Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Reading

As we prepared for Christmas, C had been reading Three Wise Women, by Mary Hoffman. 
Then, at my family gift exchange, where last year I received car slippers that had working headlights, and were 2 sizes too big, this year the Christmas Angel took pity on me and my brother's girlfriend drew my name.  She gave me this book:


Have you read it?  One review: 
It is tempting to say that The Red Tent is what the Bible would be like if it had been written by women...
It's keeping me company on this cold winter night, along with my cozy car slippers.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

That Smell.

In the past week, Miss C has made a few requests:

Tuesday: "For Christmas, I want Jesus, the kind that won't break."

Thursday: "For Christmas, I want to celebrate chanukah, so we can eat those pancakes, and light things."

The Menorah trumps the Advent Wreath by a ratio of 2:1.  It's simple math.  More lighting things equals better.  Add in a non-breakable Jesus and you've got yourself a good time. 

C has yet to say, "For Christmas I want a Red Rider BB gun with a compass and a thing which tells time."  But, I credit myself with nothing because it's only a matter of time before she catches on that most kids ask for goods other than non-breakable nativity figures and new religion for Christmas.  Tick tock.

In the spirit of the season, today we went to the mall, and at the end of a very short errand, dropped into a toy store where C played with some Papo figurines, and also some rabbits that wear clothes and live in a house.  Whenever we're in a shop, bookstore, anywhere with toys for sale, she quickly drops to the floor and begins to play.  Today was no different, except that this store was packed.  So crowded that Miss C eventually dropped the well-dressed rabbits and began to observe all the adults around her.  She watched people pull things off shelves, take them up to the cashier, pay money for them, and then walk out.  She turned to me with her mouth ajar, and said, "Is this the kind of place where you buy things?"  Apparently, she thought this mall place was more like a museum of play, where you come in, visit the rabbits, eat a soft pretzel, and go home.

We bid the rabbits good eve, headed out into the snow, and as the blast of air hit us, C asked, "So, what was that smell in there?"  And since I couldn't quite explain that it was Yankee Candle mixed with Perfume Hut mixed with Auntie Anne mixed with Abercrombie cologne, I told her that malls have a lot of different smells in them.

"That mall," she concluded, "wears too much perfume." 

Ambient aroma: simplified.

Brand-Smart Child

“I want a hamburger” becomes “I want a Happy Meal.” “Can I get a new doll?” becomes “I need the Twilight Barbie.” Don’t look now, but preschoolers know their labels. Even 3-year-olds recognize kid-brand logos and products, according to recent research." 
Has your kid recited a commercial to you yet?  In order to get you to buy IT?

This super brief article from Working Mother explains how we can grow a consumer savvy kid amidst targeted advertising.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teeny Tiny Dancer

Two stories:

1.   Back in September, I signed Miss C up for a weekly dance class for 3 year olds.  The class is held within walking distance of our home, at a neighborhood recreation center that hosts all sorts of programs for kids.  Several parents had recommended this class, and when C asked to go, I said, "Sure." 

I read over the program description before the first class, and then we headed over to the rec center. Miss C was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt.  We entered the gymnasium turned dance class and were swept into a flood of pink tutus, pink leotards, and pink tights.  C immediately took off her sneakers and socks and began running laps around the gym, barefoot.  Standard procedure.

During the 40 minute class, I sat in the hallway with a book, and intermittently talked with a few other parents.  From these sources, I learned that pink is the standard ballet color.  And that the teacher prefers all pink attire.  And no barrettes, just pink rubber bands. Because how can you head-butt your opponent ballerina if you're wearing metal hair accessories?  It just makes sense.

Since the teacher prefers pink, but does not require it, and since it was a class for 3 year olds and not auditions for the Moscow Ballet, I saw no need to run out and buy all pink gear.  I did dig into our pile of hand-me-downs and found a blue leotard and some red tights.  And old white tap shoes.  So, Miss C shows up each week looking like a 4th of July explosion.  Proudest American dancer in the U. S. of A.

On the third week of class, C and I went into the public restroom for a quick visit.  She was still in a stall, and I was washing my hands when the dance instructor came over to wash her hands.  We said hello, and then she headed out, while I leaned against the wall to wait for C.  It was loud, with toilets flushing and water running and the hand dryers blasting, so when another mother, also waiting for her child, leaned toward me and commented, it took me a few minutes to process what she said.  Or, maybe I heard her perfectly but just went into immediate denial.
She had her hand to her mouth to indicate the confidential nature of her comment (you know, the kind you make to strangers in public bathrooms) and said, "Is it just me, or is it strange that all the instructors are overweight?"

At that moment, both our girls exited their stalls and I ushered C to the sink and began doing all sorts of things for her that she can do for herself.  Like turning on the faucets, pumping the soap.  And then dance class began and I dug my nose into my book.

I didn't read because I was so distracted.  Did I hear her correctly?  Is this what dance culture is about?  I was disturbed by both her comment and my silence.  The mother sat across from me in the hallway, and as I avoided eye contact with her, I imagined going over to ask her, "Did you say it was strange that the dance teachers are overweight?  Or did you say it's strange that they are over eight?"

2.   NYT critic Alastair Macaulay reviewed a recent performance of the Nutcracker by singling out a dancer for being overweight.  He wrote:
Jennifer Wringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she'd eaten one sugar plum too many.
Macaulay has been roasted since writing this, and he's responded by pointing out that no one minded when he called a male dancer overweight: 
Fat, apparently, is not so much a feminist issue as a sexist one.
In this interview, Jennifer Ringer responds.  (The actual interview begins at 2:53):


Perhaps I don't know enough about the world of dance, but I must say that at this point, I'm feeling a little more open toward Fencing for Four Year Olds.  Or perhaps, Gladiator Preschoolers.  Something with a little heart, where all the instructors are hopefully, over eight.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Not Awesome

Oh Reality TV...do you remember MTV's Real World?
Where there were some likable people?  Along with Puck?
And we got to watch them, in Trumanville style, form bonds and argue, and hock loogies?
(HMG) – David Rainey, much better known as Puck, the rebellious star of MTV’s “The Real World: San Francisco” was badly injured after a car accident in Southern California last week and remains hospi
I've been away from reality TV for some time now, except for that episode of Hoarders I watched with Dave a few weeks back just to let him know that a few used teacups lying about?  At least they're not 4 month old rotting pumpkins. 

Anyway, here's a show about how important it is to have the perfect body and face on your wedding day.   Perfection as defined by the re-imaged and computer created model.

On this show, women compete to win the prize of plastic surgery in order to fulfill the dream of the perfect wedding.
According to the show's description:
contestants who are voted off risk walking away with nothing and losing their chance to be the perfect bride.
Because, you only get one chance to be the perfect bride!  And if you screw up, none of those life-long vows you mutter will matter one iota.

Can you imagine if they recruited the women for this show, and then instead of filming them fight each other for 4 months, surprised them with a Self Love Boot Camp?  And they all won? 

A girl can dream.

(Thanks to Ariel for sending this on.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A is for Awesome

Someone turned 4 last month, and since July she has been asking for an ant farm.

This request began one morning when C woke up and told me, "I just dreamed about an ant.  I want an ant, I want to have my very own ant."

