Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say To Your Kids

I just read this blog post over at Abandoning Pretense in which Kristen Mae gives the thumbs down to all those “Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids” lists floating about, and I was like, “Whew! Thank God someone is letting me off the hook.” I’m all for people pursuing positive parenting with patience and aplomb (sorry, got a little carried away with the alliteration there), but never? NEVER?

“Never” reinforces this sort of oops-you-did-this-BUZZ!-now-you’re-a-terrible-parent vibe that I’m basically totally sick of. Like, I’m barfing guilt already, people. Let’s take it easy. Kristen sums up my feelings at the end:

Most of us are working really hard at being the best parents we can be, and we’re doing a pretty bang-up job of it, too. We are good parents.

Yeah. So take that, internet jerks.

That said, there really ARE some things you probably shouldn’t say to your kids. I’ll list them out, in case you’re just about to say any of this. It takes a village, after all.

Word Graphic - Things You Really Shouldn't Say to Your Kids

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say to Your Kids

1. Finish your cocaine or I’ll feed you to my shark.

2. I regret letting the aliens drink your blood every night. Tuesdays? Yes. Every night? Too much.

3. Sometimes I watch you sleeping at night and just cry. Oh, no…not in the good way.

4. Heads up: I’m gonna be real drunk at this parent/teacher conference.

5. Wanna take the cinnamon challenge?

6. Take the cinnamon challenge or I’ll feed you to my shark.

7. Hold this land mine real quick.

8. I wish you were more like your sister, if your sister was like someone else’s kid.

9. Hey! That stove is hot! Ehhh…go ahead. We have insurance.

10. Feed my shark or I’ll feed you to my shark.

If you’re saying any of those things, you probably are a terrible parent. Take your internet shame, you! Take it and like it!

p.s. you’re subscribed to Abandoning Pretense, right? Because you should NEVER tell your kid not to subscribe to Abandoning Pretense.

Truths of the Universe

If we know anything by now, it’s that I am a wealth of handy information. Continuing my function as a cicerone for your life’s boundless adventures, I present you with…

Truths!

(truths…truths…truths…)

Of!

(of…of…of…)

The Universe!

(verse…verse…verse…)

I even put the truths in a handy bulleted list. I’ve started with ten. Ten at a time is a good pace for revealing the underpinnings of life, don’t you think? I’ve also started with a dog/motorcycle/women’s clothing/drinking theme. You know, for Easter.

  1. If you own a loud motorcycle, everyone hates your loud motorcycle.
  2. Mustaches are gross. There is one, and only one, exception to this rule.
  3. After the age of 14, women will find that all clothing is made for people 10 years older, or 10 years younger than their current age.
  4. No one knows what the appropriate age is for a woman to start, or stop, shopping at Forever 21.
  5. If you own a loud motorcycle, you will always start it up when someone is just drifting off for a nap.
  6. There is no possible way for you to seem smart after admitting that you like to drink Chelada.
  7. Ashley Judd is a badass.
  8. Listening to a lone dog barking rhythmically is a slow but steady way to go insane.
  9. If you own a loud motorcycle for too long (i.e., any period of time), your neighbors will start to hate you.
  10. Whether you’re a cat person, or a dog person, you’re still giving free rent and food to someone who makes you pick up their poop.

Blammo.

Five Rules for Debate in 2012

It’s 2012, you all. An election year. A year in which we will “take on the issues,” “get back to real American values,” and “make choices for our children and our children’s children!” Apparently, when elections come around we all get really smart and principled and become thoughtful guardians of the future. But if you were to listen to people converse about the issues, you certainly wouldn’t get that impression. You’d get the impression that a bunch of cranked out baboons had gotten loose and were attempting to write public policy.

We, as a society, have completely forgotten how to debate. The term “civil discourse” shouldn’t even be in our vocabulary. It’s not a thing that people do. It falls in the category of powdered wigs or leeches—things that used to be part of every day life, but now seem archaic, strange and otherworldly.

