves around and stretches and hauls cats while he – guess? – plays Minecraft and studies online tutorials.

I don’t normally say goodnight in this journal but – Goodnight!

Delinquent
(Small Stone #7*)

Fanning air out out the bathroom window
It’s too cold to smoke outside.

Small stone project

Unschool Improv: Not-so-great Expectations

friday untidy

Must-Reads of the Week
“Regrets of the Dying”, as written by a hospice nurse. Being with someone who’s dying was a deep privilege for me, and this article – though more about life than death – reminded me of this experience. Read and learn.

Grown Unschooler Cheyenne La Vallee: “Everyone has it in themselves to be passionate and motivated.” at Idzie’s blog. Out of all the stuff I’ve read and seen on the internet this week, this was the most stunning on a personal level. Reading an interview like Cheyenne’s gives me hope for our world.

Culture
“Play Nice” by Simon Rich from The New Yorker
I don’t know what’s more disturbing to me – the fact grownups think chldren are less-than-people so don’t feel, think, or notice the same stuff grownups do; or the fact some grownups recognize the personhood of children on some level but think it is their RIGHT to tromp all over them anyway.

Pop Culture
I got a monster dedicated to me on Monday, at Twisted Vintage. Which led me to searching up a color version and finding a thread full of awesome B-movie monsters, which are one of my favorite things, ever.

Some great points collated at Soc Images: “Gender, Boobs, and Video Game Characters”. It’s pretty funny how readers (well… maybe that’s the wrong noun, as some of them clearly did not read the article) instantly jump in and say, “But-but-but male figures are idealized too! It totally goes both ways!” First of all, hint, no it doesn’t, but nice try. Secondly, the post is meticulously linked to many arguments which delineate physical idealization (which absolutely applies to both genders) vs. sexual availability via tortured postures and under a consumptive gaze. Or to put it articulately: dur! The cited redrawn examples of the poses of male vs. female characters is particularly awesome and leaves me shaking my head but really reading the text and looking at the images and boggling at how so NOT “both ways” it goes. The original work (Wizard’s How to Draw: Heroic Anatomy) is a depressing one to fathom but I fear very representative of comic culture. “It’s the subtleties of this piece that make it sexy.” LULZLULZ

Here’s some adorableness from TheRealNimoy’s twitpic feed (which is great if you at all are a fan of “Star Trek” or Nimoy). The original ST was one of only two television shows I remember in the very brief time in my childhood that I was exposed to television in my home (or, bus, as it were). So these two were like half-assed second fathers, talking to me from a 12″ old-school box balanced on a narrow counter by the fold-up couches.

Professer goes on a rant (this is sort of an unpleasant watch, warning):

People like to toss out the phrase, “acting like a baby” or compare grownups who react in anger, in a social setting, to tantrum-throwing toddlers. However, of course, toddler emotional displays are developmentally appropriate and it is not children who have such thoroughly entrenched and fragile ego structures as so elegantly demonstrated here (note how the professor repeatedly demands the other students rat out the yawner – tattling FTW!). Incidentally I went to college and got a degree through a competitive and difficult program. It was grueling. I feel sorry for these students as to get the piece of paper they need (or believe they need) they have to put up with this guy. And lots of guys like him. And lots other bullshit. And no sleep. And etc.

Make/Craft
Self-Portrait Ski Mask at CRAFT
I’ll probably never be able to see a balaclava without a little titter about the balaclava perv who found me on my Flickrstream. This balaclava however is head and shoulders (uh…) above any I’ve seen before. Very fun, if a bit creepy!

Mexican Chicken Soup by Ina Garten; I believe I posted a picture of this earlier in the week. It is truly and amazingly delicious and perfect for the fuck-fuck-fuck-COLD some of us are experiencing!

Homemade Marshmallows, a recipe from my blog, which may or may not be Martha’s (I truly do not know). Any locals want in on these (or non-locals), shoot me an email at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org. I’m making them up on the 10th.

Random Excellence
From reader R. (you may see him as Kidsync), one of his occasional-but-always-golden comics:

Unschool Improv: Not-so-great Expectations

And from the BBC “My Blackberry is not working!”:

edification / disarray

Today Ralph spent about half his day working on the CD pressing and sleeve construction of “Mighty Holidays”, a compilation of SW WA artists’ – most of them our friends – seasonal music (more or less). He’s creating hard-copy albums for the artists who participated and any others who want to purchase a CD (the download is free, of course).

My husband is, to me, a deeply-energizing presence – yes, even as he struggles with fatigue and low-grade depression he still holds my interest and deep respect more than any other grownup I’ve met. He is not only talented (in many ways), smart, incredibly funny, hard-working, interesting, beautiful, deep, strong, an asset to his workplace, relentlessly ethical in almost everything he does, and deeply invested in family life – he also routinely is considering those in his life and how to help them or build them up, occasionally to the point of his own exhaustion. This particular album was a labor of love in part because he wanted to showcase his friends’ work and in part because he wanted to then gift this work to other friends. He spent many hours emailing, recording, meeting, and assembling (as a final touch our friend Ira donated the mastering – a big help). And now he’s offering the finished product for free because he’s a Creative Commons junkie. And I adore him for all that and more.

Case in point: my husband performed today’s work with the assistance of C., a teenager and friend to our family who has been suffering illness and migraine; as a result of this his mother was being hassled by the school district for truancy under the Becca Bill (um… I’m not going to go into my thoughts on this, just pretend I ranted for a few pages instead mmkay?). During this arduous drama C.’s mother decided to homeschool C. and, since she was had been turned over to court at this point, was required to submit a homeschool “cirriculum” to the judge (major *eyeroll* here). To help the family, Ralph offered the young man an internship in the website management, promotion, and production of local music. So today we got to have C. as a guest in our house while the two worked together and Nels and C. talked about Minecraft (of course!). I loved listening to Ralph; he’s a natural leader and teacher and children of all ages (infants through teens) love him. I think Ralph and I have figured out by now that having children in one’s life (your own or other people’s) is an opportunity to empower, support, learn, and exchange, and we grownups get as much as we give, if not more.

As for me, I spent most my day yesterday and about three hours today helping my girlfriend J. in party preparations for her most ambitious party yet (among other things I fried LOTS of meatballs!). I enjoy cooking and I enjoy helping, so it was a pleasure to do – and unless I really miss my guess, the party came off beauitfully.

Long story short I am now behind on Christmas sewing – but I have hopes I can pull through. And Oh Yes, believe me I have photos that I cannot wait to upload and share, when it will no longer run the risk of spoiling surprises! Given how hard Ralph and I have been working our house is in an uncharacteristic shambles and I’m a bit frazzled. The weekend flew by and I felt I barely had a resting moment at home –

But it was a good, productive, hard working, and joyous one at that.