Taking on 2013 and hoping to revitalize my life

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Dress Codes: Are they Oppressive?

My 13 year old is constantly complaining about the dress code at school. I feel a sense of conflict about the whole thing.

On the one hand, it’s another way that we teach our children that it is up to the girl to dress in a manner that will not distract boys. The onus is on the girl. This sets the stage for the idea that:

  • women that dress provocatively or in a manner that is considered provocative deserve to be raped
  • men cannot control themselves when they see a woman they consider to look sexy
  • women bring sexual harassment upon themselves based on the manner that they dress
  • the way a woman dresses defines what type of person she is
  • there is something wrong or inappropriate with women dressing sexy
  • women cannot be trusted to make their own choices
  • and so on and so forth

This and thoughts like this are RIDICULOUS and WRONG.

Clothes do not determine who the person is. And dress codes should not be used as a way to oppress women even further.

Men are civilized human beings and should act that way.

One of the things that distinguishes people from animals is our ability to make choices rather than just run on instinct. When men walk down the streets with no shirt on women manage to restrain themselves. No one thinks any less of a man with no shirt on. And yet some men in this world think that women owe them something. Women owe them sex. And apparently that thought is even more prevalent when women wear short skirts or tight tops. (I know it is not all men, but it is too many.)

Does it all start with the dress codes at school? Probably not. The conditioning that ‘women deserve less respect than men’ probably starts way before that. But the dress codes do not help.

My sense of conflict comes with the clothes being designed today. Why do the styles out there push girls to grow up faster than ever? Why are clothes so sexy for your pre-teen and teen? Why do 13 year olds need push up bras?

My oldest and I went shopping for bras and a bathing suit last night. I almost had a stroke. The selection of bras without some type of padding was super limited. Why do we need to tell women in the bra store that they are inadequate without padding? Because really, that is what all of those bras and bra designers are telling women. Your breasts are not big enough, perky enough, adequate enough but we can fix you. No wonder women have self-image issues.

And then in addition to the bras and bathing suits, everything is so tight and low-cut and short. I guess it is me as a mother wanting to protect her daughter that I see some benefit to the dress code. I don’t like what the dress code stands for but it is a very small way to fight against the designers that constantly sexualize our girls.

I agree with my daughter that the dress code is misogynistic. But so are the clothes that are produced today.

Is there a happy medium? I don’t know what it is yet. But I hope it has to do with teaching your children self-respect and respect for one another. I hope that one day every person (not just some people) can see that women are not a commodity nor are they an object. They are people with brains and feelings and bodies and muscles, just like men. No one gender is better or more powerful than the other. We complement each other and that is a positive thing.


Creating Christmas Magic

I have one child who still believes in Santa. And once she no longer believes, Christmas will be a little different. Slightly less magical.

But this year is not that year. This year I have written her a letter from Santa regarding some Littlest Pet Shop toys that I got second-hand. These toys are obviously not new but still have many years of life left in them. Someone was practically giving them away so I had to take them. However, I knew that I couldn’t wrap them up like the other gifts so I decided to do something a little fun.


Letter from Santa


I hope this letter helps to create a special memory this year. Christmas is about creating magic and my heart wishes for excited laughter and smiles, which sounds magical to me.


Crime and Punishment, the Teenage Version

Sunday Tasmanian Version

Sunday Tasmanian Version (Photo credit: Tama Leaver)

I used to work in social media so I’m very familiar with the ins and outs of various social networks. I’ve been exposed to the good that happens because of social media and I’ve been exposed to the bad.

Because of this experience, I’m cautious when it comes to my kids using social media. We’ve discussed the merits and the pitfalls that are associated with social media. My oldest is on Facebook but she is also forced to have her father and me as her friends on Facebook.

A while ago she asked me if she could join Snapchat, I said No. Snapchat has a reputation for being used a lot when sexting and sending inappropriate photos around the interwebs. I know that not everyone uses it for that but I’m cautious, and I haven’t been sold on why my daughter needs to be on that particular social network.

During this past weekend I was perusing her iPod touch and found that she had joined Snapchat after all. Needless to say, I was not happy.

In the following “discussion” surrounding her having the app on her iPod, she claimed that she didn’t remember me saying that she couldn’t download the app, in fact, she claimed that she didn’t remember discussing the app with me at all.

I know for a fact that we discussed Snapchat more than once and I remember (vividly) telling her that she couldn’t use it when she asked me. Therefore I have taken her iPod touch and laptop for 2 weeks. At the end of the 2 weeks, she can have it back but she will have to remove Snapchat and review everything that is on her iPod touch with me. Of course she thinks I’m being extremely unfair.

After she spent the afternoon being angry with me she actually started talking to me again. She still thinks that I’m being unfair and she is using the argument that she has a bad memory and does not remember the Snapchat conversation. She isn’t going so far as saying that I shouldn’t be angry or that she shouldn’t be punished, she just thinks that I’m over-reacting and that 2 weeks is excessive.