That day, and throughout the next week, every time C saw an ant she dropped to the ground, plastered her cheek to the pavement, and declared that this just might be her ant.  She would wiggle along the ground, lifting her cheek only occasionally, and follow the crooked line of the ant, telling me that she should bring this one home "and take her to bed and snuggle her and love her and eat pancakes with her."

While I'm all for extending the love in our home, I'm not in favor of tucking Miss C into bed with a dozen ants each night.  This really, really, upset her, and she took it to be a "no" along the lines of refusing her food and water, because bringing an ant home, she informed me, was not something she wanted.  It was something she needed. And the ant needed it too, couldn't I tell by just watching how quickly they scurried away from her fingers as they tried to give tiny little ant hugs?

About a week after The Ant Dream, I was pulling C around our neighborhood in a wagon, and she suddenly began shouting, "AN ANT!  AN ANT!  MY ANT!"  She had been doing this, ant spotting, as though finding an ant on the ground in mid-July might be akin to spotting a giraffe wandering the horizon of our backyard.  A rare treat.  So, I didn't turn around, but said, "Mm-hmm," and kept pulling.  Her cries grew more insistent and frenzied, but the wagon was heavy and I had momentum on my side.  Starting up a wagon pull from scratch requires a lot more than continuous motion provides, so I wasn't about to sacrifice the roll we had going for an ant, even her ant.  So, she bailed, leapt out of the moving vehicle and darted toward the middle of the road where she assumed the plastered position. Next to this:
 
Now that's an ant I can handle.  I will admit that I didn't let her take the ant right away.  I thought maybe some other ant-addicted kid had dropped it and would be scouring the streets, moaning and weeping for the beloved single antennae creature.  We stopped by the ant area later in the day, and the ant was still there, waiting patiently, with some tire tread marks over it.  She scooped it up, brought her ant home, bathed it, cuddled it, and fed it pancakes the next morning.  And every night, I'd tuck her in, next to the snuggly plastic ant.

As November approached, the Mr. and I knew that we'd be getting C an ant farm so she could bring real live ants of the world into our home.  (Or, as a friend suggested, we could have just sprinkled sugar along our countertops and let the magic happen.  Cheaper, I suppose.)  We ordered the ant farm, but it came sans ants.  Being late fall, there was nary an ant in sight, so we placed an ant order and waited.  ( I do not recommend having your kid open an ant farm on their birthday only to tell them, 'The ants will arrive in 5-8 business days.')

5 business days later, it was a balmy Saturday afternoon and C and I were outside chalking when the mailwoman arrived.  (When I write that word, mailwoman, Blogger underlines it in red, as a mistake or misspell, but not when I write 'mailman.'  So how does one call their female postal employee?)  Our mail carrier, deliverer of letters and all things wonderful, as well as holder of bills and other unpleasant surprises, cautiously approached our house.  I assured her that The Beast was inside, our Boxer who would viciously kill you with slobber and love were he given any opportunity.  She smiled a rather distrusting smile, the kind that you give to people who think their pets are just fine despite any evidence to the contrary, like the Turner and Hooch type things hanging from his mouth.  And she deposited not one, but two packages into our mailbox.  We opened the big package and it was a beautiful book from my friend Katie.

The book is an alphabet tour of amazing women.  A is for Ameila Earhart, B is for Babe Didrikson Zaharias, C for Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, D for Dolores Huerta.  The biographies are one page apiece with beautiful mixed-media illustrations.  I love this book because I get to learn about living women I probably should have heard of, but have not, such as Maya Lin, who designed the Vitenam Veterans Memorial.

Of Nawal El Sadaawi the text reads,
When Nawal was born in Egypt, the births of boys were celebrated but the births of girls were mourned.
It goes on to quote her beautiful writing,
 "Nothing is more perilous than truth in a world that lies."
C and I sat there, chalk aside, reading the book and looking at the pictures.  After a long while, we got up and opened the second, smaller package, pulling out the vial of ants.
And the ants?  They're just fine

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reel Grrls

Reel Grrls is an after-school program in Seattle, Washington that teaches media literacy and film-making to teenage girls.

In 2009, Video Remix Artist Jonathan McIntosh taught a workshop at Reel Grrls.
Participants were given the assignment of mixing together video and audio from toy commercials aimed at boys and those aimed at girls.

Here's a sample mix from participants Sahar and Diana.  Enjoy!

Sahar & Diana's video remix from ReelGrrls Workshops on Vimeo.

(thanks to Rivqa Berger for sending this my way)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Disney Will Stop Making Princess Movies

Tangled comes out on Wednesday (shhhhhh, don't tell my daughter!).   In case you don't know, Tangled is Rapunzel. 
Except Disney didn't want to call it Rapunzel because they fear they are losing all the little boys of the world to Iron Man and Transformers.

So, two years ago they re-vamped this film and called it Tangled.
Which obviously will trick little boys into thinking it's just like Transformers.  They both start with T!

Also, they added more action. Watch the clip and see if you can't tell who they're trying to appeal to.

Maybe they should have actually called this movie The Prince.  From the clip, it appears to be his story.

Another reason Disney is waltzing away from Princess films: girls, by age 5, no longer want to be a princess. They want to be "hot."

No comment on that one.
Except, you know, this entire blog.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Alex Bogusky Has Left The Building

Former advertising super star Alex Bogusky is thinking things over.
Here he's called a media manipulator, daddy of 21st century advertising for some of the famed work he's done in reinventing companies through advertising. 

But in an interview with author Susan Linn, Alex is not talking about the Burger King Meat'normous sandwich, or Chicken Fries, or that meat-scented cologne, Flame.

Alex:
"You can't help but deceive a child if you advertise to them because of where they are in terms of their brain growth.... A child cannot understand that someone is trying to sell them something."

Susan:
"They can't understand persuasive intent.  They don't understand the fundamental basis of advertising.  And that's why advertising to them is inherently deceptive."

What about deceiving men, and the people who love them, with this one:
"a scent of seduction, with a hint of flame-broiled meat."
Image: firemeetsdesire.com

It's always good to see a creative person choosing to use their power for good instead of smelly, so once he's found his soul it would be so cool if he could revolutionize the company of, say, Broccoli.
And I think the Kidney Bean could use an image make-over, plus accompanying body spray.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pick-Up

Today when I drove to pick Miss C up from preschool, it was raining, the winds were blowing about 40 miles per hour, and anything not nailed down was whipping through the air.  There was a backup of cars, and while some people proudly claim to be first to pick-up, I am in the mediocre middle.
Today I was at the end.

I waited a quarter block away for my turn to pull up, and sitting there I saw this little pipsqueak sprint down the sidewalk and stop short right at the corner.  She looked about 3, a just-turned 3, and was clearly loving the wind.  Her massive backpack nearly touched her heels and when she spun around it showed a quintet of Disney Princesses.  She spun around one more time, looked right at me, then held up her fist and stuck up her middle finger.
It was unfortunate that I'd just taken a sip of coffee because I sprayed my steering wheel, Did she just flip me off?  As if to confirm, she pulled her other hand and gave me the double bird.

