Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Day Without A Feminazi


Lady Liberty knows what's up. I, however, failed bigly at #ADayWithoutAWoman.

My husband had to leave at 6:30 am for a meeting so I was solo drill sergeant this morning. Then I had to take both kids to the doctor. I didn’t boycott work, unless showing up at lunch counts. I have to finish ten hours of work in half the time, before attending a board meeting at 6. Then I have to rush home to hastily feed and bathe the rugrats and listen enthusiastically to really, really long, meandering stories devoid of plot or, apparently, resolution, about their days (so weird, I have no idea who they get that from ;)) Then I'll read books in a chipper, animated voice and pretend I’m not counting the minutes until they fall asleep. I basically spent my whole day doing all the types of things that moms and wives and women do most waking moments of their lives, with little compensation or recognition.

I wore red, though. So there’s that.

I was totally gung-ho for the Women's March, but I felt more ambivalent about “A Day Without A Woman.” It seemed to me that the most vulnerable women among us are not in a position to strike, even for a day, so it feels a little like we’re missing the point? It’s also not as effective if only some people participate. But how incredible would it be if ALL women really did refuse to work today? As a coworker said, "Our office would cease to function." Hell, the WORLD would cease to function. And that's kind of the point. But unfortunately, that's not terribly practical or feasible. Can you imagine though? If nary a woman was to be found? That would really be something else.

Short of turning the world upside-down, there’s something to be said about being visible, making our voices heard, raising consciousness, making people at least consider what a state the world would be in without the work that women do, day in and day out, morning and night, at home and at school and at the office and at the hospital and at the church and in the kitchen and at the construction site and in the sea and in the sky…. Women fuel the world. We might not be as loud and showy as the engine, but without us, you are going nowhere.

There’s also something to be said for standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Me? I'm doing alright. I'm white. I'm not poor. I live in California. I work for a law firm founded and run by a woman. My commitments to my family are honored and respected. I am paid at a rate commensurate with my male colleagues. I make more money than my husband, in fact.

And speaking of said husband, he takes on more or less an equal share of the unpaid work at home – the kids, the dogs, the house, the dishes and laundry, breakfasts lunches and dinners, the family taxi service, all of it. (You want to know the really messed up part? I catch myself feeling guilty about this. “He does so much! He probably resents me for it.” I wrote a whole post about this once. And the reality check my friend promptly gave me. She handed me a pen and a piece of paper and told me to write down the things I do vs. the things Daddy Mack does. He does half-ish. On a good day. So why do I feel bad?! Like I’m not fulfilling my wiferly duties or something? Buncha BS, that is! I kind of suck at feministing.) The sad thing is, with our 50/50 split, he does more than almost every other man I know.

ANYWAY. The point is. Just because I am a woman and I have it pretty good doesn’t mean women have achieved perfect parity in our society. Far from it.

These are just some of the reasons I resist, and why I will continue to do so:

Because women and men are still not equal. Because America, and the world, are not always safe places for women, particularly queer women and women of color. Because strangers on the street tell me I’d look a lot prettier if I smiled. Because all my life men have told me I should dress/act/speak more like a lady. Because men have told me to "watch my mouth." Because judges and other old white male lawyers tell my I’m too young, too pretty, too sweet to be a lawyer. Because male employers and coworkers have critiqued my looks and my body behind my back, and to my face. Because each achievement in my life has been accompanied with loud whispers of, "Wonder what, or rather who, she did to get that grade/internship/promotion?" Because I've been grabbed by the pussy. By the tits and ass too. I think I was 13 years old the first time.

Because this Administration has reinstated the Global Gag Rule, a spiteful GOP legacy that prevents millions of vulnerable girls and women in Africa and around the world from accessing birth control and family planning, HIV services, and child and maternal health care.

Because SwampCare deems maternity coverage "optional," and includes a provision that will defund Planned Parenthood. I, personally, fully and unabashedly support abortion. But even if you don’t. Since 1973, the Helms and Hyde amendments prevent the use of federal funds to pay for abortion. So what you’re really defunding is birth control for two million people, 4 million STD tests, 360,000 breast exams, 270,000 pap tests, and more.

Because there is no evidence that blocking access to abortion reduces the number of abortions. What it does do is increase the number of pregnancy-related deaths – up to double. I don’t know what kind of new math they're using, but this is where your pro-life argument starts to take on water.

