These are the Days

16 Days. Of course I type that while I am supposed to be awake putting together a 45-minute multimedia presentation on integrated marketing practices for class tomorrow. My final project for a marketing elective to round out my requirements for the almighty advanced degree. John, in his awesomeness, brewed the strong coffee for me before turning in for the night. And I can’t quit thinking. I can’t quit thinking, not of integrated marketing as I should be, but of the uncertainty of my life right now. Have you ever been in a place where the things you spend your days doing no longer feel like they are what you should be doing? Where you feel like maybe your real life awaits you, if only you can survive this short little interim? That is this place. These are those days.

My views may possibly be skewed. I realize this. There are people who have devoted their entire lives to do what I have done for the past eight years. They keep doing it, content with their contribution to the world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is honorable. I’m not selfless enough. I feel like I have spent the past eight years paying dues to the world, to my being in general. To the spirit of my mother, who died from lung disease. I’ve been a good girl, and I have been good at my job. There are, in all honesty, people who are breathing today because of the work I have done. I have been there to help babies who could not help themselves. I have been there when families have said goodbye to parts of themselves. I have wiped brows of the dying, delivered tough love when necessary, compassion when it was needed. I have put myself and my family last. And now, after all of these years of doing that, I want to do something different, and in my warped mind, I have earned that. Not because I will, in just 16 days, have a piece of paper with my name in beautiful calligraphy saying I have completed some requirement set forth from society, but because I have paid my dues in other ways.

People ask me what it is I want, and I always answer with a “we’ll see” kind of shrug. I love healthcare, am passionate about healthcare. And I want to leave some sort of mark on this industry that is on a higher level than the one I am currently leaving. And I want to do so in a way that allows time for me, time for my family.

Lately, I have been thinking a great deal about my path through higher education as a non-traditional student. Evan was about 2 when I put on a  backpack for the first time since my mom died, which was eight years before that. Evan is 12. I will finish this long road about 2 weeks before the ten-year anniversary of that first time back. And I have thought about it. I have allowed myself the luxury of pondering just sucking it up, reaching deep, and going straight into a Ph.D. program or a JD, even. And then I think of them. Of Evan and Zach, of John. And what I want is no longer about a higher degree or prestige. Now, when I think of what I want, it isn’t grandiose at all. It’s simple stuff. Little things that aren’t luxuries to most, but have been to me in these years where I have tried to do it all.

I want to come home and not have to rush off to class, be able to eat dinner with my family at a normal hour around a table with food we prepared at home. I want to watch a movie with John without worrying about homework I should be doing or, better yet, am actually trying to do with said movie playing in the background. I would love to take the boys to a movie or park on a weeknight for no reason at all. Maybe even go on a weekend hiking trip. Maybe John and I could have a real date once in a while. Or I could read a book that has not a damned thing to do with academics at all. I want to blog more. Maybe I could revamp this one a little bit with all I know about social media marketing and content creation these days. I want to join a gym and be able to go–and not some lame attempt a a resolution where I don’t have the follow-through because, hey, thinking I would even have the time for a workout each day was optimistic at best, even closer to being the world’s dumbest idea. No, I want to actually go. And work on myself a little bit, and not just on cramming my brain with as much knowledge as possible.

It’s so strange to me. When I started this, I thought, “MBA: the CEO’s degree. I’m want to be loaded.” It isn’t about that anymore. It’s about enjoying life and having the means to do so comfortably. There is only one material possession I even want, and it is going to sound worse than it is: that new Mercedes CLA 250. Sounds greedy and ridiculous, right? No, because in reality, it is only about 3K more than I paid for our current car and I bought it used. And the current car is too big for me to feel comfortable driving with my vision issues. So sounds crazy, but really isn’t. But anyway, here I am at the end, and the salary isn’t the thing anymore. The job is, the career is, the comfort is, but the money isn’t. And I am saying this about 2 days before I have an interview for a position that would pay more money than I have seen in my life–about 5 times my current salary. And now I suddenly don’t care. Well, I mean, I care in that there is a minimum I can take. I worked hard and paid a lot of money for my MBA. I can’t just give it away. But money isn’t the key determinant.

