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?

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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”?

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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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Potty Learning. Or: My parenting Waterloo

I think the time has come. I do. And it’s got me flummoxed and over thinking and wanting to stick my head in the sand. Oh yes. It’s time to teach the kid to use the potty.

EGADS. This cannot be. Can’t I wait another year? Can’t I pay someone else to teach this lesson? I mean, I’m going to pay someone to teach him to do long division, surely someone can be paid to teach him to poop in the potty.

Sigh.

Up until this point we’ve been really relaxed about the potty. About a year ago he got a little potty, and a kid’s seat for the big potty, and we’ve let him explore them on his own. No pressure, no stress. And he’s peed several times. YAY FOR THE POTTY. Yesterday, in fact, we were out and he asked to use it, and then did. In public. THIS IS AMAZING. But we really haven’t emphasized it, beyond offering. And I think that needs to change.

More and more frequently, he’s waking up in the morning with a dry diaper. And he’s been coming home from daycare in different clothes than he went in, because he’s been leaking through. (Now, I know this could also be rectified by changing him more often, but he’s definitely holding it, and then going a LOT at once. Because I’ll check him and he’ll be dry as a bone after 4 hours and then 15 minutes later, his diaper is bursting.) So I think he’s ready.

Sadly, I’m not sure WE are. And why aren’t we ready? Because of POOP. He doesn’t have any sort of regular poop schedule. And he often has very loose, almost watery poop. Sometimes he’ll tell us he’s pooped with a “Me no have poop Mama!” declaration, but we’ve never caught a poop on the potty. And if I take him out of diapers and put him in underwear, and we don’t catch those watery poops…we’re gonna be in for a mess of disgusting proportions. And I’m not sure I can handle that. I’m also not sure I can send him to daycare with that potential in good conscience.

Now, I’ve devoured information on the internet. Some advice says, “Go ahead and leave them in diapers, but offer regularly.” Some says, “Into underwear! And let the messes fall where they fall! They’ll figure it out!” Some says, “Spend 3 days at home with a naked kid and everything will be peachy at the end!” Like all parenting endeavors, there’s no one size fits all approach, and I’m having trouble sorting out which one is going to fit us best.

Training pants? This is a route I’d like to go. Something that he can pull up and down himself, but with a little more absorbency than underwear. I’m pretty confident that he will pick up peeing in the potty pretty quickly. So it just comes back to poop. Do I just need to resign myself to the possibility of poop all over my life? In his carseat? On my carpet? All over the aisle in the grocery store? I mean, I’m a pretty easy going parent – my kid has barfed in a lot of places and I’ve managed to stay cool and not worry too much about any mess I’m creating, but poop? Unnnnnnnhhhhh.

So, for those of you that have done this – I beg you – share your wisdom, and experiences with me. Not the stuff you’ve heard, but the stuff you did and how it went for you. Let me learn from your success. I don’t want to send him to kindergarten in diapers. (I know! I know! They won’t let him into kindergarten unless he’s using the potty. I don’t want my kid left behind because he doesn’t like the potty! Why didn’t Bush create a policy for THIS problem?!)

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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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Mornings in the Life V 2.0 house

I’m not a morning person. Never have been. I married a morning person. Maude love him. My child is a morning person. Maude help me.

Our M,W, Th, and Fri morning routine is actually very sweet, disparate morning preferences notwithstanding:

Kidlet wakes up somewhere between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. (UGH). Either I, or kidlet’s dad will go retrieve him from his room and bring him into our bed where he will nurse for a little while. (I am able to lie there mostly half-asleep.) Then his dad takes him and gets him dressed and breakfasted. I stay in bed and attempt to sleep.

When it’s time to take kidlet off to daycare he will receive instruction to, “Go say bye-bye to Mama,” and I’ll hear him come into the bedroom where he might climb onto the bed to give me a kiss, and say, “Bye-bye, Mama.” Or he’ll be carried into the room to say goodbye and blow me kisses.

I love that most mornings he is happy and excited to go off to daycare. I also love that I married someone who is sympathetic of my desire to catch a little more sleep when I can.

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Milestones in parenting

So, Tuesday I was worried about leaving kidlet ALL DAY LONG, and wondering if I should go visit him at daycare. I decided not to because I figured going to daycare to see him was really more for me than for him, and I didn’t want to interfere in what was probably going to be a fine situation. And you know what? He was fine. He had a blast with his caregiver – he showed her all his toys, he got a bubble bath, and he went to sleep without any problems. He didn’t even know we weren’t here.

I think this is an awesome milestone I have reached as a parent. I know that his dad and I aren’t the only people who can care for him, but nights have been rough in this house for the past 2 years. Really, really rough. We probably could have done things differently to make them less rough, but whatever. We’re first time parents who are doing the best we can, and hoping our best doesn’t fuck him up any more than most kids might be. And finding a babysitter has been something I haven’t been ready to deal with because of the night challenges. I wasn’t sure how to find a sitter by saying, “Sometimes he wakes up 20 minutes after he goes down, and will continue to wake every 40 minutes for the rest of the night. You can handle that, right?” Because I was having trouble handling it, I didn’t feel right asking someone else to handle it. Projection, I know.

Anyway, his daycare provider has indicated that she would love to sit for him whenever she’s available, and I’m kind of excited about the opportunities this opens up for ME. Concerts, roller derby matches, Anthony Bourdain is coming to town…all of this stuff that for the past 2 years I’ve read wistfully about, is totally possible now. It’s a crazy feeling.

Know what else is crazy? My new haircut.

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This is what it looked like before:

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And just for fun: kidlet’s butt under a chair.

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Next week I’ll talk about the 12th & Delaware screening.

Exciting stuff, ya’ll.

What was exciting and new in your week?

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