Because gender discrimination is prevalent in elementary education and beyond. Teachers call on boys more often, ask them more difficult questions, give them more feedback. Teachers actually fail to notice girls raise their hands as often. When teachers do call on female students, their interactions are more likely to involve social, non-academic subjects. Teachers more often choose boys to lead groups, give demonstrations, or help with an experiment. The proportion of attention given to male students increases from elementary to junior and then high school. Teachers also favor boys in their nonverbal behavior, including head nodding and encouraging smiles. Similar trends are shown along color lines as well.

Because women are paid 80 cents on the dollar for equal work. The disparity is even greater for women of color. It’s worse for mothers too. (Yes, yes, I hear you terrible twitter trolls saying men just work harder. A) Fuck you. B) Maybe if you pulled your weight at home, your partner would be able to get ahead at work. It ain’t rocket science.)

Because women represent a disproportionate percentage of the people in poverty.

Because women perform a disproportionate amount of unpaid labor, including household and child-rearing duties, despite the fact that in the vast majority of two-parent families, both parents work.

Because voter suppression efforts disproportionately target women, students, and people of color.

Because women of color are negatively affected at much higher rates by police violence and mass incarceration (themselves, their families, and their communities).

Because women are much more likely to be victims of domestic violence – 85% of victims are women. This includes physical, emotional, and financial abuse.

Because one in three women experience physical or sexual violence in their lives.

Because Muslim women, women of color, and the LGBTQ community are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in housing, employment, and healthcare. They are the victims of hate crimes at increasingly alarming rate. Transgender women of color especially are disproportionately affected by fatal violence.

Because when I tell my daughter and my son the above and they ask, “How can we make it better?” I want to do more than shrug. I want to put my money, my time, and my heart, where my mouth is. Because passion without action is just observation. In the words of the great Angela Davis, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

Ambivalently Yours
Is this movement perfect? No. But to quote Hamilton the Musical: “Revolution is messy, but now is the time to take a stand.” If fomenting real, positive change were easy and convenient and uncomplicated, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The world would already be a better place. You have to fight for the things that are worth fighting for.

Yet again, the internets seem to have earned their scout’s badge in panty-knotting. Why people get so incensed over the actions of complete strangers that have no effect on them whatsoever is completely beyond me. If you don’t agree with the strike, then, hey, here's an idea: DON'T STRIKE. But don’t you dare tell me “women are already equal” and there’s nothing worth fighting for.

“I believe in the fire of love and the sweat of truth.” Assata Shakur

The end.

PS Sorry I didn't source this for you like I usually do. Click here for assistance ;)

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Implorables

Friends! How've you been?! Time flies when you're living in a real life reenactment of some bizarre dystopian novel!

I've missed you, but not enough to brave the soul-suck that is Facebook. I've really been enjoying not losing my damn mind in all my newfound free time, though honestly, this past week, reality has been damn near impossible to ignore. Sigh.

We went to Cancun in December. It was pretty. All-inclusive resorts aren't usually my jam, but I realized, when a generous benefactor is footing the bill, they are, in fact, a sublime way to vacation. I even read two whole books DURING THE DAY, if you can believe it.

Have Elf, will travel.
Chuck Ferry the Masculine Feminist.
This Blue Hawaiian goes great with my white guilt.
In all seriousness though. Read this book. It'll blow your hair back.
Jack was sick two days before we left - they thought he had appendicitis and ran a gamut of tests in the ER until 2am. Luckily he recovered in time for the trip, and enjoyed himself immensely. He drank more [virgin] "pina chihuahuas" every day than I did. Sadly, right before we entered the airport on the way home, he threw up e'erywhere. Then a few more times on the plane on the way home. By the way, did you know that United Airlines' policy is that you cannot throw away barf bags on the plane? Instead, you have to keep them at your seat for the duration of the flight? True story. Good times. Good times.

We got back to San Diego just before midnight on December 23rd to find that our dogs had chewed through the bottom portion of lights on our Christmas tree.


The big dog had scratched a hole in her ear and was bleeding. The little dog had peed on the carpet, and had deposited several little hershey's kisses of shit about the house. Big dog, not to be outdone, trampled through the dollops of doodoo and smeared them around the house. Mind you, they saved up a week of shenanigans for us, because the dog sitter had texted a photo of two non-bloodied, non-shit-stained pups to me several hours earlier. I cleaned up the mess only to realize that it was still spreading. I then realized that little Nacho's furry butt was basically a shit-sponge with which she was applying an artistic faux-finish to my floors. Charming.

