Dear Harriet, My Three Year Old,
Man, has this been a year? You started school, you really started talking, you grew and changed and became a little girl. You have figured out how to fight back – fight back against Alma when she tries to get too older sibling on you, fight back against us when we tell you that you can’t have hot cococo all day everyday, you fight back against injustices on the playground. People always tell me they’re impressed with your fortitude. You don’t let people push you around. You are strong and brave, little one.
You are scrappy, and I love that about you. We are both second-borns, so you and I, kid, understand what it’s like to live that way. We understand that sometimes it’s important to bug your older sibling until they fight back, then to go running to your parent so the sibling gets in trouble. But, kid, you need to understand that I see right through it when you do it. I see right through it, but I still love it because I get you. I feel you. All I have to say about it is: sorry Alma (and sorry Dan).
But you are also very dear. One of the things you say all the time these days is, “Excuse me mommy (or Grams, daddy, Papa, Nana, Grandpa, Grammy… whomever). I wuv you.” It’s always a surprise because I always assume that you’re going to be asking for more hot cococo, then you turn everything upside-down with your sweetness. You can tell me that you wuv me all day everyday, that’s fine with me.
When you’re into something, you’ll spend so much time with it. When we went camping, you were all about building the fairy village. At the playground with your friends, you’ve been known to build very cool towers out of pine cones and sticks, or to fill up a hollow tree with rotten apples (side-note: rotten apples are your favorite things. When we tell you to think of something happy, you think about rotten apples) – all the while directing your friends and making sure they’re doing it right. You’re a leader and creative and I think that’s really cool.
Here’s my promise to you this year: I will cherish you. I will be gentle with you. I will be kind to you. I will love you and I will tell you so everyday. I will hold you. I will let you grow. I will laugh with you. I will cry with you. I will cherish you.
All my love,
Sometimes, when you go camping in the forest, the fairies find you. I mean, this probably usually happens, but sometimes you see the evidence.
During our camping trip, the girls found beaded necklaces hanging in a tree by the fairy log. As Alma put it, “This is AMAZING!”
Alma and Harriet wrote them a thank you note and let them know about our fairy door. Lately Alma’s been pretty sad that the fairies have never visited us in the door. I suggested that maybe the fairies just didn’t know about the door. Alma had me write our address and that they should fly safely since it’s a long trip from Wind River.
During our trip, Alma lost her necklace in the rocks. Luckily when we got home, the fairies had been there. They left a note thanking Alma and Harriet for telling them about the fairy door and even returned Alma’s lost necklace.
There’s always time for a little bit of magic, right?
There is nothing worse than seeing your child’s blood on the outside of their body. If there is one truth about blood, it’s that it belongs on the inside. But, sometimes thing happen that destroy that truth.
This weekend, while camping, it was a rock that destroyed that truth. A small rock in the middle of a path, directly in front of another rock that stuck out of the ground just far enough to trip my oldest daughter.
All the kids were running laps on a path that was alongside our campsite. They ran and ran and ran. Then one of them fell and they all stopped. I don’t remember getting to Alma, but I do remember the blood. It was already pouring down her sobbing face. I scooped her up, said, “JESSE.” and don’t remember getting down to our picnic table.
I do remember exactly what went through my head:
Everyone rushed to help. Devon got the ice. Heather got the band-aids and wipes. Jesse, somehow, miraculously had a pocket full of paper towels. Antonio and Drew got the lollipop. Harriet got Sarah Bear.
Thankfully the bleeding stopped pretty quickly, and we were able to see that it was more of a puncture wound than a cut. It clearly didn’t need stitches, though, in my opinion, it looked crazy how deep the wound went.
I also remember exactly the things that Alma said as I held her in my arms, bleeding:
The rest of the evening was spent sitting in laps and getting extra cuddles. I watched Alma carefully for signs of concussion, even though I had no idea what the signs of concussion were. I only cried once, and not where Alma could see me.
We stayed two more nights and Alma bounced right back. The bump has gone down and the cut is healing nicely. The only wound that remains is the piece of my heart that broke along with the skin on Alma’s forehead. But that’s the thing about parenting, and that certainly won’t be the last bit of my heart that will feel my daughters’ pain.
This year our Family Weekend consisted of 3 nights in tents, countless s’mores, a perfect river, campfires, fairy houses, one head injury, games, biographies by Grams, 10 kids under 10, 10 adults over 30, a surprisingly pleasant vault toilet, one
Trump pinata, a beautiful forest, nice weather, fun, and, of course, family.
The kids spent so much time moving rocks and sticks around in this area. They worked so well together building fairy houses and houses for all of the action figures.
The Wind River was perfect for us. We had a great beach right next to our campsite, with lots of big rocks in the shallow, warm river. We all worked together to reroute the river to create waterfalls and a wading pool for the little ones.
We spent lots of time cooking, eating, talking, and singing around the campfire.
One of the highlights was the pinata. Each family was asked to bring some sort of entertainment.
Of course, the kids had a wonderful time with their cousins.
And I always love when I get to spend so much time with this handsome man.
I’m finally getting around to uploading June In Seconds. Here it is!
Rape Fallacy #1: Alcohol causes rape.
False. Obviously. Here’s my anecdotal evidence. I have been drunk. I have been around drunk men whilst being drunk. I have never been raped. I understand that this is untrue for many people, but this is my story.
We cannot blame alcohol for rape. We just can’t do it. Sure, sometimes people make horrible, terrible, life-changing decisions when they are drunk, that is true. Lately, the conversation has been taking things to the extreme. It feels like this is what I’m reading in the media: Men can’t control themselves when they are drunk. Men will rape and assault women when they are drunk. Men can’t be held responsible for things they do when they’re drunk because they’re drunk. What?
