Oh, the drama of 2nd grade friendships!
I remember the constant on-again, off-again friendship Sylvia went through with her best friend. Now it's happening with Riley and her friend, whom I'll call L.
Riley is by nature incredibly giving and empathetic. As much as she fights with her sister, she's usually the first to give in without my intervention.
L made friends with Riley during the first week of school. This is Riley's first year at this school (poor thing, she's gone to a new school every year so far). It seems that L takes full advantage of Riley's giving nature, and Riley sacrifices partly because she's afraid she'll lose L's friendship otherwise.
I learned that L (and others, but mainly L) were eating a lot of Riley's lunch. Riley wanted me to start giving her more and more with each passing day, but hey, I'm not in a position to feed more than my own 2 daughters every day! I told her that her lunch is hers, and that she could tell L and the others that her mommy told her not to share.
It feels weird to say that, but at the same time, it felt necessary.
Danimals were on sale a few weeks ago, so I'd gotten some for the girls. The other day, Riley came home very upset. L and some others had taken her Danimals, and Riley finally went to a teacher to get it back. L then went on to tell the entire class not to be Riley's friend anymore.
Sylvia and I were ready to
kick some ass lend some help when we heard that! First, we offered words of support, like “she doesn’t sound like much of a friend,” but Riley didn’t agree with us on that one. We both offered to write notes to L – I would write about how I don’t want Riley to share her lunch, and Sylvia would write about what a good person Riley is.
We added it to that night’s homework. Riley, being Riley, didn’t take them to school the next day. But L had offered her one more chance. That burned me even more! How dare L string my Riley along like that!
They’ve been back and forth like this for a while. And I have tried to be fair about it, taking each situation individually, and telling Riley when she’s done something that could be hurtful to L, trying to teach her how to be a good friend.
But, more and more lately, it seems that L and I have completely different definitions of how friends should treat friends!
Now, I have to figure out how to balance encouraging Riley’s innate kindness, but also, teach her how to toughen up a little more. I did praise her for going to the teacher, as that was the only way she felt she could defend herself, but I also wasn’t pleased with the teacher’s response, which seemed to be an off-handed, “oh, you’ll work it out.” I’m sure they don’t have tons of time to engage in active listening and all that, but it doesn’t seem to me that it would’ve taken too much time for the teacher to tell the kids not to take Riley’s food away from her again.
This navigation of human relationships starts very early, doesn’t it? Learning how to give and take, learning how much one gives or takes…
It’s much easier when they’re toddlers, and you’re trying to teach them how to share properly. Then, you get into the whole equality issue, particularly with siblings! And it seems most of our focus is on teaching how to give.
But at some point, with some people, the teaching of taking can become necessary. Well, not taking so much, but at least learning how to keep what you have. That’s a difficult concept to explain to a 7-year-old.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Oh, the drama of 2nd grade friendships!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Being in this home really should bring back something. For those of you who don't know, I recently moved back into the condo where I grew up. Since I gave the master bedroom to the girls, I'm actually sleeping in the same bedroom that I slept in when I was in jr. high, high school, and some beyond that as well. So there should be tons of history for me here. And there is! And, actually, most of it isn't so bad, either.
I had a pretty good childhood, when I think about it. I had parents who loved me, supported my ambitions, and I can't think of any time where they said no to something really important to me.
Oooh! Got it! Found a topic! (yay me!)
Sylvia told me the other day that her friends think I should give her "bad punishments." I'm not real sure what that means andI don't think she knew, either. Sure, she gets on my nerves at times, and she tests me, of course. I yell, send her to her room, and then we both cool down and try to assess what just happened. I know, I shouldn't yell, but I do. That's probably my biggest downfall as a parent.
I let them yell, too. I'd much rather they yell, get the feelings out, hopefully not say anything too hurtful than hit/destroy/let feelings fester/some bad thing that hasn't even crossed my mind yet.
So that's how it works at my house. Yell, separate, come back together, talk, cry, hug and kiss.
I remember on "The Brady Bunch" (I totally loved that show when I was a kid) how the Bradys said that no one should ever go to bed angry. For some reason, that stuck with me. I've experienced the feeling (not with my kids, but I won't go into details) of going to bed with an argument still looming. You wake up, disoriented, not knowing how things stand...ugh, it's awful. Whatever I can do to prevent from ever feeling that way again, I'll do.
