Wednesday, September 4, 2013

FYI (if you're a teenage girl) - Why People Like This Keep Me Out of Church

So lately this post: FYI (if you’re a teenage girl) seems to have gone viral. I see it plastered all over FaceBook, preceded by the personal comments of acquaintances about how right or true this is... how this is something every teenage girl should read. So of course as the mother of two girls (and one boy) my own curiosity was peaked and I read it myself...

Are you kidding me??

OK - first let me say that I commend this mother for being a good, caring mom who is deeply involved in her children's lives. Good for you - don't change that!

And let me just add, people like you are why I don't go to church.

Why?

Well, let me explain...

You posted a beautiful family photo of your four very nice-looking children. Three boys and a girl. They are being goofy on a lovely beach. Your teenage boys are shirtless and have all struck "muscle poses" like mini-Mr. Americas. 

In your blog post you start out by saying,

"Dear girls,
I have some information that might interest you. Last night, as we sometimes do, our family sat around the dining-room table and looked through your social media photos.
We have teenage sons, and so naturally there are quite a few pictures of you lovely ladies to wade through. Wow – you sure took a bunch of selfies in your pajamas this summer!
Your bedrooms are so cute! Our eight-year-old daughter brought this to our attention, because with three older brothers who have rooms that smell like stinky cheese, she notices girly details like that."

(Photo of your kids in muscle-poses here.)

"I think the boys notice other things. For one, it appears that you are not wearing a bra.
I get it – you’re in your room, so you’re heading to bed, right? But then I can’t help but notice the red carpet pose, the extra-arched back, and the sultry pout.  What’s up? None of these positions is one I naturally assume before sleep, this I know."

Huh... so somehow your shirtless boys posing on the beach is less offensive than a girl posing in pajamas? Why? Is the muscle-pose the way your kids stand all day on the beach? Or anywhere else, for that matter? Or is it something silly they only do for pictures? 
(But who on earth would do something other than be their natural, pure and innocent self for photos??)

So lets cut to the chase... is it OK for boys to pose half naked, but not OK for girls to pose (fully covered) in pajamas? Is it OK for boys to pose in ways our society has labeled as masculine/goofy but it is not OK for girls to pose in our society has labeled as feminine/goofy?

As the parent of both genders, do you not recognize this as a double standard? Boys can run about half naked, posing in ways our society recognizes as "manly" or "masculine" without anyone questioning their actions at all, but there is a different standard for girls. According to you, girls should not have the same privileges? Or is it that boys just don't have to follow the same rules?  No - girls should remain not only covered, but their boobs must be incarcerated at all times in an uncomfortable fabric and wire contraption lest a BOY see a hint of nipple. (Oooo - I said "nipple!" For shame!)

After all, the girls on the social media site weren't exposing their nipples - currently that is not socially acceptable in the US. And aside from that... what? They were posing? (Sort of the female version of how your boys were posing?)

This disparity between the value of men vs. women is already evident in corporate America where women make 0.77¢ to a man's $1.00. 
Don't believe me? Click HERE.

Anyhoo -

Further down you write,
"And now – big bummer – we have to block your posts. Because, the reason we have these (sometimes awkward) family conversations around the table is that we care about our sons, just as we know your parents care about you.
I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t ever un-see it?  You don’t want the Hall boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?
Neither do we.
And so, in our house, there are no second chances, ladies. If you want to stay friendly with the Hall men, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent.  If you try to post a sexy selfie, or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – you’ll be booted off our on-line island."

What message are you sending your boys?
  • Boys have more rights and privileges than girls.
  • Boys don't have to follow the same rules as girls.
  • It's OK to judge girls more harshly than boys.
  • It's OK to pass judgement on girls.
  • It's OK to "block" these girls from your life... just like Jesus would do... right?
Right... like that whole Mary Magdalene fiasco where Jesus made a snap judgement about her based upon what others said about her lifestyle and blocked her from his FaceBook page and those of his buddies... because there are NO second chances, right?

