a world without a gun shaped pop-tart is no world at all

I’m overwhelmed at times by the plethora of boys.

First, there is my stinky husband.  Now, I love him, but good lord, he farts.. he burps… he just… stinks.

Then there is my stinky dog. Now, I love him but good lord, his name is Freuhauser. Enough said? (My stinky husband named him. Don’t blame me.)

Then there is my son. Now, I love him.  No but. (Unless he smears his poop on the wall. Then I might not like him very much.)

Boys are a different animal, aren’t they?  I mean, we (for the most part) are all married to one.  (Were we crazy to CHOOSE that?) They even play differently with our kids.  I notice the way Jon throws my son around, they wrestle, you know… boy stuff.

In May, Christopher Marshall, age 7, was suspended from his Virginia school for picking up a pencil and using it to “shoot” a “bad guy” — his friend, who was also suspended. A few months earlier, Josh Welch, also 7, was sent home from his Maryland school for nibbling off the corners of a strawberry Pop-Tart to shape it into a gun. At about the same time, Colorado’s Alex Evans, age 7, was suspended for throwing an imaginary hand grenade at “bad guys” in order to “save the world.”

With 70% of expulsions from schools being boys, how are our schools not serving their needs?  Play is so important in the emotional and physical growth of boys (and girls.)  By limiting creativity, and their natural tendency to be protectors.  According to one study (cited in this article), play fighting rarely escalates to violence. (The study says  only 1% of the time, in fact.)

Lately, with all the school violence and focus on bullying, many schools have adopted “Zero-Tolerance” Policies for many things.  For the most part, I’m cool with them.  But lately, there has been an increasing movement to ban all play that might include (play) fighting, etc.  They are twisting the “no weapons” policy to include “guns” made of fingers, barkchips.. pencils… you name it.

As I read this article, I found myself torn.  I worked with many students who were survivors of domestic violence and were triggered by violent play.  But should we be expelling a kid who was pretending to fight monsters with a barkchip “gun?”

One paragraph regarding “action narratives” (what outsiders might coin as violent play) struck me quite close to home, as a former preschool student educator:

According to at least one study, such play rarely escalates into real aggression — only about 1% of the time. But when two researchers, Mary Ellin Logue and Hattie Harvey, surveyed classroom practices of 98 teachers of 4-year-olds, they found that this style of play was the least tolerated. Nearly half of teachers stopped or redirected boys’ dramatic play daily or several times a week — whereas less than a third reported stopping or redirecting girls’ dramatic play weekly.

In the era of decreasing physical activity but the cutting of gym and recess time, are our kids being force to lose their imagination to appease the ever increasing hot button topic of “Zero-Tolerance?”

Across the country, schools are policing and punishing the distinctive, assertive sociability of boys. Many much-loved games have vanished from school playgrounds. At some schools, tug of war has been replaced with “tug of peace.” Since the 1990s, elimination games like dodgeball, red rover and tag have been under a cloud — too damaging to self-esteem and too violent, say certain experts. Young boys, with few exceptions, love action narratives. These usually involve heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups. As boys’ play proceeds, plots become more elaborate and the boys more transfixed. When researchers ask boys why they do it, the standard reply is, “Because it’s fun.”

To take it a step further, are all-inclusive games not allowing our children to learn to win and lose? In my former life, I managed before and after school programs and summer camps, and inclusive play was ALL THE RAGE.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a HUGE place for inclusive “no loser” games.  These games provide a sense of teamwork and self worth.  But, I did notice a huge shift in the older kids who were raised on inclusive games… well… exclusively.  They were unable to handle situations where they failed.  They were horrible “losers.”  They couldn’t learn from mistakes, because previously all their mistakes were considered “creative.”  I started hiring staff out of high school who couldn’t be instructed to do something without arguing and just saying “no, I won’t do that, because I don’t WANT to.”

In conclusion, I think there is a fine balance.  I also think that like most things, it comes down to parenting.  Do you talk to your boy (or girl) about pretend play vs. real play?  Do you talk to them about making friends and making sure that they are kind?  Do you explain the difference between a real gun and a pretend one?  Do you teach your child how to win well?  Do you teach them how to lose well?  I think those are the things our boys need most.

That and more recess time.

And baths. (Let’s be honest here.)

Read the complete article HERE.

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What is your experience with your child and “banned” play? 

