So Not Gay

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

At 12, Emily still debriefs me regarding the entire details of her day. 

Tonight, we lay in bed and she chatted merrily away about who said what to whom, who traded things at lunch and who was now friends ( or not friends) with whom.

She paused, and then asked, "Is there any other meanings for the word Gay?"

I looked at her. "Well, what do you mean? Besides what meanings do you mean?"

"Well, Angel told me that my hat was Gay..and I said "Do you mean my hat is Homosexual? Do you mean my hat is really Happy?" and she said "No, your hat is stupid" and I said "Well, than it isn't Gay because that isn't what Gay means."

I turned and stared into her beautiful deep brown eyes.

"I am so proud of you, you know. You are absolutely right. And using Gay as an insult is absolutely not Ok and Mommy is just so proud of you for standing up to Angel that my heart could burst."

I am raising an incredible woman. 

Death may take a Holiday, But Influenza does not

an oldie, but goodie, As I wrap, and shop and generally hold my head in my hands.  A "true from my life Tale, of Christmas 2007


'Twas the evening of Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except for Dawn Rouse;
The stockings were empty,the gifts all unwrapped,
The cookies were eaten, I had not yet napped;


My child finally nestled all snug in her bed,
The two hours of sleep she'd gotten finally messed with her head;
And Terrance in his skivvies, and me, feeling groovy,
Had just settled down to watch a bootleg movie,


When out in the hall there arose such a splatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Terrance was out cold, I was all by myself,
To deal with the issue that presented itself.


The moon on the breast of the newly puked vomit
Gave the lustre of pearls to the puddles upon it,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But my own puking child, covered toe to ear.

The fluid spew forth, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment she was getting quite sick.
More rapid than eagles the vomit, it came,
That I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Lysol! now, Pinesol! now, Bleach and Windex,
On, Comet! on Downey! And Thank God I bought another box of Tide!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now clean it up! Wash away! Wash away all!"

As dry heaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
My daughter sat before the toilet and cried.
And then, in a twinkling, I knew without doubt
That my evening would be fraught with effluvia all about .

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
More vomit flew out of her mouth with a bound.
She was wearing new jammies, picturing Hannah Montana,
which were now all tarnished with what looked like banana;

the bundle of toys she had flung on her floor,
Now looked as if they'd been involved in a gelatinous war.
Her eyes -- how they watered!! Her forehead all sweaty!
Her PJ's were covered, blankets, rugs and Poor Bitty.

Her droll little mouth was drawn up in an "O",
making it easier forthwith from the vomit to flow;
I leapt over puddles of still steaming puke
to reach my poor daughter and give no rebuke;

While trying quite hard not to step in the yak
I murmured kind words, held her hair, rubbed her back.
And where was my husband, I hear you all wonder,
A sleeping pill he'd taken had put him quite under;

Once finished, I started a nice steamy shower,
And pre pared her toothbrush with all of my power;
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And stripped down her bed, rugs, stuffed animals, towels, sheets, pillowcases, dear god, you can't believe how much stuff she actually HIT with her vomit....

My daughter I fetched from the shower with care,
and dressed her in clean clothes and braided her hair,
Her temperature I took, it was 104.
I knew that I needed to also clean the floor,

And stuffing the laundry inside of the washer,
I found the kids motrin, a bucket and water.
I knew for a fact that I would not sleep that night,
so I cleaned up the floor, separated colors and whites.

My daughter was sick, there would be no sleep for me;
And indeed there was little, between the puke and the pee.
But I heard Influenza exclaim as it drove out of sight
"Got you Bitches! Enjoy your puke filled Christmas Night!"




* and still it continues- Day Two. Maybe sleep tonight?

Sometimes a peanut butter cup is just a peanut butter cup

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Terrance has been away since last Wednesday. Which means I have been single parenting since last then.

I honestly do not know how single parents do it. The constantness of  a 12 year old is exhausting.

To make matters MORE....Em had Thursday and Friday off, so she and I have had full on 24/7 togetherness since Wednesday afternoon.

I am wrecked. Exhausted, short on patience and wrung out. My throat is sore and I have a raging sinus headache. I don't sleep well when Terrance is away, so that means I don't fall asleep until about 3 a.m. or so, only to be woken by Rabbits, Cats and Child bright and early the next morning wanting food.

So when Terrance rolled in last night, I was grateful to see him.

So grateful that I walked out in the living room at about 10 p.m. and offered up part of my secret stash:

Me: "Hey - you want a peanut butter cup?"

Terrance: "What?"

Me: "Do you want a peanut butter cup?"

Terrance: "A peanut butter cup? Is that a code word for sex?"

Me: "NO. I am offering you a peanut butter cup - as in an actual peanut butter cup!"

Terrance: "Oh. Maybe we should make peanut butter cup our code word for sex."

Me: "NO, because when your daughter asks me for peanut butter cups, it will eternally ruin the joy of the peanut butter cup for me because it will be a code word for sex and will be said by my daughter and just Ewwww."

Terrance: "Ok."

Me: "So do you want a peanut butter cup -a REAL one?"

Terrance: "No, but I would like to have sex."

Me: "I give up."

Family farm

Saturday, December 11, 2010


My paternal grandparents were farmers, in Ohio.  As long as I knew my Grandmother Rouse, she was in a wheelchair. She had developed Multiple Sclerosis sometime around the time I was being born and I never remember her anywhere but in the wheelchair, in the front room of her house.

Even then, she was a comforting and gentle woman. She was fond of the grandchildren who ran through her house, yelling and making chaos as a houseful of grandchildren can. We rode ponies, we picked cucumbers and plums and generally ran wild in the hills of their farm.

There were a lot of grandchildren in the Rouse family. The five children produced in excess of 20 grandchildren, with my uncle Jack being the most prolific. I am pretty sure there may be a few unclaimed out in the world who belong in my paternal family line through Jackie.

I took photos of the farm, which has since been sold, when I went back to Ohio for my Maternal Grandmother's funeral. I walked, alone, around the buildings and barns. Even though it was February, the smell of tractor oil and old hay and long dead animals permeated the air.

I peeked into the windows, trying to see if anything had been left behind. I tried the door handles to see if the house was unlocked.

I wanted to see if my uncle Edwards name was still engraved in the window frames in the dining room, a left over from when he was a young boy and the origin of a story of my grandfathers rage at finding his youngest son carving the window frames he had made., and the whipping delivered after the discovery.

I wanted to see if I could see the space where my grandmothers tapestry of JFK hung was discolored. Or the spot where the picture of Jesus praying could be discerned. I wanted to smell the house and feel like 5 year old Dawn. Maybe I would even go into the basement, a place I had never gone past the top of the stairs for fear of what might be down there.


No, Nothing. No way in. So I wandered the grounds, looking, thinking, smelling.  A house my grandfather had built himself, at the corners of four counties so my grandmother could look out of each side of her house into a different place.

