Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight

What have I been up to lately? Running again, a bit slower even this time so as not to wear myself out. I’m almost completely finished with a little woolen bunting that I’m quite pleased with, made for a client a bit south who has a new little relative on the way. Included in the package are a couple knit items I am dying over, they are so cute. And were so soft and lovely to work and cheered me immensely to construct. Pictures soon.

For Ralph and my ten year wedding anniversary, my mother bought us memberships to the YMCA so we are now restored to regular visitations of that facility. Today due to one thing and another it behooved me to set a swim date up for the kids with our friend H. as I wasn’t going to be able to take the time and also honor other commitments. A little after noon I left my children in the McDonalds parking lot with $10 and a duffel bag and I felt a little skeeved by a guy I saw loitering there, just one of those weird feelings. I was frankly relieved a half mile down the road when I discovered I’d kept their YMCA key fob used for entry (although all the employees know them and would have let them in) and I circled back, glad for a reason to calm my likely irrational fears. Sure enough the kids had ordered and set themselves up and Nels was putting a napkin on his lap and beaming at his sister over the strawberry milkshake they’d set themselves up to share, whipped cream and cherry and all! And the lurking guy ducked out the door with a printed paper bag full of food, probably off to do entirely un-skeevy activities like eat lunch.

Forty minutes after I left the kids they’d finished, cleaned up, travelled to and planted themselves in the YMCA waiting area to meet H. They kept track of their key fob and my change and their clothes and had a great time. About an hour after the three hit the water I arrived from my meeting to pick the kids and H. up and take them out to the taquería for lunch, finishing up some I-cord on size three needles while I waited for everyone to dress.

What else, well amongst other things I’ve been doing some volunteer work in a treatment center which is wonderfully healing and amazing every day and I am so grateful to have this work suggested to me. I finished (hopefully) some graphic design that will (hopefully) put a little money in my pocket as we are needing some furniture. I keep not turning in the fee and application to the Fiber Arts Festival here in Elma next month, and I’d better get on that.

But, tonight I sat in the bleachers and watched my daughter’s first-ever gymnastic session. She was surprisingly talented and took direction well and with interest. Observing her teacher’s graceful cartwheel, my daughter’s face lights up: “Nice!” she compliments the young woman. Watching Phoenix perform her second iteration of a backwards somersault she pushes up and out with her arms as instructed and I feel my body oooomph with sympathetic effort. I never did, or at least haven’t yet, learned how to do any of that stuff besides a simple bridge and forward somersault.

Only two boys were enrolled out of the fifteen or so children and every single girl there (ages three to ten) with the exception of my daughter had long long hair and I’m pretty sure 90% of their parents wouldn’t have permitted their girls cut it all the way off as I “let” my girl do. Phoenix was completely nonplussed when I observed aloud she was the only girl there with short hair. She doesn’t much compare herself to other girls except to observe and consider for inspiration. I have the suspicion she won’t be as prone to peer and social pressures as most girls end up being, and for this inkling, if I’m right, I’m quite grateful. Case in point, she’s determined to grow her hair out long and curl it and she is entirely unpreturbed this will take some time, and she is totally happy with the super-short hair she has now. This personal knowledge, satisfaction, acceptance, common sense and long or broad view of things puts her in a class of about, oh, the top first percentile of almost every woman I’ve known with hair vanity issues, which is almost every woman I’ve known.

I could stand for the good weather to continue, although I don’t mind the slight dip in temperature. Tonight on the way home from a book study I stopped in our most favored restaurant for takeout. I leaned against the counter with my arms crossed enduring the stares of locals as I waited for our to-go Italian fare; while lingering I spied a huge jug of the wine I was raised on and I thought of the gallons and gallons and millions of gallons. Ah, Uncle Carlo, sometimes I miss you so, but alas we have parted company forever.

I was just remembering one of the worst summers of my life, if not the worst, which was actually one of the best in some ways before it tumbled into shit. As the days careened toward doom I hosted house parties most nights of the work week or weekend and we enacted many such scenes as evidenced in this song video, including young men in their underwear while we women stayed clothed. In this way one ritual was at least a small, dramatic, fierce triumphant bit of nihilistic joy I’m sure not to forget it.

Question: How do you implement non-punitive parenting [and whole-life unschooling]?

Remember so long ago when I wrote a primer on non-punitive parenting? That got a fair number of shares on Facebook as well as several emails, tweets, and comments that asked for more information or follow up.

But, I had a hard time thinking of how to write another piece for many reasons. One, I wasn’t sure if I should write to parents-to-be (who may be more open-minded to such ideas), or write to those who’d already had bad experiences or results from mainstream parenting strategies (in other words, who could use some help, but already had specific problems developed between themselves, their children, and other adults – the latter class who may or may not be supportive of non-coercive/manipulative/authoritative strategies). And really, that last little bit is crucial. Assisting families out of harmful patterns and (seemingly) complicated impasses is often best done with specifics discussed, and at length. To that end, I am always willing to respond to emails and assist anyone as best I can (kelly AT hogaboom DOT org). I do this writing and work for no other reason than I am passionate and I want to help families live in harmony, freedom, and with intelligence and respect.

