Snack Attack: Stop the Madness

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When I became a mother I knew the role would require me to fulfill certain tasks, but I never realized how it would be a full-time job keeping my children satiated. Children everywhere around me appeared to be hungry at all times and it was a given that I should prevent my kids from understanding what hunger felt like. As I looked around and learned from other parents in my environment, I came to understand that full stomach = good and forgetting to load diaper bag with equivalent to wartime food drop = bad. Being hungry – even for a second – was not an option. Emergency provisions were to be available and within arms reach at all times, and upon landing on Earth, aliens from galaxies far and beyond would believe that human children were born attached to bright plastic bowls of toasted O’s. The message was clear: If you’re even thinking about becoming a parent, start clipping  snack cracker coupons now.

I was guilty of Unnecessary Snacks for many years. When my daughter was an infant I went through several hundred diapers, a breast pump or two, 4 strollers, and 16, 229 zip-sealed snack bags. I had several bags in various states of fullness on me at any given time. I couldn’t go anywhere without my glasses, my wallet, or sliced grapes and dry cereal.

When I decided to stop the snack madness I started slowly and tentatively, because I didn’t want to cause an unbridled crisis.  I limited our initial “snack-free” outings to  a 5 foot safety-zone, by first venturing to the living room without our standard tag-a-long cooler of yogurt tubes. Then we tried going to the park with only one snack and a water bottle. It worked! No one perished and when my son said “I’m hungry!” 10 minutes after the breakfast dishes were cleared, I responded with “Hi, Hungry! I’m Jeni and it’s nice to meet you.

Snack Platter

Why are we so afraid of hunger? We live in one of the wealthiest countries on this blue spinning ball, and for most people who live here, food scarcity is not an issue. I certainly don’t advocate a starvation diet for children (or anyone for that matter) but what is with this notion that our children must be completely topped-up full at all times? Are snacking crackers and banana slices the new Mother’s Little Helper? The hardest words for some parents to say are not “I’ll be right down with bail money,” but “You can wait until dinner.”

Reasonable snacks are just that – reasonable. I enjoy snacking as much as the next person but it doesn’t need to become the focus of an outing and if your child is old enough and physically capable of eating three meals and a reasonable snack per day then I think (even without medical credentials) that it is probably okay to let them wait for food for up to three-hour intervals. My son has asked for “something to eat” three times since breakfast today and it’s from boredom, not genuine hunger. I know this because when I offered the option of raw onions or dry bread he disappeared back outside. Real hunger would have taken a raw onion sandwich and it would have liked it. Fingers to mouth is almost a reflex now, but I’m making him wait until noon when he can instead feel the weight of a fork in his hand.

I AM A MANIAC, AND I AM SICK WITH POWER.

 Image Source: WikiCommons

 

 

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Social Media & Living in a 911 World

Yesterday, when the news came through that explosions had rocked the Boston Marathon, I immediately turned to Twitter to get updates. After all, if you want the news fast and often in first person, Twitter is where you need to be. I read and absorbed as much as I could emotionally handle, sent out a tweet of condolences in a sea of thousands, retweeted something Liz Gumbiner (@MOM101) said and then I got the hell away from social media.

Because I knew. I knew like every other time something tragic has happened that it would turn quickly from a wave of support to a sea of vehement discourse. Offer up your prayers and someone is questioning how prayers are going to help, had a tweet scheduled about Product XYZ but you hadn’t heard the news yet or didn’t shut them off, prepare to be vilified. I knew that nothing good would come of hanging out on Twitter or Facebook……for me it would only make matters worse.

After the birth of my daughters, I took a little trip on the Crazy Train. Okay, “crazy” is harsh, let’s say I was on the Emotionally Unstable Train. As in, I thought every muscle ache, every headache, every rash, every gas pain meant that I had one of two things, Cancer or Aids. At least that’s what WebMD told me. This is why self-diagnosis by internet is a bad idea.