A place where I had climbed trees with swings and eaten plums after being warned that too many would make me sick. A place where I had wandered the gardens to find cucumbers to slice and place in vinegar for dinner, only to disturb sleeping garter snakes under wide leaves.  A place where I had ridden horses, bareback, through fields, or sat underneath old trusting ponies slapping horseflies before they could bite. A place where I fell in manure, and got caught up in barbed wire only to have my aunt wash the wounds with Mercurachrome...leading me to believe that the cure was much worse than the injury.


This was my family's farm, and to honor them I made a rug of my memories. A rug that will live in my house, and the house of my daughter and granddaughters so they can see what I saw.

Winter Kills

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I still have good days and bad days, although the bad days are blessedly fewer than earlier in the year they can still creep up and smack me down. This new medication is working well for me. I am no longer sleeping for 14 hours at night, only to fall back to sleep 2 hours after I wake up. Yes, the good days are claiming more of my time.

However, last night was a bad night.  A combination of a cold, stress and a wounded soul that was bleeding out into the void kept me awake for a majority of the night. Despite my melatonin tablets. Despite my Rescue remedy. When I did sleep, it was blurry sleep from which you woke startled and unsure of the surroundings. I find myself staring at the quilt on my wall, having no idea what it is until it slowly refocuses into something my brain recognizes.

I signed up to receive the reverb10 prompts at the beginning of December. I had no intention of writing on them, daily, but I was curious.

The prompt that came on the 5th was one that sliced into my very core: What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

Letting go is the hardest thing in the world for me. Despite years of therapy, despite years of a well honed rational voice which can balance and counterbalance issues, it is the things that I desire, the people that I love that I grasp more tightly. Thanks to an oldest child's point of view combined with sheer force of will to MAKE IT WORK, I have been known to be the last man standing on many a project or relationship. Long after everyone else has moved on, I remain among the ashes waiting for the resumption of normalcy.

I had a close friendship die this year. Die? Change? Suspend itself in amber waiting to be reanimated? I can't say for sure, except that it hurt me deeply. The more I tried to fix it, the deeper the gulf became, so that at the end when anger and pleading and crying and withdrawing and gift giving and promises and everything else I could think of hadn't worked, I found myself just sitting by the side of the relationship, puzzled and forlorn.

I suffer Beautifully. Exquisitely. I rend. I gnash, I weep.

I envy the ability of others to simply pick up and move on. Because it is not a skill I seem to possess, it can seem almost magical to me the way one can just get past the wreckage. I, on the other hand, linger over ever sliver of wood, every crack, every fissure. I create stories to make sense of what I see, regardless of if the stories are true or not. I need to make sense out of the senseless and these stories of How and Why and When soothe me.

In my child like view of the people of the world as either Friends ( and therefore people I love) and everyone else, there can be a wonderful directness. You are either part of my circle, my clan, my pack....or you are not.
If you are part of that circle, if I have accepted you as one of my own, then you are close to my heart. I open to you in a way that the rest of the world can not imagine, for I keep myself closed and at a distance publicly.

A lover once told me that when we were in bed, my face opened up. It became, he said, like the Promise of Summer.

But when it closed?

My winter can be colder and more brutal than Montreal in January, scrubbing every tender thing from the earth.

It is Winter now.

Fear the Patriarchy

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

So I am surfing ye olde interwebs while listening to my "remember the 80's" music channel - cause I loves me some Whitensake served side by side to Bronski Beat, when I head on over to CNN to catch up on the American news.

And read this little gem of a headline: More Education means more Faith in Marriage

Hmm. I am intrigued. Is this going to tell me that we highly educated folk are as superior as Glenn Beck is always telling us we think we are, and this is why we value marriage More?

Ok, you got me CNN. I will click thorough and read your news article.

Nearly instantly, I wish I hadn't. First of all, let's make sure we understand the definitions. Highly educated = 4 year degree.  Moderately educated = High school grad, and some college but no 4 year degree.  I assume that least educated = High school, but I wasn't able to suss that out from the article.

With each paragraph making me feel worse,it was this the 7th paragraph which sealed the ridiculousness of this report for me.

Ready? It was this:
The report cites an adherence to a "marriage mindset," which means religious attendance and faith in marriage is now a way of life for the highly educated.

BWHAHAHAHahahahahahah. Oh, my. So highly educated = religious attendance and faith in marriage?
What kind of magical thinking is being used in the design of this study. We do know that cause does not equal effect right?  That staying married does not equal faith in the god of your choice and religious attendance. That highly educated does not equal Staying married, and that each permutation of the equation is as ridiculous as the next.

The author, Bradley Wilcox, clearly has an agenda. That agenda includes Marriage between a Man and a Woman, with a fairly healthy dose of Christianity thrown in as a qualifier. Take a look at his publications list. See any noticeable trends? Religion, Religion and more Religion.

I like this next gem from the CNN article too:

"The retreat from marriage in Middle America means that all too many Americans will not be able to realize the American Dream," he said.

Wow, Brad. That is quite a stretch, eh.  Retreat from marriage kills the American dream? I bet it has to do with the damn gays and lesbians. I bet it is THEM who is robbing us of our American dream, and not a punitive social system that forces many of the "least educated" families to not  marry since it would out them over the income limits for services ranging from housing assistance, to food, to child care, to health care.

How about the exorbitant cost of a 4 year degree? Did that factor into your study? That with the gutting of the school grants (Pell grants) system that more Americans can't even think about affording to go to college?

Oh yes, here it is, Your heterosexual bias:

"On average, marriage plays a key role in securing the welfare of children," said Wilcox, who added that studies show "children are much more likely to thrive if they are raised in a married home with their own mother and father."
Studies also show that children are more likely to thrive in homes where parents ( and notice here that I don't exclude my gay and lesbian fellow parents and citizens) are in healthy relationships. Some studies even talk about the issue of family STABILITY, versus structure. So keep your moralizing to yourself. I can whip out as many studies as you to disprove every word you say.

I also really loved the last paragraph in which:
"He also called on society to do a better job of pointing out the advantages of marriage, particularly when it comes to having children."
Um, Brad? I don't know if you touched upon this in your sociological degree, but the World has been stressing the "advantages" of marriage to Women for the last 2000 years of recorded history.  Frequently, this has been "pointed out" on pain of death, regardless of a womans desire to be married. And I am not sure if you read up on the whole persecution/societal labeling and disapproval of women who bear children out of wedlock thing, but it was still going on well into the 1980's when I was a teenager, and girls who found themselves pregnant would disappear to special homes and be kept out of sight until after the blessed event.

Should I even try to get into the pre 1973 Roe V Wade estimated death rates of women seeking abortions for unwanted pregnancies? About 1.2 million women is estimated.  Want to guess how many of them were unmarried? I am going to bet 2/3rds of them.  And you know it was only in 1972 that we established the right of unmarried people to be given contraceptives, right?

I once wrote a pointed Blog in which I explained how research can be bent to serve just about anyone's agenda, using the discredited and retracted research about the link between autism and vaccines.

I know this because I am part of Your club, Brad.  The researchers of the world. The academics. I know the game and how it is played, so I know you do as well.

Therefore, I am calling you out for your clear bias against Women, your clear bias against Gay and Lesbian families, as well as your blatant promotion of Religion as some sort of glue that is going to save society. In my eyes, you are just another man wielding a stick of fear that parents are going to harm our children if we don't follow your rules, wrapped in religion and marriage. And you wonder why we may fear the patriarchy, Brad?

