A New Driver in the House

12.17.14

Roughly six months ago we bought Jane a car. We made this purchase mindfully. As soon as Jane had her driver’s permit I had her do the bulk of the driving. My preference being that by the time she was ready to drive on her own she had at least a hundred hours under her belt. Six months later I do believe she had considerably more.

We gave Jane six months of driving an average of 45 minutes a day in her own car before she was fully licensed. We bought her a crossover with great safety ratings and enough power to get on the freeway safely but not enough to get into trouble.

I taught her to drive without screaming, crying or hyperventilating. It was actually quite lovely and for the past six months we spent more time together than we had in months prior. I sat in the passenger seat as we wound our way through town, first slowly and then with a little more confidence. Finally we hit the freeways and then the freeways at night. It was fun watching Jane gain skill and confidence. It had been many years since I’d taught my child a new physical skill. Once they’ve learned to throw a ball, run a race and tie their shoes they sort of acquire skills at school or on their own.

Two weeks ago Jane and I drove to the DMV together and I sat with another mother as our girls took their driving tests. They both passed. I hugged the other mother and we hopped into the passenger seats of our respective cars having shared a lovely moment in time but never asking for each other’s names. Sometimes it’s better when you don’t pretend that these passing moments are the beginning of a relationship. Sometimes we just witness another person’s joy, sometimes we share it, and then we move on.

Jane drove me home from the DMV, left me at the front doorstep, waved goodbye and then drove off to school. Alone. I did what everyone does when there’s a big moment. I called my husband. He was in a meeting. So then I did what everyone does when their husband isn’t around to talk. I updated my facebook status.

Then I got a bunch of emails about how I’ll never stop worrying about my daughter which confused me because I hadn’t started worrying about her. If I didn’t think she was safe I wouldn’t have let her get a driver’s license much less a car. I keep hearing about all these parents who worry every time their kid jumps in the car and I wonder if they’re naturally worriers and no amount of preparation would have them ready for this next step in parenthood or if their kids are actually in peril behind the wheel.

Then my lack of worry makes me worry. Am I too glib? Do I expect my kid to be someone she isn’t? Am I missing warning signs of something dire? Maybe there’s something going on that I don’t know about? Why does everyone worry except me?Fortunately I have the attention span of a caffeinated flea so I forgot that I was supposed to worry about not being worried and went back to feeling very lonely. Feeling unneeded and irrelevant. When I do this parenting thing correctly they don’t need me much at all and it’s rewarding to know that the kids are okay even though, on occasion, it leaves me feeling very not okay.

Does Your Kid Know What a Flash Button is?

07.14.14

My kids love to stay home alone. This is in part because they don’t want to go places with me like grocery and drug stores but also in part because they enjoy the independence and the quiet. I understand and respect this so I allow them their freedom with just a few rules in place.

  • No swimming
  • Do not answer the door for anyone
  • Answer the home phone, it’s how I’ll reach them

I had a zillion errands to do before the kids went to camp so I left Jane and Alexander home alone. I gave him a call from the grocery store to find out what he wanted and the phone rang and rang some more. No one answered and no machine went on. I called again, nothing. The phone must be off the hook. It happens, right?

I’m a little annoyed and need to run another errand which is unexpected so I call Alexander’s cell phone which he also does not answer. I call Jane’s cell phone and ask her why no one is answering the home phone. She explains to me that Alexander is on the phone with Daddy. “Ive been calling.” I say and she offers nothing as an explanation. The phone didn’t ring, he’s on with Daddy.

I get home an hour later and I’m not mad yet, but agitated. Clearly my son saw that I was calling and chose to not answer the phone. I ask him why he’s so disrespectful. I ask him why he didn’t answer when I called.

He looks at me innocently and clearly doesn’t comprehend my simmering anger. “The phone only rang once, it was Dad and I talked to him.”

“Didn’t you hear me calling?” The simmer is turning into a boil.

“No.”

“You didn’t hear clicking or beeping while you were on the phone with Daddy?”

“I did but I thought the phone was breaking.”

“That’s call waiting. I was calling you.”

“What’s call waiting?”

I start to explain and then sigh. No one in this house will ever use the telephone to talk to people if they can avoid it. So I explain call waiting recognizing that it has almost as much value as telling him why we call remote controls clickers.

Alexander Explains The Death Range

07.1.14

Tonight at the dinner table I told my husband about our dear friend whose ex-husband died earlier in the day. We, of course, want to support her and her children during a difficult time. It should be simple. Offered without commentary is tonight’s dinner conversation.

ME: Something terrible happened today.

MR. G: What?

ME: Our friend’s ex husband died.

Mr. G has a look of shock on his face. His mouth is open wide.

MR. G: Oh no. How?

ME: They think it was a heart attack. It was out of the blue, he hasn’t been sick or anything.

MR. G: How old was he?

ME: I don’t know exactly but mid 50’s.

ALEXANDER: [matter of factly] Well that’s in the death range.

MR. G: The what range?

ALEXANDER: The death range. You know, it’s sort of when it’s time to die.

MR. G: [horrified and bemused] When does the death range begin?

ALEXANDER: You know when people hit about 65 they start to die I guess.

MR. G: But we’re talking about a man in his 50’s that’s like 10 years earlier.

ALEXANDER: That’s why it’s a range. You get in the range to die.

I’d give you more details but according to my son I need to hurry up and buy myself a coffin.

