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Permission

Parents.  I want to tell you something. You know what you’re doing.  I believe in your own parental instincts.  I know you know what to do.

I just felt like this needed to be said.  Because everywhere I turn willy nilly, I see articles with “10 things you shouldn’t say” or  “10 mistakes  you are making” or “10 ways you are scarring your children for life and they will never forgive you no matter how much therapy they will go through”

You are better than this fear-mongering.  I thought you might just need to hear that.

I’ll be honest.  I don’t read those articles.  Because truthfully, I am aware of EACH AND EVERY MISTAKE I MAKE.  And I beat myself up for them on my own time, thank you very much.

But those mistakes are not based on an internet article, or a magazine, any therapist or teacher, or even whatever my great aunt Magdalena might think about how I’m raising my child.  No. I base these mistakes on what my CHILD and my HUSBAND thinks—because in the grand scheme of things parental, these are the only opinions that matter.

Now, I think it goes without saying that I am NOT talking about things like abuse.  Because OBVS, when it comes to hurting a child, EVERYONE’S opinion matters.  That’s why we have laws.  But those parenting articles aren’t talking about that, and we know it.

See that tired lady there?  I KNEW NOTHING.

See that tired lady there? I KNEW NOTHING.

No.  They are talking about food, and sleep, and how we “entertain” our kids.  They talk about being strict, or not strict.  They talk about schedules or free range parenting.  In fact they talk about every damn aspect of parenting—so much so that if you read it all you would be in the same damn place you were when your lil larvae popped into the world.  KNOWING NOTHING AND EVERYTHING.

Look.  We are grown. And being grown means we get to make our own decisions, AND MISTAKES.  You have permission to make mistakes.  In fact, I would step out on a limb here and say the mistakes are more important.  As long as you learn from them.  But there is no way you’ll ever be a perfect parent.  At some point you will disappoint your kid—because you are human.  And you know what?  They learn from that too.  Any person you know that feels they have the best damned parents EVER, can probably tell you with distinct clarity the moment they learned that their parents were HUMAN.  That’s the beauty of all of this:  you all get to learn together.

DSCF1644_thumb.jpgI don’t want my kid to worship me.  I don’t want him to put me on a pedestal as the perfect mom.  What I do want him to see is that I tried my very best,  that I tried to act with honesty and integrity when it comes to him, and that I am a bastion of support whenever he needs it.  That I respect who he is, and let him grow into that.

I do that by listening to my gut, keeping in tune with my son and husband, and learning from my mistakes.  And if i have questions, I ask. And I don’t read articles meant to make me feel like a failure from the get go.

Everything else—the feeding, the activities, the electronics, ALL OF IT, is subject to our current environment and situation, and is REALLY no one else’s damn business.  Yeah, I may judge other parents —but  you know what? That’s MY own weakness of character, and has nothing to do with how you parent, but rather how petty I can be.  And I own that 100%.

So parents, just BE.  Listen to your inner goddess, or instinct, or even the spirit of you great aunt—but I  challenge you to let the decisions you make be YOURS, based on your own knowledge and experience, (with a care for the safety welfare of those around you, natch). Remember that people who write articles are trying to get people to read their stuff. And that some of them are more concerned with ratings and links than they are about common sense and trust. Moderation and common sense hardly attract advertisers or followers. (if it did, i think our politicians would be A LOT different—but that’s another subject altogether, right?)

20130722_140031 Hear me: I trust you.  I trust you to do the best damn job you can do.  I trust that you know what you are doing.

Because the more we treat adults like ADULTS, the more those who are falling short will rise to the level of expectation.  I believe that more than anything i know.

 

And for the record, i don’t care about shares and link backs and the number of people who support this page.  I’ve never been a big name with tons of followers, and i doubt that will change any time soon.  I just want at least one person—any person—to know that someone out there trusts that they are a good parent, whether your kids eat hot dogs every day or is watching You –Tube right now (like mine).  You know.  And you’ve got this.  Continue to grow!

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Own It

As with most of my blog posts, this is something that has been sticking in my craw lately.

(yes, I am part hillbilly.  DEAL)

And while this applies to being a special needs parent, what I am writing about today also applies to being human.  As in homo sapien.  A part of the race of creatures controlling this planet.