The mother, who was jogging behind her, was wearing Betty Boop pajamma pants.  And looked like, well, have you ever had family pop-in on a Saturday morning and you're not quite dressed and then half an hour later you find that you've been nominated to go get some bagels, and then you're standing in a bakery wearing that old nursing shirt that and your husband's long-johns and every one else has clearly bathed?

No?

That's never happened to you?

Your family doesn't do pop-ins?

Well, anyway, the mother looked like she had been thrust into the day before she'd fully pulled off the jammies, and it happens to the best of us.

Then, she sees her daughter standing there with the double-bird doing a sort of victory dance, and all I could think of was that time last summer while at the playground with C, I'd been having a lovely conversation with a mother I'd just met.  And her son and C were playing together, then sharing a snack, then C dropped her snack in the wood chips next to a puddle, and as the mother next to me called out, "No-o-o-o-o," in slow motion, C held up the goods, blew on it, and then popped it in her mouth.
Then, to soothe the distraught mother, said, "It's okay.  It hasn't been 5 seconds yet."  
Those moments where your kid does something that undeniably comes from Your Adult Modeling, and it's not the best modeling, but there it is on display for the world to see.

The mother, still jogging, raised her hand in an attempted spank of her daughter, but the beautiful thing was that the massive backpack provided a full body shield, and no matter what angle she tried, there was no getting to that bottom.  Giving up, she took her daughter's hand, they crossed the street, and made their way down the next block, the daughter nearly blowing away in the wind, the mom pulling at her Betty Boop pants, looking the other way as her Princess flicked off another vehicle driving by in the rain.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sexy Cancer

In today's New York Times Magazine, Peggy Orenstein writes about the new face of breast cancer awareness:
"Hot breast cancer. Saucy breast cancer. Titillating breast cancer!"
Read it here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Casting

"I felt it was a weird thing that every time you ask for a strong female role, it's written in this strange way where it uses sexuality far too much," she explains. "Or it's all about being a woman and beating a man. So it wasn't a surprise to me that the only way to do a strong female role properly was to not have originally written for a woman."
--Angelina Jolie, on playing Evelyn Salt, which was originally Edwin Salt, before Tom Cruise turned down the part.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fries with that?

Researchers from Yale University found that kids are seeing more fast food ads than ever before.

"The fast food industry has stepped up their marketing efforts," Harris says.

Harris and her colleagues analyzed ads aired by 12 chains, including Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC and McDonald's. She found that preschoolers are seeing 21 percent more ads for fast food, and older children are seeing 34 percent more — compared with 2003.


"The numbers are pretty amazing," Harris says.

Re-posted from npr.org.  For full story, go here.

For some inspiration, though, take a glance at Christina Le Beau's blog, where she recently wrote about banning McEducation.

Today I'm struggling with a little bit of despair.  I don't let myself wallow here too long, but this morning I heard three similar pieces of news on the radio.

And yesterday I took Miss C to the park to play.  There were 7 other little kids, and 5 of them were not overweight, they were obese.  And they were under the age of 8.  They were winded after trying to play tag, after trying to climb a slide, and all their little spirits wanted to do was play, but their bodies were not able to sustain it. 
One by one, each little one ended up sitting on a bench, swinging their legs and kicking at the ground. 
My heart ached. 

I see all these tangent efforts because the root of the issue has not been addressed.

I see parents all over trying to find the best way to talk to kids and educate kids in the midst of this nuttiness.  And there are organizations that serve as watchdogs, monitoring when companies have something really egregious that is being sold to kids.

We can ban selling cigarettes to kids and we can make laws about child seats, and bicycle helmets.
And we can see this incredible evidence mounting, and multiplying, that advertising to kids is really, truly, making them sick in their bodies and sick in their minds.

But still no policy to protect them.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Awards for Most Sexist Media Coverage

First, consider these statistics:

*Women are 50% less likely than men to seriously consider running for office.

*Women are 33% less likely to view themselves as qualified to run for office.

*Out of the 13,000 members of Congress in our history, only 2% have been women.

*Only 31 women have ever served as Governor, as compared with 2,317 men.

Name It. Change It. is seeking to change these statistics.  Naming sexist media coverage is the first step to Changing sexist coverage.

Here at Name It. Change It. we’re sick of hearing more about what women wear than what they stand for – it’s a tired, sexist trope that we see repeated over and over. Yet the Boston Herald took it to new level when reporter Jill Radsken consulted stylists to analyze Green Party gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein’s fashion sense. The title of the article: “She’s a great candidate…for a makeover!” One stylist suggested her hair looked like, “a Brillo pad that’s seen better days,” while another cycled through a list of complaints about her clothes. Nothing about her policy positions. Nothing about her qualifications. Just that she dresses “earthy crunchy’’ and her hair is an, “unmitigated mop.”
The Boston Herald is not alone:
Columnist Ned Cantwell penned a piece for the Los Alamos Monitor about the New Mexico gubernatorial race between Democratic candidate Diane Denish and Republican candidate Susana Martinez....Cantwell can't seem to wrap his head around two female candidates challenging one another's positions, terming that behavior "bitch-slapping." Mudslinging, when done by women, conjured up for Cantwell images of "mud wrestling" instead. “So far these ladies have displayed such lack of class we’re beginning to think, ‘strip down and get ‘er on, gals’,” he added. Sexualizing women candidates and slurring them as aggressive or bitchy for behavior that's termed normal for male candidates is one of the reasons fewer women run for and win political office.
Remember the statistics on Op-Ed pieces (80% penned by men)?

And it's related, indeed, that women are 50% less likely than men to run for office.  Because who wants to step into politics, only to have the lens turned onto her fashion sense?  Or her breast size?

When, oh when, do we dismiss men in politics by immediately ignoring their content and instead go straight to their packaging?
"He's a great candidate...for hair plugs!"

If my friend is right that pretty much "everyone in government is freaking hideous" can we just move on?
No?
Well, I guess we just have to keep naming it then, and working for change.
If you notice your local or national news coverage losing focus and paying more attention to a woman's suit color or hair texture than her stance on The Issues, feel free to name it here.  Call it your good deed for the day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Will I Be Pretty?

When I was 9 years old, the local YMCA held a lip-sync contest.
It was open to all kids, and my name was the first one on that sign up sheet.
Through a promotion at McDonald's fine restaurant, I owned a record.
It was Whitney Houston's single, The Greatest Love of All, and my older sister and I would play it over and over again, screaming into our imaginary microphones about the children of the future.  We'd leap from the bed to the floor in a flourish, ending with Find your strength in looooooooove!
Self-love!  That song was about self-love!  And how to teach it to the children, who are our future.
Even then, I was preparing myself to blog.

In a swift move of overconfidence, I believed that silently bellowing out this song, passionately mouthing the words, would be the same feat in a gym of 350 sweaty kids as it would with an audience of one sibling.

When it was my turn to perform, and the record was playing, I instead did my best impersonation of a Great Blue Heron: stood on one leg, the other leg folded behind me, foot held by hand.  The hand unoccupied by foot gripped the microphone, held it directly against my lips, which were parched and imperceptibly moving.  If the contest had given points for which kid could remain motionless for 3 minutes and 47 seconds, I surely would have won.  But instead I received a sympathy prize, a bag of candy, sort of like, "We felt embarrassed with you, here's some candy."

