My Boys Will NOT “Be Boys.” They Will Be Respectful, Decent Human Beings.

Normally I like to keep my blog posts on the lighter side and about the insanity of parenthood and other oddball things I come up with. Today’s post is not one of those. It’s taking me way beyond my comfort zone to write this, because I loathe discussing politics and polarizing issues. Debate and confrontation generally make me want to hide under the covers and hope it goes away. I hate that I cannot have discussions with some of my friends for fear of offending and losing a friendship. As I type that I realize how ridiculous it all sounds.

But I’m not here to go into my opinion on the Kavanaugh hearing or the political motivations of either side of the aisle. That has been hashed out ad nauseum on line and in the press. It exhausts me. What still is sticking with me and keeping me up at night however, is how we treat assault — both the victim and the assailant. In the case of sexual assault, how come it seems that the assailant is inherently believed over the victim — that a victim’s perception and memory of events is far less reasonable and accurate than that of the assailant?

This past weekend, my husband and I were talking about the hearing and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s upcoming testimony. He asked me, “If that had happened to you as a teenager, you would have told your parents, right?” I answered him honestly. “Most likely not.” He was surprised, so I explained that I wouldn’t have for multiple reasons. First, I would have been afraid that I would have gotten in trouble for being at a party with underage drinking. Second, I would have worried that they wouldn’t have believed me. But far scarier to me than getting in trouble or not being believed, was the thought of what they most likely would have done: help me report it. The thought of all the drama, humiliation and pain it would have caused personally and publicly would have been unbearable. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to go to the police and relive the event, to be asked a million embarrassing questions, to have it turned on me as to what I was doing to have somehow “deserved” it. I’m sure the rumor mill at school would have burst into flames from working overtime. Mostly, I couldn’t bear the thought of what something like that would have done to my parents — the pain, hurt, embarrassment, sleepless nights or even the financial burden it would have caused. Wouldn’t it have just been far easier for me to hold it inside and deal with it myself instead of causing even more pain and suffering? And what if I didn’t get justice in the end? What would have been the point?

A friend of mine recently posted a powerful story on Facebook. I will paraphrase it here and hope I will have done it justice. She described how she was attacked as a teenager. She tried to remember details of the night, who exactly was with her or how long it lasted. But she does remember that her parents knew where she was, she was not dressed scantily, had not been drinking or doing drugs (although others around her may have been.) She has no idea what became of the others who were there that night. Unfortunately, she was in the right place at the wrong time. Then she asked, “Do you believe me? You know me and the kind of person I am.”

She went on to say, “Now, what if I say I was robbed, not raped? Because that’s what happened. I worked at a Wendy’s, and while we were closing the store, two men came in and robbed us [at gunpoint].” She went on to describe the tiny, little details she remembers about what happened during the robbery and how she thought she was going to die that night when one of the men held a gun to her head.

Then she asked, “Does that change your mind about whether I am telling the truth? If it does, maybe ask yourself why.”

Luckily no one was injured or killed that night, she and her coworkers were able to report it to the authorities, and the perpetrators were found and brought to justice. She was not ashamed or embarrassed to go to the police to tell her story, she didn’t have to ask herself what she may have done to “invite” this to happen to her, and she was believed. Think about that for a moment.

Back when I was single, younger and cuter, I was a director of special events for a health charity. I ran a variety of fund raising events, including high-end golf outings which consisted of mostly privileged white men. By the end of the evening when the alcohol had been flowing and the auction was coming up, I often was felt up, had suggestive comments made to me and even remember a guy grabbing me, pulling me onto his lap and sticking his tongue in my ear. Other men saw this and did nothing. I politely removed his hand, got up and walked away. I felt I couldn’t risk making a scene, bringing down the night and potentially losing thousands of dollars in donations for the charity from these men showing their machismo and bulging money clips. It all felt like “part of the job” and in fact, a co-worker called it “losing lipstick.”