But, hey, it’s fine. Let’s not pretend to be something we’re not. If we’re gonna do this, let’s DO this, right? Embrace who we are! Talking is for dummies! And in that spirit, I present you with:

Five Rules for Debate in 2012

1. Name-calling is your first priority.

If someone disagrees with you, come out swinging. Don’t waste any time, and don’t take any names off the table. Keep your options open. Terms like jerk, asshole, douche bag, and bitch should roll off your tongue like slobber out of a dog’s mouth. Or slut. Slut is a good one. Don’t edit. Just spew. If you can add in something like racist, communist, sexist, fundamentalist or, really, nearly any -ist, you get extra points. Combining a truly un-nice name with an -ist classification is gold, you racist whore. See? See how effective that is? Bam!

2. Nuance is the enemy.

We know that life is complicated. We know that. We all live complicated lives full of grays, with so few blacks or whites. But you cannot recognize this fact. Like, ever. Never, ever, ever. So, when you present your argument, just find the most outrageous, damning, horrific point (or amazing, too-good-to-be-true point), stamp that thing on a flag and wave it until your arm falls off. Don’t worry about data, or objective studies or thoughts from experts. Besides, how can you fit all that information on a JPG to share on the interwebs?

3. USE CAPS!

A lot of our word bludgeon sessions—er, debates—happen on Facebook or blogs or other online forums. The problem with this, is that when everyone’s opinion is reduced to the same black characters on a white background, everyone’s voice has the same volume. Well, you’ve gotta fix that, and fast. SO TYPE IN CAPS! USE MANY, MANY, EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!! If you can BOLD your WORDS it’s EVEN! BETTER! BETTERRR!!!!!

4. Question your opponent’s character.

We’ve already called people names and accused them of being racists. That’s good. That’s a start. But what we really need to do, is erase any shred of dignity there might be assigned to their person. We need to hold court on their humanity. A good place to start, for us here in the states, is to question their loyalty to their country. Make sure everyone knows that the only way to be a Real American is to think how you think.

Again, reality will try to sneak in here and tell you that your neighbors, family and co-workers probably also enjoy living in this fine country, but squash that thought like a cockroach! I mean, if people don’t agree with you on how to handle gigantic, complicated, economic and political issues, maybe they were never true Americans/Christians/Muslims/Conservatives/Librals/Humans to begin with! Extra credit is earned on this point if you find some commonality between the person who disagrees with you and say…Hitler. Or a serial killer. Or a rapist. Don’t be shy…find someone terrible, and find a way to equate your mailman, or barber, or whomever you are arguing with, to that terrible person. You can do it. Don’t be a baby.

5. Don’t be afraid to throw a punch.

Really, Melanie? Violence?

Sure! Why not? I mean, let’s be real. Civility flew out the window a LONG time ago. With all the name calling, fact twisting, CAPS TYPING and integrity shredding, NOT hitting someone is almost a charade, right? I mean, come on, what are you, better than fighting? You’re above all that now? Let’s just call a pig a pig (or a racist, ugly, selfish, asshole pig) and get down to brass tacks.

In fact, maybe we don’t even need the first four rules. Maybe our policy changes and political offices should be determined by a good ol’ fist fight. Or maybe actual, literal mudslinging. Whoever slings enough mud to knock their opponents unconscious becomes president. This may be the horizon of our future, people. This may be our bright, swollen future.

If you’re not already following my blog by RSS, email or WordPress, you should. It’s more fun than a cranked out baboon.

Lady Power! (Or, I’m Actually not a Lesbian)

Just look at those ladies! Tell me you wouldn't snuggle them…

It’s been brought to my attention that, sometimes, I sound like I’m into girls. Now, I do like lesbians. Well, I guess not all lesbians. How could I know that I like all lesbians? So I guess I’ll say that I have wonderful lesbian friends that I like a whole lot. But alas, I *like* dudes. Well, actually, I have a bit of a complicated relationship with Dudes, but I like one dude. My husband. I have a very awesome, uncomplicated relationship with him. Ack. This got super convoluted all of a sudden. Let’s start over.

I compliment ladies a lot. And I sometimes want to snuggle with them. I’ve mentioned being entranced by the adorable Mary Louise Parker and wanting to snuggle with Dr. Brené Brown. I’m totally goofy over Alice Bradley. And kinda lots of other women. I’m like that in person, too. Maybe worse. I kinda want to be uncomfortably friendly with a lot of women. Doesn’t everyone feel that way? Aren’t there some women that you think, “I could just snorgle her a little”?

