Get Off My (Optimistic) Lawn

Get Off My (Optimistic) Lawn

It happens every once in awhile… I’d say about every two or three months. Just when I think I’m doing okay as a parent/wife/human. I’m sitting at my computer, sifting through my various social media outlets, and I see an article.

I think, “Oh man, I know exactly what that one’s going to say just from the headline.”

I think, “I should not click that. I do not need to click that; I already know what it’s going to say.”

I think, “What if the title’s just click bait and it maybe just brings a different perspective?”

I think, “Look, my finger is clicking on that link right now. Huh.”

I think, “Oh, look at that. It’s exactly what I thought it would be. Now I feel like punching something. Who am I kidding? can’t punch things without crying, that hurts.”

And then I question all of the parenting decisions I’ve ever made, fret over the state of the world, and wonder if my kids will be capable of becoming rational adults, even though I know that they will be… even though I’m generally pretty confident in the decisions I make, which I have fretted over time and again…

Which is, apparently, a flawed symptom of my existence as a Gen Y/Millennial parent.

You see, this article will have certain requirements, that will almost always be fulfilled. They are:

  1. Children who play outside in the neighborhood until the sun sets, and NOT A SECOND SOONER.
  2. A mother who is casually smoking a cigarette in the kitchen after sufficiently hurricane-proofing her home so that children cannot come in before said sunset.
  3. Total or near-total omission of any positive aspects that Inherently Evil Modern Parenting has brought to the world.
  4. Exaggerated examples of spoiled, lazy children who will surely bring about the apocalypse via their Youtubes and all things “on fleek.”

What article am I talking about? Why, let’s take a walk down the lane toward something I call the “good ole days lament” article. (I mean, I’m a Modern Parent, so I’m probably going to ask you to hold my hand while we walk, and I might ask you about your day and your friends, so I hope that doesn’t put you off too much.)

Now, I’m not going to pretend to be omniscient and say I know exactly what goes through the heads of these authors. I think that general assumptions are one of the key flaws of the GODL blog post, anyway, so we’ll avoid that route. I did sit down to write, though, because the blog post I read got me GOOD AND RILED UP, so I’ve got to figure out an angle that I want to take.

Sure, I could link to that article and counter the author’s thoughts, point-by-point, but my point is that these articles are (mostly) the same, and that they are unhelpful. They make me throw up my hands and say, “All right. Okay, so… what? What then? Clearly this is my responsibility, right? Am I supposed to fully separate my daily life from my kids so that I can, what, focus my efforts on my home or my phone conversations? Do you want me to stop talking to my kid about the ins and outs of human socialization? Should I not talk to my kid about the importance of standing up to someone belittling another human? Or DOES ALL OF THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN WHILE DOING KNITTING (if child is female) OR WATCHING BOXING (if male) IN ORDER TO BE ACCEPTABLE AND AM I SUPPOSED TO BE SMOKING CIGARETTES RIGHT NOW!?”

Now, clearly, this is a common reaction of someone who has just read a blog post that makes her want to punch things… not a thoughtfully penned piece of written brilliance from a cool-headed intellectual… which is what I’d like to create/be… but, like most things, I land somewhere in the middle.

So, I’m going to take the middle ground, which is (usually) the proper approach to any hot topic, unless you’re trying to be inflammatory or you have written something immediately after reading something inflammatory without sitting and thinking about it a bit. This blog post you’re reading right here? We’re at about 50/50 want-to-punch-annoyed and thought-about-this-for-awhile-now-cool-headed.

