- "It’s a time-suck"
- "It’s for stupid little bumper sticker sayings"
- "Why can't we write handwritten notes to one another anymore?"
- "What about actual face-to-face time?"
- "People need to get their heads up from the screen!"
- "Nobody cares what you had for dinner!"
- "Try actually living your life."
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
Regular readers of this blog may know I have a 10-year-old daughter named Boo, and that she is part sweet, loving, empathetic joy - and part evil genius. I wouldn't dare quantify these parts as the prospect scares me a little. Suffice it to say, she is not your average bear. What she is most certainly not, in any way, is a kiss-ass. She sometimes encounters them though, and the results are never in Boo's favor. One such incident occurred yesterday with a girl I will just refer to as Nellie Olsen. I found out about the incident from Boo’s teacher in a phone call. In that phone call the teacher told me she has never experienced behavior like Boo's (join the club). Here is the letter I wrote in response:
Dear School and Teacher people,
I am writing about a conversation I had earlier with Ms.Teacher concerning an incident yesterday in class. I was told Boo had disiplinary action taken against her for an incident with another student, Nellie.
Ms. Teacher told me Boo was making an annoying noise with her water bottle and Nellie repeatedly asked her to stop. Boo did not stop. Next Nellie physically grabbed the water bottle from Boo. Boo then swung her arm and her lunchbox at Nellie. As I understand it, no contact was made.
There were several things that concerned me about this incident, the obvious one being Boo's agression and her negative attitude as it was described to me by Ms.Teacher, but there was more.
I was told that Nellie "did everything right" in asking Boo to stop. I agree that using her words was a proper course of action for Nellie to take, but the fact that she said this several times, within her teacher's earshot, is keeping with a trend in Nellie's behavior to subtly instigate Boo while outwardly meeting all behavioral expectations. Word on the street is that she "likes getting Boo in trouble". This does not surprise me as Boo's response to provocation is usually dramatic and therefore she is a desirable target. I find that girls of this age who have high status with teachers provoke girls who have lower-status with teachers to elevate their own position with both the teachers and other students. I wonder if this may be the case here.
Ms. Teacher also told me she understood Nellie's physical response of grabbing the bottle because she would have done the same. This may be true, but Ms.Teacher was the teacher in this situation, Nellie was not. There was no response to Nellie's physical reaction, only to Boo's. Ms. Teacher also told me she had 24 students to control so Nellie took it upon herself to take the water bottle away because Nellie understands her teacher was otherwise occupied. I am concerned about this subversive promotion of Nellie to assistant teacher and I fear that when high status kids are given this power it often serves to make others in the class feel less powerful. This can often lead to frustration, and in this case lashing out.(I like to confuse them a bit).
In no way am I justifying Boo's egregious response and I am doing everything I can at home to keep her in a place of calm and reason, but I would very much like us to consider this problem from all perspectives.
Boo has exhibited an uncharacteristic slide in behavior and performance at school in the last few months and I have been asked several times if there is anything going on at home. The answer is no, not really. Her home is a loving one and she feels honored and powerful here. I wonder if she feels the same at school. She has shown signs of exhaustion and indifference in her school setting. I have taken her to her doctor to make sure there is no physical reason for this; there is not. Her signs of depression seem to be limited to school. So I would like to volley the question back and ask, is there something going on at school? Bullying? Social manipulation? Teasing? Favoritism?
Either way, I think we can agree that this is a child who is not having the best school life she can have and I would like to hear your thoughts on how we can change that. I would like to request a meeting of Boo's teachers, guidance counselor, and any other support people who may be useful to help put together a plan for Boo's success at school.
I would like to thank you all so much for all you do, and I look forward to working together to help Boo come through this difficult time and help her know she is valued,
- Penis Mom
Here is the thing: I am now going on about 12 years of parent/teacher conferences where I hear things like "Well, he certainly marches to the beat of a different drummer, doesn't he?" and "I have never met a young child like this one." and "She is very opinionated, I don't understand how she comes off quite so strong." OK, I get it. I have unusual, strong-willed, pain in the ass little weirdos - but they are my weirdos and I don't want to believe I am the only one who can appreciate them. I would love for school to be a place where their differences are honored - but I have yet to seen little evidence of that. Instead, I get a lot of judgment and accusation about how I can not control my kids. I usually don't bother explaining that my main goal in parenting has never been to control my kids, because we are clearly on such different pages that the most I can hope for is a truce. My real concern here is that schools seem to think if a kid falls anywhere outside of a very narrow trajectory of normal and well behaved, parents are to blame.
