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:

Non-Punitive Parenting: A Starting Primer

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, although of course you can write your own blog post saying whatever you’d like. Send me an email if you’d like me to link to it.

***

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 generate “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 – and that 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 extreme end of this (common) worldview: “the world is tough and my kid needs to know about it, and I’m going to help him learn early to keep him safe.”

And of course, arguing against those who promote spanking, I’ve heard many words said against hitting children – while still maintaining we absolutely should exploit our power position to “mold” them. This worldview is represented by those who hold that spanking is inhumane and/or child abuse, while they 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 to no concrete differences 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, “natural and logical” consequences (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.

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. 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 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 (grownups and 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. In any case, I have neither the ability, the right, nor the interest to drive around inspecting how you’re doing things. 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, 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. Now while a sense of sadness in knowing one has violated one’s own spiritual practice or strayed from one’s moral compass can be helpful in course-correcting, shame and guilt as forces for improving one’s parenting don’t work very well. I do not wish to promote these experiences. Sadly, when it comes to parenting – or mothering, as most finger-wagging diatribes usually concern – almost any discussion of bad strategies vs. better ones will prod the injuries most parents (/mothers) carry. This is a sad thing, but perhaps unavoidable unless we decide not to talk frankly.

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

Because what many people are too afraid to hope for, and 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. 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 my kids seem to feel pretty good about it too.

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

Primarily, we give up the illusion of control. Hear that? 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; later, we may maintain this facade if our child either chooses to let us win out, because we have made things so unpleasant for her should she assert herself, or if she chooses to hide her nature, opinons, feelings, 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. Thus 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 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.

Again: what 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. Giving up punitive parenting strategies, then, means many adults will expect these 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. 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. appearing virtuous or a “good mom” by result of my children’s behaviors (however I am nowhere near immune to this vanity, sad to say). 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, but of course my children themselves are allowed to handle those as they see fit (they usually say, “Thank you.”).

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.)

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 fully accomplished, but is primarily due to and results in the fact: I don’t feel I should, or have to, fiddle with them too much. 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).

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 some other small or mean-spirited lecture, 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.

But believing in a better way is the first step to living a better way. And so far, it has been the most encouraging experience of my life.

And next time I write, I’ll talk more about how it looks in practice.

***

* 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. ”

Further Reading
“Spanking Traumatizes Children” by Laurie A. Couture. I love this article by Laurie, for many reasons. Here are two: she discusses neuroscience and its findings on childhood development with regard to punishment, and she also provides one of the most convincing and brief yet well-rendered explanations of why so very many adults defend punitive strategies regarding children.

Spot The Landlord

friday is for lovers

Friday links! Which I was late getting up, because I was running around on a sunny wild beach and then later, eating things flavored with truffle oil and sage in browned butter (jealous much?). But – here they are. As per usual, if you have lengthy comments please throw ’em up at the source articles, and let me know if you’d like a link back!

“When getting dressed is an issue” at Authentic Parenting. What’s “indecent” about naked kids? Do all countries / people feel the same way? Can we expect their desire for privacy, clothing and body expression, and modesty, is like any other behavior they will grow into on their own time? Or should we police them? How do we honor other people’s preferences in public?

“Blogging Against Disablism Day will be May 1st, 2011” at Diary of a Goldfish (also, reading “The language of disability”, from the same site, is quite instructive).

Toppenish teen fakes pregnancy as school project. Gaby Rodriguez? Is my (s)hero. The more I think about this story the more impressed I am with her (and the other three people privy to the experiment). Just: phenomenal. P.S. trigger warning on comments for racism/misogyny/ageism etc. etc.

“I Have This. I Don’t Know What To Do.” at Teacher Tom. This article makes me giggle for a few reasons. First, it must be said: it is downright progressive compared to many people’s concepts about teaching, learning, and education. I commend the piece for that. But it is still rather top-down and condescending, and, in a larger sense, it is sad (for everyone) when a grownup believes what they have to offer is teaching by “playing dumb”, rather than inhabiting a space of mindfulness and advocacy. It is nothing new to hear that children enjoy learning the way we humans are likely wired to learn – and regardless of whether we are or not, respond best to: that is, with freedom and according to our own intrinsic interests. And I laugh that the scientific establishment must publish sciencey white papers (and they often are very white. and male.) for such a system to get a nod from self-styled Powers That Be. Meanwhile those (especially ladies) that write about this and live their lives with children this way, are often painted as frowsy hippie space-cases.

