Let's talk about the way we address bullying and teasing. Let's talk about how we address it differently with our boys vs. our girls. Let's talk about how we can best serve our sweet babies. How we can best help them to become strong, independent, compassionate humans. It's time. Past time really.
My friend recently shared on FB that her daughter was teased at lunch. So much teasing that she cried and felt ashamed of her lunch choices.
Many well meaning people responded to the post. The responses fell into one of three camps:
1. Poor girl, I'm so sorry that happened.
2. Poor girl, I'll come over and scare the crap out of those boys. (really?!)
3. Poor girl, but probably the boys like her and they're teasing to get her attention. Boys will be boys. (nope-ity nope nope!)
We have a problem. We are either accepting the narrative of our boys as aggressors, or we are attacking them with our own adult aggression. They're children. Stop it! Really, stop it!
Our boys need to be shown as much compassion as our girls. We need to teach our boys how to relate, how to make friends in ways that don't involve aggression. When we meet boys with violence we're teaching violence. I don't believe any of those well meaning protectors of my friends child would actually hurt or even threaten another child, but that we even rely on those old fashioned and outdated tropes is misguided and dangerous.
I KNOW, boys are more physical, boys play in different ways than girls, I KNOW! I hear you. That doesn't mean they can't be kind humans as well. That doesn't mean that they don't understand what it means to be a good friend.
Come on, let us, communally, give them a little credit. And while doing that, let's teach them about emotional intelligence. The same way we teach our girls to search out the meaning in someone's body language, in their lowered eyes, in their softer voice, or their raised voice, let us teach our boys. We owe it to them.
Let us show them that it is not weak to be kind, it is not weak to reach out to someone less fortunate than you. It is not weak to show empathy for your classmate. Teach them that it is strong and brave to stand up to a bully, not by offering more violence or meanness, but by offering kindness to the one being bullied. That it is strong and brave to turn your back on the bully, that it is strong and brave to NOT BE THE BULLY!
Let us change the narrative for our boys.
Here's what we're teaching our girls when we suggest that we'll beat up their tormentors or that their tormentors like them and just don't know how to show it.
We're teaching them two things: 1. that they need a protector, or 2. that affection doesn't always feel good, but they should accept it, because, well, that's how boys are. Aren't you lucky he likes you?!
No! Gross! I reject these messages. I will teach my girls something different. I will teach them that they do not need a protector. They are in charge of what they will accept and not accept in the way of treatment from others. I will teach them that they have value. That they are strong and powerful young women. I will teach them that they can walk away whenever they damn well please.
"Fuck the haters", is what I will teach my girls.
Not in a mean and aggressive way,
but in a you do what you want, girl, kind of way.
In a way that says you own your body and you own your feelings.
In a way that says you are not defined by what someone else says about you.
In a way that says surround yourself with people who lift you up.
Be one who lifts others.
This is what you deserve, child.
We need your help.
#metoo has shown you the depth of this sickness. But this is not a women's problem. My voice is not the solution. This is a men's problem. And your voice is the solution. We are asking you to stand with us, to see us, and to believe us. But even more, we are asking you to speak up. We are asking you to become leaders in your communities of men. Around the poker table, at the gym, in your office, out hiking. Wherever it is that you spend your time.
I've seen a lot of lists for men. Lists of how you can support women. How you can be an "ally". They are good lists. But there is just one thing on my list.
1. Speak up.
I have no doubt that all of the men I know would step in if they witnessed physical or sexual violence. I know that you good men in my life would never tolerate violence in your sphere. I know.
But what I'm asking is more difficult. When you hear jokes about a woman's looks, or her weight - Speak up. When a man uses our gender as an insult to other men - Speak up. When it is implied that my worth is dependent on the size of my ass - Speak up. When a joke is made about the potential/impending hotness of my 10 year old girl - Speak up. Speak up. Speak!
Practice phrases like, "Hey, that's shitty," or "Dude, not funny." Say it in the mirror. Be ready.
I know that this is not an easy ask. You men have a lot of pressure to be a certain way. To fit in and be tough and "manly". I know that what I'm asking my alienate you from your community. It may alienate you from family members. I'm asking anyway. I'm asking you to break the paradigm that is holding women down. That is allowing for a culture where men's violence is tolerated. Understood to be part of the norm.
We are deserving of equal treatment merely because of the fact of our shared humanity, but while that is self-evident to me, it is not evident to all. So, remind those men that they have sisters, mothers, and daughters who all deserve to not be scared, embarrassed, and demeaned.
As we diminish our tolerance for the small aggressions and harassments, we will also begin the bigger paradigm shift. We will help men and boys begin to see women as whole humans, deserving of the same rights and the same treatment as men. As we make it socially unacceptable to demean a woman for the size of her breasts, we will also be teaching our boys that women and girls are not play toys, here for their amusement and sexual pleasure.
Please. Speak up.
Thank you. I see you and the hard work you are doing.
I see that sometimes they don't listen and there's one that's still turning cartwheels and has no idea where to be on the field.
And doesn't really care.
But some of them do care. Mine does.
And she still messes up. And forgets to pay attention.
I see you being kind to her anyway.
I see you patting her on the shoulder after she lets a goal in.
I hear you yelling again from the side, "Use your hands!"
And again, "Use your hands! You're the goalie!"
And again. "Hands!"
I see you down on one knee. Explaining. Again. And Again.
I see you celebrating her victories.
And sharing her joy.
She knows that you care about her.
She feels that you want to help her succeed.
She can tell you're invested in her.
For no personal gain.
I see you in the rain. From the sideline under my umbrella.
I see you taking off work early and rushing to make it to 4:00 practice.
I am so grateful that it makes me teary.
Which is ridiculous because it's 5th grade soccer.