So I brought her upstairs, thrust her into DM's arms while I undressed and turned on the shower, and then got into the shower with her to give her a butt-bath. We both started laughing maniacally at the image: jet-lagged, exhausted, showering, with a dog, using my fingers to comb clumps of wet poop from her natty butt fur... Having come into contact with every possible bodily fluid - not my own - in the last twelve hours. Does that ever happen to you? Where you make eye contact with your significant other in the middle of some outrageous circumstance, and become instantly, helplessly, hysterical with laughter? "For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and even when you have rivulets of shit-water running down your body, mingling with the blood, sweat, vomit, urine, and tears." But now that I think about it, it's times like these that true love really shines through.

Christmas was great though. Except the part where Jack started crying when he got a shiny new iPad because now he has so many iPads he doesn't know what to do. #whitepeopleproblems #ihavefailed

We spent New Years Eve with two other family friends and the kids had a great time. I'd purchased hats and crowns and horns - the last of which I immediately regretted - as did our host, who had just put her baby to bed. Whoops. Rookie manuever. Also, I'd gotten these popper things from Target? I vaguely remember having them when we were younger and thinking they were great fun. I had to show ID to buy them, which I thought was weird, but the Target checker waved it off and chalked it up to the great pussification of America. I didn't even give it a second thought. So, at midnight, or rather, 9pm Pacific Time, we gave the kids the poppers. I then provided a quick demonstration, tugging at the ends of the popper, which exploded and shot a freaking corkscrew at Colby's head. Turns out that instead of festive things like treats and confetti, the poppers were filled with things like scissors, handcuffs, and metal corkscrews. W.T.F. If there's a more fitting end to 2016, I can't think of it.

Now it's 2017. I wake up daily with a sense of dread and disbelief. It's kind of like when someone dies, and you keep forgetting, and then it hits you like a sledgehammer every time you remember again. This happened to me when I was in DC last week. I kept seeing this official inaugural schwag featuring DJT as the actual, real-life, no-this-is-not-a-sick-joke, President, and it literally took my breath away.

Let me tell you what gets me through the day though. This: These women and men and children, uniting, together, to stand up for what's right. And I got to be a part of it.

That guy on the bottom right is wondering what he got himself into ;) 
Some people say they don't "get it," and/or "women already have rights," and/or "other countries have it way worse" so what are we even protesting? Okay, first of all, just because other women in other countries have fewer rights and shittier lives than we do doesn't mean we should just throw our hands in the air and say "oh well" when our own rights are being threatened. In fact, horror stories coming out of Syria and Sudan and Afghanistan should make our mission at home all the more urgent. These places are cautionary tales of what can happen when human rights are subverted to an authoritarian will. Also, if I ever heard any of the above arguments from an actual woman suffering in one of these terrible places, I might stop to think, but because it is invariably tossed out by suburban white women, I am less than persuaded. The fact of the matter is, even America can be a scary, dangerous place for anyone who is not white. And/or straight. And/or male. Better than Darfur? Certainly. But c'mon, is that really the bar we're setting for ourselves?

Second of all, if you are okay with the fact that you, as a woman, make 75 cents on the dollar to white males (63% if you're a Black woman, 54% if you're Latina); if it doesn't bother you that women still do the vast majority of household and child-rearing labor, even when they work as much or more than their male partners; if you're okay with the fact that the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world without a mandatory paid family leave program; if you're fine with knowing that women of color are victims of domestic violence at much higher rates than their white counterparts, and face often insurmountable barriers in seeking redress or assistance; if it's cool with you that old white men who've never had a period, been pregnant, had a miscarriage, or had a baby are legislating our rights to our bodies; if it doesn't bother you that our LGBTQ, Black, and Brown sisters and brothers literally do not feel safe walking down the street, and are victims of hate, violence, and discrimination at alarming rates compared to the rest of the population; if you aren't concerned that our president is taking discriminatory action against minorities, not to mention an entire religion that makes up nearly a quarter of the earth's population, actions that are literally out of the Nazi playbook; if it doesn't bother you that immigrants, who make up over 10% of Americans and 25% of Californians, are facing threats to their homes, their rights, their families, and their lives, well,... hmmm. How do I say this politely? You're, uh... let's see... kind of an a-hole? Either that or you're completely and utterly oblivious, willfully or otherwise. But hey, that's your prerogative! Murrica! That brings me to my second point though: If you don't agree with the march, DON'T GO! That's the beauty of this great country! But guess what, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are two of the actual pillars of American democracy so, with all due respect, back the eff off.

Finally: Privilege is when you think something is not a problem just because it is not a problem for you personally. Check it.