Oh wait! That didn't happen. I mean, Jesus didn't have FaceBook, did he? And had there been a version of FaceBook back then, the Bible would have us believe the kinds of photos Ms. Magdalene would have been posting would have gotten her banned... but hey - there are other sites for that kind of thing...

But we're not talking about blocking a prostitute, are we? We are talking about the harsh judgement and blocking of young girls who copy what they see their friends doing to try to fit in.

They are copying what they see on hundreds of advertisements and in thousands of magazines. They copy because they see "everyone else" doing it on FaceBook. They copy, because at that age, life is miserable and the more miserable they are, the harder they try to fit in. The harder they try to be liked... even if it's the wrong kind of "Like." They don't fully understand that.

Those dangerous, miserable, confused girls will certainly benefit somehow from being blocked, won't they? 

And, oh dear - your sons can't un-see them wearing only a towel?


I dunno - in the greater scheme of things, a towel doesn't seem so bad.

My point is that it is my understanding that Christianity is about love and acceptance. It's about being slow to judge and quick to love.

I totally get that you want to raise your sons right and protect them, but frankly history would tell us that women have far more to fear from men than the other way around.

Have you been hearing all those awful news stories from India where women and even young girls have been gang raped? Because of these rapes, women are shamed, thrown out of their families and even put in jail for infidelity if they are married.

Yeah - the women are punished.

Oh yeah - I know this isn't India and your boys would never do such a thing... but do you know why this is such an issue in India? It's because women have less social value than men, and because the men grow up with a feeling of entitlement. 

And yes - we do have rapists in the US - like the teacher in Montana who raped a 14-year-old girl. The judge said the 14-year-old seemed older than her biological age and gave the teacher 30 days. Coincidentally the girl killed herself.

Do you see where I'm going with this? It's ALL related. We buy into social stereotypes and gender roles yet we refuse to see the forest for the trees. We perpetuate damaging stereotypes in the name of being true to G-d. But in what way are you being true to G-d? Do unto others? Don't allow for mistakes? Withhold love (or FaceBook) from people who are misled, vulnerable and confused and teach this brand of "faith" to your children? Keep women below men?

We hear what we want to hear when we go to church, don't we.

Did you know that men who batter, belittle and rape women often have an inflated sense of entitlement and hold the view that women have less value than men. (There are too many links to post on this subject as back-up, so I invite you to do your own research.)

So - what ARE you teaching your boys?

Respect?  I'm sorry, but teaching the following does not seem like respect to me... at least not respect of women.
  • Boys have more rights and privileges than girls.
  • Boys don't have to follow the same rules as girls.
  • It's OK to judge girls more harshly than boys.
  • It's OK to pass judgement on girls.
  • It's OK to "block" these girls from your life
No - this is not something I want to be a part of. All in the name of religion people become so openly judgmental of others, whether it be duck-faced girls, gay people, people of other faiths, people who don't live exactly how you live. Why not try LOVE... as in real, unconditional love? After all, nobody's shunning you for not posing in your pictures, are they?
And no - I am certainly NOT holier than thou or any of thou who so beist reading the words frometh my blogeth... (Oops - olde English slip-up... you know... because that's the language they used back in Jesus' day... oh wait... that's not right, is it?)

No - I am holier than nobody. I'm just me. Perhaps I'm naive and too quick to love and accept... but I'm happy enough this way.

 (Awesome illustration credit to The Animated Woman)


Just sayin'

More on our society's treatment of women and the life-long effects:
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our Government Is Broken – Why I Choose to Walk Down the Middle of a Very Dangerous Road



I’m the stay-at-home-mom of 3 kids – 2 of whom have special needs. I’m not a politician, a lobbyist, a church or a corporation. I am a citizen of the United States of America.

Lately it seems to me that our country is on a downward spiral, whipping around out of control as if being sucked into a black hole. The centrifugal force has resulted in a very frightening polarization of our government and our people.

My contacts on social media have turned my homepage into an unending barrage of propaganda highlighting every misstep made by government officials, corporations or religious/non-religious groups. Politics have become a team sport, citizens are taking sides and the competition is fierce.


