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Volume Two! I decided to take the high road and not advise you on what to ignore. I trust you’re able to figure it out on your own (*ahem*Kardashian*AHEM*)

So, without further ado:

Read Watch Listen Download No. 2

READ

Praise Won’t Make Your Kid A Narcissist, But THIS Will – Several articles have been published lately discussing the results of a study investigating the development of narcissism in children. Having studied psychology in college, I remember quite clearly the course I took on personality theory. While there are many theories as to what circumstances create a narcissist, one thing should be made clear: praise alone doesn’t. Overly favorable comparison does. “You’re smarter than everyone in the whole school. The rest of the kids are just average.” <– Ta da! Narcissist. (This is what I geek out to. Humans. They’re really interesting.)

Essential Oils Don’t Cure Ebola – Seriously friends, stop it. Essential oils have a definite place in wellness and healing. I’ve used them for twenty-plus years. However, this article talks about the gigantic overstatements being made by multi-level marketing essential oils companies and their representatives. Beyond the daily leveraging of personal relationships on social media to increase sales these companies seem to encourage among the reps, (read: spammy, a turn-off) recommending an essential oil combination as a personal lubricant,(yes, really) a cure for pink eye, or for use as a laxative is dangerous. A government agency of some kind will come along to stop this, and I’ll be happy when they do. And now…bring on the spam.

Executions, Beatings, and Forced Marriage: Life As a Boko Haram Captive – These people are insane. Who is giving them weapons? Women and girls are the keys to lifting the world out of poverty and war and ruin. This group, along with ISIS, are dragging the world down with them. This is a two-part series. The second in the series: How I Escaped Marrying A Boko Haram Fighter. Wow.

WATCH

Outlander – Yeah yeah yeah, I know. However…one thing I find myself really noticing about this series is the equality of story with respect to the male and female lead characters. It’s a rare thing to find movies and television shows where the sexuality of the male lead is every bit as front and center as the female’s; his thoughts and feelings are evident, and his development doesn’t rely on old tropes. The character of Claire isn’t simply a plot device for the man’s pleasure. Together, the characters of Claire and Jamie are the plot, and she is the narrator, so the story is told from her perspective. Strong acting, too. Having read the first book in the series, I’m actually enjoying the show more. It’s unusual when show trumps book.

LISTEN

My Type, by Saint Motel – Channeling my inner 80’s child. Take a listen:

 

DOWNLOAD

Dark Sky – Yet another weather app, I know. What’s cool about this one, though, is the hyper-local features. It will tell you with decent accuracy how soon rain is coming, where the nearest rain/weather is in relation to your present location, etc. I live in rain-ville. It’s nice to know. Plus it’s pretty. I’m a sucker for a pretty app.

There you are, friends. Helping you ignore the stupid crap on the internet since 2015. You’re welcome.

The Pencil Test: Conversations With Girl Child

the pencil testGirl came to me recently and said, “Mom, I don’t think I’m fit.” My jaw dropped. She is an active, healthy, average 12 year old.

“Why don’t you think you’re fit?”

“Because I did the Pencil Test.”

 

The Pencil Test

What’s the pencil test? I won’t go into to detail because I want to respect my child’s boundaries – if you want to know about the pencil test, you can look it up. This isn’t the upper body pencil test, Girl was referring to the lower body one. That’s an important detail for this conversation.

She demonstrated it, and that was a moment of clarity for me.

“Wait. Do you think that’s a sign of something bad?”

“I think it means I’m not fit.”

“Honey, whether or not you can hold a pencil there is not a sign of anything other than you are a normal, developing girl with an appropriate amount of body fat to support your growth. If you want to exercise with your dad or me, we would love that. It’s a healthy habit. Just don’t do it because you think you need to in order to be thin or there is anything wrong with the way you are right now.”

“But I saw it on Dr. Oz when I was over at Grandma’s. They said on the show it means you need to work on it because it was a sign of having too much fat.”

“Dr. Oz is trying to sell his show for ratings and money. This capitalizes exactly on the fear tv shows like Dr. Oz try to create: that women are somehow not as valuable unless they have a tiny some-kind-of-body part. You are more than the size of your individual pieces. It’s a distraction you don’t need to concern yourself with at 12 years old. You look exactly the way you are supposed to look for the growing kid you are right now. Look at me. Should I demonstrate the pencil test for you? By that standard, I’ll fail, guaranteed. Do you think I’m not fit?”

