Towards a more positive activism
If you're on the internet, and you don't edit everyone and everything you follow to be cute, happy, and fluffy, you have probably noticed that a lot of progressive activists are very angry. Their posts are shouty and sweary.
I'm not one of them, and to honest, I find it a bit off-putting. Even when I share their goals, I find their tone to be counterproductive.
I choose to be positive. I choose , 98% of the time, to use language I’d use in front of other people’s children.I try not to drown in anger because I know that when someone speaks angrily to me, I remember my own anger at their tone rather than the point they wanted to make. I wonder if working with small children all of my adult life contributes to this. I view bigots, misogynists, and haters as CHILDREN, and I know you get a lot farther with children by quietly and calmly repeating “We don’t act that way” than you do by screaming obscenities at them.
I prefer to look at the positives. If I want to express why representation matters, won't it be more effective to share what an important role model Lt Uhura has been . If I want to express why gay rights are important, I think it's more effective to share the life stories of gay people than to call people assholes because they aren't there yet. If I want to share why we need feminism, I don't think sites such as Jezebel and XOJane are the way to go. And I really don't think we'll effectively fight unrealistic beauty standards by going too far in the other direction and wearing pajamas and sweats in public.
I'm not blind to the issues. I take part in social activism: probably way more than the more vocal activists realize. I know that people have a *right* to be angry. I believe that all people deserve equal rights and protection. I believe all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. I do NOT think angry, F bomb laden, YOU ARE WORTHLESS IF YOU DON'T AGREE!!! rants will bring that about. Just the opposite.When one of the people in my lives goes into a rage-y rant, I don't listen to what they have to say. I walk away. I remove myself from the negativity. I don't like feeling the same way about my fellow activists...our fight is too important.
What you can't tell by the time they're teenagers
When my kids, and those of many of my friends were little, doing it all right and never wrong was a big part of our daily thoughts. It stood to reason in our sleep deprived, hormonal brains that if we were doing things right, other ways were wrong. I don't think that has changed much.
I was talking to a friend yesterday about the mommy wars. We've both worked with kids of all ages for many years. We have made some parenting decisions that are very similar, and some that are polar opposites. All of our kids are good kids.
I put a lot of thought into my parenting and all in all, think I've made good decisions that have served my kids well. I even think a few of them are clearly superior to the opposite decision. But I've also come to recognise over the years that I CAN'T know what would work for another family; that the fastest way to encourage someone to NOT do something is to tell them they MUST (or is that just me?), and very importantly, that by the time your kids are teenagers, some thing will simply not be obvious. So relax. By the time your kids are teenagers, no one will be able to tell:
- Whether your child was breast or bottle fed
- What kind of diapers your kid wore (well, except Mother Earth)
- If your child co slept or had a crib
- If you played Mozart for your baby
- If your child read at 3 or at 7
- If your child's first meal was organic brown rice lovingly toasted in a cast iron skillet for extra iron and ground in a virgin grinder and mixed with your milk and organic fruit you grew yourself, or fruit grabbed off the shelf at the produce market, or a spoon full of chocolate
- If your baby was born at home, a birth center, or a hospital
What will the astute observer probably be able to tell?
- If you read to your child and create a language rich environment
- If you are actively involved in their education, whether it takes place in a public, private, or home school
- If you have been fully present for your child
- If you have MODELED and expected basic manners of your child
- Possibly, whether you've ever tried to pass off a fruit juice sweetened whole wheat birthday cake or oatmeal raisin cookie off as the good stuff. That kind of thing leaves scars.
Because I don't want to buy new pants: On deciding not to be content
I've gained 15 pounds in the last year.
A little backstory, for those who need to be brought up to date. For the past two years, I've been dealing with a cluster of issues: constipation broken up by the occasional unpredictable and raging opposite, abdominal pain, a growing list of food intolerances, and a loss of fitness level. And this weight thing. Despite my issues, I was at a size I was happy with just a summer ago. But last year, really in the few months following my 40th birthday, I put on all this weight.
This is something I have brought up to my doctor at the last two "Can we finally figure out what the Hell is wrong with me visits?"/ At the last visit, last week, she said what people would love or would hate to hear"
"Maybe your body is just happy at this weight."