My angle for this post is to talk to the people who read a GODL article and feel dismayed. To you, I say: “Did you make all of your parenting decisions willy-nilly? (probably not) Are you proud of the person you’re raising? (probably) Should your kid maybe help out a little more around the house or maybe play fewer video games? (I don’t know, I’m not living in your house) Do you think you’d feel better as a human if you walked uphill both ways in the snow and then told your kid to do the whole thing again by him/herself without a coat so that they can learn life skills while you make a phone call and wait for them at the top of the hill? (uhhhh)”

Okay, so maybe I’m still feeling a little snarky and punchy, but my point is this: If you feel okay with how you’re parenting, good. If you feel not-so-good about certain things, that’s also a good thing. Balance. Balance, balance, balance. If we get too complacent in our parenting, we lose some of the ability to really learn and teach our kids… and if we sit and lament about the good old days too much, we lose the ability to embrace incredibly important advances in parenting and social progress in general. I’m sure, life as a kid in the 60s and 70s was great (if you were lucky enough to land in a safe and healthy home), and I’m sure that life as a kid right now (same caveat as before) is great… and I’m sure that both times offered crappy aspects, too.

I don’t know a lot, but I do know that many of us are genuinely doing our best, and that if you want to come over and talk to me about how you’re worried about your kid’s friends/grades/soccer team/ballet class/soccer-ballet team, then by all means, go for it.

The good old days will always be haunting us and those damned kids today will always be “lazy and disrespectful”… granted, they might be disrespectful on hoverboards (like actual ones) and the lawns that we’re yelling from might be made from futuristic Mars grass, but it’s not going to stop.

I hope I can remember that someday when I’m rocking away in the bionic rocking chair I’ve had grafted to my body as I look out at the flying-car-highway at the end of the lane.

Truth Sandwich, Mayo on the Side

Truth Sandwich, Mayo on the Side

It’s been awhile since I’ve ranted.

This is because I would just sit down, FLAMING PISSED, write out a blog post, and then post it right away. What I’ve found is that this practice of “ranting without letting it sit” usually results in either me being misunderstood, or people I really like being offended by something I wrote.

Well, this one’s been simmering for a few years now, and I promise I’ll read it at least one more time before I post it.

I feel that it’s time to post a reminder:

I am still an actual human being. In case anyone is concerned that the fact that I have had children makes me . . . what? An alien? Stupid? Boring? Trivial? A weird shell of who I used to be? I can assure you that my thoughts are just as legitimate as they were before those crazy ole lady hormones took over my brain.

I always tell myself to just walk away when someone’s Facebook status makes me angry. I mean, really, a Facebook status is usually just a little snip of the offhanded part of someone’s brain; they probably didn’t put too much thought into it when they posted it. The fact that I see so many offhanded remarks in a particular vein, however, shows me that there is a trend in people’s thinking. A trend I don’t much appreciate.

It seems that a mom is regarded as . . . someone different. Someone not quite part of society. Someone who has opinions and interests, but they’re just mom opinions and interests.

A few years ago, someone posted a link to a DIY project, saying “Hey, this looks cool, but ignore the mombloggery writing.”

So, basically, the information is valuable, but the person writing it is not, because she’s a mother? Who blogs? Did you ever consider that maybe she just has an annoying writing style? And happens to be a mom? Who blogs? Trust me, there are plenty of blogs out there, written by moms, that are not cutesy and obnoxious-sounding.

Next, and this is much more recently, someone posted a status in rebuttal to all of the parents annoyed by fireworks keeping their children awake. This person stated that “listening to someone’s screaming child in a grocery store (for 20 minutes out of their day) is much higher on the annoyance scale compared to a few nights of bangs and booms (that will turn into 7 or 8 days of complete schedule screwery that results in a higher potential for more screaming at more stores).” This, of course, led to a discussion about whether people are good parents or not, based on whether their kids are “behaving” in a store.

Parenting. The one profession in which you get dismissed as something trivial while simultaneously having all of your decisions actively judged by society.

The part of this status that really made me want to flip out was that the person tried to placate the inevitably offended parents in his friend-base by saying that “Someday, you and your kids are going to look cute as heck lighting off fireworks blah blah blah.” Paraphrasing again. But not on the “cute as heck” part.