Certain I was on death’s doorstep I booked an appointment with my family doctor to, you know, get a second opinion. Now, my doctor, God love her, was incredibly patient with me. She sent me for tests that were all returned negative and suggested kindly that maybe I needed to talk to someone. I dismissed her out of hand and went home, momentarily relieved that I wasn’t dying. A month later though I was back in her office because this time I was convinced I had lung cancer. I was having a hard time breathing, there were times I couldn’t catch my breath at all and I felt like I was being smothered. Obviously all those years I spent smoking caught up with me and I was going to die. My doctor once again agreed to take a look but this time she insisted that I also go talk to a psychologist.

My girls around the time I thought I was doomed.

My girls around the time I thought I was doomed.

I often relate the story of visiting the psychologist as a bit of a epiphany for me. As soon as I sat down in his office the first words out of his mouth were, “You’re not breathing.” I laughed. “Of course I am.” I said. “No, you’re breathing like your out of wind, like you just ran a race. You’re not stopping to catch your breath.”

And then we talked. Floodgates opened and I cried and cried and all my anxiety about bringing two beautiful little girls into the world came pouring out. What if something happened to me? What if something happened to them? Damnit, I can not control everything!

We also talked about my obsession with the news. Daily, I must have checked the news about 20 times. I didn’t listen to music stations, I listened to news radio and in my down time I was reading opinion column after opinion column. My need to control the uncontrollable also meant that I needed to know what was happening every single moment in the world. As my psychologist pointed out, I was living in a 911 world. Always waiting for the next disaster. Never catching my breath because I was always on guard.

Surprise, surprise, he was right. So I laid off the news, I started working out daily to increase my levels of serotonin and I became an expert filterer.

Which brings me back around to social media. Thankfully, for me anyway, social media wasn’t really huge at the time I was going through this. I can only surmise that if it was I may have had a full mental breakdown.

When I was first introduced to Twitter, I had already adjusted to my “new” way of life and immediately saw the pitfalls in a platform that allowed thousands upon thousands of people to share their opinions on absolutely everything.(yes, yes, there are many positives as well)  Which is why, I walked away from it yesterday. I walked away from it after Newtown, and after the Aurora shooting and I will walk away from it during the next tragedy because more often than not the matter at hand becomes diluted with our own personal grievances about religion, politics, business or even someone’s poor spelling. We are silly creatures sometimes.

Having a filter is a good thing when tragedies like this happen.

Three people were killed yesterday and 140 injured. That’s all that matters. The rest is just noise. Sometimes the best way to deal with social media is to just walk away and catch your breath.

 

 

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Rape Culture Alive And Well In Canada

One month before she committed suicide, Rehtaeh Parsons posted a picture of herself on Facebook with a quote from Martin Luther King captioning it as such:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

And in the end that is exactly what happened for Rehtaeh. It took 17 months, but eventually the silence of her friends became too much to bear and she left this world not knowing the storm of outrage she’d leave behind. I wonder if we knew 17 months ago what we know now, would Rehtaeh’s story had played out differently? Would we have been as outraged?

At 15 she was raped by four boys after drinking vodka at someone’s house. Let’s change that sentence for a second though. At 15 she was raped by four boys at someone’s house. You see, the vodka is actually of little consequence here. It is the first part of our reaction to rape that has to change. Many will see vodka in the story and immediately blame the alcohol. Well, if she hadn’t been drinking, this wouldn’t have happened. Really? I know lots of girls, myself included that drank at that age and weren’t gang-raped. Next, we go to “why was she at a house with four boys anyway?”. Again, victim-shaming.

Rape is rape is rape no matter where, when, who, or why it happens. It is wrong under any circumstances. Full stop.

rehtaeh-parsons

Now, let’s ask the real questions. Why did four boys feel it was okay to rape a girl? How is it that four boys actually have the same sick mentality? How is that four boys felt it was okay to distribute a picture of Rehtaeh being raped and not even fear consequences? This is immediately where our head should go, but instead we have been trained by society to always blame the victim. In some sick way, it makes us feel better. It gives us a way to reason out the horrific nature of the crime. Well obviously, if she hadn’t of done A then B wouldn’t have happened. Sort of like, if that young woman hadn’t boarded a bus to take her home she wouldn’t have been raped.

The humiliation and pain of being raped wasn’t the end for Rehtaeh but only the beginning. And for that, we only have ourselves to blame.