So here I am. Sixteen days from the big finish. And it feels like everything in my current life is winding down so I can start the new one. So these are the days. The days of excitement, of anticipation. Of anxiety and uncertainty. Of endings and new beginnings. Of wrapping up and starting anew. Of sheer panic mixed with resolution and calm.

These are the days I have to let go and hope it all works out, that it proves to have been worth it.

And if it does work out, these are the days I get to lean back, prop up my feet, and tell myself that after ten years, I earned every damned bit of it.

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Still Alive

One day, I’ll return to writing for my own sake.

In the meantime, this is what is going on right now:

Evan is thriving in middle school. The girls are swarming. It’s bad. Last Thursday, after some really strange symptoms that had been going on sporadically, we were told that they thought he had a brain tumor. More about that experience on another day. I just can’t right now. He is seeing a pediatric neurologist in a few days and we’ll hopefully get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, I am trying not to unravel in my worry by focusing my attention on the fact that the head CT was negative. I am instead focusing on other things: that–for the first time ever–this kid has friends; that girls love him and I actually have to worry about what goes on when he is not supervised with a girl, that he is now wearing small men’s clothes, that he has that goofy ‘stache coming in and his dad is going to have to teach him to shave.

Zach is…Zach. He refuses to have anything to do with a toilet. I am tired of having to buy Pull-Ups. Or worse yet, diapers. He still sleeps in a diaper because Pull-Ups leak too much at bedtime. I would let him feel that discomfort with the idea that it would motivate him, but he just sleeps through it, thus we sleep through it, and we wake in the morning to a child with a rash and blue lips from sleeping in soaked pajamas. I cannot deal with neither the grossness factor or the health risk of that. We encourage. His preschool teachers encourage. We have purchased every toilet-learning device known to man, looking for the magic one. Currently, that is this cushie Prince Lionheart insert that seems so comfy that I wish it would accommodate adults.He has no desire whatsoever. But what is he doing? He is speaking plainly, counting, saying his alphabet, (crudely) writing his name, singing songs. (Please do not mix up the order of he verses of “The Wheels on the Bus”!) In May, this was the child who could literally say nothing that a stranger could understand. So I am not sweating the potty stuff. We’ll get there. He always does, doesn’t he? He’s still my little wonder–smart, cute,  funny, sweet.  He’s just Zachy.

John is making me proud everyday, He has lost over 50 pounds since the fateful day over the summer when a doctor I respect came to me to tell me that he could have died at any second from the blockages in his heart. His BP is down. He is down to only one medication for diabetes, and that dosage even had to be cut in half. His cardiologist cleared him to run at home after he outgrew the mild exercises at cardiac rehab. His cholesterol was actually low at his last check, so his medication for that was cut in half. The beta-blacker was stopped after he exhibited no need for it. He was wearing a size 40 waist in the summer. He is down to a 34, and those are falling off, but we’re holding off on shopping for more, since he’s built up to 2-mile runs daily–any little bit of weight he has left will melt off as his endurance gets back up there. His doctor says he only needs to lose 9 more pounds to be ideal body weight. If he loses 18 more, he will be back down to his post-boot camp weight from his Marine Corps days.

And me? I’m hanging in there. I have–wait, let me count–8 more weeks left of school. I start my capstone next Saturday. My paperwork for graduation is submitted. I am off of work. Blame some little boys who cannot seem to get their dirty laundry in a hamper. I tripped on some dirty clothes and fell down the entire flight of basement stairs on my left leg, with it ricocheting off of each step on the way down. They thought stuff was torn. Instead, I found out that every piece of cartilage in there is inflamed from the trauma. So it has been injections, PT, crutches (for about 5 weeks). I am finally to the walking stage, but only for very short trips and in transit. I cannot stand or walk for long periods at all. (Read: I can limp to my class and sit in a chair, I can walk to the car and get in it, but I can’t do shopping trips, etc.) I’m just hanging in. Also, I remember lamenting on here how I hated undergrad corporate finance. It has nothing on the 600 level.

