March 13, 2014

If Son Grows Up To Be A Firetruck And Gender Equality

Son likes Daughter's dress-up high heels and tiaras.  He loves running around with her fairy wings on and thinks make-up is fun. Daughter likes Legos and not just the pink girly ones.  She also thinks crashing Hot Wheels into each other and screaming, "Oh, the carnage!" is hilariously fun. Can you guess which one people are more uncomfortable with?

If you guessed Son wearing a tiara, DING! DING! DING! Congratulations.  People are way more inclined to comment on the fact that Son likes "girl" things. Why? Thank you feminist movement!  Daughter can be anything she wants to be including a doctor, an astronaut or in the military.  She can play with anything she wants to including blocks and cars.  Encouraging girls to do well in math and science and strive for male dominated professions is standard now.  Yet, boys writing poetry and playing with dolls is met with disapproval and laughter.  If that same boy puts that poetry with a melody and rocks it out while wearing tight jeans, with a couple of tattoos on rock hard biceps and soulful blue eyes, well, then he's a heart throb…that's off subject though. Made you look musicians a little differently though, didn't I?  Point being, somehow in the movement for gender equality, boys were left behind.

I'm sorry but I believe Son wearing a tiara means he's going to be gay when he grows up makes about as much sense as him running around making firetruck siren sounds means he's going to grow up to be a firetruck.  Why is it that we are so uncomfortable with boys playing with "girl" stuff and yet, girls playing with "boy" stuff is empowering?

This view was brought to my attention even more this past Christmas.  We were at a Christmas party with Him's family. One of our nieces got a pretty princess kit with a tiara, high heels, a purse and jewelry.  Son instantly wanted the high heels and tiara on.  This was met with snickers and comments about how we needed squash that behavior.  I know this was all in jest and they all love Son, so please don't attack them cuz I know they are not the only ones who would react this way.  Yet, meanwhile, Daughter was in the middle of the room playing with the flatbed truck carrying a front loader that had lights and horn noises, which was Son's present, and no one commented or snickered about this in the least.

No one asks when Daughter plays with Legos whether or not I'm afraid she'll end up being a lesbian.  Watch Son put a tiara on and call it a hat and oh boy, I'm setting him up to be gay if I don't instantly snatch it off his head.  So, first, is this really what we call equality? And second, why does it matter?

In the rush to make sure our daughters know they can be anything they want to be, we have seemingly forgotten to tell our sons the same thing.  I have a male friend who is a nurse.  He takes crap for this every day.  He's constantly asked questions about if he's scheduled his sex change yet, what it's like to be doing a "girl" job and why he didn't try to be a doctor instead.  I also have a female friend who is a foreman for a construction company and her femininity and sexual orientation are never questioned.  Being a male in a female dominated profession is met with some sort of disapproval, I mean, come on, be a man!  Being a female in a male dominated profession is met with not only approval but it's viewed as some sort of victory, you go girl, GIRL POWER!  Yay for gender equality!  Cuz the true meaning of equality is glaring differences!?!?

Then there's the question of why does it matter?  If Son likes tiaras, can't it just be because he likes tiaras?  Daughter likes Legos just because they're fun to build with.  Is there really some connecting invisible line that is drawn from a boy playing with "girl" toys to the shame he should feel for liking it as being "gay"?  Should it really be looked at as "gay"?  I thought we were trying to stop bashing anything as "gay" because that was prejudiced towards homosexuals?  So not only has it set our sons back but it also has stomped the acceptance of homosexuality in the face.

What if Daughter or Son come to me one day and tell me they are gay?  Should I blame myself for letting them play with the wrong gendered toys? Should I love them less?  Maybe I should kick them out of the house?  I should probably tell them how wrong that is and let them know how much I disapprove so that maybe they'll understand that to get my love back they should repress those feelings to the point of depression and possibly even suicide cuz that's what a good parent would do? OK, I'm being slightly dramatic there but it has happened, I'm sure of that.

You may remember, I used to play hockey.  I also used to have VERY short hair and I wasn't ever a boy chasing kind of chick.  I think the first one of my boyfriends anyone in my family ever met was my husband.  My grandma used to ask my mom if I was a lesbian.  My mom's answer was always, "I don't know but so what if she is? If she comes out to me tomorrow, I'll tell her I love her."  I always knew my mom's love was not based on my sexual preference.  I think every kid should have the reassurance that no matter what, and I mean NO! MATTER! WHAT!, their parents have their back. I understand that some things kids do will disappoint a parent and yes, you will probably be disappointed in at least one thing your child does in their life but, that shouldn't be reasoning for them to question your love for them EVER!