There are equally disturbing events that happened here besides the rape and subsequent distribution of child pornography.

How is it that a girl can be raped and then bullied by other girls? One of her “friends” on facebook left a comment reading “Sluts need to leave this school anyway”. So much for girl power. What kinds of conversations are happening in the homes of these girls who would leave such a comment? These girls should be outraged. They should be scared for their own safety. And they should have had Rehtaeh’s back. Instead, they added insult to injury and beat her down even further.

I also can’t help but put myself in the shoes of parents when something like this happens. My heart is heavy and sickened when I think of Rehtaeh’s parents. My rage is palpable when I think of this happening to my daughter. But what of the other parents? How would I feel if my son did something like this? Would I be so blinded by my love for him that I would ignore the facts in front of me? Would I force him to do the right thing and accept responsibility despite the consequences to his future? What of the parents of the bullies? Do they even know that their kids are complicit in a young girls death? If they know, did the conversations they had around their own dinner table contribute to the “slut” mentality?

Finally, why have these boys not been charged? Apparently, the RCMP investigated this case for a year and was unable to lay charges for lack of evidence. There is photographic evidence, not to mention four culprits, and another girl who was a witness. This reeks of incompetence.

If we remove the shame of rape from the victim and heap it on the perpetrator then we change the story. If we can re-train ourselves to be a more positive person, or a more fit person or a more productive person, than surely we can relearn how to react to rape.

My gut, as usual, tells me to lock my daughters up, but my gut is instinctive and mother bearish and when is comes to stuff like this, it’s usually wrong. My head tells me to stay alert, stay informed and talk to my girls about every single aspect of growing up in today’s society, no matter how uncomfortable it may make me feel. It tells me to model how to talk about other women. It tells me to speak up.

Make your voice heard and sign the petition here to demand an inquiry into the police investigation of Rehtaeh Parson’s rape. Educate yourself and your children about the media’s role in portraying women as sex objects by signing up at MissRepresentation.org. Finally, learn what rape culture is and change the conversation around your dinner table. Ours daughters and sons will have better lives if we step up now.

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Shut Your Damn Phone Off

We live in a society where most of us are attached to our phones. I am guilty of this myself with my hand often holding it for no other reason but to feel the comfort of knowing it’s there I guess. It’s become my fourth appendage, never far, always charged and ready to connect me to someone, somewhere in a nanosecond. This is not a good thing.

I remember what life was like before cell phones and portable tablets. It was much calmer. I suspect this is because I was unattainable during down time. You remember down time? The time we used to have alone when we weren’t concerned about work, what the guy you used to know in high school had for lunch, for what some perfect stranger just got upset about. Down time meant you were intrusion free and increasingly that is becoming obsolete. And it’s not just my phone that’s intruding, it’s others.

If you want to surf while on vacation, or sit on the bus and not talk to a stranger than I think you have that right. You are bothering no one. Who am I to judge? I’ve got attachment issues too. I draw lines though on where my phone is acceptable and not acceptable. Eating dinner with my family or friends, unacceptable. Eating lunch alone, acceptable. We all have to draw parameters around our phone usage or it will take over our life. That being said, I think we’re going to have start calling out the people who have no phone etiquette.

shut your damn phone off

Last year, while driving across the United States, high up in a seat in our motor home, I was appalled to see how many people were texting while driving. Warning: Graphic image if you click through.

Even though it’s illegal in most States and Provinces, most people just don’t care. You are eight times more likely to be in a car accident while texting. That’s double the odds of drinking and driving, and yet I continue to see people everyday getting that one little peek while driving down the highway. This is a perfect example of someone’s phone usage affecting those around them.

While on vacation in Jamaica last week, I came across three more examples of people using their phones in socially unacceptable ways.

As I’ve mentioned, my phone doesn’t come to the dinner table. If you want to bring yours, go for it, just not dining with me please, but I digress. If you want to bring your phone to dinner at a restaurant, go ahead. There is this neat little thing though on your phone called a silent button. Please, for the love of romantic meals everywhere, find it. Our meal last week was interrupted repeatedly by the man next to us texting. The best part was every time his phone would ding, loudly I might add — there’s volume too you know — he would sigh and roll his eyes like “how dare this person keep texting me”. Yes sir, not only are they bothering you and your pompous need to impress, but they are bothering everyone in the restaurant. Now, I don’t think it was my job to get up and tell this man to silence his phone, but I do think it was the restaurant’s responsibility to tell him to shut it off.

