Lighten the F*ck Up

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I was perusing the news websites today when I stumbled across this article:

To which I say:

Hey Ms Zacharias
Lighten the F*ck Up

Now, I am the last person to find anything humorous about child abuse and neglect. My time managing the Central Registry for Child Abuse and Neglect for the State of New Hampshire would insure that I know more about how parents and family members abuse and neglect children than any one person should. Believe me, I know the deep, dark and dirty details of the creative ways children can be terrorized by the adults that should be protecting them.

But this book? Not really one of them.

This book strikes at the heart of the perfection paradigm in which many American parents find themselves squarely ensconced. The juggle of what we are being told is "best" for our children...often at the expense of our own mental health and sanity.

It hits the sweet spot of the deconstruction of who we were before children and who we are now, as parents. That transformation is not always so magical, and certainly rarely easy. Sure, for some it might be...but for myself and many, many of my friends? Not so much.

Furthermore, as a parent of a child who - and I kid you not - did not sleep through the night until she was Ten, the exhaustion of being a parent is doubled when you have a child who won't sleep. For while the child seems to be able to bounce right back, the adult grows more and more weak without proper sleep.

So, when you do what the books and the pediatricians and everyone else tells you should be the way to get your child to sleep? Bath time routine? Book reading? Saying good night and tucking in? And you child stands up and literally screams until you come back, well what then? Do the vast majority of parents beat their children and use obscenities at them in a manner which would indicate true abuse? No, I don't think so.

Take my brother and sister in law who have a 2 year old son, the prime age depicted in Mansbach's book. When I sent my brother the audio book link with Samuel L Jackson reading it, he immediately emailed me a story of how his son had waylaid bedtime for nearly 2 hours the previous night with cries of needing to use the bathroom, being so dehydrated he was on the verge of collapse and the myriad of other gimmicks our children learn to put off closing their eyes.

Abusive? Was laughing at the book and the language in the book an indication that my brother is an abusive parent? No, of course not. It was a laugh in recognition of the things that rarely get discussed in the ramp up before the baby bomb goes off in your previously well ordered life.

Is this "demeaning" to children? Hardly. What it does do is recognize the lengths to which many parents go to Do the RIGHT thing, even as they are falling asleep ( or letting their marriage fall apart because they are getting zero time together).

The second point, thinly disguised, in this CNN article was one regarding the "decline" of reading to children. Oh wait, here let me quote it:

Putting kids to bed can be a challenge, and it may be an even bigger problem for this generation of parents because the sacred bedtime ritual of reading to children has gone away.

Um? What? Sacred bedtime ritual? Hang on a minute while I laugh my ass off. I certainly had no one that I can recall reading to me at bedtime, although I did read to my sister when she was a baby and toddler. Books were available, but "sacred ritual?"

And I challenge the author to cite statistics about parents/adults reading to children decreasing, because from everything I have seen it has Not decreased. It may have even increased slightly given the children who spend time in quality child care. Children are seeing adults read to them more frequently than not - even if it isn't a parent and it isn't at bedtime.

In addition, statistics show that in families where reading isn't emphasized, Singing may take over. Here is the chart with the statistics.

From this chart - and other data, we know that literacy comes in a myriad of forms. It is very "White" to assume that it is reading books which is of prime importance. Some families tell stories, or sing, or otherwise interact and pass on information in ways that are hard to quantify. Are all of those children being abused by not having this "sacred bedtime ritual"? Hardly. The author of the article betrays her bias and ignorance about the many ways in which children are raised and nurtured within their families.

Finally, I take issue with the authors implication that parents who may giggle at this book are unwittingly condoning abuse or are otherwise participating in something of which they should be ashamed.

Do we not have enough crap to wade through in judgement of our parenting without this? Do we already not feel guilty about nearly every decision we agonize over, every thing we are failing to provide without this opinion that a small tidbit of shared adult humor is Bad?

Should the author not also address the trap that more and more parents fall into - that of spending 4 hours putting their child to sleep and not connecting with their partner? That little issue leads to many, many more Bad things that failing to read to your child every night. Like Disconnection and Divorce.

So, Ms Zacharias , Lighten the F*ck Up.

Not so Perfect Parent...Seriously Not

Monday, June 27, 2011

Have you read the book "Freakonomics"?

If you haven't, you should. It is a quick read and spins a lot of every day life issues from vastly different angles, all gong back to the economics of each situation.

However, it is Chapter 5 "What makes a perfect parent", which really gripped me. I am in the profession of child development. I advise parents on what to expect, what to look for and, in many cases, what to do.  I am one of the societal bell ringers of the "what makes a perfect parent" cabal.

This chapter sat me up and bitchslapped me in the face. Hard. It lists all the mommy debates:

Breast of Bottle?
Back or Belly?
Family bed or Ferber?
Too much stimulation or a baby who is bored and not thriving?
Nature or Nurture?

OF course, at every choice, you can be told you're wrong.  Have a belly sleeper? Nice. Let your child die of SIDS. Bottle feed? Great, your child's long term intelligence is in jeopardy. Sleep with your baby? Super, you'll roll on him and smother him in the middle of the night.

The fear that drive parents is one that marketers have capitalized on , admirably. Since many of us live apart from our families, and our societal structure is such that the "neighborhoods" of the pre-industrial revolution no longer exist, today's parents tend to get their information in bits and pieces from the "talking heads" of the world. Yes, I am one of those "talking heads".

The difference? I had a child who humbled me to my knees. Who fit none of my visions of what a child does, or what she should do. I learned, through a great deal of trial and error, that I had to do it my way - cause the other ways were killing us.

Our first parenting decision? Emily was a belly sleeper.

Put the phones down. You don't need to call the SIDS police or child protective services on us. We tried to get her to sleep on her back. For three weeks. It was horrendous. She only slept on her belly. At first, I reasoned that if she slept on MY belly, while on her belly, I would instaneously become aware of any breathing irregularities. Um. Bad plan. Since Emily wanted to nurse constantly, this created a system when I had a child strapped to my bosom nursing 24/7. I can only assume that this didn't help the post partum depression.

At her three week check up, I looked her pediatrician in the eye. "Claire", I said, "I want you to give me permission to put her on her belly to sleep." Screw professional Dawn. Mommy Dawn needed some sleep.

Permission was given. A note was written for child care, as licensing laws now dictate that all babies be placed on their back to sleep, unless deemed necessary by a doctor. As Claire said to me, the risk of SIDS was less than the much more likely risk of my losing my mind.

