Making Traditions that Last

I think its a pretty regular theme of my parenting to give Punky lasting memories and consistency in her childhood.  I think this is why it’s so freaking awesome to be able to actually interact with our child during the holidays.

Of course, we are all about the Easter Bunny in this house. From the mom who sends over 100 letters from Santa to kids everywhere, I am not holding punches when it comes to Easter either.

I have no idea where the ideas of eggs and chocolates and bunnies came into play on a day that was supposed to be reserved for a man who rose from the dead in a really long, time honored tradition throughout the church circuit.

Regardless – I don’t really care why the holiday was given quirks. Much like Christmas and other religious holidays. I am sure people think that the ‘spirit of the day’ is ruined, but I love that it’s more about family and traditions, and the magic of the season.

If you believe people can rise from the dead and walk the Earth, and not eat your brains – more power to you. I don’t think that my traditions of coloring eggs and hiding them through out my house – gathering with my family with a free meal and filling my toddler with a complete and total sugar high is taking away from yours. Really. We can all celebrate the holidays – it doesn’t have to mean the same thing to every where.

So, without further ado – here’s our version of an awesome Easter Eve festivities.

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My mama and my sweet niece are coming to visit me from 3 hours away tomorrow. Which means, I needed to spruce up my apartment a bit. This was my preparation station for the eggs. We dyed eggs last year, but Punky wasn’t really able to participate – so this year was super exciting for me.

However, I got the fake eggs, that look like real eggs, because I was hoping that she could dye them with less mess and possibly less cracks. When we went to dunk them in the vinegar, they didn’t sink! They floated to the top. So … that was a bust.

I had to make a quick trip a block down the street to the grocery store for real eggs, while Kim prepared the boiling water for my return. Miss Punky was less than thrilled to be stopped in the midst of her Easter fun. That was the first of many tantrums this evening.

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Those eggs were ‘making colors’ for what felt like FOREVER. I finally convinced her to pull them out, after another tantrum of course, but we got her to pick them up, gingerly as a two year old can, and transfer to the carton. We only had 1 spill!

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Basically, one of those orange ones was supposed to be yellow and when she pulled it out, she dropped it into the orange bowl and flipped out! I just told her the egg needed a little orange too! The things I make up – I never really noticed all the strange things moms say to their kids until they come out of my mouth.

After a meltdown over bath vs dinner – her mothers did win – a time out and snotty nose later, we ate dinner, had a talk about nice girls getting a visit from the Easter Bunny, she then proceeded to pull her pants down and waddle to the bathroom. “I hafta go potty.”

That’s new. Well, not completely new. But the pulling her pants down was pretty new. She sat on the potty and didn’t do anything, but it seems like more a thing right now for her. We aren’t proactively doing anything, we are still formulating a plan of attack to be honest. The whole thing intimidates the shit out of me. She’s initiating the moments though, so right now, I figure if we keep responding, one of these times she may actually pee in there.

After our overly sensitive two year old was tucked into bed, I got to put together the basket. Since my niece is coming to visit tomorrow, I didn’t want to leave her out of the festivities, even though I know the Easter Bunny is going to visit her house too. I know how it feels to sit in someone else’s house and watch another kid get presents on a day that’s not their birthday and not get anything.

So, she has a ‘bowl’. It’s all I had. I had to borrow the basket I got for Punky! Quick thinking, some Easter grass and a whole ton of chocolate later, and I’m pretty proud of my modest make of Easter this year – when finances are tough and we are pretty much broke. But that’s a post for another day.

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So here’s to starting more traditions with my dear one and making her childhood everything it could ever be. And, I will let the magic of her childhood continue for as long as it absolutely can!!

Easter dress and family fun tomorrow! Sure to be a post on that.

Let’s Talk About Bullies

This has been weighing heavy on my mind lately. In a world where there are parents teaching their kids it’s ok to use their fists to fight their battles. Where parents are teaching kids that people unlike themselves are weird. We are teaching kids that you must be exactly the same as everyone else and if you aren’t, you shouldn’t be friends.

Just a few months ago, I had a conversation with a certain five year old about how weird ‘geeks’ are. EW!

