Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to Raise Boys

Last night I went to the boy's parent teacher conference. I have been to a few now that he is in second grade, but I was not adequately (or at all) prepared to hear, "Your son is reading below grade level." It was a shock to hear because he's been complaining lately that his reading group is too easy and he is bored. It was a shock because he reads chapter books at home to me rather well. It was a shock because it is October and he has been in school since August 15th and this was the first I have heard of it. It was a shock because he is mine. After pressing further I learned it is not so much the reading that is below grade level, but the comprehension of the material read. During the beginning of the school year assessments are done on the kids where they read a short book and then regurgitate it back to the teacher. Long story short, the book was about a girl who was nervous the first time she began something new. I honestly have no idea what the something is, I missed that part when my brain was trying to wrap itself around the words "below grade level." The boy did relate the nervousness the girl felt to when he first started preschool. Then when asked what the story was about the boy replied, "well the girl was a lot nervous at first, then less, and then not so much at all." Seems to me he understood the story just fine, he related it back to an experience in his life and then explained the girl became less nervous. Nope. His answer was deemed below grade level. So I had to sign an intervention form. I also was told that I would receive a sheet of questions that are asked of the kids during the assessment so I could ask the boy them during reading time at home, so he becomes FAMILIAR WITH THE LANGUAGE OF THE ASSESSMENT. Now I ask you, is that education or is that teaching to an assessment. I believe it is the latter. I also don't think boys are all that chatty about crap they are not interested in.

I am of the opinion that boys and girls learn completely differently. That men and women are completely different and the school system is set up now to have girls thrive while boys struggle. I have two little boys I need to raise to be productive adults who do not play video games all day as grown men, can hold down a job, and not move back in with me. I need my boys to grow up to be confident men, regardless of what they do in life; whether it be a stay at home dad, teacher, engineer, garbage man, or what have you, they will need confidence. Thankfully the boy is still full of confidence.

I question what we are doing as a society when I read articles about men who are not growing up, not finishing college at near the rate of women, not taking responsibility for their kids, but playing around. It seems to me there is a complete lack of role models for boys/men out there. Granted, there are not a lot of media role models for girls/women, but look around and girls see strong women daily, now more than ever. I had one of the strongest women I know raise me. She still doesn't cut me any slack.

The books the boy brings home are geared towards little girls. Little boys like adventure, they like daring. They do NOT want to read about the emotions of a nervous little girl. Maybe a little boy who is the underdog and then rises to the top, but certainly not about a girl. They are little boys and little boys are not allowed to be little boys now. They are supposed to act like little girls. This would be fine if these books were counterbalanced, because hey, we all have to put up with stuff we don't want to do. But they aren't.

I have a girl. I am a girl. I am also a feminist. I want equal pay and equal rights for women. I am sick of the double standard against women; good looks = stupid, determination = bitch. I have noticed that girls will be told "you can't do something" or "you are not doing that well" and she will say to herself, "Oh yeah? Eff you I'll do it even better." I don't think girls necessarily need confidence boosters in the same way boys do. Sure they want to hear they are doing well at something and what they are doing for others is appreciated, but girls have an underlying fight in them. Not sure if it comes from needing to protect offspring regardless of what happens in life, but most women hold their own pretty damn well. I don't care what it is they are into, cupcakes, photography, writing, triathlons, women will make it work and put their soul into it. All with out needing too many compliments along the way.

Men need confidence boosters. Boys need the same. I believe if a man feels like he is not doing well in something he will just shut down. Sure, its easier to play video games all day, if you are losing you can just switch games. You see lots of examples in the media and in politics of idiotic men. They may have good jobs, but they are portrayed as the village idiot. This is doing no one any good. Sometimes I go crazy when it feels like Mr. Man is fishing for compliments. It will drive me up the freaking wall. But I am coming to realize that he actually needs this. He needs to feel like he is on top of his game or he will not perform well at work or in whatever else. The boy is the same way. His teacher told me as soon as he finished his assessment he wanted to know where he placed. "Did I place in the top ten. You know, like in the the Tour de France. I bet I did." I really don't want that drive or confidence to go away.