Now before the Mommy police descend upon me with their judgments that I was attempting to kill my baby by my bad parenting, I'd like each of you adults to call your parents and ask how YOU slept as an infant. I'll wait. Yeah. I thought so. On your bellies. 

The bottom line is that medical professionals don't exactly know WHAT causes SIDS. Yes, they have some theories. Yes, there are certain patterns present in babies who die of SIDS. But there is no definitive.

This same line of thought extends to breast feeding or bottle feeding. I did breast feed- for 18 months. This was a choice I made and stuck with. It wasn't always easy. At nine months, Emily boycotted my left breast. She was not having it - at all. No matter how hungry or sleepy. No thank you. The lactation coach and I decided that  I would just pump  on that breast to keep my girls even and producing. 

Emily had a lot of ear infections, and ended up with tubes. She did not read any sooner than her peers. It did not cause or reduce her ADD. At 8, you can not look at her and tell if she was breast or bottle fed, nor can you tell with any of her peers. In the larger scheme of things, it wasn't THAT important.

"What was important?" the authors contend. Not what we Do, but who we Are. It doesn't matter if your child is strapped into an expensive car seat, or the no-name brand. What matters is that the safest place for any child is the back seat - not the type of car seat. It doesn't matter if you read to your child 20 minutes every day, but that the child has access to books and parents who value education.It doesn't matter if the child has a mother who works in or outside of the home, but the overall state of the mental health of the mother does effect the child's future.

What does this tell us? I say it lets us all off the hook. As parents, as women, we need to be able to stand up and say what is right for US and what isn't right for US. We need to trust that our way is not the right way for everyone. We need to understand that our opinion does not mean that those who feel differently are bad parents, bad mothers, bad women.

So stop listening to the experts. Stop listening to ME. Start listening to the inner voices of your  souls and finding the best way for you each to navigate the unsteady waters of parenting. I sincerely trust that you will each choose the best path for you and your children. I have that much faith in you.

And when one of the "Uber-Mom's" comes to tell you that without the 300 dollar car seat your child is as good as dead, and Oh you DON"T feed them all organic homemade baby food?, and OH, You DON'T have them enrolled in Preschool yet, or in Baby and Me class?

I give you permission to tell them that Dawn told you that you can do whatever the hell you want. And that they, frankly, can suck it.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I have been busy.

Which, for me, is good. Busy means I can't take up residence in my head and meander into places that should, by rights, be boarded up and sealed off. That place plays a soundtrack of such grief and fear and desolation that it should drive me away by the melody that floats out of it's windows. Bon Iver singing the saddest songs I have ever heard.

It doesn't, though. I still stand in that driveway, looking past the overgrown bushes. Smiling at the sunflowers that seem to spring up, unbidden, unplanned, unwanted.

I walk the perimeters of that place, careful to never fully cross over into it's boundaries. I want to visit, but I don't want to go in.

So, I walk around and around. The sweat trickles down into the small of my back. I ponder what I feel as I scrabble through my tenderness to find the words to describe it all.

All I find is quiet. There is not nothing, but not turmoil. It is smooth and settled, no wind on the watery well of my soul.

I look. I peek. I stare. I slap a mosquito on my leg. Filled with my blood, it explodes into a smear on my skin. I pick some of the flowers for my room, then turn away from that house and walk home. Content with what I have.


Monday, June 20, 2011

In watching  my daughter grow, I have been forced to define and redefine myself as a woman, and more specifically, as a Mother.

This is amazingly difficult.

Of all the roles in my life - daughter, child, sister, female, woman and yes, even wife, Mother is the one which I struggle the most.

This is not because I repudiate the role. No, not at all, although I may joke about wanting to do so on some days. No. It is because for the 3,345 days I have been a mother, my role has never stayed the same. I have never known what is right for two days in a row. I have never been consistently able to know how my daughter is feeling, nor been able to anticipate those feelings in order to smooth her way.

I have to believe that I am not alone in this. I have to believe that my mother - and her mother before her and indeed every mother in the world must look at her child(ren) and think "Who the hell are you and why can't I fix what's wrong?"

Maybe it is a modern phenomenon. Having been raised with the thought that I can do anything, anytime, this inability to do things and then happily tick them off my mental list can be my undoing at times. I mean -


It is clear to me why I sought refuge in "Professional Dawn" during the first few years of Emily's life. It was the relative stability of knowing what I needed to do and how to do it. No second guessing. No hesitation.

Mixed in with this was watching people who had less education, less preparation..less EVERYTHING have a seemingly easier time with their child(ren) than I was having with mine. I envied them. Why was their baby sleeping through the night? Why wasn't their child biting everyone at the child care? Why didn't THEY have to go in for once a week weight checks? What were they doing that I wasn't?

Now professional Dawn would tell you that each baby has a very different Temperament. Combined with Attachment and personality - you get different people. I mean, this is why siblings are Different. Even with similar resources, genetics and parenting styles, you can get wildly dis-similar people coming from the very same gene pool.

But Mommy Dawn? Not what she wanted to hear. Just tell me the secret and be done, dammit - I need to control my world, and this kid is NOT conforming.

Of course, it is how she is built ...Born to be just enough like me, but also so vastly different as to confuse and confound me daily, hourly. From the moment she emerged into the world, she was a part of me that did not belong to me. Someone I knew intimately...and who was a complete stranger.

Yes. There are days when I am still shocked to find myself a mother. Still a bit stunned to be in the presence of this emerging young woman who is my daughter. Befuddled to sit in the same room with my mother and daughter, watching them interact in a way that I am not privileged to join. For that woman who is playing with my daughter - she is Not my mother. She is Emily's grandmother, and she is very different than my mother.

Three natural pearls - each shaped differently with a luster and color that is familiar, yet not at all the same. We each continue to define and re-define who we are together and individually. And it is different, every day.

July 21, 2007 Gimlet Eye

I did it for the Hat

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I got my Master's Degree in 2005.

You get a fancy hood to wear when you get a Master's degree. It has the color of the school from which you are getting your degree. I always get Light Blue for Education. Really not my first choice, but Hey. I wasn't consulted when the colors were handed out.

What I wanted though, was not the morterboard thing I had to wear on my head, but the velvety hat I saw other people wearing.