I thought of this the first time I saw a spoken word poet perform at a poetry slam.
Like, that lady would have killed it at the Y contest.
No shame candy for her, she'd go home with a medal. 

This is poet Kate Makkai performing at the National Poetry Slam in 2002.
The poem is called, Will I Be Pretty?

Intense.
Intensely sad.
And powerful.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Action (iii)

Do you often find that when you are grocery shopping, you miss watching commercials?
Well, Food Lion is here to solve your problem. 

Food Lion supermarkets will unleash 3GTv, mini-televisions attached to grocery store shelves running continuous commercials -- right next to the product being advertised. 

Screens will be in front of a display of organic red peppers, touting the virtue of this wonder food.  Kids will be clamoring for RED PEPPER RED PEPPER and beggggging their parents to please buy me some organic red peppers right now, and then the parent will reach for the Tasty Cakes and the Princess Spaghettios and shout, "Junior, don't fall for them commercials!"
 There will be massive meltdowns in the produce department because Junior never gets what he wants and it's just not fair.
Campbell's: Original Disney Princess Spaghetti-O's Shapes, 15 oz at Local Stores

I may have a few details mixed up, but seriously: do we need any more advertising in our grocery stores?
Is this not enough?

This action took exactly 5 seconds to complete.
I signed my name (#1391) and city.
You can also sign as Anonymous (for my Anonymous friends), and just put your approximate geographical location. 

If you don't plan on signing, at least visit the petition and read signature #1702.
People in Norfolk are just feisty!

(Oh just sign it, will ya?  What were you going to do with those 5 seconds anyway?)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ewwwww

Ewwww has entered the vocabulary of Miss C.
It made it's debut a few weeks ago, and it's frequency is pretty amusing.
Picked up from erudite peers, it's used on just about everything.
"Ewww, a worm," (as she picks it up and then cradles it to her neck).
"Ewww, rice and peas," (as she takes a mouthful).
Sometimes it's in context, but sometimes she's just thrilled to say it.
Reminds me of when I learned about Jinx Personal Jinx and used it on everything.
Because it was fun to say.

This weekend Dave and C and I went hiking in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, and on our drive back today, we stopped at a diner for coffee and sandwiches.  As a waitress made her way past us, Miss C pointed to something on the platter she carried and said, "Ewww, I don't like that food."  Then she watched as the waitress placed the plate in front of a customer, and I saw her lips make that motion as though she were about to do another round, a louder one, of ewwww, a round that would bellow through the diner and bounce off the walls, knocking us all over onto our plastic covered seats. A quick chat ensued: "Okay, that's enough ewww."

C:  "Why?  I like to say ewww."

Me:  "I know you do.  But, it's not polite to point at other people's food and say it."

C:  "Why not?"

Me:  "Because that's what they've chosen to eat, because they like it.  You don't have to eat it, you can eat what you like."

C:  "But what can I say?"

Me:  "You don't have to say anything."

C:  "But I like to say something."

Me:  "Well, you could say, 'That's interesting.'"

C (practicing):  "That's intresting." 

My tomato and guacamole sandwich arrived, with corn chowder, and C took a look, and said, "That's intresting."

Me:  "Sure is.  It's delicious, would you like a taste?"  She tasted the soup.

C:  "But, when can I say ewww?"

Me:  "You can say it about pretty much anything, just not about other people, the way they look, or the food they eat, that kind of thing."

We finished our meal, and made pit-stop before getting back in the car.

I waited in the hallway as C finished up in the bathroom.  The wall was covered with photographs of local diner patrons, in football uniforms, hunting jackets, and one shot of a large man with an enormous amount of chest hair wearing a cheer skirt and top, holding poms.  His mouth was smeared with lipstick and his leg kicked up as if in mid-jump.  There was another photo of an actual cheerleader, a teenage girl, standing between her parents.  She was wearing her blue uniform, matching blue eyeshadow, and blue glitter all over her face.

Miss C finally emerged, and drawn to the wall as was I, she pointed to the cheerleader and squealed, "A clown!  Look at her, look at the clown!"
I took her hand and moved her down the hall toward the car as she pointed at each photo and made comments in rapid succession.
She pulled her body to a halt in front of the cheering man with smeared lipstick.
"Well look at that clown!"  She stared in awe.  "That is so intresting."

Friday, October 22, 2010

From You, For You: Breast Implants

Coming Soon: Bigger Boobs Made From Your Liposuctioned Fat
At Jezebel today, Irin Carmon writes about  breast augmentation which uses your own fat, taken from your fatty places where you don't want the fat, put in your less fatty places where you do want the fat.  
Poor, confused fat. 
"The procedure's already been successfully tested in Europe and Japan, and now the company behind it is trying to convince the FDA to let them conduct a clinical trial here. The FDA isn't thrilled about injecting "blood-vessel promoting cells into patients who have had breast cancer," though animal trials have so far shown no adverse effects. But it's all happened incredibly fast by scientific standards, so who knows what the long term effects might be.
If all goes well and the procedure is used not only on breasts but to regenerate organs, it would be a unexpected social reward for both the vanity industry and those extra pounds we're carrying around. Hooray for the free market?"
Happy weekend to you.
And, give your fat a little hug today.
She needs love, too, you know.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Action (ii)

Last week I hosted a screening of Consuming Kids in my living room.
Consuming Kids

Last month, I emailed my neighborhood listserv to garner interest.
Of the several hundred people this listserv reaches, exactly two replied, "Yes."
A parent's yes, that is, which sounds like, "Josh has soccer and Alicia has piano and I work until 7 but I'll try to be there!"

I ended up with 5 great people sitting on my couch, which may not sound like a lot, but between these 5 great people they had 210 children.
Okay, not 210,but each of them had a small litter at home, which counts statistically for numbers in attendance.
It was all women, and although one father had wanted to attend, he and his wife played Rock Paper Scissors to see who would stay home with the brood.
Paper covers rock, she won.

So, in 6 degrees of separation, there were 210 people in my living room, represented by their mothers, who are out attending these things in the world while the young brush their teeth and get on feetsie pajamas and generally have no idea how much their parents are worrying for them.  (Call your mother.)

After the film, one neighbor mentioned that her kids get one hour of screen time daily, and that they determine the device (computer/TV/video games).   Also, since she has 4 kids, each of whom has requests about movies and shows they want to watch with their friends, she uses the website kidsinmind.com to determine what is appropriate viewing.  Rather, they use this website, the kids, and based on the family consensus, determine if it's something that falls within or outside the boundaries they've determined together.
(Side question: if you watched TV growing up, were there rules around it?  Did you watch programs with your family, was it laissez-faire, or violence but no sex, or sex but no violence, or bring it on, all things go?)

One neighbor, an artist, asked honestly, "Okay, I see that there's a lot of this stuff that's marketed to kids.  But, why should I be upset about it?  What is the problem exactly?"
The cognitive behariorist in me immediately thought, "Don't Should on yourself today!"