What? Parents are to blame? Interesting. Interesting, and potentially very effective because parents will take that shit on like crazy. We take it on because we just know if we tried harder, were more consistent, got up earlier to make super food/kelp smoothies for them in the morning, ordered that My Baby Can Read crap when they were little, enrolled them in more classes, introduced them to different languages, and were just better role models, or stayed at home instead of working, then they would not be having these problems in school. Maybe that is all true - but maybe something else is true as well.
Maybe teachers and schools are only seeing value in a small percentage of students and everything else is seen in a negative light. A self-advocating child is seen as challenging or aggressive. Introspection is seen as withdrawn, imaginative thinking is seen as day dreaming, and leaders are bossy. I get it. If you have a classroom of 24 kids it is much easier to have them all be the rule abiding, straight line walking, homework crunching Nellie Olsens with blind allegiance to the teacher. But, when that doesn't happen and kids behave in (gasp) unexpected ways, maybe it makes sense for the school to ask itself what they are doing to meet the needs of the student before calling parents to ask them how many ways they have fucked up today.
Schools don't know what to do with kids like Boo. And by the time they reach middle school kids like Boo start hearing that message loud and clear. So what do you do when you are part of a system that doesn't tolerate you, much less celebrate you? All too often our square little pegs just say screw it - Nellie can have school, it is made for her anyway.
And what do parents do when they get calls from school saying that their kid is "in trouble" and "has problems"? All too often, they believe them and begin a spiral of frustration and guilt. This doesn't work for anyone.
Maybe it is time for teachers, schools, all of us really - to start making more flexible holes for our little square pegs. More than that, start honoring all kinds of pegs -what the hell, why not?
Ironically, my next daughter will start school next year and she is shaping up to be quite the teacher's pet herself.
I honestly don't know how to handle it. [Editor’s note: I got this one]
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
What attracted you to roller derby?
Derby had me at fishnets and booty shorts. What can I say? It is sexy, bold, and kick-ass, just like me.
Derby is a fringe sport, for those who like to change the way people think about things. It is full of women who follow their own voice and dare to be strong and assertive in a world that doesn't always honor that in women. I like the gender bending, misfit quality of a sport that empowers the weaker sex (please note the dripping sarcasm in the use of that term).
These are women who live derby. They take the penguin plunge, do the warrior dash, and embrace all things powerful and cheeky. How does anyone not want to be a derby girl?
How did you find out about it?
I learned about derby just like every other smart girl growing up in the 70s and 80s - Jim Croche’s Roller Derby Queen.
I found out about the Shoreline league because my friend, Nduce N Agony (Duce) had joined and ultimately made it through sheer persistence and determination. She was (and continues to be) an inspiration because when she started she could barely stand on skates, and now she is a total powerhouse. There is hope for us all.
What are the most challenging aspects of roller derby? Most rewarding?
It is maybe the most challenging thing I have ever done. It is hard -- really hard, and physically demanding. It hurts. You fall, you get bruises, your chiropractor hates/loves you, and for me, the hardest part is in finding the courage to leave it all out there on the rink. This is really not a group of women you want to disappoint - so I am tentative about taking risks. It is a mental challenge as well as a physical one.
The most rewarding thing is being part of something bigger than yourself. It is being a living example that strength, power, skill, and courage all look great on a woman.
What do you wish more people understood about the sport?
I wish people understood the sport itself so they could get more from watching it - it is an incredible spectacle.
Describe your proudest moment so far.
Last night I did a mother-fucking turn-around toe stop for the first time - in the lobby of a hotel! ;-)
Does your involvement with this sport influence or affect other areas of your life? How?
Hells yeah - it influences everything. Staying with something when it is hard and when you suck at it does more for you than any formal education. There is no such thing as phoning it in. You have to show up, you have to sweat, you have to fall, and you have to work your hardest. I really want to do that in all areas of my life.
In derby, when you fall you must get up within three seconds. I want to be able to do that for every life obstacle I encounter.
Any advice for someone who’s thinking about checking it out?
Fishnets and booty shorts. You know you want to.
Can you share a few details about your life, like what you do during normal business hours, etc?
I am a writer with 7 kids, a dog, and a high-maintenance husband [Editor’s note: What?] who is also my editor and training to be a Derby ref. In my spare time I like drinking and dancing and karaoke and being awesome.
