Archive for June, 2010

Titanic conversations.

June 27, 2010

Me’ feels she has to share her disturbing feelings about a certain movie and get some reassurance.

Me: I’m just thinking about that scene in Titanic with the Irish lady and the…

TMD: What? What scene?

Me: You know, in the movie Titanic, the mum knows she’s not going to get her or her kids out from below deck, so she..

TMD: I am just thinking about that Irish lady we saw at the park today.

Me: Yeah, well, anyway – the Irish lady sees she’s not going to get her boy and her girl out, and so she takes them back into their room, tucks them into bed, and tells them a lovely story. But she knows they are all about to die.

TMD: Starts crying.

Me: What? What are you….are you okay?

TMD: Still crying. Why would you tell me that? That’s a horrible thing to tell someone.

Me: Thinking, I know, that’s why I told you. I wanted to say that wouldn’t it be awful to pass your baby through the gate and never know if they’ll survive, but you know you’ll die….but they probably will survive and that’s all that matters. Um, I just thought you would know that scene. I’m sorry.

TMD: I am hot, and tired, and emotional. I did not know that scene; I’ve seen the movie only one time. That is a horrible thing. Begins to cry again. I don’t know why you would tell me that. Grabs a baby from me and throws them in the bathtub, grabs the other kid and says, Your mama just told me a horrible story.

Me: …..Feels a terrible urge to laugh, even while still worrying about the boat going down scenario and the chance to save your child. Or the even worse one of knowing you’re all about to die, but trying to stay calm and make your children feel safe, loved, and happy.

TMD: Bathes children.

Me: Writes blog entry.

TMD: (in bathroom) I just love you guys. Starts crying again. I love you so much. You are the best babies ever, and I love you more than anything.

Me: Feels distinctly uncomfortable about writing about this, and clicks ‘save to drafts.’

——-

10 minutes later

TMD: You made me feel really uncomfortable with that story you told me.

Me: I wrote a blog entry about it.

TMD: I thought you would.

We make all decisions based on intelligent conversations.

June 26, 2010

(can you believe this happened a month and half ago?? IMAGINE how good their raspberries are now after six additional weeks of practice!)

I never lie on my blog. (Or: An excerpt from my new book, 293 fast & easy ways to mess your kids up for life!)

June 25, 2010

We had black bean quesadillas for lunch.

Snort just pooped and his poop had visible beans – a usual sight round these here parts. The amazing part is that his poop smelled JUST like the quesadillas.

I was actually attracted to it. I floated up out of my body and watched as I wiped his butt, sniffing deeply, and said, ‘Mmmm….I could wipe this right off here, honey, and put it on a tortilla and eat it right up! Yum yum!’

Not my first time being a good egg.

June 24, 2010

We’ve been away, just got home today. Lots to say – but this week was full of firsts. First time to the seaside, first trip to the zoo, first scones.

Also the first time I’ve been called by my fertility clinic to say, hey, you know the lady you anonymously donated eggs to? She wants more of your good looking, super smart eggs should you choose to do IVF again.

I tell you, my genes make good babies, yo. I mean, if her baby had been born snaggletoothed and unable to blow good raspberries, she probably wouldn’t want more eggs.

More thoughts on this later.

Things people do.

June 22, 2010

The scene: a pavement running alongside a beach. The players notice a concrete steep ramp leading down to the beach area.

The players: Leads are a beautiful goddess in a wheelchair and the babies’ grandpa, who is pushing the wheelchair.

The thought in the goddess’ head: Ooh, wouldn’t it be funny if the wheelchair ejected me from it at the bottom? Oh well, let me just throw my hands up over my head, squeal, and pretend I’m on a rollercoaster.

The action: The wheelchair picks up speed as the male lead half runs down the ramp. The female lead’s hands are in the air. The front wheels hit sand and stop spinning, and the goddess flies through the air and lands in a broken heap on the beach.

Unconditional parenting….or giving your own kid play therapy?

June 18, 2010

It’s no secret I’m into natural parenting, gentle parenting, attentive parenting, attachment parenting…whatever labels you put on it, I am into paying attention to my kids, conveying to them that they are loved, having fun with my kids. I believe my kids, just because they happen to be babies, are not subhuman. I take their needs seriously. I also trust them to know when their tummies are full, when they are sleepy, and when they want to be cuddled versus left alone to play.