I will not be snatching the tiara off Son's head or the Hot Wheels out of Daughter's hands.  I understand two very simple truths.  For one, Son loves anything Daughter does and mimics almost everything she does so for now, that tiara is so very cool because it's his big sister's tiara.  Next, I love my kids for exactly who they are.  They are awesomeness topped with crazy coolness and a side of superb and I want them to be who they are and to be confident in every aspect of who they are yet to become.  I also want them to know that they can come to me with anything and I will always love them.  I truly do believe that Daughter can be anything she puts her mind to.  I also truly believe Son can.  If Daughter becomes an engineer, I will applaud her.  If Son becomes a kindergarten teacher, I will applaud him.  If Daughter becomes a nurse and Son becomes a fireman, I will applaud them both, still. If Son comes to me later in life wearing a tiara with his wife on his arm and Daughter crawls out from under her car, covered in grease, to kiss her husband, I'll tell them I love them and that they are still as awesomely cool as ever.  If Son crawls out from under his car, covered in grease, to kiss his boyfriend and Daughter comes to me wearing a tiara with her girlfriend on her arm, I'll tell them I love them and they are still as awesomely cool as ever.

If Son grows up to be a firetruck, I will have a much harder time accepting that.

March 12, 2014

Societal Yo-Yo Dieting

Can I walk up to your kid and say, "She's so fat!"?  Can I compare my daughter to your younger daughter and wonder aloud what you're feeding your younger daughter so that she's so freakishly huge? No, not that one either?  Maybe, "Oh my gosh! How did she get so fat?" or "Is she ever going to lose all that baby fat?"  As long as I say it in a singsongy voice, it's OK, right? Oh wait!  So, you're saying that would upset you? Huh?  Why would people think it's OK then to walk up to me with my daughter and say things like, "She's so tiny!"? Or think it's funny to compare their 3 year old to my almost 5 year old daughter and say things like, "I can't believe she's almost 5!?!? My 3 year old is bigger than she is!"  Oh, and I guess I should be OK with hearing, "Is she ever going to grow?"

I totally understand all the talk about not shaming kids who are heavier or the kids that are awkwardly tall and yet, since Daughter is in the 5th percentile in both height and weight in her age group, I should be cool with people saying these things?  Oh yeah, I forgot!  If you're smaller than average those kinds of comments can't damage your self-esteem because…?  OK, yeah, I think it is just as bad and as damaging to a kid's self-esteem to point out if they're on the small side of the "perfect" chart, so I have no justification for those people who think it's OK.

You want to know what one of my daughter's biggest fears is?  That she's never going to be "big".  Yep, cuz she has heard so many people call her tiny; say she's little for her age; compare her to younger kids that happen to be the same size; had people with younger kids offer, while laughing, to pass clothes down to her, that's her biggest fear.  She honestly believed she was not growing so much so that she came to me in tears asking why she was the smallest one in her class.  So, while that other mother is calming her child's fears about the monster in the closet by showing her there's no monster in the closet, what am I supposed to do?  I can't reassure her that the next time we're in public nobody will come up and make some comment cuz it's not true, people are stupid and one of those stupid people will probably open their mouth.  Her monster isn't some make believe thing in the closet. Her monster is real and she's seen it many times.  What really sucks is she hasn't hit a growth spurt in a little while so I can't draw some line on a the wall to give her concrete proof that she's growing either so thanks for all your comments creating a real monster that I can't chase away by turning on the light!

If I were to have turned those comments around and said something along the lines of, "Man, what are you feeding that kid?";  "Is there any food your kid doesn't like?"; when someone asks why Daughter is so small, turn around and say, "I don't know.  Why is your kid so freakishly huge?" yeah, that'd be wrong.

So, just because you're not calling a kid fat, ugly or stupid it's not going to hurt their feelings? Tell that to my crying daughter!

It even goes into adulthood.  I have friends that are just naturally skinny.  They eat plenty and sometimes even junk food, they don't avoid fast food like it's the plague, they don't exercise obsessively, they are just built that way, they are skinny.  Some of these friends have to deal with stares and glares due to their small size, they're asked if they're anorexic, they're told to eat and they should not be offended by this, I mean, they're the skinny ones! Yet, if you were to stare at a fat person, you're rude.  Tell a fat person to put down the burger and jump on a treadmill, you're going to get ridiculed for the asshole you are.  Hi, double standard! I thought I recognized you!

