Posts Tagged by Children
|November 16, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
On Free-Range Kids I read about a fun “study” that compared a baby’s interest in non-toy items vs. manufactured toys. The non-toys included, “Norway Spruce cones, beer glasses, partially emptied bottles of dietary supplements, and cardboard boxes”. The kid’s grandpa was used as the control. The baby liked grandpa best, the random objects next, and the toys last.
Dylan has always liked real items better than toys. He gets some mileage out of things like his toy toolbox. But give him one of Joshua’s wrenches and he will “fix” things all day long.
If you know what I mean, and you’re always amazed at what your kid enjoys vs ignores, here’s a delightful article for you: The 5 Best Toys of All Time. This author has searched high and low and found the ultimate list. Really, give it a read.
|May 15, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
Excerpts from Children Talk But No One Listens from s.e. smith:
The sentiment ‘better seen than heard’ reflects a larger social attitude of the value of children’s voices, namely that they have none. Children should remain silent, and they are ‘good’ when they’re quiet, but ‘bad’ when they are not, because they are disturbing the adults and causing trouble. This attitude runs through the way people interact with children on every level, and yet, they seem surprised when it turns out that children have been struggling with serious medical problems, or they’ve been assaulted or abused.
The most common response is ‘well why didn’t the child say something?’ or ‘why didn’t the child talk to an adult?’ Adults constantly assure themselves that children know to go to a grownup when they are in trouble, and they even repeat that sentiment to children; you can always come to us, adults tell children, when you need help. Find a trusted adult, a teacher or a doctor or a police officer or a firefighter, and tell that adult what’s going on, and you’ll be helped, and everything will be all right.
The thing is that children do that, and the adults don’t listen. Every time a child tells an adult about something and nothing happens, that child learns that adults are liars, and that they don’t provide the promised help. Children hold up their end of the deal by reporting, sometimes at great personal risk, and they get no concrete action in return. Sometimes, the very adult people tell a child to ‘trust’ is the least reliable person; the teacher is friends with the priest who is molesting a student, the firefighter plays pool with the father who is beating a child, they don’t want to cause a scene.
Children are also told that they aren’t experiencing what they’re actually experiencing, or they’re being fussy about nothing. A child reports a pain in her leg after gym class, and she’s told to quit whining. Four months later, everyone is shocked when her metastatic bone cancer becomes unavoidably apparent. Had someone listened to her in the first place when she reported the original bone pain and said it felt different that usual, she would have been evaluated sooner. A child tells a teacher he has trouble seeing the blackboard, and the teacher dismisses it, so the child is never referred for glasses; the child struggles with math until high school, when someone finally acknowledges there’s a problem.
This attitude, that children shouldn’t be believed, puts the burden of proof on children, rather than assuming that there might be something to their statements. Some people seem to think that actually listening to children would result in a generation of hopelessly spoiled brats who know they can say anything for attention, but would that actually be the case? That assumption is rooted in the idea that children are not trustworthy, and cannot be respected. I’m having trouble understanding why adults should be viewed as inherently trustworthy and respectable, especially in light of the way we treat children.
Treating children well, treating them as people, and being part of the solution in creating a world where they have a place involves allowing children to speak, listening when they do, and believing what they say.
|March 20, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
The cover does promise a lot. Dieting for kids? Autism? Bribes? Let’s go!
- Germs in your mouth
- Scissor injuries
- Infections under your bandaid
- Grandmas who haven’t kept up on safety fads (Ooh! Scary grandma!)
- Carrying your kids on the stairs
- HFCS – Astonishingly this page never mentions “obesity”.
- Kidnapping – Actual quote: “These days kids get kidnapped every day. If they were on a leash maybe they’d stand a chance.” Okay, seriously? Kids who are in the leash age-range are, what? 1-4? And a leash implies that it’s a time when they should be by a parent’s side, not, say, at school. So, how many times in the US has a 1-4 year old kid been kidnapped when they were supposed to be standing near their parent? I’m going to go with NEVER. If you can dig up one I’m gonna give you a COOKIE. And this quote would still be dumb!
- In more than one place, they printed some tweets. Printing tweets is when you know you’re a loser. (See also: CNN)
- There’s an interview with a blogger. Okay, fine.
- There are 4 stories pulled entirely from Facebook comments.