I leaned in toward Terrance and said "Hey, How do you get one of those Hats? Cause I want a velvety Hat!"

The answer was to get a Phd.

So I plan on rocking the Hell out of a Blue Velvet Tam about this time Next year, Peeps.  Gives me time to find some seriously smoking shoes to match.

Baby Baby, and her sister Baby Baby- Baby Baby

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I bought Baby Baby at a Discovery Toys party in 1993.

[[Long Pause]]

Yes, I know. Emily wasn't born until 1998. I had a bit of a habit of buying things - toys, clothes and tucking them into my "future baby" container.

When I saw Baby Baby, I knew she possessed the things the babies I worked with LOVED about their favorite comfort items. Soft. Velvety. Squishy. Easy to hold and hug. Quirky rattle noise. And Baby Baby was black, which was rarer that you would think in those days.

So Baby Baby was stored until Emily's birth, where she was tucked in the corner of Emily's crib. I don't recall when exactly Em and Baby Baby made their acquaintance, but it has been a long and prosperous one.

After nine years, Baby Baby looks like this:


Poor Baby Baby. She's Franken-Baby Baby. I have stitched and re-stitched.

Her hands took it the worst:


Emily liked to chew on the hands, gnawing away like some kind of burrowing rodent.

When Em was five and a half, I began to worry for the fate of Baby Baby. One more wash and I feared there wouldn't be anything left to stitch together.  The problem? How do I find a Baby Baby replacement? I mean, I bought the damn thing in 1993. It was now ten years later. I didn't suspect Discovery Toys still made Baby Baby.

But I called. And they confirmed it. Nope. This doll had been phased out ages ago. But they put in touch with their network of sellers and lo and behold.....someone had one. One of the original, still in her bag, dolls. Damn the shipping and handling costs, woman! Mail me that Doll!

I approached Emily about adding to the family. She flipped her cookies. She wanted no new Baby Baby!
I ordered it anyway.

And when she arrived, I waited until we were driving home. Emily was safely in her car seat. At a stop light, I jiggled the bag. Emily was holding BB, so her ears perked up when she heard the rattle noise BB makes.

At the next stop light, I slowly raised the new addition over my head.

Emily squealed with delight. "You have a sister, Baby Baby!"

She introduced them, and then promptly bit the new doll on the edge of her cap, putting a hole in it.

"Its a great honor", she solemnly informed me.


Emily still sleeps with Baby Baby, and her sister, Baby Baby Baby Baby.

I will find her curled up around them, both of them flattened under her head at night. And when I hold them, I can almost smell my baby, her breast milky breath slow and heavy.



This is Baby Baby in 2010. She was in really bad shape and I wasn't sure how I was going to save her...But I will try I said. I'll try.

Emily was solemn eyed. Even as a 12 year old, she still sleeps with Baby Baby, and her sister BB-BB. "You have to fix her Mama.", she said as she handed her over.

Here they are - Baby Baby is a bit darker than before, but I like to think she just got back from Cuba. I held my breath until I handed her over to Emily who pronounced her "Just Perfect", and promptly lay on top of them to read.

Originally published June 27, 2007  at Gimlet Eye

Marketing FAIL

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I, like nearly every blogger who has been around for awhile, get a great many PR pitches in my inbox.

99.999% of them go straight into my trash I am not interested in promoting anything for a company, nor do I care to tweet or otherwise pimp their product. 

One I got on Friday caught my eye. And not in a good Way. It was "Moms Against Cooties" - which is just a terrible name. It was this sentence that set my chaps on fire, however:
Moms Against Cooties is a national initiative to teach moms how to best avoid bringing home these sicknesses from daycares, focused on motivating moms to educate their children's daycares on the proper ways to fight germs!
But wait, there is more:

Moms Against Cooties offers posters for moms like you to bring to your child’s daycare, showing them how to properly disinfect, pre-written email communications ....

and the final straw:
We also appreciate any feedback you could offer on how we can better serve you as a mom to educate your child’s daycare on proper disinfection techniques. 
Lots of other bloggers got the same pitch, and PhD in Parenting even looked into who is behind the campaign. Not shockingly it wasn't some concerned Moms, but rather the chlorine industry.

So, I did what they asked and offered my feedback:

As an Early Childhood Educator, I must share that the term 'daycare" is offensive to we who have multiple degrees in the field. I have yet to care for a day, yet have cared for many children. Child Care, or Early Learning Center is preferred.

Secondly, any licensed child care center/home follows health and safety guidelines as mandated by their state licensing bureau. They are checked on these practices by licensing coordinators. If a Center or home is accreditation by NAEYC or NFACC then the standards around health and safety are even higher. 

It is somewhat condescending to assume that child care centers are ignorant of how to prevent disease. In fact, in my over 20 year experience it has been more the issue of parents sending their child in with contagious disease, often when they know their child is ill and should not be attending child care. I personally watched parents dose their child with Motrin in the parking lot to hide a fever.

Perhaps your sponsor would be better served by emphasizing that parents who keep their children Home when ill are preventing illness, rather than insult child care providers.


Dawn Rouse 

Then I used my host of degrees to sign off. Because I was MAD. 

As I have cooled down, I looked at WHY I was so angry.

And arrived at these issues:

1. Child Care Professionals are Ignorant of Health and Safety 
2. Child Care Professionals can't be trusted to do the right thing re: Health and Safety
3. Lets recruit Mothers, who may already be very nervous about sharing care of their children with other women to hand insulting things to child care professionals. 

The marketer replied to my initial email response, which was surprising...since I didn't expect a reply.

Our intention was certainly not to insult child care providers--sorry if our campaign came across that way. I certainly agree that parents bringing their child to daycare or preschool with a contagious is the biggest problem child care centers are facing today.

Moms Against Cooties salute moms like you and child care centers that follow health and safety guidelines. We are just trying to educate on a different way to clean and disinfect that child care centers may not be incorporating currently.

Thanks for your reply and feedback. If you would like to be removed from our mailing list, that is not a problem. :)
A different way of disinfecting? Holy not bothering to do ANY research Batman. You know I had to respond, right:

EVERY child care that holds a license in the United States uses the 10:1 Bleach solution, and has been since they developed licensing standards. We wash tables, floors, and children's toys in the solution daily.  When I directed child care, my staff also used the high pressure dishwasher to do a second sanitizing rinse with the heat.

I am not sure if anyone shared this information with the people who thought this idea up. 