I think it's so sadly hysterical that we can't have each body type be celebrated.  Curves are good today but 15 years ago the waif look was in.  Marilyn Monroe was the epitome of beauty and then came Twiggy. Usher in Cindy Crawford but pull her when Kate Moss shows up and now there's Kate Upton. Our whole societal outlook is on a yo-yo diet and then we wonder where our body image issues come from!?!?

So, in our culture at this moment, we can criticize the skinny ones.  We can look at them with judgmental eyes and make snide remarks because at this moment curves are in. Let's all hide our judgement and remarks under a veil of being worried about the skinny girl having an eating disorder or not being healthy though.  Curves are only in if they are healthy curves. No one wants to be skinnier, we all want to be healthier…I call B.S.!  When's the last time you looked at Sofia Vergara and thought, "Man, I wish I was that healthy!"?

Now that we're talking about being healthy, guess what Daughter's doctor calls her?  "A perfectly healthy little girl."  So, if you're worried about her health, worry no more! I have multiple doctors' reassurances that Daughter is healthy.  One of the doctors even said, "Yep, she's petite and healthy.  Nothing wrong with being a petite girl."

Well, here's what I've been telling Daughter.  She's healthy.  I was one of the smallest girls in my kindergarten class and now I'm pretty average.  My sister was one of the tallest in kindergarten and she only stands 5' 1" now. I tell her, that even if she stays small, she can have a personality and confidence so big that people can't believe it's contained in such a small package.  To quote one of my favorite people, "She's an amazon warrior trapped in a pygmy body." I tell her she's awesome just the way she is and not to worry about how fast she's growing.  I told her to worry about her brain growing and her confidence in herself growing, her body will grow in its time.  I also told her some of the other kids' energy is going to grow their bodies while her's is going to her brain. I tell her this is so she can come up with the sarcastic comebacks and she'll have time to walk away before the giants even realize she's insulted them.  I promise her that part will be fun!

I sit here with tits and ass to spare.  I'm a classic hourglass figure, big boobs, big butt and hips and a small waist.  I spent years wishing my butt away.  When I was in high school, the waif look was in and there I sat on my badonkadonk with my tig ole bitties wishing that I could somehow lose weight in just those two areas.  Now, some of the perceived "most beautiful women in the world" are hourglass figures and I flaunt mine and laugh at those days that I was told that I had a big butt cuz now I like being recognized from behind! What I like just as much, if not more, is the fact that I'm strong and fit and healthy and confident in my own skin and I usually have a smile on my face and I have those sarcastic comebacks that leave the insulted person smiling for a few minutes before they get pissed.  I know that the next time being rail thin rolls around as the "in" thing, I'll rock the tight fitting, low cut tops and ass hugging jeans cuz I've learned one wonderful thing about our society's fickle ways: what's in today is out tomorrow and what makes you happy will piss somebody else off, so live the life you want to live, love the body you have, strut with confidence cuz confidence is one of the most alluring things about anyone and always have a sarcastic remark in your back pocket, whether those pockets are on a size 0 or a size 20, cuz sooner or later you'll meet some moron who deserves to be bitch slapped with words.

March 8, 2014

Quarter Priced Pieces of Trash

Forewarning: If you are friends with me on my personal Facebook or in real life, you may have already heard this story but hey, I go more in depth here and you should just read it anyway! Smiles, hugs and sarcasm!

Since this winter has been incredibly terrible with below zero temperatures and above head level amounts of snow, there hasn't been lots of being able to throw the children in the backyard to play.  I might seriously lose Son to snow tunnels!  Also, throw in all of the "snow days" Daughter has had and therefore been unable to be the social butterfly she truly is and cabin fever has set in hardcore on my family.

There has also been above the norm amounts of colds and fevers and below the norm amounts of sleep.