- There’s a ”hot on Pinterest” section. You know what else is hot on Pinterest? Being on Pinterest.
How many ways can you signal your irrelevance?
This Month In Fat Hate: Oh my god. Apparently this was the We Hate Fat People issue. The VERY FIRST piece of “letter from the editor”-style content shames the author’s fat family and talks about how we can never give up trying to get rid of fat kids. Fuck you, “Ana Connery, content director”. how about your direct some content that doesn’t shame, stigmatize, and oppress your readers?
There’s a little inspo piece about Jillian Michaels adopting a baby from Haiti. Simply printing her name and giving her a platform is a form of fat-hate. In case you’re not familiar with her, Jillian Michaels hates fat people for a living (see: The Biggest Loser). Was this adoption story supposed to be sweet? Instead, it just shows that she’s not just a fat-hating bitch, she’s also a white saviour, baby-snatching racist. Probably not the effect they were going for.
Fuck you to Shawn Bean, too. He’s written a “humor” column that outright calls for more judgment of the bodies of men while equating fat with health and fat with food. This same dude later on makes fun of his kids’ musical efforts. Way to go, dad. You might be skinny, but you’re an asshole.
Then there’s an article called “Should I put my Kid on a Diet”? The article reads, “No,” and then you turn the page for the next article.
Haha, just kidding.
The first line is “Our culture teaches us that there is little worse than being fat.” By “our culture” don’t you mean “our magazine”, Parenting? I mean, you featured Jillian Michaels, and then you had an article explicitly saying that dads should be thinner. You are the problem!
This article starts off with “epidemic” and fear mongering about fat kids, fat toddlers, fat babies OMGWTFBBQ! then asks you to focus on things “that work”. Oh, good. Get back to us when you’ve figured out what those are! You can plop down some same-old-same-old advice in your little list, but that doesn’t mean these things “work”. Have you READ any diet studies? Have you READ the ones that focus on interventions with children? No? Yeah. I could tell.
I literally felt ill reading “A Letter to My Fat Child” in which an anonymous parent calls her child a “reverse avalanche”, accuses her of sneaking food, and admits to lying about the availability of the swimsuit the kid wanted. Congratulations, you’re a horrible parent. And every single person who works at Parenting who touched that shit and didn’t put up a fuss about printing it is a horrible person.
Bad Science: Amongst all the other anti-fat-kid suggestions is the one that all you have to do is deny your kid the afternoon goldfish snack and there won’t be any more fat kids. What an idiotic representation of already biased science.
Other People Who Don’t Need to be Cured: The Autism article features “epidemic”, “puzzle”, “cure”, and shout outs to Autism Speaks, an organization that DOES NOT speak for the autistic people I listen to. It’s funny (not funny) how no one is allowed to just BE. Maybe nothing needs to be “cured” about people with autism. Maybe they don’t need to sit in daily training sessions with people forcing them to make eye contact. Maybe they don’t need huge organizations focused on parents of kids with autism instead of focusing on actual people with autism.
Underachiever: 5 pages of themed birthdays? In case you have too much time on your hands and are a serious show off? Yeah, let me get right on sewing robes for my kid’s Harry Potter birthday party.
Sex: Oh dear. I’m not sure a mainstream mag should be advising me on “sexting”. They remind you to delete the trail when you’re done, and then they recommend sending your partner steamy texts like, “My mom says she can take the girls for a playdate this weekend,” or “Thinking about last night…XOXO.” I think I just died of an orgasm, right here while reading this. This is just the thing my sex life needs. Joshua’s not going to know what hit him.
The other half – ADS:
There’s never much real content in these magazines, and Parenting is looking even more flimsy these days. I take an ad tally as I read. I only count full or half page ads.
6 ADS for healthist stuff. This is “nutrition”, weight-cycling, “fitness”, etc.
4 ADS for harmful baby stuff.
- Similac has some new ingredient that makes it more like breast milk. You know what has had that ingredient all along? Fucking breast milk. You know what currently has the ingredient Similac is going to add next year? Also breast milk!
16 ADS in the Beauty/Cleaning category, also known as “The world is scary!” or “There’s something wrong with you! (or your kid!)”
- There’s a Lysol ad that tries to coin the word “Healthing”, because why shouldn’t fucking Lysol get in on the health obsession. You might think you’re killing germs, but it’s not healthing until you’re 100000% sure.