Naked Kids + Internet = Nothing Good

06.23.14

No, seriously, even if your kid is two and looking at their bellybutton. Even if your daughter is too young to lactate and your son’s plumber butt is cute. I agree with you. Your children are adorable, no one is questioning that. In fact I’d be taking the same photos if I were you. I just wouldn’t be posting them online. Even to a closed group. Even to my mom.

Maybe an email, maybe if I needed to get them printed but probably not even then. I’d probably go to a printer, pop in my SD card and get it printed because I’d be really unhappy to find some middle aged loser jacking off to a picture of my naked kid.

Too vulgar for you? I’m sorry. I needed to get your attention.

This morning a Buzzfeed article popped across my timeline and it detailed how a blogger had their Instagram account shut down after repeatedly posting a picture of her daughter in her big girl undies. The internet acted as it always does: it hashtagged that puppy with #bringbackcourtneybabyccino and some well meaning but misguided parents then posted images of their own toddler children with nipples showing.

I gasped because it seems as though we mothers sometimes get so involved with our mothering that we forget the world around us doesn’t have children nor do they particularly care about the health and well being of our children (which is normal and okay).

I challenged my Facebook friends and asked them please to remember that they don’t own their children as one owns a dog or a piece of furniture. It’s really unfair to exploit their images endlessly and no 12 year old wants their 2 year old naked photo lingering on google for their frenemies to find. All I’m asking for is a little foresight.

Of course things devolved and I don’t understand what it’s like to be a mother or a mom blogger. Ahem. Okay. Whatever. So I took less than 3 minutes, looked up toddler undies on flickr and came up with Steven Horne’s profile. These are his favorite pictures.

edited pedo fl

How does Steven Horne find his images? Why y’all have set them to public and tagged them with things like kids, undies and of course the porn shots are tagged with the appropriate words.

The problem isn’t Steven Horne. The problem is the multitude of Steven Hornes. I found him in moments, hundreds of seconds not thousands which can only mean there are more.

While the buzzfeed baby is unquestionably adorable it’s the wrong hashtag to hop on. I want the world to be safe. I believe in the goodness of people but I still lock my front door.

Quick, Guard the Virginity! Who Cares About Her Dignity!

02.16.14

This morning I was on TV once again having a ridiculous discussion about Barbie The Sex Toy. In a stroke of genius Mattel is providing Sports Illustrated with 1,000 wraps for their swimsuit issue. The wraps feature Barbie so that instead of seeing this:

sports illustrated 2014 swimsuit cover edition

You’ll see this:

Barbie Sports Illustrated cover 2014 wrap

Keeping in mind that Sports Illustrated had a circulation of just over 3 million last year these 1,000 promotion wraps sure are getting a lot of attention.

The predictable complaint is that Barbie is now sexualized. I’m confounded by this. Just how is Barbie sexualized to your five year old daughter? Is she going to grab one of the 1,000 magazines off the rack (where they won’t exist anyhow), rip through the cover, see young women in bikinis and think OMG Barbie is a whore!? 

Perhaps your five year old son has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and when Barbie miraculously shows up on the over wrap he gets a thing for dolls. In twelve years he drops out of high school to live with his real doll because plastic turns him on.

If this is the case Barbie isn’t your problem.

I’m all for protecting the children. Advances in automotive safety, food labeling and drug testing are wonderful things for our kids. Legislation like Megan’s Law has made it easier to be vigilant in our neighborhoods and COPPA keeps corners of the Internet safer for kids. In schools, parks and suburbia I think it’s fair to put kids first.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the world is not responsible for raising my children. This fact may sting a little, at times it may sting a lot, but the reality is that Mr. G and I decided to have kids. The world didn’t stop for us and the world owes us nothing. Adult women are allowed to be sexy and playful, adult men (and in this instance probably more than a few teenage boys) are allowed to enjoy their images. This does not impinge on my children’s rights or freedoms.

I’ll give it to you that having Barbie grace the cover of this particular magazine is an odd marriage. That’s it though. Getting outraged that a magazine your child will probably never see has Barbie on a very limited number of covers by herself without any perfect bottoms next to her is ridiculous. That a Barbie Doll is inside the pages of said magazine also affects your daughter not one bit. She’s not confusing Barbie with a sexy image unless you’re telling her that Barbie in a modest one piece swimsuit is a bit of a tramp.

If Swimsuit Barbie is a little slutty for your taste you’re probably also telling your daughters that the women who grace the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue are undignified and not deserving of praise. These are young women enjoying a career that has a shorter shelf life than most and the rare combination of winning the DNA lotto, youth, exercise and watching what they eat has given them what we consider to be ideal bodies. These are not attainable images (don’t get mad at me, go yell at your parents for their subpar genes) and we all know it. It’s okay that they (models) are made one way and we’re made another.

As the ranting about Barbie and save the girls reaches a fever pitch a few throwaway lines all include references to both Barbie and the models being plastic. Really? Do we want to do that to other women? Is that fair? If you’re going to say it is I certainly hope you don’t have a dot of makeup on your face or any color in your hair.

I’m tired of the world telling me that as a mother I’m obligated to stand guard over my daughter’s purity. Can we all agree instead to stand guard over womankind’s dignity? It’s just a doll. They’re swimsuit models. There’s nothing wrong with either one and pretending that a five year old child is hurt by an adult’s sexuality is not just silly, it’s intellectually dishonest.