Pet Peeve #8824:  Telling people how to feel.

It’s right up there with the phrase “you should”

Lately, as I read friends write posts about the R-word—a word I am now vehemently against using, contrary to my youth—I see the same response:  “YOU’RE TOO SENSITIVE”

When I see other special needs parents discuss their own feelings about their child’s disability, I see them met with “YOUR FEELINGS ARE ABUSIVE”

When I refuse to do certain “patriotic” things like say the pledge of allegiance because of personal, deeply held beliefs, I am met with “YOUR FEELINGS ARE WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY”

And it is REALLY starting to annoy me.  That last nerve I have, the one that looks all raggedy and torn—these people are jumping up and down on it like a cirque du soleil dancer in a Vegas show. 

I get it.  We all have opinions of how we think the world should be.  For example, I’ve got this crazy notion that we should take care of our mentally ill and homeless, especially the veterans, instead of casting them aside because they don’t fit the perfect picture of society some have painted in their heads.  And I have another crazy notion that we should feed the hungry, even if they are making really poor life choices, because you cannot convince me that treating people like human beings will create dependency and laziness.

And as much as I may disagree with people who do NOT feel as I do, I do not tell them that what they feel is wrong.  I may question their actions, but I do not tell them that the emotions they feel—welling up from deep inside—are wrong.

(Although I WILL be the first to step in and tell them if their actions are in fact illegal or unconstitutional)

Debate is NOT about all of us thinking and feeling the same thing.  Debate is SUPPOSED to make both sides think and reevaluate our own point.  But no one is going to be willing to examine their own beliefs if someone else says “well, you should think this”—in fact, nothing will make me stick to my guns more fervently than someone TELLING ME WHAT TO THINK/FEEL instead of defending what they think/feel with their own stories.

For some of you, you know what this is.  It is what Paul had in mind when he called early Christians to witness. (not knocking on doors telling you that you are going to hell unless you read a pamphlet)

You might say, I’ve held this belief for SOME TIME.

Feelings don’t come out of nowhere.  They come from experience and hopefully thought.  Sometimes they are passed down to us from parents or community.  When we all agree to hold certain beliefs—like say,  not butchering dogs on the front lawn—it creates a sense of community.  But even those beliefs have to be owned—not just taught.  I don’t butcher dogs on my front lawn because a) my neighbors won’t like it, but ALSO because b) it is not an activity I could stomach because of my love for dogs.  See?  Public and personal views. No matter the views taught to us, there still comes a point when we  must own them, that we can say, THIS is what I believe, and know it down to our gut.  That doesn’t mean it’s unchangeable—it simply means that we own it.

We don’t all have to have the same feelings or emotions or thoughts to get along.  My own husband and I vary greatly sometimes in some of our beliefs.  I am a big proponent of non violence—am against the death penalty and war.  My husband’s view on non violence is not the same.  And we are both aware of how the other feels.

And yet here we are, happily married, raising a child, living under the same roof, with respect for one another.  because we don’t dictate to one another how to think or feel.  We use crazy phrases like “I don’t agree with that.” and then proceed to have dinner.  I’d like to think that I’ve shaped some new views in him.  He hasn’t been so successful in raising any bloodthirstiness in me, but we’ve only been together 11 years…

Now—allowing people to think or feel as they wish can certainly bring about uncomfortable moments.  But this is part of the human experience.  Those moments, as ugly as they can be, shape who we are.  Perhaps someone is explaining why using the R word is hurtful.  And you find that you disagree with that because you think that being able to use words is a freedom you should be allowed to express, even if they are hurtful. when you find yourself disagreeing with folks, that’s a great opportunity to examine WHY. Because it is within THAT examination that our character is formed and continues to grow.  I will admit, when the accusations of being “too sensitive” about it pop up, I examine myself.  Am i making a mountain out of a molehill? And I look to my core beliefs, and I realize I am NOT too sensitive, and that we are fighting a battle for a paradigm shift.  And then I “witness” my own beliefs and from there can only hope you will examine your own.

Because that’s the thing.  My job is not to get you to change your mind.  My only job is to make you think.

So, stop telling me HOW to think, and give me reasons to THINK FOR MYSELF.  I will be more apt to listen to you if I think you have some respect for my humanity, than if you treat me like a child without any life experience.

