Monday, September 30, 2013


It's hard when parents have a certain vision for their child, and the child has very different plans. it seems the more a parent wants their kid to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or be on the football team, or win the cheer-leading championship, or enjoy kindergarten... the more they retaliate against you.

Toby only has school every other day. He was nervous, and I knew that, but I kept talking about all the positive fun things that would happen at school. I've seen in the past that if you start labeling too many emotions, like being nervous or sad or scared, the more he thinks 'oh, is that how I'm supposed to feel about this?' and it makes it worse.
It doesn't help that the month before school we were stopped by everyone we knew and asked if we were excited for school. Toby would hang his head as per usual and I would say something like 'Yeah it sounds like it should be fun' and then I would get comments over his head like "I remember liking kindergarten, but oh did I hate grade 3. I had a horrible teacher" or "The adjustment's pretty tough, it's hard to be away from mom for so long" or "The bus ride sounds long, that sucks that it comes so early."
Toby can hear you. Toby can hear everything you're saying and he remembers everything that people say. And I'm not blaming these comments, but it just all piles up in my head as another thing I have to counteract with positivity.

Wonder of wonders, he got on the bus the first day.
Wonder of wonders, he did it four days.
Everyday he was nervous, but went out the door. Everyday he came home and cried for an hour. All I could do was sit and hold him and say nothing. I understand that he doesn't like driving. I understand that it's a long day away from home (not away from 'mom' because he's used to staying home with my mom while I'm at work, etc.)

Then Toby got sick. We stayed home for a week getting over the flu. And then  I think it clicked in his head that "I got to stay home on a school day".

This past week has been....difficult.

We woke up last Monday and he immediately started saying he didn't think he was ok to go to school. The morning got worse. The bus went by. I had to go to work. Toby stayed home.

Wednesday was the same, however I didn't have to go to work so I got to talk to him better. He crawled in bed with me and curled up in my arms and said he couldn't go to school. I asked him why. He said he didn't feel well. I had seen him at play the last few days and knew full well he wasn't sick so I asked him what was really bothering him and to please tell me so I could help.
He was quiet for a very long time and then very quietly said that there to too many kids at school and it was too loud.
We talked about it for a while and how I could ask his teacher to give him a quiet space to go if he needed it, but he was learning so much at school that we don't get to do at home so it would be good to try to go and I would drive him in but it would be good to take the bus home so his friends on the bus could see him. He shrugged and said he "wasn't really interested in talking to them".

He didn't go that morning, and I carried on my jobs and kept telling him I was still going to do my work because he was supposed to be at school. He very merrily went downstairs on his own and started practicing numbers himself on a number board we have. He made me a treasure hunt where he had written letters on 'clues' around the house.
Like he somehow knew the he'd better do some 'school' things even if he wasn't going.
I finally convinced him to go at lunch break and we got to the school and he wandered away to the school yard to find his friend from class. I picked him up at the end of the day and was met with an emotional mess again, but I had a note from his teacher saying he had a good day.

This is where it's hard...because I know he's learning things at school, and he has a friend who is very very similar to him. But the before-and-after nightmare that I have to deal with is emotionally exhausting.
I don't want him to stay home. I don't want to home-school. But I don't want school to be a punishment. I don't want the punishment for anxiety to be more anxiety.
There are some kids who kick up a fuss and say they hate school but it's all verbal, and they usually still end up putting clothes on and going out the door. Maybe they cry at goodbyes, but at the end of the day they don't have enough words for all the fun things they got to do that day.
Toby is just...sad. He just shuts down. And at the start of the day if I were to force clothes on him and throw him out the door he would have his clothes off as fast as I put them on. If I could even get near enough to get his pajamas off in he first place.
He's not jumping up and down and whining that he hates school... He's talking to me about it. We have a discussion. He tells me that he doesn't find it exciting. He tells me that it's too busy. And I have to respect that I guess, otherwise he'll never want to tell me anything hard again.

I don't want to 'lower my expectations' of him. But I maybe need to change them.
He's smart. He's really smart and loves learning. And I don't want school to make him hate learning. He can write all his letters and when he asks me how to spell a word I give him the sounds and make him figure out the letters on his own. He can sound words out on his own, although when you flat-out ask him to show you he gets all self-conscious and usually won't.
He can count. He can cut paper. He can draw. He's imaginative. He's good at building and balancing things that you would never think would work. He likes showing people things he's done.
This morning he said he'd try going to school at lunch, and then proceeded to merrily show Anthony all the letters he knows how to write and the 'Letter Train' that was sent home for him to work on. He can do the work. I think maybe it's just overwhelming to have it all taught to you at once with other kids around.

After talking a lot to my mom I think we've decided to (within reason) let him decide when he goes. If he misses a day and he's not sick, we'll go up to the school anyway to find out what they did in class. If I can convince him to go at some point during the day, an hour is better than nothing. Maybe he's just not ready. He developed at everything late, except talking. Maybe he just needs more time. And I'll just hope that he hasn't been scared off of school all together.