I told my husband this story and he could not fathom how men could do such things to me. “I can’t imagine ever treating a woman or other human being that way.” Well, I know this and that’s just one of the reasons I married him. His honestly, loyalty and doing what is right even when it’s hard are some of his very best qualities.

The most important job as parents of our two sons and daughter is to teach them how to be respectful, kind and caring to everyone no matter their gender, race or views. I refuse to believe or accept that, “Boys will be boys” and their gender somehow gives them a pass on poor behavior. Do my boys do crazy “boy” things and misbehave? Absolutely. And I’m sure my daughter will do things to make me want to pull my hair out as she gets older too. What I do believe is that “Boys …and girls…will be respectful and decent human beings.” I want my sons and daughter to know this and live it. I already see it in so many of the things they do. There is hope.

It is our job as parents to help our children navigate through their lives, learn to make good choices, and that when we make mistakes to apologize when we’ve hurt someone. No one is perfect and sometimes we all need to be better about forgiving or giving someone the benefit of the doubt. What is never okay is to disrespect another person’s body and his or her power over it. It’s never okay for someone to disrespect our own body and power over it either. This goes for everyone, male or female: respect others and themselves. Furthermore, by allowing assault to happen or doubting the victim, we too are taking away even more of that person’s power over themselves.

I hope and pray that my husband and I can instill this in our children and that they will know they can always come to us for help and unconditional love no matter how old they are or what the circumstances. May we all be…and raise…good human beings.

 

 

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Why Kids’ TV in the ’70s was the Best

For those of you who born in the 80s or after, listen up and take notes. I am here to educate you on why TV in the 70s was freakin’ awesome.

“Wow. That’s pretty random,” you say. Well, I’ve had a pretty crappy day today, so I IMed a friend:

“Having a really shitty day. Tell me something funny.”

She immediately shoots back:

Shazam. Totally what I needed.

This used to be one of my FAVORITE vignettes from Sesame Street. I can still feel the soothing sense of calm that would wash over me whenever it would come on. “Milk….Miiii-lllkkk” – heaven. The kitties getting their special little tray of milk from the farmer, then the satisfying milk pour into the bucket…Sigh…Oh! And then that dear sweet little baby who just wanted her bottle! “Oh, hold on baby girl! The milk man is going as fast as he can! Look! He’s running! He’s gonna bring you your milk!” And then she finally gets her bottle. Oh, pure bliss. [Fans self]

So this got us going on all the great skits and songs from Sesame Street and other shows from our childhood.

Then she sent me:

Oh. My. God! I LOVED this song! And I thought it was SOOO cool that this girl had a pet llama. In the CITY! And she really loved this llama because she took it to the DENTIST! As I think back on this, I have so many questions though. Like, 1) Where did she KEEP her  llama? On the fire escape? The roof? WHERE?! 2) Where were her PARENTS?!? I mean I’ve heard of “Free Range Parenting” but this is a bit ridiculous. 3) Who knew there were llama dentists in the city? Seems a little boutiquey for back then. 4) How did said llama dentist not get spit on and the shit kicked out of him by Nicki the llama, who surely was nicht pleased to be having her gnarly teeth scraped by this dude. It made MY teeth hurt just watching! 5) How did the writers at Sesame Street come up with the idea for this? Were they majorly tripping on acid one day, “Hey! Did you just see that girl walking down the street with her pet llama? FAR OUT!!! Maybe she’s taking it to the dentist! Quick! Get me a pen! I need to write this bitchin’ song down RIGHT NOW!”

So, not to be outdone by the Me and My Llama song, I shot back:

Bam! I used to go nuts singing and dancing to this song. I mean I looked like I was a poor white girl having convulsions or a mouse was running up and down my pants or something, but I really thought I had the moves! “Onetwothreefourfive sixseveneightnineten eleven TWELVE!” Did you know the Pointer Sisters sang that song? I know, right?! And the mesmerizing pinball zooming through the machine. Totally trippy. I still sing this song when I’m counting with my kids. They think I’m totally weird, especially when I throw in the mouse-down-my-pants dance.

