Sunday, September 09, 2012

Skirt Girl

When I was younger, I used to be thankful for the occasional kid in class who was weirder, smellier, dirtier, or whatever -ier than me, because it meant the little vicious monsters who surrounded me would turn themselves to a different kid for a change.

Talking to my brother today, I realized yet again how narcissistic children are. As a younger person, I couldn't imagine anyone being persecuted more than I was, mainly because I always looked different than everyone else. Contrary to what I was told, this didn't mean that it was the devil testing me, it just mean that kids are little punks to anyone who is different than they are. I was always jealous of the boys in my religion because they didn't have to look different like the girls did. I could see some of the boys actually being popular, whereas very few girls I knew were popular in school, and I attributed this to looking so utterly different.

I developed what I liked to call the "outsiders" group. I liked hanging out with people I considered to be different too, because then we could be different together. It was rather interesting to realize my brother did exactly the same thing, even though he was a boy, because he was different too, he just didn't look as different as I did.

I am not thankful I experienced what I did, even though I know it made me stronger. There are other ways to become stronger, ones that don't leave as many scars. Parents who espouse tough love either have forgotten what it was like or never experienced it - or perhaps have so many scars from their experiences that they don't know any other way. Knowing you're not a person to your peers, but just "skirt girl" isn't made any easier when platitudes are provided instead of real solutions.

Life happens how it does - I don't blame anyone else for the merciless teasing and childish stupidity that was endured by me, by others in my little social group, by my brother. But I do hope it will make me a better parent, one sensitive to how important social interaction is to human beings in general, and to my children in particular. And, not excuse my children if they are the ones picking on the lone "skirt girl" on the playground.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Food Intentions

I'm currently taking a course from Heather Brueggeman on whole foods, and am learning some amazing new techniques to make healthful, vegetarian food for my family. Since humans shouldn't be eating animal products in the volume we do, I've been searching for ways to reduce that volume, although it's not easy since my default is to make a protein, a vegetable side and a starch/whole grain side for meals.

A few of the things I could do to improve my health that I'm not doing right now is to drink more water, eat more seeds and nuts, and exercise. The water and exercise ones are obvious - I drink a lot of water but I'm lactating, so I'm constantly thirsty. Exercise isn't particularly comfortable, for the same reason I'm always thirsty, but walking is something I should be doing more of. The seeds and nuts are a huge part of the new recipes I'm learning, and I am becoming more aware that if you were just a hunter-gatherer, you'd be eating a whole lot more seeds and nuts than I - or my family members - currently do.

Overall, my food philosophy is to try to follow as much as possible what humans developed naturally to eat. To that end, I have no interest in becoming vegetarian, because I don't think it's a choice that matches what the human body needs. But, the corollary is that the meat I eat needs to also be from an animal who ate what they were supposed to be eating - so organic grass-fed cattle, pigs allowed to wallow and root, chickens who could peck for seeds and worms, etc. As far as the plant side of things, I feel like I've been lacking direction and knowledge because of being a plant hater as a child (microwave steamed lima beans will do that to you), but really want to incorporate more whole grains, seeds, and green veggies into my family's diet. I feel like I'm doing relatively well with the root veggies, celeriac and parsnip being two of my new favorites, but I'm hoping that through taking this course, I'll be able to move my family to 80% of our food coming from plant based sources.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Work in Progress - Parenting a Pre-K to K girl

Here are a few thoughts on the steps my husband and I have taken in trying to ensure our 5 year old turns into a respectful, contributing member of society, and doesn't hate us when it's over.

1) I have heard parents say "pick your battles." This would have been important for my parents to remember, because I resisted at every turn. But, our daughter does not, she acts out as a method of control and doesn't do it that often. So, every battle really is one I'm willing to fight. The few times I've given in during her attention getting battles took days to rectify.

2) Minimal sugar. When she gets a lot of sugar, she turns into evil child. We give her lots of fruit if she wants a treat,and she gets a minimal dessert after dinner, once she's eaten all of her vegetables. After a couple years of this now, the few times we've let her eat as much sugar as she wants, she limits herself.

3) Organic fruits and vegetables. Multiple studies have linked pesticides to developmental problems in children, including autism and ADD/ADHD. This is one I'm not willing to gamble on - she eats something non-organic maybe a couple times a week - this includes her sandwiches, juice, milk, pretty much anything she eats, we're trying for organic, but especially the fruits and vegetables.

4) She cleans her own room (with help). Soon, I'm hoping she cleans her room without help, but she has been taught to clean up after herself since she was able to pick up her own things or reach the counter to put away her leftover dishes/cups. We hope that when she's older, this habit will be ingrained. We hope.

5) TV is limited on school days, and homework and veggies come first. She has been told - and happily regurgitates - that too much TV will turn her brain to mush.

Overall, we're trying to strike a balance between some of the extremes to which we were both subjected as children, in terms of zero sugar or zero TV that led us to binge as adults, and and being completely permissive, which neither of us are in to.

I guess we'll find out in a decade how well this is working for us. For now, we have a (mostly) well-behaved, sweet and cooperative five year old. Let's hope it stays that way... :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

"There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford"

A young girl was walking home one day and saw a poor homeless man on the side of the street. She asked her mom why he was there.

"Well, sweetie, he didn't want to have a job or responsibility, he just wanted to spend his money on drinking, so now he hasn't got a home and has to ask for money."

She thought about this, and said, "But it's very cold out, and I don't see that he has a coat on."

"Yes, he probably sold it or lost it somewhere. Most homeless are lazy and don't take care of their things."

She thought again, and asked, "What if he tried to take someone else's coat because he's so cold?"

"Well, then he'd probably go to jail and we taxpayers would have to pay for him, when he ought to be working and paying for himself."

The girl thought again, and said, "So, is this man not the one that I learned about in Sunday School? The one that Jesus said we should feed if he's hungry, or give him something to drink if he's thirsty, or clothe him if he's cold, or visit him if he's in jail?"

Her mother looked at her in shock. "Absolutely not! God blesses those who work hard and don't complain. Remember, Paul said if you can't work, you shouldn't eat."

"But, Mom, my Sunday school teacher said that early Christians lived in a communal style, and everyone had jobs to do. Does that man have a job he can work at?"

"I'm sure if he looked hard, he could find one," her mother said firmly.

And thus the Pharisee ignored the words of Christ again, believing herself to be far superior to that cold, hungry, thirsty, homeless person.