Do you think boys are at a disadvantage in school?

*****

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Julia, formerly a molder of young minds, has briefly stepped away from that task to manufacture a child of her own. Along with the standard baby accessories such as hands and lips, she is planning on installing chrome side-pipes, rollbars, and a bitchin’ spoiler. She is fending off accusations that Jesse James is the true father.

guest post: sexual assault and infertility

I’d like to preface this article by saying that some may find it triggering.

Take care of yourselves, Mamas!

*****

Thirteen years ago, I was at my church youth group.  When I left the room to go to the bathroom, I was followed and violently attacked by knife point.  The gift I had hoped to give my husband was stolen from me, and I was left alone by the church with a Pastor who immediately asked “Well, why were you outside the youth room?”

Eight years later, I meet the man of my dreams.  He is normal, calm, a gentleman… and dealt with all my quirks.  He had to be in my line of sight to make sandwiches with knives, he couldn’t walk behind me, and he dealt with debilitating flashbacks and nightmares until a magical combination of medication and counseling finally created the woman I am proud to be today.  This entry is not a woe-is-me post… but rather a story about how sexual assault can complicate infertility treatments and birth.

We tried for so long with Ethan. Sex is (was) triggering, and more of a chore than anything else. So many people telling me to “Just Relax” was triggering.  It was laughable, the journey to becoming the very person I wanted to be (a mama) was made traumatic by my past.  And then came the internal ultrasounds; again, things were taken out of my control and placed into the hands of someone else.  Though I was aware of these ultrasounds, I traveled outside of myself frequently, just wishing to get pregnant so every month I didn’t feel violated again and again.  My RE was understanding, at least to the point someone could go who had not been through what I had.  She was informative and empowering by allowing me to set the pace and telling me everything she was doing.  Though I had that power, it was still the hardest three years I’ve ever gone through.

And then we got pregnant.  We were over the moon, and finally I felt like I could have 9 months of blissful lack of vaginal disruption.  I got passed from my RE to an OB/GYN.  I met with this OB a few weeks later, where she had me undress.  I talked with the nurse, and requested to be informed about everything prior to the OB doing anything.  She made sure to tell me that the message would be passed along.

It wasn’t.  The OB came in, and proceeded to examine me in ways that I didn’t feel I consented to, and it was one of the most shameful and triggering experiences.  When I told her to stop, she told me that it was necessary to examine me to make sure I was in good shape for the pregnancy and continued on.  She left and I cried.

After that visit, I made a complaint to the medical board.  They wrote back and told me that what she did wasn’t out of the scope of her practice and they would not be passing along my complaints.  I was flabbergasted.

This infuriated me, but also was the turning point for my care during my pregnancy.

I found a midwife.  I needed to feel more in control, and to feel like I had an advocate.  I finally felt I had a voice.  I started saying “No.”  I required everything that was being done for me and to me to be authorized BY me.   Suddenly, my birth was empowering instead of frightening and triggering.  I took back my own body in a new way.

I write this post as I am starting my own journey towards my Doula certification and reading a book described as the birth for sexual assault survivors bible.  I hope that I can help empower other women to find their own voice; their own power in birth.

I write this post  to empower you to tell yours.  When there are as many blogs on this blogroll as there are, statistically, there are at least 33% of us who have gone through some sort of sexual abuse.

You are not alone.

*****

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Julia, formerly a molder of young minds, has briefly stepped away from that task to manufacture a child of her own. Along with the standard baby accessories such as hands and lips, she is planning on installing chrome side-pipes, rollbars, and a bitchin’ spoiler. She is fending off accusations that Jesse James is the true father.

news item: “Child-Blessed vs. Child-Less”

I live in Portland.  Yes.  Portlandia Portland.  And yes, it’s pretty much spot on.

Here in Portland there are two types of adults (at least the two most vocal types.)

  • The Child Free- OMG don’t you bring your child near me, I hate them, and you are ruining the world by over-populating it with selfish brats (which all children are.)
  • The Crunchy Mamas- OMG don’t bring up the idea of vaccinations, fluoride in the water or disposable diapers. I will feed my children all natural vegan foods, unless the eggs come from our free range backyard chicken and butter from our hormone free pet cow.  No. Seriously.  (I may have exaggerated about the cow, but the chicken is totally accurate.)