Anyway, that's a really long way of saying that the Women's March on Washington was one of the most meaningful, incredible, cup-runneth-over days of my life. And in addition to a million nasty women and bad hombre's taking to the streets for their sistren, I saw a little girl take her first steps in the halls of the Supreme Court, I got within drooling distance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; I teared up reading the Gettysburg Address, and I saw a young, adorable mixed-race couple get engaged at the Lincoln Memorial. All in all, this trip made me want to wave a flag and yell 'Murrica from the rooftops! There's hope for us yet :)

By the way, I thought I'd still blog despite committing social media harikari by getting off Facebook, but clearly I haven't. Nor do I intend to in the future. DJT has utterly annihilated my will to live blog, or really, do anything other than try to avoid the internet, hug my babies with fanatic fervor, and sit rocking in my bathtub with my paws wrapped around glass of bourbon until I eventually realize that the water's grown cold so I get out and repeat the process in bed. I guess, more accurately, the horror of a Trump presidency has galvanized me in the vein of "deeds not words." As Gloria Steinem said at the march, "Sometimes we have to put our bodies where our beliefs are. Sometimes, pressing 'send' is not enough." Nothing has brought this realization home like the first seven days in this reign of terror. I'll check back in periodically, but if you need me, I'm still on the Twitter, garnering an average of one like a week, and more importantly, in real life, making calls, knocking on doors, and walking in the streets. Hope to see you there!








Friday, December 9, 2016

It's Not Me, It's You

Friends. Just a little heads up. Facebook and I are taking a break, indefinitely. Because I get about 97% of my blog traffic from Facebook, this is akin to social media suicide. But I have determined that, in the interest of preserving a tenuous hold on my mental health, my efforts, passions, and anxieties can be channeled in more productive ways. I may still blog, periodically. I mean, we all know I love to hear/read myself talk/write. Though to be honest, while the words are still swirling like tiny tornadoes in my head, I've lost the will to put it down.

It's been a month since the election and I'm still in mourning. I actually feel like I am forced to relive the horror every time I read about Trump's latest, inexplicable, mind-boggling, terrifying cabinet pick. I am not allowed to begin to heal, because the wound is reopened every single day. I can honestly say I have never felt like this before. I think I'm still partly in denial. It feels like I'm in some awful alternate reality, a parody, a perversion, of what America is supposed to be. And then I remember this is actually happening and that realization hits me like a punch to the gut. Every time.


I understand some (many?) have tired of my incessant shouty caps complaints as of late. People say things like "Quit your white liberal whining," "Get over it," "It's not that bad," etc. But in my mind, if you are not consumed with a near-constant feeling of dread and despair, then you are not paying attention. This is not a drill, people. This is the real deal.
While I initially found solace in the pantsuit pity-party of like-minded individuals on Facebook, I've been recently repelled by the particular brand of vapid toxicity found there. From the hateful, fact-resistant sewage spewed on one-side, to the (justified) hostility of marginalized communities, to the fragile, defensive, self-congratulatory, and yes, whiney white liberals - it literally makes my eyes twitch and my skin crawl. I feel like my soul is slowly seeping out through my fingertips, and I can't take it anymore.


Please do not take this to mean that I am going to check out and go bury my head in the sunny, San Diego sand. I'm just tired of talking about it. Yes, discourse has it's place in social change, but that alone is not enough. I've worked with a lot of non-profits over the years, and I would always get so frustrated because there was so much touchy-feelyness. We had to have meetings and meetings and more meetings and talk about our feelings and our dreams for the future and yet the agenda every week was the same because we were so busy talking about what we would do in a perfect world, we didn't have time to get shit done in the real world, in all its completely jacked-up glory. I am ready to DO.


I encourage you to DO, too. As I wrote a week or two ago, my day to day life will probably not be terribly impacted by Trump and his band of terrible misfits. I'm white. I live in California. I won't need an abortion. I won't be deported. I won't be wrongfully targeted, accused, jailed, or shot by the police. Nobody is going to question my right to be in this country. To be married. To use which bathroom makes me feel safe and comfortable. Nobody is going to threaten my children, tell them to go back to Mexico, Africa, or I-Ran (because, as previously noted, though they are half Persian, they look like So-Cal surfer kids through and through). I don't know if they'll be gay or straight, but hopefully by the time that comes up, this nightmare will be behind us. My husband and I are lawyers. We're marketable and employable. We own our home and so won't fall prey to the next mortgage crisis that will most certainly occur if Trump and his swamp rat cronies repeal Dodd Frank and embolden Wall Street. We're not 1%-ers, but we're at the top of the champagne glass, so to speak.