That’s all.

I’ll be a blogger again one day, I swear,

My Obligatory Miley Cyrus Post: Requisite Blogging

I have to say something about Miley Fricken Cyrus because I have a blog. And my opinion may not be the popular one. I’m not even sure what my opinion is, exactly, but it’s late and I have to stay up all night so I can sleep tomorrow in preparation for night shift. So I have earbuds in, the coffee poured, and I am going to try to explain.

Evan used to have a little crush on Miley when she was this:RP9581

I remember John practically losing his shit that his son wanted to spend birthday money on a Hannah Montana poster and cd, because John isn’t as open-minded as I am when it comes to gender roles. But then Ev admitted he thought she was cute, and that made it okay. The Age of Miley didn’t last long. It probably would have if Evan had been a girl, so for that, I was grateful.

But then Miley turned into something else. Controversy followed. Undies pics, smoking, whatever the hell she did. It didn’t impact my family, so I didn’t care. Everyone else seemed to be enthralled though. Whatevs. I lived under a rock or something. I didn’t participate in MileyWatch.

Until this shit happened:Miley-Cyrus-2224429

Even if you had no interest in MileyWatch, you got thrown into this shit this past week. It’s everywhere. Being somewhat normal, I had to see what the fuss was all about. Oh holy hell. Really? The whole thing was just weird. The giant teddy bears tethered to the backs of twerking girls, the teddy bear bustier, which really looked more like Chuck E. Cheese. The twerking, the hair. It was an attempt  to turn the juvenile to the racy, but it came off as trashy. I was appalled, and I can see how some parents would be up in arms that it was on prime time tv. But….

Have these parents watched anything else that is on MTV? Any of these videos? How was what Miley was doing any worse than what anyone else has done? And if you have seen what is on MTV, why the hell is your kid watching it if they are too young? So really, the air time is between you and MTV. Miley, I’m sure, was not given a choice on when it aired.

So that brings me to the whole sexuality thing. Miley is not Hannah Montana. Hannah Montana was a character. Miley was a child when she played the character for Disney. Miley is not a child anymore. She made that point a long time ago. Justin Timberlake used to be a fresh-faced cute little kid on Disney, and now he isn’t. Same for Brittany, Christina Aguilera…I’m sure there are more. Child actors grow up. We cannot expect them to stay kids forever. Just like our kids who once worshiped them no longer do. If that act was performed by Gaga, Britney, Madonna, we would have still thought it was weird and embarrassing, but there wouldn’t have been such an uproar. Quit being hypocrites, people. (In fact, I’m the reaction to this whole thing is kind of reminding me of the reaction to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” shenanigans of my childhood.)

Now, before you think I am letting Miley off the hook, let me tell you that I am not. The performance was weird. The hair was weird, though I think (maybe) she was trying to emulate teddy bear ears with it. The whole set was weird. The strategically-timed sticking out of the tongue, the awkward look-at-the-camera-stick-out-the-tongue-now-walk-down-the-stairs. The posing. Then there was the whole humping of the foam finger, mor tongue sticking out. Gettin’ down with Robin Thicke, whom I continue to confuse with the dad of Growing Pains. Miley is a pretty young girl, and while I don’t personally love her music (“La-da-da-da-Deee, we like to par-Teee”? Really?) she seems to have a knack for creating buzz. In celebrity status, it seems any attention is good attention. I heard somewhere that her iTunes sales skyrocketed the next day, but I can’t remember where I heard it, so it may be inaccurate. And she can certainly create a following, as she did it before. She shouldn’t have to resort to that God-awful getup and scheme. She should have more pride in herself, more self-respect than that.

And for shit’s sake, Miley, what is up with the tongue? Put it back in your mouth. You’re creeping me out.

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That B-Word I’ve Been Waiting to Hear

frumsWith the start of middle school for Evan came the option to enroll in band.