There was this wonderfully terrible flu that knocked the whole family out of commission.  Early February, some Thursday, Daughter started complaining about a sore throat and a queasy belly.  Sure enough, that night she puked 3 times and her fever spiked to 103.5.  Friday, I was dead tired when Him came home and I told Him I needed a nap. I woke up from this nap freezing cold.  I put on long johns under sweatpants, a long sleeved shirt covered by 2 sweatshirts, a pair of socks with slippers and was still cold.  I headed downstairs and got the thermometer...103.5.  OH YAY! Saturday, I took a nap with Son, woke up to him having a seizure and choking on his own vomit, freak out time!  The ambulance came and left with my son and husband.  He had a seizure because his fever spiked so high and so fast...104. I drag my sick butt and Daughter's sick butt out to the truck to pick Him and Son up from the hospital and arrive to Him saying that he's freezing and can't warm up.  Oh the joys of the flu being shared with those you love!  Of course, this wonderfulness lasts about a week and is quickly followed by sinus infections for all and then Bronchitis and why not throw in some just plain common cold to round out a full month of horrible!

Since the sicknesses that invaded our home and decided to invite their friends weren't quite enough to push me over the edge, Son has had some wonderful revelation that he likes the night life and doesn't think bedtime should be until about midnight. Then it's only bedtime if he's in our bed.  Of course, since the darkness is an obvious cue for not sleeping, about every hour and a half he wakes me up by either a tiny knee to the ribs or a tiny fist to the face and follows that with gales of little boy laughter.  Then, after my three one and a half hour naps, daughter seems to think 7am is a great time to come in and poke me in the forehead repeatedly, asking if it's time to wake up.  Oh, there is not enough coffee in the world to make me like anyone at this point.

OH, and I almost forgot!  The fights, oh, the fights! Fights over every little thing!  Son can't play with Daughter's Polly Pockets cuz he'll break them, even though Daughter is the one that turned two of the Polly Pocket dolls into one legged wonders.  She can however take Son's tractor and pull the wheels off of it and when Son screams about her breaking his toy, she can start screaming back in his face as if that will fix everything.  The screaming of Son is always followed by the screaming of Daughter because apparently she believes this might confuse me enough to not be able to figure out which one of them is actually being wronged. If Son is hurt in the guise of playing well so is Daughter.  The fact that Son has super human strength and can throw Daughter to the ground with one finger has also been recently discovered.  He can also amazingly push her to the ground while he is nowhere near her, I am guessing this is done with his newly discovered mind controlling abilities.  Of course, whatever Daughter does is quickly picked up on and mimicked by Son so now we have learned that Daughter also developed super human strength and mind control to throw Son to the ground. My newest saying has been, "If you scream like that again and no one is dying, I will kill you!"

This wonderful combination of delightful treasures has lead to tantrums of grandiose proportions being thrown by the two small wonders and overstressed, angry, mother-on-the-edge behavior from me.

So, going grocery shopping with the small wonders was bond to be an enjoyable experience for all!

We first had to get an outfit on Daughter that she would be seen in public in and one that I would be seen in public with her in.  This takes about an hour.  Son takes 20 secs to change clothes cuz if it has a ball on it, he's happy.  Next, we get in the truck and Daughter is upset instantly because I buckle Son into his car seat before I buckle her into her seat.  This is the usual order of things, I buckle Son in first, it is not normally an issue.  This should have been a sign to just go back inside but no, I continue on with optimism that this was the only tantrum I would see.  Ah, optimism, you tantalizing little lying whore!

Throughout the store there are those little end caps with all of the ridiculous crap that no one needs yet people randomly throw it in their cart because everybody at some point has needed a plastic sandwich holder in the shape of a panda face or a spatula that puts smiley faces on their burgers! Daughter needed all of them right now! This is one of those superstores that also has clothes and home stuff and blah, blah, blah.  Daughter needed new sunglasses, some new leggings and a new brush.  Son needed a new teether and some blankets.  They actually needed these things.  The only problem being that those needed things were right next to thousands of wanted things that I was unwilling to throw in the cart. I'm sure you see where this is going.  Tantrums abound to the point that I almost pulled the 'mother leaving the cart where it was, throwing the unruly children over her shoulders and going home with nothing, not even her sanity' move. The problem with this was we were not going to make it until Him got home without buying things like diapers, of which we only had 2 left or milk, which we had a sip of.  So, I barreled on and made my way to the checkout while throwing things into the cart and muttering under my breath, "You can do this, you will make it, everything is OK, just breathe!"