Furthermore, if a Mom walked in  and handed my your sheet I would  be polite, but also wonder why on earth she was doing so! 

I would direct you to the websites of such organizations as NAEYC to look at the standards that Child Care Centers are using, as well as any State Licensing Bureau/Agency.

PS - The term cooties is also pretty offensive and tends to be used to single children out or otherwise bully them by other children. Not to mention the issues with head lice being called "cooties" and the myth of head lice being passed by poor and unclean children.

Here is what I didn't expand on in this response. If a Mom handed me this sheet, I would think she was insane. I would also think she had not read the parent handbook in which it was always stated that we used a 10:1 bleach solution to disinfect. 

Walk into ANY child care center and you can SMELL the bleach. Most Infants and Toddlers have had bleach gotten onto their clothes ( usually from the diaper table not being completely dry when they lay down on it)  and Every Child Care Professional has bleached clothes. Because Bleach is so affordable and so effective AND breaks down to salt and water over time, it has been the disinfectant of choice for Ages.  It is written into nearly every licensing standard in every state. In others it may be labeled as a "chlorinedocuments.

Yet all of this wasn't what made me angriest.  What really sent me is the attempt to sabotage the relationship between Parent and Child Care. There is a not so subtle implication in this marketing attempt to remind parents that they are wrong for sending their children to child care.  As a result of this, their children get sick.
If only the child care did a better job of caring for the child, then the child wouldn't get ill. 

Also implied is that the Child Care needs Educating! And here is how you, The Parent, can do it!

The relationship between Parent and Provider is delicate. There is anxiety on both fronts. 

As I have lived on both sides of those fences I can tell you that the parent fears being judged, fears leaving their child with the wrong person who isn't going to like their child, won't hold them, won't cherish them or might even hurt them. They worry that something good, or bad will happen and they won't be there to see it or prevent it. 

Child Care Professionals? They are doing a job they love. They may even be passionate about it, but they are getting very, very little money. When one starts doing the debit and credits on this work, one of the reasons that child care professionals do stay is because they love their jobs so very much. It isn't because they are getting paid so well, or love having bleach ( or vomit, or poo, or urine or every other bodily fluid known to human kind) on their clothes. It isn't because the work is easy. And it sure isn't because the Adults who come with the children are so delightful. 

Any of us in ECE can tell you a multitude of stories about parents we had to smile at when being asked to do things that were so above and beyond our job descriptions as to be ludicrous. No, I am not talking about kids with allergies or even the kids who needed nebulizers every four hours.  

No, I am talking about being asked to let a Four year old drink Chocolate milk from a Bottle kinds of things.  The "I would prefer that you used individual cotton balls dipped in warm water to clean my infant sons bottom, not because he has an allergy, but because that is the way I would like it done" kinds of requests. (Yes, I have had that asked of me)

There is tension and there is stress. Sometimes this collides into disputes about sick kids. 

Which brings me back to the little "handout" that the group suggested that should be given to your child care provider. 

Kids gets sick. Kids in Group Child Care get sick more often in the short term. In the long term, I think that kids who have been in Child Care get immune systems that can repel most everything.

Because ECE professionals know, intimately, the way germs and viruses spread we have policies about sending sick kids into child care. Very often, parents feels that those "rules" are overly strict.  Like the fever free for 24 hours rule.  Now some parents bite the proverbial bullet and just keep their sick child home.  I know - I  had to practice what I preached and there were days when I PRAYED she wouldn't develop a fever because I HAD to be at a meeting the next day. Or even later that day. 

Others? Well, Other parents feel the rule doesn't really apply to their they will give him/her a dollop of Motrin in the parking lot. That should keep the fever down for at least 8 hours - which will buy them most of the day at work. For others, they HAD to go to work. No work, No pay. Or, No work often enough because they keep a sick child home, then no job.  They simply had no other option.

The thing is that while the Motrin keeps down the symptom, it doesn't stop that child from infecting ALL of his/her peers. So, despite all the disinfecting by the ECE professional the child is breathing on his and her peers.  We can all wash our hands and be completely undone by a sneeze to the face, or the vomit filled embraces of the toddler who just threw up and needs comfort.

This little "handout" twists a knife. This "handout" which "educates day care workers"? It shifts blame and accusation back to child care for making children sick.  Of course, at the heart is Blame for the mother, who should really be at home anyway. If she was, her kid wouldn't be getting sick. 

Geesh, I haven't even really touched on the term "cooties" and why that is so amazingly offensive.

It doesn't surprise me that a corporation is vaguely behind this. In fact, it heartens me that it ISN'T a group of Moms utilizing child care for I would deeply worry about the quality of the care they were utilizing. 

Unknowingly, this marketing campaign blundered across me. I have no doubt they now sorely wished they hadn't, but how many others got this little email and thought "Yeah! Great! I'll Pass that Out!" - only to chip a little piece away from their relationship with their ECE Professional? Or to assign blame to themselves or their ECE Professional when their child gets ill?  And for what? A Product that nearly all child care centers already use.

Marketing Fail.

Updated to add exactly WHO is behind this little marketing fiasco:

Who We Are:  The Water Quality and Health Council is an independent, multidisciplinary group sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association.  The group comprises scientific experts, health professionals and consumer advocates who serve as advisors to the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council.

Judge Not

Thursday, June 09, 2011

I like Anthony Wiener. I don't think he needs to resign because of something he has done which, while incredibly stupid, is ultimately between him and his wife. The lie to cover it up was also stupid, but I do believe it was a gut reaction, which then compounded into something more ridiculous.

I have been watching with increasing irritation the many blog posts offering their insights and perspective on everything from his job performance to his wife's silence.

I've even seen some opinions regarding how his wife should leave him.

The first thing I think when I see scandals such as this unfold and the amazingly high and mighty horses that folks feel entitled to hoist themselves up onto is "Wow. It must be quite something to know everything about what goes on in other peoples relationships well enough that you get to say with absolute certainty what they should be doing."

If there is only one thing I have learned being married it is this: I don't know shit about what goes on between two other people.

I say this with the hard won lessons of a 20 year relationship that has not always been smooth.  The things I may have thought about marriage as a 21 year old woman are not the things I believe about marriage as a 41 year old woman.  Perhaps this is because I have lived through some of the things I swore I would never stand for in MY marriage, or even things I may have told girlfriends that they should not stand for in Their relationships/marriages.