I was appalled at the words coming out of this little girl’s mouth. I’m a geek, I said. That’s certainly not a lie. I love all things fantasy and Dr. Who is slowly getting me hooked on the science coolness of things. She said, “NO. No you are not!” She sounds disgusted and I wondered how she treated her classmates in regards to such a word. I’m raising my own kiddo to be a geek.

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Instead of celebrating the differences in people, we have kids calling each other “fags” in the hallway. Using “gay” as a term to be used as stupid or insignificant. Kids are taught in church and in the home that you shouldn’t be friends with anyone who is a ‘sinner’ and doesn’t believe in God like you do. (side note: I was told this in my own Sunday School class. I was told to steer clear of those who don’t believe in God. When I challenged that with questions, I got strange looks and was made to feel small and ashamed for questioning.)

Instead of teaching kids to think for themselves, we are telling them how they should feel. How they should behave. How they should believe. We are breeding intolerance. We are breeding acceptance to violence. We are breeding a generation of kids who will use their fists instead of their resources. Instead of their words.

I feel like some parents are playing the part of bullies. When  you tell your child that they must ‘stand up for yourself’ and not be a ‘pussy’ you are using negative terms to force your kid to feel bad about their walking away from confrontation. When we tell our kids it’s not ok to ‘narc’ they feel less empowered to tell an adult about the bullying.

This leaves them with little to no choices. Ignoring, walking away, and telling an adult has all been proven to help diminish the power a bully has over a child. Bullies need to feel power over something, they need to have a reaction. If they don’t get one, logic would say they will get bored. Why are we taking away our children’s only ammo to defend against bullies and ‘stand up for themselves.”

Bullying starts with the parents. Let your kids be themselves. Let your kids think for themselves. Build up their self-esteem so they are confident in who they are. Be an open book, let your kid know you are there to answer their questions and to talk about anything they need to talk about. Demonstrate ways to resolve conflict without raising your voice and without violence. Demonstrate in your home how to tell an adult about harmful things without being a ‘narc.’

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Our kids will always encounter a bully. Whether in school or at work. As a child or an adult. Bullies are everywhere because in the end, their parents taught them it’s ok to use violence and negativity to get what they want out of people. It’s our job as parents to curb this and stop teaching our kids that it’s ok to bully people into doing what they want. It’s our job as parents to build up our kids’ self esteem so bullies have no ammo and no way to trigger a negative response from our kids.

As a lesbian mom, I know my kid will have some questions about her family and I anticipate that her classmates are being taught that her parents are not legally married and they are not the same. My biggest fear is that this sweet daughter of mine will be the victim of bullying. I am at a loss, because of my own upbringing, how to handle a bullying situation without standing up and using your fists.

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When I say she can just tell her a teacher or an adult, I remember that when I was in school, the teachers didn’t really do much or were not very effective. Also, I remember being told that if you ‘tattle’ you were a narc and it could increase the bullying later.

(edited: in response to Ashley’s comment below, she made me think!)

There is a fine line between bullying and sticking up for yourself. The problem is that there has to be a better solution other than violence for violence; an eye for an eye. I want my kid to defend herself, but can we not teach our kids there are more acceptable ways of doing that without hitting back. I was brought up that if someone hits you, hit them back. That was acceptable. However, I’m beginning to wonder if that was a good idea on my parents’ part. We were taught it’s ok to fight back, but 9 times out of 10, those kids who ‘hit back’ are the ones punished. So then, what lesson does that teach the victims of bullying.

At such a young age, can we not try and teach our kids that hitting isn’t acceptable regardless of the receiving end of the violence. If we allow this behavior at school age, do we then say it’s ok to hit me when you’re a teenager if you don’t agree with something? Do we then give the impression to our children that it’s alright to break the law just because we don’t think they are fair? Where’s the line where authority is respected and not just another person to blame or pin bullying on?

We are the parents who shape the new generation of children. Let’s change the way kids treat one another.

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The line blurs in the minds of little ones. It is bound to get confusing for them when they are told they can hit back and stand up for themselves, but yet they can’t back talk their parents and they can’t say no to their teachers whether they agree or not. Why is is acceptable for the children to hit back, but not to talk about how they feel, talk about how they want things to be, how they think the world around them should be shaped.