Her question led to more discussion,  and some sharing of what people were noticing with their own kids, their responses to the world around them, to media, and how they were processing it.  It was apparent: no two kids are the same, and each family had different things that top their List of Concerns. 

At 11:00 as the group made their way out the front door, I thought to myself, "Well, that was delightful.  Maybe next week I'll hold a screening of Halloween 5."  And then I checked the website, and there is no way on earth the kids would let their moms watch that.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Helping China, One Child at a Time

Aren't language classes so boring?  Filled with strange words, and references to foreign objects?
If you live in China, you need not worry that your child will have to learn a second language the hard way.
Have no fear, Tinkerbell is here.

disney-english.jpg
Here's the website for Disney English, and the pictures sure do look pretty.


"We never saw this as an effort to teach the Disney brand and Disney characters," says Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide. "We set out to teach Chinese kids English."











You don't throw in the towel in a market with 1.3 billion potential customers."
It is estimated that China's foreign-language business is worth $2.1 billion annually and more than 300 million Chinese are studying English.
 
Get 'em early on their Little Mermaid flash cards.  

Brazil, you're next.
[disney and english school] 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sexy, Naughty, Disney

A creative use of Tata Young's song, Sexy Naughty Bitchy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

150ish Days

It's been well over 90 days now.
This blog started in late April as a way for me to keep myself accountable, and to sort some things out.

More powerful than the absence of "stuff" in our house has been the addition of conversation among family and friends.
One friend said, "Don't get conscious about something, it will really mess things up."
Digging into a symptom has led me to unearth far more than I wanted to know about marketing to children, and the unique role it plays in our country.

I'm going to keep posting (with a focus!) through the end of the year, and then see if I've entirely tired myself of this topic.

Perhaps the next level will be a blog called, "The Enemy Will Surely Kill Us Recovery," which is a little more akin to how Miss C's playing since she started playing with mostly boys.
Or, "Kill Capture Die Die."  Something light.
How about, "Light Sabers are Not Magic Wands."
Oh the possibilities!

See how relaxed I am?
And balanced?

The focus will be to track the big and teeny tiny actions, the drops in a bucket.
Of course, it's hard not to notice things like this,
The Princess Jasmine dress by Alfred Angelo for Disney.
"designed for the stylish women who have grown up with the Disney princesses."

So there will be some "oh, I noticed" along with the actions.

But the actions are supposed to keep me sane. 
Otherwise you might find me half-dressed on a corner in mid-December, mumbling, "Cinderella ate my daughter."
Oh, there's already a book that covers that?
Well, onward then.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Unbalanced and UnAmerican

When the editor of Mamapedia asked me to submit a post from this blog, I scanned through and picked one that summed up the small changes I'd been trying to make, and sent it on.

Several weeks later, I got an email with the date that the post would be published.  I re-read it and thought, "Hm, not one of my finer moments, and there it is in print."  I read it and thought, "Hm, maybe I could instead re-submit something more neutral, containing more facts and information."

So, I wrote a separate piece, all about advertising to kids and how it impacts families, and sent it on, asking, "Mind if I switch?"

The lovely editor, who was named Ariel, replied to the effect of:  I've read both pieces and I think the first post is better written, and geared more toward an audience who don't have a lot of time.  But, whichever you are comfortable with.


So I stuck with the first, and it ran, and of the 70 or so comments, these were some snippets:

 Why are we blaming a company for something we as parents need to be responsible for. Disney is a company and they don't need to have feelings nor is it their responsibility to watch out for my child's well being.       --Michelle
I feel like most parents are so disillusioned and dissatisfied with their lives, that once they have children, they try and make little mini-Me's...only better.    --Nyle
Parents have complete control over the degree to which a movie takes over a child's life.   -- Lisa
Please let your girls be girls!  There is nothing wrong with being a princess. First Daddy's princess, then hubby's princess.  --JoAnn
Let's try to keep this in perspective and not create problems where none exist. There are too many other real issues out there!  --Amy
I am so sick of people telling us we are doing everything wrong as parents. --Julie
Everything in moderation is the key. In this article Mary, you sound insulting and come across as one of those "I'm a better parent than you" sort of person....And to tell you the truth if a vegen came in my house I would make sure there is something there, but I sure wouldn't feel bad and still have no problem eating my big juicy steak in front of them.   --Kelly
Finally,
It is un-American to hate disney and all the marketing that goes with it. If you dont want to be a consumer on any level move somewhere else and take her self-righteous attitude with you.   --Kim
There was a lot of great feedback in there as well, some supportive, some mixed, some questioning my deeper issues, and even some resources that people included. 

My hesitancy to let the piece run, I think, was that in looking at it months after the fact, that instance felt rather far away, so old, and not where I was, and not where I am now.
But.
At the time, that was how I felt: a little overwhelmed.  And I felt that it mattered enough to talk about, and to write about.

Have you ever been frustrated about something, and someone tells you, "Don't worry about it!  Relax."

How did that work out for you?

I prefer to say, I was in a mood of critiquing circumstances.  
Mainly ours, but perhaps some of that spilled over.

I think the reason a lot of my early documenting of these things feels far away, or not as relevant, is because I have spoken to others about them, and written about them.
Not because I've pretended to relax because someone else suggests I should be focusing on Water for Sudan.  You can care about more than one thing.  And you can care as much as you need to.

I can't end this one without referring to the unAmerican claim.  I've seen this exact statement, specifically for anyone who critiques Disney,  in different articles, about 6 times now.
Anti-Disney = unAmerican.

Just curious, but if you are from New Zealand or England or Brazil or Canada, what are some things that might get you called unEnglish?  UnBrazilian?  I don't even know how to write unNew Zealandin.  New Zealandish?
I want to know specifically who started the word, unAmerican.
And also, who connected it with an act of critiquing something.

Because quite frankly, I am so sick of people telling us we do everything wrong as parents.
And now, I must go and let my girl be a girl.
First a daddy's princess, then a hubby's princess.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Where Credit is Due

Over a week ago, my friend Katie was driving the long distance to Chicago, and stopped in Rochester as her half-way point.
After meeting Miss C for the first time, she commented on how strange it was to meet this person, saying, "I feel like I already know her from your blog."
And then after playing with her for a bit, added, "She is really into being Cinderella."

Miss C really is into Cinderella.  That detail hasn't changed since Recovery started back in April.
But what has changed is how she plays Cinderella, and what else she's playing.
When she plays Cinderella, there's rarely a trace of the scripted version, or the focus on looking exactly like Cinderella looks.  These days, Cinderella is both a doctor and a garbage truck driver, and her brother, The Prince is often shy.
These days, Cinderella has a sister named Emma, and she loves to tell Emma all about how to do things, and how to navigate the world.  When she's not driving the garbage truck.

When she's not playing one of the many forms of Cinderella, she is obsessed with insects, asking me if we can collect every specimen outside and bring them in to give them baths, make them beans and rice, and tuck them into bed with her.
When we find spiders in the house, she loves to lie on her belly and watch them as they scurry away from her nimbly moving fingers.
There have been some compromises: I let her catch the spiders in a jar and take them outside for release.  This seems a better option than her showing me how one is climbing up her arm the moment I step out of the shower.

