My Sweet Horror Muse

My child has been telling me accidental horror stories lately and obviously I am keeping track of them so I can use them later. For his therapy.

Just kidding, I’m totally going to write short stories based on them.

What else do you do when your son tells you that his big sister was eaten by a vampire clam?

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Is this a Vampire Clam Massacre or is that my new band’s name?

 

P.S. He doesn’t HAVE a big sister. Quite possibly because she was eaten by a vampire clam.

P.P.S. Yes, thank you, I am aware of the euphemistic implications… and planning to use them in my short story.

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Get in Your Chair and Keep Going

I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt because ok, yes, Roseanne Connor probably would vote for… you know… And she would absolutely not apologize for it no matter how horrible that choice turned out to be. And she would make Jackie apologize TO HER for her decision.

That’s who the character is: a stubborn, loudmouthed, take-no-prisoners, sorry-not-sorry, working class, conservative, uneducated caricature. We don’t want to hang out with her and be her friend! We want to watch her yell at people. That’s the appeal.

But… I don’t know. There’s something amiss in TV land and it’s rubbing me the wrong way.

Oh right, it was the chair episode. She lost me on the chair episode. And by “lost” I mean kicked me in the crotch and told me to nut up because children can only be controlled by verbal and/or physical assault.

That, and the actress’s chit chat with the offender in chief is what sealed the deal for me. Ooohhhh, so this isn’t a joke. This is the bullshit she’s putting out into the world as her actual truth. She’s actually saying that being an abusive bigot is A-OK in her book and giving more abusive bigots an excuse to continue to hurt others. I see. Yesssss, I see now.

I was trying to compare it to the Adam is a bi-sexual man episode of Jane the Virgin (“Jane the Heteronormative”) and how that kinda rubbed me the wrong way too. Jane takes no issue with female bisexuality but male bisexuality is gross and weird? Mmm… that’s not… ok for such a liberal and progressive show. Oh but wait… as the story arc wore on, it became clear that the Jane character was exposing a set of beliefs that are fairly common and then examining them as a way to open the door for a future story line about Petra being bisexual and I’m not 100% pleased with how it all went but at least the dialogue continued.

In Roseanne, the dialogue seems to stop with Roseanne. I kept waiting for Darlene to prove her parents wrong. To show that compassion and trust (to a certain extent. mistakes were made, Darlene) in child-rearing can result in compassionate and trustworthy children would have reconciled some of the crappy things Roseanne and Dan said and did to their own children.

But it didn’t happen. Children are stupid and can’t be trusted and it’s perfectly ok to abuse them if that keeps them in line. The end.

That’s it. It’s all just excused. And let’s not pretend for a second that it’s ok to get into the shower with someone without their permission. EVERYTHING about that episode was bullshit and it that was just it for me. I’m done. Delete that recording, DVR, because I don’t want to watch this garbage anymore.

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File this under things that are not effective or appropriate parenting, marked “How not to teach kids about bodies and boundaries”

Like Roxanne Gay wrote in her NYTime Opinion piece,

I’ve been thinking about how nothing will change if we keep consuming problematic pop culture without demanding anything better.

She also said that shows like this are normalizing these behaviors. I don’t think I need to justify, at this point, my opinion about anyone trying to #MAGA with bigotry and anti-intellectualism. But from a parenting perspective, this kind of old school “family values” 50s throwback, child-controlling, abusive behavior apologism is intolerable.

I’ll stick with Jane.

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Children are magical, even when they are driving you freaking nutballs. Calling them bitches and attempting to drown them doesn’t change that.

The Kids Are Not OK

I work with kids and teens in an after school-type activity and one of them had an assessment yesterday. This girl, maybe 8th or 9th grade, came in crying and freaking out because there was just too much going on in her life and this assessment was the last thing she was prepared to deal with on top of everything else.