There is no place more sacred than the spa. Most women know it and dutifully shut their phone off upon entry. Imagine my surprise when last week, while receiving a lovely massage the masseuse started texting! You have go to be kidding me?! I’m in there for down time, and your phone is buzzing away?! So, I’m lying there with cucumbers on my eyes and my foot is being rubbed by two hands in the most magnificent way and *buzz*, one hand rubbing now and click, click, click….two hands, *buzz*, one hand, click, click, click…..you get the idea right? While I consider this one of the most shocking workplaces I’ve seen phones used, it’s definitely an epidemic. I’ve seen lifeguards, on duty, texting. I’ve watched the person behind the fast food counter hold up their finger to me and fire off another message before taking my order. So, maybe, just maybe, employers should ask for phones to be handed in at the beginning of the shift and picked up on the way out? Just a thought.

Finally, I know it’s a real drag when the flight attendants ask you to shut off all electronic devices upon take off and landing. That three minutes without your phone is scary, but they ask for a reason — your safety and the 297 other people you’re flying with. Now, I get that there is evidence to suggest that perhaps these devices aren’t interfering with the planes equipment at all. In fact, just yesterday, I heard the FAA is considering lifting that ban so that we can continue to play Candy Crush while heading off into the wild blue yonder. Oh, those will be happy days indeed. But you sir, you are the worst offender, because not only is your phone still on but your are sending and receiving messages while we’re landing! Device on, in airplane mode, probably ok. Device on, sending and receiving? Probably not. Now I’m not Albert Einstein, but I’m thinking you’re not either, so until the evidence is in, shut your damn phone off.

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Put Down Your Guns America

 

 

Back in late July, I wrote a post titled “Put Your Stones Down”. (God, was it really only July?) Long story short, it was a from-the-heart post in which I begged, probably even condemned, people who were quick to throw judgment about in light of horrific events, to put their stones down. Ultimately, it didn’t really matter why people had children at a midnight screening of Batman. It wasn’t the parents fault they were shot. [Read more...]

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Stop Humiliating Your Kids On the Internet Please

 

A couple of weeks ago, somebody brought to my attention a website called Dogshaming. People submit pictures of their dogs wearing signs around their neck that are meant to be confessions of bad deeds. As the owner of two dogs who do some pretty stupid things, I thought it was hysterical in a twisted sort of way.

Shaming a dog is funny.

Shaming a child is not.

Shaming dogs is good for a chuckle, children no so much. *photo source Dog-shaming.com

Yesterday I tripped across this apalling article on Huffington Post. Basically, this dad thought shaming his toddler for having an accident in the tub was hysterical. He went to the trouble of making a sign and having her autograph it, he then hung it around her neck and had her pose smiling with it and then, well then he posted it on the internet.

And this is where my head explodes.

Because it’s not just this guy. Humiliating children on the internet is epidemic. And the worst part is it’s the parents that are doing it. Whether it’s declaring favourites, shooting up laptops, admitting you don’t love one, or the double whammy, making them stand in public with a sign around their neck AND posting it on the internet, it appears that embarrassing your kids is the new trend.

And it’s disgusting.

Blogging in particular has brought about a new breed of bullies. Parents that use their children as pawns for page views.

I understand that quest for page views.

If a blog is monetized then page views matter. I’ve written those posts that get tremendous hits and I’ve watched my traffic sky rocket. The flip side of that of course, is that when the herd moves on to the next big thing, your traffic dies and you start to stress about bringing them back. After all, you’re only as hot as your Google Analytics, right?

Being a parent means your children give you scads of material to work with. Heaven knows my kids give me loads of good blog fodder. And then I quickly forget about it and post another recipe or a song that gets me hopping. Because in the end amusing you is not worth embarrassing them.