Right-Sizing Women at The Global Sociology Blog; h/t friend and reader Jeanne for this one. Wow, has it really taken this long for the USian military to begin taking seriously that soldiers can come in different body configurations? And this, regarding civilian clothing: “Women are cramming themselves into inaccurate sizes, cut to fit only one type of body – and they’re feeling bad about it. It’s amazing that fashion retailers, who go as far as scenting the air in their stores, fail to cater to this most basic aspect of the clothing experience.”

Things I would like to say to some (privileged, whiny) people by Angry Black Woman. Good points.

School Gardens: Rejected for Ridiculous Reasons by Urban Organic Gardener. He writes great stuff!

In Anchors Away Rachel Maddow delivers a quick note regarding an interview in The Guardian. Spoken well and succinctly. If you’re gay, do you have a responsibility to come out? Is it OK to out other people? Are there circumstances in which we should?

“Secretary’s Day” and Social Control at Sociological Images. Here’s my comment.

In the End: 10 Things Not to Do in a Loved One’s Last Hours by Marguerite Manteau-Rao. This is an excellent list regarding hospice experience and palliative care. I am reminded of the intense privilege I had in nursing my father during his last days. I think like homebirth, death at home is powerfully nuanced and I am so grateful I got to experience it.

Finally, a little levity. We have about twelve things wrong with our house and our landlord doesn’t see fit to fix ’em. So this gave me a laugh:

Spot The Landlord

"What the fuck are you Tolkien about?"

friday, friday, gettin’ down on friday

Friday links, or also, things I tweet and email to friends/family and then notice these people post them to Facebook to madcap happy responses. I miss the days of my Facebook account. I had many fans. Am I tempted to go back? Narp.

1. At design-fetish, from two years ago: “Retrofied Modern Movie Posters”. I sent these to my husband – a local and volunteer poster-designer, who wrote me in return (smugly), “I know.” Whatevs. A couple days later I stumbled (in a totally different space) on another such concept – but hello, a poster with major spoilers? Oh hell no.

2. I have one quibble with the self identified “world’s 9 most brilliantly pointless street fliers” curated at someecards. The “pointless” should be replaced with “fucking awesome!” because I peed a little. The last example had me at Hello.

3. I recently stumbled on the Antonio Buehler article “Who SHOULD Homeschool?”. I’m quite impressed as it is pretty frank and hard-hitting while emphatically laying to rest many myths propagated and ignorance perpetrated about the homeschooling option. Probably other people aren’t that impressed, but for me, he tackles a discussion many people pussyfoot around. On that note, I’d advise not clicking through unless you can read with an open mind, and as per usual if you have a refution or comment, please do leave it at the source material and link back through comments here if you like.

4. At the same time and in a similar vein, I found Buehler’s previously-published article, “Who Should NOT Homeschool” to be, as far as I’m concerned, compassionate and realistic in many ways… although I am a bit confused and have some concerns I haven’t satisfied. Beuhler seems to advocate for homeschooling purely in terms of achievement (which is a schema also embraced, however poorly consummated, by the schooling model). I’m wondering what worldview he holds for those who’d homeschool for holistic reasons, personal empowerment, and the mental, emotional, and physical health of our little human beings – regardless of the status, titles, or pay they end up commanding in their adult state.

5. Anita Sarkeesian challenges the mainstream tendency to celebrate so-called “feminist” film roles in this vlog: “True Grit, Mattie Ross and Feminism?”. There’s nothing I can say here that will add to Sarkeesian’s excellent analysis; the six plus minutes are well-spent. If you don’t know the term androcentrism, it’s long-past time you remedied that.