Fortunately, a reader and Twitter friend gave me a few direct questions about her specific situation and I was able to write her. After the first bit of our exchange I asked her permission to publish her query and my response, as I thought it might help other readers (please remember anything written to me is considered fair game for publishing, although if you have any specific objections let me know as I am often wont to honor them). So here’s a scenario-specific followup.

***

This is Sandi, @5and1 from twitter. I’ve seen you link some really interesting things about non-punitive parenting and unschooling and I’d really like to learn more. I’ve looked a bit on your website but if you have other resources I’d love to read them.

A bit about my family. I have four year old boy/girl twins. We co-slept for a year and a half, and I nursed them for almost two and a half years so I’m used to being labelled as a hippie by my friends and family. My kids are whip smart but have room to grow socially. They have been in preschool for a year and are really excited to start back again.

We don’t spank but we do do time outs. I am realizing that they are not effective so I’m trying what I call time ins. The kids have to sit with me and once they are able to we talk about what has happened. But. Even that is not always effective. I am way more shouty than I care to admit. I never thought I’d be this kind of parent. I know that it could be a lot worse but I see that there is loads of room for me to improve.

So what has worked for you and your family in terms of non-punitive parenting? How have you implemented unschooling?

Thank you for the generous offer to give me more information!

Hello Sandi!

I think it is wonderful that you’re seeing the limitations of punitive, authoritarian, manipulative, and/or coercive parenting. Many if not most adults are quite sure these strategies are necessary, and very fearful that if they were to abandon them for something else the results for parent and child would be horrific or at the very least, highly uncomfortable and inconvenient.

My kids are “well-behaved” (whatever that means! – I only report what many grownups tell me, here), literate and life-skills proficient, social, intelligent, strong, loving, empathetic, self-directed (now there’s a value you won’t see most school environs fostering or supporting in a meaningful way) and this is all despite the many many times I’ve fallen well-short of my ideals and been quite ungentle – and resorted to punitive or authoritarian strategies. I too was for a long time able to report “I never thought I’d be this kind of parent”. This was made confusing by many factors, especially considering that before I had children, I’d never been a violent person or rather, had not considered myself one. It was a very discouraging revelation to find out I was, or had that potential as a parent. But I have resolutely used my experiences to delve deeper into the roots of my story and my inner states of spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as developing and writing with a critical eye towards the narratives society purports – which are often quite harmful. The results are pretty good, in that we’re a happy family as far as I can tell, my kids are thriving without school or authoritarian/authoritative edifices, they tell me I am a wonderful parent, and I am committed to further improvement, god willing.

So as for being a “shouty” parent, or behaving in ways you never thought you would – welcome to the human race. I have not met a parent/carer who would claim perfection in the ideals they wish to live out, although I have met some who seem not to examine their own behaviors very closely, nor evidence corrections. I never want to sit back and justify my bad behavior or poor strategies, and leave it at that. I want to, and do, pick myself up, apologize, strive to do better through mentors and/or spiritual practice or whatever works. Sometimes I think I will never get it “right” but – that’s okay. The days I think, in so many words, I’m doing so awesome at this gig!, and compare myself favorably to other parents (ugh, yes, I do this sometimes), I’m usually overlooking something and I am definitely suffering from major cases of Ego and Denial! Usually these spates are followed by me having a massive and inappropriate blowup at my children.

So, you asked about my family. My kids are 7 and 9. Raising them as we have, they are very adept at handling themselves in many situations I notice schooled kids, parented in mainstream and authoritarian fashion, tend to be less competent with. They also seem very happy, well-rested, well-fed, and physically and “academically” active (the latter: they read, study, teach themselves skills and world science, do math etc. on their own). The factors I’d say contribue to our successes (such as they are):

1. a knowledge and acceptance that to live the way we wanted required financial sacrifice (specifically, of a fulltime income),

2. a partner who is in as complete agreement with these principles as is possible or likely in another human being, and who is as committed as I to our role as parents, and our passion to sort out problems when they arise (I don’t think a partner is necessary to so-called whole-life unschool, but if you have one that is in disagreement with these parenting values and practices, this can add some complexity),

3. freedom and autonomy given the children as much as they request (example: today the kids know they can choose school if they ever want to try it out),

4. complete inclusion of the children as to how the family runs itself and why, and a regarded voice in all decisions.

When it comes to freedom and autonomy for children as well as their vote, my main regard is safety as is age- and child-appropriate on a case by case basis. It seems to me safety concerns take a more active role when a child is very little. But in raising kids the ways we have, it is incredible to me how adroitly they master concepts of personal safety and how quickly they are to take suggestions, directions, and/or advice from a parent who they’ve come to trust via their own experience, and trust at a deep level.