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The Ausome Elite

So, this latest story about Disney and the change to the Guest assistance pass has been making the rounds of the interwebs.  I have hesitated writing about it because there were those with a stronger voice who were doing a much better job.  And to be honest?  It’s not going to affect us as much as some others.  In fact we are working on “line waiting” in ABA, and maybe, in about a year, he might be able to handle the new system.  But I fully support those families that are not in our shoes, for whom this new plan will NOT work, and for whom a trip to Disney is now off the table.

But what I DO want to address is this idea that I unfortunately read (and experience) that we are living some sort of privileged and elitist lives as parents of a special needs children.  That apparently the  REAL reason many parents are outraged  is because we want “preferential treatment” because we are “too lazy” to actually parent our children.

Yup.  You’re on to us. I was just thinking this morning as I sat eating my bon-bons and watching my stories how HARD my life is, and wondering what i could do to make it easier.  Even though right now my life is made much easier in SO many different ways.  Let me give you a glimpse into this amazingly elite life:

  1. Where we live is no guarantee that my child will attend the local school. Oh no!  We get to have special meetings with tons of paperwork in which EVERY. SINGLE. ISSUE my son has is hashed out over a table and every deficit discussed until we are exhausted with eduspeak.  Some even get the privilege of fighting tooth and nail  and hiring lawyers sometimes to get the schools to actually obey the LAW and make sure our children get the education promised to them.  Not to mention all that extra face time some of us get with teachers, aides and administrators!  why, they don’t hesitate to tell us everything our kids did wrong!  They are like the paparazzi of bad news!
  2. When my child has a meltdown or an issue in the grocery or any other sensory laden disaster zone, our parenting is immediately called to question.  And if we should even ATTEMPT to explain our special privilege, we get joyful accusations of being too lazy, or told to keep our children out of the public if they “can’t behave”—told of course by the same people that our children “need to learn to behave in public” according to the “social contract”.  See?  We get the bonus privilege of having to solve basic hypocrisy! Sweet!
  3. If I should mention one IOTA of frustration on a bad day, my ability to parent a special needs child is called to question—hell, now even the safety of my child is brought up because there are those that think a bad day equals wanting to harm my child.  Or at the very least, that my language is abusive and shows how much my ableist bias is showing, and that I must resent my child.  So I get the very distinct honor of either watching every word I say OR taking it on the chin from every side.
  4. While other parents enroll their kids in dance or karate or gymnastics, I get the privilege of being told they can’t handle my son, or that I need to provide an aide, paid for from my own privileged pocket, to help.  Instead of the just so common practice of popping down to the Y and signing my kid up for “just work the energy out of him PLEASE” class A, I have to talk to each of the instructors and gauge their attitude toward children on the spectrum—since by law they can’t deny me, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a dick.  And if I’m lucky, I get to watch an instructor ROLL THEIR EYES as they have to deal with my son.  I cannot BEGIN to tell you how self important that makes me feel.
  5. Some of our parents are in a REALLY elite group.  Their children just don’t sleep.  They get to spend their days punchy and irritated because they are surviving on a few hours here and there.  (I am sadly NOT a part of this group, but I can dream…)  Oh, the privilege of being absentminded and exhausted ALL THE TIME.  Gosh. If only, huh?
  6. We get the distinct pleasure of not being invited to birthday parties much, if ever.  Who needs games and cake and bounce houses and friends when we can spend our day at home lining up hot wheels cars?
  7. As they get older, what fun!  Bullying!  Our children will more likely be the target for a bully than most other children.  That really IS elite. Why it makes me break out in hives just thinking about it!  I can’t wait!
  8. And let me share our dining out experiences!  Not only are we often placed somewhere in the back where we won’t disturb anyone and can often be forgotten by the wait staff, but sometimes we don’t even get to eat and have to leave because they changed the menu or there was a clown or someone sneezed too loudly!  What a fun game to get settled in  and ready to eat, only to pack up quickly while your child is screaming ad having all the patrons looking at you in judgment!
  9. Have I mentioned the writer’s cramp?  Oh, the joys of becoming your child’s personal administrative assistant.  Filling out this form and that!  Quite often with the same information!  Oh, and the evaluations!  remembering your child’s agpar score isn’t something every parent has to do—only those of us in the core elite!  I only wish you could experience the Vineland which drives home EVERY. SINGLE. developmental milestone your child has missed.  Most of us get to fill that our every other year or so—unless we apply for something at a new agency!  Then we get to do it again! Bonus!
  10. We are so lucky to get to work first hand with insurance companies as we work with Medical specialists and therapists to make sure our kids get all the special treatment they are entitled to.  Like speech therapy and trips to the neurologists!  How special it is that we get to spend so much time sitting on hold trying to get treatments approved.  Muzak versions of “Horse with No Name” and the entire Yanni catalog.  It’s like the special soundtrack to our lives.