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I talked her down, reminded her that it was just us, we were just there to determine what was going well and what needed improvement, and that the only reason there was a Pass/No Pass type evaluation at the end was to … well, to scare the lazy kids into taking it seriously.

But man… I have to reevaluate that tactic after my conversation with her.

She is so stressed out. I’m stressed out because I have two young children and two jobs and not enough money and less than not enough sleep but compared to her? I’m doing pretty well.

I just started thinking about all the kids her age and why they seem to be struggling so much more than I did back in the day. And mind you, I struggled too. But not like this. Not the weight of the whole wide world.

I mean, set aside for a second the whole school shootings/you could actually die from trying to get an education issue for a second (as if you could, honestly) to think about the message they’re always getting:

Everything you do now has DIRE CONSEQUENCES! Don’t mess up. Don’t slow down. DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES, CHILDREN! YOUR DOOM AWAITS YOU!

My GAWD, we need to let up! We need to stop enforcing the idea that adult success is predicated upon adolescent decisions. I mean… things change, people change, circumstances change. I got an F in math once but I’m not whoring on street corners because a bad grade in math directly correlates to an inability to manage my finances or find adequate work.

Why are we all so afraid of failure? So very afraid of making the wrong decision, of buying the wrong brand, of saying the wrong thing and having it haunt us forever? And why are we infecting the brains of kids who FOR REAL have much more important things to deal with (like being MURDERED AT SCHOOL) with our own insecurities?

Listen up, kids: There are things you can’t come back from, yes. Being murdered or kidnapped or abused or raped. Being someone WHO murders or kidnaps, abuses and/or rapes. But failing a class? Choosing the wrong major? Not scoring perfectly on an assessment? Those are things you learn from. You make adjustments and changes. You discover new things about yourself.

And adults: LAY OFF! Worry about MURDER AND KIDNAPS AND ABUSE AND RAPE. Then help your kids deal with disappointment, failure, mistakes. Give them the space to screw up and come back from it. Love them for exactly who they are and what they can already do and then encourage them see what else they’re capable of.

But I shouldn’t have to comfort a crying teenager because she’s so afraid of not being perfect that she breaks down when admitting that she’s not.

And let’s freaking do something about those GUNS, huh? Vote out the NRA whores and elect officials who aren’t so transparently corrupt. Because there’s no excuse for it. There’s no logical explanation for children having to fear for their lives at school. Any politician not willing to DO SOMETHING about that doesn’t deserve a job in public service.

Preschool Assessment

My brilliant child received his first preschool assessment this week and the best way I could describe it to my friend was this:

“They’re assessing a monkey in a cage doing human tricks not a monkey in the jungle living its best life.”

I mean, you can only assess what you can see and I totally understand if my little simian, in that maelstrom of stimuli, can’t concentrate on answering inane questions or performing feats of mundanity.

But that don’t make him a dummy who can’t word good. Daaaamn.

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My son is glasses smart.

Tired Mom Tells a Story

“Mom, tell me a story. ’bout the real Goldilocks, not just Goldie and Bear.”

“Ok, sure. The real Goldilocks. Right, so… here we go.”

Onesuponatime, there was a girl. A blonde girl. I mean gold… gold girl. Girl with gold hair. And her name was Goldie… locks. Goldilocks.

Goldilocks was… um… going into a house, the bears’ house. She went into a stranger’s house and just made herself at home, didn’t she? Rude.

In Goldie and Bear, she was delivering an invitation but I don’t know why the OG Goldie was in a bear’s house. Did she even have a reason or like… are fairy tales just… plotting for the sake of the moral and not even… Oh right, sorry so…

Goldilocks was in the house and she… went in the kitchen and she ate some porridge. Or she found some porridge and the Dad’s was too hot.

“The Papa. His name is Papa Bear.”

Right, Papa. The Papa’s was too hot and the baby’s was too cold? Or the Mama’s was too cold and the baby’s was good? I don’t remember. There were three bowls and she ate one. And then she… um… she did nothing. She… did… nothing.