6. The Boston Globe “The Big Picture” feature contains a photo-essay of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan. The images of the very old and the very young are especially difficult for me. I also find myself wondering about the experiences of the rescue workers. They are faced with such colossal devastation, yet every moment they are making a positive difference – saving lives and moving people to tears and prayer.

7. At The Noble Savage, Amity Reed writes “Sleep, my pretty, sleep”, regarding a strategy to perserve mental health when the world seems a dark and scary place.

8. At What Tami Said: “Stop Being ‘Shocked’ by ‘Isms'”. I’ve heard this point before, and I am in whole-hearted agreement. I love how Tami writes because she is rational yet well-equipped to discuss emotional realities; she also has a succinct delivery on complex subjects that I rather envy. And good lord, any “progressive” or liberal reading here, please do click through.

9. Crafting: I’m pretty sure the Super Secret Waffle Cult is behind many nefarious breakfast pastry plots. And by the way, I would totally make up some of these crepe paper flowers except that within a week they’d be clotted with cat hair; no longer so “fresh”.

10. Sasson shirts. I don’t need to write any further, except to say this is what I like to put on after I’ve had a hard day bringing much love, happiness, and saxiness to the world.

11. The tribute to Dwayne McDuffie at Racialicious is sweet and informative. In particular I enjoyed the video interview where McDuffie makes some excellent points regarding the inclusion of racial minority characters in a white-dominated field. It is So. Worth. Watching!

12. Sent to me by friend and reader Bex: “Deb Roy: The Birth of a Word”. At 4:57 I STARTED CRYING. Also at the end. The big ticket/mass media/marketing opportunity items were less important to me than the reflection of the “feedback loop” of raising our young – in other words, it isn’t just us influencing them; we respond in Pavlovian kind.

13. Random Parenting Thought 2 – Behaviourism v Unconditional Parenting at Analytical Armadillo. I would cite Behaviorism as just about the number one mainstream US parenting principle (even if adherents, parents and non-parenting adults alike, wouldn’t self-identify it as such). It’s crap, and limited, and fear-based – and yet it prevails. Ed. note, see comments for a discussion of the meaning of “Behaviorism”.

14. Local! “Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain memorialized with guitar sculpture in Washington” (that would be Aberdeen, Washington) from APP.com (written by local reporter Steven Friederich). I notice Mayor Bill Simpson can’t help farting in the general direction (most locals with his views on Cobain however think our log/rape’n’pillage history and serial killer/boomtown murder rate are totally honorable/colorful and deserve the museums & memorabilia devoted to them. Etc.). What’s interesting to me is people still come from all over the world to explore Kurt Cobain’s life, to find clues, to look deeper into the birthplace of music that resonates with them. On a related note, Aberdeen and surrounding area has mostly whizzed this responsibility (and opportunity) down the leg, although as this newspiece indicates, many people are trying to do right by our historical record.

15. Guest-posting at Authentic Parenting, Meredeth Barth writes, “Just a Child”, her response to an average parenting mag’s average kind of article (“25 Manners Kids Should Know”). Of course I related to much of this, but today I’m reflecting that mainstream “experts” often aren’t really experts, but rather those who repeat and reify the views we’re finding comforting, convenient, etc. Most parenting “experts” today espouse a lot of twaddle (sadly, some of it quite harmful), and I’m sad to think of how much I’ve bought into, and how hard it continues to be to un-learn these tenets and simultaneously forge better relationships.

