More About Why Than What
Apr06

More About Why Than What

More About Why Than What: 25 Years Later

“Can you tell me a story about when you were a kid? A good one. With a lot of detail.”

She’s been asking about who I was as a kid a lot lately. Maybe because every time she falls, I tell her a story of some time that I fell, or my brother broke his elbow, or my dad fell off his bike. She’s growing and falling a lot lately. She’s also cartwheeling through the house, because it just snowed in April. COOL THANKS WINTERSPRING.


“What do you think a 12-year-old thinks about being responsible?”

“I think sometimes they need to be responsible and they choose to be responsible and sometimes they choose not to be. Sometimes it’s opposite because when they need to be responsible they might not be and when they don’t need to be, they might be responsible.”

“How could a 12-year-old be responsible?”

“By doing all their hard homework.”

“What do you think a 12-year-old thinks about drinking alcohol?”

“I think they think they can’t drink it in school. I don’t think they want to drink it yet.”

“What do you think I was like as a kid? Do you think I followed rules? Do you think I was a good listener in school?”

“I think you did follow rules. I think you were a kind of good listener in school. I think you drew beautiful pictures and did very well with your work.”

“Do you think I wanted to be a parent?”

“Yeah. Did you?”

“Yes. I did. I always wanted to be a parent. What do you think you’re going to be like when you’re 12?”

“I think I’m going to be a great listener and kind of scared of college.”

“Do you think you’ll be responsible when you’re 12?”

“Yeah! I’m going to follow the rules.”


25 years ago, I was 12. I followed the rules, but pushed limits hard. I don’t know if I pushed and asked all the questions because that’s what happens when you start to grow up and become who you are ]or if getting settled in a new (Catholic) school (as a non-practicing Protestant) had anything or everything to do with it. Because as a 6th grader, I spent a lot of time asking questions and saved my introspection for future parent blogging.

At 12, right and wrong was blurry and complicated and friends were mean and I was mean and I was learning French and memorizing how to pray the rosary and had to dress up as a saint at school one day. We went to mass and learned about confession and why wasn’t anyone asking any questions? We went to camp for a week and I fell off the top bunk and landed on my head and threw up and they asked me what my name was. I remember thinking, “It’s so weird to have someone ask your name when they already know you.” My future parent blogging introspection possibly began with that first concussion. 

Soon after, I fell hard into the Jesus hole where everything was clear and right was right and wrong was wrong and being responsible was just following a set of rules and teaching anyone who would listen (or you know, wouldn’t). When I came out and was kicked out of the church, their right didn’t feel so right anymore.

I knew I’d be a parent, but not like this. I didn’t know that one of the first things I’d teach my kid is, “Your body, your rules!” when she started dressing herself at age 2 and decides what new foods to taste at dinner. Then “Different families, different rules!” became the standard for “it’s not fair that (insert friend’s name here) has (insert screen time/clothes/toys/vacations/piles of ponies here).” I didn’t know that our rules would be more about why than what. That good vs. bad doesn’t really work. That there’s stuff like context and perspective and experience that bring us right back where we started. That it’s all a bit blurry and complicated, just like when I was 12. That it’s a lot more about why are we doing this? and what does it all mean? I didn’t know that when I mentioned tonight that I’m almost out of beer, my 6-year-old would remind me from the other room that drinking a lot of beer isn’t good for anyone, that all bodies have alcohol limits, not just kids who can’t have any because they’re small.

Because 25 years later, I’m a parent who doesn’t always wait for my kid to ask the hard questions. I start conversations. I ask her what she thinks. And thankfully, I’m a much better listener than I was at 12. I know that stories matter. She knows that too. Because hearing my stories and knowing where I’ve been gives her a lot of the why of who I am and the why of how she’s parented. Because responsibility starts with me quite literally as a parent. And she really likes hearing about the time I crashed my bike into a mailbox.


