Friday, March 14, 2014

Why Banning the Word Bossy Actually Hurts Women

     I know there are already plenty of people weighing in on the #banbossy campaign. I also realize I'm not usually one to step into the muddy waters of the political arena in my blog except this idea has bugged me from the second I started watching the commercial.
     I have three girls. Three strong-willed, independent, and creative girls.
     And yes, sometimes a bit bossy.
     Did I just call my own kids a word that has suddenly become politically incorrect to say in public?

    Yes, I did. My children, who I love dearly, CAN BE BOSSY.
     I was a bossy child- just ask my siblings.
     I have worked with many children and on the whole, most of them can be pretty bossy. Have you ever been around a three year old? A four year old? A teenager?

    Being bossy is selfish. It's a self centered way of thinking. I want this...I want that...You're going to do this...Because I said.

     A child has to be taught how to be assertive, how to have compassion and empathy, how to be a leader.
     Because I'm sorry, if someone is calling you bossy- it's probably because you are. That person is saying, 'hey, you're not letting me have any say in this."
    (Unless of course, they're just not nice and then we need to teach our children to worry less about what mean people think about us.)
    When my older girls were little they played really well together but I would hear, 'you're taking all the imagination." Basically Abu was telling Bean- 'you're being bossy with me."
   I don't want my girls to grow up and be the boss. The word 'boss' implies someone that doesn't care about anyone else, or anyone else's ideas. It's a word that says, 'hey, I think I'm better than you because I'm the boss.'

    Ha, try that in a marriage. It's not very healthy, on either side.
   We all hate the boss at work, right? Because we feel he/she doesn't care about us. Because we have no say.

   But a leader. They inspire. They direct. They take the best of people and bring it out. They allow others to shine.
  So I don't want to ban the word 'bossy' because it won't ban the negative behavior that a child- boy or girl- exhibits.
   Banning a word won't automatically make leaders. Besides, if you're going to ban words, lets start with the really nasty and hurtful ones. Other 'B' words that aren't flattering to women. Oh, but wait- than all these female singers would have to rewrite their songs. Because somewhere in this mixed up world we live in, it's okay to call other women hurtful names. But boy, use the word bossy and we have totally destroyed the dreams of all girls everywhere.

   The website has a quote, "When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don't raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead."

   Actually, as a woman and a Mom of three girls, let me explain to you what messages hurt the self esteem. What keeps a woman from finding her potential.

1. Allowing verbal, mean girl bullying to continue rampant in our schools. The word bossy is nothing compared to the crap that can come out of some girls/women's mouth.
    If you're smart in school- than another girl will call you names for it. Guarantee.
    If you like to play sports, perhaps you're even super good at it and you like to compete against the boys at recess. Some other girl will say you're doing nasty things with those boys.
    The word bossy? Bullies don't even use that word. They go for ones that hurt: like hoe, whore, bitch, and more. -In elementary school.-
    And it continues into adulthood. You want strong female leaders, than women: stop with the rumors, and the backstabbing, and the petty comparing that happens.
    I have been around so many women that instead of building each other up, instead of sharpening and strengthening they say things like:
    You want to stay home and raise your kids? Then you're lazy.
    You want to go to work or you have to go to work? Then you're the worse kind of mother for allowing other women to raise your kids.
    You don't want to take that CEO job because you choose more family time over a 80 hour a week job? Then obviously someone called you bossy and prevented you from finding your full potential.

2. Stop the damn photoshopping of models and women in images. I can't believe it's gotten to this point that we have to take a skinny person and digitally remove more 'fat' from her. Seriously? What the hell is wrong with our culture? I don't want my girls to think they have to look like they just walked out of a concentration camp to be beautiful.
      That is not beauty. That is sick and disgusting and wrong. Lets just say it the way it is. It's WRONG! When our girls start worrying about fat on their butts and their stomachs and they start hating the way the look, then we have done something WRONG.
    Every women I know, myself included, have stared in the mirror and made a mental list of everything that was wrong with our bodies. And it's sad.
   The female body is beautiful, in all shapes and sizes and curves. I want my girls to think healthy and fit but I don't want them beating themselves up every morning because they don't look like the model on television or the actress in the movie or the gal on the cover of the magazine cover.
   Because not only do most of these women spend a lot more time than the average women doing things to look good as part of their image- they also have a TEAM of make-up artists, hair stylists, and photographers that understand the importance of lighting.
    On top of that: THEY ARE PHOTOSHOPPED beyond just normal color correction and such. They AREN'T REAL.
    Yet, our girls compare themselves to these faked images and find themselves wanting.

