Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A day in the life of Josh

Once upon a time, there was a little boy.
His name was Josh.
Josh had more energy than six little boys all put together, and he loved to play in the toilet, climb in the dishwasher, and ride on the kitty--all when his Mommy wasn't looking, of course.  Josh made his Mommy very tired.
Josh had the blondest hair you've ever seen, and dark, dark blue eyes.  He was very beautiful, even if his Daddy says that boys are handsome, not beautiful.
His Mommy knew the truth--that her little boy was beautiful.
 Josh loved his Mommy, and his Daddy, and his Poppies and his Mimis, and he always wanted to go see his Mimis, because they read him stories and gave him cookies and didn't tell him "no" all the time like his Mommy did.
Josh also
loved his blankie.  Sometimes he would even put his
thumb in his mouth and hold onto his blankie and pretend to sleep.  Once he convinced his Mommy he was asleep and that she could sleep, too, Josh would wake up and go on the greatest adventures with the kitty.  Mostly they went out to the kitchen and checked out the fridge, and Josh would try to get a drink of milk. Mostly it ended up on his clothes.  Then they would climb into the shower and try to turn the water on to clean up, but that never worked really well, either.  If Mommy hadn't discovered him by then, Josh and the kitty would go into the bathroom where the coolest toy ever--the toilet--lived.  And Josh would find everything he could and try to flush it down the toilet, because that was really, really cool.
And usually by then, Mommy would wake up and find him, and she would sigh and say, "Who told you that you could play in here?"  And Josh would look at the kitty and say, "Kitty did!"
And then Josh would have to get his clothes changed and his hands and face washed, all of which he hated, and then Mommy would clean up the milk in the kitchen and give him a drink.

The End.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


There are certain non-negotiables when it comes to my children.
You may not feed them sugar before bedtime, unless you are willing for them to spend the night at your house.
You may not allow Josh to watch all the Thomas the Tank Engine he wants.
You must be an appropriate adult role model, exhibiting appropriate adult behavior, at all times, regardless of your relationship to my children or how you are related to them.  I'm not saying you can't lose your temper once in a while, but you need to show how to get it back under control, and then explain that it was wrong of you do so.

We do not yell in my house.  We do not throw things. We do not swear(well, at least usually).  We do not kick things when we get mad.  We do not hit.  
These are not just my expectations for Joshua and my other future children, but my expectations for anyone who comes through the door.
These are my expectations for Josh's father and I.

Fortunately, it's rarely been an issue.  Only once have I told someone that they were acting inappropriately in front my child, and there was the door until they could learn to act like a responsible adult.

Yes. I am kind of a nasty person sometimes.  When it comes to my kids, I really, really do not care.(Okay. Honestly. I don't care anyway.)

I think...I hope...this will, over time, teach certain things to my children.
Such as, I expect them to be kind, considerate, and respectful of others at all times.
Such as, you can be all of that, and firm at the same time.  You can draw the line.  You can stand up for yourself, and your family, and say, "This is not acceptable behavior.  You are choosing to not be a part of our lives by acting this way. You know where we are when you make different choices."  I hope this teaches them that excusing someone else's bad behavior isn't acceptable.  That if that bad behavior just continues, that they need to simply walk away.
I hope that teaches my children that walking away is perfectly fine. 

Is that rude?  I don't know.  I honestly, frankly, just really don't care.  Eventually my children will be old enough that we can discuss why people choose to act the way that they do, and that there is no justification, ever, to treat someone else badly.  But my children aren't there yet, and until then, I consider it my job to simply say, No. This is not how you are allowed to act in front of my kids.
And I stick to it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I went to see Peter Pan tonight, an off Broadway traveling professional group.  It was good and I enjoyed it, but I spent the evening thinking how much fun I will have when my kids are old enough for plays.  And I realized--this is why I want to homeschool.  So I can fill their childhood with music, art, theater.  So we can snuggle on the couch and read good, classic children's literature on snowy mornings.  So we can do science experiments and I can watch their eyes when they finally understand a mathematical concept.  So we can go to a Spanish immersion class, and swim lessons, and professional quality plays in the afternoon.

I want to homeschool so my little boys can run and jump and play in mud and catch frogs.  I don't want them worrying about meeting state standards or chained to a desk at too young an age.  I actually don't want them to know what desk is for a long, long time.  I want to read fairytales and do puzzles and make music and do crafts.  I want to allow for my son's need for movement and spontaneity.   I want to instill a love for learning, real learning.  I'm not interested in textbooks, but learning through doing.  I don't want them to be isolated, but a valuable part of a community.  I want them to know the world beyond our home and family, but not be dependent on a peer group.  There are exhibits and lessons and sports and places to explore, and I think homeschooling will give us the chance to do all that.