I’ve been waiting for it. Ready for it. Of course, it ultimately came down to what Evan wanted to do, but I secretly hoped he would. And he did. He chose percussion–drums. Of course all band parents hope their child does not choose drums, and many nix it. I wasn’t afraid in the slightest. The kid wants to play drums. So be it.

The start of this new thing has not been uneventful. First, I had to get an instrument for him. We went right away. I was going to just buy him a snare drum, which is what the kids always started out with when I was in school. Nope. They have to have a bell kit, complete with a drum practice pad, a xylophone-type instrument, a stand, mallets, and sticks. And because this was Evan, I knew he would likely quit in a couple of months when he realizes that I intend to make him practice. So I opted to rent to start us out. So they hand me this form to complete. The rental fee is a whopping $22 per month. Nothing to break the bank. So I fill this form out. It consisted of my name, employer, social security number, address, employer’s address, how long, etc. Then she hands me this other sheet–5 references. Okay, I guess, just to ensure I’m not going to skip town with an instrument. Of course my phone was dead, holding within its lifeless body all of my contacts and their numbers. I had to dig deep to come up with 5 people whose addresses and phone numbers I actually knew. So I finish and start to get my wallet out to pay the woman for the first month and the book that Evan needs. Not so fast. Next she hands me a sheet of paper with more detailed information–my last 3 employers, my occupation, highest level of education. Now, mind you, all of this is duplicated for John. Then she needs my driver’s license. At one point, I looked at her and asked her how much it would cost to just pay for the damned thing. I know a snare is only a few hundred. Nope, this is over $1000 worth of stuff. So I am just waiting for her to ask me to bend over for the body cavity search while she runs my credit. But she doesn’t. Instead, I reach for my wallet out of my purse, now ready to pay her. I never dreamed. They tried to decline me!!!! I have purchased 2 new cars in the past few years. I can walk into my bank and ask for a great deal of money on credit and they will give it to me. I have multiple college degrees, a good income, and decent time on my job. Why in the hell would they deny me for something that only costs $22/ month? Well, because I have a medical bill that went to collections that I am still making payments on–for Evan’s autism diagnosis. It was thousands of dollars, and I just didn’t have the funds to pay it in full at the time. So I have been paying $250/ month for it and still owe about 2.5 more months of these payments. That is why. The good credit didn’t matter. Now if I were trying to buy a $100,000 car or something, I could see them being that particular, but this? So I was about to call my bank and arrange to just buy the thing when the woman came back and told me that it was okay, that she called their credit department, who told her to apologize to me and put it through. But then I thought about what this meant.

We have decent credit–decent enough to get credit when we need it. The only real mark against us, aside from that bill, is that we don’t own our home. That is intentional because of my education. I have no idea where I am going to be 6 months from now, so it is a convenience to just rent. I have a decent middle class income, own late model cars that I pay for on time. What about all of the people out there who earn less, have lots of medical bills, or are just pieces of crap and don’t pay? Those kids are deprived the opportunity to play an instrument, to learn music? So that leads to the next thing.

Music education is not a luxury. I know because I was a student of music. I wanted to play an instrument and, tired of buying expensive instruments for kids who would ultimately quit, my mom was hip to the game and made me choose from one our family already owned. I got my sister’s flute. And I was good at it. I played for years, with the school teachers always recommending private lessons. Mom got those for me through the local music store for a whopping $8 per hour. But within a year, I quickly outgrew those. She had to find someone from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music to teach me–someone who was good. Those got more expensive, but Mom paid the $72  per hour each week. And I got good at it.  Good enough to win awards, have articles in the paper about competitions I won, honors I received. By the time I was in high school, Mom was ill. They had to file bankruptcy on medical bills. And I outgrew my sister’s flute. It was time for a professional model. The one that worked best was over $4000, and my parents simply could not do it. Of course I couldn’t either. Knowing I wanted to go on to major in music, the band director at my high school cosigned for the huge purchase and I got a job at McDonald’s to pay the payments directly to him so he ensured they were paid. And I paid the last payment right before I left for college. Mom, continued to be my biggest fan, though. She followed me around to all of the concerts, competitions, solos, honor bands and orchestras in which I was invited to play. She would always have to sit in the back with her oxygen tank, and she would cry as I would play my solos. At home, when I would practice, she would listen through the air vents, knowing that I would get nervous and stop if I knew she was listening, She doesn’t know that I knew.