I am guessing that Terrance may have occasionally wondered why he stays during my depressions and other mental health experiences. I am pretty sure he didn't sign on for THAT when he took me to be his wife, and even less so when he had a child with me. While I know how it feels on the inside for me, I can only speculate what it feels like for him...and sometimes I am certain that it feels like he is carrying an unreasonably large burden for our family.

It is different on the inside, which anyone who has been in a long term relationship knows. The reasons for staying can easily outweigh those for going when you start to tally up the debits and credits in any relationship.   Children, loyalty, love, obligation, a desire to honor the promise you made to the other person - all of these things can influence you decision to stay when other people are opining that you should go.

Then there is my unique perspective on marriage and gender through both True Wife Confessions and Desperately Seeking Something.

As for DSS, married men have been sending out penis pictures since the internet began. Where do you think all of those pictures COME from? I mean let us not kid ourselves. Men enjoy a relationship with their penis that is truly puzzling to most women. As such, they love to photograph it, and love even more to know that maybe a woman might see it and be turned on.

Which, of course, is unlikely and untrue. To love a penis,you have to feel something about it's owner. Because, as much research has told us, women just are not visually stimulated in the same way men may be.

Should every man whose penis pictures are floating around the internet be forced to resign their employment? I suspect unemployment may shoot up to 90% if that is the case. Does every woman who may have chatted with an old high school boyfriend found on Facebook need to confess to cheating and divorce her husband?  Again I say, the divorce rates would be through the roof.

The very bottom line is not what You would stand for, or what You may consider out of bounds in a marriage, but that the Two Adults involved are willing and able to negotiate, including tolerance and forgiveness.

Divorce is often the first thing people suggest, as well as the first thing decried as being too "easy" to obtain. If you don't divorce, you are a foolish person who is being walked over. Divorce and you took the "easy way out" and didn't "put the work in".

Well, Dammed if you you and dammed if you don't.

The "work" of staying married are dealing with the emotions that no one ever really talks about. Anger. Disappointment. Emotional absence. Distrust. I have felt these things over the course of my marriage. I can only assume that Terrance has felt them too.

We make a choice every time we are confronted with these feelings.  I only know that I am not in any kind of position to judge the choices of others, regardless of who they may be.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

One of the concerns I have always struggled with has been making sure Emily gets what she needs educationally...and making sure she feels "normal".

It was less of a concern when she was younger as kids didn't seem to segregate difference as stringently as they do in 5th grade and beyond.

I don't know if any of you recall what it is like to be a freshly hatched teenager, or maybe you are still too enraptured with Baby and Toddlerhood to want to think about it but Holy Crap. They notice Everything. They comment on Everything. Most importantly they HEAR everything. Everything said by Everybody.

It doesn't have to be heard or even experienced first hand to be considered newsworthy enough to repeat. In fact, it doesn't even have to have happened to become the "TRUTH". For example, Em and another little girl were playing two years ago. They started verbally disagreeing and the other girl and Em got a little physical. Emily Pushed the girl and touched her throat. This girl now shares with others the story of how Emily tried to strangle her and she had to go to the hospital.

Yes. I swear to you. My daughter came home in tears a few days ago because this girl had taken it upon herself to tell some of Emily's friends in her new class how Em had Attempted to Strangle her. The friends then came back to Emily and asked her Why she had tried to Strangle this girl? Because she had to go to the Hospital and everything?

(Note - we live a block away from this family. We see them nearly daily. I have no doubt that if my kid tried to actually strangle their daughter and she had to go to the hospital that we would have had a parent gang fight in the street long before now.)

Since she is now 13, she also is getting terribly self conscious. I am afraid that I do remember that part.  You gain weight, you lose weight. You get tall, you stay short. Your breasts hurt and stretch marks show up.  Your skin breaks out.Your body goes into full blown mutiny.  It sucks in so many ways that it can be painful to remember feeling like that.

After Emily had heard she was accepted to the school that - in the words of her Teacher "Is harder to get into than McGill" - and we had all rejoiced,  Emily began telling her peers.

One girl looked at Emily and said "Isn't that where murderers go?".

My daughter, who has endlessly more patience than I, explained that No, murderers don't attend this school, but it is a school for kids with learning difficulties.  At which this other girl sneered and scoffed.  Which is ironic since this particular girl would be lucky to get into such a school given what I know about her own learning difficulties.

When Emily told me, I laughed. "Next time you see her, tell her that it is a school for Assassins and you will be issued your curved blade upon your first day. The Assassins Academy - like for the Jack of all Trades in the Graveyard Book."

If there is one thing I know, it is how to delight my daughters imagination.  She immediately latched on to this idea and we began to talk about what classes she may take in her upcoming Assassin training.

What I really wanted to do was punch this little wench in the face.  After which I give her a good shake and remind her own  lisping, non spelling and writing ass that she is the LAST person who should be making other people feel bad about their school choice.

A few days later, Terrance told me that he had been asked by our neighbor where Emily was going to high school.  When he told her she said "Isn't that for kids with, you know, Problems?"

Terrance was taken aback. He said it was the tone with which she said it which bothered him. "She implied "retarded" didn't she, in the very 1970's sense of the word.", I said.

"Yeah, she did", Terrance answered.

My anger has been simmering since. My anger on behalf of my daughter who has done amazing things in her effort to continue to enjoy learning.  My anger for every child who didn't go to the school they should have gone to, or never got the assessment and help because of fear of being labeled as "stupid". My anger because I know how even I struggled, knowing everything I know, with the decision to send Emily to a specialized high school in which her educational needs are paramount at the possible expense of External Negative Judgement. My anger because it has taken me 13 YEARS to get Terrance comfortable with Emily as a learner within her own style and needs so that he will consider her going to a school like the one we have found without fighting me tooth and nail the entire way.

Instead, Emily and I laugh and plan out ways in which she will become an Assassin.

Of Prejudice, judgement, disdain and ignorance.

Emily goes to High School

Monday, June 06, 2011

I haven't talked a great deal about one of the all encompassing topics in our house during the past school year.

High School.

As Emily is graduating from 6th grade in June, she will be transitioning to high school. There isn't really a middle school option here in Quebec, as High school ends at 11th grade, and the CEGEP system begins prior to University.

High Schools in Montreal can be highly competitive. Even the public schools require entrance exams, and the Private system tends to be even more fraught with competition and academic achievement outcomes. Once we made our decision to opt Emily out of any testing, the choices left open were that of the mediocre public high schools that accept everyone....and one other.  A Private/Public collaboration that specialized in kids with specific learning issues.