16. Awful Library Books discussed a potential shelving of Not in Room 204, a children’s book dealing with a child’s experience of sexual abuse by a father. The original post (specifically the submitter’s concerns) and many comments made me incredibly sad, or angry – some comments made little jests, some claimed the book was “too creepy” for children to handle and it might give them nightmares (ah yes, the perpetuated belief kids aren’t smart/are too fragile, etc. – while we hold they are, apparently, equipped to handle being abused in their homes without a lifeline). Fortunately better heads pervailed in the commentariat. I liked what Sarah, a librarian, had to say (3/17/11 4:54 PM): “This book handles the subject responsibly and respectfully. It’s crucial that we don’t hide information from kids even if it makes us uncomfortable; sometimes their lives depend on getting their hands on a book like this.” Leigha (3/17/11 10:56 PM) makes a great point about a handful of responses regarding access: “All the comments about how it’s a good book to have because it’s in the adult section anyway and the kid would need it read to them seem to be missing one key point…it’s normally (like for the girl in the book) one of the parents DOING the molesting. Do you really think a child molester is going to read this book to their kid? And I doubt anyone else would unless they suspected something. If it’s not where the kids themselves can get it, it’s pretty much worthless.” Me, I’m still saddened, and gobsmacked, that one of the most prevalent forms of abuse against children, and one the child is least able to get help for, is still so under-discussed and meets with so many so-called well-intentioned adults’ pressure to keep it under wraps.

17. Tonight the 7th Street Theatre here in Hoquiam is showing Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. As I have been doing for about four years, I designed the movie program (shoehorning in the popular trivia section, and deciding which trivia had merit, and imagining some the fantasy-geek rage I might inspire if I got any of it wrong). Anyway, whilst up late finishing that up I stumbled on this image which left me giggling.

"What the fuck are you Tolkien about?"

For those whom it applies, I hope you have a lovely Friday night and a fabulous weekend!

 

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.

different outlooks different hopes

friday, friday, so good to me

Taking a break from my latest Netflix obsession (don’t worry, my obsessive-television watching is usually in short-lived bouts) I bring you: FRIDAY LINKAGE.

Film
Bollywood for Beginners Index at Filmi Girl

“Worst Movie of the ’00s?” at PostBourgie. Great piece and excellent comments.

There are no words for the excellence:

(thanks, Steev!)

Society
“Smiling Indians and Edward S. Curtis” by @NativeApprops. Definately check out the galleries, & the video.

“Guest Post: Reactions to the Case of Lara Logan” by Matt Cornell; also, Bill Maher makes LOUD NOISES about how U.S. is just SO MUCH BETTER TO WOMEN THAN MUSLIMS: “Bill Maher Pronounces Sexism in The Middle East, Worse Than In America” from womanist-musings. Finally, a succinct summation of some of those others who stand to lose with these narratives: Laura with “On Feminism, Religion, Superiority, Kyriarchy and Women’s Rights”.

“CNN buys into homeschooling stereotypes in child abduction case, blames victims”. Just add another nugget to the pile of deplorable turdburger that “Nancy Grace” (the show, not the person).

“Covering Up is a Feminist Issue” via PhD in Parenting, fertilefeminism; great video and a good 101!

“Class warfare” at globalsociology

“Just a Parent” by Ouyang Dan on Random Babble

Health
Planned Parenthood at PostBourgie

“Dear Michele Bachmann, et. al: Please Shut Up and Sit Down” at parenting.com

Gym Class by Michelle Allison. If there was a BINGO card about lots of awesome shit Kelly cares about (abolishing adultist thoughts, freeing children from forced institutionalism and segregation, HAES/FA etc.) I’d be shouting “LOTERIA!”

Parenting
“The best parenting book you will ever read.” – some thoughts on a fictional hero of mine – and many others’ (note: spoilers, link concerns the book To Kill A Mockingbird).

“Five Questions for Laurie A. Couture by E. Christopher Clark of Geek Force Five”. Ms. Couture is becoming one of the items in my feed reader I look forward to most. Her thoughts on the third question – C. – I’ve found most relevant as she’s discussing teens, and I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time around teens lately and I’m loving it!

Make/Craft
Awesome Godzilla Quilt, courtesy of the East Bay Heritage Quilters

“Coke Bottle Watering “Globes” at RadMegan

Hand-painted  B-movie purses? I had to write this lady a stalky email because. Come on. How awesome!

How to cook perfect rice – in a frying pan at Just Bento

Quotable
‎”Free children are not easily influenced; the absence of fear accounts for this phenomenon. Indeed, the absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child.” ~ A. S. Neil

Random Awesomeness
Promtacular – ZOMG, who’s ready to dig up prom pictures? 100 to YES.