By the way, I have realized that “time ins” can be tricky too, because we may still be forcing our will on our children. If children respond well to “time ins”, use them! But I suppose if pressed to comment I would say it’s better if kids are immediately removed from hurting one another, or humanely separated if need be, in a non-punitive nor angry fashion. Then each child should be loved up or given attention to in whatever way seems best, making sure your OWN needs are as reasonably met as possible before doing so (learning to meet one’s own needs, with regularity, is a challenge but well-worth the effort). Later in the day when things are calm a brief, age- and child-appropriate approach to conversation may be introduced, but watch and see how interested, if at all, the kids are in this. The separation, whereby you keep the kids safe, and respond with calmness as to whatever need they may have (food, attention, a quiet space, a LOUD ROWDY space, whatever it is), and later discussion with your partner or mentor as to the children’s possible deeper needs, is probably the most effective treatment in the long term. Over time kids will trust you to keep them safe while not trying to direct their feelings, actions, thoughts, etc. This in turn gives them room to develop better strategies and participate in family life in a more self-authored and likely more helpful way.

Obviously what I describe above, especially for young children, is time-intensive and means being able at any moment to put your work on the back burner. I just want to acknowledge this, because few adults seem to give primary carers respect for this aspect of a difficult job! This time-intensive nature was a fact of parenting my young children, but I will add that so soon the kids grow and need so much less physical constancy – and also that I miss the intimacy of my infant and toddler years, and in no way regret the efforts I put in during those times.

And on that note – your children are young enough they likely can’t be left unsupervised for much time at all. You also mentioned on Twitter that you work out of the home. I don’t know if you have a partner and if he/she is interested in the tenets of whole life unschooling, or life learning, or whatever label we’re calling it. All of these listed factors matter. However, I am convinced no matter what our particular circumstances are we can always move away from harmful practices towards ones that better reflect our ideals. So please do write more, with specifics, if you want to, and I will respond as best I can, keeping in mind that for some situations I do not have first-hand experience (for instance: raising twins).

If I had young children and was unable to have a partner at home, I’d probably seek out care for the kids in a less academically-inclined school – like a Waldorf or an outdoor preschool (however, in my opinion it is likely better to have the kids with kind and loving adults than prescribe to a specific type of educational model, so the type of preschool etc. is less important than the leaders/directors/teachers). Alternatively, I might seek out someone such as myself, a person at-home with other kids, who could care for yours in a way you and the children would be happy with. Finally, I might also consider committing to a life where one partner can be at home, if he/she can do so with a willing spirit (and I can speak to how exciting it is!). I might also consider living on student loans or some other form of assistance for those early years. These are all deeply personal decisions, especially that of working in-home without pay nor status, and I will say there is a phenomenal lack of support for kid-care work should you or partner choose it, or should you seek to have it personalized. Just things to be aware of, because my experience is that in having my children out of mainstream school/daycare structures I am often asked, basically, to explain or justify myself! *grin*

If you have any questions or desire clarifications please let me know. Realize also I am only a person raising my children and (to a lesser extent) other children around me. I have no professional qualifications that make me an expert on much of anything. I am passionate about these ideals and happy with the way we live – but I am human and fallible and have many lessons to learn. I write and share like I do because of how many adults have requested it, and how many have told me it has helped them.

Thank you for your query!

Sophie! circa April 2003

I’m so used to doing everything with you / planning everything for two

Sophie! circa April 2003

When my daughter was about ten months old her interest in breastfeeding suddenly waned. Of course by then I’d heard of babies so-called “self-weaning” at even earlier ages, but at the time I had misgivings about the whole business. I wasn’t sure if she was ready to quit nursing altogether or if she was just taking a break, and I was damn sure I wasn’t quite ready – and most distressing, I didn’t know my role in all of it. It was a painful experience and, as so many mothering quandaries often are, one that felt – in final estimation – mine to sort out, with the help of my daughter, who was of course very, very little (months younger than the above photo). See I suppose I couldn’t or rather never have relied on the comfort of mainstream “experts” directing my life. While I’m thankful for this character trait, to the extent we resist conformity we may pay the occasional price of Arbitrary Self-Inflicted Agony.

So I sought the advice of some women I trusted, women and medical professionals who knew their shit regarding nursing. Looking back I now know I was privileged to have started my family in such a pro-breastfeeding culture. I remember one lactation consultant, at least, telling me that in light of the fact my daughter was first walking she might be a little distracted. If I wished I could use this opportunity to encourage breastfeeding – you know, just offer a sip now and then – and that my daughter might resume her interest. And I did – and she did, too.

For about a week I felt a panic that perhaps I’d “forced” my will on my infant daughter (although of course I never “forced” a feeding), and perhaps more alarmingly, that I’d lost the opportunity to help her be “independent” (ha!). You know, that I’d done something hippie-Earth-Mama-selfish and facile and my child would suffer for it. Et cetera.

Of course, as it turned out my daughter nursed for over two years more, and this was an incredible experience – I can’t even recount all the many wonderful memories I have and the closenesses we lived (and still, she seems so little to me at weaning, when I look back!). To this day I feel a stunning and overwhelming sense of gratitude for the women who advised me as they did. And I suppose I should be grateful for my own instincts which led me to the counsel that worked best for me.

But today I once again hover in a position of minor parental agony; the children seem in so many ways not to need me, and yet I cannot seem to let go of most a decade of intensive care. I sense they are more independent than ever and that we are providing everything they need as best we can (and conferences with the children themselves support this). I know they can tell me what they need (Nels: “Snuggles and love and food and my Little Mama”) – and yet I am prone to guilt if I spend a few hours without them in mind. At least, on this last count, pervasive Guilt is old behavior and I hardly expect to be rid of it like magic just because I’m now sober.