- Auntie Climax
- Alpha Kitty
- Penis Mom
- JingleBoobs McHitsalot
- Mt. Crushmore
- Wallace and Vomit
- Tanya Hide
- Destroy McClure
- Moxie Crush
- MILF Crusher
- Angelina Slaughterina
- Crush Hour
- Sexypig Bangerelli
- Wizard of Owz
- Like Slaughter for Chocolate
- Curious Gouge
- Titty McFlashalot
- Cruella DeDrill
- She-teed Fa-Quad
- Tenacious DDs
Thursday, January 24, 2013
(This is me pre-lingerie embargo).
Editor's note: Stay away from my wife
It is really very simple. Love yourself enough to take care of yourself. Love yourself enough to feed yourself well. Love yourself enough to move your body. And, most importantly, love yourself enough to dismiss fashion magazine images and opinions about beauty that don't work for you. Obesity is a problem, but you don't have to make it your problem. Thin obsession is a problem - but you don't have to make it your problem.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Tonight is Christmas eve and I am getting ready for the most magical of days when all my little chicks climb out of bed and come downstairs to discover burlap bags with jingle bells left by Santa, open stockings and gifts, and happily play with their new toys while Dad and I make a big breakfast for all. It will be lovely, it will be magical – and yet my heart is so heavy I can barely stop crying.
Ten days ago a gunman took his own life and the lives of 26 others at an elementary school in Connecticut and there are 18 beautiful children who will not be waking up tomorrow morning with their families. I have lived through other tragedies, and they have saddened me - “I can’t even imagine…” I have said.
But this, this I can imagine. I can imagine being a parent, a child, or one of the teachers who may have felt powerless to protect the small children in their care.
When tragedy strikes, we can always come up with reasons why it would never happen to us.
“Hit by a car? That is why I always hold my son’s hand in a parking lot. I never let go.”
“Drug addiction? So sad. I am sure her parents never talked to her about drugs - I have talked to my kids.”
“Well, with all those children something like this was bound to happen. That is why I stuck to a sensible two kids.”
I get it. The desire to rationalize and distance yourself from heartbreak. Believe me when I tell you I wish I could distance myself from this, but how can I?
“I would never live in a Connecticut town.”
“I would never send my children to school.”
Well I do both – and there is no distance.
I love my kids, I spend time with them, I talk to them, play with them, laugh with them and I appreciate the bejesus out of them every moment of every day. Just like I’m sure the parents who lost their children 10 days ago did.
It is so hard to accept that some times you can do everything right and everything can still go so terribly, terribly wrong.
There was a time when I thought that with enough love, patience, and understanding I could protect my children from all harm. There was a time when I thought I could keep them safe with my pure, fierce love. That time ended ten days ago when I realized there is no distance.
So, through tears, I have tried to imagine how to cope. I came up with a three step plan for moving forward in strength:
Accept without hesitation whatever may come.
Live in gratitude for every moment.
Forgive instantly whoever or whatever has created a new reality for you and let go of anger that will damage you.
That is my way to come to terms with this tragedy that has brought me to my knees, and I hope it brings you some peace as well. But, still – never let go of their hands in a parking lot.
Tidings of comfort and joy on this and all days. Sending my love to all of you. Thanks for taking the time to be here.
Friday, December 14, 2012
I am sad.
Really sad. Twenty eight dead. Twenty children, six adults, a shooter and his mom.
This happened so close to home for me. Not only because my kids go to a Connecticut school. Not only because I have small and vulnerable children, but because this loss happened to young children, and that hits me especially hard.
The loss belongs to everyone. The loss belongs to all of us who inhabit a world where we are one inexplicable act away from deep agony. The loss belongs to all of us who live in a world where ultra violence is the only path some people can see. This loss belongs to anyone who has ever loved, because if you have loved deeply - you fear this loss.
No explanation. No action. No logic. No vigil. No symbol.
No thought we can think can make sense of this; no action we can take can change the events that have happened.
We try to attribute meaning to events that don’t make sense. Some might say it is because we have taken God out of the schools, or because we are making gay marriage and pot legal, that this is the wrath we deserve. Some will say we need gun control or better mental health care. Many will blame the shooter's parents, perhaps going so far as to say his mother deserved to die.
If we are being our best, most compassionate selves we might wait for another day to push our own agendas. We may not be able to prevent this kind of thing, but we can chose not to add to the hate. We can chose to be an instrument of light and peace. And we can chose to forgive.