I wrote a draft of this post and had my husband read it and he said, “Nope, you still sound like you want to make out with women.” So, let me explain a little more. When I say “snuggle,” it’s like I want to pinch cheeks and rub noses and squeeze shoulders. Kinda like you would with a kitten, you know? Like you see the little kitty, and you just want to squeeze it and talk through your teeth and say stuff like, “Awent you just the sweetest wittle kitty evoh?” and then the kitty looks at you like it’s kinda fun but also a little terrifying. That’s what I picture in my mind. Anyone? You know what I’m saying? You know that feeling when someone is just so remarkable and funny and awesome and beautiful that you feel like you can’t control yourself?

Maybe it’s just me. I’m aware that I shouldn’t actually do those things, though. I promise. You don’t have to worry about me if we meet in person. I think that I want to snorgle people, but I don’t actually do the snorgling. I’m not totally bananas, it’s just that…well, some women—a lot of women—are super amazing. And there’s something about the fact that women walk around oozing with awesomeness that makes me want cuddle strangers.

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that those same women—the same women that floor me with how gorgeous and vivacious and smart they are—probably had a life experience not unlike mine. And my experience went something like this: be a kid, gain a teensy bit of awareness, hate yourself from then on. The de facto position of most girls as they grow is to be utterly disappointed in themselves. Criticizing your body and hair and teeth and laugh and knee shape is basically a full-time job from about age 10.

Love me some Tina Fey. Things would get real awkward, real quick.

I know it sounds dramatic, but I’m pretty sure that’s the deal. It was for me. And there’s some data to back it up, too. According to some research that Dove (the soap company) has done, only 4% of women worldwide think they’re beautiful. Holy crap! I personally know a boat load of beautiful women, and I see beautiful women all the time. Like, every day. So, either all the beautiful women gravitate to places where I can see them, or we women have a BIG discrepancy between what actually is (there are LOTS of beautiful women and you’re likely one of them) and what we think (we’re all a bunch of uggos).

And that’s just looks. When we get to the workplace, our intelligence takes a hit as we’re routinely valued lower than our male counterparts (the stats show we make 25% less just because of our boobs. Or maybe it’s the uterus. Both? Something about our lady parts is getting us in trouble.) Women hold a stupidly low percentage of power positions in government and we have a puny representation in the film industry as writers, directors, or producers. Even in cooking—a chore stereotypically thrust on women as their duty—when it comes to the role of head chef, women only eek out 15% of the positions nationwide. Chores at home go to the ladies, high-powered glam positions go to the men. Lame.

I’m sure I could continue this way for a while. Google easily coughs up a pile of reasons for women to say, “Hey, wait a minute…” But I don’t need to. The point is not that we need to boo-hoo ourselves OR poo-poo men, the point is that when I see women—smart, radiant, AMAZING women—I think the appropriate response is to be enamored. To be amazed. To want to snuggle up on the couch and soak in the goodness of another soul, and be at least one voice that says, “Hey, you’re kinda great.” Maybe it’ll rip a plot hole in the story we’re told. Maybe it’ll make a way for a tiny sapling of self-worth to break through the concrete that got poured over our rich lands. Or maybe it’ll just make for some super awkward moments. That’s entirely possible, too.

So, cough it up, people. Isn’t there someone who you think is so amazing that you want to snuggle them a little? Just a little nuzzling? Please, do share. Let’s compliment the crap out of each other for a while, okay?

—-

p.s. – Loads of love to the ladies in my life who have lost track of how amazing they are. You know who you are.

p.p.s. – Finding an image for this post was kinda infuriating. I searched for “women” which brought up a bunch of sketches of bare-breasted women. Really? “Women” = “something naked that I can do”? Come on, internet. Get your crap together. So, then I searched for “badass women” and got a bunch of pics of roller derby players, which was kinda funny.

I Will Find Hope. Even if I Don’t Want to.

Okay, so this post is kinda serious. But I’ve had a few things on my mind and I wanted to write about them, so I figured it was best not to limit my voice here. I mean, in real life I’m not totally full of crap all the time. A good portion of the time, yes, but ALL the time? No. So if you were hoping for the usual absurdity, feel free to browse the archives, go get a Cadbury egg (they’re in stores all ready! Praise be!), and come back next week. I’ll probably be spouting some nonsense about music videos or my plans for my twilight years (hint: they include Bloody Marys and scaring children) or something like that. (Oh, also…thanks to Studio30 Plus for the writing prompt.)