The internet requires restraint. It means you have to think every single time you put a word on it or every time you post a picture. You have to ask yourself if this will hurt someone you love. Because I guarantee you, those people behind the keyboards don’t love you. They’ll be long gone years down the road, as you’re left picking up the pieces of a broken heart.

When I blog about my children, I ask myself will this embarrass them in any way? I don’t ask my child. At 10 and 8 they don’t have a frickin’ clue what’s going to embarrass them at 16. That’s up to me to use my better judgment. If I’m not sure I ask my spouse, who does not blog, but consumes the goods. If he says no way, then it doesn’t happen. Also, and this is important, so come very, very close so that you understand me — what goes around, comes around. Blogging isn’t going anywhere. Many of our children will have wonderfully popular blogs of their own in the future.

Me thinks there will be a lot of sorry parents in the future. Comeuppance can be a beautiful thing.

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Put Your Stones Down

A few weeks ago I had a gathering of good friends at my house. It was a fantastic weekend , in which we threw our best parenting judgement to the wind. Our children were jumping in my pool long past midnight and eating junk food in excessive amounts until 2am. Yup, those kids should have been in bed. It was totally irresponsible parenting according to the status quo and in the process we helped create memories that will last a lifetime.

Oh and there was that one time I let my daughter watch a movie that was definitely a little beyond her years, but good gawd it was going to give me two hours of peace and quiet on a road trip, so out the window went my common sense. Oh, oh, and let’s not forget about the time that I took my two year old to Midnight Mass at Christmas and she wailed through the whole thing.

And then there’s this.

There was that one time I took my 9 year old daughter to see a midnight movie screening because she’d been begging me for months to see it and I thought I’d do something totally crazy and fun with her. But she was shot and killed by a madman, and my heart collapsed from the grief. And in the midst of all this people immediately started to call me a bad mom for having her there at all.

Unbelievable, isn’t it?

It’s hard to believe it happened at all. It’s a completely unimaginable, horrific reality, and yet, there it is. Screaming at us from every media outlet today.

So many parents lives were changed forever yesterday. Pain, horror, guilt, grief, anger, are only some of the emotions these poor people with have to deal with for years to come. They should have nothing but our complete sympathy, but instead the judgers come out, in record time really, to shame the parents a little more.

I certainly hope none of them live in a glass house, throwing stones about like that and all.

Really? You ask who would take a three month old to movie? Maybe a mom who was breastfeeding and wanted to see a great movie and figured, reasonably enough I might add, what harm could come of this? She wasn’t walking the infant into a war zone, but a theatre. And three month olds, being three months old and all, generally eat and sleep pretty much anywhere. And the six year old, well, who knows why they were there, but it’s possible the parents had a momentary lapse of judgement. LIKE.WE.ALL.DO. And the other side of the coin is that the parent thought maybe their kid could handle it. Does it really friggin’ matter at this point?

While, quite obviously, this didn’t happen to me as described above, I’m trying to make a point. A “walk a mile in their shoes” point.

I, for one, wasn’t handed the Perfect Parenting manual when my children were born. Different parents are going to make different calls. Sometimes they’ll look back and cringe. Sometimes they’ll look back and smile. I may not agree with everything you do and vice versa. I’ll share my opinion, you’ll share yours. We’ll both move on.

Today though, the bottom line is this; nobody, not one single person, in that theatre thought something so awful could happen. It is just as tragic that a 13 year old was shot and killed as it is a 3 month old. The grief is no different for those left behind.

Sometimes it’s nice to throw our judgment around. We’re entitled to do that. It can change opinions, it creates discussion and hey, sometimes it just brings you page views. Whatever makes you happy. But when parents are grieving in a way that is completely unimaginable to any of us, it’s time to put your stones away.

Pleasantville Postscript: I am overwhelmed by the response to this article and by the many thoughtful comments left behind. I have struggled for days about responding to those that are clearly in disagreement. This is what I’ve decided upon. By engaging in an argument with them about the merits of whether a young child should have been at that movie or not, I am bringing the conversation exactly where I didn’t think it should be. I don’t think I could have been much clearer in this post, so I am biting my tongue. I love those of you that didn’t.