- The Orajel advertised itself as gluten-free and dairy-free. Is that normally a problem with toothpaste? Or are those the cool codewords required in all advertising now?
- An Always ad tells me that “odor protection isn’t just for underarms”. The ad shows a woman who’s been picked up by a man and tossed over his shoulder, putting his face 6 inches from her ass. How about we make a deal? You stay the fuck away from my ass if you don’t like how people smell?
13 ADS for miscellaneous non-offensive things.
- Turbo Tax advertising is a welcome relief after all this other crap.
- The Chicco carseat looked so awesome I kind of want one. 9 reclining positions!
- The Jello pudding ad with “a smile on your face and another in your belly” is just what I’m looking for in a food ad. How difficult is that?
I’m afraid I may have been too annoyed to be funny with this post. How about you? Any parenting advice or advertisements that have pissed you off lately?
|September 17, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
One of my jobs as the parent of a small child is to pay attention to the things Dylan wants to do and declare whether or not he gets to do them.
YES or NO, I decree.
This is a great and heady power.
It would be so easy to default to NO. Chances are, whatever he wants to do will make a mess, risk injury, or bore me to tears.
A casual NO, a default NO, a careless NO has an effect on Dylan. NO is restrictive, controlling, closing off, and NO so easily becomes no no no no no no no no no.
I try to push for YES. I push past my own boundaries, shallow preferences, and reflexive rejection.
YES you can make messes that take me mere seconds to clean but that build a sense of creativity and exploration that will last you a lifetime.
YES you can take some physical risks, because I’ll be here to catch you or to comfort you if I don’t, and that has value, too, while turning away from the risk of life isn’t valuable at all.
YES, I will help you with things that bore me, annoy me, and “waste my time”, because holy shit this time is so short, so valuable, and too amazing to fill it with NO.
If I’m going to say NO, I’m going to have a damn good reason.
Somewhere along the way, I picked up the phrase, “Yes, unless…” The idea is that the answer is always yes, unless I can come up with and state a good reason why not. YES is my default.
That’s the ideal, anyway.
In reality it probably sounds more like my default is, “No. Oh. Well…. I guess so.” It’s just so easy to jump in with a NO, that I still say it a lot.
I catch myself pretty quickly, though, and so we move farther into a life of YES.
(Here’s Dylan doing one of those messy, annoying things. This is the day he discovered the shelf with the flour on it.)
|September 5, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
In 2008, I moved into a van and I started blogging. I named that first blog Holding The Empty. That was a strange turn of phrase, and I was frequently asked to explain the name. Here’s what I posted in explanation (slightly modified):
I started this blog when I decided to move into my van. Moving into the van was an odd decision for me, made on impulse and with a desire to “give up” on certain aspects of my life more so than a specific desire to live in a van. Trying to decide what to name the blog dovetailed with thinking about my motivations for moving into a vehicle.
Here’s what I came up with.
Our culture tells us that we need to have goals. We need to be doing, growing, gaining, getting, and always in the process of being something else.
You’re in high school? What are your plans for college?
You’re in college? What job field are you going into?
You’re dating? When are you getting married?
You live in an apartment? Are you going to buy a house?
You’re married? When are you planning to have kids?
You bought a two bedroom house? What will you do when the kids arrive?
You’re an assistant manager? Are you going to be promoted soon?
It’s October. Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?
Oh, cute baby! When are you planning your next?
When are you going to lose those extra pounds?
Are you up on the latest green activities you’re supposed to be doing?
Where do you want to be in 10 years?
Oh, and by the way, do you have the new car, the big screen TV, the latest cell phone, the trendy religion, the right length skirt for this year, coordinated living room decor, the right teeth whitening products, new shoes, the latest bestselling novel, and are you volunteering often enough?
The main theme that I hear with this is that your life is supposed to be full. Full of plans and goals, full of the right this and that, full of meaning, theoretically, and also full of stuff.
I’m not interested in necessarily denying the value of having certain things in your life, but I wonder if we are collectively denying the value of just not. Have we left any space that isn’t full? And if we haven’t, where will we put the things that come along that could truly add value to our lives? Someone needs to mind that space. There needs to be room for empty.