So I make my kids talk to me. I make us come to some sort of conclusion. Sometimes, when I think the "crime" has been bad enough, I'll tack on a consequence, too. Things like, not being able to pick a movie, or have soda with dinner. But, frankly, after that, I'm kind of lost as to what kind of privilege to take away. It's not like they go out without me, or have a phone in their room (or even cable). What else is there to do, make them write standards? I want them to enjoy writing, not loathe it! And I make us talk long enough so that I know they get it. I make them say to me what it is that upset me, and why. If I feel it necessary, I'll apologize for my part in it. And then, usually, I feel like it's best to have the matter be closed.
That's pretty much what my parents did, too, come to think of it. There were a few exceptions to that, but they were definitely times when I deserved worse.
I told Sylvia that she really hasn't done anything bad enough to warrant a "bad punishment." I hope that remains the case for a long time!
Monday, November 26, 2007
8 Things I Am Passionate About:
1.) My children's education. It's why I'm so passionate about KIPP (oh, wait - should've saved that, huh? Oh, well, not too hard for me to find things for which I'm passionate). KIPP fosters an environment that encourages critical thinking, a passion for learning, teamwork, positive peer pressure, and is the first school that truly treated me like a partner.
2.) The United States Constitution. I wasn't raised with religion; I was raised with the morals and values instilled within this document, as well as the Bill of Rights. While I recognize that some of it is broad enough for different interpretations, I truly admire the thought and detail that our forefathers put into creating this country.
3.) Open-mindedness. I do believe that if we truly try to understand another person's point of view, solutions can be found.
4.) Idealism. If we can't dream the impossible, then how would we ever innovate, progress?
5.) Realism. At some point, one either has to take action to create the impossible, or accept and adjust.
6.) Entertainment. I just realized something - I get annoyed with Sylvia for constantly wanting to be entertained in some way, but really I'm just as bad. Movies, TV, music, the internet, Broadway musicals, books, magazines...entertain me already!!
7.) The power of people - and I don't just mean this politically. I mean this in the awe I sometimes feel driving on freeways that people thought up this thing, and built it, and here we are, millions of us, driving over these bridges, these houses, every day! That's really, pretty cool when you think about it. And, in the negative, people can really tick me off, too! (A lot of times, it's the cars in front of or behind me on those blasted freeways!)
8.) That it really is all about balance.
8 Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
1.) Go see a Broadway show in NY again. We're planning a trip for 3 years from now at Xmas - hope I don't die before that!
2.) See my children graduate from college.
3.) Go to Hawaii.
4.) Take another cruise - this time, as a passenger. I used to work as an entertainer on a cruise ship.
5.) Make some type of major contribution to society. I know, it sounds cliche, but my dream is to build and run a community for single parents (not a virtual community, a real one). Anyone out there want to help? Anyone? Anyone?
6.) Sing again in public before I die. I miss that.
7.) Own property.
8.) I would totally love to argue a case in court one day as a lawyer. Or at least, play one on TV.
8 Things I Say Often:
1.) OMG. Blame it on Legally Blonde the Musical. I do.
2.) Seriously...I'm with you on this one, Lunanik. Damn Grey's Anatomy!
3.) Actually... I didn't realize how much I said it until the girls started saying it all the time.
4.) Girls, I woke up late, we gotta hurry.
5.) I'm so tired. Apparently, I find life very exhausting!
6.) I need more coffee. S'bux gift cards are welcome at any time!!
7.) Girls, stop it! Usually preceded by high-pitched screams. Followed by them, too, actually.
8.) Are we there yet? Yes, I say that. Whenever we go to Disneyland at Autopia. I say it over and over and over. The girls crack up - they're an easy audience.
8 Books I Have Read Recently
I almost skipped this one because I'm embarrassed to confess that I have not read a non-ChickLit book in quite a while. I think I'm still recovering from all the serious reading I did at Antioch, followed by my 2 semesters of paralegal school. Plus, all the non-fiction of late is either depressing or enraging, and I'm not in the mood to be either...at least, no more than I already am! *deep breath* Here goes:
1.) To Be The Best by Barbara Taylor Bradford: So I finally decided to read A Woman of Substance a while back because it had been one of my mother's favorites so I'm blaming my whole Emma Harte series on her!