….

“Mom? You ‘wake?”

What?! Yeah, yeah. Uhh… so then she broke the chair and um… slept in the bed? And the Papa’s side was too lumpy and the Mama’s side was too hard so she fell asleep in the Baby’s bed and… then what happens? How does this story end? Do the bears eat the girl or like, what’s the point of… of any of this? Bears and positioning everything on a spectrum on which the middle is the only viable option? Like… why is this even a story?

I… don’t know. Dude, I don’t remember this story at all. Can we do Star Wars instead?

“OK, Mom. Tell the New Hope story.”

Sweet. I can do that one in my sleep.

A long time ago…

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Listen to L

I’m gonna be one of those people right now. One of those people who says, “I don’t DOooOOoooOOoo New Year’s Resolutions, BUT!” and then totally blah blah blab about what I’m planning to do differently in the New Year.

Give me a little credit though. It is February. I’m not posting my Not-A-New-Years-Resolution resolution like, a month ago when it would be most appropriate. Also, this resolution started two years ago and has been building steam ever since.

Here it is. Are you ready? It’s profound and triumphant… for me:

I am going to stop caring about the thoughts and opinions of people who don’t matter.

It used to be so very important not only that I was able to freely express my thoughts and opinions on a subject that meant something to me but that others agreed with me and validated my feelings. As you can imagine, that did not happen. And that not happening made me question myself and the legitimacy of my thoughts and feelings. And spiral spiral crazy-making emotional mess sobbing on the floor of my closet because I’m always wrong about everything EVER!

When really, my thoughts and feelings were just fine. It was the people who were wrong. Or, not even wrong just… you know, not really involved so who cares what they thought.

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“Safe driving is for girls!”

Like bitchy women at Target. Why should I care what they think? Or randos in the mall who don’t like the cut of my jib/pant legs and can’t help but criticize in overly loud whispers within earshot. Or people driving like they just finished watching Fast & Furious who honk at me for not turning left on a red light doing 90mph and then pass me at a truly ill-advised time screaming, “LEARN HOW TO DRIVE!” because somehow I’m the bad guy in this situation?

Or my in-laws when I make the rules about health and safety for my children and they disagree. Or try to break those rules. I learned two years ago to let go my concerns for their thoughts and feelings about how I raise my children because they dooooo noooooot maaaaaatter. What matters is that my children are healthy and safe.

This year, I’m extending my Do Not Care policy to friends and relatives who offer NOT advice or concern but derision, judgments, and those awesome “jokes” that are really just offensive statements followed by a laughy emojis and “haha” on Facebook (GAWD I hate Facebook). Also on the list: salespeople, waitstaff, irrational customers and any vendor or healthcare professional–people I pay for services–who act unprofessionally.

Henceforth, I’mma LL Cool J that shiz:

 

fd4dca0b3d968d1727c9d967435c7658-245x198x24Listen, haters, you say what you’re gonna say but, I don’t receive that.

Thanks LL.

 

Absence Makes the Joke Grow Fonder

Working with pre-teens is such a trip because they repeat what they hear in an effort to look cool but without any of the necessary context to understand what they’re saying or how stupid (or inappropriate) it sounds. I used to just shake my head and laugh but now that I’m like, a legit grownup*, and a role model of sorts, I reaaaaallly feel like I should probably say something.

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*Like a parent with kids I can’t give back after class ends.

Case in point: My Body is Ready

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Let me share first, a fun resource I’ve just discovered that I’m sure I’m the last grandpa shouting at clouds to find: KnowYourMeme.com Owing to my lateness in arriving to grownup town**, I am not totally unaware of memes and their prevalence in youth culture (like a certain fake 26 year old on a show I can’t wait to see the next season of), but I’m also… like… busy, man. I got two jobs and two kids and right now, two WIPs going on so I don’t have time to engage in every bit of internet ridiculousness. So Know Your Meme is like the Cliffsnotes of middleagedom.

