Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Question for the Internet (or Opinions - You Got 'Em, I Want 'Em)

I have had one of the worst migraines I’ve had in a long time over the past few days. It started just before the stomach flu I had. So I spent almost 48 hours inside my house while the weather was glorious and sunny outside.  

But enough was enough. Other than an hour I spent out at the dentist, I had to get out of the confines of home, and I had to get my son away from all electronic gizmos and gadgets we have here.

We went to the zoo today for about 90 min. We have a membership so we can go and come as we please. I’s only a 15 min drive from the house, so it’s perfect for those days like this when we just need to stretch our legs and yet see exciting and interesting things. Plus, animals.  

During those 90 min, we witnessed three (3) mothers screaming and spanking their children in public, for things that, in my opinion, didn't warrant the spanking.  Two of those incidents didn't really warrant the screaming, either, though I understand how that can happen, and have been guilty of screaming at people, not just my kid, in public many times when they didn’t deserve it, because I was simply at my wits end and lost all hold on my patience.

My son stopped to stare at all three incidents when they were happening, and as much as I tried to guide him away, he was rooted to the spot. After the first incident, he said, "[boy's name that mother screamed out] must've done something really bad.”

(Side note: my son hears a name once, he will call the person by that name. If you call your buddy, “Hey, Butthead!” that will be your buddy’s name even after he tells him his real name. That’s how my son’s mind works.)

This was my answer to him:

“Every child is different. Every parent is different. Every family is different. When you see a parent yelling at a kid, you have to mind your own business. You may not think it was something so bad that the kid deserved to be yelled at, but that isn’t your call to make. Unless you see a parent punching a child in public, you just walk away, okay?”

I repeated that statement the other two times when we saw mothers screeching and smacking their kids behinds and arms, and my son stopped to stare. He didn’t say anything the other two times, and I don’t know what he was thinking. But he just nodded and said, “Okay.” in that ‘well, I’m gonna do what you say but I don’t like it.” tone of voice.

So here are my questions to you, Internet. And when I say “you”, I don’t just mean parents. Because everyone, parent or not, has probably seen a public scenario where it looks like a parent is losing it on a child, and may have even witnessed those parents carrying out a form of corporal punishment.
  •       How do you answer a kid who sees another parent punishing their child using physical means in public?
  •       How do you react when you see a parent punishing their child with physical means in public?
  •       Would you ever step in in a situation with parents and kids? Would you do nothing at the time and call 911 or Children’s Aid later?
  •       What is your opinion on how I handled the situation? Let’s keep some things in mind:  (i)  I have never hit my child in public (I have spanked him at home once and I’m not proud of it; this was before he was six years old, and it was one swift swat), even when he has hit me (which he has done several times and how he reacts in red anger because of his ASD); and (ii) I  have had a screaming match with my child in public (more than one but fewer than five), and nobody has ever interfered when it was happening.  

I am looking for answers here.  I am at a loss. It was much easier to explain why the turtles were climbing on each other’s backs than why a mom hits her kid and we say nothing about it when he has been told all of his life that hitting someone is wrong.

So here’s your chance. I will not judge anyone’s opinion, even if you call me a bad parent or a bad citizen. And I hope nobody will judge yours if you are courageous enough to speak your mind.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But at what point should we stop overlooking the imperfection and try to reason with them, or interfere?


Monday, August 3, 2015

We Are Stardust...

My former stepdaughter (or whatever I should call my ex’s child with whom I’m still close in spite of the fact that her dad and I broke up a while ago) got her first period last month. She’s 11 ½. Not really a big deal given I was 11 ¼ when I got mine. It happens.

She’s spending the month with us, and being the long weekend full of big plans, guess what came “early”? Now I only use quotes because as anyone who has ever had a period knows, there is no such thing as “early” or “late” when you’re starting out. Until your body sorts itself out, you can get your period any time it bloody well feels like showing up (pun intended).

So even though her mother had a talk with her, and her dad had a talk with her, nobody had the talk with her. And no, I don’t mean the “well this is why you get your period” chat. She’s heard that all her life (her mother’s an OB/GYN). She knows very well how the reproductive system works.
So today when she was getting ready to go out, I made her sit down in the washroom while I did her hair so we could have the talk.

It’s the talk that I wish someone had had with me when I first had my period.  All I heard about was the cramps, the thick pads, the blood, the bloating, the “women can’t do what they normally do when they’re having their periods” excuse, and our pet names for that time of the month. Aunt Flo. The Curse. 

The resentment that women have for their bodies begins on the first day of our first period. Women tell young women to hate this naturally-occurring part of our maturity. We take drugs to make it go away. We are told it makes us weak, worthless, ugly, smelly, bloated, and full of pain.

That’s a bucket full of confidence and self-worth right there. No self-loathing at all, right? No wonder women hate their periods so much.

I asked my stepdaughter if this is what she had been told – that it’s horrible. That it will hurt. That it’s, well, a curse. And she said yes. She said she had been looking forward to it until it arrived. A month ago. And now she hated it because everyone has told her how awful it is. Not because she has felt anything awful herself.

So I told her the truth. And none of that bullshit I described above is the truth.


This is what I told my stepdaughter:

The truth is, our periods give us power. Women have the power of creation. Periods are made up of, well, blood. And what’s that motto the Red Cross uses? Blood is the Gift of Life.

Sure, there’s bloating (drink water, replenish yourself, and you will never retain water) and there’s cramping (keep your feet warm – reflexology. Warm feet mean little cramping), and there’s that feeling of malaise and mood swings and tenderness and…

That’s how it’s supposed to be. Our bodies let us know when something is wrong; we have simply chosen, through chemicals and other means, not to listen. When we are gearing up for our time of the month, we can feel our bodies changing. Let yourself become aware of what those feelings are, so you know what’s normal for yourself and what is out of the ordinary. Our bodies need to be at their peak to create life; they tell us when we're healthy and when we're not taking care of ourselves.

You will find that, as you are about to start your cycle, you will want to create more, whether it’s writing, cooking, painting, drawing, composing, colouring – the body wants to create, and thus gives powers to the mind and soul. (try it – I get my best writing done when I’m ovulating and PMSing).

And then I told her something that I’m sure nobody has told her in her life.

“Do you know that you are made up of carbon compounds? And do you know what else is made up of carbon compounds? Everything. Including the stars. Everything we know in the universe that is natural has carbon compounds. So when your body decides that you are old enough to have your period, it’s telling you that you have stardust inside of you. And that stardust is there for you to create your own universe with.”

Whether you are starting out on your magical menstrual journey, whether you have chosen to have children, whether you have chosen to remain childless, or whether your body is physically incapable of giving you a child, you are full of stardust. You are a woman. Without women, creation cannot exist.

And that is what we should be telling our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, friends. It is not a curse to have a period. It is not horrible to experience the power of creativity. Our periods are not burdens sent to weaken us.

Sometimes certain people have bad experiences with their bodies. I can hear women screaming at me through their screens right now because their periods lay them to waste. While you're screaming at me, remember there are people out there who deal with different types of physical limitations, by birth and/or by circumstance, and they don’t let those stop them from living. Nobody should be using their gender as an excuse to be weak, and by perpetuating this period myth, we encourage the next generation to do just that.

We need to stop.

We need to embrace the stardust. No more using those “curse” words. No more hating your body because of its monthly biological cycle. And no more tales perpetuating feminine weakness just because it's time for you to wear a maxi thin pad. 

Embrace the stardust within you, ladies.