“Mad, Mod & Macabre – The Ronald Stein Collection” – I. Want. This.

different outlooks different hopes

"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

Traffic Sign WIZARDRY

sunday-friday

I was all busy birthdaying things up and I didn’t throw out my Fridays. Awkward! Here they are now – and yes, I’ve tried to cut back a little from previous weeks:

Parenting
“Defending the Status Quo” by Jeff Sabo
Heck, I’ve probably posted this before. But I read it again and I can tell you – this post gives me the chills. I would like to have just ONE DAY where my choices and reality were status quo, instead of fringe or viewed as radical. ONE DAY where I wasn’t doing things differently than the mainstream. It would feel kind of incredible for other people to have to defend to me why they do the shit they do. Sure, it ain’t gonna happen. A girl can dream, can’t she?

I don’t know why, but I can’t be as frank as Jeff on some things. Even when I think he’s correct. Particularly:

“Instead of asking me to defend my decision to not spank my children, how about I ask you to defend the reason why you spank. Is spanking really the only way you can come up with to guide your children? Have you looked at other possibilities? Have you really considered what lies behind your need to have your children behave a certain way? Do you support hitting all people who behave contrary to your preference, or just the ones smaller and younger than you who have little or no standing in our justice system? How do you rationalize the difference between productive discipline and child abuse?” [emphasis mine]

And of course authoritative/authoritarian parenting doesn’t begin and end at spanking. But still. Yeah.

Sexuality
“Oprah Learns That People Don’t Grow ‘Gayer'”

Oprah impressed me here. She admitted she was wrong, in what was likely a bit of an embarrassing scenario – especially if one positions oneself as being “gay friendly” and having “good intentions”. I notice it seems that even staff who don’t personally know her well feel comfortable at being frank and openly disagreeing with her. If only all discussions on controversial issues went down like this!

By the way, I see red flags when someone says, “But I preferenced it by saying, ‘I don’t mean to cause offense!'” Reminds me of “with all due respect”:



Health
“The Big Fat Announcement: I’m Live-Blogging My Homebirth!” from The Feminist Breeder
I can’t even get across how much of a good idea this is. We need people to have a concept of birth as it can be with good prenatal care and without medicalization – and without the “ew gross!” shaming typically attendant when discussing a body that is female. I’ll totally be tuning into this!

Film
What have I watched this week? Not much, but (as I mentioned,) I did see Inception. It was fine. I like talking to self-proclaimed fans of this film. Because they cite the work as brilliant, then I ask, “OK, then what did you think ____ meant when ____?” and they usually don’t have a clue. But you know what, it’s OK to just like a film, even if you don’t know what the fuck is going on.

Last night I watched this (when will I learn?):

It was shite. Yeah, I say that, and that’s given I’ve got a soft spot for Duane Johnson (I dunno, the guy seems classy and sweet). In the film he looks bigger than ever – at times he resembled a huge grease-soaked slab of dyspeptic gristle.

Make/Craft
Today in the mail I received The Art of Manipulating Fabric, sent by my lady Karen. This book? Is simply incredible. And intimidating if, like me, one hopes to attempt a technique. But it’s gonna happen!

Today I’m making a few Indian-inspired recipes, sourced from allrecipes.com. Of all the somewhat-elaborate spice blends etc. etc. the most rewarding bit for me is making paneer (droooool).

Quotable
“I love how I am at the point in my life where I know that I can and am accomplishing everything on my own and I am for once doing it for me & [my daughter] and nobody else. Proving that I don’t need anybody…but I’m still lonely.” – from Facebook

Isn’t this the truth. Accomplishment, career, accolades, attagirls… they can’t keep loneliness at bay long, especially the existential type. Even family and friends can’t fill up (what some call) the God-shaped hole. And booze can only do it for a short period of time (trust me on this).

Random
TYPESTACHES

& *snicker*
Traffic Sign WIZARDRY

part of this complete breakfast

I’ve had this song and video stuck in my head all day. Which totally works for me.