So I went to college. They went to great lengths to break me down, knowing that in the music world, only the toughest survive. I rolled with it, but it was emotionally draining to take something I loved so much and make it into so much work. And Mom got even sicker. She couldn’t be there anymore. And then she passed away. And I would try to play and would come across sheet music for a piece she had wanted me to learn or for a song she loved to hear me play, and I would break down, unable to play through the tears. I eventually gave up. When I fell on financially hard times in my early twenties, I sold that expensive flute. I have not touched one since. But the lessons I learned–about finding what you love, what you are good at, and throwing yourself into it; about hard work in exchange for goals reached, about the bonding power of music, about the value of a support system–I took all of these with me. They are still here and still influence me daily. I want the same for Evan. I want the same for Evan’s classmates. This is why it made me so sad that some children may not be able to participate because of their parents.

Evan may never be a rock god, a virtuoso, a prodigy when it comes to music. But I will encourage him. I will be there. I will remind him of the value of it all. My mom served as a great role model in that.

Not Ready

28809_1470325484751_4630848_nI remember the day like it was yesterday. It was just yesterday, right?

We tell new parents all of the time that they shouldn’t blink, that it will all go way too fast. Evan started middle school a couple of weeks ago. That hit me hard. Not as hard as the day I found myself sobbing in the school gym as he turned and looked at me as he was walking away from me and toward his kindergarten teacher. I remember the clothes he wore: khaki shorts with a brown leather/ orange grosgrain belt coordinated perfectly with his orange polo from Baby Gap. He was small. He was my baby. He still is.

But then we had another one. I wrote countless times how I didn’t think I could ever love another like I love Ev. And I remember kvetching that I couldn’t possibly be pregnant again, that it was a cruel joke with the worst possible timing. I had no idea that the child would completely consume me. That he would become very much a part of my very being. I could tell you I love him, but those words seem so paltry and inadequate. If you cut me, I would hemorrhage Zachary.

So today happened. It’s a day I’ve done before, many years ago. Except Evan was starting kindergarten, not preschool. But somehow, this is worse. This is so much worse. He’s only a year younger than Evan was when he started kindergarten, but still. He really is my baby. And I just watched him. I saw the spark of excitement in his eyes, the amazement that that big yellow school bus was stopping for him this time. I watched his chubby baby fist grasp the rail and climb onto the first step of that bus, guided by his father while I tried to hold it together. That first step, incidentally, was almost waist height on him. The bus driver motioned me onto the bus, smiling in understanding and reminding John that moms just do this while the assistant helped Zach to his seat. And he turned and looked back at me as I blew him a kiss, all smiles and happiness at his new milestone reached. At independence and new days filled with macaroni art and learning to sing new songs. At things that would no longer involve me.

I turned and got off the bus and they pulled away. I turned back to watch him go as my heart splintered. Because I worry that these strangers entrusted with his well-being won’t understand how amazing he is. They don’t know how he almost wasn’t here, that he is a connoisseur of chocolate milk, that “bobberries” are really strawberries and are his favorite fruit,  that he simply must have an Eskimo kiss before his nap. But also because, having done this about 8 years ago, I know. I know that Tomorrow, he will be starting middle school. He’ll have earbuds in his ears and not want to cuddle. He will be too cool for me. I will become Mom, no longer Mommy.A Mom is, after all, different from a Mommy. Moms ensure you do your homework and take care of you when you are sick. Mommies kiss boo-boos to make them better, read bedtime stories, are given the gift of crayon scribbles that may as well be fine art. It will be Tomorrow.I know it from experience.

I’m not ready for Tomorrow. And I know that is where Today leads.

I’m just not ready.
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Raising a Man

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I’ve been having a hard time with this. I’ve sort of been wanting to post, but on the other hand, I wanted to save my kid the embarrassment in the event that the internet is a smaller world than even I realize.