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**I got to be an idiot for a long time before becoming a grownup, unlike Liza who spent her youth being a mombot and has to catch up to culture now to stay relevant in her profession.

And today, instead of engaging with the original material like a responsible scholar, I used the condensed version and learned the following:

“My Body is Ready” is a catchphrase mainly associated with image macros wherein the subject is posing in a seductive manner or smiling creepily, similar to the usage of “Draw Me Like One of Your French Girls.” In discussion forums, the phrase is often used to humorously convey one’s excitement or anticipation towards the impending arrival of a desirable object or an event.

The phrase was originally uttered by Nintendo executive Reggie Fils-Aime[1] during the company’s demonstration of Wii Fit at the E3 press conference held on July 11th, 2007. As Japanese game designer Shigeru Miyamoto and translator Bill Trinen unveiled the Wii Balance Board, Fils-Aime walked up onto the stage and stated “My body…My body is ready” before stepping onto the accessory to start the demonstration.

Ok, so… imagine, if you will, hearing a group of 11 to 13-year-old boys repeating the phrase over and over again while playing a physically active game. They don’t know what it means, they don’t know the implications, and they haven’t yet discovered that the repetition of joke phrases actually makes it LESS funny.

I was forced by my conscious to act.

What I wanted to say was, “Children… I do not think that means what you think it means.”

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But what I actually said was, “Please stop using that phrase. It’s inappropriate.”

That one actual teenage boy present, the one who probably does engage with the material and knows exactly what the phrase means, did his best not to laugh.

“Also,” I said, because I just want to teach them the way, “repeating a joke actually makes it LESS funny. Obey the rules of comedy, kids.”

Yoda’s Little Basket

My son found the leftover stack of Yoda napkins from his birthday party, unfolded them, and lined them up across the kitchen floor.

“This is the path to baby sister,” he tells me. He walks across it with his arms out for balance.

“When you’re finished walking your path, can you put it away please?” I ask, thinking of the unholy mess of little green shreds I’ll find if the cat gets to it before I do.

“No, Mom. The path doesn’t just end,” he says. “The path never just ends.”

The path… never just ends. Hmm.

“Profoundly true, baby,” I say, thinking of endings and beginnings, doors closing and windows opening. “Wait… what?” I ask, because I’m not sure I heard that last thing he said. “Did you… just call me a poop basket?”

“Yeah,” he says, tossing a transformer behind the couch.

“Yup, that tracks.”

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“You a poop basket, Mom.”

 

My Toddler, the Philosopher

“Mom, you a floating bird feather?” my son asks me as he’s falling asleep last night.

“Am I a what, now?”

“A floating bird feather.”

“I… don’t know. Are you?”

“No, Mom,” he says, like that’s a ridiculous question to ask him. “Me a boy!”

“What am I?”

“A mom.”

“Glad we cleared that up, then.”

But am I a floating bird feather? Are we all just floating bird feathers, dropped from our divine host into the ether to float through life, alternately flying and falling, caught in the current and wholly out of control of our mortal trajectory?

And we used to just talk about vampires at bedtime.

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How to Deal with the Indecisive

I have this simple rule with my toddler when I have to ask him the same question more than 3 times: If you won’t decide, then I’ll do it for you.

It always works. Either he makes the decision quickly–which is what usually happens–or I do and the thing gets done.

Meanwhile, I asked my husband 5 or 6 times to help me decide who and in what order to put the emergency contacts on my son’s preschool enrollment application and he has blown it off repeatedly. I don’t have time for this nonsense. I decided, it’s done, and now he has no say in the matter.

So… henceforth… my toddler rule applies to EVERYONE.

Listen up, all the indecisive people in my life:

IF YOU WON’T DECIDE, THEN I WILL DO IT FOR YOU

and guess what else:

YOU GET WHAT YOU GET AND I DO NOT CARE IF YOU ARE UPSET.

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