I know a lot of you are in the same demographic space. And it's easy to feel fatigued and overwhelmed, to want to just gather your family close, and curl up into your turtle shell, and wait it out. And I get that. I totally do. As Mother Theresa said, if you want world peace, go home and hug your family. Charity starts at home, and all that. And loving families that look out for one-another are certainly an imperative piece of the puzzle for a well-functioning society. But I'm here to tell you that that is simply not enough. Think about it. To draw on an analogy used to explain Black Lives Matter, if your neighbor's house was burning, would you just stand there and shrug and say, "At least it's not my house?"

Because, you guys, our neighbors' homes are burning. In America, a cop can shoot a black man in the back while he is running away, or face-down on the ground, or standing with his hands in the air, and not be convicted of murder. The KKK and other white supremacy groups are openly cheering President-elect Donald Trump and each terrifying cabinet appointment he makes. Black people, brown people, Muslims, Jews, gay, lesbian and transgender Americans are being threatened and assaulted in record numbers. Hate crimes have spiked across the country, particularly at our nation's schools. This is not normal. This is not okay. And sticking our fingers in our ears, squeezing our eyes tight, and singing LALALALA isn't going to make it go away.


Just because I'm not worried about my son getting shot in the back, or my home being foreclosed on, or someone attacking me because my version of "love" doesn't comport with their limited understanding, doesn't mean I can just say, "Eh, not my problem." That's not how a democratic society is supposed to work. Or rather, when that is our approach to "democracy," Donald Trump happens.

On a related and perhaps overly bossy and meddling tangent: I have been involved in multiple conversations recently with friends and acquaintances whom I have always thought of as conscious, thoughtful, forward-thinking people. And then they say things like, "Yeah I'll explain _________ [black history/LGBTQ issues/women's rights/civil rights] to my kids when they're old enough to understand." Um, they're old enough to understand right now. I'm not saying you need to sit your four-year-old down and have her watch Twelve Years a Slave or anything, but you are handicapping your children, not to mention perpetuating your white privilege, by keeping them in the dark about issues that one quarter of our society has to face literally from the moment of their birth. Not only are you handicapping your children's ability to be fully functioning members of society, you are handicapping our society, and it's ability to change and heal and grow. Also, if they don't know/examine/question these concepts until they're ten or fifteen or whatever age you deem "old enough to understand," they're automatically going to come at it as a foreign concept, just because they've been shielded from it for so long.

I can tell you from experience, you (and they) are a lot better off telling them now. The conversation will go something like this: Kid: "Uncle T is a boy, and he loves boys?" Adult: "Yep." Kid: "Cool. Can I have a popsicle?" Or, Adult: "Did you know that fifty years ago, it was illegal in many states for black people and white people to marry each other?" Kid: "So Auntie B and Uncle E wouldn't have been allowed to get married?" Adult: "Nope." Kid: "That's awful." Adult: "Yep." Kid: "Wanna play catch?" Even if you're uncomfortable with the way certain people live their lives, you can teach your children that, in America, adults can choose to live their lives as they please, and so long as they aren't hurting anyone else, it's none of our gosh darn business. Even if your religion dictates a certain position - can't you just say "We believe X, they believe Y, but guess what, we're not God, and we'll leave God's business and judgments to the him (or her)." For example, I despise cigarettes. I think they are filthy nasty death sticks and it is beyond my comprehension why so many people still smoke. My kids know I feel this way. They also know their uncle smokes cigarettes. When they ask about the contradiction, I tell them he's an adult and he's entitled to make decisions about his own life whether or not I agree with them, and I love and support him anyway.  I normally try not to "should" on people a la my BFF Claire. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Food for thought, maybe?

Anyway, I'll catch you guys on the flip side, wherever and whenever that may be. Feel free to subscribe to the blog or check back in periodically. You know where to find me!

In the meantime, be kind to each other. Listen before you speak. Educate yourselves. Think critically. Keep informed. Stay outraged. Show up. BE the change.

(Did you guys ever sign your yearbooks with "Peace in the Middle East?" No? Yeah. Me neither. ;) But I'd settle for "Peace in America," for now. Baby steps.)

Side note, I've been thinking/talking a lot lately about white privilege, and engaging with non-white people on the subject. If you think "white privilege" doesn't exist, I invite you to consider the Black Santa outrage and get back to me. I've definitely been knocked down a few notches by black and brown women and men, which in turn forces introspection and examination of my privilege vis-a-vis my role in the fight for racial equality. The Great White Butt Hurt is alive and well, and we - white people - are the ones who need to find the cure. It's an uncomfortable and necessary and (I assume) never-ending evolution. Join me?