If we run into you in the next while, please don't ask how school's going. I don't want to lie and say IT'S GREAT while Toby hangs his head. And I don't want to sigh and quietly mutter something about 'challenges' because it furthers reinforced to Toby that he's a 'problem'.
As with everything in his life, it seems, you have to wait until he decided he wants to talk about it, and all you can do is respond enthusiastically.

This is either the rough beginning to a great adventure, or the quiet beginning to a very rough adventure.... I suppose only time will tell.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Blurred Lines

Yes, this blog is about what you think it's about, and if you choose to stop reading, I won't be offended. I'm on a rant. And it's long. With multiple links to look at.

Blurred Lines. Robin Thicke. Where do I start?

I never liked the song. It's not my kind of music to begin with, so I ignored it. Then it started getting played a lot. Then people started complaining. Then I started listening to see what the fuss was about.

As one post I found on Tumblr states: "'Blurred Lines' is catchy in the same way 'Ring Around The Rosie' is catchy before you learn it's about the plague..."

As if the lyrics weren't cryptically bad enough, the music video is worse. Lame dancing on a blank background with scantily clad women supposedly taking humour in having their hair tugged and smoke blown in their face. Supposedly the video director was a woman. I'm not sure what she was thinking. Maybe it was supposed to be funny somehow. But it's not really.

If it's not outwardly obvious, 'blurred lines' refers to the supposed blurred line between consent and assault. Mr. Thicke appears to "hate these blurred lines" as he and his co-stars eye up their surroundings in the music video.
One might even be tempted to say that perhaps it's the girls' fault for dressing that way. One might be tempted to say that acting like that is 'asking for it'.

And there is where you've fallen into the trap. It's always the girl's fault, right? Never the men who act on impulse..

I turn your attention to this article which I'm sure most of you have seen as it's been circulating the internet to mixed reviews. The FYI (if you're a teenage girl) post by Kim Hall started out as a 'point taken' type rant about the types of photos teenage girls are putting online. She raises good points about how you never know who is looking at your stuff. Maybe not hackers, but family members of yours and your friends. Keeping a certain online image IS important, especially at a young age.
However her post turns preachy and accusatory when she starts saying that she's had to make her sons block these girls' profiles. There are apparently 'no second chances' with behavior like that - behavior that will make her sons 'linger' over their profiles and hinder their chances of growing up to be men with a 'strong moral compass'.
My reaction is... don't you trust your sons to make good decisions? Do you REALLY think that other people's online profiles are going to change their lives that drastically? Do you have THAT LITTLE faith in the way you raised them that you don't think they might end up figuring it all out in the end?
And again, of course, it must be the girl's fault. Since clearly you've trained your sons to only see a scantily clad object, and to avert their eyes. You can't hide from the whole world. So maybe learn to see through it.

Which leads me to this post. I'm not sure if this was written as a reaction to the previous one, or if it was independent, but Seeing a Woman is an example of what more people need to be teaching their sons. The father writing this article admits that, yes, some girls dress like that, but no, that doesn't make them less of a person. "It's a women's responsibility to dress herself in the morning. It is your responsibility to look at her like a human being, regardless of what she is wearing".
I think, all too often, boys are let off easy because 'boys will be boys'. Which sometimes is fine, it's part of growing up, but to never have it taught that girls are human, regardless of what they look like (both drool-worthy super model and the bullied nerd) is I think where this whole system falls flat.

Back to Mr. Thicke.

The problem with his song/video is it caters to this whole culture of people who believe women are there for amusement. It sounds old-timey and backwards, but there are indeed people out there cheering this song on. It also helps along the points of those people like Mrs. Hall about badly behaved men are that way because of being egged on by scantily clad women.
 But because it's created so much controversy, it's listened to/viewed/downloaded for the simple sake of people knowing it's popular, or people like me who are finally giving in to seeing what all the fuss is about.
His music video on Youtube has over 177 Million views. The unrated (full nudity) version has over 20 million.
His performance with Miley Cyrus at the VMAs has over 3 million views.
His music video on itunes is sitting in 4th. Nicely nestled between Miley Cyrus's latest two videos.
The popularity of the song has little to do with how 'good' it is, it's simply because he's created a buzz. But because of that he's raking in the royalties every time it's heard/watched/bought.

Here's where things get even more touchy.. and here's where discretion to keep reading is up to you.

Project Unbreakable is an online project that was started in 2011 by a woman named Grace Brown. She is a young photographer who wanted to crate a public space for assault/rape victims to share quotes or stories about their attackers, as publicly or anonymously as desired, to either help get it off their chest, or let others know they're not alone. The response to what started out as a collection of poignant photographs has been massive. She now gets people emailing her letters or pictures of quotes. She goes on tours to school campuses to collect photos of those willing to share. The database is now enormous.
Which in one way is great, because so many people are being moved by it. But on the other hand... look at how many people there are...And why are there so many...