In other news, a child over today tore our house apart grabbing blankets and furniture to build forts and then torture-imprisoned many cats in said structures until I (nicely) requested for the child to stop (with the cat thing). After agreeing to Ralph’s request to put a few things back before leaving, the child scuttled out the door and back home having done no such thing and leaving the kids’ room and our bedroom in a total shambles. This child also seems to have a hygiene problem, which I find unappealing and depressing; also a problem with perpetually telling untruths. Yesterday upon seeing a jar of cash and coin in our house I heard the child telling my son it belonged to a friend, hoping to take it home.

I have no idea why today I let this behavior get to me. Actually after having typed it out, it seems reasonable enough I did. I’m proud of myself though that I provide a good home to any child who visits, as long as I’m not distracted by the other stuff going on which is REALLY EASY because I am kind of a busy and frenetic person. I’m not nearly as mellow as some people make me out to be. As for these “badly-behaved children” (usually under-nurtured ones so, hard to pathologize the child itself) my job is to provide a warm, welcoming house – and food, and as much freedom as possible – to the kids in my life (my own and others’). It usually works out great which is probably why a lot of kids like being here.

In this case maybe today I simply preferred the company of my own children and private homelife, a series pf lovely episodes: we’d spent the morning taking baths together and then the kids asked for an unconventional breakfast: popcorn and fresh oranges (we have some really lovely citrus in the house). The popcorn I prepared old-skool, as I don’t own a popper or microwave or anything – just a pot with a lid and a little oil, potholders and stove top. I have many memories of my father (usually shirtless) popping up a huge batch before family movie night – we had an electric element range and sparks would fly off the burners as he banged about. After he’d pour the popcorn into a large paper shopping bag, then swirl butter in the pan to melt; add the butter and some salt to the bag and shake-shake-shake. I do the same, now; except I add parmesan cheese and nutritional yeast. Today as the kids sat happily in their underwear I showed Nels how to section an orange without a mess and how to carefully eat so not to crunch a seed (is it my imagination, or does citrus with seeds taste sweeter than seedless varieties?).

I cleaned up breakfast and the kids ran around snuggling cats and reading and drawing and building Legos. I felt a little blue at today’s wetter and gloomier weather and thus made up a batch each of niter kibbeh and berbere sauce. Dicing chiles and garlic and grinding spices and clarifying butter? Yeah, that worked out fine. My daughter ran around in her little tank top with her hair up in a ponytail singing Pink songs and my heart broke in half at how young-lady-like she’s looking (taking her measurements the other day for sewing I observed her waist and hip measurements have a 6″ difference… yes, growing-growing, they don’t slow down). I’ve gotta remind myself to slow down and enjoy the time I have.

Halfway through Ralph’s evening errands he was stopped by a family man feeling exhausted by family and work life. The guy ended up telling my husband he wanted to talk to him more about our family life. He said, “Your kids are so nice and polite, and smart, and you all seem to get along… I want that.” It’s cool to be noticed and acknowledged, although not for the reason you might think. I really want to help other families find their way into loving family life all the more. It happens; it works, for realz.

I’ve got a bottle of organic wine and fresh-washed bedding and a couple of squeaky-clean bathed kiddos and sleepy cats. It’s all working out OK.

a far green country

I’m going to pretend my self-diagnosis isn’t entirely half-assed or unqualified and mention I’d put my seasonal depressive disorder business just a tick up from “moderate” and toward the “nearly debilitating” category. I continue to find evidence of this, such as: today was warm, spring-like, crystal clear, there was even a fellow across the street mowing his lawn. My response was visceral and immediate and profoundly joyous: “the grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then I see it”: fuckin’ SUNSHINE.

I opened the blinds and scrubbed the bathroom clean and washed the laundry room shelves and started a tub of bleach water for my bar cloths and wiped down counters and blinds and motherfuckin’ vacuumed (I never, ever do this) and shook out blankets and laundered throws and washed the dishes and sorted and rinsed and soaked beans and did some lovely and exhilarating yoga and knew I’d even finish my dress (and I did, and: Yay!). All fantastic and all before my daughter woke and her friend came over and I sent them out for the remainder of dinner groceries with a pocketful of cash.