When I was younger, I vowed to not be that parent… the one who loses touch with all their child-free friends.  Then I looked at my collection of Facebook friends (because obviously that is the best way to evaluate your real friends… right? /sarcasm.)  Now, I’m surrounded by couples whose child is the center of the universe, or people who just “don’t get” why anyone would have a child.

Somewhere along the line of evolution, women have been led to believe they haven’t achieved their full life’s potential without becoming a mother. We are made to breed, society says. This leads to the clash of beliefs here in Portland, because the strong, independent women think children will diminish their value – or keep them from fulfilling their goals.  Women are asked to balance work and family and to do both amazingly well. An article Josey sent me titled “Childless people are full of sadness and regret’ is something that people that have children say” sang words of truth to me.

Did you hear that, ladies? If you’re really ambitious, you should have a career and children, and a successful life will mean mastering both! And if you don’t have children, well, you can expect that your Mommy friends will bail on you, and you’ll feel totally left out of the riveting conversations about lunch strategies, daycare, how to deal with sick children, and poop!

… Childlessness is a source of sadness and regret. Most of those 43 per cent will have gone through fertility hell, or never met the right guy, or left it too late, or have any number of unhappy stories.

Few would say: ‘I don’t want, and never wanted, children.’

The NYT posted an Article entitled “Can Parents Stay Friends with the Child-Free?”  says:

With fertility treatment widely available, not to mention adoption, even clinically infertile women have more options than ever to become mothers, which increases the possibility that any woman who doesn’t will be judged for her choice.

Which brings me to my question: Do we, as women who are also mothers, judge women who are not? And if we do, do we do it overtly or subconsciously — or just by excluding and including people in our lives based on proximity and similarity without realizing that the path of least resistance is one that, for a parent like me, includes mainly friends who are piloting similar family boats?

If by judgment you mean choosing who to hang out with at a cocktail party, then maybe we, or at least I, do judge. I have child-free friends, but I’m forced to admit that since being a parent became my primary non-work activity, more and more of the friends I’ve made have been parents as well — to the point that I can’t, at the moment, point to a real friend I’ve made within the last five years who doesn’t have children.

Among my friends is one solitary married girl who does not ever plan to have children.  Though she be young, and still might, I’ve never had an issue… nor questioned her desire not to, but she immediately started to explain why… with an extensive list.  When I asked her why she felt she needed to explain, she said “Most people, especially women, just don’t get why I wouldn’t want to.  I just… don’t want kids.”

One day I was at a friend’s daughter’s birthday party.  A single 20-something gal was chatting with some mutual friends.  I over heard her say “I just don’t get it.  It’s SO annoying when people put up so many photos on Facebook of their kids.  Usually it’s 10 photos of the kid doing the same thing, with a slightly different expression.  It’s obnoxious.”  (She then went into a lengthy diatribe about shoes and manicures, which I’m sure I found equally obnoxious.)  And though I promised never to talk about any fluids from my child’s body, nor share nude-y pictures of my son… I hate to admit it, but it’s true. Interestingly enough, a couple months later she became an aunt and posted OHSOMANY photos.  I overheard her later talking about and sharing multiple photos of her nephew… doing the same things, with slightly different expressions.  I may have smirked.  Just a little.

The NYT article goes on to say:

As a parent myself, I don’t read my tendency to gravitate toward fellow mothers as judgment — I read it as practical. Fellow parents are more likely to understand if I bail on dinner because of a sudden teacher conference, and their eyes are less likely to glaze over if my preoccupation at that dinner is more temper tantrums than, say, the right way to temper chocolate (which might once have held my interest for hours). In fact, I’d argue that it’s win-win.

As a full time SAHM (who works outside the house in the evenings) I have little to talk about other than my son, so it’s way easier to have complex conversations of interest with other parents.  They are more than happy to entertain my thoughts of toddler beds vs cribs… or hear my latest rant about nap-time roulette.

The author suspects that the “child-blessed” judge the “childless” about their choices. My response would be that those who are childless *by choice* are having far too much fun running around unencumbered by the demands of children that they hardly care if they’re excluded from “cultural conversation” about the choice they’ve made.

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What do you think?  Do YOU have a lot of child-less friends? Does infertility factor into any of your thoughts on this issue?