The school had been mentioned to me two years earlier by a principal I knew from the Learning with Laptops research project. I had been talking about my fear of having Em be lost in a sea of Teens in high schools with hundreds and hundreds of kids.  We knew that when she is socially anxious that her learning gets pushed aside, and it is easy to make her socially anxious. When she gets anxious, she is prone to tears. Which makes her more socially anxious and feeling outside of the peer group.

Furthermore, when she is anxious all of the tools she has been taught about how to manage herself and/or get her learning needs met in a classroom disappear. I also know that she is very sensitive to the remarks of her peers, and could become (even) more reluctant to seek the assistance she needs for fear of drawing unwanted attention to herself.  While she has managed those remarks ( like why do you get to use a calculator?!?) to date, I know that High school is a very different Beast.

All of this made me panic stricken and worried.  Because worrying about hormones, body changes and eating nutritiously aren't enough in my maelstrom of parenting torment I had to add in More worry about social interactions of the teen age girl AND learning environment. Not to mention my own anxiety about my PhD. It is a small wonder I am able to sleep at night.

Once we toured the High School, we felt more confident. These folks Know their learning issues.  The class sizes are no more than 15 kids with 2 teachers. They have learning specialists (speech/language pathologists, occupational therapists) on staff, as well as the teachers who are all specialists.  Emily liked the classrooms. She liked the way they looked and sounded. She really liked the beautiful new art studio and the brand new science lab. Cripes even Terrance was pleased when he heard their nearly 100% graduation rate and their 80% rate of students going on to university - taking the exact same entrance exams as their peers in other high schools.

We breathed a sigh of relief...and began her application process.

Since this school sits in a very sweet spot of public and private collaboration, it does not charge parents tuition. However, the parameters for attending are very narrow ( ie no behavioral issues - only learning) and there are usually only a few open spots per year. For the WHOLE of Montreal.

If there is one thing I know how to do, it is organize paperwork. If you are the parent of a child with any kind of learning or physical difference you learn from the get go to be highly organized.  If you aren't, then your kid is not going to get the services they may need. Deadlines, multiple copies, reports sent from doctors and other specialists within certain time frames all must be coordinated in an effort that could put many government agencies to shame. Seriously, you want organizations like FEMA to be more efficient? Put a Parent who has successfully navigated special education in charge. Shit will get DONE.

After that, Just waiting. Waiting while her other friends get acceptance letters to Private and Public Schools.
Waiting and More Waiting. We occasionally call to check up on the process and are told to keep waiting.

Until two weeks ago, when the call came that Yes, Emily had been accepted in the school.

As a family, we exhaled.

Life Preservers

Sunday, June 05, 2011

One would think that I handle the tumultuous waters of my daughters impending puberty with great aplomb.

Let me be honest - I do not. Of course, for you - my beloved readers, I tell these stories ( which are true- I swear it) with no more fop sweat than Truman Capote holding a very, very dry martini. I am full of vim and vigor. I am stirred, but never shaken.  In my own image of myself as part of the Glittering, yet jaded, literati of the 1950's - I am also holding a cigarette holder while balancing on pencil thin stilettos and maintaining a full crinoline skirt.

Alas. This is untrue.

I lie awake at night sometimes, plotting my counter move to her move. I am in a battle with the terrorist organization of female hormones that have made camp in my daughters pituitary gland. I am a card carrying member, having been trained in the same camp, so I know how insidious these S.O.B's can be.

My veneer cracked a bit recently when I was hit up for a bra. Of her own. Cause her breasts "hurt and are itchy".

"NONONONONONO!", I wanted to howl. Don't do it. Once they strap you in, you can't go back. Then you are a slave to the bra. When you are in it, you long to be out of it. When you are out, you miss the support. Bras are the opiate of the big breasted women and our massive mammaries.

And so she asks - EVERY DAY. Can she have one? Can we shop for one? Can we? Can we?

You know - it isn't the breasts, really. It isn't the impending breaking away from me - hating her mom because she needs to define her own Self as female. It isn't the way her hips are rounding with that layer of fat, or even the constant eye rolling and noise making.

No. Its the stuff that I know about that she doesn't. The hurt feelings. The heart ache. The measuring herself next to girls that she thinks are prettier, or smarter or somehow better than her. It is knowing that no matter what I say, my voice will become dim for her. That even as I want to hold her hand and help her through this, she will pull her hand away and brush me aside.

It is the knowledge that my baby only lives in my mind now and the young woman standing before me is of me - but not me. It's the knowledge that any helplessness I felt as the parent of a newborn is tiny next to the tidal wave approaching. So I buckle us both into our life preservers. I hold her hand as the water touches our toes. I tell her that I will hold onto her for as long as it is safe to do so - and then we need to swim like hell.

Originally Posted June 1, 2007,  Gimlet Eye

On Being Authentic with Kids

Thursday, June 02, 2011

After I posted "How we raised a reasonably polite kid" yesterday,  I realized that I forgot to add something important. Being Authentic. A term Magda Gerber uses constantly in her Resources for Infant Educarers program.

Now, this is something that working with Babies taught me. 

Children have huge Bullshit detectors.  They can detect Fake with one glance, and decide quickly if you are an adult to be listened to, or patently ignored. 

During my years caring for Babies, I found that they kept me completely honest.  They knew if I was trying to put them to sleep before they were tired. They knew if I was offering something for lunch that I didn't like. They knew if I was angry, but had a smile on my face that something didn't  feel right. 

Because I valued my relationships with them, I learned to not be duplicitous in my actions with them.  As such, I had to be entirely honest with myself.  What WAS I feeling? Why WAS I acting? Was I dedicated to the "schedule" and as such would stick to the schedule regardless of the cues of the individual? 

When I could be honest with myself and reflect on my practice as an educator, I saw that many of the things I did were out of habit, or my understanding of what was expected of me.  

When I pushed that to the side and developed my sense of Who these children were, and what they needed from Me, my Education Persona changed.   I could be completely honest with them. I would try to name what I saw them experiencing, but also name my own feelings - authentically.

I can't tell you how many times I have seen a teacher of a young child tell that child that their actions made them "Sad". 