That being said, I’ve been hearing more and more about something branded ‘unconditional parenting.’ I’ve not read The Book on it, let’s get that out there. But I’ve heard anecdotal stuff, I’ve read some research papers online, and…..I’m horrified.

The idea behind it is good: to let your child know they are loved for who they are, not what they do. I AM BEHIND THIS A MILLION PERCENT.

But part of this, a major part of it, seems to be not offering your child praise.

So, if you child has been working really hard on a painting, for example, and shows it to you, you might say, ‘You used blue and red and green.’ Or ‘Tell me about what you have drawn.’

I don’t see anything wrong with this, but let’s be clear: I think these techniques and theories might have been drawn from child centred play therapy. And that is something I have read the books on. It’s something I’ve done, and done well, with children who are needing some therapeutic support. It’s for kids who are having troubles at home – and who, dare I say it, might not be getting positive praise from their parental figures.

I believe empty praise is shit, don’t get me wrong. But if your child does something they are clearly proud of, they have worked hard at, and they show it to you ? I think a lovely ‘That’s a great painting, Snort!’ isn’t misplaced. Of course, you can follow it up with, ‘Coco, looks like you had a lot of fun making that painting, did you? Tell me about it! What a fantastic job.’

When our kids are little, they are self-contained in many ways. They have the seeds – the ‘nature’ bit. But babies, toddlers, and children look to their parents (I include whoever is the main attachment figure here – be it a grandparent, uncle, whoever) to give them feedback…this is the ‘nurture’ bit that helps them grow and bloom. When you convey to your child that you love them, you are proud of them, you think they do a good job at things, it helps them to solidify an inner picture of self-worth, confidence, and resilience.

When I am with a child in the context of play therapy, I stick more to observational comments and questions. For instance, my longest term play therapy client was a child who did not have any consistency or safety from her life. My job was not to be her parent, my job was to help her regain some of the things she’d lost, and to develop things she’d never had an opportunity to do.

My job was to help her explore her pain, her fear, her anger. She was seven years old.

I cared very deeply for this child and believe she knew it; we had a fantastic relationship, we had a lot of fun, we shared a lot of troubled moments where she confided things that she was worried about.

Her life was pretty fucked up, but you know what? Her parent loved her. Her parent gave her praise, and that little girl was one of the most creative and resilient children I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

I believe everything in life is about balance. I adore play therapy and I think the theory of trusting children to heal in their own time is fantastic. I think children are amazing, perceptive, and full of potential – even the ones who are throwing shit around the room, even the ones who are refusing to talk, even the ones who are hitting and stealing and lying. I think those children are even more amazing – and honest.

What I try to let kids know when I’m working with them (and this extends to teenagers as well) is that I trust them, I respect them, I believe in them. I am not a detached sort of therapist, and that’s because I’m not a detached sort of person. I radiate warmth, acceptance, and curiousity – or at least I hope I do.

After over14 years working in a professional and paid capacity with a very wide range of people ages 0-18, I can’t see how it’s good to never give your child praise. Praise doesn’t have to mean the end product is more important than the process. Praise doesn’t have to equate to pressure to be the best.

Praise can be a hug, a pat on the back, a smile, a few words. Well placed and meaningful praise can make your child feel special, loved, and willing to take risks in the world. If they receive what they need to get externally from their parent when they are young, they are able to internalize this and offer it to themselves as they get older.

I listen to myself when I talk to the babies, and there is no doubt that the therapeutic theories I’ve read, used, and taught have leaked into my being. About twenty minutes ago I heard myself said, ‘Okay, Coconut is feeling angry because she doesn’t want her mama to wash her face.’ I am always naming emotions (without any judgment or expectation attached), I am always describing what they are doing – but I am also always giving them a kiss or cuddle when things are going well.

I don’t want to ‘condition’ my children like dogs – that’s not why I do it. But you know, there are lots of things to learn in this world – what do I think of myself? How do I feel when my mama holds my sister/brother instead of me? When I wake up in the night and it’s dark, how do I feel?

I want to make sure my children are learning a lot of good lessons, lessons based in love rather than fear, or anger, or neglect. Praise is a form of encouragement and a message of unconditional love when done correctly, and to suggest that praise harms a child?

What a load of ridiculous fucking nonsense.