I think of myself as holding that empty space, at least for myself. I’m making room for other possibilities by denying the drive for fullness. My own life has certainly been overly cluttered, mainly with the expectations of other people – expectations that aren’t in line with my true values. I’m not sure I even know my true values, because there’s simply been no room for them.
Living in my van and having no real job isn’t exactly a goal or a path for me. It may not be what I’m doing a year from now. I honestly have no idea what I want from my life right now, and I’m just giving myself permission to do that. To not buy things. To not have aspirations. To not make plans. To not have any idea what I want or how I’m going to get it.
I’ve tried holding the fullness, clinging to it, really, and I don’t think I was ever better off for it.
For now, I’m holding the empty.
I’m no longer holding the empty in my own life. I own a house! And a truck. And, at last count, 16 animals. And I have a child, of course, which makes a great big fullness in my life. But curiously, my parenting of Dylan involves holding another kind of empty.
Especially when he’s so little and new and dependent on us, I want to create and protect a physical, emotional, and spiritual space in which he can do what he needs to do and feel what he needs to feel. We have to do that for him, because he can’t do it for himself yet; he doesn’t have the freedom or authority to surround himself with the people or information he chooses, select or significantly alter the physical space where he lives, or even just decide he wants to bake some cookies because he feels blue and self-indulgent one night.
I want to be careful not to throw my weight around and unthinkingly wield my considerable privilege as an adult, because I know that his emotions and perceptions right now are just as real and valid as my own. Regardless of what our culture says, a child isn’t an inconveniently not-yet-finished adult but a whole person … even if he needs more help than I do.
But I try to remember that if someone simply refused to let me do what I wanted to do or go where I wanted to go, or served me a meal I didn’t choose and didn’t feel like eating, or wouldn’t let me have food or a drink when I was hungry or thirsty, or physically restrained or moved me against my will, or ignored me, or locked me in my room because they didn’t like the emotions I was expressing, or took one of my belongings away from me … that would make me feel really frustrated and out of control, and in some cases downright frightened. Holding the space sometimes means not doing those things because we can find another, less invasive, way.
It’s important to me to acknowledge that Dylan is a real person, right now. He will also grow and change over time, and I see my parenting role as making room for that.
I’m good at pushing back against the expectations of our progress-oriented world. In 2008 it led me to sell all my belongings and move into a van. It’s nice that that same drive serves me well in parenting as well.
It’s not my job to impose a bunch of restrictions and expectations on Dylan or to let the world pressure him with its demands of progress and growth.
It is just my job to hold an empty space big enough for him to stretch out in.
Whatever Dylan wants to do, whoever he wants to be, I will make room for him here in this world.
|September 3, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
A couple of weeks ago on the Unconditional Parenting (UP) discussion group that I moderate, the terrible dangers of cell phones on kids was brought up. One parent mentioned that parents these days felt pressured to give young kids cell phones. I said I didn’t feel pressured about it. Rather, I’m looking forward to Dylan having his own cell phone! I love my technology and don’t fear it in Dylan’s life. Other parents see things quite differently.
Shortly after that conversation, I received an offer to get a free copy of the book Raising Generation Tech by Jim Taylor, PhD so I could do this review. Dr Taylor has written several other books, including Your Children Are Listening: Nine Messages They Need to Hear from You, and as a parenting and psychology expert he blogs for popular websites and appears on news shows. On the heels of that UP discussion, and as Dylan gets more and more interested in the technology around him, Raising Generation Tech popped up at just the right time!
Right off the bat, Dr Taylor makes a distinction between authentic popular culture and synthetic popular culture. I was resistant to this distinction because I don’t want to just reject current popular culture because it’s current and I’m increasingly not. Isn’t it a cliche that parents are always worried about “kids these days”? You can find texts from centuries past moaning about the perils of popular culture. I hate to fall into that trap. On the other hand, Dr Taylor makes the case that because of our fast-pace, broadcast-to-millions technology what we think of as popular culture is not really “popular” but instead comes to us from a limited number of materialistic, capitalistic companies. “Popular culture” these days is advertising. It’s important to pay attention to what we’re being sold. Some of the potentially alarming things that Dr Taylor mentions don’t concern me at all. Kids listing god/heaven last on a list of important things? I approve! On the other hand, the sexualization of very young children is a big concern of mine.