This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org. I am working with them as a #TalkEarly blogger this year to help them “Empower parents to be confident about their own decisions regarding alcohol, model healthy, balanced behaviors, and create a foundation for starting conversations with their kids from an early age.” Let’s all do that. Because that totally rules.

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Shared Custody Is Awful, Shared Custody Is Fine
Feb05

Shared Custody Is Awful, Shared Custody Is Fine

begin again

I try not to think a whole lot about living with shared custody. Because when I do, I break open. How can a person not be with their kid for 50% of the time? How can I possibly do this? And yet, I do. And if I really think about it, parents with 100% custody co-parenting in the same house and marriage really aren’t with their kids all the time either. They go out with friends at night or unapologetically want to. The kids go to school and childcare. The parent goes to the store alone, or the kid goes to gymnastics with the other parent. Before two houses, we had a schedule of pick ups and drop offs, and I was with my kid in the afternoons, but often not in the mornings. Now when she’s here, I get both. I get to take her to gymnastics every other week. I get to take her to friend’s birthday parties every other weekend, just the same as I would if we switched off. Just like now, but we didn’t have a shared calendar, a pile of guilt, and all this goodness I just miss my kid heartbreak.

Maybe I should spend more time thinking about all of this. Maybe I’d realize it’s okay. I don’t know, though. I don’t know that I’ll ever thing it’s okay. Because I can’t help but feel like it’s just wrong to be away from my kid. Or really to have her away from me, since she’s at her other parent’s house.

Over a year into it, it’s not getting any easier. Shared custody doesn’t really get easier, but it does get more manageable. I’m getting better at taking time for myself when she’s not here. I’m getting better at managing the stuff going back and forth and the little kid attitude that goes back and forth with it. Being six is hard. Living in two houses is hard.

I’m better about telling her what the day will look like and what will be expected. I’m better about talking and asking questions. I’m better at not trying to fix it. Even when it’s hard. Even when you’re six and you want your parents to get back together, but they won’t. Even when your other parent lets you do (fill in the blank here, mostly jumping on the bed) at their house and you aren’t allowed to at this house.

Begin again.

I’m getting better at keeping the house chaos to a minimum and making sure her room is clean before she comes back (because she trashes it every time she’s here). We get to start over every two days. It doesn’t matter that we argued too much last time she was here. It doesn’t matter that last time I gave her loads of attention, but this time I have a deadline and we’re both on screens more than I want. We get to start over. Every time.

Begin again.

We are flexible, but scheduled. Organized, but chaotic. Well loved, but hurting. There’s space here for all of that. We talk, we listen, we’re okay. Even when we don’t really want to think too much about it all. Even when we just do it and mess it up and start over and mess it up again.

Begin again.

Even with half time custody, I am a full time parent. I communicate via text when my kid is away from me. I ask annoying questions in the car, at dinner, and at bedtime. We talk about easy things, we talk about hard things. Even when I don’t want to dig in to thinking too much about the hard stuff, I still show up. I still keep talking with my kid. She knows she can talk to me. Even when she’s scared. Even when she’s embarrassed. The way we talk now probably won’t work next year, but that’s okay. We’re getting really good at starting over.

In working with Responsibility.org as a #TalkEarly blogger again this year, I’m more aware of the importance of making space for hard conversations and hard feelings and teaching my child the skills to cope with it all. I’ve been careful to set an example, knowing she’s watching me more than she ever has before, because kids don’t know how to navigate big transitions, we have to show them. Sometimes, I lose my patience. Sometimes, I raise my voice. But always, she is loved and safe and cared for. Always, we begin again.

 


This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org. I am working with them as a #TalkEarly blogger this year to help them “Empower parents to be confident about their own decisions regarding alcohol, model healthy, balanced behaviors, and create a foundation for starting conversations with their kids from an early age.” Let’s all do that. Because that totally rules.

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What If My Kid Asks To Try My Beer? (With Audio!)
Nov12

What If My Kid Asks To Try My Beer? (With Audio!)