So yeah, it is a pretty elite group.  There’s so much more here I didn’t even address, because I wouldn’t want you to develop too much envy.  But I must say, all of these special treatments pale in comparison to the anger and idiocy thrown in our direction when we dare to stand up for ourselves and our children.  Gosh—the name calling alone is worth every minute.  I only wish you could experience just a day of this sort of privilege.

Really.  I wish you could experience a day—because then you might achieve the one special thing you CAN gain from such an experience:  COMPASSION.  Even I, whose family will not really be too hindered by this Disney thing, recognize that some families are now shut out from the happiest place on earth.  Because what being a member of this elitist group has taught me is that we have to learn to look out for others and  not just ourselves, because we are in this together, like it or not.

Now , if you’ll excuse me, I need to go shop for overpriced sensory gear labeled for “autism”  while I sit on hold with the insurance company.  I hope you’re not too jealous.

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Flashback Friday

I had to fill out a lil survey thing for Ben the other day and i asked him what his favorite subject was  in school.  He told me “Art”

for today’s flashback, an homage to my lil artist and how his brain works…

 

Scribbles (november 9, 2010)

I had a little moment today. Thought I would share.

Because we lack a magnetic fridge, I post Ben’s schoolwork on the pantry door. Right now it’s covered with work from last year, summer school, and a few items from this year. Today as I was making some tea, (Sadly NOT for a toddy) I turned and looked at one of his pieces from summer school. Its entitled Self Portrait.

Now, any 3 year old would have made a picture just like it. It’s a multitude of scribbled lines in multiple colors with no shape or reason. At the time he had no concept of the work “draw”–he’s just starting to pick it up now–and no idea whatsoever of “Self”. The ability to “draw” comes with time–typical or no. And as for the concept of self–well, he’ll get it one day. (hell, I’ve met some 30 somethings drinking cheap beer who barely had a grasp of it…) But it struck me this morning how this self portrait was a bit more true to life than imagined.

Lemme tell a story about the first time I saw a Van Gogh. (and don’t worry, this is not a preface to saying my son is an artistic genius) My mother and I were at the Getty, and we walked into a gallery that held one of Van Gogh’s iris paintings. Now, I’ll admit I’ve never been a big fan, but when I came face to face with this painting, I burst into tears. Literally. I am not shitting you. Tears streaming down my face. A blubbering idiot over a picture of flowers. Because in that moment–I got it. I understood his madness, his despair, his intensity. When you come into the presence (and I think you have to be right there, to see the color, the brushstrokes–a book just doesn’t cut it) of a Van Gogh, you suddenly see the world as he saw it–and it is so intense and maddening that, for me at least, it was too much. I have never forgotten that experience. At that moment, I understood all those damn art classes I had to take for my general ed requirements.

And today, as I stood and looked at this page, I felt it again. Ben experiences so much at once–his senses on overload, his mind racing from one thing to the next. All of it a blur sometimes, incomprehensible most of the time, a multitude of thoughts and emotions of which he cannot make sense. As much as this is the scribbles of a 3 year old who was told to draw himself–words he didn’t really understand at the time–he did create a self portrait. This IS my little man–in all it’s color and beauty, as well as its frenetic energy.