But it matters. Maybe not the soccer.
Definitely the time matters.
Definitely the kindness matters.
And maybe the soccer matters too.
The more grown ups that are invested in her the better.
The more she hears that another adult values her.
Thinks she's worth investing time in.
The more she will know her value.
The more certain she will be that she has worth.
You are teaching her about perseverance.
She can tell it's not contingent upon her succeeding every time.
You are teaching her to believe in herself.
You are teaching her that she's a good investment.
She knows she can count on you.
She trusts you.
Annabel is big now. Not big like teenager big, not big like first day of school big, but big in a way that is precious and sweet and alarming all at the same time.
Big, like it's the beginning of something new. Big in a way that gives me glimpses of who she will be when she's all grown.
I am so proud of her and my heart is just swollen with so much muchness.
I love getting to know her. I love seeing her grow into the person that I have been so carefully cultivating for the last 10 years. I love seeing her become her own person. Taking my guidance and her dad's guidance and then doing her own damn thing. And so far, her own thing is fucking awesome!
I wrote more about it on Portland Mom's Blog. Check it out.
Turns out writing for two blogs is tricky. Actually maybe it's not tricky and I just need to do a better job managing my time. Probably that's it. But that's not going to happen right away, so in the meantime, if you'd like to read the stuff I'm writing (and I hope that you do) you can check it all out at Portland City Mom's Blog. All the cursing gets edited out which really detracts from the quality, but anytime you think the word fuck or hell belongs, just go on ahead and imagine it. Also, if you think you can fit the phrase douche-canoe anywhere in the piece, please please imagine that. Because, well, douche-canoe is funny. And sometimes it's an apt descriptor. You're welcome! At any rate, the link above takes you to the archive for all my writing.
If you care at all about children, old people, poor people, brown & black people, the environment, or animals you might have noticed that things are tricky right now. And by tricky, I mean that we are living in a country with a government that appears not to give a fuck about these things. And maybe a base of people that also don't give a fuck. Sometimes I feel motivated to incite change because I live in Portland and I'm in this bubble where the people I know and interact with on a daily basis do care. They are putting signs in their yards that begin "In our America . . . " (you've seen this sign/sticker/shirt/meme; it's lovely) and they are showing up at town hall meetings and at the airport to welcome immigrants. But much of the country is cheering on this shitty president who is "getting things done". What the actual fuck?!
First, I said an emphatic "Hell no" (actually, I just said no, but in my head, it was emphatic and involved the word hell) to the bikini. It's the most hyper- sexualized article of clothing in the clothing repertoire. A has been asking (begging and whining) for a couple of years now to wear a bikini and lately I started questioning my stance. Most of my super smart mama tribe also has said no.
And then we really started talking about it. Delving deeper into the quagmire of the swimsuit dilemma revealed that maybe saying no to the bikini was more about my shit than her. More about my fears of what other people would think when they looked at my perfect child in her teeny tiny suit. More about the way that I would look at her in her teeny tiny suit. I want to drag on the wheels of time and seeing her in a bikini (which I see as a sexy and adult article of clothing) makes her look more grown up. I hate that!
I like to measure the success of my summer by the number of nights spent outside. Admittedly, this summer, it's been a little trickier, what with the rainy weekends and all. But we're pushing through. We're getting muddy and hunkering down. We're packing up in the rain and playing more card games under the tarp than other summers, but we're getting outside anyway. And, it is excellent. Even if a little soggy. Though, to be totally honest, if it looks like it might be rainy aaallllllll weekend, skip it.
Every summer I feel like I get a little better at the planning piece. A little better at not running around like a crazy, very irritable person as I prepare for departure. A little better at not forgetting shit. At least not the important shit. I made some checklists and I published them on Portland Mom's Blog. Lists to help you not forget the important shit. You can check them out here.
Let me say right here, though: I forgot to put beer on the list! Also, I like to pack iced tea, lemon and Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Vodka. It's the best camping cocktail ever! Not the beer and vodka together. Two separate beverages. I did put fancy cups for cocktails on the list. Twice. So, there's that.
So last summer we stumbled into a huge victory. My dear husband created Tuesday Night Sporting Club. I was skeptical. Not for any particular reason except that I think it's overwhelming to host anything. I'm always afraid that no one will come. But, it turns out, people like to play. At least the ones that we know. They showed up. And they played.
We thought it would be a good idea to have a regular thing for our high maintenance kids to do. Something that involved other kids and running and a smidge of organization. Daniel named it Tuesday Night Sporting Club because it's on Tuesday night and we expected that everyone would be quite sporting.
I wrote about it for Portland City Mom's Blog. Check it out. I can not recommend highly enough that you start your own Tuesday Night Sporting Club. On whatever night you choose, but do it. Every week! You're welcome.
Now that the weather is not quite as oppressive, all I want to do is get out. My kids don't know that's what they want, but I can tell by the way they roll around the house like puppies nipping and yapping at each other that outside is what they need. What their little bodies are screaming for. They bitch about my insistence that we all get out and enjoy the beauty, but once they're out adventuring and scrambling over logs and fording small streams, they cease to be obnoxious puppies and they become explorers. I wrote some tips for helping your kiddos enjoy hiking. I also listed my girls' favorite hikes in the area.
I'm Molly. I'm all in for parenting. I'm all in for good food. All in for big and small outdoor adventures. And really only partly in for homemaking. I want a Martha Stewart home and meal, but the truth is, we mamas just can't do it all. Not really. This shit is tricky!
This is a collection of musings and missives about parenting like you mean it. I mean really mean it. About how you can pull off a really mostly decent meal, keep your house kinda clean, do some of your laundry, and also even remember to usually feed your pets. But mostly about how being a mama is hard and we can totally rock it, but maybe that dream of perfection has got to give a little.