As a society we need men to be productive, not just adult sized boys. We need for this is idea of manly to stop being drinking beer in the man cave with the video games, and then meeting the guys at the strip club later. That is not manly. I really am starting to believe that if women and society were to encourage actual "manly" pursuits and compliment men once in a blue moon they may respond to life a little more. Manly being whatever the guy is into, football, business, fishing, Nascar, My Little Ponies, but most importantly participating in society in some manner. Women are not going to lose their inner fight by telling a man they are proud of them. I promise.

But for the love of Pete, get some better books for little boys and don't expect little boys to be all chatty about a girl's feelings. He is a boy, give him an an adventure book and ask him about what happens in the adventure. He'll tell you, because he probably imagined himself in it. Then tell your little guy, "Good job, you ARE in the top ten. In fact you are number one."

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Its not about the dress. OK it is.

I knew for sure that I married the right man at precisely 5:30 pm last night. Mr. Man walked in the door with a six pack of Old Speckled Hen. I told him to look in the fridge he smiled and saw four Boddingtons staring back at him. You see yesterday the weddings of all weddings took place. I had set my alarm to go off at a quarter to four (mountain time here folks) to watch the Royal nuptials take place, because I am a sucker for such things. When that god awful hour rolled around I told my alarm to shut it and fell back asleep. An hour later Mr. Man woke me up and said "you are missing it." I mumbled cranky things and then turned the t.v. on to see the young couple leave Westminster Abbey and get into a carriage. I ran to get baby girl and at five in the morning my whole family sat in bed watching the carriage make it's way from the church to Buckingham Palace. I could picture the walk in my mind as I have done it a few times. I cursed myself for not waking up earlier. No matter because I knew it would be rebroadcast that evening. So baby girl and I made a plan that we would watch it that evening after dinner in gowns.

Dinner time rolled around and I decided that I want to make something a little British, but not my standard fish and chips. I pulled up a friend's blog for her coronation chicken recipe, realized I had absolutely no mango chutney in the house, grabbed three kids, and bolted to the store. (I may add that I realized while scouring the store for mango chutney: that I probably need to start shopping elsewhere since my global taste buds are not being met at the neighborhood supermarket...the chutney had high fructose corn syrup in it....I bought it anyway...yes I know this is ALL very hypocritical in regards to my last post...I suck sometimes.) I also didn't have Boddingtons in the house and purchased some at the local liquor store. I really hate Colorado blue laws with having to drag my kids into a liquor store and all, don't they know mommies need a beer every now and then my don't want to feel like CPS needs to be called by having to take kids into a liquor store.

The Coronation chicken was served on a pathetic American excuse for a croissant (yes I know me = hypocrite) but itself was quite good, corn syrup and all. We all sat and watched a HORRIBLE rebroadcast of the wedding provided by crappy TLC. I'm not sure who they got their feed from but they must have been last in line because the picture quality was terrible. Baby girl and I had on gowns and traded my wedding veil back and forth. We had a blast. Later on the husband and I discovered a rebroadcast on MSNBC and it was much nicer. When it ended I put all things wedding to bed.