I appreciate Dr Taylor’s attempt to not be alarmist about technology itself. Other books demonize the hardware, such as The Plug-In Drug, which argues that the evils of television are inherent in the machine. Instead, Dr Taylor talks about how it’s not the tech that’s the issue, it’s the particular relationship your child and your family develops with the technology. This can be difficult when parents and kids can view and approach tech so differently, but it’s important not to increase that rift by attacking the equipment itself. Dr Taylor promotes setting a good foundation for your kids’ use of technology.
Raising Generation Tech dives into the potential positive and negative effects that technology can have on kids’ self-identities, self-esteem, thinking, decision making, relationships, health, and more. Dr Taylor gives each aspect of kids’ lives a multi-faceted look and presents research to help fill out the picture of how technology and popular culture interacts with these different parts of life. Since these aspects rely on values and judgements, I suspect that most people will find some disagreement with Dr Taylor’s conclusions. I cringed every time he tossed around “obesity” in the health section, for instance. And I disagreed with much of what he said about what makes positive relationships, because I have experience with people with disabilities that make them less able to benefit from traditional, face-to-face relating.
That being said, it doesn’t matter if you agree with each thing in this book or even most of them. What matters is that this is an important topic worth exploring, and Raising Generation Tech does an excellent job of leading the way for that exploration. There are many practical tasks offered to help you think through your own values and the effects of technology on your kids, and you will come away from reading with a greater understanding of yourself, your kids, the world you are navigating together, and the technology you’re using to do it.
|August 28, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
The good news about childhood stages is that they all pass pretty quickly. Every time something comes up with Dylan that frustrates me, it’s over before I know it.
There was one point where he was constantly trying to fidget with my other nipple while nursing. I wondered if I should get a nursing necklace. I worried that it was time to lay down the nursing manners law. But I just quietly communicated my preference to him, and then a couple of weeks later he wasn’t even trying it anymore. As quickly as a problem seemed to be arising between us, it faded. He had a habit of nipple-biting there for a bit, too, but that has ended as well.
For awhile, Dylan was trying to take his diaper off at every chance. He mastered hook-and-loop diapers, then snaps, then snaps even when the diaper was on backwards, then hook-and-loop and snaps even when he had pants on over them. Argh! Eventually all that worked with some reliability was pinned prefolds, and even those he would sometimes be able to remove. And then, just like that, a few days ago I noticed that he’s stopped doing that. Even running around in just a diaper, he’s stopped trying to take them off all the time. I can go back to using all of our varieties of diapers.
Over the last couple of weeks, Dylan’s climbing skills have ramped up, and for a couple of days there, I was kind of frantic keeping up with his new ability to practically climb the walls. But I grow as he grows, we settle into his stages together. Today he can climb as many things as he could a week ago, but he’s better at it and I’m less nervous, and he wants to do other things, too. It isn’t just this mad dash to climb everything in sight. Somehow it just doesn’t seem like the problem it did a week ago.
The good news about childhood stages is that they pass pretty quickly.
The bad news about childhood stages, of course, is that they pass pretty quickly.
The good news about childhood stages is that they all pass pretty quickly. The bad news is… (Click to tweet this.)
|August 27, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
Check out this video about an episode of What Would You Do, a hidden camera show about public moral situations. This one is about child abduction.
In case you can’t see the video, here’s the short version. A participating little girl stands on a sidewalk and an adult male actor walks by, grabs her by the arm, and drags her away. The goal is to see what the public would do if a kid were being abducted. The abductor-actor sometimes acts like he’s scolding her and sometimes doesn’t say anything, while the girl yells, “You’re not my dad! Someone help me!” Many people stare but don’t help. Eventually a couple of guys begin to intervene and are let in that it’s for television. Then there’s an interview segment about the experiment.
I don’t want to focus on child abductions. Let’s talk about parenting.
In the interview, the abductor-actor tries to blame the inaction of the public on the Bystander Effect, which is when lots of people see something but none report it or help because they all assume someone else will. At least one interviewed bystander on the show talks about thinking someone else would take care of it. But I wonder how many people even thought what they were seeing was unusual. In order for the Bystander Effect to be in play, the people watching have to know they’re seeing a problem.
How is the behavior of the “abductor” fundamentally different from behavior we often see from parents?