You know how those “How It’s Made” shows got their start? Yep. Sesame Street. Who remembers the ever-so-satisfying crayon making video?

I still find myself looking pensively at my orange crayon and think, “Hmmm…I wonder how they made my orange crayon.” Oh how I’d like to dig my hands into those huge trays of crayons and run my fingers through them!

But wait. There’s more. Remember this show??!

To this day, I still bellow at my kids like Rita Moreno, “HEY YOU GUUUYYYYSSSS!!!!!!!!” Again, my children are not amused by me. That show was awesome! When you look back at who got their start on that show, like Morgan Freeman!

Even Bill Cosby was on The Electric Company.

(I’m guessing Rita Moreno regrets not punching and kicking him way harder back then.)

I learned all about punctuation from Victor Borge.

And yes, when writing long hand, I still find myself doing the “Ffftt pttt” sound whenever I do an emphatic exclamation point! FFFTT PTTT! See?!?

Last but not least, who doesn’t remember the silhouettes?

Husband and I randomly say words like this to each other. “Bitch…ing…BITCHING!” da da DA da da…(Try it! It’s fun!)

I could go on and on forever about the cameos and the societal elements of these shows. Please. I won’t even mention Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. That man was a saint and he deserves a blog post all of his own (although I don’t think some of my posts would give him “such a good…feeling…”) And I’m sure you, dear reader, have some oldies but goodies that bring you back to your 70s childhood. What were the good ones that bring you back to the days of orange, avocado and goldenrod? Please share some in comments!

Now I think I’m going to go pour myself a nice, tall glass of Milk…Miii-lllk! So good, so warm and white!

The Epic Sleepover

First Born Male Child has an awesome friend who lives up the street. I call him “Jiminy Cricket” because he is often FB’s conscience when they are together. I credit JC for saving FB from himself and me on a regular basis. I’ve even offered him a lifetime supply of grilled cheese sandwiches (his kryptonite) if he would come live with us to be a constant good influence on his friend. Alas, he turns down my offer every time, because he regularly witnesses the crazy factory that is my house. Smart kid.

Over the Labor Day weekend, FB had a sleepover at JC’s house. They informed me that it was going to be “epic.” Now normally if FB says that something he’s going to do is going to be “epic,” I get twitchy, nervous and come up with a million ways to say NO. Epic things never end well. But I know JC’s mom and she’s pretty awesome. They have five kids and she runs a tight ship. She’s actually sort of my idol — I mean she makes it all look so easy compared to the psych ward I run over here. I figured if anyone could handle an “epic sleepover” it would be her.

So FB and JC packed up the wagon with FB’s important slumber party gear, which included a ridiculous number of pillows, blankets, electronic devices, probably a few light sabers and other essentials including toothpaste. (Go figure. Toothpaste but probably not clean underwear. Hmmm.) Off they trudged up the street the quarter mile to JC’s house looking like preteen versions of Fred Sanford hauling the bizarre collection of junk. Good luck Mrs. Cricket. They’re all yours.

Fast forward to 2:00 AM. I’m awoken suddenly from a deep sleep. There is a fierce storm raging outside — torrential rains, house-shaking thunder and daylight-like lightning. “I swear I heard the doorbell ring! Nah. Must have been my dream.” A few seconds later, there’s knocking on the front door.

“Holy hell! What is going on! Who’s out there?!?” I violently shake snoring, comatose Husband awake. “There’s someone at the door!!!”

“Huh? What? Who’s at the door? Which door? What?!”

“I DON’T KNOW!!!!! GET UP!!!! GO FIND OUT!!!!!” He stumbles around looking for his robe and goes to investigate. I’m thinking it’s a bad prank, or something horrible has happened and a neighbor needs help or it’s the police.

Then my phone rings. It’s Mrs. Cricket. My blood ran cold.

