Tag Archives: parenting

Is 3 too young to teach boys not to rape? I don’t think so.

This is a quick hit, because lately all I can think is “ao@*&#dg;9760iuehTAE” when I sit down to write. I’m sure this deserves to be fleshed out.

Last week Zerlina Maxwell went on the Hannity show and tilted the world off it’s axis when she said stop telling me how to not be raped, and start telling men not to rape. (The whole linked clip is worth watching, but she speaks at 2:35.) She followed up today with a piece at Ebony, 5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not To Rape.

I think about this a lot. I think about it more since about 2 years ago when I overheard a dad at the park encouraging his 3/4yo son to go give another little girl a hug, and upon hearing said little girl’s mom say, “She doesn’t like hugs, he better watch out,” continued to encourage his son because, “Oh, she’ll be fine. Someday she’ll like it.”

I am raising a son, and you can damn well believe that I am laying a foundation, at his current pre-school age, so that he doesn’t become a rapist.

He’s being taught to ask his friends if they want hugs from him, and he’s being taught to respect it when they tell him, “No.”

When he gets older he will hear his father and I critically examine sports announcers on our television. He will attend women’s sporting events.

He will be taught that “bitch” is not a word we use in our house.

He will see and hear his parents speak up when we witness rape culture.

He will be taught that all people are valuable, and that listening to the experiences that other people have had, and learning from them, will make him a better person.

We will teach him these things so that, if we do it right, he will be an ally against rape in his chosen community.


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Who doesn’t walk home on the train tracks at night?


I was thinking about this last night on my way home from a meeting. Not the silly part about hurting yourself on a treadmill (although, Maude knows that seems to be true, too) but the part about how risk taking has changed for me over the years. What constitutes a risk has changed for me, not only as I’ve aged but since I had a child.

I took a bunch of stupid risks when I was younger. Most of them were of the sort that put my physical safety in jeopardy: walking home late at night on the train tracks, or through the park, that sort of thing. (Interestingly, you couldn’t have paid me to walk through a neighborhood of fraternity houses on a night they were all throwing parties – mob mentality has always made me nervous.) I walked with my keys tucked into my fingers, and paid very close attention to sounds and my surroundings figuring I would be fine. I didn’t think what I was doing was safe exactly, but like my dad always used to say, “The young, they think they are invincible!” Looking back, sometimes, I guess I was pretty sure I was invincible. (I mean really? Train tracks alone at 3am? Holy shit was I dumb.)

About 3 months after Kidlet was born, he and I were driving home from a friend’s house. It was December so 9pm was DARK, and I remember the night being kind of chilly. About 2 minutes into the 10 minute drive home kidlet started screaming from the back seat. I wanted to stop so I could make sure he was okay, and only yelling because that’s what he did in the car seat. And I remember thinking to myself, I need to stop somewhere where I will be safe. Where there is a lot of light, and hopefully people. I wasn’t on some desolate back road 20 miles from the nearest house, I was driving through a populated  neighborhood.

I chose to pull into a shopping plaza where there was a grocery store that was likely to have people coming and going. I found an area of the parking lot that was brightly lit, and put the car in park. I sat for a second, worried about getting out of the car with the car running to check Kidlet in the back seat; What if someone tried to steal the car? He would go with it. But I didn’t want to turn the car off because I wanted to keep the heat running, etc.  While these thoughts plowed through my head I also thought, Woah. This is a whole new level of feeling like a target. All of a sudden I realized that keeping myself and him safe had become an imperative. It had gone from being a good idea to something that must be done.

And this popped into my head last night while I was driving around trying to find a parking spot. Where’s the risk? I was looking for a spot that wasn’t more than a block or two from where I was going, and on a street that was well lit, without lots of shadows. And then again when I was walking back to the car, where’s the risk? I decided to walk in the middle of the street instead of on the sidewalk because streetlights point into the road and not onto the sidewalks, so there was a lot of light in the road, whereas the sidewalk was relatively dark.

My sense of risk intersects more aggressively now with what it means to be female. With what it means to be short. With what it means to not be in the best physical shape of my life. With what it means to wear glasses. With what it means to be a parent. All kinds of things that I gave minimal thought to when I was 25.

So, take risks now! Just don’t take stupid ones.

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These are for boys and those are for girls

A few months ago I was standing in line at the craft store,  there was a short wait and the woman behind me was with her son, who was, predictably, grabbing all the stuff at toddler level and asking for it. “How old is your child?” I asked. “He’s almost 4,” the woman replied. Me, with a chuckle, “I have an almost 3 year old.” How nice, two women sharing the bond of parenthood.

Until the boy picked up a bright pink foam tiara and asked his mom to buy it for him while putting it on his head. “PUT THAT DOWN,” she hissed at him, reaching to take it out of his hand, “that’s for girls and you’re a boy.” He whined that he wanted it and she repeated, “PUT IT DOWN, you’re NOT a girl and that’s for girls.”

And my heart broke a little.

Kidlet’s favorite shoes are his “sparkly sneakers.” They have pink and blue glitter on them, and light up when he walks. He picked them out a few months ago and wears them all the time. Yesterday, outfitted in a t-shirt, shorts, a pair of baby legs with helicopters on them, purple socks, and his sparkly sneakers, we headed out to the park after I picked him up from school.

And it happened. One of the moments I’ve been dreading. Another child, a little boy, ran up to us and asked, “How old is she?” I said, “He just turned 3, how old are you?” And the boy said, “He? But he has girl shoes on!” And I died a little. Here it was – kidlet’s first direct challenge to his choice of footwear. I tried to find a smile and gentle tone as I replied, “They’re pink and blue sparkly shoes, they’re for anyone,” but my mind raced. Had kidlet heard this? Would he remember it some morning while getting dressed for school? Would I hear him refuse to put them on while explaining that they were “for girls”?