We all look upon the same big picture (like the one above), but we see what we want to see… or what those people we trust want us to see. Then, as a country, we argue over whether that big picture depicts a young woman or an old woman. We take sides and pick teams and our teams become so focused on winning the argument game that the individuals on the teams either refuse to see the whole picture or lose the courage to step forward and say that the claims of both sides have validity.

Perhaps it is because as a country we developed on a capitalist foundation that we have become so competitive. Initially this competitive nature allowed us to build and grow, and become an independent nation. Now that our nation has grown and flourished, what is this internal competition doing to it?

Aren’t we supposed to be the United States of America? Doesn’t that very word insinuate we are all on the same team? "United we stand, divided we fall." The concept is not new. In fact, the above phrase is attributed to the ancient Greek, Aesop, so clearly it has been around for longer than our own great (or not-so-great) nation.

We have touted ourselves as the greatest nation on earth, have we not? Perhaps that was once true, but I for one don’t believe that we are all that great any more. In fact, the more I read about our current lawmakers, the less faith I have in our government. And I don’t think I am the only one.
I was raised by Republican parents. They raised me to believe that if I got a good education, worked hard and invested my resources properly, I would live long and prosper. (What can I say? My father was in the aerospace industry – so apparently I’m at least part Vulcan.) In effect, I was raised with a strong team affiliation.

Yet in my adult life I have learned the hard way that there is more to the picture than what I was raised to see. Both my husband and I were working full-time. We were paying mortgage on a house and were always up-to-date on our car payments and bills. Then our youngest was born 10 weeks prematurely with Down syndrome. Our health insurance only covered certain parts of the vast pile of medical bills. Our baby came home with a feeding tube and could not be put into a standard day care. We would have to spend our own money to pay for a nurse to care for her while I was at work… but unfortunately nurses made a higher hourly wage than I did. I had to stop working to take care of our child. We lost our house, our cars and the lifestyle we had built on a foundation of Republican dogma. 

Is it not ironic? Though my personal views are against abortion, I can still look from the middle of the road and see that the very same “team” that says that abortion is wrong is against giving handouts to those in need. After some really good plays, our contribution to the team went virtually unnoticed and my family was benched. Suddenly the rest of the picture became very, very clear. 


Although I went to a high school with Catholic affiliation, I was raised with science – my parents taught me to listen with my ears, see with my eyes and utilize my brain to make sense of the input. It was from a very early age I felt that the things I was seeing and the things I was being told to believe weren’t adding up to the picture before me.

I was taught in school that the United States of America was founded upon Christian values. I also learned that many of the first people to settle in North America did so for religious freedom. (This does not include the Native Americans who were living here long before the continent was “discovered” by some rather narcissistic Europeans – men that apparently believed that nothing aside from their own atrophied universe existed until they themselves noticed and validated it. Let us remember that these very same men believed the earth to be flat until not too terribly long before “discovering” North America… but I digress… badly…)


Religious freedom was so important to the people colonizing North America, in fact, that when the Constitution was penned by our founding fathers, the very first Amendment they included stated:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

And yet are religious issues not now cause for some of our biggest arguments? For example, only certain people are legally allowed to marry in our country because Christianity forbids otherwise. Yet not every legal citizen of the United States of America is a Christian, and many Christians disagree with disallowing same-sex unions. Wouldn’t that in and of itself be an infringement upon the free exercise of religion? 


Later along the way, science taught me the value of survival of the fittest. Only those who are the strongest thrive while the weak die out. There are those in our society that tout eugenics – the use of science to weed out humans/fetuses with inferior genes and preventing the reproduction or birth of those individuals. See this Link.

There are people that believe my youngest daughter does not have the same value as other human beings. In fact a whopping 92 percent of people choose to terminate pregnancies when they learn their fetus has Down syndrome… and yet I look with my eyes – I listen with my ears and I see how smart and witty my youngest is. While there are many in our country who choose not to work – who choose to collect unemployment and food stamps, I would bet everything that I (still) have that my daughter with Down syndrome will have a good job some day and earn her own way. 