Phew. (Also, a note to Aussie.)

June 17, 2010

Okay, all. Snort just had his doctor’s appointment regarding his leg creases/hip. She said his legs are perfectly even (same length) straightened or bent, and she’d be very surprised if something was wrong.

She is, though, going to refer him for an ultrasound just to make sure.

All this sounds great, no? The FUN part is that while his exam took maybe 5 minutes at most, she then spent 10 minutes on GOOGLE trying to figure out if she should send him for an x ray or an unltrasound because of his age.

Google.

Aussie and I joke that we ourselves are doctors, in consultation with our friend and colleague Dr. Google. I guess this medical appointment was proof that The Doctah Is In The Hizzouse. Dr. Google, anyway.

I’m not too worried about the fact that she got her information from Dr. Google, because she did seem to know what she was talking about. And she was going to send him for a x ray before Dr. Google told her she was fucking crazy and his hip age still required an ultrasound.

Two doctors are better than one, hey?

The funny thing is that I mentioned I’d been googling to see what uneven hip creases meant while she was examining him, and she looked at me like I had a plague of Stupids living in my head. Imagine my joy (and consternation, truth be told) when I glanced at the computer – and only because Snort was throwing himself forward trying to get at the keyboard.

Seeing the google logo as the header of a screen when you have concerns about your baby? Take it from me, that shit is only comforting in the privacy of your own home, as you wield your magic fingers searching for the answers. She searched for ‘investigation of hip d_____’ (whatever the word), and I was like, ‘You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.’ At least she took her final referral info from what appeared to be a research study.

AUSSIE, NEVER LET THEM TELL YOU GOOGLE DOESN’T HAVE THE ANSWERS.

Reflections on why I was the only white person in the village at my last job.

June 16, 2010

Wow, it’s the morning after the post the night before. I am utterly blown away by the personal, profound, and thought provoking comments you guys have left. I sincerely encourage everyone to click back and read the comments - and I have replied to each and every one on the thread. I will continue to do so should more appear.

It was a common occurrence that while reading, I would feel an internal ‘click’ and have a moment of clarity. So many of the comments are written more elegantly than I was able to write yesterday. So many of you ‘get’ what I’m saying, and that has made me feel comforted, understood, and celebrated. So thank you.

A few years ago, I got into an interesting conversation with some friends. From my side of things, I looked around one day and realised all my closest friends were not white (with exception of several lovely people, who usually happened to be gay, Jewish, etc) . At my job, white people were certainly not the dominant group (I’m white, for those who don’t know) and there was a huge diversity of people. Weirdly, whenever we all got together there’d be a white table, a black/asian table, and then a mixed table. I always found myself the only white person on the ‘non-white’ table, or in the mixed group.

And my closet friends then? A mixed race guy, a black guy, a mixed race girl (all straight). Time and time again, we were able to have discussions that none of us had with other staff members/friends. Time and time again, I was actively welcomed into the visible minority groups…and this is a pattern with me. When walking into a room of strangers, I will always pick (and be picked, thankfully!) to sit by people who are visibly minorites in some way (and I admit to sometimes using my ‘gaydar’ to make assumptions) OR to sit by anyone who is sitting by themselves and looks left out.

I am attracted to people who ‘get’ what it means to be a minority. Whether this is by firsthand knowledge (or being the partner of, relative of, etc) of being gay, black, mixed, asian, disabled…and the other myriad of ways people can be different.

I guess what my friends understand is that while every person is unique, some people are part of proud and strong minority groups. For these people, their skin colour or sexuality helps them to define who they are. They delve deeply into themselves for a wider or clearer understanding, they are aware of white privilege, of sexual politics, etc. My friends are a good group of people.

I am the person sitting at the table in the pub talking about mental illness and the impact it has on my friends’ lives. I am the person engaged in discussion about how powerful our groups could be if we joined together rather than pulling apart. I am the one having TMI conversations about how my Muslim friends get out of Ramadan fasting by pretending they have their periods, joking about how my Jewish friend brought me wonderful bagels at Christmas, listening to the impact of being mixed race. (I hope ‘mixed race’ offends no one….it is the going term here in Country B, I have no idea what terms are deemed okay elsewhere – enlighten me!)

Of course, my life has changed now in that my disability and family situation separates me from this old style of communication, but not my way of being.