3. If a girl is afraid to raise her hand in school, it isn't because she's afraid of being bossy. It's because our education system doesn't encourage free thinking, it doesn't encourage creative expression. It is developed to pass a test and I can guarantee a child that gives too many answers outside that drawn box of thinking, will stop raising their hand and reaching for their potential. A leader does not develop while filling out worksheet after worksheet.
     A leader develops because of many different factors, one of them being having good role models. And I'm sorry, but having Beyonce as your spokesperson is not the role model I want for my girls. I don't want them singing songs about sex and dressing trashy and giving stripper numbers on stage. That's not empowerment of women at all.
    Could we have some women role models that teach about building each other up, that speak with compassion and passion, that show girls that we don't have to bash men and bring them down- to prove we're strong and capable? 

4. We need to teach our girls right and wrong and morals. And we need to teach them that they shouldn't care about what society thinks of them because society at this point is about being too thin, putting other women down, and idealizing 'role models' that think a women is only reaching her full potential if she is living their definition of what it takes to be a strong women.

     Try raising strong, caring, compassionate, independent women in our current society- it's tough. Because as a Momma of three wonderful girls- I really feel like the world, the media, our culture, and society is against me.
    And banning the word bossy doesn't even start to fix the problem.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finding Patience in a Puddle of Paint

Baby Blueberry's Painted Toes

      Sometimes I think my job title should be 'Director of Messes' or 'CEO of the Mess Department'- It does seem like you can follow the rhythm of my day by the messes that occur.
      Breakfast- laundry- Gibson coming in without getting his paws wiped first- toys and more toys. And lets not forget the stack of DVDs that Baby Blueberry loves to take out of the cupboard and leave in piles around the living room.
      There are school books that seem to take over my dining room table from homeschooling Bean.
      Then there are the little pile of crumbs that linger under cupboards after meals.

       These are all annoyances. And lately more than I can handle. I think winter has been a bit too long for me this year. Chaos is running as Your Royal Highness Pain in the Ass in my household which is causing rebellion stirrings in my soul and a constant revolution to be spinning in my head. I was hoping to make a trip to the ocean this summer to calm the angry emotions but have found out that there is no way that can happen this year- so it is what it is - I'm just not sure what 'it' is anymore.

       Lost. Yeah, I'm feeling lost. Perhaps it's not enough sleep. If there is one thing Baby Blueberry is extremely good at- not sleeping. Even caffeine has lost it's umph to fuel my engines. I'm just drained.

    But back to the partial pic above. In the whole picture, Baby Blueberry and I are standing over the mess and I'm smiling. How can I be so happy with such a mess, you might ask?
    I wasn't. I wasn't happy one little bit. I'm so OVERWHELMED that I'm about ready to sell everything I own and live without stuff. Because stuff seems to take time to clean and organize and keep nice.

    But I'm smiling anyways. Because the mess was about more than a mess. (Which BTW took over an hour to clean up.) It was a chance at a little bit of redemption.

   When I was sick, so many years ago, I tried to be a good Mom. We read books, and played toys, and I tucked them in at night with snuggles and hugs.
    But I was also very impatient and angry.
   Especially with messes.
    Because a mess meant more work. More energy. More time I didn't have.
    And so when Bean and Abu painted my kitchen blue because they thought I would like it- I was very angry about it. I asked them, 'how could you do this?' "'How could you make a mess for Mom?' And their little faces fell and something went hard in Bean and something went quiet in Abu.
     Impatience. Impatience. Impatience. When Bean and Abu were little it was what I seemed to give them the most.
     And they responded in kind.
    With impatience for me. With each other.

     And it's hard to enjoy each other's company when all you feel is impatience.

    Then Baby Blueberry starting growing underneath my heart. But that wasn't what changed me.
     Two things...two random conversations that probably took up less than five minutes of time but shifted the view- my view.