*****

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Julia, formerly a molder of young minds, has briefly stepped away from that task to manufacture a child of her own. Along with the standard baby accessories such as hands and lips, she is planning on installing chrome side-pipes, rollbars, and a bitchin’ spoiler. She is fending off accusations that Jesse James is the true father.

news item: my effort to CTFD

Throughout my life, I’ve had a penchant to CONTROL ALL THE THINGS!!

This focus reared it’s ugly head when my birth plan of a pretty, quiet, candlelit water-birth went all to hell, and I found myself getting a C-Section.  It was a HUGE awakening which led to me starting to embrace the unpredictability of life with children.

I joined a mom and me group and realized there was a whole new realm to wound parenting.

  • Suddenly, I was surrounded by other first-time parents who avoided disposable diapers like they would personally cause the demise of all landfill controls. (THE TREES, Julia, THINK OF THE TREES, THE TRUFULLA TREES!! Do you hate rainbows?)
  • People shunned television like it boiled your brains, while I was hooked on the latest trial airing on HLN. (It’s wrong to watch Grey’s Anatomy with your toddler?  It’s EDUCATIONAL!  Don’t go out with McSteamy!!!!!!)
  • They read no less than 39485749 parenting books, and I was uneducated because I hadn’t. (CIO CAUSES DETACHMENT AND SERIAL KILLERS!!)
  • Formula was the devil, causing cancer, 6 toes and deformed eyeballs, while I broke out my Kirkland brand bottle.  (YOU DON’T BUY DONOR BREASTMILK????)
  • I gave my son cheerios, but ZOMG IT ISN’T ORGANIC!!!! (And not PRE-CHEWED????)
  • They avoiding giving their children finger paint because the WHITE ONESIES WILL BE RUINED. (Not to mention SKIN CANCER!)
  • “My child is the only kid not sitting up yet, she will be the only kid in college in a bumbo!!!” (Direct mommy quote from group.  Thankfully, 90% in jest.)

Suddenly moms were super worried because their 1 year old wasn’t walking, or saying two word sentences… or able to finish a simple calculus problem.  They had their kids in six different enrichment classes but worried that perhaps it isn’t to early to start Latin.  I bring up these points as a sort of irony.  These were the things I rolled my eyes at when I was a “young parent.”

Then I realized that my need for C’ing the FD was less apparent, a quiet and isolating one.

  • I was nervous to take my son out (What if he misses his nap window?)
  • I was concerned that he wasn’t saying any actual words at one (SPEECH THERAPY MUST BE NEEDED?!?!)
  • I didn’t want anyone to come babysit, because my dog is kind of a jerk and likes to jump in the fountain.
  • I hated having my mother up, because I felt I had to manage her, and also my son.  (And good god, when will I have time to clean the guest bathroom?)

This lead to a life of solitude for a long while. I didn’t want to go out… I didn’t want people over…  I found that my ability to form complex sentences (read; more than 2 words long) was severely diminished. My wit, developed from a couple decades of interactions with creative and fun people… died.

One day my husband sat down and told me “Julia, I don’t feel like I can invite my friends over, because I know how anxious you get… and it makes me sad.”

*BLINK*

That was a light bulb moment for me.  We sat down and had a very long talk about why I was so anxious in all areas of my life.  It boiled down to one thought:

“Things could go Terribly, Horribly Wrong.” 

This thought dominated so many parts of my life, and until I put a name to it, I just had no idea how much control it had over me.  Anxiety runs through my family, and I didn’t even realize I was anxious.  Anxiousness was a state of being, one that I didn’t know there was a way out of.

Relationships are messy.  Parenting is messy.

I needed to Calm the F*ck Down.

This mantra has been a turning point in my life.  My husband says that I have become a brand new person… One whom can acknowledge when things are going to be crazy, and embrace it.

I’m a mom who knows that at any point, Things Could Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong.  Chances are, nothing I do (or don’t do) will scar my toddler for life.  However, the absence of a moderately sane mom could cost me thousands in therapy bills.

*****

In what areas do you need to “CTFD?” 

What things do you worry about going “terribly horribly wrong?”

What are some of the silly things you worried about early on?  

What are some of the silly things you worry about now?

*****

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

Julia, formerly a molder of young minds, has briefly stepped away from that task to manufacture a child of her own. Along with the standard baby accessories such as hands and lips, she is planning on installing chrome side-pipes, rollbars, and a bitchin’ spoiler. She is fending off accusations that Jesse James is the true father.

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