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Joseph Kony

Updated

When you get 10 million eyeballs on something you are obviously going to get a lot of opposing opinions, as has become abundantly obvious to me with this video. I’d like to thank everyone who sent me articles that present strong arguments against the organization Invisible Children, most notably here, here(for which I agree with him and changed the title of this post from Kony 2012 to Joseph Kony) and here. I recommend you read them all. You can also read Invisible Children’s response to some of the critique it’s been receiving here.

I did not ask anyone below to donate money to this cause, because that is a very personal decision and it should also be an educated one, as I wrote about here back in July. You can view Invisible Children’s financial statements here and form your own opinion on whether you’d like to donate money or not.

I did ask for others to share their voice on this and here is why. I think that this man has got away with this for too long. I don’t suffer from “white man’s guilt” as some writers suggest, but I certainly do suffer from mother’s empathy. My children go to bed safe in their beds each night and I sleep sound knowing that some madman is not going to take them from their beds and turn them into child soldiers, not to mention rape and mutilate them. There are mothers across the sea that do not sleep so well. My heart breaks for them.

Joseph Kony is a terrible man who has committed crimes against children for 30 years now. Sadly, I would bet most know more about Kim Kardashian’s ass than what this man has done. That’s not meant as an insult but merely a statement on what our society values. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to change the channel and raise awareness. I’m ok with spreading the word. I understand if you’re not.

Original Post

My stepson is 18 and has grown up in the Facebook generation. Despite the fact that he still ignores my friend requests, I am encouraged that he is on the right track when he sends me YouTube videos like the one he sent me today about the Invisible Children. Viewed almost 10 million times now, it is an incredibly powerful short film. You must take 29 minutes out of your day to watch this. Really, it is probably the most important thing you’ll do all day….possibly this week, maybe this year.

Watching it, I couldn’t help but cry. But mostly I got angry. Let’s file this one under a World Gone Mad, because can you tell me how the hell a man has been able to kidnap 30,000 children for 20 years? It’s not like we don’t know who’s responsible, for Pete’s sake? Yet one more indication that we’ve got our priorities all screwed up when something like this can continue for this long and nothing has been done to stop it.

On April 20th, I’m going to lend my voice to this worthy cause by helping make Kony famous. For that one day, my blog post(s) will be about Joseph Kony and the atrocities he’s committed. I will write about it on my page at the YummyMummyClub and I will write about it here. No sponsored posts, no songs, no travel, no recipes. Just Kony. I will also direct my Facebook status to the Facebook page of Invisible Children.

Here’s the challenge to my blogging friends. I invite you to do the same. Just as our youth will be plastering Joseph Kony’s name everywhere on the streets, I’m encouraging my blogging friends to plaster the internet with his name. For one day, let’s focus all our attention on making this bastard famous and helping to bring him to justice.

Let me know below if you’ll be joining me April 20th.

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Suspended for an Open Love Letter

I haven’t written a post under World Gone Mad in a while, but a story I read this morning has prompted me to add a new one.

A young man at a school in Durham, wrote an open letter to the girls at his school for Valentine’s Day. This is what it said:

A love letter to all women

Written by Paul Gomille

Could I please have your attention for a few moments? I guarantee you won’t regret listening to what I have to say. You definitely won’t regret hearing this in your life time, especially from a man of dignity. It’s an idea that I have held close to my heart even before the kilt controversy arose in the media. This message is not meant to address the kilt controversy directly by any means, but rather, this message is a general and all-encompassing statement. It is a message about the qualities that really matter in a woman, and what really makes a woman attractive. Although this speech has some relevance to the way women dress and present themselves’ nowadays, the message in this speech goes far beyond one’s preferences, or feelings of pressure, as it relates to the way they dress, and it goes far beyond any concept of modernity. It strikes at the very core of humanity itself, in an attempt to make a revelation of truth apparent to all of you, with awe inspiring certainty. If you read this, and receive anything less than a feeling of absolution from it, then I have committed a grave sin, a sin against myself and a sin against all of you.