As far as I can see,  your version of the "American Dream" hasn't offered much of anything to a majority of our citizens. Perhaps the problem isn't marriage, but people like you telling us all how we should be living our lives.

I go to Rio

Monday, December 06, 2010

I had a completely new experience yesterday. Well, kind of completely new, in so much as I added an external participant in my previously "solo" endeavor.

I think that I have demonstrated that I am not a shy woman. What with my continuous and inadvertent breast flashing to half of New Hampshire, one would think that I would be perfectly comfortable and willing to do just about anything.

So I figured. What the hell. It was time to move to the professionals. Even with my Yoga, I was not able to contort into the positions it would require to do a bang up job.

I booked the Brazilian.

I mentally prepared for the Brazilian, much as I mentally prepare for the Pap Smear. Come on, I know you all do it. Are my legs shaved? Lotioned? Toes painted. God forbid we let our hoo-ha doctor see us with ashy legs and chipped toenails...not while they are eye to eye with our holy of holies ( Ha-Ha! a Pun!)

I took my ibuprofen prior to, as indicated by all the web sites on which I researched this procedure. This was to help with swelling and discomfort.I also gave myself a trim. I mean, yes, this was a professional, but there is no need to go in looking like I let everything go to hell.

I arrive and enter the spa. I maintain my air of casual aloofness. As if I expose my nether regions to strangers on a daily basis. That this is "no big deal".I announce to the thin, gorgeous receptionist that I am here for my "Brazilian". You know, me and the Brazilian? Old friends. Best Buddies.

I was escorted to the tastefully decorated waiting area, where I lounged on a chaise. I maintained my air of casual nonchalance. Why, I bet EVERYONE in this place has Brazilians!

The "Wax Professional" arrives. And speaks to me in French.

Fuck. Fuck, Fuckity, Fuck. I immediately tense up. I mumble, "Bon Jour, Hello" - which is my way of alerting all French speakers that I am not one of them. She smiles. She changes to English, heavily accented, but English.

Ok, remain calm. Be Cool. You can do this, Dawn.

I am escorted to a lovely room. And then the charade falls, the gig is up, the canary begins to sing. I am revealed as a Brazilian impostor. She asks "Have you had a Brazilian before?"

"Um, well no, well yes, I mean I have never had one done professionally, I've done them myself...but not very well, which is why I decided to just suck it up and have it done professionally, so I guess , kind of."

I stop myself. Hey-zeus, I am rambling. Her smile does not falter. She begins to explain the different versions of the Brazilian. The demi, the full, the front, the back. Do I want everything off? Do I want a strip left, a patch, a smiley face? Do I want the hair to remain on the lips, or all hair off the lips? I may have gone a little wild eyed at this juncture. Did she just ask me about my lips? Are we discussing my .....labia?

I smile.."Let's just do everything." Cause I can not discuss the benefits of hair on or off my "lips". I just can't. Not to mention that I am pretty sure I just agreed to bare my ass for internal waxing. But, I'm in it now. We might as well just go for the gusto.

Now. Here is where is gets REALLY funny.

She tells me to take off my skirt, but to leave my thong on. In my panic, I mishear her and assume that she wants me to take my underwear OFF and lay on the table. I mean, I don't want to seem prudish.

So I do it. I take everything off and lay down on the table. Midsection on, exposed. Trying to look as if I do this all the time.

And she sees me. In direct violation of her first order to keep my underwear ON, I am laying there panty free. She hesitates. She struggles for the question.
"You did not have any underwear on?"

I begin to ramble, apologizing at the same time. I thought you said..I didn't understand, I am SO SORRY. She hands me a paper thong, which I now most ungraciously try to wriggle my ass into, while still remaining in the prone "on the table" position.

I grow silent. I am the worst Brazilian wax client EVER. They are going to be talking about me in the "Spa break room" for ages: "And I told her to leave her underwear On, and when I came back she was laying there with her underwear OFF!"

The good news? My social shame had now made me forget what was about to happen next. I didn't even remember to tense up. For the waxing had begun.

It feels like what you expect. I had done this at home many times, so the sensation was not shocking. In fact, it was easier to take when you aren't doing it yourself - kind of like having someone else take out a splinter.

Until we got to the aforementioned "Lips". Wow. That was a unique pain. As I am not a "yeller", I merely got very wide eyed and took a very deep breath in. She was talking me through it, and was being quite soothing, but still! Ouch!

And here is my second tidbit of advice. In your "pre-wax" prep, Don't trim any hairs too short. For you will be rewarded for your effort by individual tweezing of these hairs which are not picked up by the wax. Each and Every One. And it will feel like an eternity.

By the time we got around to flipping over for the ass section of the waxing, I was filled with endorphins and way past caring. This chick had just spent 35 minutes staring, with a large powerful light, and Tweezers at my Mons Venus. My ass was not going to phase her in the least.

"Voila!", she announced. And we were done.

I got dressed, and exited the room. She met me at reception where I resisted the impulse to Hug her. I felt as if we had just been through battle, together. Instead, I shook her hand, and left her a hell of a good tip. And booked my next one.


Originally posted in October 17, 2006

Child Abuse is no Cartoon

Friday, December 03, 2010

I'm sorry Facebook Friends, I will not change my profile picture to show how much I hate child abuse.

Aside from the utterly counterintuitive plea to put a human face on child abuse...by making my icon a cartoon, I don't need to put a human face to child abuse.

I was that face of child abuse.

When I grew up, I took care of children who had been abused by the adults who were supposed to love them. Deprived them of food and medical care, lived with known sexual predators, allowed the new babies father to beat up on the five year old child with another man....Oh yes, I know them all. Some overwhelmed, some addicted or addled, others just beaten down too far under the wheel of generational poverty or abuse to know a different life.

I read the files. I saw the court documents. I was screamed at by the parents who had been found to be guilty of these crimes when I refused to allow them to provide child care to other peoples children.  Not a cartoon character among them.

You want to help? Really?

Because it is going to involve sacrifice. Turning off your computers and getting out into your community, you are going to have to interact with other people who may make you very uncomfortable. You are going to have to do things like call in concerns to child protective service agencies, or maybe even offer to help a parent in a grocery store who looks overwhelmed instead of clucking to yourself under your breath.

You are going to have to offer up more of your salaries in taxes, so programs like WIC and food stamps, and school lunch programs can be expanded. You are going to have to vote for politicians who value quality early childhood education and care and high quality after school care so that parents who are working can know that their child is not home alone or on the street. You are going to have to subsidize higher salaries for the professionals who work in these programs so we know that the highest caliber of teachers are working with these children, because 7.50 an hour isn't much of a living wage.

How about donating money to your local fuel assistance program? Because it is hard to feel safe when you are freezing.

But you know all that, right? Cause you are so dedicated to stopping child abuse that you changed your facebook profile to a cartoon.

I am sure the abused children around the world will sleep easier tonight.

Sisyphus

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Tomorrow is Parent Teacher Conference.