(smiles) “No, you run and exercise and stuff.”

“Exactly. I don’t concern myself with how big or small my butt is. I have other things to think about, and so do you.”

Somehow, somewhere, my own teenage and young adult obsession with my appearance faded in the distance while I was looking at my daughter and telling her she is more than the size of her parts. She should always look at herself that way.

You are more than the size of your parts.

Continuing Conversations: Growing Up Girl Child

There were several ongoing topics I wrote about over on Random Thoughts. I plan on still writing about them here. The main ones? Growing Up Girl Child, my dealings with depression, fitness and food, and funny conversations I have with my kids.

I’ll start with Growing Up Girl Child. I’ve been writing about the issues we’ve seen arise as our daughter has transitioned into tween-nearly-teenhood. Lots of questions and decisions on how much, when, and what to say. You could call this one: “Parenting Is Hard.” It’s physically demanding when they are tiny; what with sleep deprivation, keeping their fingers out of light sockets, what-have-you. When they get older, conversations about the world and it’s messiness, meanness, complications and where beauty can be found and created take center stage.

And you thought you were tired before.

Here are my Growing Up posts so far:

When Should I Begin Dating?

Let’s Talk About Dating Violence

Body Image

Mood Swings

My First Instagram Account

I also plan on continuing the conversations about Boy Child, my marriage to Capt., and health/depression, largely because they are the on-going issues in my life. The other stuff? I’ll figure it out as we go.

 

Growing Up Girl Child: My First Instagram Account

first instagram accountI finally gave in. Yep. Girl Child is now the proud owner of her very first instagram account. Seeing as she’s in seventh grade, SubHub and I second guessed ourselves on this one quite a bit.

And So It Begins

Instagram? We’re in new parenting territory. I made the decision when I started blogging in 2007 that I would share Girl Child’s story, including pictures. Oh, how naïve and cute that was. I think in the years following, many parents and an entire generation of kids have learned that a picture is worth a million reshares, whether you want it to get reshared or not. Once she was old enough, I let her read all the posts related to her and her experience on the Submommy blog. I took out anything that didn’t sit well with her. Since many of the posts are about her life, I wanted to make sure she felt she has a say in what gets discussed online. There have been times when she has asked, “Don’t share this, ok?” and other times when I have asked her permission to share something. We’ve established an ongoing dialogue as she grows up in the age of the Overshare.

This is one of those moments I feel it was a lucky twist of fate that I got into blogging and social media when I did. So, when the inevitable happened and she asked for an account, I was ready. As ready as I guess a parent ever really can be.

My First Instagram Account: The Rules

Here’s where I cop to being an extremely strict parent. I’ve been paying attention all these years to what gets shared, what makes viral headlines, and what just counts as obnoxious behavior from kids whose pre-frontal cortex needs some work that only growing up and life experience can make happen. A friend of mine says, “Kids run ’til they find the fence.” For Girl Child, the social media fence is close to the house where everyone can see it. These were the rules we agreed on:

  • Her account is private. Anyone sees her profile has to request to follow her.
    • She cannot let anyone follow her that she does not know in real life.
    • Conversely, she cannot request to follow anyone she does not know in real life.
  • She cannot put personal information in her public bio.
    • Personal information consists of: age, birthdate, address, her personal email address, etc.
  • I have to be one of her followers.
  • Her older female cousins have to be her followers also. They are 15 and 18 years old, and have experience.
  • For the time being, she asks permission of me to post a picture. This is a double-check I hope to instill in her. I want her to ask herself if this is a good idea.
  • If she wants to leave a comment on someone’s picture, we talk about what’s appropriate and what isn’t, including the use of hashtags.
  • She cannot reshare other people’s photos if they have private accounts.

As you can see, her first Instagram account is tightly controlled. It’s also working. She is reserved socially at school, and this is afforded her an opportunity to share pieces of her personality that she’s too shy to let shine in big noisy groups. Her school acquaintances have found her and requested to follow her, and she is following back. It’s opening up new possibilities for her as she starts to consider what she thinks is “share-worthy” about her and her life.

The rule that she has to show me what pictures she wants to post has come in handy, too. She brought a picture to me that she wasn’t sure of. It was selfie she took where she had face paint on. This led to a very productive conversation about “What if this gets shared by people? How would you feel about that?” She decided against it.