It was a fitting reminder to me today as we fight through this latest round of whining/growing/detox/general malaise that is being a child with Autism. I am finding that behavior can be cyclical. He can have weeks of fantastic behavior, and then a week of being demon spawn. Lately it feels like we’ve been getting the grand tour from Dante himself, but I know it won’t last. (at least I HOPE it won’t last) He’s had a rough couple of days, having given up gluten, probably going through withdrawals or he may possibly have a cold, or he’s hitting a growth spurt, or the time change has messed him up, or he ate raisins. As you can see, the reasons can be like his actions and subsequently, like this drawing.

I think when I start to remove things here in order to put more up, I’ll keep this one around. As a reminder to me of what it’s like to see the world through someone else’s vision–whether they realized they were showing it to you or not.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Another episode of "I Just Don’t Get It"

So, we had a lil incident last week that’s been rollin around in my mind/emotions/psyche for a few days. And part of the reason isn’t just because it was kinda ugly, but also because I really don’t understand.  Really.  I DON’T.

Long story short.  we were at the Y, my kid had to go potty, I took him into the women’s locker room and was there accosted by an older woman who was “mortified” that my son might see her in her post menopausal glory.  Which honestly *I* didn’t wanna see either, but that’s another story.  She did not accept my gentle excuse that my son has autism and couldn’t manage the male locker room–WHERE HE HAS ACTUALLY NEVER BEEN–by himself.  Also, he’s 6.  SIX.  As in JUST OUT OF KINDY.  SIX.  pre-pubescent.  VERY pre-pubescent.

Amidst this brow beating, she mentioned she herself has an autistic son. And would I be ok with his 21 year old self coming in here? to which I replied “*I* don’t have a problem with it”

And here’s the thing.  I really don’t.  Nudity doesn’t bother me like it bothers others.  I helped support myself through college sitting for art classes.  YES–THAT KIND OF ART CLASS. Maybe I’m just a hippie, but all this nonsense about separate bathrooms where children are concerned seems so silly to me.  Yeah–I understand the whole older man/teen girl or boy thing, and I won’t deny that there are some serious pervs out there in the world.  But this was NOT that situation.

As a woman, I wouldn’t care if a boy from the ages of newborn to preteen saw my naked body if I changed at the gym. (which I don’t actually, not because of propriety but because that locker room is a little skanky to be honest.  That, and I’m usually wrestling a 6 year old autistic boy who’s upset about leaving the pool, so I try to get out of there ASAP and do the whole shower and change thing at home)  I’m also a firm believer that our obsessions with sexual segregation is part of our problem as a society.  If boys and girls saw the natural human form, in all shapes and sizes, maybe they wouldn’t grow up with such strong body image problems?  Just a thought.

But here’s another thing.  This outrage seems selfish to me.  Maybe because I was on the receiving end, but I still don’t understand. Why is it more acceptable to some that my son go into a male locker room ALONE rather than together in safety with me in the woman’s locker room?  Why is some woman’s sense of virtue and propriety more important than a child’s safety?  And I’m not just saying my kid.  Any boy.  Or any girl with her dad in the man’s locker room?    You know where my kid gets to go to the bathroom alone?  AT SCHOOL–because I know the school is 90% safer than some locker room in North Hollywood.

And before you shout “you’re just paranoid!”  let me remind you of this story.  A 9 year old boy goes into a men’s restroom in Oceanside while his aunt waits outside.  And he was murdered by a crazy man.  Oceanside aint’ far from here folks.  Pardon me if I’m affected by both the proximity and the horror of that story.

So, my son will be accompanying me to any and all bathrooms–unless his father is with us, natch–until he is old enough to call for help, and/or be embarrassed by being in a woman’s bathroom.  Or until more family bathrooms are available for use.  And if any old bat is worried about the virtue of her sagging tetas, she might end up with an earful from me…

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Power

Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused.  –Freda Adler

There is a lot of chit chat today about victimization.  Unfortunately the victim the media SHOULD be discussing it being painted as the villain.

And of course she is.  Because OBVIOUSLY it’s her fault that two boys made a fucked up choice to flaunt their power and abuse someone without power.

(seriously–if you didn’t read the sarcasm in that?  You need to find a different blog to read)

But I’m not going to waste time painting the picture of the obvious that we live in a rape culture–where rape is a joke for many, and a reality for more.  You all know at least one person who has been raped, even if he or she hasn’t told you.  Even if she never went forward with the information knowing what the culture would say about her.  Even if she thought that going forward with her story would only tarnish her as “whore” and him as “victim.”  Because that is invariably what happens in our society.