Here’s the deal: I do not care about whether or not my kids and I will look cute someday launching off mini war-heads. You know what I care about? Cultivating kids who are decent human beings. See, that’s what people forget. I know that social media makes it seem like moms are really just out there to take cute Instagrammed photos of small people making macaroni necklaces, but we’re actually trying to do legitimate things over here in Parent Land. We’re working our butts off every day, doing our best to keep the world from being swarmed by douchebags in the future. (I’m sorry everyone, I really tried to pick a better word than douchebag, but it was the one that really felt good here.) I don’t care if you think we’re doing a good job or not; that’s for another discussion. The fact is, we’re trying, and we’re trying hard.

I just saw a post today that (even though I KNOW it was a completely harmless, well-intended one) seemed to suggest that one of my mom friends wouldn’t enjoy the things she used to enjoy. You know, back in the day, before she turned into a crazy parent-doppleganger of her old self? Did my friend take offense at this? Probably not . . . but I don’t think she’s quite as bitter about this as I am.

So, in review:

1. Parenthood has made me different, however, I am still essentially the same person I was before I created ankle-biters with my body.

2. Be aware that under the photo-filtering, crust-cutting, sunscreen-rubbing veneer, there is a person with legitimate knowledge and opinions that pertain to things other than Blue’s Clues and baby shampoo. We are people with degrees, and/or with years of real-world experience in different areas, and you might be surprised that we can contribute to conversations that people have in the real world.

Listen, I know that most, maybe all of the people reading this are going to be like, “Duh, Lauren. We know this. Stop inadvertently yelling at us.” But, ohmygosh, there are some people out there who need to eat a giant truth sandwich when it comes to the act of child-rearing. Most likely they’ll have decided to eat at the Jumping to Conclusions Java Joint across the street, but trust me guys, I’m whipping them up over here and I’m open 24 hours.

That last sentence was ridiculous, but I like it so I’m keeping it anyway.

Dear Sir,

Dear Sir,

I’m going to preface this post by saying that the incident I’m about to reference has nothing to do with the wedding we attended, other than the fact that it happened there. One of my favorite friends and her totally kick-butt fiancé got married this weekend, and I’m so glad we got to go. The service was very nice and very quick, and the food rocked. I’m so glad we were invited, and am thrilled that we got to see them start the rest of their lives together.

Dear Sir,

Hi. I’d like to introduce you to my son. His name is Charlie. He’s two and a half. He’s just sat through a wedding ceremony, about 30 minutes of adult mingling time, and an entire room full of people finishing a nice meal. He only cried a couple of times, and he’s gone all day without a nap. It is now 7:30 PM, and there is a big, open dance floor waiting to get danced on.

He’s the kid you just said “Ssshh, ssssshhhhhh, SSSSSHHHHHH!” to.

True. Yes, you are correct. The bride and groom are giving their speeches right now, and it’s a very important moment for everyone involved. It’s the couple’s chance to thank everyone who has contributed to the most important day in their relationship. I’m sure that you want to hear what they’re saying.

I understand all that, but let me ask you something.

What would you rather listen to? Every other word of the bride’s speech, punctuated by screaming and crying? It would go a little something like this:

“I’d like to thank (NO LIKE THIS! NOOO LIIIIIKE IT!) we’re so happy to have (RUNCIRCLES!!! CHARLIE RUN CIIIIRCLES!) we couldn’t have done this(CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKEEEE!!!!!!!) Enjoy the rest of the evening.”

OR

You could listen to the entirety of the bride’s speech, with the mutedthumpthumpthumpthumpthumpthump of a toddler’s blue plaid boat shoes running circles on the dance floor in the background. Sure, it’s not ideal, but you’d still hear the speeches, and no one would have to listen to any screaming and I wouldn’t have to stuff my kid full of more cake to get him to be quiet.

Which one sounds better?