If I were a man, I would be outraged by this notion. I would be angry and fighting the media on this. Do we really believe that men are so weak and powerless that they can’t control themselves at all? What kind of a message is this sending to our children? To our sons, we’re saying two things – 1. don’t ever drink because if you do, you’ll probably rape someone. 2. it’s okay if you rape someone, just be sure you’re drunk when you do it.
The idea that this is just something that everyone does at parties isn’t a defense. It’s an excuse, and a horrible one. And it’s entirely untrue. I know that this behavior is pervasive, but I refuse to believe that every single man has assaulted a woman, and that every single boy will grow up to assault a woman. We can’t teach our children that this is the case. We have to teach our children that they can be better than this, and that they should expect better than this.
Rape Fallacy #2: Alcohol invites people to rape you.
Do I really even need to write about this? It is so obviously untrue and unfair and absurd. When a woman is so drunk that she can’t agree enthusiastically to having sex, the people in her company refrain from having sex with her. Period. End of discussion.
In fact, nothing invites rape. Nothing at all. There is no such thing as non-consentual sex because, that, by definition, is rape. If someone is inviting sexual contact, then it is just sex. We need to erase the terms ‘consensual sex’ and ‘non-consentual sex’ from our vocabularies and replace them with the terms ‘sex’ and ‘rape’ because that more accurately describes what it means to invite sex and to be assaulted.
Rape Fallacy #3: Kids are too young to hear about consent.
No, I am not telling my 2 and 4 year olds about what’s in the news and all over my Facebook feed. They don’t need to hear about that. It won’t help them.
Yes, I am teaching them about consent and good choices. Since birth, we have been teaching our girls about consent. When I am playing with my kids and tickling them, the moment they say “no” or “stop,” I stop. When my kids are playing together and one of them says “no” or “stop,” I make sure that the other kid stops. If they are doing something to me that I don’t like, even if it’s just poking my arm, or grabbing my belly, or climbing into my lap at a bad time, and I ask them to stop, I say, “This is my body and I don’t like what you’re doing to it. You need to stop. You need to respect my body.” I use the word consent. I use the word respect. I am clear and firm. I tell them to respect each other’s bodies, and to respect my body, and to respect their own body.
I have friends who have sons who are doing them same thing, and I appreciate it more than I can even express. I know little boys who know the word consent and understand what it means.
If we wait to teach our kids about consent until puberty, or high school, or when we drop them off at college, it will be too late. It has to be something that is ingrained in them from birth. It has to be second nature. For both boys and girls.
Rape Fallacy #4: Privilege has nothing to do with this.
If this rapist were black, or Latino, or anything other than white, he would be spending much more time in prison. We wouldn’t have seen his smiling, successful photos all over the internet – we would have seen his mugshot within hours of his arrest, or other photos of him that represent him as a ‘thug’ or some other derogatory term. The conversations would be different – the media wouldn’t even care what his friends and family had to say about him, the media would be digging up dirt, not presenting excuses.
If this rapist wasn’t wealthy, his lawyers would have presented the evidence (actual evidence) that would have told a very different story than the one that was presented. If he, and the judge, hadn’t both been Stanford students, the punishment would have been different. If the rapist hadn’t been a golden boy with a bright future, the judge wouldn’t have been as worried about ruining that future.
Do I even need to say anything about male privilege? The whole rape culture is built on and sustained by male privilege.
Truth: I refuse to raise my daughters in a world where their physical and emotional wellbeing can easily be thrown away – literally and figuratively – behind a dumpster.
Let’s change it.
The beauty of being a substitute teacher is the flexibility. I’ve written about this before (here and here), and I still feel the same way. I love subbing, I love middle school kids. I love it as my job, and I’m happy with how my life has taken me into this position.
Most of my time is spent doing short jobs – a day here, a day there – and I love those assignments. I love popping into a classroom and seeing what they’re working on, spending some time with the kids, but moving on.
Right now, I’m smack dab in the middle of an 8 week long-term sub job – covering for a woman who had a baby. For four weeks, I’ve been getting up everyday, going to the same school, teaching the same kids, planning lessons, grading work, and working. I love it.
Whenever I start one of these long-term jobs, it feels like I need to relearn how to work. Before it even begins I need to figure out where the girls will be everyday. It is a balancing and juggling act that takes some work, but thanks to all the fabulous grandparents, it always works out. Once I get to the school I need to figure out who to ask for what I need. I need to build a stock of snacks and other supplies. I need to recalibrate my body to only getting to use the bathroom and eat at certain times. Luckily, this time around I don’t have to figure out a pumping strategy.
Now I’m in the groove. I’ve figured the good times to pee. I have my stash of rice cakes. I have a great support system in the classroom and the office when things come up. I have my essential oils in my Essential Pouch (if you’re wondering, I have rollers of Panaway, Stressaway, Gratitude, and a salve of allergy relief trio).
I know the kids, and the kids know me. It’s always a tricky transition from sub to long-term sub in classrooms where I regularly sub. The dynamic is certainly different when I’m the main teacher, and that’s what I am until the end of the school year for these kids. I can let myself be silly, and let things slide when it’s just a day job. I have to be more serious and strict when I’m here for a few weeks. The kids are always a bit surprised in my change in demeanor.
But, here I am. Twenty days left of school. Then back to my other job as full-time mom. I have to be honest and say that I’m not as scared of summer this year. Last year I was terrified of all the unstructured, unscheduled days looming. This year, I’m excited to get back to those unstructured, unscheduled days. I’m looking forward to spending each day with the kids. I’m looking forward to getting a vacation. The word vacation definitely means more when there’s somewhere which I will vacate.