While Phoenix was out, and after my victorious morning, Nels became quite sad. I asked him how I could help, and he requested breakfast cereal. He asked me to give him more milk in the bowl, and happily drank it up, and lo and behold, this was what he needed. After his cereal he washed his hands and face and I picked him up, and I don’t know how I did this but I held him and danced with him for several songs, and I’m not sure if I can convey how much he loved this. He buried his face in my neck and then he’d pull his head back and smile deeply into my eyes. He kissed me dozens of times. He said, “you’re making me sleepy!”, but I don’t think he felt exactly sleepy, more protected and nurtured and loved. And so did I. And for some reason my body and arms felt strong and I could hold him and hold him and we sang and held one another until our (second set of) guests arrived.

The light faded all-too-soon and our dinner and dinner guest visit was broken up by an odd phone call BUT! even after all that Ralph and I got so much work done at home. It’s like the sunshine gave me everything I’ve been missing. It’s dark now, and it’s late, so late in fact it’s early; and I’ll have a hot bath and a cold beer and snuggle between the kiddos and laugh and tickle and kiss and hug.

Today you can’t take away the things we had.

***

I put a lot of effort into my relationships… consciously, sure – but often not even so. I’d like to let you know what I mean. The way my mind works, my friends and loved ones are always with me, waking and sleeping (I’ve been known to dream of someone I haven’t spoken to in months, then track them down to see how they are). When I see a news article or a blog post or hear a song or see a video I think of these people and am likely as not to bake them some bread or send them an email, even a brief one, or make them a mix tape, or send them a homemade Valentine. I send these blog posts or articles or emails not just because I know they will resonate (I rarely miss my mark), but as a symptom that my friends and loved ones are with me, all the time; I gift food not because I have some extra on hand but because I cooked something (hopefully) delicious, often planned for that exact person, but in any case I know homemade fare crafted with panache and willing love is a very wonderful gift indeed.

Sometimes these many presences are draining, actually. Maybe this is part and parcel with how I often feel so tired. I’ve long said I have an active mind – not a particularly intelligent one or productive one.

Someday I’m going to have to figure out if holding someone in my heart is good enough; if I can let them slip my mind.

But in the meantime, I want to take a moment here and thank a few people who I’ve experienced as restorative. This list will not take the place of personal communication. It will also not be exhaustive. I’m tired, and my mind is often more dull than people credit, and I will surely forget someone who’s given me something amazing lately.

But I’ll do my best.

I’d like to thank my readers for their presence. I’d like to thank those who write and comment because it touches me they take the time to read, and to communicate, and to offer themselves. I make my best effort to respond and to thank them, and I mean every word when I do so.

I’d like to thank this random Facebooker for a very nice comment on a recent article I wrote, a comment praising my writing but also one sharing news of a lovely and joyous birth. I’m grateful she took the time to speak her piece.

I’d like to thank Cynthia, Abi, Jasie, and Jodi, for taking time to see me last weekend, and for letting me eavesdrop on their lives and enjoy their smiles and laughter and uncommon beauty.

I’d like to thank Shannon for mentioning (long ago) the particular yoga host I put on for this morning’s practice. I’d also like to thank her that while I was trying to relax and concentrate on my breath I could remember all the sexual comments she’d made about him in his tiny little briefs with his amazing body etc., because I kept huffing little bits of laughter while doing sun salutations, etc.

I’d like to thank Christina for remembering my birthday (which is coming up on the 11th of this month), as well as her chats and emails which are always deeply thoughtful and interesting. I also will never forget when she called me in 2007 after I’d had a horrific personal blow.

I’d like to thank Kate for taking time to write back and forth with me about alcoholism, recovery, addiction, anxiety, and family. This conversation is the beginnings of one I needed deeply – I thank her for her expertise and her enormous depths of compassion and intelligence.

I want to thank Amore for her part in a more or less constant friendship I have treasured deeply since we were young girls, and for a new chapter in this friendship. I think anyone she is intimate with is a deeply fortunate person. And I don’t mean that in a pervy way or anything. This time.