It is also the day I meet with the school psychologist and special education team who oversee Emily's IEP.

In many ways, one could assume that I am a pro at these meetings. I have been dancing this dance since she was  three years old and I asked for testing for her speech issues. Not to mention the whole multiple degrees in education thing.

The truth though? Is that I dread these meetings.

In past year, it was Emily's teacher that I disliked.  I dreaded having to sit in a room with her and listen to her talk about my child, whom we both know she didn't like. Well, to be fair she didn't like anybody who required her to put any effort into differentiated teaching, and my kid had the additional misfortune to have two parents who were educated about what Emily needed and prepared to be as loud a pair of advocates as ever befell this teacher.

I have no doubt that there was a celebratory drink and cigarette had by her the day she realized that we were insisting Emily be removed from her class.

Now that Emily has moved to a new classroom, this issue does not worry me. Her new teacher and I have met a number of times, both informally and more formally. We email, we send notes, we talk when I am in the school volunteering. I feel confident that she views Emily through a similar lens as her father and I view her.  Smart, Capable, Funny, Tenacious...but needing certain things in her learning environment modified in order for her to be successful.

No, it is the psychologist that I dread meeting this time.

The system in place for special education in Montreal is, quite frankly, abysmal. I can't speak for the French schools in the city, but the English schools? Just awful.

When I hand delivered Emily's IEP to the school when we arrived, I knew something was....Off. In the States everything is highly regulated, by law.  You have X number of days to assess, then X number of days to call a meeting of the team, then X number of days to implement.  Here? There is none of that.

In New Hampshire, Emily was receiving speech therapy, occupational therapy and specialized phonemic exercises. Here? I was told that the one speech therapist that is shared by the schools in my district would not have time to see my daughter. Besides, her issues were not nearly bad enough to warrant therapy. And Occupational Therapy?  After they stopped laughing, the answer was No.  When I asked about when the team would meet to discuss her IEP, I was told that someone would "read it" and "get back" to us.

Two years later, I finally got someone to talk to me about Emily's IEP when the school got a Resource coordinator.

It has taken me nearly two additional years to get the school district psychologist to see Emily. Two Years of calling in favors from people I know at McGill to get names of the right people to talk to, two years of writing letters to School District officials and government representatives.

In September, the school psychologist came in to "test" Emily.  Why? When her father and I have pointedly disavowed testing?

Sigh.  In Montreal, in addition to having a terrible special education system also has language laws.If we plan to apply for permanent residency ( which would give us health insurance...since we have been living here and playing taxes/filing income tax with Canada since 2006) then she would be forced into a French Immersion school.

Unless....Well, unless I prove to them that to be placed in French Immersion would be more detrimental to their system than is worth for them.  As in cost them far more money to service her special educational needs in French, in addition to all the other things.  If I can prove that, then and only then will they give me a waiver to keep her in English school. It's a game. A sick game of who has to pay and superiority of language and culture.

I hate that I have to play it. I hate that I even have to wade in the English versus French bullshit that goes on in this city. I hate that the English school system receives far less funding than the French schools which makes their special education systems even worse.

But I do it, because above all else, I must protect Emily's desire to learn. Above all else, I must make sure that she is in a place where she can learn. To do that, I have to wade into cultural issues that are far beyond my comprehension to fight for the right for my daughters education to remain in English.

This psychologist is a gatekeeper of that right, with her tests.

Tomorrow, I suit up again. My armor is a bit more battered from every battle survived and I am getting tired.
I must lock my mother love of my daughter away, far under the armor, so it can not be used against me or catch me unawares and expose my soft and vulnerable places.

Which remains, as always, Her.

My child. My External Soul.

Death by Scent

Monday, November 29, 2010

I don't know how many other couples argue about smell, but Terrance and I do.

I've spent the last 20 years being asked "Do you smell that?" or "Smell this? Can you smell that?" This often leads into the argument about how I don't need to smell something that he finds repellent in order to confirm his feeling about the smell. Or taste it. Because if he thinks something tastes bad, he wants me to taste it too.

I didn't see that part written into our marriage vows.

"Will you, Dawn, taste everything that Terrance asks you to, following the words "Ack. I think this is going bad, taste this! Will you also willingly stick your nose into every container or box or carton to verify his feeling about possible spoilage?"

That could have been a wedding day deal breaker, right there.

It isn't that I don't have a pretty highly attuned sense of smell myself. Ever since a particular incident when I was nine and knew there was mold on the bread because I could smell it and got talked into eating a peanut butter and jelly after my mother assured me there was NO MOLD on the bread. As I was four bites in, my mother pulled out the next slice of the loaf and it was as encrusted with mold as if it came directly out of Fleming's lab.

Vomiting commenced.

I knew I had been right, dammit. Years later, my family would tease me about my sniffing of food. I denied that I did such a thing until I was caught on video in 1990, leaning down and sniffing all the food on my plate. Um, apparently I DO sniff my food. My nostrils flare and everything.

This is all to say that I am no stranger to the quirkiness of the olfactory sense.

When I came home one day last week, I noticed a new device in the living room.

Terrance has tried and discarded nearly every home smelling product on the market. He likes incense, but I object to my house feeling and smelling like my University of Vermont dorm room circa 1988. He loved those oil and stick contraptions...until he knocked one over and it ate through the varnish on a table in less that 10 seconds.   I had visions of my child or cat running into the room with melting flesh after inadvertently touching the deadly cucumber melon scented oil/acid and made him get rid of them. I myself like candles...and he views them as fire hazards.

Since the device made no impact positive or negative on me, I paid it little mind.

Until approximately 1 a.m. that evening when I walked into the bathroom.

As I groggily reached for the light, simultaneously trying to not trip over the cat who has a desperate need to get into the bathroom with every human who enters, and ready myself to sit on the toilet, I hear the strangest noise.

HISSS.....CLICK.

What the hell? Am I about to be attacked by an angry rattlesnake?

The cat, sensing danger, bolts from the room. I am half asleep suspecting that I am about to be bitten by some rodent or other unexpected visitor who has taken up residence in my bathroom.

I stand up and search out my nemesis.

It is the Glade Sense and Spray. Terrance has positioned it so that it's motion sensor is activated by anyone entering the bathroom. He has failed to warn me.

We have now entered into some sick game of cat and mouse with the Glade Sense and Spray. I keep moving it so that I am not assaulted by a cloud of air freshener, and/or get a flood of adrenaline assuming I am about to meet my doom at the hand of some mutant city dwelling acid spitting spider every time I walk into the bathroom to, say, brush my teeth

HISSSS....CLICK!

wash my face

HISSSS...CLICK

Grab a Q Tip

HISSS...CLICK

I move it, he finds a new place in the bathroom to hide it, but cleverly so that the motion sensor will detect me and set itself off anew, all done without me Seeing it.

HISSSSSS....CLICK

Of course, once I either have a heart attack or knock myself unconscious and lose control of my bowels the good news is that the scent and spray will dutifully cover up the smells of my decomposition.

Well played, Terrance. Well played.

HISSSSSSSSSSSS.........CLICK.

Internet Thunderdome

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The loss was entirely unexpected.