I know many people for whom this would be all they need to hear. "Awesome! I can keep doing what I'm doing and it's all good!" In fact, I'm pretty sure this is the Standard Accepted Response, because to think otherwise would be size-ist and all that.
Yet, my response is: "I don't think so.Time to step up my game"
Before you think my reasons are *all* vain, consider this. I've lived in this body for years, and have grown accustomed to eating a certain way and exercising a certain way and therefore, maintaining a certain weight. And yes, maybe turning 40 flipped some magical switch that made that inadequate, but to have it in conjunction with a suite of symptoms that mainly seem gut related? It would be foolish for me to dismiss a link.If nothing else, cutting back my portions a bit more while exercising more between now and the next appointment in a few weeks may help shed light on that.
Then there's the practical. A friend recently descried his decision to lose weight as :"I had to lose weight or buy new pants, and I'm too cheap to buy new pants". As a cheapskate myself, I relate. I have a stack of pants I can't wear. Not all of them were $1.29 Goodwill tag sale finds, either: some I paid as much as $10 for. Because I worked so hard to get into them. I don't want my hard work to go to waste. And to be perfectly honest, I'm tired of wearing my "period pants" for everyday.
So yes, for the time being, I will be watching my portions more and taking time to work out more.
Winning at infuriating
One of my little rules is that we use placemats at the table. at least 3 of our 5 family members can be pretty messy (raises hand), so this keeps me from changing the tablecloth every day.
Yesterday, reminded me 14 year old to use a placemat when eating and she groaned and said, "Mooom. This must be your most infuriating trait!"
At first I was insulted, until I realised that if the thing a 14 year old girl finds most infuriating about her mother is her insistence on using placemats, that's pretty good.
Taking Your Kids to ComicCon, Part Two: Older Kids
Yesterday, I wrote about the general and younger kid aspects of taking kids to ComicCon.
Today I'll look at some of the considerations with older kids.
While it may seem like things should be easier once you no longer have to deal with diapers, afternoon naps, or finding a quiet place to nurse, the truth is that things get more complicated when you can no longer pick up your child and plop her in a stroller. And it gets trickier yet when the pre-teen years approach, with all the attendant desire for independence. While there's no one right way to navigate that as a parent, it IS important to know how you will and to clearly communicate that to your child.
: Decide what your guidelines are and make them very clear. Put them in writing if needed so that your child can't claim to be unsure. If you take a more hands off approach to your child's clothing decisions, look up the con's costume guidelines and make sure she knows what they are and will adhere to them.
Free Range Geek
Is your child ready to spend all or part of the time at the con out from under your careful eye? As usual, there is no one right answer or magic age; HOWEVER; your con may have its own opinion. Check the conventions policy before letting your child roam free, and don't be afraid to email them to ask. Personally, I find it best to ease into this freedom a year at a time; a panel or two, half a day, and then a whole day.
: I highly recommend them if you're going to let you child be a free range geek. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive: we use cheap TracPhones and our kids are expected to make their hours last for as long as the service days. It's valuable to be able to ask your child where he is, or for her to be able to tell you how AWESOME it was to meet Misha Collins.
Going it Alone
: That's kind of the final frontier. You know, before college and moving out and all that. This year, my 16 year old wanted to go to PAX Prime, and I happened to log onto facebook just in time to see that my friends were in the ticket queue. I got him a ticket, and sent him on his way...although he'd never been to a con before (I don't always follow my own rules!) .While he rode up and down with others, he was on his own. Before you decide to let your kid do this, you should first, find out what the con's rules are; and second, know what your child will do if offered meth at a transit center after midnight.
Taking your kids to ComicCon, or its cousins (Part One- general and little kids)
Whether you're a long time con-goer looking to start your new offspring off in the geek world, or a parent who is going to ComicCon* for the first time with your kids, going to cons with kids is a bit different from going other places with kids, and a whole different thing from going without kids. Here are a few things I've found that can make the day easier.
(*For the sake of brevity, I'll use ComicCon, but this includes any other local cons you may enjoy)
: and I do mean for everything. Unless you're one of those people lucky enough to have both kids *and* money, this starts with the ticket purchase. Does a gift giving holiday coincide with ticket sales? If you buy these tickets, will some important soccer game your kid can't miss force to miss out on using them? We always get out Emerald City ComicCon
tickets in our stockings...much better than more cheap plastic crap!