Also, since she keeps asking for a pet tarantula, I've told her about ant farms.
Nothing against tarantulas.
Or, who am I kidding, everything against tarantulas, including the possibility of her slipping one under my pillow for snuggles.
Ants seem a little safer.  And really locked into that farm.

I don't talk much about extended family here.  But I'd like to take a minute and give some props.
I referred to the conversations that Dave and I had with our parents, the main suppliers Disney Princesses.  My parents would show the movies, and Dave's mom, who spends a good deal of time near Orlando, would find all the princess gear.  (Have you been to the Orlando airport?  Let the experts direct you!)
One thing I've learned through this process is that if young children are the targets of advertising, so are grandparents.  Grandparents have that great gift in life: to be able to think of the child's desire and delight.  Parents are for consequences, tantrums, time-outs, and torture.
So it makes sense to me that both our sets of parents were all into Disney Princess stuff on different fronts.
(Remember: $15 billion dollar industry.)

Dave and I had a series of conversations to help our parents understand what we object to, and that we're not trying to spoil their fun or bonding.
We'd just prefer them to bond with our daughter over tarantulas.
Is that such a big deal?
I would talk to my parents, he to his.
Dave believed this would give our parents the room to get pissed off openly express frustration if they felt we were being too uptight, demanding, constricting, controlling, unbalanced, or unAmerican.
Over time, the Grandparents have come to support us, and sometimes understand us.
And I'm really, really thankful for this.
Some props:

My parents have pulled out their old videos of my tumbling childhood.  Miss C loves watching these over there as much as she loved Cinderella.  She loves to watch my older sister, (age 4) pick me up (age 6 months) and drag my feet on the ground to show me how walking is done.  Apparently, I was a pacifist from the very beginning, as I never turned and tackled her from the knees, permitting this dragging to go on for hours.

Dave's mom is an expert shopper.  She has the kind of skill where she will hold up 27 items from a bag, one by one, tell us what each one cost at full price, then describe how with a coupon, PLUS the 75% off sale, PLUS the one-day discount of 9.4%, she only paid ONE DOLLAR for everything.
Boggles my mind every time.
It could be clothes, kitchenware, or dirt.
It could be any store, any country.
She learned to haggle while in a open air market abroad, and the experience profoundly changed her.  She came back like, "This is what they do over there," and Dave was like, "I think you can do that in our public market too."
Now she goes to Bon-Ton and glances at price tags as though they were mere suggestions.
Since we've asked for no more DP stuff (which is just mean, because, again, Orlando) (PLUS, they're always on sale, those DP's!), she, being a resourceful woman, being a shopper, found other outlets.
Like this recent gift:
If it says $6.99 on the website, that means she paid 27 cents.

And this one, which Miss C runs to in the morning:

She loves to stick the magnetic critters all over the pages, and make up stories about the pink crab spider and the tarantula, and then asks me to join in.  Since spiders have never been my strong suit, I opt for the ladybug, even though she always gets eaten in the end.

Long post longer: sometimes difficult conversations are worth having.
Sometimes sharing a book or DVD can help back you up.
Sometimes things take awhile to shift, and change seems impermanent.
And finally, learning that asking change of yourself  is hard enough, but asking it of others is a pathologically optimistic thing to do.
But maybe, if they are Grandparents, and hopefully, if the end goal is mutual, it just might work toward better.
Or, better enough.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Goodreads

I've created an account on goodreads in order to track and share all the wonderful books we've been reading, and all the wonderful books you've recommended.

If you've mentioned one and don't see it on there, drop me an email, or leave it in the comments, or even join goodreads and recommend it there.  I'll try to add each one to our to-read list.

Right now the list is heavy with books featuring strong female characters, and because Miss C loves Cinderella, there are many versions of Cinderella on there as well (the Korean Cinderella, the Caribbean Cinderella, the Cambodian Cinderella).  I figure if she's going to talk nonstop about Cinderella, we can continue to complicate her thinking, and work in some geography lessons while we're at it.

If you are interested in adult reading as well, such as Consuming Kids, or So Sexy So Soon, or Understanding Disney, I'll add a shelf for the big kids.  

Happy page turning.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Point

68 percent of those who watched Commander in Chief were more likely to take a female president seriously. Yes, even though it was just a TV show. That’s the point of all this—what we see on our screens matters. It shapes our imaginations, and sometimes limits them. “The more we see female characters who are hypersexual, one-dimensional eye candy, sidelined, or not even there,” Davis said, “the more it affects the way boys and girls think about girls.”
        --from  Newsweek, and thanks to Kivitasku for sending this on. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Action (i)

What do tomatoes and Princesses have in common?



Nothing!  

 To combat this, we signed up for this

Every now and then my husband and I would talk about getting our produce through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) instead of through the grocery store.  But it never seemed urgent enough, or neither of us researched it much beyond the conversation.  Or we'd hear that it cost X amount of money and there never really seems a good time to spend X amount of money.

Still, more and more people we knew kept raving about how delicious their local tomatoes were, how incredible their apples from the orchard over yonder.  Our neighbor, who joined a CSA, would routinely drop massive bags of vegetables on our doorstep because she would get so much food each week that her family couldn't eat it all.

More evidence mounted.  We visited friends in Massachusetts and upon opening their fridge to get creamer for the coffee, it looked like the farm had just emptied it's contents onto their shelves.
When I finally found the creamer, it was in a glass bottle, which I haven't seen seen since I was 8 and the milk man dropped our milk on the front stoop.  It was also from down the road, and was the most amazing thing I'd tasted this side of the Mississippi.This family talked about how they would get so much produce each week and they'd challenge themselves to eat it all before the next shipment.  (And, how I love a challenge.) 

The myth of the high cost was dispelled quickly when we finally tallied up what we're spending weekly and compared it to what you would spend over the course of a season through a local farm.  Local won for produce, and for other areas it was a wash.

Still, no action.  I'd taken to buying local produce at our grocery store, and as much as I hate to admit it: I am a creature of habit.  And old habits can be hard or sometimes scary to break.

I also have great intentions. I've always intended to regularly get to the many farmers markets that happen all over Rochester throughout the week.  Or even our public market.  But the actual practice was infrequent. 

Then I was stuck by the truth that I used to love my weekly trip to the grocery store: the convenience, the getting a coffee from cafe, wandering the aisles and pointing out fruits and veg to Miss C.  Mostly, that I could go anytime at all.
But it's hasn't been that way for quite awhile.  More often than not, I dread it.  C ends up sullen and sad when we leave, and that's on the good days.  On the bad days, she's crying because we didn't get the dolls, balloons, candy, or Princess blow-up pool on the way out.  And she reeeaaaaaalllly needed them.  By that time, there's not much coffee can do for me. 

So while many are drawn to their CSA because of the freshness of it, and how it is good for the Earth, and how it draws community together, I am drawn to it because of this: they only sell food.  And that's really all I want these days.

If you are a U.S. reader interested in researching what your area offers, take a look at Local Harvest.
This site helped us read through the choices in our area, and pick one that seemed a good match.
Some are straight-up you pick up the food.  Others have an option to work with your kids on the farm.  All sorts of choices.