2.) Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LeZebnik: oh goody! I get to blame my mother again! She gave it to me to encourage both my love of knitting and reading. And it was a fun book.
3.) Hold the Dream by Barbara Taylor Bradford: Part 2 of the Emma Harte series.
4.) A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford: Yes, the one that started it all.
5.) Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner: I loved this book. I've liked all her books! The way she writes about motherhood...humorous, touching, inspiring.
6.) Marrying Mom by Olivia Goldsmith: Not as much as a man-hating book as some of her others, which I found disappointing. I got it 'cause I was in the mood for a man-hating book!
7.) Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie: I've read this book like 10 times now, and still love it. It's stupid, corny, but funny and still gets to me.
8.) Liberated Parents Liberated Children by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlich: While I can't say this book completely changed my life or anything, it did solidify and clarify things I was already trying to do as a mom, and I can't recommend it highly enough (or any/all of their books) to moms who are looking for ways to better communicate with their children.
8 Songs I Could Listen To Over And Over
I definitely have more than 8 of these, but here are the ones that come to mind first.
1.) So Much Better from Legally Blonde the Musical (this one is especially special to me right now because the girls and I have so much fun belting it out together)
2.) Defying Gravity from Wicked (again, fun song to sing, but also inspiring and energizing)
3.) For Now from Avenue Q (whenever I feel like I don't think I can take another day, this song helps me put it all in perspective again)
4.) The Finale from Ain't Misbehavin'
5.) Without Love from Hairspray
6.) anything from Sweeney Todd
7.) anything from Into the Woods
8.) Seasons of Love from Rent
8 Things That Attract Me To My Best Friends
1.) Being able to talk for hours and hours - not just one of us, but both of us.
2.) A wicked sense of humor. 'Cause I'm sick that way.
3.) Something important in common - being a parent, loving musicals, hating Bush...just something! Preferably more than 1, though. There's only so much mommy/musical/madness talk I can take!
4.) An ability to actively listen. To attempt to understand what I'm feeling - not necessarily agree with it, but at least to try and understand.
5.) Someone who will kick me in the ass when necessary! (Figuratively speaking, of course.)
6.) I love it when my friends can take one look at me or hear in the sound of my voice that something is wrong.
7.) Enough self-knowledge to know that they're not perfect, either.
8.) They get it when I just don't feel like talking.
Kori and Kate - I tag you now!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Okay, yes, I admit it. I like things my way. But here's what I don't get: are there really people on Earth who don't like things their way when possible? I know some people can be fairly easy-going about things, but can you seriously tell me that they'd rather not have things go their way? That takes masochism to a whole new level.
I think - and if this smacks of rationalization then so be it - that people who don't have any idea of what they want are in a more difficult position than those who do know what they want. And, believe it or not, I can relate. I'm currently going through an early (well, at least I think it's early) mid-life crisis still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I can't say it's any less frustrating to not know what I want than to not get what I want.
Knitting is a perfect antidote to life for me. I still have some control - and there's no one I can blame but myself when things don't turn out right - but my mind only needs to be somewhat engaged. Never good at standing still completely, it gives me something to do with my hands. And completing a project successfully gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Once you're out of school, there are so few moments to feel that pride of accomplishment. With kids, just as you've accomplished one hurdle, another one's staring you in the face. At work, the euphoria of a completed project lasts about 5 minutes before you're onto the next one. The home never stays completely clean, and the laundry is never done. And I was a good student, too! I loved those A's, those Antioch assessments tailored just for me!
I really enjoy being a novice knitter, too. I don't expect perfection from myself on this, and every finished project is an accomplishment in and of itself.
I may be the lady protesting too much here, but I also think the person who wrote that article has some serious issues that don't need to be taken out on knitters or Type A personalities!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The dogs managed to hold it together, but I stand by the remark for the girls.
It's that blasted balancing thing again - balancing the "just having fun" to the screams and the tears (and possible bruises).
I keep hoping that they're getting old enough to outgrow this stage. But I think I remember my nephews still doing that up to last year! Does the fact that they're girls give me any hope at all?
I'm sure that some of it is from just being together too much. They're only apart when they're at school (and then they act like they haven't seen each other in years), and they do have to share a bedroom, but at the same time, they refuse to spend time in separate rooms unless and until I demand it.
I can relate to a certain extent, but at the same time, my sister and I always had our own rooms. Then, she was 6 years older than me, so she stopped living with us when I was in junior high.