Suggested Reading:

Engaging Children in Difficult Conversations about Gender Identity, Race, and Justice - Human Rights Campaign

Colorblind Ideology is a Form of Racism - Psychology Today (Aka - When you say you "don't see color," you sound like an asshole.)

White Privilege, Explained in One Simple Comic - Everyday Feminism

Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person - Huffington Post

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack - Peggy McIntosh

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism - Dr. Robin DiAngelo, Good Men Project

Working Assumptions - Cultural Bridges to Justice

Community Policing - The Police Foundation

Toolbox for Education and Social Action: "What To Do Instead of Calling the Police" is a Must Read

Hey does anyone want to start a virtual book club?? These are on my list to read/re-read. Normally I am a novel girl all the way, but in the name of enlightenment, I'm changing tacks for a bit:

The Stop Trump Reading List: ReMezcla

Race, Class and Gender in the United States 

Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness - Michelle Alexander

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America - Jill Leovy

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis - J. D. Vance

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America - Nancy Isenberg

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right - Arlie Russel Rothschild

We Should All be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A Theory of Justice: John Rawls

1984: George Orwell

Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? - Thomas Frank

(I know this list is underrepresenting LGBTQ, Latinx and Native American authors/issues, among others. Please do recommend any additions!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Help me out, Hive Mind. The video below is basically my son right now. At the ripe old age of 6, he has doubled down on his previously feeble moral objections to eating meat. Correction: He has doubled down on his moral objections to eating meat that looks/tastes like meat. He "feels bad for the little chicken/cow/pig" when he is reminded of it's existence before it became dinner. As long as the helpless little creature is camouflaged, it's all good. Ground beef is okay (tacos/burgers). Chicken nuggets are fine (as he argues, "They're probably not even made with chicken anyway," and he may be right.) Pepperoni on pizza, bring it on. So basically if he wants to become the poster child for the childhood obesity epidemic, he's golden.

We just recently came clean to the kids that I am not, in fact, "allergic" to meat. Rather, I choose not to eat it and have abstained for the last twenty-some-odd years. So I can't in good conscience make the kid eat meat. I get where he's coming from. I had the same struggles when I was a kid (though I'd like to think I was a lot less of a g.d. drama queen about it, good lord), which started around the time my little sister was old enough to ask "Mom, what is pork made out of? Cute little baby piglets?" etc. (She would then smile and me and dig gleefully into her cute tiny baby piglet-chop, consuming it with relish.) I attempted to declare myself a vegetarian around the age of 8, and about every 6 months thereafter, but my mom said I had to eat meat until I could plan and prepare healthy meals containing all essential nutrients. I stopped eating red meat at 13 and white meat a year later.

The thing is, my kid won't eat fake-meat either. He hates tofu, seitan, tempeh, etc. He doesn't like eggs. He doens't like most beans or legumes. He doesn't like eggplant or mushrooms (can't blame him there either, those are the devil's slimy leftovers). He will happily eat the junk food noted above, as well as fruit, raw vegetables, salad, and carbohydrates. That's about it. Oh and he drinks a lot of milk. (As the world's worst vegetarian, I may not be the best role model.)

I've read a lot of articles about how, contrary to the wisdom of our parents' generation, you're not supposed to force kids to "clean their plates," or have those dinnertime battles with kids at all, lest we instill a negative relationship with healthy eating. (Side note - funny how one of my hallmarks of successful parenting - before I had children, obviously - was eating dinner together as a family. But it is actually the most arduous, painful, and least favorite part of my day.) Anyway, if we let him have his way, he will survive on bread/pasta/fruit/vegetables and take out at least until he is 18 years old. Will that result in him being a skinny, malnourished little shrimp with brittle bones? And if so, what am I supposed to do about it? Sit at the dinner table for all of eternity, trying to force him to eat until everyone's in tears? Get better about hiding furry little animal bits in his food? Ugh. Help!

 

Friday, November 18, 2016

That Day My Four Year Old Became a Trump Supporter

Colby: "Who do you want to win the election, Mama?"

Me: Hillary Clinton.

Colby: Why do you want her to win? She's a liar and a bad pewson.

Me: I'm sorry, what was that babe? I think I misheard you.

Colby: My teacher told me Hillary Clinton's a liar and a bad pewson.

Me: Well, some people think that, but I don't agree. I think Hillary Clinton will make a great president.

Colby: My teacher said Donald Twump will be the BEST Pwesident.