I discovered it first, crawling back into bed at 2 in the afternoon and booting up my laptop.

The internet had disappeared.

Since I had seen some workmen down the street clearing branches blown down by the wind I simply assumed it was a temporary loss. I did not worry.

By the time Emily had gotten home at 3:30, I had done everything I knew how to do. I restarted the modems. I turned the entire system off and on again, waiting for the light indicating that my connection had been reestablished.

Terrance then arrived home, and proceeded to repeat the exact same steps I had just taken. You know, because I might have failed to correctly turn off the machines. Or maybe his extra testosterone would scare the modem into finding the internet signal faster.

When that failed, he called the internet people. Who explained that when we decided to change telephone providers, they accidentally just shut off everything, Whoops! Oh, and even though they were able to shut it off in one fell swoop from a building downtown, there was no possible way for them to turn it back on the way they turned it off.

So maybe they could turn in back on by Saturday. Morning. Saturday Morning. Yeah, Saturday Morning, they could turn it back on.

Emily immediately fell apart. Wailing, crying and flopping about. Her SHOWS!!! What was she going to DOOOOOOO?"

She gets sent to her room, so her parents can pointedly try not to glare at each other.

It is clear that this situation could quickly devolve. Two adults who do a majority of their work via the web, not to mention 90% of their socializing and entertainment are now faced with NO internet. And a long holiday weekend. Oh, this could get bad. Like old west, Donner Party Bad.

By Friday, I had gone shopping A LOT. I had also read several books. Straight through. May I suggest Patrick Ness'  series Chaos Walking?  I read The Knife of Never Letting go and The Ask and the Answer each in  a day.  I finished two rugs.  I discovered a deli who specializes in real Eastern European food! I made Stuffing! From Scratch!

If we could just all hang on until Saturday, our life would return to blessed normalcy.

When I woke, I could hear Terrance in the other room. I couldn't exactly make out what he was saying.

I opened the door and was faced by a stricken looking Emily.

"It could be a Week! It could be a MONTH!", she whisperers urgently.

Oh.             Oh No.                    This is really not good.

Which is how we left the house, leaving Terrance behind in some enraged cleaning frenzy. Shouting at us that we weren't cleaning up to his standards and that I was lazy.

A Month of no internet?

This is going to get ugly.

Imperfect

Thursday, November 25, 2010

In my internal vision of myself as Mother, I am patient. I am kind. When I assist with homework, I explain the item at hand and then continue to clarify as needed until the proverbial lightbulb goes on over Emily's Head. I am a teacher, after all, and my knowledge of teaching pedagogy and practice guides me.

In addition, since I intimately know the challenges that my daughter faces in her learning, I am brilliant in my ability to supportively meet her needs.

Except for Sometimes. Sometimes I find myself getting so frustrated with her that I verbally lash out at her; telling her that she simply isn't LISTENING to me. Sometimes I send her to her room because if I spend one more minute with her arguing with me about how she is doing it the RIGHT way, when I am clearly showing her that her answers are not correct and thus she cannot be doing the problem the RIGHT way, my rising blood pressure will surely send my brain exploding through my skull.


Early last week, Emily received her corrected grammar test. Since I know that my daughter does indeed know what nouns are, and can accurately distinguish plural from singular, the very poor results were disconcerting. With my teacher eye, I scanned the test. Ah, yes. I see what happened here.

Emily starts out all right. The first part of the test is pretty good. However, by the middle of the 2nd page, I can see her starting to panic. Her answers become more scattered, she may be concerned with how much time she has left to complete the test. By page 3 of the test, she has encountered a question that she did not immediately know the answer for....which leads to her full freaking out mode. By page 4, she is writing ANYTHING in the space provided to just be done with the damn thing and hand it in.

When she flings the test at me upon her arrival home from school, she immediately starts to cry. Wail, actually.  She holds her head in her hands and tells me she just doesn't KNOW why she did so poorly. She is worried that her father and I will be angry and disappointed, while she cries that she just wants to do well on a test for once.

Oh. Oh my love.

I console her. I tell her that I will talk to her father. I will talk with her teacher. We will work with her to find a way for her to take tests so she can show us what she knows.

I spend the next day writing emails to her new ( and wonderful) teacher. I speak with Terrance and explain what I think is going on with Emily. I calm and reassure him.  Ms Jessica, Emily's teacher, suggests that she would be happy for Emily to take a re-test during recess so she can have a quiet room and more time to complete the test. We try this theory out with a Math test she did poorly on, and Emily's grade improves dramatically.

Three days later, as I help her with her homework, I lose my cool. I snap at her and as she begins to cry, I get louder. Terrance races into the room and separates us. He calms her down and sets her back onto the track of her homework.

I sit in my room glaring at the door, waiting for him.  He walks in and shuts the door.

"If you are coming in here to criticize my parenting, you can march right back out the door." I am tensed, ready for the fight.

He just stares at me. He comes over and sits on the bed, his hand on my foot.

"I know", he says, "It is easy to get frustrated with her..."

I start to cry. "She wasn't listening to me. She wanted to argue that she was right rather than re-do the problem. I was just asking her to re-do the problem and she wouldn't."

I cry until I am finished.

Later, I apologize to her for snapping at her. I explain that I wasn't angry about her getting the answer wrong - I was angry because she was arguing with me about it being wrong. I was trying to help and she wasn't hearing me because she was so invested in not having to do the work again.

I wish I could say that I am a model parent of a child with learning difficulties - disabilities, if you will - but alas, I am not.  I wish I could say that I am always ready to help her, with unending patience and a never depleted reserve of good will and support. I wish I could say that I never wished that it just wasn't so god damned HARD for her, and for us to struggle through every facet of her educational experience. I wish I could say that we never turn on each other, parent on parent, child on parent, parent on child, with accusations, blame, harsh words and tears.

I wish I could. But I can't.

We each remain human. Imperfect.

Holidays aren't Curriculum

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I was once at an early childhood conference when the topic of using food in art projects came up. I piped up and explained that I did not like children to use food stuff as art materials, even infants and toddlers. Aside from the disrespect and double message I felt that it conveyed around the topic of playing with food ( something that kids get in trouble for at the table all the time), I also believed that it was disrespectful to families for whom food was not a luxury.

"Imagine", I said, "walking into your child's classroom and seeing enough rice to feed your family for a month in the sensory table?"

*crickets chirping as Dawn is branded, once again, as a killjoy of child fun*

Finally, a young lady near me said "Oh. You're one of THOSE."

"I'm sorry?", I said. "One of what?"

"I bet you don't let children have holidays", she said.

"No", I responded, " because Holidays aren't curriculum. My job is to plan curriculum, not celebrate individual belief systems. Cut out turkeys or snowmen made of cotton balls mean nothing. They are easy "activities" to offer in lieu of a curriculum."

I am, you see, one of THOSE.

I wasn't always, of course. My teacher internship at the University of Vermont was done in the Fall of the year.  There were plenty of turkeys to be cut and colored, Santas to be decorated and Halloween pumpkins to be placed around the classroom. I spent a great deal of time photocopying pages to hand out to my students, with the blessing and guidance of my supervising teacher.