Let’s say that she actually forgot the conversation, I mean, she is a good kid. She rarely gets in trouble. She rarely gets punished. I think that her father has never taken her iPod touch from her and I’ve only taken it for as long as the weekend in previous incidents. Is the jump from 2 days of punishment to 2 weeks of punishment too severe? I haven’t changed my mind but I am thinking about what she has said. Would one week have made the same point?

I’d love to hear other opinions. Feel free to share. Parenting is hard enough without trying to do it in a vacuum.

Pirate Mom

Not that long ago I used to be a good mother. And it wasn’t just me that thought that. My kids thought it too. Things really started to go downhill about a year ago, once those teen hormones kicked into full gear.

I know, how can I blame being a bad mother on the child? Seems pretty lame.

For some reason my kids drive me crazy faster than before. Yes, there is more bickering and yes, my oldest exudes attitude sometimes and yes, my youngest ignores my requests to get out of bed EVERY SINGLE MORNING but I should be dealing better. I should be finding better ways to cope instead of becoming Pirate Mom all of the time.

pirate mom hat

For some reason I feel a bit off-balance. Actually I’ve felt off-balance for a long time. I think part of this whole blog and year-long project revolved around finding balance in addition to the rest of it. I’ve made changes. I try to be more grateful, I try to be more positive but my kids hit my triggers faster than anyone and I shoot from the hip instead of taking a deep breath before responding.

I love them to death but sometimes I feel like I need an extended break. I feel like I need to run away. I need a little adventure.

Maybe I’m just extra cranky when I’m sick with a cold and I’ll get another chance at being a better mother next week.

Or maybe I need to head off to sea and join the rest of the pirates out there. I hear they don’t mind swearing. “Avast ye mateys.”

Keeping Calm and Carrying On

keep calmMy oldest is almost 13 and we have been butting heads    A LOT during the last few months. The raging hormones regularly declare their existence through bouts of moodiness and lots of attitude. A few times it got so bad that my ex had to talk me down when all I wanted to do was lose what is left of my mind.

Recently she went to the other side of the country on a Youth Exchange for a week. And then last week she spent the whole week at her Father’s. We did see each other for a few hours in between the exchange and the time at her Dad’s but it was almost 2 full weeks of not really being together.

What a difference it has made for us. I believe that the old saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” holds true in this instance. The last 2 days with her have been so much nicer.

I’m not sure if the change comes from both of us or not but I know that I have been dealing better since she has been back. For example, today she yelled at me when she was frustrated and instead of instantly getting upset with her for yelling at me for no reason, I pointed out to her that she was stressed and asked her if she really meant to be yelling at me. It immediately diffused the situation because no, she did not.

I have been off work for about 9 months now, which means that even on the week’s she is with her Dad, she comes here after school so she sees me all of the time. It’s possible that there just might be a bit too much Mom these days.

Part of becoming a teen means asserting her independence. That also means that she has more opinions about what we are doing and a greater desire to make her own plans. Sometimes when she shares her dislike, it comes across as having a bad attitude as it is often accompanied by an eye roll or negative tone of voice. And she is less than happy to drop what she is doing now to accompany the family on some type of excursion. Texting with friends or straightening her hair can often seem more important than whatever you are offering.

I can’t guarantee that this improved atmosphere will continue, but if I can see her actions as what they are as opposed to a personal attack, I think we might be able to make it through the teen years. I have seen that there is hope so if I can “keep calm and carry on” we may both make it through intact.

It’s as Easy as Riding a Bike

Who came up with that saying? No one that met my children apparently.

bike Riding a bike is supposed to be one of those childhood rites of passage where the child actually wants to learn and the parent does their best to teach them. Neither of my kids wanted to learn to ride a bike. But since I enjoy biking, I wanted them to learn. So begins my uphill battle.

Both kids have owned bikes since they were little but neither one of them really cared that much about them. They played around with them on their training wheels but neither felt an urge to just get out there and ride.

A few years ago, I forced my oldest to learn. I know forcing your kids to do anything isn’t necessarily the best method but that’s really what it came down to. She didn’t care about bikes and thought biking was hard. And my kids are both of the belief that if anything takes more than 5 seconds to learn it probably isn’t worth it.

One day I decided that it was “the day”. There was crying, a battle of wills and eventual bribing with ice cream, however, after a few hours she was successfully riding her bike. She was thrilled with her accomplishment. It gave her a new sense of freedom and achievement. It was a painful experience for me and all she remembers now is the ice cream but I was glad that I persevered and she figured it out.

Child #2 is my stubborn child. She takes stubborn to a whole new level. I have picked several “days” for her to learn how to ride her bike and I have always given up before her. This past week her sister was off on the other side of the country and it was just the two of us. I had all of my attention to focus on her.