You see a couple of weeks ago I was in the throws of crabby. I mean REALLY crabby. So much that I wanted to throw in the towel on everything. Then I had a phone conversation with a dear friend that I have known for ever. After I put down the phone I realized I don't want to throw in any towel. I remembered things about myself and feelings I had in the past and none of which had entered my frontal lobe in over a decade. I realized I have almost perfection in my life and there is absolutely no reason to be crabby whatsoever. Crabby was just me being spoiled. Throwing tantrums for no reason. This all came in to be in one big epiphany and then instantly I was happy. I have been happy ever since. It's nice. Happy Jennie makes for a WONDERFUL marriage. So much that when Mr. Man brought home British Ale I think I may have fell in love with him all over again. Because, you see, we both did the same thing. He knows that I am a wanderlust and would kill to live overseas and did what he could to help me deal with nostalgia and the ever present travel yearning that watching an event in London would cause. I did the same thing for him; bought him beer so he could handle his wife in a 15 year old prom dress wearing a wedding veil smiling like an idiot at the Royal Wedding. When the MSNBC version was almost over Mr. Man said to me "you could wear that dress, it would look great on you. You look like her too." (Her being Kate.)

I may have swooned for my own husband right then.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Food and some psychological blither blather

This rant is not aimed at any one person but at America in general. Or perhaps myself. It was inspired by a facebook post linking this

I'd like to think that I have a good balanced diet. Maybe a little too much sugar since I have a sweet tooth, but all in all pretty healthy. My kids get mad at me a lot because I REFUSE to serve them junk food and they simply cannot understand why not. I also am not a very picky eater. I am not sure if that is because I have stupid tastes buds or don't actually care enough about it to complain. It may seem like those above two traits don't go together but they do, it's like this; I know what is good for me to eat and so I eat it and will most likely enjoy it. If a person were to serve me a big steaming pile of trans fats breaded in GMO corn fried in HFCS I would eat it to be polite and most likely enjoy the flavor. I will say that good old fashioned food that hasn't been processed tastes waaaay better than it's counterpart: The American Diet. I am also of the persuasion that one should be grateful for the food we do have, we are a nation so filthy rich we can busy our brains with which detox diet is the better one. (It is my opinion that if you eat naturally occurring food and not some with a shelf life of uranium your liver will work just fine to detox you.)

But let me take a moment to rant if I may: I AM EFFING SICK OF FAKE FOOD ISSUES!!!! Yes a lot of food that is out there is horrible for you and yes corporations make a killing off of jacking up our food supply and that is bad. We do not deserve food that is mutated in any way. No one does. Not here, not in Europe, not in Africa or any other part of the globe. However, that does not mean that -insert food- is the causing everything horrible in your life to go horrible and you must remove from your diet despite what your (non existent) pathology report states. I want people to take some ownership for their health and stop blaming. If you are overweight, depressed, suffer from chronic crap it may not be -insert food's- fault. I think it may be your brain. I think a lot of people are so scared of actually living and trying new things, getting out of their comfort zones and just putting themselves out there they hide and find things to blame and the easiest is -insert food.-

I do believe food will affect moods and I truly believe that if you eat sensibly (and in my little world sensible means lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, fish and eggs, take it easy on the dairy except yogurt, enjoy some olive oil, nuts, and only eat bread that you could reasonably make at home) and not more than your fair share than you will be fine. And yes have that big piece of chocolate cake once in awhile. But here's the kicker....get off your butt and exercise. Something, excuses. Go outside...if it's cold wear a coat. Exercise, especially outside exercise, is proven very effective at combating depression. Talk to and in their human (not online) forms. Will your life be, but you will feel better. I can promise you that. We all have issues, but 9 out of 10 dentists agree its not your -insert food- that is making you crazy. You will not get out of life alive...enjoy it do not fear it.

Edited to add: This is not about people with true food allergies -peanuts, gluten, ect. or food intolerance, such as lactose intolerance. I do not have allergies and cannot imagine what a pain that would be...this is more about the pervasive attitude of "I am special so you must accommodate my nonsense."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Those smug green pig thingies

So I may have written that I was done here. I am not. We are going to start back lightly.