It wasn't until I got to my first job in Early Childhood that I began to critically consider the introduction of holidays into curriculum. Why were we - the adults -doing this? How could any of this matter to young children?

Sure, Parents loved to see the projects produced. However, here is what I noticed: Teachers were doing 90 to 95% of the work on these projects. These were, on the whole, not being produced by 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 year old children.  These were being photocopied, cut and arranged by adults, with minimal input from the child.

Think about it people. What 2 year old is going to perfectly cut out a tree shape? What three year old is going to draw you a realistic turkey?  That's right. None of them.

And the teachers. Spare a moment and consider the teachers who are cutting out 30 turkeys. Or putting costumes on unwilling toddlers for a Halloween Parade. Or consoling a child who didn't get what he/she asked for after Christmas since their family is too poor, even though the letter to Santa that the child made in class was presented to Santa. Or hey - what about the kid whose family is Jehovah's Witnesses, and so he/she has to leave the room every time the class partakes in yet another Holiday activity?

So, after years of asking teachers "Do you enjoy this? Does this seem like a worth while way to spend your time with a group of children?", I was finally able to give holidays the boot in the child care center's curriculum.

Yes, I have heard the counter arguments. I was told by one mother that I had psychologically damaged her one year old by not having her dress up in a Halloween costume. I heard how I was robbing the children of their childhood. I heard how anti-christian I was from a teacher who had a Birthday Candle up on the wall for Jesus, dated December 25th. (I took it down)

I didn't care. No holidays.

Now, that isn't to say that the children did not mention or talk or share what they had been doing outside the center. Of course they did. That isn't to say that during the fall they didn't use pumpkins and apples for counting and graphing and cooking and tasting. We simply did not make the holiday the focal point of what we were doing in the classrooms.

So we stopped.

Holidays aren't curriculum. They are individual days given meaning based on a specific set of beliefs or cultural background. They can be indoctrination tools used by a society to reinforce myths or legends on which the society may be founded.

Curriculum for young children involves Numeracy, Literacy Skills, Dramatic Play, Fine and Gross Motor Skills, Science and Observation, Art and Exploration and Social Navigation, Negotiation, Compassion and Empathy.

Sticking cotton balls on a photocopied Santa for 30 seconds doesn't serve any of those abovementioned goals. That is the curriculum of the lazy and uninspired, passed down simply because and done for no particular reason.

Children deserve far better than that, and Parents need to demand it.

Truths her mother tells her

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This time of year mixes up lots of feelings for our family. As two adults who are committed to teaching our daughter about American and World History through non-rose colored glasses, it can be difficult to detangle the multitude of messages implicit in the majority of the Autumn American holidays.

When Emily entered public school for the first time, she encountered the stories of Columbus. She brought home photocopied pictures of the Nina, the Pinta and Santa Maria.  Eventually in November ,she brought home paper Pilgrim hats and Cornucopia's and yes, even faux paper "Indian headbands". 

She asked if we planned on having a special feast for Columbus Day. After all, we mark most of our holiday's with special dinners, and given that this newfound holiday and story seemed to be so important...at least important enough to require coloring and cutting and hats, one would assume an observance of some sort was due.

In that first attempt at telling her that maybe we all didn't see the story of Columbus and the Pilgrims in the same rosy light, Terrance ditched me. Hightailed it out of the kitchen with his "Daddy doesn't "do" Columbus" remark.

Yeah. Thanks for that Mr. Social and Economic Justice. 

Clearly, I was on my own.  


I did what I always do - I found a book.  Jane Yolen's Encounter. I sat the then 7 year old Emily on my lap, and we read it.

The story could be that of Columbus, but it could also be the story of any number of arrivals of Europeans on the shores of North and South America. The illustrations, done by David Shannon, are lovely. The story, however, is not. The story is one of theft and murder and pillage. The indigenous people who meet these white men are fascinated, for they have never seen anything like what is before them. White Skin. Blue Eyes. Large Ships. 

Told from the point of view of the only survivor of the Encounter, it is the type of story which leaves you shaken - wondering how you ever believed the tales of Columbus, the Pilgrims and the other Glorious Founding Legends of our Nation.  Of course it couldn't have happened the way we were taught. It makes no logical sense for it to have happened that way. 

When you start to poke around and figure out that the Pilgrims walked into land that had already been cleared by First Nations peoples...who had most likely been wiped out by a smallpox or other disease epidemic, and that they viewed this as a sign from God that the land belonged to them....That they looted graves of those peoples for the tools inside them, assuming that some divine providence had left this stuff just laying about.

It starts to make our founding stories a little less glorious. A little less heroic. Makes our manifest destiny credo, still evident in the nation building dogma of our political institutions, tarnish like gold plating. 

Yes, there was heroism and bravery...but too often at the expense of someone else. Oppression of others is tightly woven into the American Story. First Nations/Native Americans, Africans, Irish, Catholic, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanic, Arabic and Muslims have all served their time as the Undeserving Villain in the story of America. The Losers.  The people who do not get to write the truth of their experiences into the story because it would damage our national self esteem to know that We are one in the same. 

America is a great nation.  I am proud to be an American. However, I will not tell my daughter the same stories I was told. I will not allow her to believe that there were gifts that were given with no strings attached in the formation of our nation.  I will not encourage her to think that to be American is to be better, or more, or unthinkingly correct in what she sees and hears. 

This year, I put away Encounter and begin reading Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen to Emily. 

I want her to know that it is good to be proud to be American. It is good to be thankful for the gifts bestowed upon our nation and citizens. However, we must never forget that part of these thanks must be given to those peoples who do not (yet) get to tell their stories. That sacrifices, including murder, genocide, theft and slavery occurred to grant us these liberties.

I want her to know that truth comes in a multitude of shades. That every victory had a loser, and that their stories and experiences are as important as the ones that get repeated in textbooks and celebrated as holidays.

Big Boy Band Aids

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Terrance: "Dawn, are you going to the store?"

Dawn: "Mmm, Most likely, Why?"

Terrance: "I think we need some band aids."

Dawn: "Ok, I'll put it on my list."

Terrance: "And Dawn?"

Dawn: "Yeah - what is it?"

Terrance: "When you get band aids, is it possible to get ones without hannah montana or any other kind of decoration on them?"

Dawn: "Terrance? Are you asking me to buy you big boy band aids?"

Terrance: "Yeah, I guess I am."

Tights

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It is impossible to look dignified when the fun, patterned tights that you are wearing are rolling down your booty-licous bum, taking the skirt you are wearing along for the ride.

Did I mention that you are in your favorite Iranian Muslim grocery store as you realize that a good portion of your ass is now showing ( Hey! The infidel is wearing a red thong !), while being oddly suspicious that your little wardrobe malfunction has been going on for longer than you may have suspected.

Make no additional eye contact as you finish your shopping, pushing the cart with one hand, while you other hand holds the skirt and tights in place. Ponder why your ass seems to be attempting to show itself to a good portion of Montreal.

Coco Versus The Broom

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So, while I continue to have my freak out about Emily going to high school, here is a little something that should hold you.