My kid is growing up.

No, I mean, really growing up.

I don’t know when it happened. He was visiting his grandparents over the summer. He came back two inches taller, 20 pounds heavier, with peach fuzz on his upper lip. His voice is deeper. I took hi shopping for some school clothes. American Eagle and Gap replaced The Children’s Place and Gap Kids on our list of places to stop. He can wear the largest size in children’s jeans, or a 28/30 in men’s jeans. The American Eagle tees I bought him in size extra small are snug around biceps that are emerging. He outgrew children’s shoes at the beginning of summer.  He’s turning into a man before my eyes.

And the little girls are circling like animals.

I should probably explain that last remark before I unravel the cautionary tale for parents of tweens. You may recall the post where I did what I said I would never do and bought my child an iPhone. We had it shipped to his grandparents’ house over the summer after ordering from 4 hours away. So when we finally went to pick him up, I asked to see his phone. I’ve held iPhones and looked at them, but when John and I bought our new phones, we were waffling between the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy line. We’re Android people, so you can guess how we chose. But I wanted to play around with Evan’s phone to ensure I made the right choice. He handed it over to me, not even thinking twice about it. He had no idea there was anything he should be concerned about hiding from me.

So I have the phone in my hand, riding in the car, with John driving. I use the little touch-slide screen lock thingy to bring the phone to life and immediately, his home screen pops up. And the background is a girl in her bra and panties. And this is not a grown woman, the photo being something he got off of the internet. This was a girl. About his age. And clearly taken at home. I shrieked, “OMG WHO IS THIS?!?!?!?” His response: “Oh, that’s just XXXX.”

That’s just…Really? Really. A kid from his class at school texted him a photo of herself in her little training bra and panties. And so I started the hunt. Through text messages and browsing histories. I found more. The images, long since deleted from his phone, are still seared onto my retinae. Little girls, all pouty lips and pushed-out butts in flowered Hanes cotton panties, back turned to the camera with a fake-coy expression. I looked and looked through his phone, his emails, hoping to find something where he solicited the pics. He wasn’t hip to the idea that he had any reason to delete his histories, so if he asked the little girls to send these, the evidence would have most likely still been on his phone. Nope. The raciest thing I found of Evan’s was a photo of him in his swim trunks, sans shirt, at the lake.  And before you think my kid is all pervy, let me remind you that he is going to be 12 on Sunday, and these girls are the same age. And I would have known this went on sooner, but he was at Grandpa’s, who apparently didn’t understand that he was supposed to watch Evan with the phone.

I spent three hours researching, trying to find the parents of these girls, assuming they would be as grossed out as I was. All I found was one girl’s mom’s name, but no listed number. I thought about calling the school, but they were still on summer break and I doubted they would give me any information. I did the best I could. Each one of the girls got the same exact text message sent from Evan’s phone:

This is not Evan. This is Evan’s mother. I am just discovering this because Evan has not been home, but I can assure you that he is home now and I will be closely watching. I do this because Evan is a child and I pay the bill for this phone. You are also children. If I see any more nude or near-nude picture of children come across this phone again, you can be sure I will find your parents and I will show them the photos. I will also alert the school you attend. This will not occur under my watch.”

He didn’t get a response. I held his phone for a week, ensuring that he got no more texts from these little girls. But it has not left my mind. I cannot speak for the homes in which they are being raised, but in this house, we do not permit r-rated movies, unsupervised internet browsing. Evan hasn’t gotten this from home. But something out there is churning out children who are over-sexed. It is disgusting. My son still plays with Legos, for crying out loud.

John joked, “Damn, Evan’s got game. All I ever got were little folded-up notes from girls when I was his age.” I saw no humor in it. I will not be a grandmother when, as of right now, I am still buying toys and reminding thee kid to put on deodorant. So I am placed in the position of being hyper-vigilant, of watching out for the actions of my son and of his classmates. And it is coming from everywhere. Girls knock on the door, call the house, text Evan. And as Evan has started middle school, I am learning the hard way that I cannot be everywhere.