What If My Kid Asks To Try My Beer? (With Audio!)

We talk a lot around here. We talk about easy things, we talk about hard things. We talk about the hard things over and over. Because the hard things aren’t as hard if you talk about them a lot. We talk and talk until she can answer my questions on her own. And then when she can? We talk some more. We dig deeper. This year, we’ve talked a lot about alcohol responsibility and what alcohol does to bodies. Now it’s time to dig a little deeper. What are laws? What does the law say about alcohol? What if you want a sip of my beer? Is just a sip okay? Roozle answers all of this and more, with a little song thrown in, in the below audio. Transcript to follow if you’d rather read it than listen to Roozle sing her answers. There’s only so much singing a day can handle.


Riley, what is a law?

A law is something that is like so like you can’t do it and if you do it you will get arrested.

What about if you’re driving too fast? Will you get arrested for driving too fast?

No, you’ll just get a ticket.

Is it good to follow the laws?

Yeah.

What’s the purpose of laws?

What’s purpose?

Like what’s the reason for laws, mostly?

The reason that we have laws is so that they can like keep things going on really really really well. Like make the world safe.

Do you have rules at school?

Yeah.

And what are the rules for?

So that we can be safe.

Yeah.

There’s achieve, be positive, um, be safe, and be responsible.

Responsible. That’s my favorite one. What does it mean to be responsible?

To be responsible means like to help people and do what you’re supposed to do.

And probably make good choices about your own body?

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

What about drinking alcohol responsibly? What’s a way that a grown up could drink responsibly?

Like this (sluuuuurp).

Quickly?

No. Sloooowly.

Should a grown up drink a lot of alcohol?

Noooo.

What would happen if they drank too much alcohol?

Like their brain would kind of like explode and they would like not think really hard.

Is thinking a very great thing that we like to do?

Yeah! Yeah!

What about kids?

Kids cannot drink alcohol.

How come?

Because they will do a bigger explosion.

It would be super hard for them to think well?

Yeah!

What if I was drinking beer and you wanted to try it?

No because beer has alcohol in it.

Why can’t you try it?

I can’t try it because my brain will go wobbly and I could get sick.

That’s part of taking good care of your body. Is there a law about it?

Yeah.

What’s the law about it?

Um.

That kids can’t drink alcohol until they’re 21.

WHAT WHAT WHAT?

To keep their bodies safe while they’re growing. Can you pick and choose the laws you want to follow?

NO!

Why not?

You’re supposed to follow all the laws!


FINAL TALKEARLY SIPPING INFOGRoozle has never asked to try my beer or wine, but maybe that’s because she knows what alcohol is, what alcohol does. Or it’s because her inner hall monitor won’t allow her to break rules and laws. Especially not the ones that might hurt her body or make her sick. She’s a lot more lenient about the white sock rule at school. To be fair, who wants to wear matching socks to school?

This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org. I am working with them as a #TalkEarly blogger this year to help them “Empower parents to be confident about their own decisions regarding alcohol, model healthy, balanced behaviors, and create a foundation for starting conversations with their kids from an early age.” Let’s all do that. Because that totally rules.

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We Talk About Easy Things, We Talk About Hard Things
Aug25

We Talk About Easy Things, We Talk About Hard Things

“Do you like camp this summer?”

“Yes!”

“Has anyone said anything to you about having two moms? A lot of the kids didn’t know you before.”

“No. No one said anything.”

“If someone said something, would that feel weird?”

“Well, if they were like mean about it and teasing me, that would be super bad and I would tell a grown up right away.”

“That’s a good idea. Do you think you could just talk to them yourself about it?”

“No. I don’t want to.”

“Okay. You don’t have to do that. I’m glad you know you can tell a grown up.”


We talk a lot. We talk about talking. I ask a lot of questions. She asks me a lot of questions. We talk in the car. We talk during dinner. We talk at IKEA. We talk after camp. We talk before bed.


“I can’t stop thinking.”

“About what?”