When I was in 7th grade, a teacher asked me if I were an only child. I said, "yes, but I have a sister." The answer made perfect sense to me!
I honestly don't remember us getting physical with each other, although I wouldn't be surprised if my sis or parents remembered it differently.
I try, of course, to use it as an opportunity to tell them that there are better ways of dealing with their anger, but I also understand that feeling of sheer rage, where reason is the furthest thing from my mind. So I know I can't get through to them at that point.
The only thing that I've found works is just trying to separate them as fast as possible. Or, if we're in a moving vehicle, blasting the music so loud (and belting as loud as I can on top of it) that the audio overload will momentarily make them forget why they're so mad at each other.
No matter how many times we go through this, though, they still look at me so innocently when I tell them to watch their horseplay...no sense of the foreboding that I see no matter how many times we live the experience. When will the recall set in?!?
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Our 'drugged' generation The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a Methamphetamine lab had been found in an old farmhouse in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question. 'Why didn't we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?' I replied, I had a drug problem when I was young: I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather. I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher, or if I didn't put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me. I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profanity. I was drug out to pull weeds in mom's garden and flowerbeds and cocklebur's out of dad's fields. I was drug to the homes of family, friends and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline, or chop some firewood; and, if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, she would have drug me back to the woodshed. Those drugs are still in my veins and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, or think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin; and, if today's children had this kind of drug problem, America would be a better place. God bless the parents who drugged us.
Are you serious with this?
I don't know how I didn't end up a crack addict, then, because I was never "drug" to church, or had my mouth washed out with soap, or even got a bad report card. According to this, though, I should be strung out on heroine somewhere.
Why do people feel the need to reminisce on the "good old days" that never existed? I'm not quite sure what time period this person grew up, but if it was during my day, there were drugs aplenty. I just never chose to indulge.
If they were talking about my parents' generation, they also had drugs aplenty. They just chose never to indulge.
If they were talking about an earlier time, there still were drugs and alcohol. And there are plenty of stories (in our own personal histories, as well as historical accounts) that show that addiction has existed as far back as we can see.
To try to tie it all up neatly in a fictional account of how things were is not only a waste of time, but can be dangerous.
We do need to actually talk to our kids, to actually treat them like human beings worthy of our respect (as we expect from them). The more we distance ourselves from our kids, the more we lose sight of who they really are. The type of attitude shown above is how we end up with babies being born and dumped in public restrooms and trashes. When our kids don't feel comfortable talking to us, opening up to us about their imperfections, their fears, their doubts, their worries, their concerns, where are they going to go to get the advice they need?
I read somewhere that parents train their children rather than listen to them, and this is what causes confused adults (or irresponsible, drug-addicted, insert negative attribute here). I don't want to be that type of parent. I want to be the type of parent that actually does listen to my children.
This is not to say that discipline is not important. Of course, I discipline my children. Of course, they must learn that their actions cause consequences.
In fact, the girls and I were talking quite seriously about consequences and blame when listening to Into the Woods yesterday. We got to the song "It's Your Fault," where the characters blame and snipe at each other about the giant in their midst, the Baker's Wife's death, and all the other things currently going wrong in their little kingdom. It was the perfect opportunity for us to discuss that sometimes, we don't even know what our actions will cause (i.e., the Butterfly Effect). We also discussed the characters' wishes, the problems that those wishes caused when they came true, and how each wish simply led to more wishes.
I think teaching our children to think, particularly before they act, is much more beneficial than just dragging them around!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
1. EVER BEEN GIVEN AN ENGAGEMENT RING?
2. LONGEST RELATIONSHIP?
-- 7 years
3. LAST GIFT YOU RECEIVED?
a GC from the MomsTeam
4. EVER DROPPED A CELL PHONE?
5. WHEN'S THE LAST TIME YOU WORKED OUT?
Like worked out a problem? A scheduling conflict?
6. THING(S) YOU SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON?
7. LAST FOOD YOU ATE?
8. FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT THE OPPOSITE SEX?
9. ONE FAVORITE SONG?
For Now from Avenue Q
10. WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
11. HIGH SCHOOL YOU ATTENDED:
L.A. County High School for the Arts
12. CELL PHONE SERVICE PROVIDER:
13. FAVORITE MALL STORE:
Amazon.com - I hate malls
14. LONGEST JOB YOU HAD:
This one - 4 years.