I’d like to thank Ryan (in AZ) for being one of my faithful and vocal male readers and someone I can talk to who really puts his all into his consideration and response to me. His is a deeply compelling friendship. I wish there were a lot more men like him who would make themselves known.

I want to thank Tamara for writing me recently for advice on something very close to her heart and on her mind. I hope in any way I can help her. I appreciate hearing from her.

I’d like to thank Wendy for being a real, true-life, living and breathing mentor I can correspond with. This is an incredibly fortunate thing to have. One day I hope to meet her in person.

I’d like to thank Jeanne for friendship, for fellowship – spending time together, one of the most uncommon gifts – and having the kind of mind and spirit I find entirely edifying. If the world had more citizens like her it would be a much better place. Think all the awesomeness of Sesame Street with no downside.

I’d like to thank Jasmine and Amber, because when we’re together talking I truly feel an electric exchange of ideas and they give me hope, since they are leaders today and will be leaders tomorrow. They also make me laugh that way where my eyes fill with tears and my face gets red and also we’re usually smoking which is to their credit, even though I’m told this filthy habit is on the way out, and aren’t we gauche.

I’d like to thank Mickey for being one of those people who brightens this little sleepy town and provides Ralph and I opportunities to volunteer for a wonderful and worthy cause. I’d like to thank her too for talking recipes and for giving us with fresh bay leaves when we need them.

I’d like to thank JJ for writing bravely and often about her life.

I’d like to thank anyone who likes hearing about or talking about or watching my cats or who loves cats. I self-identify as Crazy on the subject.

I want to thank Sarah who sent my son a sticker swap letter a while back; I immediately lost her envelope and don’t know which Sarah she is – her last name or address. I’d like to thank her properly – if she’s still reading.

I’d like to thank Elizabeth, Samantha, & Michelle for being these incredibly whip-smart lovelies on Twitter at all hours of the day and night. They lift me up and are forces for the Good.

I’d like to thank Paige that I can send her a handful of words through DM and she totally knows what the hell I’m talking about, every time.

I want to thank Kat because she’s one of a small number of people in my life who sends me the emails, articles, and blog posts – all of which evidences that I am in her mind and her heart. This means a great deal to me. I am looking forward to seeing her this next weekend.

I’d like to thank Karen for daily being someone to share a bone-deep love of sewing and creativity that is difficult to explain to anyone is not swimming right with us. Karen is an incredibly talented person, and the fact she is following her dreams and desires even despite opposition – when so few do or can – gives me a thrilling sense of hope. She is an inspiration and her friendship is a rock.

I’d like to thank my mother for beginning to hear me talk about my damaging experiences in childhood and really listen – instead of being defensive. Oddly, I think she is beginning to trust me more where she didn’t before. I’d also like to thank her for making time daily to tell me what’s going on in her life and what’s important to her. I realize now if she didn’t volunteer this information regularly I would be left wondering, and I would seek it out earnestly.

I’d like to thank my husband and partner Ralph. I’m trying to narrow down what to thank him for, today, so I’ll just say the first thing that comes to awareness for me. His continued praises for the food I cook and the house I keep fill give me a calm joy, because I too care about these things and not everyone would appreciate me as much as he does. I also appreciate his friendship which is the deepest and most constant of any I have known.

I’d like to thank my children for filling up my days and nights with not only physical love and incredible tenderness, but their unique brands of humor that make me laugh in delight more than anyone else. I’d like to thank Nels today for sitting at the computer and beginning to hum one of our songs from earlier and then thinking of how much he loved me, because he then said, “Mama, can I get you something? Tea, perhaps?” then went in the kitchen and made me a plate of food quite studiously. As for my daughter, I’d like to thank Phoenix for acquiescing to get groceries for me today, and for finding everything I wrote down, exactly, and for her role in inspiring new dishes as we continue to cook vegetarian. It is my earnest desire to accommodate her wishes.

And finally: it should be rather obvious that by reflecting on ones gratitude list, or the ones that come to mind anyway, life seems a lot lovelier than it did before. I hope others reading here consider doing the same.