Academics, of course, are a huge part of my life.  My children, most assuredly, will not suffer academically.  Standards, though, can be high without overly focusing on tests and textbooks.  There is a time and a place for that, and my children will be well prepared for college, and expected to go.  But there is an individual path there, and it will be different for every family.  I look forward to finding ours.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Last week, my husband and I finally got around to seeing "Courageous."  Having an afternoon off together is enough of a reason to celebrate by seeing a movie, so Josh went to Grandma's and off we went.
I have to put a disclaimer here: I was fully prepared to not like this movie.  "Fireproof" was so badly acted and the fire and rescue scenes so ridiculous that I can't watch it for more than a few minutes(Kirk Cameron, admittedly, can act. The actress who played his wife made me want to throw things at the screen.).  I'm not a big fan of the other movies the Kendrick brothers have made for the same reasons--poor acting, silly dialogue, and, really, what is their obsession with stereotypically manly men(firefighters, police officers, football players)?  Especially since some of the finest firefighters and police officers I know happen to be women.  But I knew my husband would want to see "Courageous," so I agreed. After all, he's sat through enough of my foreign art films.

To sum up the story, it centers around four police officers and a construction worker.  It's worth pointing out that the police officers are three middle class white guys and an African American, who, unsuprisingly, never knew his father and has father issues.  The construction worker is Latino, clearly living in poverty level, and can't find or keep a job.  Racial stereotypes, much?  In any case, the four police officers are good cops, busy dad.  I don't think they are "bad dads" or "uninvolved dads" as some reviewers have said; I think they are just busy in a stressful job, keeping things up around the house, and making their wives happy(more on their wives later).  Their kids fall by the wayside, until one of the children is killed in a car accident.  This is a wake up call and they all vow to be better fathers, signing a resolution in a ceremony reminiscent of a wedding.  There are a number of tangents and plotlines, but this is the basic story.

The acting in this film was much better and the dialogue sharper and more realistic.  The plotline is still a little silly, and, honestly, I've never seen a group of cops sitting around a backyard barbecue drinking soda. But the Kendrick brothers are clearly advacing in their writing and producing skills, and I give them kudos for that.  There were several genuinely funny moments and some touching moments.  As for the overall message, I can't disagree with the fact that many men need to step up and be fathers, being an active participant in their children's life and not just checking in with Mom at night.  If this movie is a wakeup call to the fathers in the audience to be a part of their child's life, then I think it will have served it's purpose.

I still walked out of this movie feeling very squeamish.  One part of me genuinely enjoyed it.  One part of me was trying to imagine how I would explain it to my teenage son in the future.
The racial stereotypes bothered me on some level, but on another level, they are accurate.  African American men, statistically, are less likely to grow up in a home with their father than are caucasian men.  Latino/Mexican immigrants in this country do often hover near poverty levels and struggle to find work. 
Much more than this, though, is the portrayal of and attitude towards women in this film.  The women are little more than walk on characters who sometimes gently chide their husbands to spend more time with their kids.  The one character who is drawn out a little more, Carmen, is still shown doing nothing more than keeping house and homeschooling their children and making tortillas while her husband struggles to find work(begging one question: if they can't buy food and make the mortgage, why don't they put the kids in school and she finds a job? Never answered.).  It is insinuated that all the other wives in this movie are stay at home moms who do nothing but devote their lives to their children--all well and good, but not realistic.  The wives stand beside their husband in the vow ceremony, as the men promise to "provide for and protect our wives and children."  Children, I can see, but providing for and protecting our wives?  Really?  Why, Kendrick brothers, do you feel the need to infantilize women so much?  Do you really believe that women need to be protected and provided for?  Because if you do, I can introduce you to many, many women who do not, and would most definately not appreciate our husbands coming up with a vow to do so.  I shifted uncomfortably in my seat during the entire vow scene, because--while I totally appreciate calling men out to do their jobs as fathers--it ignored the very vital and important role women do in raising children, and made it seem that women need men in their lives as much as children do. 

In another scene, one of the police officers takes his 15-year-old daughter out on a "date."  Besides the plain ickiness of fathers "dating" their teenage daughters, he gives her a beautiful ring and asks her to pledge him her virginity, and to allow him to approve of any boyfriends before she establishes a relationship with them.  At fifteen, I expect to have some say in my children's dating activities, but he doesn't put a time limit on it.  When my daughter is 23, I have no desire to be involved in her dating life more than quick advice here and there.  Why?  Because I strongly desire to raise my children to make good decisions, and I hope I can completely trust their judgement when they are in their twenties.  No, I can most assuredly say, my husband and I will not be asking to approve our children's boyfriends/girlfriends when they are adults. 
My other concern with the whole scene is the idea of a purity ring.  If my sixteen year old comes to me and tells me that he or she has decided that they want to remain a virgin until marriage, and would like a purity ring, I would be willing to buy one.  But that is their decision, their pledge--not mine.  I am not ever going to ask my child to promise me their virginity; sexual decisions are theirs to make.  Again, I hope I raise my children in such a way that they have good judgement and make wise decisions, but I want those important decisions to be theirs alone.

So should you see this movie?  I actually would go see it again.  The dialogue was sharp and many of the cop scenes were fairly realistic.  The interplay between the police officers was often spot on.  And, overall, I do think it had a good message--that fathers need to be a part of their children's lives, whatever the cost.  I just wish that message hadn't been buried under stereotyped characters, cardboard cutout women, and an icky, icky father-daughter scene.