So who is right? Should we prevent the abortions of fetuses that will be born to unemployed, drug abusing parents who will neither have the money to feed them properly or the wherewithal to teach these children the value of working for a living while we devalue the lives of individuals with special needs who will quite possibly someday be self-sufficient with proper education? Should we claim that all life has value, yet refuse to help those born to more difficult circumstances or should we abort them all in hopes of creating a more perfect society filled with “perfect” individuals?

And with these words, a gauntlet has been thrown and yet another game of semantics begins. People will take sides and argue their personal, political and religious views. Who will win? Or will we as a country allow our variety or views and ideologies to tear our great country apart? 


“It’s a vase!”
“No! It’s two faces!”

So what do we do about our country’s gross polarization? Of our individual refusal to see the whole picture? Of our national insistence of taking sides and competing against ourselves?

Perhaps it’s time to find the “I” in “Team.” Or perhaps it’s time to quit the team altogether. Perhaps it’s time to combine the team into one great country.
After all… whose side are YOU on?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring Breakage and Prayer Request

Once upon a time it was Spring in Southern Virginia.


 And then it wasn't.


But Spring Break came anyway, so the family prepared to go on a trip to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg.

On Easter Sunday I was worried about The Skink's cough, but luckily her doctor's office had a doctor in that morning. As we were planning on leaving for Busch Gardens the next day, I wanted to have her seen (and heard) before we left.

We went home with a prescription for amoxacillin for...     an ear infection. Doc didn't think the cough was anything to worry about.

So off we went on our wondrous spring break adventure to the land of many lands.

The first day, I attempted to put The Skink on some of the fun kiddie rides. No pictures. The kid was basically cursing me out the entire time for sticking her on a lame ride! So we asked her what ride she wanted to go on and she immediately pointed to the giant swirling swings of death. (Yeah - she takes after me like that.)

With more than a little trepidation, I stood in line with my tiny, 30 lb. kiddo and then helped her into one of the double swing seats so I could sit next to her and deal with any freak out she might engage in.

Her face lit up like a Christmas tree as the ride started, and she only became more excited as the swings went higher and faster. When the ride ended her face fell and she looked at me with big brown eyes and asked, "Again, please?"

So after what seemed like 27 rides on the swings, we finally talked her into trying something different.

The Battering Ram!

 
Can you see her? She's right in the center of the photo with Broadway's arm around her. Look at that smile!


Yup - that's my family!

Then on to the next fast ride...


I was a little worried because Broadway and the Hubbs were making the teacup spin like a cyclone. How did The Skink feel about it?




That's my girl!




After walking around the park for a while and taking in the many sights, the kids lobbied for a new pet.

I said, "No." 

The trip was fun, but The Skink's cough grew worse and worse, even though she was on antibiotics and getting two breathing treatments a day. So with no improvement to speak of, I took her to the doctor again last Wednesday after we were back in town.


Remember last year when The Skink was in the hospital for viral pneumonia... TWICE? Well...

I asked the doctor's office to put a "PulseOx" on The Skink to see what her oxygen sats were...

The doctor said he wouldn't call the ambulance if I promised to drive her straight to the hospital myself. (I cheated a little and swung by the house for some necessities like PJs, cows and my contact lens cleaner.)

After a brief stay in the ER, we were taken up to a room, and she has been there ever since. 

Sing with me now:
It's notfun to stay at the
Y...
M...
C......................................................... ........................ zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 


On Thursday, a Patient Representative came to the room and asked The Skink what toys she would like to play with. Not wishing to bore the poor lady (or make her job too easy) The Skink got creative. She perked up and squealed, "A basketball!"

"You want a basketball in your hospital room?" the lady asked dubiously.
"Yup!"
"Do you like Barbie dolls?"
"Yeah, they're OK."
"Is there anything else you want?"
"YEAH! I want a BIG, BLACK... GORILLA!"
(Judging by the laughing, I don't think the Patient Representative was expecting that request.)
"Ummmmm... " (stifled laughter) "Uh... is there anything else I can get you?"
"Yeah!! I want a giant, brown bellybutton!"