“FB left our house and walked home. Mr. Cricket is coming over to find him.” I’m not sure what I answered her with, but it was probably something involving a lot of profanity. I ran down the hall yelling, “IT’S MR. CRICKET! FIRST BORN WALKED HOME!!!!

Husband starts freaking out too, “WHAT?!?! WHERE IS HE?!?!”

“I DON’T KNOW!!!!”

Then I hear behind me from the kids’ bathroom, “Mom! I’m right here! What’s going on?!?”

I think I screamed and spewed some of my better curses. Husband went and let a very soggy Mr. Cricket know FB is safe, apologized profusely and returned to bed, leaving me to deal with the wreckage. I ran back to find my phone so I could call Mrs. Cricket to let her know everyone is okay. I found three missed calls, a voice mail and four text messages. CRAP! My ringer had been turned down, and I didn’t hear it over the storm, Husband’s snoring and the crazy dream I’d been having. I was practically in tears when I called Mrs. Cricket, just imagining the sheer panic she must have been feeling…that was caused by my child! She was relieved, and we agreed to talk in the morning.

I went back down the hall to FB’s room to demand an explanation. He was completely befuddled as to why everyone was freaking out. “But Mom! I told Jiminy and his brother that I was going home. Jiminy’s brother was snoring so loud I couldn’t sleep at all!!”

“So you decided to walk home?!?!? The Crickets are FREAKING OUT. WE ARE FREAKING OUT! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?” 

“But I TOLD Jiminy and his brother! I don’t see what’s the big deal. I came in through the garage and came up and took a bath. What? You didn’t hear me?!”

Ummm…Evidently not. I guess I’m a deeper sleeper than I thought. Jeez. What a cluster. I sent him to bed and told him we’d talk about it in the morning. I felt the toxic levels of adrenaline trying to exit my body and decided it was no use going back to bed. I stayed up until 5:30 trying to calm down and to figure out what to do with my dear child in the morning. As much as I wanted to throttle the living daylights out of him, he hadn’t done it to be malicious. He just wanted to get some sleep. “BUT WHAT WAS HE THINKING?!?!? Oh the poor Crickets. I couldn’t imagine the sheer terror they must have been feeling, thinking they were going to have to tell me that they lost my child!” I cried awhile, then decided that FB was going to write the most sincere apology card ever known to man, buy flowers for Mrs. Cricket with his own money and then humbly deliver them to the Crickets in person.

The next morning we talked, and I explained to FB the seriousness of what he did. He felt awful that he had created such a drama and had scared everyone so much. He worked hard on a card and carefully picked out the best bouquet of flowers for Mrs. Cricket. We delivered them and had a good laugh together over the insanity of it all.

Turns out they did the regular boy sleepover things like played video games, probably laughed about farts and other stinky boy stuff and eventually went to bed. JC’s an early-to-bed/early-to-rise kid…FB, not so much. He’s a night owl like me and the trucker-like snoring of Jiminy’s brother was just too much for FB to get to sleep. Instead of covering his ears with one of the multitude of pillows, going downstairs to sleep on the couch, or even going in to ask Mrs. Cricket to call me to pick him up, my First Born Male Child decided to take matters into his own hands and felt it necessary to prank Lumberjack sleeping away across the hall. This is where the toothpaste…and shaving cream…came into play. *SIGH.* Yeah. I don’t really know the extent of it but from what we were able to piece together, the bathroom garbage can was filled with shaving cream, toothpaste was all over and poor JC’s brother ended up with crunchy and minty fresh hair.

So I guess I’ll be adding, “don’t walk home in the middle of the night during a violent rainstorm” to the list of things to remind him of before he goes to another sleepover. To my First Born’s guardian angel, I offer my sincerest gratitude and apologize for how hard she must have to work on a regular basis.

PS: Could you do me a huge favor? The stats I get on my blog views are being wonky. Could you please “like” this post at the bottom here so I can see if my stats are accurate? I hope this little gem gave you a good giggle and made you realize you do indeed have your act together compared to me. Thanks for reading!