All demonstrable evidence suggests the children are thriving; yet I keep searching for fault within myself or something I should, or shouldn’t be doing. This is prideful and this is arrogance; when I do this I am willfully blind to the beauty of their daily lives. They are surrounded by people that love them, and they live in a home and town they adore with people and animals they love deeply. They spend most of their time outside and are courageous in their exploits and fierce in their friendships. Their summer is full of everything I loved from (or wished I had during) my own childhood: sleepovers and waterparks and ice cream and books and tree forts and visits to neighborhood shops where everyone knows them, bike rides and gardening with their grandma. They continue to show moral and emotional traits that bring joy to others. They are loving and directly hug and greet all manners of friends, young and old.

They are empathetic and considerate. They are kind. Twice now in the last week I’ve had sleep problems (meaning: onset insomnia, staying up watching shite escapist television on Netflix). Both these mornings the kids rose, dressed themselves, ate, washed their hands and faces, brushed their teeth, cleaned up after themselves breakfast-wise, fed the cats, and checked on the chickens, bringing in eggs. They called their father – but in the next room, whispering so as not to wake me (Ralph told me later).

It’s absolutely amazing at times their consideration and maturity; and yet, to be honest, it makes me want to cry.

In short I am experiencing an insecurity around my Motherhood that I feel neither my children nor my husband can fully understand (although some of my close friends and family seem to relate). It’s as if I’m asking myself if I’m brave enough to self-care a bit more. Or maybe I’m afraid if I were to do so, something Horrid would happen or I’d suddenly miss a need of theirs and I’d screw it all up. Somehow.

It’s funny because as a child the word my family used against me that hurt the most was “selfish”. Somehow I grew into a different kind of Selfish than what I suppose they meant; today my sins seem to be that of self-obsession (Perfectionism) coupled with a lack of self-respect.

I don’t want to model that for my children – anymore.

Mr. Shit-n-Spray

“Adults do liquor, even toke. *EVERYBODY* does it!”

“Everybody who’s anybody!”*

Friday linkage!

Nigella Love-in-a-Mist by local Mickey Thurman. Love-in-a-mist was one of the first flowers Nels grew, years and years ago.

The Kindness of Strangers by Kate. Nothing earth-shattering. Except – actually, it kind of is. What a lovely piece.

Feminazi Propaganda: “Women’s Work” via Political Remix Video. Trigger warning for intense violence (often eroticized) rendered graphically against women. REGULARLY SEEN ON TELEVISION I might add (although this concerns the show “Supernatural”) – and here’s a longer analysis should you want one. Yeah. So, this kind of stuff is why I’ve had to stop watching shows I otherwise would have enjoyed or at least found consumable (“Law & Order”, thanks for keeping me from my daily D’Onofrio! You fucks.).

In wonderful news: Michelle Alison offers a great course. I want to take this pretty badly. I don’t have the scratch, because of recent purchases. I do promote Alison because she and her mentor Satter seem to know their shit, in a land of lots of weight and diet “experts” who sure don’t.

Reviewing highlights of an actresses celebrated career – and you know, this is uncannily like my experiences with alcohol and drug, back in school:
 

 
That actress playing the “young high school counselor” – where do I know her from? It’s something kind of tampon-ad ish.

“The World Is Full Of Bullies… So Conform! And Quick!” by Laura at Authentic Parenting:

“Children who have not been forced into acting or looking like something they’re not, who have had the freedom to explore their bodies and their minds, within the safety and unconditionality of their homes are not insecure. They may make different choices than the average kid, they may look differently, but they do it because they are true to themselves, not to fit in or fit out, so they are generally able to take the consequences. Yes, they may get negative reactions. But if they are not even safe to express themselves and find themselves at home, where do you suggest they will? In therapy when they are in their thirties?”

On-point.

Consumerism: I need to buy this… and tix to see this. Ralph wants me to buy him this (but seriously? I bought him some big fancy pedal this time last year. I think I’ll take a year off). Apparently Ralph is going to give me our tax return as my own “fun money”, I’ll try not to spend it all on makeup and my usual diversions.

Make: How-To: Plush Alien Facehugger Pillow Set via Instructables for a little girl. Perfect. PERFECT.

Make: hand stitched card at New House Project. I’ve enjoyed using a sewing machine to punch holes or stitch paper for quite some time. It dulls the needle, sure – but what fun!

OK: it’s time to separate us all into two discrete columns. Those who find this picture, as I do, completely disgusting. And those who through some sickness that is probably not their fault, find it mouth-watering. GO!

Tweet of the week. Hey, I can blow my own horn like no-one’s business.

And finally – enjoy our beaches!

Mr. Shit-n-Spray

*Note: please do not take my post tagline as any kind of prescriptive advice on how one should celebrate their weekend. But in the meantime: whoo-hooo it’s Friday!!!

eh, i think i want a do-over. but i don’t get one.

I got to follow a three year old around today while his mama was occupied at a child-unfriendly event.* It was a wonderful and terrible thing. Wonderful because I had my head straight as to what a three year old needs (to run around and be followed, to have questions answered and to have my calm attention. To be taken to a nearby pet store. Quite simple, really!) and it was a joy to enjoy this little one and to help his mother who has no family and rarely gets help at these events that I’ve seen.