In talking about this entire thing, we also had to prepare her for the potential for hurt feelings. Her friends may post pictures of things that they have done together, and she wasn’t invited to join. This can hurt, even if you’re an adult. In internet-speak, people have abbreviated this phenomenon to FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. And it happened. She WAS hurt, but took it in stride, didn’t make any comments on the picture, and moved on.

Maturity vs. Sophistication

I’m trying to help her build a pause button before she hits send. I see parents everywhere mistake sophistication for maturity, and I can’t help but wonder if it leaves the child confused, or with a false sense of their perceived importance. We all know that adolescence is when we, as humans, are the most inward focused. I’m doing my darndest to make certain her sense of importance comes from real maturity, not just the illusion of it.

She knows where the fence is.

Growing Up Girl Child: Mood Swings

Mood Swings. The Bain Of Our Existence.

Ah, mood swings. A female rite of passage. One minute you’re fine, the next minute, you’re bawling for no apparent reason. It feels weird to be crying for no reason, so you make one up. That way you appear less insane.mood swings

This happened a few mornings ago. She poured herself some cereal without realizing I had poured a bowl for her already.

Burst into tears. ?

So we had a conversation about the whole thing when she had calmed down a little:

Girl: “Has this ever happened to you?”

Me: Absolutely.

Girl: WHY? THIS IS AWFUL!

Me: Yep. Can’t lie about that. It stinks.

Girl: When did you have mood swings?

Me: When I was your age, and then at the end of my pregnancy with you. I remember the most ridiculous things would upset me. I swear, I would drop my pen on the ground or something stupid like that, and start crying because it was hard to pick up. My belly was in the way and it would send me over the edge. Your poor dad didn’t know what to do.

Girl: What did you do?

Me: Rode it out. It’s just a feeling. You don’t have to attach it to anything. When you feel that stress coming on, and you want to cry, go ahead. Just know the feeling doesn’t need a permanent home with some vague issue that’s not really an issue. It took me practically a lifetime to learn that. Feelings don’t need to latch themselves on to anything.

Girl: Ok. (*sniffle)

Remember ladies – feels can be bullshit. Don’t attach a random feeling to a vague thought and make it bigger than it needs to be. It will pass, and then your logical brain can come back online and make sense of it all.

mood swings

 

Growing Up Girl Child: Body Image

“Media Literacy” is a buzz term around OpEd pieces that discuss the raising of girls. I’ve been watching and learning about it for a few years now, lying in wait for the day that Girl Child begins to turn inward and worry about things like her looks, what she’s wearing, when she’ll be developing, etc. I want very much to make sure that she’s guided through the gigantic maze of body image issues. I had plenty myself, and looking back, I was FINE. Better than fine. Pretty, even. I’m hoping to spare her the same self-torture by educating her on what’s real, and what’s unequivocally NOT real.

Girls and women are assaulted on the daily with what I call “Girl Mud Flap” body:

Imperial-mud-flap-girl

image: Nil Failstorm

What’s so insidious about trying to make this body type come to life is it’s not even real or attainable, yet it’s presented that way through manipulation. So, here are two videos I’ve shown Girl Child recently giving her a bird’s eye view of what really goes on after the pictures are taken, and how it can affect a woman’s body image.

Talking About Body Image

Love your body, ladies. Not so much for what it looks like, but what it can do, be, and endure.

(video: iGirl Television)

And then here is the one I showed her where four perfectly lovely women were photographed and subsequently given The Photoshop Treatment. Watch their reactions to the changes made and how it may affect their body image going forward. (For the better!) Suddenly who they ARE crystallizes.

(video: BuzzFeedVideo)

I am hopeful that because she was born with an imperfection and now has scars (which I tell her, “scars are stories.”) that she embrace all she’s been through, and realizes life is too short to not accept who you are inside and out. We are all so much more than the size of our breasts and what the tag says in our jeans. My hope is to guide her through these years and help her see herself as a whole entity, not simply the sum of her parts that she has compared to an impossible standard. One of the keys to this is being aware of how I talk about myself and my own body. I’m ok. So are you, and so is your daughter.

Growing Up Girl Child: Let’s Talk Dating Violence

Last time we discussed When Should I Start Dating? I think this naturally lends itself to “What Should I Do If Dating Goes Wrong?”