I spent a long time on the phone with Aussie yesterday. (She’s not white, for those keeping track. Get out your racial identity scorecards!!) She instinctively understood what it meant to be different as an individual and as a couple, as her fiance is white. She is also Christian, and we had a deep and lovely discussion about the context the Bible was written in, the differing translations, and on and on. She enriches me.

She gives me understanding. We are both such pieces of this and that, and I suppose this allows us to understand and communicate easily.

I guess the difference between gay and non-white (sorry, hate this term but wanted to include all people who weren’t white)  people is that a gay child might be hated or rejected by their own family not just because they pick an ‘unsuitable’ partner, but because of who they are – even just on their own. Another difference is that my non-white pals are easy to pick out in a crowd, whereas I am invisible. I long to be visible, as my invisibility hurts me time and time again when people ask about  my husband, talk about my kids growing up to be straight (I don’t care either way, you understand, but I want them to not feel pushed aside or invisible should they be queer). Of course, I’ve not BEEN a visible minority my entire life so can’t speak to what it’s like….though certainly spending a lot of time in a wheelchair or on crutches has given me more insight. The flip side of being visible is that there is nowhere to hide, you are judged instantly (whether people admit it or not), and you are ‘outed’ without your consent.

I am the counsellor who adores working with trans people, who has worked extensively with people with mental illnesses, who likes supporting people to be curious about themselves…and ultimately accept themselves. I was the teacher who liked to speak in another language, and never felt more at home then when surrounded by Deaf people. Oddly, while speaking (signing!) all the time (for an admittedly short placement!) in another language freaked me out initially, I felt easily at home and I’m under no illusions that being gay has helped me to be comfortable in being different.

I am the mother who is already picking out books on diverse sorts of families and reading them to her babies who don’t yet understand. All they know is that they are loved and our family is lots of fun.

I cannot speak for black/asian/etc people, I cannot speak for all gay people, but I can speak for me.

I am instinctively more comfortable with people who have an understanding, or a willingness to understand, minority issues. Lucky for me, that circle of friends is expanding to include of lot of people who happen to be white, straight mothers (though lots of new bi/trans/gay moms as well!) who are raising the next generation to make choices based on love rather than fear.

Hopefully that’s something we can all get behind.

What do you do when someone thinks you’re a sinner?

June 15, 2010

You see that area on my sidebar encouraging you to ask me questions? It links through to a site called formspring, where you can leave anonymous questions. Rest assured, this isn’t a plea for attention, but a story.

A couple of weeks ago I got this comment/question:

I like you&want to be your friend.Afraid you won’t want to be my friend when you find out that I believe acting on homosexual feeling is sin.Will I have to keep it a secret to be friends or can we all just get along?I can accept you but can you accept me?

And my response:

I really respect you for asking this.

That being said, no, I don’t want to be friends with someone who thinks my life is a sin. Nor do I want to be friends with someone who has to keep such a big secret, because that’s not fair to either of us.

In fact, it makes me feel a bit awkward as I hope no one I do currently consider a friend has this belief. If you ARE a current friend and feel this way, it would hurt me, but I do wish you would say so. If you aren’t yet a current friend, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can compromise on this.

I think there is a difference between acceptance and friendship. I try to be a very open, accepting person – but I do have lines.

Happy to talk to you if you ever want to explore this further.

And there followed two more anonymous questions…and then an email. With a five page letter attached.

The kicker? This is a person I’ve chatted to a lot on Twitter. We’ve also emailed a bit  in the past. I really liked this person, and would have had no qualms about hanging out with her/him.

It’s interesting. Like a flip in perspective – I’ve found that people who are militantly anti-gay find it harder to be so once they know me. And in this case, I find it harder to just not advance into a friendship with someone who has radically opposing views to mine.

I’ve given this a lot of thought, and am edging towards a decision. I’ve not emailed the person my thoughts yet as I am still clarifying them. I had lots of biblical perspectives and interpretations to show her/him, and then I thought – Why? Why am I going to submit an argument/discussion based on a text that I certainly do not believe is literal truth?

Why, in fact, should I have to justify my life at all?

To this person’s credit, she/he was not judgmental. I was telling TMD about the line in the letter that was something like, ‘I see you living a public sin without repenting’ and it sounded worse than it was in the letter. If anything, this person was simply explaining why they believed what they did. Fair enough. I found it kind and considerate and…yes, misguided.