Sad? Really?  From where I was standing, it wasn't Sad the teacher was feeling. Angry, Irritated, Frustrated, Fed Up, Annoyed - these were all more accurate descriptors.  Sad was no where within what the teacher was feeling.

I realized that when Teachers - and by extension, all Adults - mislabel their feelings for the children they are helping to raise, we are telling them some very specific messages:

1. Don't name "negative" emotions. Anger, and all of its variations are to be avoided. At all costs.
2. Negative Emotions are Dangerous
3. Ignore what you are feeling. Stuff it down. Change it.

I can't remember the year I had that epiphany, but it rattled me deeply. I was asking children to lie to me. I was telling them that their feelings were not what I wanted to know about if they were out of a specific range of "safe".  

The first example I remember was a little girl I used to comfort when her mom left. "Don't be sad, I would say. It's Ok", and I would work to get her involved in something else to distract her.

When I re-examined that interaction, I saw that what I was telling her was that her Grief at seeing her mom leave for the day was unacceptable. I wanted her to stuff it down, suck it up and get on with it. 

My horror at realizing the messages I was broadcasting to ALL the children was stupefying. "Don't cry", I would say, "You aren't really hurt" I picked a newly hatched  walker up off the pavement.

Who was I to tell that girl that she shouldn't be sad? Who was I to tell a child to ignore the pain of falling down?  How could they trust me when I was telling them to Ignore the tangible?

Letting children Feel their feelings seems dangerous, doesn't it?  Wouldn't it just prolong the separation crying? Wouldn't it just make that Toddler cry harder? 

Believe it or not, No.

Acknowledging that seeing her mother leave for work was really sad, that she loved her Mom and wished she could stay with her didn't make that baby cry harder.  It actually shortened the crying jags. That child learned that her feelings were important and acknowledged.  It didn't change the reality that she was going to be with me until the end of the day when her mom was done working, but it did tell her that I  honored her love for her Mom. 

Telling the Toddler that falling must have startled him, and that I bet his knee felt sore didn't make him cry harder.  Offering a hug and cuddle and cold cloth for his knee only served to say "Hey, I am here for you if you need me. Learning to navigate walking is Tough, but you can do it."

It was in this way that I could have a room with 8 Babies and Toddlers and have a pretty calm and happy learning environment. They knew that I wasn't going to lie to them. I wasn't going to try to get rid of them by putting them down for a nap when they weren't tired. Once they were mobile, I didn't even "tell" them it was time to eat. Mostly, they would crawl to the eating table and let me know they were ready. They would even tell me when they were tired by crawling to the edge of the nap space.  I kid you not.

What those babies and toddlers, now young adults in college, taught me was that Everyone knows when you aren't being honest.  They might not be able to name it as such, but it is apparent. Ergo, if I am feeling something...and you look at me and blatantly tell me that I am Not feeling what I am feeling?  I don't really have to trust you. If I don't trust you, I don't have to listen to you. Children are empirical creatures.

Since the bullshit detectors on Young children are much more finely attuned than that of Adults, they can sniff you out and discard you easily.  They are, after all, novice communicators. They tune in to everything, even things adults don't see or hear or notice. It is part of the evolutionary package of survival.  They only have a limited time to go from helpless infant to communicating, moving toddler.  This feat requires observation skills unmatched later in life.

Since learning that lesson with Babies, I have tried to bring it to all aspects of my professional and personal life. Not always successfully, mind you. It can scare the hell out of other Adults, and frequently does. However, kids are a different story. Kids migrate to me. When I speak to them, they listen.

I don't ask them to not feel what they are feeling. Instead, I ask them to describe it. Emily can describe her feeling in a million shades of words. They are all different, you see. Sometimes mixed up together, but still all distinct.  When a person can describe what they are feeling, it is a step to being able to understand what you are feeling. Not stop it, but understand it. Understanding gives you power.

It is a terrible thing when we teach our children to lie to us, to lie to themselves about their feelings. Yet, we do it every day.

"You are All right", we say. "Stop crying", we say. "Don't be angry - here look at This", we distract. "Don't be such a girl", we might say to a boy. "Don't be such a tom boy", we might say to a girl. "Don't be such a Baby", we say to all kids.

Anything from having to deal with the situation at hand or to say what we mean. Worse, to say what we mean would force us to examine Why we are saying what we are saying, forcing the search light back onto ourselves. It isn't pretty, and it isn't polite.

Not many adults are prepared for the constant reflection it requires to be a great teacher, even fewer for the complete transparency it takes to work with infants and toddlers.

I challenge you to stop the next time you find ourself about to say something to a child, any child. Examine why you are going to say it. Examine what you really mean. Are those two things matching up? If they match up, consider the child. Are your words matching the child's experience? If not is there a way you can adjust your words to more fully reflect the child's experience in an open ended way?

The goal is not to merely parrot words at a child, but to give them options within their own experiences. To give them Adults who are attending to their world, but not overpowering it. Adults who acknowledge their emotions and feelings without negating them. Adults who are available for comfort and support, but also who can step back and allow the child to fully experience being human. In all of it's glorious messiness.

How we raised a reasonably polite kid

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

An Acquaintance of Terrance's recently asked him: "Your daughter is so incredibly polite and well behaved! How did you guys manage that?"

While it is true that I am not always particularly polite OR well behaved, I suppose it could be something of a wonder as to how Emily turned out ( to date) the pretty damn nice kid that she has become.

Terrance's standard answer to this is "We beat her ass early, so we don't have to do it as much anymore."

For those of you not members of a Black American family, let me translate:

He doesn't actually mean that we beat her. Emily has been spanked - but very sparingly. I don't like to do it, and Terrance is actually a bit afraid to do it.  When she has, it was a couple of swats on the bum with open hand. There is much sound and fury, but very little physical contact.

I was a dedicated "No corporeal punishment" advocate...until I needed to spank my child.  Much like I was Anti-Binky until it was the only thing that wasn't my poor, chafed breast and would soothe her and get her to sleep through the night.  Yes, Universe, I get the whole "Bite you in the ass" concept of parenting.

What he DOES mean is that we have been fairly consistent disciplinarians of our One Child.  We have not been afraid to stand up in restaurants and leave. We have left stores with half filled carts in aisles when behaviors deemed unacceptable have been warned about...then repeated.

I also have a Look. Emily calls it my teacher look and it can stop her dead.  It also works on her classmates at school when I am in the library and they decide to act up on my volunteer day.  It involves no speaking, but a dedicated, persistent stare.  Occasionally some eyebrow movement is needed, or a slow head shake.