One of the guys who stepped up to help says, “First I thought she was being a little disobedient, but then [the abductor wasn't] sayin’ nothing.”
Imagine if instead of being silent, the abductor was saying things like, “Come on, I don’t have time for this! We have to get to practice! We’re already late! Your brother is waiting in the car! Wait until I tell your mother!” Then nothing about the situation is really unusual at all, is it?
The interviewer wonders if people thought, “It’s just a kid acting up,” echoing the first assumption of the rescuer guy.
Instead of blaming the kid – ”acting up”, “being disobedient” – why doesn’t anyone assume it’s the parent being an asshole? And why wouldn’t they intervene if it is a parent?
Okay. Back up.
One of the valuable concepts I’ve learned from social justice activists is the idea of “centering”. Centering is about whose voices and opinions are focused on in a conversation and whose voices and opinions are pushed to the background. Because our culture works so hard to ignore the experiences of certain kinds of people, this concept is important all the time. The voices, opinions, and experiences of marginalized or oppressed people are all too frequently pushed to the side in favor of the opinions and experiences of privileged people.
Children are marginalized people in our society. Adults have a lot of privilege. I’m going to explore the idea of children as an oppressed class in future posts, but if that’s something that interests you right now, this adult privilege checklist is a good place to start reading. For now, I think we can all at least agree that children are smaller and weaker than their adult caregivers, and children have a lot fewer emotional and social resources at their disposal than adults do.
As I said in Compassion for Every Perspective, not everyone can give compassion to everyone else at all times. Sometimes we make choices about who we’re going to side with and how much energy we have for offering our support.
Let’s go back to my McDonald’s scenario from Parenting Isn’t Hard:
Say I’m in a McDonald’s. In a booth near me is what appears to be a romantically involved man and woman enjoying a meal together. Near the end of the meal, the woman accidentally knocks her soda over and it spills over the table and floor. The man leaps to his feet and yells, “Oh my god! I told you to be careful with that!” He grabs her by the arm and drags her out of the booth. “That’s the last time you get to have a medium drink!” He shoves her off to the side while he starts to clean up. “Go stand by the door, we’re going home right now.” After an initial little gasp at the spilled drink, the woman remains silent, body slack, eyes averted.
I would be horrified to witness this scene. I would worry about the verbal lashing, and I would worry about the physical aspects. Probably most people would be concerned on some level. However, when I witnessed that scene with, instead of a woman, a 10 year old child, no one batted an eye. It doesn’t even stand out. Doesn’t register. Some might even consider it “good discipline”.
But, it’s not. It’s just abusive. We would not say about the man, “Well, relationships are hard. He’s probably just having a bad day. Cut him some slack.”
As I said in Okay, Parenting Is Hard, I really do understand it when parents treat their kids in less than ideal ways. There are enormous pressures on parents, and we’re pretty much going it alone. There’s no village. Our society does very little to truly support parents and is also quick to blame parents for any perceived shortcoming in the child.
A separate issue is that our culture does even less to support children. One of the ways in which we don’t support children is when we leave unaddressed the issue of their parents physically and emotionally abusing them.
I do believe that parents deserve far more compassion and support for their situations, even when I think their behavior towards their kids is abusive. However, I think it is more important for me to speak up for the kids who have far fewer voices on their side.
In the issue of parents physically manhandling their children and verbally berating them, I choose to speak out publicly on behalf of children. When I talk about how I see people treating children, I choose to center the perspective of the children.
I hope that others will increasingly do the same.
If I get upset with Dylan and yell at him, grab him, smack him, or belittle him, I hope that my partner and my friends are gentle with me, that they understand where I’m coming from, and that they know I love him. Of course. But for crying out loud, I also hope they don’t just brush it off, act like it’s no big deal, or pretend it’s just all part of the definition of parenting. I hope they instead treat it like a problem that needs to be fixed. My problem that needs to be fixed by me, and by them if it’s something they can help with and something I need help with.
But it’s not Dylan’s problem to fix, except inasmuch as he’s the one stuck being the target. It’s not his “misbehavior” that’s the problem – it’s my anger, or my weariness, or my lack of social support. I hope my friends are his friends, too, and they don’t see him as the right and natural recipient of my violence but instead support BOTH OF US in finding other ways to relate.