(If you are about to comment, "Why don't you grow your own tomatoes?" or, "Why don't you plant an herb garden and an apple tree?", please see above section under Good Intentions.  Maybe next spring. )

(If you are a Rochester reader, interested in taking a step this way, The Good Food Collective has a winter option that is quite reasonable.  And looks seriously fantastic.)

And as far as I know, none of them are selling Aurora beach chairs with matching bikinis.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Toronto Film Festival: Mei Mei

When my friend Diana sent this my way, I had to resist the urge to get in the car and drive up to Toronto and find a way into the film. 
The trailer is gorgeous, and the story line even moreso:

A little magic helps her understand
that she can only save herself
by saving the world in which she lives.

The TFF description:  
Little Sister is a gorgeous film based on one of the earliest versions of the beloved story Cinderella. In this enchanting version drawn from ancient scripts – which filmmaker Richard Bowen discovered in a Beijing museum – we are transported to a time and place where boys are valued over girls.
Inspired by the two Chinese daughters he and his wife adopted, Bowen has skillfully created a family-friendly film that celebrates an important moral – that girls are as good as boys.
Watch the trailer, and if you are lucky enough to view it this Saturday, please report back here promptly!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back to the Screen

I'm back from Screen Free Week.
We made a lot of great food, some of which Miss C declared edible.
We read a lot of library books, introducing some of my childhood favorites like Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and James and the Giant Peach.

I think, for me, being TV-less was a very easy part of this week.  I'm not a regular watcher.
From time to time I suggest to Dave, as though suggesting going out to eat, "We barely use the TV, maybe we should just not have one at all."
And he always says, "Sure, might as well toss the computer too."
And then I shrivel up and die in a panic of How will I navigate the world?? 
I am a regular user of the InTRAnet.  And I've come to depend on it for everything from getting a phone number, to mapping something out, to news, to staying in touch with friends.
So shutting it down last week created this kind of quiet space in my brain. I felt a little more connected to the very physical world, the one with wind and fog human interaction.

And I got lost driving without my mapquest.
But, I found a great ice cream shop I'd otherwise have missed. 

I never did clean out that closet.

For Miss C, though her TV consumption these days is minimal, and consisting mainly of Super Why, she stretched out one day after an episode, yawned, and said, "TV makes me sleeeeepy."
And we've talked about this since, because it does make her sleepy, and she gets a little crabby transitioning from even a great program to doing something physical.  Sometimes I'll have a book next to her to help transition from the end of program, back into play and play doh.
Or I'll tickle her to death saying, "TV makes you sleeeeeeeeeepy!  Come back!  Wake up!"

Something new is always learned when venturing away from the same old.
We spent the last few days of Screen Free Week in the Adirondack Mountains, and I thought this would be the easiest part of tuning out.  We rented a small cabin surrounded by views like this:

Mt. Marcy
















Easy Peasey Lemon Squeezy, right?
The small cabin was equipped with the basics: a bed, a kitchen, and the biggest collection of Princess and Barbie DVD's you've ever seen, in your life.
Next to a TV and DVD player.
Beside a stack of Princess Bling books.

Sometimes I think God is just laughing at me.

The explanation to Miss C didn't go over so well the first day, because she believed we'd driven a few hours to camp out in from of the Princess DVDs, right?  This is rustic living?
But we quickly got into a rhythm of hiking and canoeing and more hiking, and found her to be so awesome at climbing mountains that we nicknamed her Boulder Girl at the end of a 4.5 mile trek one day, after she scaled to the top of one peak, climbing massive rocks and thick winding roots of trees. 

I'd read somewhere that when introducing kids to hiking and mountain climbing, they love scraggly trails and climbing with all their limbs.  This was definitely the case.  C was lackluster about plain old winding trails with no grade, but sprinted up steeper climbs like a spider.

In any event, it was a successful week.  I'm back a little more mindful of my uses of this thing, and that's never a bad thing.  I think we'll repeat the week in the future and maybe by then, I'll get that closet cleaned.

Friday, September 10, 2010

On an Unrelated Note

This has nothing to do with Princesses, or girl toxic culture, or commercialism, or consuming kids.
But today I'm guest blogging over here.
This blog is written by a creative and crafty person.
And it's read by other crafty people.
And me, who is not crafty.
But who fully admires and supports crafty people.
And is thankful for them. 
Because they fill the world with beauty.
And because I am a big believer in process, and I think to be crafty, one must submit to the process in order to get to the product.

But anyways, happy Friday, all you sewers and quilters and knitters and designers and makers of art!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Screen Free Week

Happy Labor Day!
Dave and Miss C and I will be having a screen free week.
We're keeping the computer shut down, turning off Super Why and we'll be spending the week...

*cooking a new recipe every day

*hiking

*reading

*dancing

*spinning in circles

*training for this triathlon (Dave's doing the whole thing, I'm entering with a relay)

*eating a big meal at midday, and then maybe two of us will nap and one of us will pretend the other two are mountains that are to be climbed up and jumped off

*looking at an actual map for directions because I am utterly dependent on mapquest

*thinking I'll finish a novel when I'll actually end up reading 102 children's books

*finally clean out that closet

*but most likely, not

Hope your week is wonderful.  I have a little post scheduled for later in the week, and then I'll be back.

What would you conquer, or try, with some screenfree time?  What would you miss the most?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Funtime



(Thanks to Carleen Brice for posting this gem.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Advice from Belle

Bunny has left note that Second City has added Belle to the Advice From a Cartoon Princess series (thanks, Bunny!).
I'm having trouble with the embedding (is that a word?  It sounds kind of sexual), but click here if you'd like to see her wax poetic on bestiality vs. interspeciality.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Reading



Mr. Seahorse...wherein the truth is told about certain male sea creatures: they carry the eggs!
While the sea women are off getting drunk with Ariel.  


Last Princess
The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka'iulani of Hawai'i...biography of a real princess, who works for justice, who is not saved, who dies too young.
I can't seem to find a lunchbox with her visage anywhere.


Wilma Unlimited, another American biography.  About a little girl with polio who is told she will never walk, and how she takes that information, tucks it in her back pocket, and goes on to become the world's fastest woman.

And, much to C's relief, she does not die young.

Frida (English Language Edition)
Oh, wait, here's one that does!  Frida, who takes her physical limitations and documents it through her unique and expressive paintings.  Which were recognized as unique and expressive decades after she died.  (I love that this book's artist depicts the young Frida as having her signature serious gaze, complete with a little toddler unibrow.)


basra.jpg
 The true action adventures of an Iraqi book hoarder.  Except she's a librarian and she's saving books from destruction by stealing them and having her neighbors store them.  Next to their WMD.
Although C pointed out that she's not following the rules, I used that moment to teach that sometimes, it's okay to steal 30,000 books.
But only sometimes.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Who's Missing?

One evening, as I was getting ready to shut down the computer, Miss C came into the room. I had 4 or 5 sites up, and C stood by me as I clicked down each one. She inhaled deeply as she saw, for the first time, this blog.
"It's the princesses!" she exclaimed. "Let's just look at them for a minute."

She climbed up onto my lap and gazed at the picture which appears at the top here. We sat, cheek to cheek, studying the group of them. She pointed carefully, naming each one, "There's Belle, Jasmine, Cinderella, Ariel...is she standing on her tail?" she asked, incredulous.