    I was watching a friend with her toddler and he spilled some water on his coloring book. She wasn't happy about it, but she calmly helped him clean it up and they continued on with the activity. No impatience. And he learned just as much about being careful and not making a mess than my kids did with all my impatience and muttering under my breath and frustration.

    Second: I was talking with someone who had experienced a later in life baby too. This baby had came along right when they had decided to stop trying. When she had decided she was done with babies. Something I was feeling a lot of when I found out about Blueberry. Especially with a 11 and 9 year difference between Bean, Abu and Blueberry.
    But at that moment I realized I could shape the story- the story Blueberry would hear her entire life- how Mom was impatient right from the start because she made a mess in Mommy's life. Or I could write the story- my story- her story- OUR STORY- to celebrate her arrival.
      At that moment I decided I was done- as much as any Mommy can be- I'm not a saint- but I decided to give up impatience.

     I tried it with Bean and Abu. Teaching myself to handle spills and accidents with patience. That was DIFFICULT!!! But the difference in them started right away. They were less tense, and just as careful.

     And when Baby Blueberry arrived. I continued teaching myself to be less impatient.

   So when I tried to paint my basement posts with Baby in tow, I should have realized that she would brush up against the fresh paint with her pretty sweater. She doesn't understand wet paint. I took the sweater off her to run it under some water and soap and try to save it. I turned my back for less than thirty seconds.
    I turn around and she has taken my paint brush and is HAPPILY slapping layers of thick paint on the post. Dripping it across the floor in huge puddles. It's covering her pants and her shirt. I quickly grab her because she's now standing in wet paint on a cement floor and I don't want her cracking her head open. And when I grab her, - her little toes start sliding in the paint and she's starts laughing at the sensation of wet paint in between toes. And then she starts kicking her feet in the puddle, enjoying the squishy mess- huge belly laughs fill the air.
   Her sisters come over and start laughing. Baby Blueberry's dimple is showing and her eyes are sparkling. And we're covered in paint and mess.
    At that point I realize I could get mad but she's talking to me and I realize she's saying, "help Momma. help Momma."
    She was just trying to help me paint and it probably looked like so much fun.
   I could cry because the mess is huge.
   Or I could laugh.

   And because it seemed like the best option- I laugh right along side her and her sisters. I have Abu grab the camera and snap a shot. Then I haul Blueberry to the bath and clean her up. Abu tries to help clean by laying down toilet paper on the mess but it actually makes it worse because by the time I can start cleaning- it has stuck to the drying paint.
    I'm tired and almost crabby by the time I get it cleaned up because it's late and it takes so long but impatience- that emotion isn't hanging around us- and I tuck three happy kids into bed...two older sisters still grinning over the mess the Baby made.
      And one little kiddo who was happy that she helped Momma. 

    The moral of the story: if you see me being patient.- know that I'm really working very hard on it underneath my calm exterior. It has taken me a lot of work to get there but I do know I like my parenting style better if IMPATIENCE stays away.

    That and keep the paint can up on the counter while painting. ;-)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Puppy Has Nine Lives...umm- Eight Lives Left

   Gibson has a postal worker thing. Not the usual doggie thing- where the canine wants to rip the nice- I'm just delivering your mail to your mailbox- worker to shreds.
    No, Gibson has friendship. Because he's one of the most social dogs I have ever seen. The girls and I always tease him that he has a motto-

    "Stalking 'til we're friends"

   This started at the dog park because when he would see another dog, he goes into crouch mode, like he's a big, wild beast of Africa, sneaking up on the unsuspecting herbivore. The looks we have gotten from other dog owners, as they notice this huge Great Dane/Black Lab 'puppy' trying to quietly sneak up on their small, toaster box size pet has been hilarious- if perhaps they didn't pick up their dogs and start running away from us.
    Then I start to feel bad that my extremely friendly lap dog has scared away yet another dog owner. And they simply do not believe me when I try to convince them that stalking is Gibson's way of making friends.