I wish my culture didn’t make it so easy to be assholes to kids. But there it is. It’s easy to be mean to your kids. Plenty of people don’t even think there’s anything wrong with being mean to kids. There are multitudes of voices saying it’s perfectly acceptable to yell at your kids, drag them by the arm, call them names, belittle their concerns, etc. And even if you do feel judged and criticized as a parent, as an adult you have lots of support available to you, even if it’s just commiserating with other parents on the internet.
On the other hand, where are the voices sticking up for the bodies, rights, and opinions of the kids? There aren’t nearly as many of those. In fact, too many attempts to speak up on behalf of children are drowned out in favor of centering the viewpoint of the parents or casting the child as the villain.
I repeat, again, for the record, I really do understand that parenting is a difficult job, that parents have bad days, and that parents don’t always live up to their best ideals. I understand that, and I have compassion for parents, including myself when I fall short of my own ideals.
Children need more people standing up and saying that the way the kid in the McDonald’s was treated is wrong. The way the girl in the video up there was treated is wrong. That’s not just “parenting”. It’s violence. It’s mistreatment. It needs to be addressed. I don’t know exactly how to address it, other than to keep looking and to keep talking about it.
But kids need more people on their side, and I’m going to be one of those people.
|June 14, 2012||Posted by Issa under Counter/Culture|
Update: I have just learned that Serendipity will be an all ages event this year, 2013. I am pleased and excited. Joshua, Dylan, and I will be there, along with other burners we know who were not allowed to attend last year and their parents. Yay!
Coming off the high of Euphoria, I’m brought low again by thoughts of Serendipity.
Serendipity is a new event in my home state of Tennessee. I was so excited when I found out a new burn was starting here. I heard about a work weekend for the event, but I couldn’t go since it was the same day I was volunteering for the Imagination Library. But more work opportunities would come, I was sure. There’s so much work that has to be done to get a burn off the ground!
And then, BAM. They declared the event ages 18 and over.
Talk about a slap in the face.
The first of the Burning Man 10 Principles is Radical Inclusion, which states, “Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.”
Many of the discussions I’ve had with people about Radical Inclusion center on that “stranger” bit – questions of membership, in-group and out-group, cool kids, and whatnot.
Other discussions have centered around the various types of people who make their way in the burn community – hippies, Pagans, punks, beer guzzlers, playa bunnies. When I wrote here on LoveLiveGrow about Radical Inclusion, I also focused on all these various types and the interplay between them. I claimed that the big categories of age, race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation weren’t as interesting to talk about because they were the “easy bits” as far as inclusion goes.
Turns out I was wrong.
I wrote that post 3 years ago, and it would read much differently if I wrote it today. I no longer think any of those things are really easy bits when when it comes to including people in the burn community. Race is a huge fail, leaving burns as white people magnets teeming with unabashed cultural appropriation. There’s a lot lacking in the areas of heteronormativity, gender policing, and sexism, too.
And now Serendipity, a hoped-for burn here in my own state, has put a sign on the metaphorical door saying that a certain class of people is just not allowed. Forget making the event friendly to them, including them in the planning, reaching out to their communities, really making space for them in the burn social fabric. No. They are simply not invited.
I’m so angry about this. So impotently angry. It’s not even about my own child. Transformus, another wanna-be burn, went 18 and up a few years ago, long before I had a child, and I haven’t been back since then, even though Transformus was my first burn and is near and dear to my heart.
And it’s not about non-kid events in their entirety. Whether or not I think kids belong in bars is anther topic for another day.
But I don’t think burns are bars or dance clubs or swingers parties. They are experiments in radical community; they are about art and creation and destruction and magic and power tools.
And I refuse to participate if 20% of the population is expressly prohibited from attending.
Burns aren’t a vacation for me. They are real life.
I was really looking forward to another burn. I’m so sad that the organizers of Serendipity have decided that their event is just an adult club, instead.
|June 4, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting, Radical Self-Acceptance|
Here are some facts:
There is NO evidence that eating too many cookies makes children fat.
There is NO evidence that eating fewer cookies will make fat children thinner.
Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or a liar.
Doctors, children’s book authors, and parents should all be informed about this, because anything else amounts to shaming children about their bodies. And that should never happen, even when the bodies in question are little teddy bears in story books.