I just feel like this bullying epidemic should open up the lines of communication between parent and child. We should sit our kids down and say, “Hitting is never ok. You are better than that. Use your words. Tell someone. Talk to someone.”

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So how do we help our kids who are bullied? How do we help our kids from being a bully? I was a bully in my day, I certainly don’t want to repeat that in my kid. I also don’t want her to feel like her worth is tied up in violence and that’s the only way she can stand up for herself. I don’t want her to feel a sense of accomplishment when she beats someone up, either in retaliation or provocation.

So moms, tell me, how do you deal with the topic of bullying and if you aren’t moms of school age children yet, have you thought of a plan of attack yet?

The Guilt of a Newly-Minted None

The foundation of being a moral person has always been about believing in God and following the teachings of the church. If you don’t follow the path Jesus walked, you are likely a heathen or a pagan or the unworthy of Heaven. Or, if you don’t follow Jesus and the teachings of the Bible, you are just lost and possibly weird, on the fringes of society and destined to be an outcast.

Heaven has always been the goal that we strive for in life. Be a good person, doing things in the name of Jesus and you will achieve your rewards in Heaven. We are told in order to go to Heaven you must be a good person. In order to be a good person, you must follow Jesus.

What if you don’t believe Heaven is the ultimate goal any longer? Can you still be a good person? Can you teach your children to be good citizens of society without using Heaven as the end goal? Can people be moral and decent human beings without getting anything in return?

I believe you can be a good person without the foundation of religion. However, as a woman who has grown up with the church and the teachings of the Christian religion, it is something that is hard to rectify in my brain. It has been so ingrained in my heart and soul that you can only be a good person if you follow Jesus. If you do what Jesus and God decree as correct and proper.

I have spent the last 29 years of my life thinking that God was the only way. That Heaven was the end goal. The only other option is eternal damnation. If you aren’t following God, you aren’t a good person, so you can’t go to Heaven, and therefore, you will burn in Hell.

Hell certainly doesn’t sound like a nice place to end up. When you look at the descriptions of Heaven and Hell in the teachings of the church, who doesn’t want to say they believe in God and hope that they will get to go to Heaven. By taking the belief of Jesus and Christianity on faith alone, it is supposed to safeguard them from the eternal damnation of Hell. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Let’s not forget that Heaven is also a better alternative to ceasing to exist. When you die, you just are no more. I never really liked the idea of that happening either. So, what was the purpose of life? What was the goal? The end game? Ceasing to exist seems exponentially as harsh a fate as Hell.

So to alleviate either ‘negative’ outcomes at death, if we believe in God and the teachings of the church  or death will end much more pleasantly. I am sure I am not alone in this thought process. I am beginning to think this is how people get caught up in the beliefs and the church.

Looking back at this, the description of Heaven and Hell is more propaganda and fear tactics. If you don’t do what we tell you to do, you will be punished. If you do exactly what we tell you to do, you will be rewarded. Don’t question or you go to Hell. Don’t miss church or you go to Hell. Don’t forget to pray at supper or you might go to Hell. Don’t support gay people or you will go to Hell. Don’t be friends with Pagans or they will bring you straight to Hell with them.

A lot of fear goes into the foundation of religion. A lot of fear and ultimatums.  Fear and ultimatums lead to guilt. Guilt about doing things just right. Making sure you are following the faith perfectly. What if you slip up? You can be forgiven, but the people of the church may look down on you. You will be given a big heaping spoonful of guilt.

Like my previous post about Cults and Churches, the fear and the ultimatums and ultimately the guilt is what keeps a member of a church or a cult in line. It keeps the person feeling like they are a bad person if they don’t go along, if they don’t follow. The guilt can be enough to hold a person under the church or cult’s thumb for years and it is a form of brainwashing.

I came across this blog post recently and it made me think. The points are valid. How come our particular religion can be believed on faith, but someone else’s religion is clearly not correct. It’s not right and thus a fairy tale. All the creation tales in each different religion are similar yet, once you latch on to the one you like, it’s the only one. It’s the one that is supreme.