15. DO YOU OWN A PAIR OF DICE?
Oh, I'm sure the girls have a pair in one of their games
16. DO YOU PRANK CALL PEOPLE?:
NO - drunk dial, yes.
17. LAST WEDDING YOU ATTENDED:
My nephew Ian's.
18. FIRST FRIEND YOU'D CALL IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY:
19. LAST TIME YOU SAW YOUR BEST FRIEND:
About a month ago
20. FAVORITE FAST FOOD RESTAURANT:
21. BIGGEST LIE YOU HAVE EVER HEARD:
Everything happens for a reason.
23. WHERE'S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT WITH FRIENDS?
Anyplace where I don't have to pick up any part of the tab!
24. CAN YOU COOK?
25. WHAT CAR DO YOU DRIVE?:
26. BEST KISSER?:
I plead the 5th
27. LAST TIME YOU CRIED?:
28. MOST DISLIKED FOODS:
29. THING YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOURSELF:
I can laugh at myself
30. THING YOU DISLIKE MOST ABOUT YOURSELF:
getting too emotional
32. LONGEST SHIFT YOU HAVE WORKED AT A JOB?:
New Year's Eve at my old job. I worked from 8 in the am 'til about 2 the next am.
33. FAVORITE MOVIE?
Can't pick one, but one fave is Desk Set.
34. CAN YOU SING?
35. LAST CONCERT ATTENDED:
Bette Midler - over 7 years ago.
36. LAST KISS?
does my daughter count?
37. LAST MOVIE RENTED:
38.ONE THING YOU NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT:
39. FAVORITE VACATION SPOT?
43. LAPTOP OR DESKTOP COMPUTER?:
Desktop I wish I had a laptop
44. FAVORITE COMEDIAN?:
Couldn't choose one, but one is Lewis Black
45. DO YOU SMOKE?
All right, fine, yes! Leave me alone!
46. SLEEP WITH OR WITHOUT CLOTHES?
47. WHO SLEEPS WITH YOU EVERY NIGHT?:
48. DO LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS WORK?
I know of one very successful one
49. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU BEEN PULLED OVER BY THE POLICE?
50. PANCAKES OR FRENCH TOAST?
51. DO YOU LIKE COFFEE?:
Does a bear...
52 HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS?
53. DO YOU BELIEVE IN ASTROLOGY?:
54. LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?:
55. LAST PERSON ON YOUR MISSED CALL LIST?:
56. WHAT WAS THE LAST TEXT MESSAGE YOU RECIEVED?:
plead the 5th
58. NUMBER OF PILLOWS?:
59. WHAT ARE YOU WEARING RIGHT NOW?
jeans, t-shirt, sweatshirt.
60. PICK A LYRIC, ANY LYRIC:
The difference between a cow and a bean is a bean can begin an adventure!
61. WHAT KIND OF JELLY DO YOU LIKE ON YOUR PB & J?:
62. CAN YOU PLAY POOL?:
I can play, but I'm not any good!
63. CAN YOU SWIM?
64. FAVORITE ICE CREAM?:
65. DO YOU LIKE MAPS?
I like Thomas Guide.
66. TELL ME A RANDOM FACT ABOUT YOURSELF:
I once sang the national anthem at a Byron Scott basketball game
68. EVER ATTEND A THEME PARTY?:
69. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEASON
70. LAST TIME YOU LAUGHED AT SOMETHING STUPID?
71. WHAT TIME DID YOU WAKE UP THIS MORNING ?
72. BEST THING ABOUT WINTER?:
living in L.A.
73. LAST TIME A COP GAVE YOU A TICKET?:
8 years ago.
75. NAME OF YOUR FIRST PET?:
76. DO YOU THINK PIRATES ARE COOL OR OVERRATED?:
Jack is cool.
77. WHAT ARE YOU DOING THIS WEEKEND??
Had B'fast with the Principal yesterday, then went to Dream Dinners, then got to have a few hours to myself, went to see a play, had drinks afterwards, and today we're going to a family b-day party.
It was 1973
79. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE:
Yeah, I don't know.
85. ARE YOU ON A LAPTOP?:
87. ARE YOU SMILING?:
89. DO YOU MISS SOMEONE RIGHT NOW
no one in particular
90. IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
92. ARE YOU IN HIGH SCHOOL?:
93. DO YOU HAVE A CRUSH?:
94. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NAME?
95. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR BATHING SUIT?:
black (of course)
96. DOES YOUR SCHOOL START IN AUGUST?:
Not in school
97. DID YOU GO ON VACATION LAST MONTH?:
98. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ON A CRUISE?:
99. DO YOU HAVE A SISTER
100. ARE YOU UPSTAIRS?:
101. ARE YOU IN LOVE?:
102. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN THE HOSPITAL?
103. DO YOU WISH YOU COULD SEE ANYONE PARTICULAR RIGHT NOW?
104. WHAT JEWELRY ARE YOU WEARING?
I never wear jewelry
105. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO AFTER THIS SURVEY?
finish cleaning the house, get ready to go to the aforementioned b-day party.
Nikki - I tag you to do this next!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Now, this isn't to say it's not moving fast enough. Sure, I'd like progress to move faster, but given all the other problems we all face every day, it has to take its place in line.
Statistics and stereotypes. I was going to write a blog on "the blame game" yesterday, based on a different debate about welfare assistance. But now I think that statistics and stereotypes are really where the blame lies on most of these arguments.
The first statistic to overcome is this one that's supposedly been proven over and over again that married people are happier (or, according to Noer, healthier) people. How have we come to this foregone conclusion? I certainly wasn't happier when I was married! And it had nothing to do with me being a "career woman" (I can't believe I meet his criteria, because all I am is a lowly secretary). It had to do with the fact that my husband was a drug addict loser that stole $$ from our family to support his habit. I wasn't happier in my first marriage, either. I was pretty much just an idiot (I was only 19) who thought that a cruise ship romance could work in real life. Not.
But I know I'm just one person here. But here's my first point: when are REAL people going to start mattering? When are we going to start actually looking at individuals AS individuals and stop counting on statistics to tell us what to think of them?
And here's the point that Nikki made, and not necessarily as a negative, but simply for what it was. When divorces became easier (not easy, mind you, but easier), when more opportunities opened up for women, women took them. And we're supposed to be shocked that the divorce rates rose? Well, duh! That was the whole point! Women didn't have to be stuck in loveless marriages, or even at home with kids if that's not what they wanted. And I don't think women in happy marriages left. I don't think women who loved staying home with their kids felt like they were being forced into the workplace.
Now, some are. I still don't think that's the fault of feminism. It's the males who prove themselves incapable of being real men that leave single moms with no choice but to pick up the slack. Or of not being man enough to accept that their wife is making money, or because men can't handle the changes in the "labor specializations" that Noer describes. Or, in the cases of those former career women who are now SAHMs, supposedly unhappy with their lives, maybe it's because their husbands treat them like idiots now that apparently only care about their kids' poopy diapers.
It's not surprising I guess that Noer, being a man and all, can explain away all these statistics as the fault of women. And I suppose, if I wanted to be fair, I'd have to say that it can't be the man's fault all of the time. But isn't it worth at least exploring their part in this instead of just blaming it on the career woman?
Most women I know that work, but would rather stay home (and have a husband working), have come to terms with the knowledge that they want the extras, the luxuries that their working affords them. One woman commented on Nikki's blog that woman who have children should stay home with them.
I'm still not convinced of this. I believe that some women can do both, and that the real question should be, what does the woman want to do? Because if she's doing what she wants, then she's showing her children by example that you should and can go after what you want, and make it work.
I've also had discussions regarding the concept of "having it all." Women of this generation have come to understand that having it all is a loose term that can be manipulated to fit your wants and your realities into a compromise that fulfills you. Will some women take it too far on one end or the other? Sure. We all struggle with finding our balance. But I don't have a right to judge another woman's struggle, nor do I have to. There are always consequences to our actions, from the kids who resent/hate their moms for never being home to the later years in a "career woman's" life where she has no one to greet her at the end of the day.
But I will take issue with men like Noer who continue to point the blame at the women, and never look at men to see where their responsibilities and faults lie.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Oh sure, I get choked up when I see Sally Field holding the UNION sign in Norma Rae, and one of my favorite musicals that I've done was The Cradle Will Rock, the pro-union rock opera written in the 1920's. But that was the 1920's. This is now.