Here’s the deal: I have a toddler. I love the bride. I’m here to celebrate with them, and my toddler is coming with me. He has a lot of energy, and if he’s semi-quietly running around in circles instead of screaming after a full day with no nap, we’re just going to call it a win. Could we have just left? Sure . . . if he was being a brat and was the only child there, we probably would have. But he wasn’t misbehaving; he was being a toddler. A toddler among many toddlers. This was not going to be a perfectly quiet wedding, and that’s all there is to it.

Now, how about we finish the introduction? Charlie is a super-sweet kid who asks if you’re okay after stubbing your toe. He says “I wuv you, Gamma,” when he leaves his Grandma’s house, and he handled an entire 3 hour trip the day before, fully awake, and without crying about being bored and uncomfortable. Then he peed in the toilet after making said trip without having a single accident.

How about you don’t talk to me about behavior. (I know that’s supposed to be a question, but I’m turning it into a statement here.)

Now, I’m a reasonable woman. I was standing right there, making sure he didn’t start screaming or jabbering, and if you would have walked up to me and talked to me about it, I probably would have taken him out into the lobby.

Bottom Line: Do not shush my child. You talk to me and I will shush him myself.Because I’m his parent . . . and I’m a good parent. If he would have been acting inappropriately, you wouldn’t have even had time to get out of your seat. I would have taken care of it.

Eventually, Charlie actually did get cranky enough that he was unpleasant to be around, so we left. Because that’s what you do.

Hopefully you were able to fully recover from Charlie’s thumpthumpthumping and were able to enjoy your evening.

A Couple Random Rants to Ease my Writer’s Block

A Couple Random Rants to Ease my Writer’s Block

Hey, Friends. This is a picture of Charlie eating pizza back when he had hair.

I’m going to just be honest with you. I’ve got writer’s block. I actually cleaned my kitchen this morning as a form of blogging-procrastination. I don’t think there’s anything in my brain right now that can inspire a full blog-post out of me, but I think there are some things that will at least draw out a paragraph or two.

1. Crappy Weather
Was anybody else just scared crapless on Saturday? I sure was. Some of you have known me long enough to remember how I would run bawling to my mom’s 5th grade classroom whenever there was bad weather . . . no matter how hard my Kindergarten teacher tried to keep me there. It’s possible that I may have continued that tradition on into my high school years. I don’t remember if I actually went to my mom’s room when I was a teenager . . . but I was definitely bawling, I can tell you that right now. Here’s some weather math for you:

Lauren + Husband + Son = Even more terrified than she was when she only had her parents and sister to worry about.

So you can imagine how mindblown I am to find out that people are actually blaming the local meteorologists for causing an uproar and making them interrupt their daily activities with weather precautions. People are mad because their cities didn’t get ripped apart and destroyed.
I could go on and on about how ridiculous this is (hey, woudja look at that? I think my writer’s block is dissipating!), but it would probably get obnoxious. I’ll just say this: Entire cities spent the day preparing themselves for the worst. This means more people have emergency plans, stocked emergency kits, and a better awareness of the fact that this isstorm season. If you can find a reason to be angry about that, then I applaud you. I applaud you with one of those slow claps that makes everyone feel awkward.

2. I’m sorry . . . Mommy War? Did you say “Mommy War?”

Apparently, folks, moms are battling one another. Some lady who is politically important or something mentioned that Mitt Romney’s wife has “Never worked a day in her life.” This, of course, has sparked a HUGE debate on the social media circuit. Is the debate about politics? About proper media etiquette? Nope. It’s between Working Moms and Stay at Home Moms. Who’s better? Who cares more about their children?

This “war” is just ridiculous. I don’t care at all about Mitt Romney or his wife or the woman who’s mad at them. I care that the mom community has actually let something like this pit them against each other. Isn’t this the 21st century? Do we really think that we can judge a person’s motherly love based on the decisions they make in order to do specifically what’s right for their families?