Me: Well honey, I disagree. Donald Trump says hurtful and disrespectful things about all sorts of different kinds of people. [Not to mention he lacks the knowledge, experience and temperament to be the leader of the free world.] I don't think he would be a good President at all.

Colby: My teacher says Hillary Clinton is the one who says diswespectful things. She told me anyone who says Donald Twump says mean things is just making it up.

Me: Hmmm... okayyyy... welll.... uh, everyone is entitled to their opinion, sugar pie. I'll just have to agree to disagree with her on that. [And/or provide video evidence.]

Colby: Mama, I know you won't be too happy, but half of me wants Donald Twump to win.

Sweet Jesus. I tried to think about how someone would feel if the situation were reversed - If the child of a Trump supporter came home from school spouting insults about Donald Trump. But then I thought, what could you possibly say about Donald Trump that is worse than the truth? And even if there was something, empirical evidence (and his own hubris) indicates that his supporters couldn't care less. (E.g., "I could shoot somebody and not lose voters.")

This exchange happened on election night. I had left a little early and was feeling nervous but giddy. I was anxious that the election would be a nail-biter, but felt fairly confident it would end in celebration of the first female president of the United States. NPR was on the radio, turned down low, talking about early returns from the east coast. When Colby spoke up, I honestly thought I had misheard. By the time the conversation was over, I was so mad I could barely see straight.

Later, when the kids were in bed, and I had come out of hiding from my hour-long bubble-bath to face the dystopian reality of a Donald Trump presidency, I rehashed the conversation with DM, the rage-heat rising, fire in my heart. I was out for blood. This was so wrong! Heads were gonna roll! (And by "heads were gonna roll," I mean, "At least one or two people will be receiving a strongly-worded letter!")

The next morning at breakfast, Colby asked, "Who won the Pwesident contest?"

Me: Donald Trump.

Colby: Yay! That makes me happy because it will make my teacher so happy!

[Me, smoothing my loving mom face over my apoplectic fury.]

DM pleaded with me not to say anything, and I didn't. But later that night we were out with friends and someone said, "I just cannot believe Hillary lost." I replied, "I know. I am devastated." Colby looked stricken. She went over to DM and whispered in his ear, "Why did they want Hillary Clinton to win? She is a liar." Later, Colby told us that Donald Trump was going to build a wall to "protect us" from "bad people" because that is what Pwesidents are supposed to do. DM looked at me and said, "You know how I told you not to write that letter? I changed my mind."

Dear Teacher –

I’m sad to have to write this after having such a pleasant visit with the class on Friday. You seem like a nice person and Colby obviously loves you a lot, but I don’t think this is something that should be swept under the rug. This is about the content, tenor, and very fact of your apparently in-depth conversation with my four year old daughter about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

On election night, Colby shared some of your comments regarding the presidential candidates - that Hillary Clinton is a “liar” and a “bad person,” and that anyone who says bad things about Donald Trump is making it up. She also said something about Donald Trump’s “Wall” and how it would “help people,” but I’m hoping something was lost in translation there.

I have tried, and failed, to understand what would lead you, her preschool teacher, to believe it was appropriate to say these things to my four-year-old child. It is completely unprofessional and totally out of line.

I understand and support the discussion of elections in general terms, even in preschool. It’s an important aspect of American citizenship and I don’t think you’re ever too young to learn what it means to be a productive member of society. As a rule, I try to be honest and straightforward with my children about the goings-on in the world. But while I don’t want them to live under a rock, I don’t think they’re old enough to comprehend an unfiltered account of American politics, particularly the toxic brand exhibited in the 2016 presidential campaign.

I have tried very hard to shield both of my children from the ugliness of this election season. Granted they pick it up outside the home, from friends, relatives, or at school (though I always assumed that would be from their peers, not their teachers!) We don’t watch the news with them, we didn’t let them see the debates, I even switched off NPR in the car whenever a story about the latest election “scandal” came on. They are clearly aware that I prefer Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, and of course they ask why, but in the spirit of not saddling my small children with my own political baggage, the farthest I have gone is to say I prefer Clinton because Trump has said hurtful and disrespectful things about many different groups of people (though, to be honest, my true feelings are much more… colorful). I don’t think reasonable minds can disagree that Donald Trump has said some pretty awful things about many groups of people, including women, gays and lesbians, Muslims, immigrants, and Mexicans, to name a few. So, to hear my daughter say her beloved teacher told her that anyone who says Donald Trump is mean/hurtful/disrespectful is “making it up” really stopped me in my tracks. Essentially, you told my daughter I am a liar.