Today, we almost have enough federal laws to protect workers from discrimination, all workers (that are citizens, at least) are protected from slave and/or child labor, and we do have litigation options in the event of other forms of violation. It's not a perfect system by any stretch of the imagination. But the imperfections will not be fixed by the segregation of union workers versus non-union workers. The existence of unions today, I believe, do more harm than good.
Although I live and work in Los Angeles, I'm not directly affected by the current writers strike, but of course, I'm hyper-aware of it.
Earlier this week, I was questioning myself on why I just can't get worked up on the writers' behalf. I realize they have a point...but I also know that pretty much every worker in America today is getting screwed on some level by someone, and why should they get special treatment?
This article gives a good overview about those workers that are affected by this strike, yet won't gain any protection. Do you think the caterers are going to be able to claim a percentage of DVD profits? Or the secretaries that work in the studios?
And let's say the strike is effective for the writers. Does Tina Fey actually think that NBC is just going to give up that money without anyone else being affected? Can anyone say "salary freeze"? Or lay-offs?
I became more sensitive of this issue when we had the grocery workers strike a few years ago. Over the holidays. I knew a family of five where both parents worked at the grocery store, and the strike dragged on so long they were making a whopping $50 a week each in December. When the strike was finally over, the husband did not get the promotion that he was supposed to get before the strike. Two grocery stores near my parents' house closed down...wonder what happened to those workers? It was all done quietly away from media attention, but you better believe that the big bad grocery stores made up the losses!
It is naive to believe that this kind of "fight for fairness" won't be incredibly unfair for those that live and work outside the umbrella of a union. And that happens to be a very large class of people, including myself.
Do I get to just stop showing up for work because I was denied a promotion? Or because I didn't think my raise was big enough (nor is it ever enough to truly meet the "standard of living" pay-out increases)? No. I gotta suck it up and deal.
Then, there's the question of how accountable these unions' leaders are. The grocery workers' strike had more to do with the unions' bad money management than the "outrage" of the rise in health care costs. The members had been paying into a fund that was supposed to cover the difference when the grocery stores inevitably had to raise the cost of insurance, but the union had squandered that money. While my neighbors were trying to survive on $100 a week, the union leader continued to take home his $2 million/year salary!
Oh, yeah. And then there's the point of: hello! Welcome to the 21st century! The REST of us non-union workers have been swallowing the rising costs of insurance for years. Why did you get to be immune for so long to this nationwide problem?!?
A few friends of mine belong to a production-related union. I've NEVER heard them say a positive word about their union. Ever. They've had their 401k funds screwed up, they haven't gotten the raises or the chances of promotion that they should be getting, they've had their union dues go up to the point of taking home less money from year to year...and yet, to remain in their job, they're REQUIRED to be members of this union.
Which leads me to another issue with unions. The loss of freedom. Suppose there was a writer somewhere in Hollywood today saying, you know. I'm all right with it. I have a nice, good steady job, getting to do something I love. I recognize that MOST Americans don't even have that right now. I recognize that some Americans are getting their limbs blown off in Iraq right now. I recognize that some Californians lost their homes in fires a couple of weeks ago. I'm quite thankful to have what I have, and I'd rather just keep doing it.
But they can't. They can't because if they cross the picket line, they're barred from the union for life. Which means that if and when the strike is over, they can't be hired because the writers have to be union. Are REQUIRED to be. Even if you think the union sucks, even if you didn't personally vote for the strike. You either strike or forfeit your right to ever work in this town again. But, really, it's for your own good.
And it's the good fight, right? The creative talent is getting pushed around by the big, bad corporations.
I'm not saying they don't have a point at all. But we ALL do. We all have to suck up some unpleasant aspects of our job because that's how the real world works.
And those of us in the real world need our escapism. The entertainment industry counts on our need to escape in order to exist. Well, we need them right now. It may be pathetic and sad, but I get through the day by thinking about what I have to look forward to watching that night. Monday: "How I Met Your Mother" and "Samantha Who?" Tuesday: "Boston Legal" Wed: Yay! "Pushing Daisies" and "Dirty Sexy Money" Thurs: the big night! "My Name is Earl," "The Office," "Grey's Anatomy."