My son Ham does not have a special blankie, toy, pacifier (although I think 2 is too old for a plug) because he has my hair. This started about two months ago. He needs my hair when he feels insecure or when falling asleep. So much so that he could barely sleep the entire week the husband and I were in Paris. (Yes finally Paris!) My poor mother in law. The other two children are ok sleepers, we never had bedtime issues with them. Ham, not so much. Some nights it feels like some family on super nanny when the husband and I decide to get tough and have Daddy put Ham to bed versus yours truly. This lasts for all of 15 minutes because the poor child works himself into such an agonizing fit and we can no longer handle the noise. He's the third, we are done with trying out techniques by now we just want 60 minutes of mind numbing t.v. time until we pass out and do it all again.

The night time routine consists of me sitting below his bed at arms length while he rats up my hair in to a glorious tangle of frizz. It is something to behold when I leave his room 40 minutes later. Yes forty minutes of hair tangling. I have a relatively high pain threshold. The poor thing just cannot get himself to sleep. When this first started I was losing my mind sitting in the dark room of a toddler having my hair yanked in all directions. But, then I realized I could just play on the iPhone while Ham went through his routine. Facebook, texting friends and family, reading online articles, reading blogs, and my very newest addiction: Angry Birds are all ways that I keep my mind from going stir crazy. I could probably come up with less brain candy and learn to meditate or something...but what is fun about that I ask you? Nothing! Who wants a clear mind and soul?

I will not play this little horrible bird flinging game while I am supposed to be attending to kids during the day. I can see the headlines now...Children of the Jenniehousehold are in the hospital due to injuries sustained while launching themselves from a homemade ski jump on the roof. Mom was reportedly on her iPhone playing Angry Birds. But I have been known to stay in the dark room past the time the poor stylist has fallen asleep because I am being driven crazy by some egg stealing green pig like things. Yes this is what my suburban brain has been reduced to: defeating the next level of Angry Birds. Do I care? Not really, because this phase that Ham is going through will pass onto another equally annoying phase and I will come up with something else to keep the little bit of gray matter that I still have content.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu...

2010 left me in a daze. A very non creative daze. My kids are getting older and I no longer feel comfortable writing about their antics. I could go on massive political rants, but I'll refrain. I spend time working out and I used to fill my head with fantastic stories and blogs, but that only works when your not training very hard. I have some pretty big goals for the year and my head is filled with focus. I will be writing some at my other blog. But don't expect anything here for quite some time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

insert cliche here

I realized last week that I am holding all of my caca together with a very fine spindle of spider webbing, that I am at the end of my rope, reached my limit, too much on the plate...or whatever cliche you prefer. The boy is now being bribed to behave in school. An impromptu conference with his teacher last week was were I realized that perhaps I was not keeping it together very well...because I started to CRY! In public. I don't do that, ever. But I did and then blubbered. It was certainly not my finest hour and was really quite embarrassing. Either way I've been pissed at myself since. I mean who does that? I tried to come up with excusing my head as to why the boy would be acting so naughty, gifted, poor choice in friends, tired, she was picking on him...then I blamed the husband's parenting (always a go to when I can't find an answer) then I blamed my parenting. But I've come to the realization that he was being a brat and no amount of time outs and loss of screen time was going to make a difference. Nor was yelling at the kid. He's like me and doesn't respond well to that style of behavior modification. That just makes us feistier. Instead I will fall back on my college psychology classes and use "positive reinforcement" which is basically bribery. I mean who doesn't do something better when they are getting something out of it? Sure you can say you are doing things simply for the satisfaction of accomplishment but to a six year old, yeah right. So the kid gets a toy. So far he has been behaving for four days. A marked improvement over multiple timeouts at school a day. He still isn't allowed to play with the naughty kids in class though. At first I felt like I was being a snob or something, because they are all just six years old for crying out loud, but then I thought eh, screw it. Cheap toys from China seem to be doing the trick.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Second Blog?!? You, know because I like to write....

Check out my new blog here. I will still write about all things I usually do in my Soapdish, but I am tracking my tri training and such over at Ironmama! The posts will most likely be more frequent but waaaaaay shorter, or at least that's my hope.