I used to kid that I perfected it while working with Infants. You can't "Out Loud" an Infant or Toddler, so I never tried. You just stare and wait.

Another trick of the best teachers? We use our bodies. We get close to kids who are acting up, we put hands on shoulders, or hold hands with others. We let them know we are close by. When Emily would tantrum as a Toddler and Preschool, I would sit on the floor and watch her.

"I am here if you are ready to stop and need a hug", I might say.  It was the same technique I used with Infants and Toddlers I cared for in child care. It conveys "I am Here", and "I want to comfort You", but it also allows them to both finish feeling their feelings and start to decide when they want comforting. It also says "I do not have to participate in Your Drama, but I am here for you when you are done."

THAT is a hard lesson for parents. Because we are always involved in our child's drama, are we not?  However, as Toddlers ( and later still as a 13 year old) children need to learn that their feelings belong to Them...and that this is separate from the rest of the family.

"Your drama is not my drama" is what I now say to the 13 year old Emily, while she huffs and puffs and tries to blame her father and I for not getting her homework in her folder, or her report printed out.  Despite her best efforts to figure out a reason to blame us,  it isn't our fault and she is old enough to assume the consequences for her actions. If that means a lowered grade for failing to meet her teachers be it.

Terrance and I have battled over many aspects of parenting. Discipline has not generally been one of them.

Sure, he tends to get bent out of shape and threaten that she has lost her computer, or school trip, or summer camp from now until the end of time...And she runs around and cries and flaps and generally acts like she is dying.  Then, I speak with him and remind him that the consequence he has shouted out is WAY out of proportion to the infraction, and that it needs to be re-negotiated and explained to her.

Emily knows that Daddy is Loud, but Mommy is the Velveted Glove of Iron.

Another rule in our home? Adults are adults and will be treated with respect.

Now, living with a mother such as I, one would question how an opinionated, mouthy and frequently LOUD woman can hold this line with a child. Firstly, I think some of this is because I taught young children for so long. I know that the stories that transfer home about a mean teacher withholding snack might not be exactly what they seem.

As such, I have always made it a policy to do my best to get with the Adult in question to clarify the incident.

99% of the time, they have been exaggerations by my daughter in an attempt to garner sympathy, or unleash the Demon Mother who will unfurl my wings and talons in order to rain down my wrathful destruction on an Adult who has wounded my child.

Why, Yes. Yes she Can manipulate me masterfully.

However, in my time as Teacher and Director I can not recount the number of times I had to calm down an irate parent who was sure that their child was 100% accurate in the description of some wrong.  Only to find out that Yes, their child hadn't eaten snack that day...but not because the teacher with held it. If the snack table is open from 1:30 to 3:30, with frequent warnings before it is closed, and the child in question chooses not to eat...then when he decides at 3:50 that he suddenly wants to have snack...Well.....

Children who believe that they are in charge of the adults in their lives and that the adult will unquestionably believe everything they say? Oh. Oh, that bodes no good.

I say this with Love, Parents of the world: Your Child will Lie to You. They will do it smoothly, and you will believe them.  You love your child and want to believe that they would never, ever lie to You, their parent. But they do.

Now, I have a  child development theory that involves a child learning to lie with a healthy separation between Parent and Child. Learning we can deceive the ones who know us best is, I believe, part of the recognition of the Self as Unique and that we can harbor own own inner thoughts ( theory of mind) that are not accessible to others. Of course my theory doesn't really help you when you are staring at a child who is lying to you.

Obviously I am also not suggesting that Adults refuse to believe their children in all things. I am however suggesting that Your child is a normal kid and will attempt to spin every situation to their advantage. Even if that involves a small omission of fact, or a redirected emphasis on a part of the story for which they want sympathy/empathy.

One of my favorite examples involves Emily and a neighbor with whom she had a very love/hate relationship.  Em and the other little girl were six, and sometimes had playdates after school. I got home one evening and was greeted with Emily's breathless and indignant explanation of how this little girl had HIT HER!

Terrance had sent the little girl home, having believed Emily's version of the event. My teacher senses tingled and I began to question Emily.

"So, you were just playing and L ran over and Hit You?"

"Yeah! She just ran over and Hit me!"

"Hmmm. That seems strange. I mean, you weren't talking to each other or anything? I mean I guess it is possible that she just jumped up from what she was doing and ran over to hit you, but it seems unusual."

"No....Well, yeah, we were talking."

"Oh, what were you talking about?"

From here I dragged out of her that the neighbor girl and Emily were having a rather heated discussion about their Mothers. Emily Insulted the girls Mother - purposefully. There was some mutual throwing of objects ( I believe it was a Polly Pocket kind of play date), with Emily pushing the little girl. Who THEN Hit Emily.

When I filled Terrance in later, he was Stunned. STUNNED that his daughter had lied to him! How on earth did I know she wasn't being truthful? he asked.  "It just didn't sound right", I answered. There are Always two sides to any story.

Finally, it has always been important to me that we talk it through with Emily. Yes, we shout. Yes, we react.  However, when that has calmed down I want her to know why I was upset, or why her father was upset.  As she has aged it has been important to me that she understand HER part in the tumult. She is certainly at fault, on occasion. When I have been at fault, I strive to apologize to her.  Even Terrance has learned to apologize to her if he has been in the wrong.

Terrance might say that Emily behaves because she fears us.  I don't think that is true, though. A child can't really learn self control in a home in which they fear the adults. (Caveat: Terrance's definition of "fear" is pretty culturally based. In his family, it is used alongside "respect". I would say it is more about Adults and Children having pretty strongly defined roles, and the Adult is in charge of setting very specific boundaries and enforcing those)

Its nice when other adults compliment us on Emily's behavior when we aren't around. I am pleased that I have a polite well behaved person who is respectful and decent to others without me being in eye or earshot.

It isn't magic, though. It is the result of 13 years of hard work. Consistency. Firmness. Clear Expectations that BOTH parents endorse and to which both parents adhere and a healthy dose of bullshit detector.

 I went into this parenting adventure knowing my child wasn't perfect, and also knowing how the children whose parents DO think they are perfect behave in classrooms.

That being said, I have a 13 year old girl in my house now. I need to clean out the bullshit detector and get an upgrade. I suspect it will be getting a hearty workout in the years ahead.

◄Design by Pocket