No–I want to talk about the idea that men cannot help it, that boys are inherently violent and that we need to take that into consideration when they do atrocious things.

Lemme share a story that is not about rape, but rather about power.  Because rape in its purest form isn’t at all about sex, and everything about power.

When I was in high school, our school had a kick ass football team.  Maybe not the powerhouse of surrounding towns, but good enough.  We weren’t a small town, nor insular, but like any other town we had one high school, and our athletes carried a certain power.

And like any other town with a high school, there were parties involving alcohol and teenage stupidity.  And at one of those parties, a few of the football heroes took advantage of someone without power and beat him nearly to death.

There is no question here posed that he “deserved it” or was “asking for it” as I think we can all agree that being beaten that badly is NOT something someone deserves, even if they are being an asshole or said something nasty about your mama.  No one deserves to go to the hospital because they don’t have any power.

(and for any of you harboring any blame toward a rape victim, I want you to think about that example and apply it to her.  I don’t care if she was walking down the street nekkid with a sign that says “rape me”–it is STILL NOT AN EXCUSE)

Anyway, our town felt the brunt of this case because it actually made national news, and our school football team was painted with a broad brush as thugs and bullies.  And it felt unfair–because most of them weren’t.  But let me be clear here–a couple of them were, and deserved to pay the consequences of their actions.

As a result of this horrible beating, our school came out with a “Code of Conduct” that all athletes and anyone in extracurriculars had to follow.  And if you broke it–even at non school events, you could be kicked off your team/whatever.  Even we band geeks had to follow it.  I don’t remember it–prolly because we didn’t go about beating people–but people were up in arms about it.  As an adult looking back on it, I can now say of course!  That makes sense.  If you beat someone to death, you don’t get to play football–even it it was a private party.   ‘Cause here’s the thing.  The code needed to happen, because at least a few guys needed a reminder about how to act.  I’m sure there was a rule, or at least should have been a rule like 1) don’t beat the shit out of people because you can.

Because this is my point–ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES.  and if you choose to use power over another person, there will be a consequence.  It may be a punishment. Or maybe you think you’ll get away with it.  but even that will have a consequence.  Because if you abuse power, and get away with it, the world is doing you and the rest of us a disservice.  Because then we will see the abuse as something normal, as a part of human nature, and we will become numb to it.  If someone gets away with abuse of power, it only sets a precedent for others to do it, and then when someone stands up and shouts “ABUSE!” they will be viewed as the abuser instead.

They may have been rising stars, and they may have had a future ahead of them, but their choices–AND THEIR CHOICES ALONE–ruined their lives.  Not the person they abused.  Because their actions already ruined someone else’s life

If we refuse to hold boys up to the same code that we hold women to (don’t dress this way, don’t act this way, don’t get raped) then we are doing them a disservice.  We are saying we do not think they can do better, that they are no better than animals, that they cannot evolve.  and that, gentle readers, is a steaming load of horseshit.  MY son will be taught to NEVER abuse his power–because he is going to be big and strong if genetics are ANY indication.  And he will know–because I will never shut up about it–that abuse of power is a cardinal sin in this house.  End of story.

You know why rape victims seem to deal with the trauma of their rape so well?  BECAUSE as a society WE HAVE NO CHOICE. So many people have been a victim of rape that it has become the norm to “deal” with it.  Because the more noise a victim makes about it, the more abuse she is wont to suffer. We deal with it and survive because no other choice it open to us.

I don’t want to hear another thing about those “poor boys”.  They made choices.  Bad ones.  And now they are paying a slap on the wrist penalty for those choices. And that girl has to continue being victimized through the media and in her hometown as the perpetrator instead of the victim.

THAT is rape culture, people.  And it is why we feminists and others are so “uptight” about this whole “rape thing”.  When words like “legitimate rape” enter our culture, it is no different from the 1950′s idea that she was “asking for it”. Someday we are gonna wake up and see that horror of all this.

Someday.

I hope.

I REALLY REALLY hope.

*not holding my breath*

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Just Stop It.