We live in a binary world. I understand that. I understand that when I go shopping for my own clothes I shop in the “women’s” department. And I understand that 9 out of 10 times I buy kidlet’s clothes in the “boy’s” department. I participate in gendering him. But, as I said to Alison Piepmeier here, “If my penis-having child wants to wear a tiara WHY IN THE EVER LOVING HELL WOULD I STOP HIM?” If he presents me with something that HE WANTS, that doesn’t fit our culture’s gender binary, why would I refuse him?

I guess that’s a terrifically complicated answer. I mean, I wouldn’t refuse him. But I know parents that would, and I don’t fault them for it. We are taught to conform. And we’re punished, literally maybe, and socially often, when we don’t. We tease, or are teased, we laugh, or are laughed at, we use words and body language to directly or indirectly remind people that non-conformity is suspect and will not be tolerated, outside the safest of spaces.

So I want my kid to have a safe space. And I will do everything I can to provide him with a safe space, both in our home, and in the communities I choose to introduce him to. It’s a terrifically privileged position to have – that I have the ability to choose his communities – I recognize that. Not everyone has that option. Maybe the mom standing behind me at the craft store doesn’t have that privilege. Maybe she has a family or a community that would punish her for allowing her child to express himself how he wanted to. I don’t know.

I was blessed with 2 parents whose bedrock principle of life was non-conformity. They encouraged me, from birth basically, to question everything, to challenge the status quo, to demand an explanation when I was told that something was supposed to be a certain way. I was expected to form my own positions and opinions based on the answers to questions I asked. And I was supported. Which was the most important gift of all.

Yesterday the little boy who challenged kidlet’s shoes turned out to be a pretty nice kid. He and kidlet spent the next 20 minutes or so playing football, which mostly amounted to the older child letting kidlet chase him around and tackle him. It was really cute to see them playing. And while they were playing, another mom said to me, “It’s really great to see his creative expression” as she gestured to his clothes, “you don’t see a lot of parents who will let their kids do that.”

All the patterns


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Parenting is really one big surprise, isn’t it?

I had a moment (if we’re being honest, it might have been a few moments) of intense sadness for kidlet yesterday when I found out that his two best friends at daycare are leaving. TWO. In the same one month period.

The friends that he talks about CONSTANTLY. The friends that he makes up little stories about in the car. The friends that he’s spent the last year of his short life getting to know, and love. And it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever to watch 3 little boys give each other a hug at the end of a day.

When I picked kidlet up from daycare yesterday afternoon the daycare providers said, “Friend, do you want to give kidlet a hug bye-bye?” and he walked over and hugged kidlet. And I said to kidlet, “Say, “See you tomorrow!” And the providers said, “Noo, this is friend’s last day.” And I kinda sat there stunned. Which only got worse when they said, “Oh, Friend 2 is leaving in September, too.”

People, I actually shed a tear. He’s attached to these friends. He wakes up in the morning and looks forward to seeing them. I know he will adapt to them being gone; but will he miss them? Will he be confused that they’re no longer there? My heart broke a little in anticipation of my son’s first noticeable loss.

This wasn’t something that I had even considered when I thought about what parenting would entail. Sleepless nights, fevers, choosing pre-schools…all of that I understood would happen. It never crossed my mind that I would feel sad about a change at daycare. (Let’s just get it out there – it’s possible I’m projecting, and being a little co-dependent. I admit it. Still feeling it though.)

The families of the other two boys have been friends for a while, and I’ve heard about their time spent together with a bit of envy, “Gosh, I wish *I* could break into that circle, too.” And we’ve said to each other, “We should really get together for play dates!” and then it’s never happened. (I’m terrible about making plans with people I don’t know well. What if we don’t like to do the same things? What if they’re busy with the rest of their friends and lives? As an aside, why do I always assume that other people have more interesting lives than we do?)

So here’s my opportunity. New friends for me, maybe, and continued friendship for kidlet.

Also – my kid will be 2 YEARS OLD in a month. How did that escape me until approximately a week ago???

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I stand with Planned Parenthood


I’m absolutely disgusted at the action taken by the House of Representatives on Friday to remove all Federal funding from Planned Parenthood, and to kill Title X.

Planned Parenthood offers SO MUCH health care to communities that no one else can, or does offer services to. And I don’t  know WHY we are even arguing about the benefit of family planning. What in the hell is wrong with giving people (men AND women) the tools to…wait for it….wait for it…plan parenthood?

Hillary Clinton knocks it out of the park.

Here’s a list of the Representatives who jumped the aisle to vote with the Pence Amendment, and those that jumped the aisle to vote against it. If your Representative is on this list, contact them and let them know how you feel. It doesn’t need to be complicated, or fancy. A simple, “That you for standing up for family planning, and voting against the Pence Amendment.” Or “I’m very disappointed that you chose to disregard the value of comprehensive family planning and low-cost or no-cost preventative health care, and vote with the Pence Amendment. I urge you to support all access to family planning in the future.” It’s important that those of us who are unhappy SPEAK UP.

What else can you do? Stand with Planned Parenthood. Sign up for action alerts and sign your name to every letter they ask you to send. Visit Pro-Choice America and sign up there, too.

Take a few minutes and listen to these amazing Representatives speak against the Pence Amendment.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY)

I have been a Planned Parenthood patient, so I am personally invested in this. But I also believe passionately, and UNEQUIVOCALLY that women MUST be able to control their reproduction in order to be wholly autonomous beings.

I am pro-child, pro-family, pro-choice, and I stand with Planned Parenthood.


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