This all has had other effects on me. Not only am I concerned for my kid, but I am concerned for these girls. I wonder what type of home life they have, if their parents know that they need to be watching out for them still. If there is a female role model in their lives to teach them they they don’t have to use sexuality to get what they want, that they certainly don’t need to grow up so quickly. I worry. They’re just babies.

We can blame whomever we want. TV? Popular music? Of course the now-infamous Miley Cyrus performance comes to mind. Or maybe it’s the fact that you can get zebra-print string bikinis in just one size beyond toddler sizes? I’ve heard that there are even thongs out there for the parents who prefer that panty style for their little darlings. In stark contrast, I recently bought Evan a pair of boxers that had skateboards all over them. Or perhaps we can blame technology that makes it possible for little kids to have the potential to do this stuff without parents having a clue? When I was a kid, we had a phone that was mounted to the wall in the kitchen, living room, and my parents’ bedroom, and I had to talk to my little friends in front of my whole family.

Whatever the reason, these kids are growing up way before their time. I think every generation has said this about the next one, but it seriously is getting earlier and earlier.

And the mom in me is scared for them.

I don’t want the world of STDs, pregnancy scares, complicated relationships for these kids. I want good grades, making friends, having fun, learning new skills. I want Evan to find out what gifts he has, learn how to be a good person, practice the drums he insisted on learning to play for the school band. I want him to get into a good college, be a good big brother and even better student.

I don’t want him to be an adult before it is time for him to be an adult.

This Could’ve Been My Kid: Toddler Boy Called A Faggot At WalMart For Wearing Pink Headband

http://www.mommyish.com/2013/07/31/toddler-boy-called-a-faggot-at-walmart-for-wearing-pink-headband/

Anyone remember Evan and his affinity for all things pink and sparkly? I didn’t really care, but I was worried for him simply because of people like the man in this article. Because people are ridiculous. And dumb. And virtually intolerant of anyone or thing different from themselves.

I remember those days. I remember having to tell my son that, while there was nothing wrong with him wearing or choosing whatever he liked, that there were people in the world who didn’t understand that and would be mean and cruel to him as a result of his different tastes. That didn’t make it okay, but as his mother, I felt it was my duty to protect him from any potential threat. I would rather he learned that lesson gently from me at home as opposed to the way this innocent little boy learned. So he expressed himself in the house, but not out in public.

Right or wrong, it was such a story as the one above that motivated me.

If I reflect back on that time in his childhood, I feel guilty. His personal preferences have always reflected his quirky, spunky nature. He is not the same as everyone else. He knows it, we know it, everyone knows it. He may have outgrown the pink, sparkly phase, but he has shown other differences. That’s fine with us. His unabashed exhibition of who he is for all who care to get to know him reflect a comfort in his own skin that many of us only hope to have at some point in our lives. I hope that time all those years ago didn’t quelch any part of that within him.

If it did, I am no better than the oaf in this story.

We all have our heads crammed full of what we should be/ think/say/do…
You’re a girl. You can’t throw a ball.
You live in the city, so you have no values.
You’re rich, so you must not know what it means to work.
You’re a man. You aren’t worth shit if you don’t solely support your family.
What do you mean, you can’t cook? Aren’t you a real woman?
You’re poor so you must be lazy.
You’re straight, so you hate homosexuality. You’re gay, so you’re a deviant.

We are who we are. That’s the world I want for my kids, in a nutshell. A toddler in the midst of discovering he is separate from his parents can wear a damned headband-pink, green, sequined, lacy-if it makes him happy. Evan can be obsessed with history instead of XBox. We can choose for my husband to stay home if it works for us. And, yes I suck at cooking anything aside from 3 specialty dishes, but I can rock out some corporate finance while keeping you alive, so that’s okay, right?

Our preferences don’t make us better or worse people. We are not less simply because we have our own strengths and weaknesses that are distinct from the person sitting next to us.

Someone needs to teach that man a lesson.

Bitchypants