You can deny all others as false and ‘fairy tale’ but the one that you follow may sound similar, but it’s the only true one. You have reasons and rationale why. The brain has made connections on this that will allow you to believe that it is real. Why do you have all these answers? Because the fear and ultimatums and the guilt that goes with the teachings have given you all the answers you need to make sure you are properly educated in what to say and think. IE. Brainwashing.

Then comes a time when you doubt it. What if you doubt what you have always been told? What if you take a logical look at the things you have always believed and you put rational thought behind it? The guilt settles in.

What if I’m wrong? I am a terrible person for not believing. I should just have faith. God calls me to believe in the face of doubt. I cannot trust my own flawed judgment. I just need to put my faith in Him. Just follow the leaders of the church, they are the ones who have more knowledge than I do. I have to teach my child to believe as I have; otherwise she will go to Hell. Hell is a bad place. What if Hell does in fact exist? If you don’t teach your child about God, they will never be saved and you have condemned your child to a fate worse than death. If you don’t get your kid baptized, they will be eternally lost in the pits of Hell.

These are the thoughts that I still grapple with. I am beginning to realize that I am in fact an Atheist. I have tried to cling to the label of the lesser evil in society of Agnostic, that of someone who is spiritual and who is not sure what they believe. But, I do know what I believe. In my heart of hearts, I know that there is no such thing – there is no validity to the stories I have grown up with. I know in my rational mind that I don’t want to be putting my kid through the same fear and guilt that I am currently trying to dig myself out of.

I hold tight to the lesser label, a label that doesn’t really bring me peace of mind either, because it is less harsh than the reality. The finality of the whole concept. It lessens my guilt. It lessens the doubt in my doubt and the uncertainty. I am coming to terms with the fact that I was in fact brainwashed and I was conditioned with fear tactics and guilt to believe in something that can’t possibly be real.

It makes no sense to me now. I am trying to figure out why the concept of God and Jesus made sense to me before. A flowery story about a man who died for me and forgives me of all my sins. A story of redemption and of love and kindness. It made sense because it was about the good in people. It was about the rewards for being a good person. It was about being a part of something.

How come we can’t teach our kids to forgive our fellow human beings for their misgivings and their shortcomings. Can’t we teach our kids to be kind and loving to all those they come in contact with? Why does the basis of morals and the difference between right and wrong have to be set in the foundation of a religion?

Instead of guilt, I hope to give the facts. I hope to give the theories and the stories. As I learn more of the different stories and the different culture theories of how the world came to be, I hope I can pass on the questioning nature I have grown to possess and leave the guilt out of my daughter’s heart.

ABCs of Parenthood

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This last year has been a whirlwind of mistakes and learning. It’s been a year of new experiences, great advice, not so great advice, debates and discussions. I have compiled the list into an easy ABCs of Parenthood. It also gave me a chance to use some of my new found awesome fonts in Photoshop!

30 Things I Hope To Teach My Daughter

  1. Be Yourself.
  2. Don’t try to please everyone.
  3. Make mistakes.
  4. Learn from those mistakes.
  5. Question everything.
  6. Always remember your manners.
  7. Remember, there is someone out there worse off than you.
  8. Smile at strangers.
  9. Love yourself. If you don’t, how can  you ask someone else to love you?
  10. You are worth more than sex.
  11. Strive for more than mediocre.
  12. Love is not a fairytale. Real love is hard work.
  13. Respect and appreciate your teachers.
  14. Read a good book.
  15. Find your passion.
  16. Do for friends what you can.
  17. Lend things without expecting it back – this means money.
  18. Keep secrets close to your heart.
  19. Don’t be afraid to ask your true friends for help.
  20. Learn the art of silence.
  21. Open doors for people.
  22. Offer to carry a heavy load.
  23. Call and check on a family member.
  24. Be kind to animals and the elderly.
  25. Let someone cut in line.
  26. Don’t be a bully and stand up to those who are bullies.
  27. Learn to write with pen and paper.
  28. If you want people to take you seriously, learn to spell, don’t rely on spell check.
  29. Vowels are important. Use them.
  30. Never give up, you are better than that.