"It looks like it," I said.

She cracked up, "Mermaids don't stand on their tail!"

Then she went on listing, "And Snow White, and Aurora. The princesses."

Sigh. The princesses.

"But you know," she continued, "that's not really all of the princesses."
Except she says really as weeeweeee. Which makes it hard not to eat her up.

"It's not?" I feigned shock. "Who's missing?"

"Princess Tiana!" she exclaimed. "She's not there."

"Well, where is she?"

"Well," she chewed her cheek, "she got married. And then, she died."

"Oh," I said.

"And you know who else?"

"Who?"

She looked at me as this silly creature, always needing explanations.

"Mulan is missing."

"Where is Mulan?"

"She got married. And then she died."

"Oh."

"Yes."

"Is that all of them?"

"No. Because you know, Pocohontas is missing."

"Where is Pocohontas?"

Exasperated now, "She got MARRIED and then she died!"

"My my. Well, is that everybody?"

"No," she sighed. "Because Princess Presto is not there either."

"Where is Princess Presto?"

"She is flying around. And she's spelling cat, C-A-T."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Funtime

One minute provided by Second City---enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique


Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the World of Disney Store

From the Disney website:
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a beauty salon where little girls are magically transformed into little princesses at 2 locations: World of Disney Store in Downtown Disney Area and Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom theme park.
It's hard not to feel as happy as a princess in this charming little boutique, owned by Cinderella's Fairy Godmother and operated by Fairy Godmothers-in-training. The boutique offers multiple hair styles, nail color, make-up and a total package including Disney Princess costume and photographs.
Girls 3 years old and above can choose from 3 hair styles — Fairytale Princess, Disney Diva and Pop Princess — in 3 available packages.
The packages for your princess range from $49.95 to $189.95 .

But, if you have a boy, he can skate by on $7.50 with the Cool Dudes Package, complete with colorful hair gel.

My favorite of the packages, the Secret Star Makeover, touts:
Be your own star, just like Hannah Montana...
Because you can be your own star (just like Hannah Montana).
For $89.95 plus tax.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sex Ed

One day, when I was in 5th grade, my teacher tapped me on the shoulder and told me I could head down to the principal's office.  She was going to be beginning a segment on puberty and sex education.  As per school policy, a notice had been sent home alerting the parents, and each family was given the option of pulling their kid out if they desired.

My parents took the teacher up on this, and I, the lone student, wandered down to the principal's office, where I sat until the class was done learning about their bodies, their selves.

It wasn't that my parents didn't want me to know about sex, or the impending changes my body would soon undergo.  It was just, well, they thought they could do a better job explaining it to me.  They could answer my questions specifically, make the presentation fun and exciting, with a puppet show and some graphs and charts thrown in for good measure.  It would be the best sex education any 11 year had ever received.

And I bet it would have been, had they remembered to give it.

As it was, somewhere between pulling me out of that course and having lots of permission slips to sign and a brother who was always in the principal's office for other reasons, they forgot.  I got my sex ed on the back of the bus.  And if you have never been schooled there, I can tell you that it is terrifying.  

I sat near the older kids, and they explained all that they knew, none of which came from a proper sex ed course, or their parents.  It convinced me that sex should be illegal.  And then I started worrying about my parents.  Did they know?  I mean, maybe they didn't know.

So, one evening, as the plague of this miseducation floated in my brain, I got out of bed and walked into my parents room.  I stood beside their bed and asked them:
"Do you know where babies come from?"

I wasn't asking because I wanted to know.  I already knew, thank you Maly and TJ and Lucas. 
I wanted to know if they knew.
Because parents can seem so innocent, to an 11 year old.

My mom must have been proud, here was her kid, pulled out of sex ed, and now I was yearning for her to explain things to me!  I was coming to her.
She started to explain where babies come from.  She used terrifying words like penis and vagina and then I started to block out what was coming out of her mouth because although the terms she was using were not the ones TJ had taught me, and although the specifics were quite different, she knew.  I left my parents room, relieved that at least I didn't have to teach them anything.

And the next day, and all the days after that, I sat in the front of the bus. 

When I got to college, I became friends with a girl whose mother was the leading OB/GYN in Ohio.  And she found the differences between her sex education and mine hilarious.  Because by the age of 5, she knew all the female organs, where they were located, what their functions were, and whether they were derived from Greek or Latin.  She was not schooled on the back of the bus.

My oldest sister and I sometimes compare childhood memories only to find we were raised in entirely different families.  She recalls things from my early early days, and I recall things that she has chosen to forget.  And I remind her of these whenever possible.  We both have daughters, and we were reminiscing about old days, when she mentioned that I was the one who taught her what a vagina was.  The oldest three of us used to take our bath together, and although she can't remember exactly what age we were, she knows that I pointed out that she and I both had one, and my brother did not.

It should be no surprise then, that my daughter is moving from her stage of high interest in penises and vaginas, to one that mainly revolves around breasts.

The way this came about is not because I sat her down at the wise old age of 2 and began to teach her, but moreso...well, my youngest sister put it best:

"I know that whole 'Why?' and 'What?' stage happens for kids...but it seems like C has been in that stage for an unbearably long time."

It's been painful for all of us.

The stage of nonstop inquiry:  when she asked about What's that?  and What's that?  I told her.  And when she asked more, I would tell her a little more.  And then she found a book in my pile of therapy resources, and it's become almost as popular as Cinderella:
It is great for any age, and I have yet to find a Joanna Cole book that isn't superb.

We've been reading this on and off for over a year, and every now and then Miss C's thoughts and how she's processing this info will emerge in regular conversation.  An example, from last week:

C: "Dad, tell me a story about when you were 3."

D: "Well, one time when I was 3, I went hiking with my..."

C: "Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait.  Where was I?"

D: "Well, I was 3, so you weren't born yet.  But you were in my heart."

C: "You mean, I was in your sperm heart."

Dave looks at me over her head, I shrug.  Better than the back of the bus.

D: "Well..."

C: "Yes, I was in your sperm heart, and I was also in mama's egg heart.  Okay, so what happened when you were 3?"

This one we could chalk up as sort of funny, but whatever it was, it was in the privacy of our own home.  A little lower on the funny scale, a little higher on the Where is the wine? scale would have been several months ago, while at a family gathering, when she greeted each member who entered the home with,
"Hi Uncle Sean.  You are a man, so do you have a penis?  You don't have a vagina, you have a penis, right Uncle Sean?"
And badgering them until they would claim their junk.

When she gets on this quest for knowledge and the confirmation of it, I can identify.  Because don't we all have that same burning desire to know?  Mine is a little more quiet, and tends to be satisfied through reading.  Or google.  Because I will google pretty much any word, except that one, Anonymous Commenter # 12, that one I will leave to you and your expertise, and now you know why I like terms that are for 6 year olds: my sex education just barely passed that age.

I still have no idea how that kid got into my womb, much less this house.

Every now and then I'll turn a corner and shout out of sheer fright that there is third human living here, and then she calmly explains to me that her Dad has a sperm heart, and I have an egg heart, and then I block out everything that follows.