Terrible? Why so? Well, I gritted my teeth thinking of how poorly I’d done for my own kids when they were little, and how poorly I’ve done since, I still do, because I can’t shake my residual training and my bad habits. But back then, yeah, I just couldn’t figure out, back when I had babies, that it was my environs that were so often fucked up, making little practical room for what children need and extending very little assistance to carers, usually mothers, who were responsible for all this (Arwyn’s written about this a lot better than I can). I just ate myself up trying to make myself and my kids not inconvenient, I gulped conversation with other moms at the park when the kids would play, I was dying for time out of pressure, which is why I lose the compassion and love people often tell me I have when I hear some weekend dad or non-carer or non-parent complain about moms who take kids to the park and don’t play with them or text or whatever. Like, seriously, playing with kids is awesome, but prescribing it when seeing a beleaguered mama population at one of the few places kids are allowed to run around and make noise? Please directly Go Fuck Yourself, and I mean it in the kindest of ways, I’ll wait for you to get back.

Yeah, my husband used to get pissed we’d go to a film with the young kids and he’d end up taking the squirrelly one out to the lobby and miss some of the movie. He still gets this way sometimes. I understand he’s pissed but I mean, shit that’s what I had to deal with my nine-hour shift out in public day after day after day after day (go into the coffee shop and a person with a laptop sitting at a fourtop who gives us an icy glare and others ignore us, outside at a picnic table and a kiddo runs across the grass and not one person laughs and gently herds young child to safety, but people look up angrily for – ME), and that’s been so much, so many years of my life, my child(ren) unwelcome unless he/she/they were silent and near immobile (I hear it’s not like that everywhere) when he/she/they wanted to ask questions, to talk, to run, to climb, the very things they really should be doing and not just when they’re tiny but I think for many many early years.

And yeah there are situations and people and oases that get that kids are part of the population, and those are lovely. But seriously I mean this event today, apparently people expected a three year old to sit quietly, and no there was nothing at all for the kid to do, no room to play in, nothing (a seven hour event). I am not upset about the event or even thinking about it much, truly, I’m upset about my stupidity when I was a younger mom, about how hard I worked to be “good” and to have “good” kids, and about all the twisted stuff this set up within me and how much I sacrificed and how much less I enjoyed my kids, the most lovely people on this earth to me.

It just fucking kills me.

I dunno, sometimes I think since we all spent a lot of time being kids, maybe some of us should consider regularly putting some time in a grimy parking lot keeping a three year old safe (and actually having a good time with him because he was lovely) so Mama can have thirty minutes to breathe, have a cup of coffee, or take care of her other responsibilities. When we see a child run across the street we can slow down and laugh and wave and say, “Careful!” and smile, or take a few minutes and talk to a child, because who are we to be in such a Big Goddamned Important Hurry we can’t acknowledge some of the most vulnerable and impressionable and inexperienced and (usually) disempowered populations of the human race, the very creatures who decide the fate of the planet and who might stand to grow up free and lovely and well-taught and loved-up instead of – pained and anxious and servile and scared and angry?

Eh, besides other mamas in my life – who were also themselves working so hard – very few people helped me in these generous and level ways when the kids were little, or maybe many did but the intolerance and ignorance of others was way more, or at least loudest in my ears. I can’t change that I internalized all this as being Not Good Enough and I Need To Work Myself Harder and Sit Still and Be QUIET! or we’re GOING  HOME! But I can, as long as I’m able, remember to look out for and be loving to little ones and their carers. I guess if there’s one thing I’ve gained it’s that. It’s that I knew to offer this woman time. It wasn’t much but I didn’t see anyone else volunteering.

And the little guy S. was more excited about a fiddler crab at that pet shop than anything. And you know what, now that I spent a minute checking it out, I discovered a fiddler crab is pretty fucking awesome.

N64 = koala

’cause everyplace I look / I picture him & you

It’s Friday, babies! I’ve got such good links this time around, too!

Bridesmaids: Can Judd Apatow make a funny movie that passes the Bechdel Test? from What Tami Said. I saw Bridesmaids on Tuesday night with Jasmine and I was entertained and thoroughly impressed with this film, which is possibly the most pro-feminist piece of cinema i’ve seen in a very long time. The film is moving, engaging, and many, many times it’s pee-one’s-pants funny. Tami’s review is spot-on, although I’d recommend viewing the film first before reading about it.

Partnership doesn’t mean letting kids do whatever the hell they want! by Lyla Wolf. This post reminds me; I have had many requests to follow up on my non-punitive parenting primer, and I want to do this soon. In the meantime, Wolf’s post is solid.

Beauty May Be In Eye of Beholder But Eyes See What Culture Socializes by Mikhail Lyubansky, in response to a horrid article that was posted, then pulled, from Psychology Today (here’s a bit of coverage on that). (Oh, and if you want to read a condescending and fallacious defense, as well as the typical smoke-and-mirrors miscast of “censorship” , you can sink your teeth into this response). Wednesday one of my (very respected) tweeps Ludovic Blain posed the question: why care about Psychology Today? – and was engaged by Dr. Lyubansky (to good effect, I think). Moral of the story: TWITTER IS FUCKING AWESOME; junk science, race-baiting, and CYA splainin’ decidedly less so.