“That I have this cut and I’m scared it’s going to get infected because my friend got an infection and I can’t stop thinking about it.”

“You know you can think about it if you can’t stop. Sometimes when I try to not think about something it makes me feel super bad about it. But if I let myself think about it some, I don’t feel as bad.”

“Okay, I’ll try to think about it, but will you stay with me?”

“Yes, love. Of course I will.”


I ask her how she feels. I ask her what happened. We talk about what we plan to do in different situations. We talk about what it means to be queer or Black or a woman or trans or a kid. We talk about hard things and easy things. I don’t have all the answers. I have so many questions.


“I don’t want to go to that store, they always look at me bad.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t look the way they think I should look.”

“What do you mean?”

“They probably think I should look like a boy or a girl, like how they think people are supposed to be those things and I don’t look like that and sometimes people think that’s bad.”

“Oh. I don’t like that.”

“I don’t either.”


We talk about school and being a kid and being a parent. We laugh, too. We laugh so much. We sing. We dance. We are silly and have so much fun together. I know she won’t always want to talk to me. I know sometimes she’ll be scared to tell me something. We talk about that too. Feelings are hard. Language is hard. I tell her when I make mistakes and that I don’t like rules. I tell her that she won’t get in trouble if she gets in trouble at school, because when you’re six you shouldn’t get in trouble twice. I tell her that I love her and I listen to her when she’s working something out. I hold her when she’s scared. I rub her back when she can’t fall asleep. We talk a lot. We talk about the easy things. We talk about the hard things. We talk a lot.


This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org. All opinions are my own. And Roozle’s. We have a lot of opinions.

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She Threw Her Tooth Out The Window Because Of Course She Did
Aug13

She Threw Her Tooth Out The Window Because Of Course She Did

She lost another tooth today. This time at camp, so I got out of the hours of twisting and blood and whining about it. Sorry, YMCA. (Not even a little sorry). 

“I’m carrying my tooth in my hand!”

“That’s gross.”

“Want to look at it?”

“Nope. I don’t want to see bloody old body parts. Thanks.”

“Okay I’ll just hold it then. Unless I can throw it out the window?”

“You want to throw your bloody old tooth out the window of the car while we’re driving?” 

“Yes. Can I?”

“Absolutely.”

“But what about the Tooth Fairy?”

“You can leave her a note. Tell her you threw it out the window. She will love that.”

“Okay! I’m doing it!”

“Okay! Do it!”

She did it. Now there’s a tooth on a Boston city street. On purpose. Why? Because why not?

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Target Is Going Gender-Neutral, My 6-Year-Old Has A Lot To Say About It
Aug12

Target Is Going Gender-Neutral, My 6-Year-Old Has A Lot To Say About It


Target recently announced a move away from gendered language for toys and the internet had a lot to say about it. I told my 6-year-old and she had a lot to say, too. Because Roozle.

“Riley, did you hear that Target is taking down the signs that say boy and girl in the toy section at their stores?”

“There’s no such thing as boy stuff and girl stuff because I actually got a transformer in the boy section before.”

“And you identify as a girl?”

“Yeah. I do.”

“What was in the boy section?”

“Transformers, Hot Wheels, and Ninja Turtles. They think that Hot Wheel things are for boys. That’s not true.”

“So what should they do?”

“There should be a girl and boy section where they keep things that girls and boys love.”

“Oh like everything together? What word is a neutral word you could call that section?”

“Children! The children section! They’re gonna have Strawberry Shortcake toys there!”

“What will be next to those?”

“I have no idea. Maybe anything?”

“Some people think it’s bad that they aren’t separating the toys anymore.”

“That’s wrong because it’s actually good! Because some kids like everything!”

“Do you want to make a sign for their new section?”

“Yes! I’ll put an X on the girl’s lane and an X on the boy’s lane and a lot of check marks and hearts and smiles on the kid’s lane because I can’t spell children.”

“That sounds perfect.”

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