They compared homosexuality to any other sin – you know, casual sex, gluttony, gossip. The difference is that those other things? They are choices. I don’t feel my sexuality is a choice. I never have.

But you know what? Even if it WAS a choice, I don’t think it’s a bad choice. Certainly not a choice meriting use of the s-word. I won’t rip apart her/his faith, as it is important to them and  that’s fine. Do I understand wanting to be the sort of Christian who believes we are all sinners? No. But it’s not for me to argue with that person – and you know why? I don’t want to.

I have spent a goodish portion of my post-coming out life defining myself in opposition to people who think there is something inherently wrong with me. I don’t want to live like that anymore. Is it insular to want to surround myself with people who don’t have any big hang ups about gay people? Perhaps.

But when you live in a society that is heterosexist at the least, and homophobic as a matter of course – and in some places, homophobic enough to KILL gay people, well. I want my life buffeted by people who are more than just tolerant, who are accepting of me, of my life, of my family.

I can choose not to fuck around, not to gossip, not to steal a candy bar.

I guess what I’d like heterosexual people who believe my marriage is a sin to think about is this:

How would you feel if someone told you your marriage was a sin? That loving who you loved was inherently wrong? That acting on that love was perverse, gross, unnatural. That children should certainly not be raised by a man and a woman because, yuck, there is no way people like that should even BE around children. They probably sexually abuse kids, in fact.

The only way to really be happy is to love someone of your own gender, and if you choose to be a deviant and love someone of the opposite gender? Pray about it to fix it. Or just abstain from ever entering into a relationship. I know you think you love your husband/wife, but your marriage is a sham and I can’t believe you want special rights. If you HAVE to have sex with someone of the opposite gender (because surely that’s all it is – deviant sex – not a relationship), keep it in your bedroom and don’t talk about it, for god’s sake.

If you wear a wedding ring or talk about your husband, ugh, you should lose your job. Why are you trying to push your weirdo beliefs on the rest of us? If you want to hold your husband’s hand in public, hell, you’re asking to be stared at or had mean things said in your direction.

And please don’t whine to me about how your family is rejecting you because you love someone of the opposite gender. You have brought this upon yourself.

You are just shadowing the norm – two men or two women together, raising children, and it’s just sick and sad.

(I’m not implying the person who wrote me the letter said these things, but I AM saying they are the way I live. My sexuality is at the forefront of my mind because I come out EVERY SINGLE TIME I meet a new person. That’s thousands of little risks a year. Think on it.)

I’m losing weight just doing the shit that other people do all the time.

June 14, 2010

I’m a lazy ass. I will not quarrel with people who call me one, if they do so nicely.

That being said, I’ve clarified on my weight loss blog (still anonymous, sorry, but it’s sort of liberating!) that I will not eat unless the babies are eating. That means I don’t put shit in my mouth unless it is shit that I would be happy for them to consume. I deserve to eat baby-friendly foods, since they are the best, healthiest, and tastiest things. No added salt, sugar, or bullshit.

I am also determined to start feeding them at least two solids meals a day; up to this point I’ve been doing one as the pain (literally) of cleaning the floor afterwards has put me off. But TMD came up with the idea of using sheets like we did when they were eating in their bumbos rather than the table – first thing in the morning, two sheets are placed under the table.

After meal one, the top sheet is whisked away. After meal two, the bottom sheet follows suit. There is a final thick layer of plastic under these, so the possibility of a third meal is also there – but I’d only have to clean the floor once instead of three times.

Feeling pretty good today. Despite the pain in my ass (again, literally), I’ve served two meals, played outside with babies, and have washed ALL the dishes in the house (except the wine glass I am sipping Diet Coke from, because I’m fancy). I’m now even thinking ahead and sterilizing bottles as we need to leave to see Attila (my mean new Chinese physiotherapist).

So when TMD gets home, there is nothing to clean and the nappy bag will be fully packed. I’ve also loaded the washing machine with the sheets, baby washclothes, and towels. May start a load soon, but first need to pack bottles, pee, and locate socks and shoes for the babies.

This is the most mom like I have ever been, and in a sick way I have enjoyed the cleaning. Not much cleaning to ordinary people, but to me? This is the most work I’ve done in about sixteen years.

Snap.


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