The people this message concerns are the young women of this school, and of the world. In particular, it concerns the silent ones, the intelligent ones, the ones that don’t talk about people behind their backs, the ones that guys don’t flock to in droves, the ones that don’t dress in revealing clothing, the ones who would love to be in love, and the ones that are continually disappointed in their appearance because the only thing they have to compare themselves to are the women that have been put on pedestals by our society. This message also concerns those of you who may consider yourselves the so called “opposite” to the demographic I just described. The ones who do dress in revealing clothing, and the ones who try to fit in with the crowd. You don’t need to dress or act a certain way to fit in, to feel attractive, or to BE attractive. You’re all far more attractive than you realize. All of you. But that’s not to say that you should all dress in revealing clothing. No, not at all. Sure, a girl who dresses that way might turn a few heads, and get some compliments. But real attractiveness doesn’t come from wearing the latest fashion, and it doesn’t come from being scantily clad in public, or putting on make-up, or having a pretty face, or a nice body. No. Real attractiveness comes from having a certain dignity. It comes from having class. It comes from being true to yourself, being yourself, and being comfortable in your own skin. This message is for all young women within the sound of my voice and beyond. You’re all beautiful. You all have inner beauty AND outer beauty.

Wow. What a letter! After the post I wrote this week about raising girls in an over-sexualized society I thought this young man’s letter was a breath of fresh air. Apparently though the school didn’t and they suspended him. That’s right, they suspended a Grade 12 student with an impeccable record for writing an open letter to teen girls encouraging them to love themselves from the inside out. Yes, it is a WORLD GONE MAD. Daily, little punks who are bullying other children are allowed to continue with their tirade, while a boy who writes a love letter gets suspended. If I was allowed to swear right now, I would have a terrific string of curse words going here.

It would seem that the school was initially on board with Paul’s letter, but when he refused to bow to their politically correct silliness they told him he could no longer read the letter out loud at the school. So that’s when young Paul went rogue and printed the letter and distributed it. Crazy kid, thinking for himself. He wasn’t distributing racist tracts, anti-abortion material, or political or religious pamphlets. He was handing out a letter that says something every teen girl should hear, worry less about the outside and more about what’s inside.

I’d like to give Paul a standing ovation. Don’t let them get you down young man, your future is bright.

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Banning Balls and Other Stupidity

From the file of “The World’s Gone Mad”, comes a story today about a school in Toronto that has banned all hard balls. Yup, balls. If not for the fact that this kind of thing has become so common, I’d be gobsmacked. Sadly, it only makes me want to have a drink. We’re doomed I tell you. DOOMED.

I think the schools should really just get it over with and ban fun. I mean, why tiptoe around it? It’s clearly where they are going. I’ve heard stories of tag banned, King of the castle, mini hockey sticks, Red Rover and now well, at least at one school for sure, soccer, basketball, and football. I remember a discussion with my daughter last year that ended with her in tears.

Me: “What did you do today at recess?”
Her:”Nothing”
Me: “C’mon, you must have done something. Did you play tag?”
Her: “We’re not allowed because someone might get hurt”
Me: *stunned silence*
Her: “We’re not allowed to do ANYTHING! It’s stupid,stupid,stupid. We just stand there!!” Storms off to her room(she gets the drama from me).

While I’m sure there was some dramatic license there, I don’t doubt the fact that at least on that day, they were not allowed to play tag. If nothing else, my daughter is a rule follower (she did not get this from me). Drive by any school at recess time and what do you see? Way too many kids just standing there. Are we not fighting an obesity epidemic? Shouldn’t we be encouraging these kids to get their little butts moving?

Then of course there’s the trading cards, the silly bands and the marbles. Frankly, nothing irritates me more than when things like this are banned. These are great ways for kids to learn the power of negotiation, trading and fairness. You know, life skills through play. Sure, there will always be the kid who will take advantage, but again, another great teachable moment lost in a sea of political correctness. Instead, though, we ban them outright. Is it because it takes too much effort? Some would argue that school is strictly for learning and teachers have little time for this “silliness”. Maybe. But I think, play and all the lessons that come along with it are important too.

Raise your hand if you’ve banned hard balls at home? Do you forbid your kids from playing tag? This is what really perplexes me. Individually we wouldn’t think of doing any of these things, but collectively we become brain dead. What’s the answer? Maybe waivers are. I’ll gladly sign one releasing the school of any liability if they’ll just let my kids be kids. You?

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