Planking Becomes The Next Big Asinine Thing To Photograph And Post Online, from JiveTurkey. But surely even as I post there’s sumpin’ new going on.

Anita Sarkeesian posts her latest: “Tropes vs. Women: #4 The Evil Demon Seductress”. As usual, Ms. Sarkeesian does not disappoint. “Evil Demon Seductress” in all forms has always given me a huge pain in the ass; glad to see it taken down point-by-point.

I know you’ve been waiting for results from the 2011 World Beard & Mustache Championships. Here they are.

Mike Rowe addresses Congress:

I haven’t seen all of “Dirty Jobs” but the more I watch the more I love the show – for many reasons – and our whole family is helplessly enamored with Mr. Rowe (of course). In his address here he mentions a period in his life where he gradually became “less interested in how things got made and more interested in how things got bought”. I think a lot of Americans are in that boat. I commend Mr. Rowe for his work.

Women in lower income brackets fearing aging prejudice seek cheap Botox, risk health. h/t friend and reader Jeanne for sharing this through Google Reader. If reading this makes even ONE person stop shaming and mocking women for so-called “vanity” behaviors (including: makeup, cosmetic surgery, body shapers/push-up bras, etc) I will be a happy li’l camper.

My Tweep Jim posted this birthday vid, which made me get teary, and smile, and almost puke, because of TEH AWESOMEZ. Love it.

Make: Taco Truck Chorizo Sopito. Oh you KNOW it’s gonna be good.

Also: basic chicken salad. After a near-lifetime eschewing mayonnaise I finally occasionally use it; gonna give this one a try.

And… I don’t own cutesy magnets, but it’s never too late to start.

Listen to: Damien Jurado: Tiny Desk Concert – or, perhaps, a Queen retrospective.

Geekigami: these ppl fold paper good

Sad news: Grease actor Jeff Conaway in coma after suspected overdose of painkillers. I didn’t much like Grease, but I did like Kenickie and Rizzo. Addiction sucks. It’s painful stuff.

An illuminating passage by Kurt Vonnegut, as showcased on Class Rage Speaks

Tweet of the week, from my seven year old son (yes, we did talk to him about his word choice).

Separated at birth?

N64 = koala

& finally: a taste of some of the goodness from my pending breakup mixtape – and:

a lovely cover of Bon Iver, courtesy of Clara C:

Take me out, baby / I want to go sail tonight :: Friday links!

Thursday I had one of the most energetic and lovely days, but now it’s 2 AM on Friday morning and I’d better get my links up!

1. Spousal unit Ralph updated his design website, favoring pink. I think it looks great!

2. From ricedaddies: “Who Loves More: Parents or Children?” This piece includes an analysis of a childhood book – a pretty funny analysis I think- and then delves into even more thoughtful territory.

3. Mexican Pointy Boots. This was seriously nine minutes of my life well-spent:

 

4. Katie Makkai – “Pretty”:

(Also, do read Tami Harris’ thoughts and the comments, at “Not a pretty girl.”)

5. From friend and reader Kat: “What Happened When I Chased Down the A**hole Who Slapped My Butt on the Street” at alternet. Good for her.

6. “A Black Woman’s Plea for ‘Justified’ – The Red State Western You Should be Watching” at Racialicious. This is super-smart commentary on American television and the typical (and atypical) treatment of race relations (specifically black/white race relations).

7. “AED Guidelines for Childhood Obestity Prevention Programs” from the Academy of Eating Disorders. This? is stunning. D’you think our First Lady will take note? I sure hope parents, teachers, and other adults do.

8. So, I’m not going to link to the deplorable article by LZ Granderson entitled, “Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps”. I don’t want to contribute to even one blog hit, although by all means go read if you can stomach it. Ostensibly about the sexual exploitation and objectification of young girls and young women, it was also a hot mess of oppositional sexism, patriarchal attitudes, adultism, slut-shaming, sexism, victim-blaming, and misogyny (so: nothing we haven’t heard before). Yes, this was aired on CNN. A few good things came out of the piece: namely, on-point rebuttals. Here are four:

From PostBourgie: “Sexism, What About the Children?! Edition”. At Shakesville: “This is so the worst thing you’re going to read all day.” From Pigtail Pals: “Did You Just Call My Daughter A Prostitute?” And from Amy Bradstreet, a friend and reader and supporter and awesome-lady: “Shame And Blame Where It Belongs Regarding The Objectification Of Children”.

As always for complex or socially-heated subjects showcased by rather long pieces, feel free to add your comments to source articles and let me know – I will happily link back through here.

9. A Derrick Jensen quote, which I take as a refutation of “well, that’s human nature” / “it’s natural for people to act that way” of those I consider pro-status quo apologists, as posted by Idzie.

10. “Being acceptable in the eyes of society”: people would do well to read what it’s like to be a mother and/or mother-identified.

11. Make: sent to me by my brother’s lady J.: Herb Stenciled Easter Eggs. Beautiful!

11. “green snake”, a photo anthology (a tiny bit NSFW). I keep wanting to try absinthe, but I’ve thus far been too lazy to try to get ahold of some.