Increasingly, studies are showing that dating violence happens to 1 in 10 girls when they are in high school. HIGH SCHOOL. Ugh. Efforts are being made to introduce the subject earlier, before dating truly begins. You know, middle school. Where Girl Child is right now. I don’t think I’m quite ready to show her this video, and I don’t think she’s quite ready to see it, but I think it’s worth putting out in the world and sharing it. I believe both girls AND boys should watch when they are ready to take it in.

dating violence

Ingrid Bergman in ‘Gas Light.’ Where we got the term gaslighting

I can even see, at this stage in her young life, some of her peers shaping themselves with a scary dynamic when it comes to these early stages of dating.

No one should lay a harmful hand on you, gaslight you, isolate you, or make you feel like you’re the only person who can save them from themselves. You will not die without them. They will not die without you.

Take the time to watch this, please. I think it’s one of the most important TED talks ever given.

Leslie Morgan Steiner on Dating Violence

Dating violence wasn’t anything I considered growing up. My parents said, “don’t let anyone hit you. Ever.” And while that’s excellent advice, it’s not enough anymore. From the first emotional manipulation to revenge porn and all that modern technology can bring, the conversation has evolved and our conversations as parents need to evolve with it.

Getting hit is the most obvious form of abuse, but the abuse begins long before the first fist is thrown. Arming our kids with the skills they need to navigate healthy dating relationships is not only a good idea, it’s necessary.

Mission Growing Up Girl Child (Part 1)

[fusion_text]Girl Child has reached an age where her emotional and mental maturity are starting to come together. And then you know what happens? Hormones. That’s what.

We are keeping an eye on what we think she is ready to hear and know about, and what she isn’t. This is harder than it sounds. We’re pretty open with her about all things human, but parsing out complicated details as we think she’s able to process them is a balancing act. She’s in the world. We want to help keep her innocence but not her naiveté.

Parenting is hard.

Growing Up Girl Child

So, I’m starting a little series on this blog to help me: Growing Up Girl Child. I’m combing around the internet looking or sites and videos that I post here, and will hopefully serve as a reference of sorts for her (and possibly anyone who stumbles on this blog) that she can utilize.

First up: “When Should I Start Dating?”

I’m going to let the good kids at Blimey Cow help out with this one. Blimey Cow is composed of two brothers and their friends (one brother is married, so she is part of the fun, too.) They post videos weekly on a variety of topics that are great for young people. They’re pretty good for older people too, because let’s face it, I need all the help I can get with this little project.

Visit their sponsor, while you’re at it, so they don’t send me a cease and desist order for sharing the video: Audible.com.

Stay tuned for more tween growing up fun. When she asks me tough questions, like, “Mom? Why did Adolf Hitler kill people?” Or, “Mom? I don’t understand what’s going on with me. Why do I feel like THIS?” I can actually come up with a half-way decent answer. Maybe. Hopefully.

Parenting is hard.[/fusion_text]

Read Watch Listen Ignore: No. 1

read watch listen

I think humans are bombarded with images and information all day every day. So much so, it’s really tough to filter what’s worth reading, and what you can safely ignore without any negative repercussions. I’m here to help.

Read Watch Listen Ignore: No. 1

Read:

Would You Call 911 On Another Parent? – This whole “kids can never ever be alone and OMG think of the children yadda yadda yadda”…..overboard. Gone too far. Chill out.

I Was Arrested For Harassment, and That Was the Good Part – One day, one word can alter your trajectory forever, whether you are the harasser or being harassed. This post is particularly timely in light of the recent Curt Schilling story.

Girls Who Steal – Most of us have been around these women. It’s not just your favorite lipstick that suddenly disappears. It’s the backhanded compliment intended to steal your joy, your accomplishments, and your sense of self. “Jellyfishing.”

Watch:

Netflix is streaming this great four-part series called “The Men Who Built America” about Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan and Ford. We’ve actually watched it as a family and it’s garnered some really great discussions about capitalism, economy, innovation, greed, unions, and how industrialization changed life in America. We’re a little nerdy like that. The kids are in 2nd and 7th grade, and there have been very few scenes that needed explaining for either of them.

The brains behind Crash Course have launched Crash Course Kids on YouTube. It debuted with “Gotta Eat!” Quick, easily digested (yes, pun totally and completely intended) science lessons. I believe the scope will eventually include other topics as well. A long way from Minecraft pop music parodies. Thank God.

Listen:

Banks, Beggin’ For Thread:

Ignore:

Kim Kardashian’s blonde hair. Don’t give a shit. Neither should you. And because her image has likely clogged the crap out of your feeds for the last 24 hours, I won’t link to it.

You’re welcome.