I present:

Coco the House Rabbit versus her Nemesis, The Broom

video


Inhale, Exhale

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tomorrow, we are interviewing a high school for Emily.

Yep, you read the right. A HIGH SCHOOL. In Montreal, there is no middle school. 7th grade begins high school.

So, I am just this side of a major panic/anxiety/complete mothering meltdown in which I weep for my Youth whilst simultaneously trying to disengage all the memories of what goes ON in High Schools.  More specifically, what I was doing in High School.  Ergo, what Emily will be getting up to in High School, made only more god-awful by the not-invented-when-I-was-in-high-school Digital technology.

Makes a woman want to wrap her daughter in suit of barbed wire secured with a double chastity belt and run for the hills.

Combine this with my continuing attempt to wade through possibly the most terrible part of 'ze PhD - the methodology - and I can feel my fragile grasp on reality slipping away into the loving arms of Zynga Games on Facebook.

We are interviewing a high school tomorrow.

Hold me, Internet.

The Devils we Know

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I am a survivor of child sexual assault. I am pretty sure this isn't "news",as I have been fairly open about my experiences...once I came to terms with them and stopped fearing the stigma of the brand "victim".

With the internet in an uproar about the self published book on Amazon about pedophilia ( for which I will not be providing a link, if you don't know of what I speak, google it), it cracked open a few doors in my brain.

Was my father a pedophile? My Uncle? My Male Cousins? They were certainly using children for their own sexual gratification, but not exclusively.  They also had access to consenting adult female partners. My uncle, in particular, has fathered at least 10 or 11 children that we KNOW about.  They all seemed heterosexual* in their orientation, so I have always assumed they only perpetrated against my female cousins and myself. Always girls....at least what I know about, often pried out of them in fits and starts and over the course of years only to be spoken after people died or moved so far away there was no fear of reprisal.

(I am not implying that one has to be hetero or homo sexually oriented to be a sexual predator - only that in my own family, it seemed that the perpetrators were all heterosexually oriented, as they chose the girls...that I know of.  In hindsight, I really wonder since so many of the older boys seemed to step into the pattern so easily. Were they also being abused and said nothing or was it a culture of of opportunistic abuse? I just don't know)

Of course, as an adult I have often wondered who perpetrated against THEM. For I know that the cycle of sexual abuse tends to be just that - a cycle. One begets another, who in turn eventually begets another. Like a ponzi scheme of dysfunctional family sexuality, the logical part of my brain knows that this little "habit" didn't simply start spontaneously with the generation of myself and my female cousins.  You need flies to lay maggots, after all.

But I don't know.

But I can tell you what I do know. I was the person who helped to manage the Child Abuse and Neglect Registry for the State of New Hampshire from about 2002 until 2005. I entered cases into the registry. I cross checked matches to make sure it was the same individual. I read and entered cases into the files to make sure they were accurate against the notes in the computer systems and then I closed them.

In short, I read a lot of terrible, terrible shit.  Some of the shit was so terrible that I would go home at night and tell Terrance to sleep out on the couch because I needed to have Emily in bed with me. I needed her body next to mine so I knew she was all right.

Occasionally, I would come across children  I Knew. Families I knew. Suspicions would be confirmed and I would feel helpless and bitterly Angry. Sometimes I would cry because I had held those children. I had diapered them or washed their faces.

More often, these were not children or families I knew. Bad decisions were made about leaving kids in cars in the the winter while Mom/Dad went inside sex shops, or kids in cars when parents were busted for drug deals, or parents who simply did not have the resources - emotionally, mentally, physically or otherwise to care for their children's bodies needs.  The sexual abuse cases, however, nearly Always Always Always involved people whom the children KNEW.

Cases in which a child is sexually abused by an "unknown Perp" are  comparatively rare. That isn't to say it doesn't happen, it just happens much less rarely that for a child to be sexually abused by people the child knows.

Because, you see, that is how the pedophile, or person who targets children, gets Away with it. The child invests in the relationship. If it is Dad, or Uncle, or Grandpa, or Best Family Friend, or your best friends Dad or Moms Boyfriend, then the child has an investment in keeping the perpetrator SAFE. After all, MOST of the time, that person might be nice to them...Extra Nice in fact. Or if the perpetrator is your Dad  , well then , he is your hero, isn't he? The man who keeps you safe and the monsters away from your bedroom, the one who can beat up other kids Dads in school yard taunts. The one who puts food on your table and clothes on your back. You are tied to him. To give him up would be to cut off your lifeline, and children are uniquely wired for their own self preservation when it comes to protecting their parents/family/loved ones.

So while this idiot self publishes a book on Amazon and brings the fury of a million terrified mothers on his head, I am here to tell you that it isn't the people who "Out" themselves who are the potential abusers of Your children.

Oh No. It isn't the pervy guy in the park who is hunting for your kids, or the crazy people who kidnap children out of bedrooms at night. Nope.

The monsters we have to watch for are those we invite into our homes. Maybe even those we live with or next to or go to visit. They are invested in keeping themselves low profile and hidden from sight. I used to joke that it was only the stupid or reckless ones who got caught, a sort of gallows humor for me in a job that was exceptionally difficult.

So were my father and uncle and cousins pedophiles?  I don't think they were in the classic definition of only being aroused by children. Were they simply men who sexually assaulted based on opportunity and availability - or what is called non-exclusive sexual offenders? Most Likely.

I will never be able to trace the fissures of destruction that their actions, and the actions of their victims, and the actions of their possible perpetrators began. I will never know when it started, and with whom.

All I can do is watch the other adults in the life of my daughter, and her friends and respond when my "gut" tells me something is off. Because my gut is Never wrong.

A-S-S-U-M-E, makes an ass out of You and Me

Friday, November 12, 2010

Inspired by Kelli's Diwali story, I recalled one of our family's very own little cultural misfires.

I was interviewing for a job in Vermont, and it was looking like it had some pretty good potential. As such, Terrance and I made a second trip to the area with the intent of interviewing a number of child care centers for Emily.

Yes. A Whole day and Trip devoted to interviewing child care centers. I don't think I have to tell most of YOU that child care quality is one of our family's top priorities....and that I am deeply aware of the time and energy it can take to find the right place for family and child. In fact, I had made it clear to the potential employer that finding child care was a major contingency of my accepting the position.

We were on our 3rd or 4th interview of the day - with Emily in tow. As she raced through the space exploring and looking and touching ( and most likely licking things too), I asked my list of questions.

As a dual race family, living in the (statistically) whitest parts of New England, sensitivity to...well ANYTHING that wasn't the dominant white culture was important to us. It was one of the concerns which eventually helped move us to Montreal, this desire for our daughter to see other people who looked like Her.

My question was pretty straightforward: "Can you talk a bit about your programs policy regarding diversity and  anti bias curriculum?"

(Okay I own that maybe this was a scary question...but at the same time, I was talking to Another ECE professional in what, I was told, was the BEST child care in the area.)

The director paused. She looked at Terrance and I.

"We don't celebrate Kwanzaa, but we would be happy to, if you wanted..."