12. And finally: the best ballon dance I’ve seen, and that’s saying something:

Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend: Friday links

Today’s Friday links are shorter than usual; I took a media break halfway through the week (this meant, among other things, I would click over to my Google Reader, scan briefly for any of my friends’ blogposts to read – then close my eyes and click “Mark as Read” ON EVERYTHING ELSE while crying). OF COURSE I still got some great stuff for you all – never fear.

At What Tami Said: “Sexism and Saturday Night Live”. “When faced with hard discussions about sexism or racism or homophobia, etc., people are often quick to a) minimize the past and b) celebrate just how “post-ism” we are today.” Yup, you said it.

School: I mentioned this in last weeks’ broadcast: “The Worst Bullying PSA Ever”, a critique by author Rosalind Wiseman. The critique is great, of course, but what I didn’t mention last week and what I wanted to mention this week is an alternative work she cited: “School Bullying: What You Haven’t Heard”.

Regarding school – and was pretty upsetting (but not surprising) to read – from Voice In Recovery “BMI, Education & Extra Credit for Weight Loss”. The phrase “bad idea” cannot be overstated.

On the lighter side: h/t to friend and reader Jasmine, for a Monty Python classic, “Argument Clinic”…

as well as another classic: “Phonetic Punctuation”, by Victor Borge:

But here’s the video I’m hoping many people will watch. Regarding film, television, and media and the critique, analysis, and projects associated: “Geena Davis on the Effects of Gender Inequality on TV and in Movies” at Rice Daddies, featuring a 15 minutes of FANTASTIC as follows:

In the food department: on FB my lady Flo posted a recipe for Bacon Egg Pancake Cups. Let me tell you, I hate breakfast foods Times One Hundred, but the rest of the family loves them. Oh also: I will rock these the very first time I make ’em.

Ending on a transcendent note: friend and reader Medrie wrote “Fear Not”. I’ve mentioned her work many times; she is the blog I read that always has my heart in my throat. I can imagine many mothers and erstwhile children could relate to this piece.

going over to the enemy of my imagination

As I’ve had occasion to write before, I struggle with depression and anxiety. Since we’ve been steadily moving into a period of more and more light in the day, and in the home, the depression has lifted considerably – is seeming to lift, anyway – and my physical energy and capacity for joy have increased accordingly. I am very grateful for this, an improved (and temporary, as all things are) state of affairs.

But anxiety is still a very troubling presence in my life. This morning after only a handful of hours of sleep I’m awake again. For a few minutes my mind jumps in a scattered fashion and frets on scenarios unresolved, situations I certainly can’t do anything about at six AM, and for that matter nor are my energies productive. In this case, it’s about the food enterprise with my boy. We had a wonderful time cooking yesterday (palak paneer, vegetarian korma with carrots, potatoes, and cauliflower, basmati rice in ghee with cardamom and cinnamon, double-coconut muffins), and now that we’ve satisfied a handful of people and the dishes are done my mind is free to punish me. I begin to worry. I worry I’m wondering how I’m going to handle the takeout dishes aspect. I worry, since Nels is our CFO, people will take advantage of his inexperience and we’ll be giving out food at a net loss after my hours of work. I worry some ass will shut down our wee little thing, even before Nels tires of it, accusing us of running a business. I worry if I cook for the downtown lot, that I’m being a foolish asshole to spend our grocery money on strangers, even though four out of four Hogabooms want to do so. (Yesterday I worried about the food while I cooked it, but one thing that sticks with me now is our competence in this endeavor: last evening I was left smiling as I tasted each hard-earned dish before packing it up – really, we did well!).

I worry about Nels and I: I’m worried that in my impatience with my son yesterday while busy in the kitchen I took his beautiful idea and made it into something shitty. I worry in general about my relationship with Nels, because lately I’ve been letting him down and I’ve found myself not only resenting him, but being unable to give up the resentment; of having some hardness set in.  Then I berate myself because I think This is supposed to be fun, and the sad truth is it is my anxiety that stands to corrupt a lovely experience. Nels and I have been working so well in concert but my mind threatens to destroy it all (fortunately my son is too strong and joyful to let this be entirely up to me). My anxiety feeds on itself and becomes an amorphous mass of discontent and fidgety, jumpy fear; soon I am responding far too harshly to myself and family.

And this leads me to one of the hardest realities, one of the most debilitating aspects that I struggle with: the poor self-worth that develops or threatens to. When I am having trouble my mind turns on me and begins to berate my character. I’m a shallow human being / I’m overthinking things; I am too pinched / I am too open and naive; I am too trusting / I am too suspicious. I was stupid to embark on a new adventure / I don’t take up adventures enough. Really, writing it out is a bit of a relief (isn’t it always?) because it illustrates there is no way for me to avoid these criticisms. There’s no code of conduct I can tightrope-walk and avoid character attacks. Last night, just before we fell asleep with our arms around one another, my daughter said, “Mom, I’m struggling with the pressure of needing to be perfect.” I held her even closer and said, “Oh, I’m so sad to hear that. I understand. I know what that feels like. I feel it too.” After a beat she asked, “Why do we do this?” and I had no answer; for now I am merely a pilgrim with her on this journey.