This is what I think about when my alarm goes off at 5:30 am. This is what my friends and I talk about when we're not bitching about work or our kids. This is why I want Sylvia to finish her homework already so I can see what's on my List, and pull out my knitting and stop thinking already! Stop worrying about the fact that my credit cards are already maxed out and I haven't bought a single Christmas present yet. Stop wondering if I'm caught up on laundry enough to not do some tonight. Stop adding to the growing and growing grocery list where all I hear is "ka ching..." The only way I can ever listen to President Bush is when it's followed by Jon Stewart's "he he he" impression. And, yes, try not to think about the fact that I'm quickly approaching the dreaded 35 with the brightest hope in my future being, at least I'm not still with my ex. Try not to feel alone, lonely, depressed, sorry for myself, sorry for my kids...just not feel. Or project my feelings into someone else's story, at least. Make myself believe that I'm crying because Kitty Walker's baby died instead of crying for myself.
Or get a little self-help in humor...shaking my head at the incredible thing that Steve Carrell just did/said on "The Office." Feel better about by myself by thinking, well at least I don't work there!
I'm well aware that there are other forms of entertainment. And I do read a lot, too. (No, really, I do!) But you can't knit and read. And sometimes, the reading just inspires more thinking and makes it hard to sleep at night. Sometimes, I just don't even want to work that hard! I just want to stop. I just want someone to indulge me by entertaining me.
So, yes, I feel personally slighted by the strike as well.
It's a sweet concept that a group of people standing up together can make a difference. And they probably can. For themselves. But until we all belong to the same union, we will not all be able to stand together.
To truly make a difference, we need to stand up united as the working class. Anything else just creates greater division.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
At the Boys & Girls Club Halloween party, Riley won a fish. I'd squeaked by this once before a few years ago at the school fair. They'd run out of live fish and were giving out coupons to go to the store to redeem for the fish (again, Riley was the winner). I told the girls we couldn't get it because of our cat, and then something shiny caught their attention and the fish was forgotten.
Last week, Riley was handed a fish in a bag. Wonderful.
It's Halloween! I'm supposed to go buy a fish bowl, fish food, figure out where to put this fish sometime between dinner, trick-or-treating and celebrating Sylvia's birthday? And then there was the issue of me being broke. Not happening.
Riley actually took it well, the dear girl. But while I was explaining the myriad of reasons why this fish would be happier somewhere else, Sylvia was trying her luck at the same booth. She comes up to us, crying hysterically that she didn't win, and when she heard Riley had given her fish back, somehow manages to find the strength and tears to cry even harder. On her birthday. In the middle of a gymnasium where the sounds of children shouting, music blasting and the feet pounding echo all around.
Then, today, I read a post in a forum about a woman who was WAY nicer than me and had let her child keep the prized fish. She even went and bought another fish to keep it company. Then that fish died. Now she's trying to figure out whether or not to buy yet another fish.
Why, oh why, do these places insist on giving our children these fish, and torturing us parents with these type of dilemmas?
Riley saw Sylvia crying, and then went off on me for making Sylvia cry on her birthday. Still in the middle of said oh-so-quiet gymnasium. GET ME OUT OF HERE!!! So I said, that's it. We're going home.
Sylvia went off to get her stuff, and Riley tried to run away to another booth. I go after Riley, Sylvia comes back, and starts crying again because I'm not still in the exact position I was when she'd left. She now thinks I abandoned her on her birthday.
Halloween has turned me into the Wicked Witch of the West.
I manage to pull it together enough to take a good long look at my just-turned-10-year-old. The cacophony of sounds still around me, it hits me the type of day she's had.
We had awakened early so that Sylvia would have time to open her presents before school. Then there was the excitement of getting dressed up in costume. Then, of course, going to school and seeing everyone else's costumes. Plus, as an Ambassador at KIPP, she had an interview with a local radio station. They ended instruction a couple of hours early to have a Halloween party. Once that was over, it was off to the Boys & Girls Club for their party. And I never had the stomach to ask just how much sugar she'd consumed thus far.
I came down to her level and said, "you're just overwhelmed right now, aren't you? This has been a very big day." She starts crying fresh, stammering "yyyessss" and bawling all over again. I held her as she sobbed and said, "let's get out of here." She nodded, sharing my sensory overload.
Prior to her birth 10 years ago, Halloween had never been a favorite holiday of mine. This year reminded me of all the reasons why.
Once we left the madness of the gymnasium, Sylvia calmed down almost immediately and was quick to tell me I was right about the fish. Thank goodness for small favors!