(At which point everybody within ear-shot lost it completely... )

Much to our surprise, the Patient Representative reappeared in 5 minutes flat bearing a mini basketball, a Barbie doll and a BIG, BLACK... (plush) GORILLA!

I dunno... I was a little disappointed my kid didn't get her giant brown bellybutton... but then again, can you even imagine what my dryer's lint trap would look like if I ever had to wash the thing?

After 2 days in the same clothes, the Hubbs was kind enough to trade places with me on Friday night. I came home and promptly came down with what I  believe to be strep throat, meaning there is no way I can go back to the hospital and risk exposing other children in the ward. At least not until I have been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours... but my doctor isn't open until Monday!

This morning (Sunday, April 14th) they did another x-ray to see what progress was being made, and hopefully answer why The Skinks O2 sats were still lousy. Much to our dismay, her pneumonia has gotten worse!

How can it be worse? Why? My poor baby!


So - I'm stuck at home feeling lousy and unable to go see my sweet Skink who is in the hospital.

"Stressed?" you ask?

Yes -

...but thankfully I live on a beautiful farm and I have chickens. Broadway, Iraq and I laid in the warm grass today and we agreed that chickens make everything better... I mean not like a cure, but like... their antics and cuteness help take the edge off.

Yeah - I do know I'm nuts. Thanks for asking!






So in the morning I'll get my kiddos off to school, feed my landlord's horses and run off to the doctor to verify that my neck is not actually transforming into a tree stump, but is just inflamed due to a nasty Strep infection, get a prescription, drop off clean clothes for my Hubby and The Skink, buy chicken feed, run by the grocery store and try to be home in time for the other two kids to arrive home from school.

I'm sorry? What is this rest you speak of, and where is it to be found?

So if you have a moment, let me please ask a favor. If you pray, please send up a prayer for my sweet Skink. If you send healing thoughts, they are welcome and if you are a finger crosser, have fun typing 'cause I'm going to ask you keep your digits entwined until my baby is better.

Thank you in advance!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

The Letter I Wrote To My Daughter's Principal



Dear Mrs. X et al,

What can one frazzled mom say aside from, “Yeah – she did it again?”

As far as we know, she got both the lotion and the ear buds from different students on the bus. She claims she can’t remember where she got the change, leaving us to wonder if she might have taken it from one of the “Men In Black” considering her apparent loss of recollection. (Or perhaps aliens took the change and planted it in our daughter’s sock drawer… we may never know!)

Although it has occurred to us that she may have been a packrat in her last life and simply suffers from flash-backs to her former rodent state, Iraq’s psychiatrist tells us that her kleptomania falls under the OCD behaviors… that fall under her diagnosis of Asperger’s. Of course to us it all feels like falling under a cement truck. The good news is that the American Psychiatric Association is removing the “Asperger’s” diagnosis from the new revision of the diagnostic manual, meaning our daughter will no longer have the condition.

(The bad news is that this just makes her diagnosis “Autism.”)
           
At any rate, we are currently returning afore-mentioned contraband to you. Feel free to punish our daughter as you see fit… (Does the school have a dungeon? She’s a little short for her age so perhaps “The Rack” would be a good choice – and far less intrusive than thumb screws when it comes to writing assignments.) If you decide to turn her in to the police, just tell them you found her as a wandering street urchin…  or a sea urchin… whatever. It will keep them guessing for long enough to give us all a few hours off.

Please accept our deepest apologies for our daughter’s behavior. She has been doing this since she was 2 years of age and has continued stealing regardless of being subjected to every form of punishment suggested by at least 10 mental health specialists as well as some disdained grocery store patrons (who invariably started their suggestion with, “If that were my kid I would…!” ). To date, nobody has suggested The Rack or thumb screws.
…I’ll be checking eBay.

Thank you for understanding… or for not understanding but continuing to provide a quality education for our daughter.

Sincerely,


Iraq’s Mother
Iraq's Mother