I think often how parents aloud devalue or put down their kids, not because they don’t love them or anything, but because they don’t pursue mindfulness and they are consumed with fear. The other day my twitterstream was clotted with people talking about their children “whining”; I notice words like “brat”, “monster”, “tyrant”, “pitching a fit”, the most dehumanizing language used so often (when I responded to one twitterite – who’d asked for advice – and postulated that concepts like “brat” only serve us to alienate ourselves from our children and obfuscate solutions, she wrote back and said, “‘Whiny’ & ‘brattish’ are describing [my child’s] behavior, not her,” then went on to talk about working on “manners” with her child). Then I think of how many parents see so little of their children by choice, years going on like this, and that’s sad enough but okay, fine, but then at the end of the day they come home and find family life so draining, so busy, scheduled, hectic, dissatisfying, scary. A perfectly lovely man, partner and father admitted this to me the other day, that sometimes he would get home and want to hide from his own child. I responded I didn’t think he was alone. I admire him he admitted this to me, that he trusted I was his friend enough to tell me this. He had room to share with me and I appreciate it; I am sad to reflect the scenario is hardly an atypical one.

At the end of the day – or now, the beginning of the day – it is my children and partner’s presence and company I look forward to and treasure most. Time with them has the potential to be so incredibly restorative. My day, my journal, is filled with our memories together. Yesterday: my daughter, playing Hangman with Nels in the living room while we waited for guests, putting up the phrase “Super-Snooka” (in quotes and everything, a family joke for the grabassery our kitties partake in) and Nels diligently solving the puzzle, and both kids do this thing where they arrange the discarded letter clues into other words, if posible words that relate to the puzzle itself; last night watching an action film and then Phoenix said, “You’re right, mom – I do smell a training montage,” and a few minutes later one was delivered with epic rock guitar accompaniment and we snickered into our blankets. Or how late last night I walked into the kitchen and Nels put down his spoon and said, “How are you doing Mama?” right away, with genuine concern, he’d been with me all day but he thinks of me often and loves me so much.

And when I’m ill-slept and careworn I need to hold myself in that gentle levity and light and joy they bring me every day. I am not a bad person for struggling. I am still the Mama the children love so much. I should take care of her as best I can.

Nels Counts

Nels, working on concepts of earning, wearing his Tinkerbell apron. He stacked the money, counted it, moved it around, handed out twenties to Phoenix, Ralph, and I. Eventually he decided instead of using a jar-based system he’d take Ralph up on his offer to open a bank account.

From the mouths of imps

Interesting fact: barring a couple exceptions, we see a lot more of our friends without children than our friends who are parents. I’d started noticing the trend a while back. I think it’s rather simple, really: we aren’t so rigorously scheduled – and our friends without children (nor intense schooling/dual-income schedules) have (or make) time as well. I’d previously thought often of my adult friends and what lovely parents they might become, if they so chose… Now seeing how things often go I feel a pang, wondering if they were to have children of their own if they’d disappear or if we could still be a part of their lives. Parenting new babies, for many it’s hard to go out in the world.

Today Nels and Jasmine texted all day long about the “rock hunt” they were going to go on in her back yard. I’m taking so. much. texting (on his part especially) and so. much. heckling (by him, at me) – he just really wanted to make sure the date happened as planned. While Phoenix set off on foot to pay our garbage bill, Nels and I listened to music in the kitchen and cooked up a storm. We made Chinese cabbage salad, from-scratch sweet and sour chicken (using fresh pineapple!), pork and vegetable fried rice (again, all from scratch), black tea, and red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting (Nels elected to dye the frosting pink). I have one frying pan, and this was a fry-centric meal, so it took a while longer than I’d planned.

At six we were joined by my mom and fellow Tweep and friend Justin and we ate and talked well into the night. Amber and Jasmine joined us after the GHC Winter Art Gala and a shift at Casa Mia, respectively, and as promised took The Boy out. Nels was Excited Times One Hundred.

Treasure

This Little Light Of Mine

When they got home Amber asked to take pictures of our son with his favorites.

Loot / Lurve

I kind of love that he gathered up his “conch shell”, pyrite, and obsidian, leaving only the ignatius rock out. Awkward.

Nels and I have not been getting along. All my fault, seriously, but I can’t quite figure it out. Yet.

He’s been relating a pretty fabulous day to me, though. While peeling carrots (he’s very skilled at obtaining results but makes quite a mess, which he then cleans up assiduously) he said, “Do you know what I like about myself? That I have such good parents.” (I’m not fucking kidding!) He then went on, “You help me with things that are difficult, like tying shoes. You spend time with me and do interesting things with me.” Then he thought for a while and started naming things he’d observed other parents do, that he didn’t think were so fabulous. I kept mum through it all, I mean besides acknowledging I’d heard him. Because really? It’s his life, his experience.

At dinner he ate two huge helpings of the pork / veggie fried rice and shouted it was “Awesome!” Later he took a cup of it into the bathtub. According to Ralph, only two grains of rice were spilled.

So yeah, you know? This parenting thing is pretty okay lots of the time.