Onto the end of the shopping trip.  There were only 4 lanes open and at least 6 carts deep in each one. It's like grocery stores know when a mother is about ready to break down and they want to see if they can hurry it along by keeping her trapped between two shelves filled with all the candy that their kids will scream about not getting and the magazines that make every woman feel as if she's not quite good enough in looks, weight, motherhood, time management, whatever.  There I stood, trying hard to stare ahead and pretend I heard nothing, I was trying to go to my happy place but I couldn't find it through the grabbing tree limbs with thorns!  Oh breakdown, I see you on the horizon and I pray I will not start crying in the checkout lane at the grocery store.  I pray I won't scream back in the face at my children because, as we all know from earlier in the story, that's the way to fix everything.  I pray that, in my trying to meditate myself into a happy place, I haven't actually lost it enough to not realize my hands are gripping the cart white knuckled just to have something to hang on to.

I hurriedly throw things at that conveyor belt once it's my turn and I whip out my debit card and swipe it before the girl even tells me the total.  I almost race to the front door as if, if I can make it there and break into the snow covered crapfest that is outside, it will give me a chance at sanity.  I get slowed down by a little old woman leaving a lane 2 down from me but I twirl and bob and weave and make my way around her and I am almost out the door to the freedom of what I don't know but I am almost there!

Enter the vending machines that stand beyond the doors into the vestibule and before the doors that open to my perceived freedom.  You know the ones; they offer quarter priced pieces of trash that break as soon as they tumble down the little shoot and into your child's waiting hands and lead to another breakdown about how upset they are about getting a broken one and then you end up coughing up $12 worth of quarters just to get one that isn't broken to keep from having a meltdown on your hands and then that quarter priced piece of trash just cost you $12.25 and the second you get into your house, it is thrown on the floor and forgotten until you step on it and turn it into $12.25 worth of plastic slivers making the bottom of your foot look like hamburger? Yeah, you know em! Daughter starts whining, "Can't I have a quarter!?!" I look at the open automatic doors in front of us as if they are mocking me, "No, we need to go home." Daughter, "PLEASE!?!?! I NEVER get to get anything! (Yes, we deny her all things in this world! She has nothing!) Why can't I have a quarter!?!?" Accompanying the screaming was the stomping of feet and the arms crossed over the chest; every once in a while there's a pouty lip thrown in and a head thrown back just to make it a little more dramatic.  It was full-on meltdown.  Again, the fear of breaking crossed my mind. I had to remind myself again that I COULD NOT cry in the grocery store!

Then came the random stranger.  This 45-ish year old woman I have never seen in my life. She kneels down in front of my tantrum throwing Daughter, hands her a quarter and says, "You're such a good girl to help your mommy shop today!," while looking over Daughter's shoulder to shoot me a shaming glare of disapproval.

Ah, thank you random stranger for unknowingly putting yourself in the crosshairs of my anger.  I wanted to knee her in her temple while she was kneeling giving up that quarter like a trophy for the tantrum throwing, drama queen outburst!  I have to think this woman has never had children because she should know better if she does and if she doesn't, she has no right at all to pretend to know what she would do in the same situation.  Without thought; without that voice in your head that is supposed to tell you not to say something out loud; without any hesitation, "OH! SHUT! UP!" leapt out of my mouth with venom dripping!  Random stranger lets out a surprised gasp as if she is deeply and terribly offended.  I let out a maniacal laugh, literally a "Joker" style laugh!  It felt good to break!  Again, without much thought and less hesitation, I continue, "You don't know me. You don't know her.  You have no right to come over here after a 10 second interaction that you saw as me being some evil mom and make assumptions about me, lady! She's been a tantrum throwing one girl riot all through the store and you think I should give in and REWARD her!?!? Keep your quarter and get out of my way!"

I almost floated through those still open automatic doors out into the crapfest of winter but somehow, the snow looked prettier, the sun was shining, woodland creatures were bringing me gifts of jewels they found in the forest, birds were singing Miranda Lambert songs and I felt as if I would survive; and I was still maniacally laughing because laughing felt good!  Yep, I broke and thanks to that unsuspecting random stranger, my break did not come with tears!

Later, while recalling this story to Him, he asked, "Why wouldn't the lady have given a quarter to Son since he wasn't throwing a fit and said something along the lines of 'here's a quarter for you for not making your mom want to rip her hair out' and given you a smile of 'we've all had those days'?  That would have been a lot more helpful and maybe Daughter would've shut her trap in hopes of getting a quarter too."

He was right!  So, next time you happen to be in the grocery store going through a rough day, if you have one kid throwing a tantrum and one not and some random stranger walks up, gives your calm kid a quarter and gives you a sympathetic smile, just say "Hi" to me!