July 1, 2008
Move -6 Days: Short Thoughts On Parenting
You know what stinks about being a parent?
Your kids will never, ever - well, not until they are themselves parents, if then - understand just how far you've come in overcoming your own personal issues.
No one who knew me, say, in high school, would ever dream that I would have the patience of ten saints with my children. None of you who knew me then would ever believe the amount of things I can laugh off, blow off, and let go. My kids have no idea how good they have it. Is that fair? Of course it's not fair.
One day, when they open up the dryer to find an empty bottle of India ink and an entire load of now polka-dotted clothes, they should be so lucky to have the strength to toss the clothes in the trash and go on with life, without even yelling a tiny bit.
On a related note, I am so glad I don't have to parent without technology. I'm so glad I don't have to parent without an iPod. I'm so glad I can say, "Look, kids, Mommy will be fine ... just let me listen to my headphones for 15 minutes, very loud;" they disappear, I find something with really impressive guitars, and what do you know? Life is better.
July 27, 2007
My kids are fighting to do chores. All of my kids.
Check out this nifty little site: Chore Wars. This is a blast, especially if you have gamer/geek kids! At this site your kids will get to make up a character. Then they go on adventures (chores) to gain experience points. Along the way they might, or might not, get gold, magical items, or run into a wandering monster. The more experience points you get, the higher level your character becomes.
It's brilliant. My living room has never been so clean (at least, not by the hands of children).
(As I post this, their server is not responding. Hopefully it will be back up soon.)
January 23, 2007
Boys and Girls
This semester, my boys are in a homeschool PE class. They were in one last year, in Texas.
As in Texas, this class is co-ed. Unlike in Texas, this class always splits up into teams of boys vs. girls. This is vountary; actually, the kids insist on it. No girl wants a boy on her team, and no boy wants a girl on his! This is odd for my boys. They've always had girl friends, and any PE they've been involved in has been with fully integrated teams. My kids think it's weird.
Some of the girls in the class are a little older, say in their early teens. Apparently, whenever the teacher is not looking at them, these girls cheat. If they're tagged out by a boy, they pretend it didn't happen. They deny it. They make excuses. Then they laugh about how dumb boys are, and how great girls are. Meanwhile, my boys are getting more and more irritated, and having less and less fun.
I know this is normal behavior. I remember it well. But, well ... we never saw it in Texas. Then again, they were never in a class with teens. I'm out of experience with kids in their early teens: Is this kind of thing inevitable? It seems to me that were I the teacher, I would integrate the teams and insist on good sportsmanship while in class. I've seen this work beautifully with younger kids; is it just too much to expect with the teens, or tweens? Are my expectations out of line here, or is the teacher perhaps not handling the class as well as it might be handled?
November 20, 2006
The Dangers of Breastfeeding
Because Mother Nature made bottles for a reason. Now you know.
Won't somebody, please, think of the children?
October 16, 2006
TV Causes Autism?
I haven't checked this study out, but it's an interesting idea. Television viewing causes autism.
August 12, 2006
To Work or Not to Work
I posted this darned thing, and then realized that somehow I posted it back in July instead of yesterday.
And then I decided that I didn't give a damn about Ms. Hirschman. However, since then people have asked for my opinion, and because that happens so rarely, I forced myself to re-read the original article.
For twenty-five years, she watched as the backlash generation slowly walked away from the promise of a better life. Women — whether they stay home or, like most women, just carry the responsibility for home to work and back — are homeward bound. Their husbands won't carry enough of the household to enable them to succeed fully in the public world. Glass ceiling? The thickest glass ceiling is at home.
Their bosses, who are mostly someone else's husband, won't do the job their own husbands turned down, so there is no employer day care and there are no government tax breaks. Look deeply and you will see that liberal and conservative commentators largely agree that ideally women belong at home.
And women say they choose this fate, and the feminist movement backs them up.
The women Ms. Hirschman is concerned with are the "intelligent and privileged" women, women who are on track to high-profile, high-powered jobs: lawyers who could become Supreme Court justices; television producers who could shape programming for a nation; policy makers of all types. Her argument is that if these women drop out of the work force, feminism loses ground. Strong, important female voices disappear from the spheres of influence, a loss for all women. She also argues that although these women say they are freely choosing home and family, they're not; the glass ceiling at home weighs too heavily on their "choice." Besides that, she pulls no punches in admitting that she sees staying home as the wrong choice, undermining the aims of feminism. And so, these privileged women have a duty to have few or no children, and remain in the workforce leaving the childcare and housekeeping to someone else.
As you might guess, I disagree.