The poor girl was in tears last night. She is basically having a crisis of conscience because she doesn't understand how two very important people in her life could be telling her opposite things. It has really shaken her. She is too young to learn that adults have just as many flaws and foibles as kids do (a lot more, probably!) If it was just “I choose Trump, you choose Clinton,” that would be one thing. But you have told her that her mother’s candidate of choice is a liar and a bad person, thus calling into question my integrity and judgment.

I understand teachers are people too, with their own values and beliefs. I understand this is a thorny issue, balancing the rights of free speech with the rights of parents to raise their children in the manner they see fit. I understand this is a private preschool, and that the YMCA itself was founded on conservative Christian beliefs. I also understand that, eventually, my children are going to face a full frontal assault from the “real world” and they will have to sift the information they gather there and make their own, informed decisions. What I do not understand is why you, a teacher, and a mother, thought it was okay to put all of that on my daughter’s plate in preschool. How would you feel if the situation were reversed? I can't imagine telling someone else's child that his or her parents' pick for presidential candidate is a terrible person, even if I believed in my heart of hearts it was true. I mean, why don't you just tell her there's no Santa Claus, while you're at it?!

But, since you seem to want to defend Donald Trump to my four year old, maybe you could also explain to her why Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States, impose an ideological screening test for immigration, why he claims Islam is synonymous with terrorism, why he plans to make American Muslims “register” in a database, and why his camp is citing Japanese internment as precedent. Keeping in mind Colby’s grandparents are Muslim immigrants from Iran. Not to mention Colby's other favorite, your co-teacher, a Pakistani immigrant.

Maybe you could explain to her why Donald Trump's top Supreme Court picks are openly hostile to the LGBT community, why he has promised to revoke executive orders that protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, and why his vice president Mike Pence believes that homosexuality is a choice and a sin, believes in “conversion therapy,” and passed a law based on a convoluted understanding of “religious liberty” allowing businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Keeping in mind Colby’s uncle (my little brother) is gay, as well as countless other family members, co-workers, and friends.

You could also explain to her why Donald Trump wants to build that border wall. I guess it's because he wants to "protect us" from all those Mexicans rapists, drug dealers, and criminals. And why he wants to create a “deportation force” to deport millions of immigrants and tear millions of families apart. Keeping in mind that nearly forty percent of California’s population are Latino, native and immigrant alike, including our friends, family, co-workers, and your very own students.

Perhaps most importantly, you could explain to my four-year-old daughter why the President-Elect of the United States thinks it’s acceptable to just “grab a woman by the p*ssy,” because when you’re rich and famous, “you can do anything.” Keeping in mind she is a little girl who will one day be a woman. A woman who will, in all likelihood, be treated this way by a man some day, and who will NOT, so help me God, let it slide, nor minimize, legitimize or trivialize it with platitudes like “locker room talk” or “boys will be boys.” I plan to teach my son the same.

I am sure you have your reasons for casting your vote for Donald Trump, and while I vehemently disagree, to paraphrase Voltaire, I will defend to the death your right to cast it. (Okay, that’s a little bit much. Maybe not to the death, but, let's say to my "extreme moral discomfort.") That is democracy, for better or for worse.

However, in the future, if you wish to question my personal political choices, or debate the virtues (or lack thereof) between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, please do so directly, and not by using my four year old as your go-between.

The End.

Just kidding. This reminds me - recently a cousin of mine who lives in a red part of (what used to be, sob) a blue state, posed the quandary of what to do if the only qualified and affordable child care you can afford happens to be a proud, card-carrying Deplorable. That's a tough question. I mean, we've had really republican, really religious nannies and babysitters before. And then there's the whole "secular prayer" BS at Jack's school last year. I figure a little religion can't hurt. I actually remember my babysitter as a kid once told me, when I was four, that "Jewish people don't exist." I replied, "Yes they do, because I'm Jewish." I'm not, but, eff that. (I guess there's a certain poetic circle of life vibe to this story after all ;)) Anyway, I guess for me, the rubber hits the road when the person starts negatively shaping my tiny human's little brain. And yes, since I made said tiny humans, I get to subjectively define "negative" in this case. I would say that advocating for a "border wall" to "protect us" from Mexican "rapists and drug dealers," believing a Nazi database for Muslim Americans is warranted, and arguing that gays, lesbians or any other humans are not entitled to equal protection under the laws is where I draw the line in the sand.

Okay, I'm REALLY bad about promises like this but I do think this is my last political post. Probably. Maybe. At least until January 20th. I think :)

Okay this is kind of hilarious. C: Reuters/Dialy Mail.