Photo via Greg Timm @ Flickr

There’s a Weight Pulling On Me

I mentioned a while back that I’ve been doing some research on johns and prostitution and other unsavory topics for a project that I’m working on. I also mentioned that doing so will bum you out in a hurry. And it did. It does. It’s continuing to. I still don’t want to bombard you with the details of the research, because its kinda a topic that you want to be prepared to think about. Like, you don’t really want to be surprised by the darkness of it all. I’m a firm believer that surprises should be positive. That’s why, at surprise parties, everyone just yells in jubilee and smiles; they don’t throw ketchup and lizards at you. So I won’t be listing out all the details of the things that have been weighing on me, but I do want to talk about the weight itself. See, over time, each piece of data, each little story, each personal connection—they’re breaking down my ability to hold out hope for the soul of humankind.

As I grow older, it seems that more and more of the people and institutions that I trusted—that I revered—crumble and fall before my very eyes. Those that represented safety, goodness, integrity, and strength are found to have been corroded from within, their gleaming outsides eventually giving way to what had begun to die so long ago. Our news outlets are never in want for these tales of the fallen. The Catholic church stood brokenhearted in shame as its bastions destroyed the delicate hearts of parishioners. Evangelical pastors are found pursuing sexual relationships of all kinds outside their homes. Senators, governors—our public servants—are found to have forfeited the needs of their electorate for their own gain, serving themselves above all else. Teachers, parents, grandparents, businessmen, social workers—no one is off-limits. No one is sacred. Everyone is suspect.

Deceit. Betrayal. Scandal. Greed. Rage. Hubris. There are days when the endless torrent of our weakest moments threatens to drive even the most hopeful buoy to the depths of the sea. And that feeling—the feeling of unwillingly plunging into the abyss where the dark waters obscure even your own limbs—that feeling has hounded me.

Normally, I smile and say hello to people when I’m out on a walk. Normally, I make polite chit-chat with the checker at the grocery store. Normally, I keep my mind open to voices of wisdom and grace that might find their way to me. But these days, I find myself closing off…doubting…being afraid of what I can’t see in a man’s eyes. I have this sneaking suspicion that every person is just one second away from having their rotting interior exposed. And we will have one less good person in a world already short on goodness.

A Short Detour on Obligation and Boundaries

I don’t believe in obligation. I spent many, many years of my life doing things out of obligation because no one ever taught me about appropriate boundaries. The thing with obligation is that when you say yes when you want to say no, you end up hating whomever you said yes to. It makes you cranky. And bitter. And all kinds of nasty things. So, once someone did teach me about boundaries, I stopped doing things out of obligation. I only do things when I want to do things, even if someone makes a really sad face. Even if they think I’m a terrible person for not doing the thing. I would rather live and give genuinely than get caught up in the ugly snare of obligation.

And yet…

Over the last few days I realized that I do feel one obligation. An obligation that I will accept. An obligation that I will cling to, even if I don’t feel like it. Even if it’s hard. Even if my heart breaks a little.

I will be obligated, until death, to believe. To hope. I will never give up on a life, no matter how decrepit it becomes. I will never give up on love somehow finding its way through our diseased veins. I will never concede the fight and let my daughter live in a world that is too broken and damaged to be beautiful.

I call this an obligation, because at this moment, I’m not feeling inspired to believe. I don’t have that feeling that somehow good outweighs the bad; somehow light finds its way through the darkness. The great and powerful words delivered by sages of years passed are falling from my ears, unheard. I’m just having a hard time feeling goodness in the world. So that’s where I pledge my dedication. I pledge my obligation…

I’ll not let go.

I’ll not sink.

I will believe, dammit. I. WILL. Believe.

Sad Waffles

Sad Waffle

There’s a very distinct time in life in which you are capable of being sad about waffles. That time ends at about age 11. After you turn 11, you realize that waffles absolutely do not rank among the things you should be sad about. I mean, by 11, you’re aware that there are boatloads of terrible things out there that deserve your sadness (getting grounded, bee stings, world hunger, Weeds, etc.) and that it’s an awful waste to let a golden Belgian delight bum you out.