First of all, I disagree that these "privileged" women have as much of a glass ceiling influence as she claims. True, they may be married to privileged men with high-powered jobs who assume housekeeping and childcare to be beneath them (Ms. Hirschman provides not one single example of a supportive husband who actually shares in the childcare and household duties - presumably she doesn't believe the exist?). However, these are the very people who can afford nannies and housekeepers. They can pay to have the everyday grind taken care of by someone else. No, if these women are choosing to stay home, I believe they are honestly choosing to stay home.
That rubs Ms. Hirschman the wrong way, and I can understand why. When a woman has a first-class education and the resources to go forth into the world and be successful, to make a difference, it's a slap in the face to the feminist powers that fought for those very opportunities for her to choose to stay home and do childcare instead.
The unfortunate down side to fighting for freedom means that people just might use their freedom to make choices you dislike.
Do these women make the choice to stay home at the expense of other women? Perhaps. I'm not convinced. I sense a kind of social elitism in Ms. Hirschman's arguments that bothers me. I don't like her implication that this is the duty of the privileged woman, to work and advance womankind, while leaving her children in the care of ... presumably less-privileged women. Certainly Ms. Hirschman's portrayal of men in her essay leads me to believe she has no faith in men picking up the slack (all her examples of men are selfish and look on housework/childcare as anathema). So it must be professional child-care workers. You know, those people who do that job that is so looked down upon, and who do it for so little pay.
This is America. Is it not still possible for a less privileged, but determined, woman to make her mark on the world? To say this is the duty of the privileged is, I think, insulting. It assumes that the elite have to do it because they're the only ones who can. I don't buy it. I still think anyone can do anything, with hard work and ingenuity. Perhaps if one of these more gifted women bows out of the workforce after finding she'd rather care for her own kids, she's simply leaving the field open for someone with fewer natural opportunities but who wants the job more.
But back to the big question: Why do women who seem to have it all in the workforce choose to stay home? I think it comes down to this: Biology is destiny. Not in a sense that means women are only genetically capable of having children and cleaning a house. But realistically, it's women who have the babies. We can't change that. Men can't have them. We can't stop having them, not entirely. No matter what work we choose to do in the world, we have to take childbearing into account. We have no other choice.
If we choose to have children, we must choose to either interrupt our work or delay it. We must choose to structure our work around the lost time and chaos a complicated pregnancy might cause. We must manage the time and energy that giving birth and caring for a newborn take. We must accept the fact that we are likely to have strong feelings about the child, again based on biology, that prompt us to want to focus more on it and less on the job. For some professions and career ladders, these interruptions spell disaster. Sometimes they can be managed, and our work will go on. Sometimes the women choose to focus on the child instead and the career later, if at all.
Ms. Hirschman hopes that privileged women will choose to have few children if any, and manage the interruptions so the work can continue. In this way, she hopes we will gain and maintain equality in the spheres of influence in our society. But because women have babies and men don't, this is not equality! Our influential jobs, our definitions of success, our offices, our workdays ... all of these things are based on men, and on male biology. The only way for us to be equal in such a world is to eliminate, or at lease minimize, the childbearing aspect. But why is it "equality" for women to have to smother such a basic part of ourselves? How is it "equality" to pretend we're just like men?
Equality in the workplace, and in the leadership of this country at all levels, can only happen by a fundamental restructuring of values and social constructs. Equality doesn't happen when women have children furtively, pretending the job of motherhood is not important and keeping the whole baby business tucked away from the boss; it happens when we can change work and success to something that is more flexible, and that values the care of children. It happens when men accept their share of family and home care, and adjust their work accordingly. It happens when we change our definition of success, and influence.
So, yes, "choose your choice," ladies. Work if you wish. Stay home if you wish. Choose meaningful work from your home and have the best of both worlds. Find a real way to work for equality.
Besides, you've got to wonder what all this time of intelligent, influential women in the workforce has brought us, when we still get ads like this and this. I want to see a man in that bathtub. Pronto.
March 22, 2006
Why does this even need to be said?
It's so mind-bogglingly simple. Really. It is.
If you, as a parent, cannot get, say, your four-year old to do what you say without beating them with plumbing tubing or forcibly restraining them by wrapping them in sheets, you have a problem, you don't know how to parent your kid, and you need help.
If you cannot manage a young child's behavior without resorting to tools like this, the problem is you. You need help. Please, please get some.
If you cannot manage a baby without resorting to spanking and slapping, you need help. You're not doing it right, or well. No, you're not.
It's a shame that the commentor on this post is one of many who doesn't get the fact that yes, you can raise well-behaved kids with well-defined boundaries without resorting to the methods espoused by the Pearls in "To Train Up a
Dog Child." It might be easier to turn to punitive discipline, but it's so worth it to find another way. Can you imagine what Lynn Paddock feels about her discipline methods now?
If you own the Pearls' book, or the Ezzo book, please, throw it out the window (better yet, burn it) and go to Joanne'sPositive Discipline Resource Center instead.