Today is the annual “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign.  It is a subject near and dear, which i blogged about in detail last year.  So i’m not going to go into a long rant this year.  BUT

You are better than using that word. When you use it, you are giving a signal to every bully in the area that you think a group that once carried that label medically is deemed as “other” and “less than” and therefore a target.  Even if you are not referencing them directly, EVERYONE knows what you mean.  And when you use it, or let others around you use it, you are saying it’s ok to treat an entire group of people badly.  You are saying it’s OK to bully, and harass, and even take away their rights.

Yeah–we’re annoying in this.  Yeah, you might consider us the “word police”. And hey if you wanna keep using it, indeed shouting it from the rooftops to exhibit your freedom of speech, then do so.  Just know MY freedom of speech may compel me to call you a douchebag for doing it.

Just STOP IT.

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Dear Mom on the High Horse, Let Me Tell You What YOU Don’t See

I see you over there, givin me the stink eye as I check my mail.  It must feel good to sit there in your righteous judgement, huh?  I mean, you are the example to all the other moms:  you dress well, you shower daily, you make bread from scratch and you are president of the PTA.

But Mutha, lemme tell YOU what you don’t see right now…

That mom over there spent all morning trying to get her kid services he so desperately needs, and all her friends have abandoned her because her child is not like theirs, and it makes them uncomfortable.  And she feels horribly alone and she worries about her child and how he will be treated every minute.

But you can’t see them because all you see are dirty sweat pants and unwashed hair.

That mom over there could really use a friend, because she recently gave birth to her third child and her post-partum depression is off that charts.  Right now she might be thinking about making sure the kids are with their grandma before she takes the pills tonight.  She might be thinking about leaving her husband.  She might be thinking of running away.

You’ve seen her before, but have never offered her more than a cool nod, even when you noticed she looked frazzled and spent.

She sees it, and thinks she must be a horrible person because she can’t seem to make friends.

Now you are talking to one of the moms you do know, but you can’t hear the story beneath her story because all you can focus on is your own parenting, and you can’t hear that her marriage is faltering and she could use a shoulder.  You only think that if there is a problem, your friend must be doing something wrong.  Because marriages, like your own, work well when you do everything right.

Take a minute to LISTEN and HEAR and SEE the men and women around you.  Not the face they show to the world, but the underlying story of hardship with which they might be struggling. Enjoy the camaraderie that comes with making adult connections.

Put your eyes back on the prize:  COMPASSION.

Recognize that not everyone has the same views as you do, and not every parent is going to parent the way you do.  EMBRACE it, and them.  I’m not saying accept truly poor and abusive parenting that puts children at risk, but for godsakes, don’t  put someone who wants a few seconds to decompress in the same category as a negligent parent.

Eventually all you will have is your blog and your righteousness and nothing else, because no one wants to know they are being judged all the time by the people around them.

When your children are grown and out of the house, no one will be there to go on grand adventures, or to play card games.  No one will invite you to join their book club because they all know that you hold your opinion to be the most important, and no one feels that you are at all kind.

In fact most of them think you are mean.  And will not be sorry to see the back of you.

You’ve shown them how judgemental you can be, how, when they need a few measly seconds, or minutes or even a freaking hour to hear their own thoughts and grab a little peace in whatever form it can take, you will look down your nose at them and call them bad parents and think yourself better than them because you have tried them in your court of personal opinion and found them guilty of being themselves.

I know you think you are trying to help them.

I know you only want to show them the joys you experience being a parent the way you want to be a parent.

But those other parents can’t hear your joy.  They can’t hear your urge to help.  Because your judgement is screaming way too loudly.

May you never know the loneliness that can sometimes accompany parenthood.  And if you do, may someone far more compassionate and caring than you come to your aid, for heaven help you if you come face to face with a mirror during those times.  Because your kind of noisy, high-horsed judgement and disapproval?  I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