I choose to stay at home with Charlie. I have my reasons. One of my best friends in the whole world just finished her maternity leave and has gone back to work. She has her reasons. Do I think she’s making the wrong decision?

Let me think about this one . . . no.

Her family’s situation is not my family’s situation. Her career is not my career. Her baby is not my baby. But, really, does any of that matter? I know that she loves her kid like crazy.I know that she would do anything to provide a good life for her child. That’s what matters.

So, hey moms, do we really want the world to think we can be so easily manipulated by politicians trying to make us pick sides?

I’m voting “no” on that one.

(I apologize for any political talk that happened in this post. I don’t know what came over me. Also, I think I’ve gotten rid of my writer’s block . . . so that’s pretty sweet. 🙂 )

These Dreams are Unacceptable

These Dreams are Unacceptable

You know when you wake up from a bad dream and, even though nothing is actually wrong, you feel like something horrible is going to happen? Or that something bad happened and you’re just quietly waiting to find out about it?

I’ve had TWO of those this week. Normally, I don’t remember my dreams. I used to, but anymore I think I’m just so tired at the end of the day that my brain is like, “Pillow!? I’m DONE.” You can imagine my dismay, then, when I found myself waking up twice this week with that something-horrible-has-happened feeling.

The first one was the worst. Like, the WORST. I haven’t talked before on here about my zombie problem. I just simply can’t handle them. I could watch vampire movies all day long (even real vampires, not sparkly vampires), but I couldn’t even get through Zombieland. In college, when I was stronger and braver, I watched Shaun of the Dead. Even with the humor, I hated (insert hipster protests of “it’s brilliant!” and “such clever humor!”) every second of that movie. No amount of British wit could take my mind off the flesh-eating. The problem is that it’s so widespread. Other horror movies are generally an isolated incident, but Zombie movies promise the death and destruction of everything I hold dear. I just can’t handle it.

So yeah, obviously, it was a zombie dream. It started out with my friend Ashley (who is totally responsible for this dream, as she was talking about The Walking Dead on Facebook.) and I hearing about the zombies on the news. I, of course, flip out and immediately start trying to find a way to get to Paul and Charlie. Ashley is worried about her Grandma, and explained that her Grandma has a shotgun, so it would be smarter for us to get to her Grandma first. So, on the way to her Grandma’s house, Ashley gets touched (did I mention it spreads by touching? Even my subconscious can’t handle the flesh-eating) and is out for the count.

(She deserves every bit of her fate for planting this in my head.)

So, I find her Grandma (and her shotgun), and then I find Paul and Charlie. I cannot explain to you how exponentially worse a zombie dream is when you add in a toddler. I am, in fact, getting a little choked up just typing about it.

As we’re escaping the mass of zombies, Paul gets touched by one of them. Now, the zombieness doesn’t happen immediately, so we managed to elude the big group long enough to have a heart-wrenching goodbye. . . complete with the move where we clutch fingers as we part and they slowly slide off of each other as I leave with Charlie and Paul begins convulsing and turning into a zombie.

I don’t even remember what happened after that. Hopefully I woke up. Ugh. I can’t believe I just sat here typing about zombies with tears in my eyes . . . you’d think I was writing some profound blog post about the injustice of child slavery.

Nope. Zombies.

Finally, and I’ll make this one quick, I just had a dream last night about ALMOST being unfaithful to Paul with the guy who plays Fowler on White Collar. Seriously? Yuck. Yeah. I decided about halfway through the shenanigans that it wasn’t worth it, and as I was clearing all of my stuff out of his dorm room (really, what?) and explaining why I had to leave, I saw some Reese’s Pieces on his desk and nervously threw a handful in my mouth.

Note: I gave up chocolate for Lent.

So, as my brain was screaming “Nooooooooooooo!” but my mouth was screaming “Yeeeeeeeesssssssssssss!” I scramble out of the room, chewing frantically and tripping on random guy stuff. I then, of course, wake up feeling like a dirty, horrible lady.