A few days ago (trigger/mature subject matter) this post showed up online. The author pulls lines from Mr. Thicke's song and pairs them to real-life attacker quotes posted on Project Unbreakable.
This is where you start to go...oh.

This is where you start to really realize that it's maybe not just a quirky little song.

In a world full of progress and equality, and songs like 'Roar', 'Same Love', 'Inner Ninja' and 'Brave', it's sometimes hard to believe that songs that feel the need to 'blur the lines' between ok and offensive are still out in the mainstream.

It's hard to protect kids from that. But maybe the trick is to just let them experience it, and then make them understand why it's not acceptable.
Don't teach them to shut the world out.
Don't tempt them by forbidding every offensive or provocative thing in their path.
Teach them to think.
Teach them to look past it.
Teach them to 'love with' instead of 'love at'.
Teach them to be their own person, as long as it's not hurting those around them.
Yes, sure, teach your girls to dress appropriate, but please also teach your boys that when they maybe don't, it's not an invitation.
Teach them that 'these blurred lines' are actually quite solid. As solid and as simple as a 'yes' or a 'no'.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The View From Car

Toby has never been good in the car. His first time in the car was maybe the only time he was ok. He whimpered. He fell asleep.
The next few times in the car he was fine in the car seat, but then as soon as we pulled out of the driveway he shrieked, he bellowed, he wailed... I turned up the radio and he quieted.
After that though... after that was miserable. So much so I dreaded going to doctors appointments or grocery shopping or visiting, because that meant 20 minutes to town and 20 minutes home.

As he got older it got better. I could give him a snack or a drink and not need to stop every 10 minutes to nurse just to get him to calm down. Later when he was forward-facing I started talking non-stop about the things out the window just to keep him distracted. A Tractor! A cow! A horse! A buldozer! A cloud! Corn!

Eventually we braved the three hour drive to Stratford for a visit. The three hour drive took us about 4 and a half hours because of stopping every half hour to nurse and diaper change and re-assure and distract. We pointed out the farms and the John Deere dealership and the Kubota dealership and the cows and the sheep and the wind turbines in Shelburne....

I have often thought about, and often had suggested to me, why don't you just get a portable DVD player?

I was tempted. I sometimes still am. But the more I think about it, especially for a kid like Toby, the more uncomfortable with the idea I become.

I know him. I know he loves TV. And we don't really watch a lot of TV. The only movies he's ever seen are Cars, Wall-e, and Robots. He likes Mighty Machines. He likes Franklin. He likes Magic School Bus.
I know that he likes these things so much that he will go out of his way to find excuses to watch any of these things. And if I let him watch a movie on a long trip, he's going to ask for it on a simple trip to town. It's another thing to argue over. And yes I could make it clear that it's only for long trips, but if I only use it 2 times a year, is it worth buying?

I totally get when and why you would want a DVD player in the car...but I also don't think that watching more TV is what car rides should be about. Car rides should be about learning direction. Learning landmarks. Tucking things away in the long-term memory banks. Car rides should be about playing games as a family when you're bored. About singing loudly and terribly to the radio, even if all your speakers are used to emitting is Fred Penner.

When Toby was 2 we were showing a friend of ours our photo albums - a favourite pass-time of Toby's. He  would flip pages and spew out some articulate toddler gibberish, and then turn the page again. We got to our Stratford trip and our friend asked "Hey Toby, what are these?" "Dindmills" "Wow windmills, those are pret-" "Going round and round and round in Delburne *page turn*"
She looked up at me in amazement. He knows that?
Sometimes you don't realize how much kids absorb from what you say or where you go when they seem to small to understand. If I stuck a movie in he wouldn't care about the windmills. He would get bored.

On the way home now he'll say "There's the tractor store, half way home!" "There's Ego's market, we're at the 9th!" "There's the Store, home is over the hill, right mom?"

He now has a 70 minute bus ride to school to deal with twice a day. I felt sick to my stomach on his behalf, knowing that he relied on snacks and music usually to keep him going. He still gets restless and impatient in the car, even with distractions. He threw up half way home on his first day of school and has greeted me off the bus with a scowl everyday since then. It usually takes half an hour and a snack before he's over it. I've been toying with driving him to school, but I know that will get old for me pretty quick, and it's harder for him to leave me once I'm there with him. It wasn't until we drove up to the school yesterday for Open House that I felt better about it all...

"MOM! That's the bumpy road the bus goes down!" "I know this bridge, the bus goes over it!" "That's the house with the red canoe, our bus comes up here too!" "That's the road where we drop some kids off!"

I was so relieved... So very relieved that things aren't as bad as his mood depicts at the end of the day. He knows how to entertain himself on a long drive. He's memorized landmarks. He knows the way.
And I really do believe that it's because we don't watch TV in the car. It excites him, instead of bores him, to learn about new places. Maybe my little non-traveler will take these skills on the road some day...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wordless(ish) Wednesday

 September 2008

September 2009

September 2010

September 2011

September 2012

September 2013