Her words tumbled out so quickly that it took a moment for them to sink into our brains.  Terrance looked at me. I looked back at him.

"We don't celebrate Kwanzaa. We celebrate Christmas", I said.

Long Awkward Silence.

Needless to say, I didn't take the job and she never attended that child care.




*There is nothing wrong in asking questions and being genuinely curious about cultures other than the one in which you grew up. It is one of the ways that my marriage with Terrance has been able to be successful. However, it is quite another to assume things about families or children based on external characteristics such as race, religion, sexual orientation of the parents, age or profession.

In hindsight, the "correct" answer may have been "You know, we haven't really thought about it but we are willing to work with you to learn more." It isn't about being ALL the way there, but about being willing to take the journey.

Some people never learn

Thursday, November 11, 2010

So, after thinking and listening and emailing and talking, I felt better about the situation around True Wife Confessions and the obvious derivation.


I decided to wander over and look at the site...You know, what the heck.


Which is when I saw "Truu Wife Confessions"


Oh Sweet Jeebus. My blood pressure rose dramatically.
But I did nothing at first. I thought. I meandered.


And then I emailed, through the website.


I stated that the title was derivative but for ONE letter, and I wanted it taken down.


The response?


Thanks for reaching out Dawn.  This vertical has been up on the site for almost 2 years (since I relaunched truuconfessions.com).

Would you have any interest in taking this vertical over and using the confessional on your site and pulling your content into the truu blog?

truuconfessions works on a lifestage model (much like the knot, the nest, etc) and wives was always a category and then its own vertical.  Just as the huffingtonpost creates "big news pages" around topics, that's all I did and continue to do with other topics.

I'm sorry for any bad blood in the past - no intention to "plagiarize" as u say.  If you'd like to work together on this section (with a fair rev share split) I'd be happy to talk by phone or email.

Best,
Romi






Um, Hell No? Hell to the Nizzo?


My response:


No. I have no interest in partnering with you.
I want you to take it down, regardless of how long it has been up.

Dawn Rouse


Within Minutes, I got this:

Thanks for your quick response.

Sorry. I'm not going to go in and change the infrastructure of my site.

Best,
Romi

And My final response:

The concept and title is derivative of MY site, which has been in place since 2006.

The is my last request to take down that section. I should, by rights, ask for a portion of your revenue for the entire time you have been using the name. I am not.
Take down Truu Wife Confessions.

Dawn Rouse

Let's see what the next chapter brings.


Updated to add the Contact form for "Truu wife".  Feel free to use it - Hell, even if you want to tell Romi that  I am a spiteful bitch who should shut up. Just let your voice be heard. I am not being quiet this time around. 

Walk this Way

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Last year marked a turning point for us in our parenting.

We (well, "I"- I shouldn't act like Terrance was HAPPY about this) insisted that our daughter start walking to and from school BY HERSELF. Prior to that Terrance had walked her to school and one of us had waited to walk her home after school.

When we lived in New Hampshire,  there was simply no choice. Everything is spread so far out over a multitude of miles that unless we planned on preparing our daughter to trek 6 miles over terrain on which there was no sidewalks, traffic lights or evidence of human habitation she simply was NOT walking to school. This wasn't little house on the prairie, for pete's sake.

Upon moving to our hood in Montreal, she was still only in 2nd grade and we were new to the neighborhood. LOTS of parents walk with their kids here, and it was novel to simply have sidewalks. Yes, wrap your collective minds around that! We had just moved from a place in which Moose and Foxes and a multitude of other wildlife regularly sauntered up onto our deck. Sidewalks and Street Lights were novel concepts for our family. You can imagine what the idea of having the school a mere two BLOCKS from our HOUSE felt like - It was amazing.

So - We walked her from school. We picked her up from School. We chatted going, we chatted coming. It was nice.

Somewhere between 3rd and 4th grade, she asked to walk to school on her own. Her father hesitantly agreed. Then followed her, ducking behind trees as he tailed her - poorly - to school.  Within a few days, she asked him to start walking her again. Frankly, I think she liked the company and time with him.

It was last year when I decided to push this baby bird from her nest. She was in 5th grade. Many of the parenting clashed we were experiencing were between her insistence that she was OLD enough to do LOTS of things - and her repeated proof of her immaturity....like not being able to walk the towels to the hamper....or hiding her dirty socks in her dresser. After one particularly tearful and extended battle between her and her father, I took him aside.

"We have to force her to be more independent. You can't complain that she isn't acting her age when you have not given her the space to Try."

Terrance and I never Quite seen eye to eye on parenting. I am more of a loosey-goosey parent and he is the Fort Knox of Fear/Anal Retentive parent. I have been fighting against HIM from the moment I gave her finger foods to try to pick up herself and he accused me of trying to starve her. Also, making her use a sippy cup was surely leading to massive dehydration and brain tissue decay.

You think I jest? Um, No.

She, predictably, pushed back.  She didn't WANT to walk to school by herself. It was too...COLD...or too WET...or too SCARY. I pulled her up short at the scary accusation.  Scary? In broad daylight with all the other kids walking to school?  Knowing a majority of the parents in the houses nearby? Scary?  When she has had a cell phone of her very own since she was 9 to use to call us if she needed to? Puh-lease.

Nice Try.

So she started.  And she was fine. At first she would call us as soon as she Got to school to tell us she was there. Then she would call us after school to tell us she was either on her way home....or going to play in the park next to the school with some friends for a bit before walking home. Later, that became "going to the library" or "Going to the pool".

This summer, we added riding her bike to and from the community pool as part of her circle of independence. I have even let her walk down to the convenience store ( about 6 blocks) to pick up something and walk back.  She was ready. She was confident she COULD do it and we had walked her through the steps of How to do it.

Yvonne just wrote a post about her six year old walking home from the bus stop. She is being pointed to the free range parenting "movement"  by many commenters and told "Oh Just LET her Do it".

I don't think it is so simple, however. Parenting is not only about negotiating with your Child, but also within yourself. If you are not comfortable - and you have good reasons that satisfy YOU - then you get to make the decisions. Its why we ARE the parents.

Furthermore, deciding that you LIKE walking with your kid, or LIKE meeting her as she gets off the bus is OK too. I don't know why, but I get the feeling there is some kind of shame being thrown at parents who just LIKE being with their Kid vis a vis the free range parenting.

One of the things I say to Emily ALL the time is that she will have far more time to be an adult than she will have to be a Kid.  That time is growing shorter and shorter for us.  Her joy at Playmobil will diminish, her love of Harry Potter will fade. Next week we are interviewing a potential High School for her (I shit you Not) and the whole Idea of having a kid in high school is enough to send me on a drinking binge while I weep for my poor, dusty uterus.

She is, as I wrote before, closer to leaving me than coming from me.

We should never allow others to make us feel shame for our parenting decisions. So what if we attachment parented or breast fed or bottle fed or had our kids cooking at age 7 or walking to and from school in kindergarten? We each do the very damn best we can with our "package" - the mix of fears and hopes an experiences and personalities that make up our Individual families.

So, in the immortal words of Humpty Hump from Digital Underground:
"Do Whatcha Like."
 
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