I’m sure there are some dream analyzers out there thinking I’ve got some marital problems, but I’m pretty sure it’s actually because I watched the entire second season of White Collarentirely too quickly AND zombies are just the worst.

The WORST.

Disney, Disrespect, and My Appreciation of Curious George’s Appropriate Banana Usage

Disney, Disrespect, and My Appreciation of Curious George’s Appropriate Banana Usage

Today, there will be ranting. And raving.

I’m not sure what inspired me this chilly Friday (when I wrote this) morning, but when I sat down to blog, I started thinking about Charlie growing up…and how I wish I could convince him that the only things to watch on TV are the good things…the old things, like Fraggle Rock and Curious George and Eureka’s Castle. This, of course, brought my mind to the bad things that live on the TV screen. You’d think I’d be worried about the shoot-em-up shows…the Power Rangers beating the crap out of each other… But, no. When it comes to terrible TV for kids, I have one thing to say:

Shame on you, Disney.

You guys remember Disney, right? The company that brought us Sleeping Beauty andCinderella? Singing mice helping heroines get dressed in the morning? Pretty ladies singing beautifully to woodland creatures in the trees? A 13-year-old girl doing nothing but eating a banana on her trendy new internet show?

Waaaaaiiiiit a minute. What? I’m sorry, I thought we were talking about Disney…the beloved Children’s media company…not MTV….because, where I grew up, when we were 13, people joked about bananas because they resembled penises. Yes. I said it. Penises. Now, granted, I went to school in Elwood, NE, but I’m pretty sure the banana/penis correlation is fairly universal. Now, this wasn’t like Curious George eating a banana for sustenance…this was a girl, dressed far older than her age, looking at the camera, giggling, and eating a banana. You can’t tell me the writers, who have jumped through enough hoops and stepped on enough people to land jobs at Disney, don’t possess the faculties to realize that they are slapping an innuendo for oral sex on their super-popular, tween-oriented TV show.

I realize that this may make me sound like a prude, crabby geezer…but I know what kind of theatre I’ve done in college, and I know that sexuality can have its place in entertainment if it’s done appropriately, and I don’t think it’s ever done appropriately on the Disney Channel. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be honest with our kids about sex, but for cripes sake, 4-year-olds watch that channel. If that makes me a prude, crabby geezer, then so be it.

Now, the sexual innuendo’s a pretty easy target. There isn’t much more I can say about it that wouldn’t be beating a dead (aroused) horse. Let’s talk about disrespect. Have you ever watched The Suite Life On Deck? No, seriously, if you’ve ever watched an episode of that and not been completely horrified…then…well, jeesh.

Those kids treat the adults on deck like idiots. The feeling I get from the kid-to-adult relationship is that of the relationship between between kid-and-emotional bully. The kids verbally push the adults around, and the adults kow-tow to them, praying that they’ll simply leave them alone. The kicker of this (and the difference from a bullying situation), however, is that the adults are asking for it. The writers use the adults as a springboard for the kids’ shenanigans. They are written as nothing more than blind, ignorant buffoons, who are a boring necessity, lest Disney let a bunch of 12-year-olds run around on a cruise ship by themselves.

I could go on about this for days…but then you guys would get sick of me. So I won’t. I’ll just sit here and hope that Charlie never finds out about the Disney Channel…and that the parents of his future friends are reading this blog.

Am I the only one who’s noticed this? Are there other Disney shows I need to watch out for?

UPDATE: I realized, a little too late, I think, that I was offensive in a way I did not intend:  The town of Elwood, NE is a great place… I just know what kind of jokes my fellow EHS members made, and that’s what I’m basing my comment on…  I’m really sorry if I offended any fabulous Elwood residents.  Also, apparently iCarly is a Nickelodeon show… so research fail for me.