    But lets not talk about Gibson's troubles with social graces- we're here to discuss his other troubles:

   Gibson is a runner. We open the door and he tries to escape. We have now resorted to forming plays of action that we have to perform when we open the door. Sorta of like football- "Bean, here's the baby. Abu, grab the diaper bag. I'll throw the toy, when the dog intercepts it, make a run for the door before he crosses the living room."
    Or sometimes it's a full tackle. "Girls, grab the baby. I'll tackle the dog and hold him down while you get out the door."

    One day he made an escape and ran right for the pretty, blond mail lady. She realized that he wasn't the big, scary beast that most people think he is and recognized him for the overgrown puppy that he really is. She gave him puppy treats until I could run down the block and get him.
    And since then, it's been love at first doggie treat. Now, he watches out the window for her and when she passes, he doesn't bark like he normally would, he whines in this pitiful, gargle in the back of the throat.

   Last week, he rushes pass me as I check the mail. He thinks he sees her and runs right for the postal worker. Except it's not her. It's some guy he doesn't know. So he decides to run around the neighborhood, because for a huge oaf, being stuck in the house while it's in the negative temperatures is enough to drive one insane. And since he's free- he's going to take advantage of it.
    I go outside, not chasing him - because that actually makes him run worse. The best method is to IGNORE him- because then he runs back to me- wondering why I'm not playing chase.
    We end up in the backyard- I almost have him and then he decides to chase a car driving down the alley. The car is going somewhere between 10-15 miles an hour and he is so easily out running the vehicle.
     I'm afraid he's going to get to hit when he makes the stupid decision to turn and run towards the busy road. Then I start running but I can't outrun him and by the time I make the corner to the busy road, I notice ALL of the cars in four lanes of traffic are stopped and he's limping back to me.
    My chest tightens, the fear curling my gut and I hurry over to him and he's looking at me like a little kid would, 'I hurt Mommy and make it all better.'

   I coax him down the alley to my parent's house and holler for my Dad. Around this time a vehicle that had been stopped on the road comes driving slowly down the alley.
   "I saw what happened. He came out of nowhere. The truck tried to stop but he couldn't. I don't know how bad he got hit but he rolled under the truck a few times and then came out the side."
    I thank her for taking the time to stop, especially since the person that actually hit my dog never even took the time to see if the puppy was okay.
    My Dad feels all his bones, checking for broken ribs and legs and hips. He pokes and checks for tender spots on his belly and his torso. Gibson's tail is bleeding, road rash all up and down the sides of it. Missing chunks of fur and skin. The tail is swollen but it's not bent at odd angles or crushed.
     Gibson is crying. His eyes full of moisture and he's presses his forehead up against me. I cry with him.

     I take him back to my house, he slowly comes along, obviously sore but he's able to walk without yelping or whining.
     I make him comfortable and clean up his wounds. I don't rush him to the vet, not because of any lack of caring, because for all the headache he can be- I wouldn't let him suffer in any way- (I do happen to like my pain in the neck puppy)- I have nothing financially right now. It would be using my kids' food money to take him to the vet. So, since his doesn't have any broken bones or signs of  head trauma- we tend to him at home. We keep a careful eye on him, checking his urine and poop for blood. Checking for signs of head injury all night long. Checking to make sure the wounds on his tail start to heal quickly and there isn't a lack of circulation going on or broken tail bones.

   In the photo above you can see the tail and he's obviously sore and stiff. He doesn't even want to chew on his shoe, which is a great treat for him because to him there's nothing better than someone's sweaty, smelly running shoe. 

  Over the next thirty hours we baby him and coddle him. He eats it up, sitting on our laps and getting the chance to be the lap dog he knows he is underneath all that puppy body.
   We keep cleaning his tail and it scabs quickly. The potty stuff is going fine. Slowly he starts moving more, jumping over the baby gate, getting on the furniture.

    The house is quiet. There isn't a puppy trying to escape every time we open the door. He's not trying to eat the baby's toys and he's not attempting to eat Bean's boots every time she puts them on her feet.
    Hero Hottie asks, "What's wrong with you, man? You look like you've been hit by a truck." And that's his sarcastic way of dealing with it.- As he pets Gibson behind the ears and actually shares fried ham from his dinner plate with him.

   Just thirty hours after he is hit by a truck, rolled under the vehicle and managed to come out not only alive but without any serious injuries- he sneaks into the Baby's room and comes running out with a toy. And the chase is back on...