As soon as the schedule comes out, start looking at it as a family and decide which panels or events matter most to each of you. It's easy if you have at least as many adults as kids going, but when the kids start outnumbering you, and/or having opinions of their own, it's time to compromise (I'll talk about kids old enough to roam cons without you tomorrow) Make sure EVERYONE gets to an event, panel, or signing they care about.
I dragged him to the Doubleclicks show and he ended up on stage
Then, it's time to plan how you'll spend money and what you are willing to spend it on. Decide on a budget for everyone and take it out in cash. Letting your kids know they get to pocket unused budget can make them amazingly thrifty. Be clear before you go what you will NOT spend money on: be it a particular comic, yet another stuffed animal, or con food. I, personally, will not pay for an autograph or to get my photo taken with a celebrity, but for last year's ComicCon my daughter did just that: and it was the height of her day, week, and month.
Decide how you feel about photos: If you look at the terms of service of most cons, they will say something like this:
"Badge holder consents to use of their likeness or image by media or for advertising and other promotional purposes"
What that means to me is that when I walk in that door with my kids, I am OK with their picture being taken by anyone, and published anywhere. While it's certainly rude for someone to take pictures of a child and posting them to the internet without asking the parent, it CAN happen. If this would in some way endanger your child, it might be best to stay home or dress him in a full face mask.
FOOD: It's so much easier without kids, isn't it? You go go go until you feel like gnawing on your arm, then you buy some food. Well, not me, because I'm allergic or intolerant to like 5 different things. But most people. You just can't do that with kids, as you well know (unless they're still breastfed) . Personally, I find it much cheaper to pack a day's food and spend my money on cool stuff. If you'd rather plan a lunch break in a restaurant or local fast food place, you STILL need to pack food. Believe me. When you're standing in line for that ONE panel you didn't want to miss and your kids starts melting down, you'll be grateful you have those granola bars with you.
Take into consideration your child's particular needs
: If your child has special needs, I know you're already the expert and are on top of making sure your child is accommodated. But don't stop at contacting your con's disability services! Contact your local 501st Legion
to see if they can make your child's day special.
If your child is more typical, you may still have needs to consider. If she is newly or currently potty training, you won't want a difficult to remove costume, but you WILL want a change of clothing. Does your child eat or nap at a certain time? Get cranky at 3? Think of how the day will affect your child's schedule and plan meal and rest times accordingly.
Tomorrow I'll look at issues particular to older kids, such as guidelines for costumes, cell phones, and independence.
Why we should extend compassion to Richard Dawkins
I almost didn't read today's story
regarding Richard Dawkin's statements on paedophilia. After all, Dawkins saying something something shocking that pissed people of is nothing new. When I did read it, my reaction was that same as pretty much every one's: anger and outrage. It still pretty much is, but as the day goes on I find it tempered with something kinder: compassion.
It's true, I rarely agree with Dawkins. Scientific acumen aside, he doesn't care who he insults and rather than agreeing to disagree on matters of the divine, he vociferously attacks anyone who dares to imagine a world beyond this one. While I am able to frame those issues as a matter of individual experience, I will state this unequivocally: Dawkins is wrong, objectively wrong, when he states that "mild" molestation is damaging.
And yet I say: extend compassion.
Because I am a religious person, I could frame my reasons for compassion in terms of faith. But I won't. Most importantly, to do so would fail to show respect to my many atheist and humanist friends and allies who share my desire to protect children and to greet all with love. And hey, it's very true that Dawkins wouldn't care for the opinion of a deluded fool such as myself. The reasons we should extend him compassion are because the opinions he voices seem to thinly veil deep wounds. I can only imagine his dismissive attitude toward being molested is a reflection of what *he* was told at some point, if he complained or tried to seek aid. We should have compassion and love for that hurt little boy. Perhaps if Dawkins had received more help, more listening as a child, he would not be so quick to lash out at the world.
I have compassion, but again I say: On this matter he is wrong, and I certainly wouldn't let Dawkins or anyone who shows sympathy for that view alone with a child. It disturbs me to hear a parent say such a thing. May the cycle be broken.