First thing I did was to discuss the topic with her and come up with a suitable reward. Somehow I knew that ice cream was not going to cut it. We went to the mall and checked out some of her favourite toys. That’s when the shake-down began. Not only is my youngest stubborn she is also a born negotiator. Somehow each little success was going to cost me and the final success was going to cost me big.

The next thing I did was google ‘how to ride a bike’. My previous methods were a bust so I needed a new plan. The new trend is to take the pedals off of the bike to teach the child how to glide and learn balance. We watched a few of the videos together, I removed the pedals and we were off. It was a rough start. She was cranky and stiff-legged and not motivated to learn. And I was trying my best to let her take the lead. Our previous sessions had taught me that she was extremely frightened of falling. I needed to pass control to her so that she could feel like she had some power.

Then we came across a spot nearby where the road had a slight incline. The incline was just enough for her to get a little momentum. It was perfect. We only went on that hill 2 times the first day but she experienced enough success that she was ready to tackle it again the next. We discussed what her plan was and she decided to go on that little hill 10 times. On the third day of trying she was up to 20 times. It was time to put the pedals back on.

The pedals took all of her confidence and threw it back at her. We were back to tears and an unwillingness to try. I could not take the pedals back off, she was ready. I just needed to convince her. I had her try the hill a few times while pretending that the pedals were not there, just gliding as before. She didn’t like it but she did it anyways to placate me.

This morning we were back at it, however, she was in a sour mood. She did not want to be out there, she hated her bike and she wanted to take the pedals back off. After much cajoling she glided down the hill twice and then was ready to go home. I was beaten down, the tears were steady this morning. I told her we could go.

There is a big flat part that we have to go through to get home. I decided to take one last stab at it because I knew she was ready even if she didn’t. I held onto the bike and convinced her to pedal. I ran beside her holding onto that bike and then without telling her, I let go. SHE DID IT.

I ran beside her and showed her my hands and she kept going. After that she did it 2 more times. And when her Dad came to pick her up she showed him how she could ride her bike.

If I have done nothing else in this time of unemployment, I have taught my youngest how to ride her bike. I am so proud of her and she is so proud of herself. It was desperately hard and I wouldn’t want to do it again but I am happy. She even ran off to tell her sister that now we can finally go biking as a family.

I’m glad I persevered even when neither of my kids wanted me to. I’m glad they persevered even when they were wishing I would go away and leave them alone. Learning to ride a bike was a struggle for both of them and me but I think it taught us all that even though some things seem scary and hard, we can still do them if we keep trying.

Manic Monday Morning

My crazy morning really started last evening when my oldest went to the Emergency room. On Saturday morning she started complaining about pain in her chest and over the weekend it got progressively worse. So last night her father took her to the hospital where medical professionals performed urine and blood tests and took an x-ray and they found… nothing.

Flash forward to this morning, normally my schedule is pretty open these days but this morning I had to wake up bright and early to head out of town to do a physical abilities test for Canada Post. I applied for a casual position with them and although it has been a process I believe this is the final hoop to jump through. As I was rushing around getting ready I was also madly texting my ex to find out how my daughter was doing. And as I drove the 1.5 hours to get to my testing location, my oldest was off to the hospital to get an ultrasound. Needless to say, I was a little stressed about the test in the first place but feel free to amp that up as I was stressed about my daughter as well. So when they took my blood pressure at my test I’m sure it was slightly elevated.

As soon as I got out of the test, I called to find out the results from the ultrasound and fortunately or unfortunately, they still found nothing. So the plan right now is for her to take prescription pain medication until we can get her into the family doctor on Wednesday. That does not seem like much of a plan to me but apparently that is the tactic for unknown illnesses. 😦

On the way home I stopped for a quick bite, I was famished after my 80 minutes of physical activity. I pulled into the local Irving Big Stop and look at what I saw parked there:

IMG00581-20130617-1155Since I’m a bit of an internet geek, I immediately took a pic and shared it on Twitter and Facebook (and now to my blog fans as well). It was pretty fun to see the Google Street View car in small town, Canada. I even got to chat with the woman who drove the hi-tech car. She confirmed it was a pretty sweet gig, which was no surprise.

Normally my days are pretty quiet and uneventful but all of this commotion happened before lunch time. As a matter of fact, the afternoon has been pretty anti-climactic in comparison. I should hear back regarding my physical test this week, I think it went well in spite of everything, I mean I’m not in the best shape of my life but I’m not in the worst shape of my life either. It doesn’t mean I am guaranteed a job, I’m quite sure there were a lot of us doing the testing but it is finished and I think I did ok.

As for my daughter, hopefully she will have a miraculous recovery this week and it will all have been a result of something easy like muscle strain. Because the concept of long-term prescription pain medication for an undetermined illness just sucks.

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