But not before 11. No, before 11, you’re under the impression that anything that isn’t 100% ideal is worth being sad about. Like the kid that was sitting next to us at Kensington Café the other day. Why were his waffles so sad? Because he wanted pancakes. A horrid reality faced him. This batter, instead of being poured onto a griddle and cooked in a circle shape, was going to be poured into a waffle iron and cooked into a square shape with square depressions. Oh, the humanity. He slumped his little head into his hands and stared wistfully at the table. “But I wanted PANcakes…” *Frown*

“How about we put strawberries on them?” coaxed the amazing server.

*Frown*

I’ll draw on them with chocolate…” she bribed.

“Mmmwohhkay…” the boy mumbled out of his little trout mouth.

The kid somehow finagled a food that is essentially dessert for breakfast and he’s STILL forlorn because it’s not a pancake. Ah, the folly of youth.

But that’s what expectations and desire do to you. They turn the whole world into what you don’t want; what you didn’t have in mind. No longer is a chocolate- and strawberry-covered waffle a delicious sugary treat that no young fawn should hope to consume; it’s reduced to one thing: not-pancake.

Because it’s the beginning of a new year, and the time for sage advice and chin rubbing, I’ll ask you this: is your life full of sad waffles? Of not-pancakes? Or do you see the deliciousness of the world, regardless of what unforeseen shape it comes in?

I’ve got a few things on my to-do list for 2012, but one of them is to, as I’ve heard it said, “Look for the good, and embrace it.” Imma eat those waffles. Happily.

A Call to Nothing

Luz I - Rayos de luz / Beams of light.

Image by purolipan via Flickr

A calling, in the religious sense of the word, is a religious vocation (which comes from the Latin for “call”) that may be professional or voluntary and, idiosyncratic to different religions, may come from another person, from a divine messenger, or from within oneself.

via Calling (religious) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

There are some fortunate folks who, while wide-eyed and bushy-tailed in the springtime of their lives, looked to the horizon and felt a pull in the center of their being. They squinted their eyes ever so slightly at the rising sun and heard a whisper in their hearts. “This, young soul,” the whisper said, “is your calling.”

I would like to take a moment to tell those fortunate folks to take their clairvoyance and shove it.

That’s a touch on the bitter side, I suppose. I’ll settle with simply stating that I cannot, and do not understand how they came to be the way they are. I don’t know how it is that some people set a course, follow it unwaveringly, and find a quiet perseverance through the troubling bits in life due to the overwhelming conviction that they are following their calling. It must be nice. Like a cozy blanket.

I was raised in a Christian home—Nazarene, to be exact—and the notion that you have a specific purpose in life always hung around me like too much perfume sprayed in the ladies’ room. I was followed, dogged, by this suspicion that while some had meaning, I had none. Of course I did my best to deny that suspicion. I searched my heart and soul, looking for bread crumbs that would lead me back to the core of who I am—to the core of who I was to be.

Initially, I just wanted to be good. I did well in school. Got a job and kept my grades up until graduation, then headed off to college. After attending a couple of private schools I found myself still undecided in my major. It seemed that every topic was equally appealing and unappealing at the same time. The idea of pursuing one field at the exclusion of another scratched at me. The commitment to leave all those possibilities on the roadside of my life’s highway seemed wrong. I couldn’t do it. Wanting to enjoy all fields and all areas of knowledge, I embraced none. I was buying Legos a piece at a time, but they’d never make a castle or a plane or anything awesome. So, I quit.

That was many, many years ago. Now I’m 31. Not much has changed.

Today, I work in starts and fits, chasing after all the beautiful and exciting things to be done. Photography. Writing. Singing and songwriting. Knitting. Crochet. Sewing. Graphic design. Filmmaking. Each project brings challenge, life, satisfaction. Each new goal sparks a little something in me. Each challenge threatens to break me, but I press forward. I learn and grow and truly enjoy myself. But what comes next?

What comes next?

Now that question—that question is what scratches at me. All these many years later, all these challenges met, skills acquired and beauty made and still I have no course to follow. It’s as if my ship continues to find sand bars, but never finds land. My oar has slammed in to the sandy ocean floor and the sun has set. It’s disturbing. And a little chilly.

I’m still open to the idea that one day a fog will be lifted and I’ll have a comforting definition of what I am meant to be. Maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I should embrace the fact that I’m a vocational gypsy. Maybe I am called to nothing. Or to everything. Maybe those are the same thing.

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