Categories: Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Reticence

Revisiting an old post…

April 21, 2011

 I have stated before that I am a bit of a recluse.  Reticent.  Reserved–well, in public at least.  I’m not the most social of animals its true.  Some asshat once compared me to an anemone and only people  willing to risk my sting could get in.  Although, this was in a bar, and I think he was just telling me this to rub up against me.  And  it turned out this anemone had a hidden barracuda, and kicked that clownfish to the curb.
Its just that…well…I don’t like people.  I find them annoying 90% of the time.  What with their jabbering on about nonsense like weather and traffic and the price of gas,  and  wanting to exchange small-talk, and half of them having no concept of personal space–physical or otherwise.  I don’t like ‘em.  Me and Jonathan Swift–we’re like this *holds up crossed fingers*  Friggin Lilliputians.
So, you can imagine the whole “park scene” isn’t really mine.   I once discussed that scene here.  And in some ways, Ben’s Autism has served me in this.  He isn’t social, so I don’t’ really have to be.  Or when he is his version of social, the parents of his new squeeze toys usually DON’T want to talk to me.  Nor I them, honestly.
But yesterday, at this torture chamber of sand and swingsets, I found a woman wanting DESPERATELY to make eye-contact with me.  She had a cute little munchkin, just getting the whole walking thing down, and she hovered over him like an LAPD helicopter over our house on a Friday night.  (hope my lack of sleep meant you caught your man, AirPigs™ ) Having served my sentence at the swings, I pushed Ben toward the climbing/sliding/bone breaker so that I could sit down  and exhibit this neighborhood’s version of poor parenting.
Anywhoosers, My kid was coming down  the slide while the previously mentioned larval form was standing at the bottom of said slide, so I granted her 2 seconds of eye contact to give her the silent nod/head’s up you’re kid’s about to eat it signal so she could rescue him in time.  Which she did like any sober attentive parent.
And I went back to my taciturn indifference. (yeah–I’ve been watching Pride and Prejudice again.  Sue me)  So, I can still feel her eyes boring into to me, with the crunchy/hippie smile plastered on her face as if she wants to share the joys of parenting such a beautiful, intelligent, all-natural child with me.  You may, kind reader, already guess my feelings on this possible scenario.
However, my kid, at this point did something kinda cool for him–he looked at the small grub, smiled and actually LEANED OVER to LOOK HIM IN THE EYE and said “baby”.
HOW AWESOME IS THAT???!!!
So I gave him some verbal praise for making “good eye contact!”  and clapped for him and did my little mom sideline cheer.  After which my kid took off to try to break his leg on another apparatus.
And the need for eye contact from this yoga-pants model stopped.  All non-verbal requests for communion had ceased.  She grabbed her child and headed in the opposite direction, keeping one eye on Ben, lest he turn into a 7-headed hydra and try to defeat her little hercules.
(sorry to tell you lady, your kid looks like he’ll make a great red-shirt.  Just sayin’)
She, no doubt having done all her research while her pupae was still in its cocoon, knew the secret code words I had just uttered, and realized at that point that my child was not. like. her. child.
Lucky for me (and for her consciousness and facial structure)  a friend of hers arrived within the next few minutes and they proceeded to have a FASCINATING and just loud enough conversation about how horrible a parent her sister is while their little arthropods proceeded to eat sand.  No doubt she had been bursting earlier to tell SOMEONE about how her sister lets her kids eat too much sugar, and *shudder* WATCH TELEVISION.  FOR 30 MINUTES.  EACH. NIGHT!  Gods preserve us, it’s a wonder she didn’t call CPS right then and there.
I should say, I hadn’t strayed from my spot near this unfortunate and loud conversation until it looked like Ben was gonna attempt the climbing wall, and as I had no desire to visit the ER, I decided a ground rescue was in order.
And wouldn’t you know it, that conversation, which had been at a decibel that even the parking lot could hear previously, was suddenly hushed, and upon curious glance to see if they had been set upon by zombies, i found both sets of eyes were upon me.  Now, no doubt they were discussing their latest bikini wax, or the fact that her husband made a sexual request she just wasn’t comfortable with, and both had just HAPPENED to look up at my stellar gymnastics at removing my little lemur from an apparatus from which he did not know how to exit.
Because she would be a giant douchebag if she took that moment to talk to her friend about my kid.
And while I am a self-proclaimed misanthrope, I don’t ACTUALLY believe the worst of them.  I like to think that people will rise to their inner good naturally.
But perhaps you will not begrudge me my inner reluctance at befriending these asshats.  No, I prefer to be taciturn, and read great literature, and talk smack about people anonymously.
If you need me, I’ll be hanging out in my anemone…
Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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