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Archive for October, 2007

1.  I saw a mother pushing a stroller down the street this morning. She had bright pink hair that stuck up all over her head, and she was covered with tattoos, most of which were red. She wore an orange dress with very big black boots.

2.  This afternoon, at a play place with a big bouncy thing, I watched a mother with two elementary-aged children. She was jumping higher and laughing harder than any child. Other parents sat in the convenient laptop and coffee section.

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How I Learned About Blogs

Part 1

My husband (who works in educational technology and knows every cool computer thing there is):

You should really put your bookmarks in del.icio.us. Let me show you–

Me, interrupting: I’m fine with the regular bookmarks.

Him: But I could send you cool sites really easily-

Me, interrupting: Nah.

*****

Him: Can I show you how to use tabs on the browser? Then you wouldn’t have windows all over the place.

Me: Why? This is fine.

Him: I promise you that you’ll find tabs better than windows–

Me: Nah.

*****

Him: Let me show you Jott. You would love this. You speak a message into your cell phone and it transcribes it onto your email.

Me: I just like to write things down.

Him: Just try it.

Me: Nah.

*****

Him: I could show you some blogs that you would love.

Me: I’m really not interested in reading the online diaries of college students.

Him: That’s really not what blogging is all about. I promise you–let me just show you-

Me: I don’t have time for that.

*****

Him: I’ll help you set up a Bloglines account to keep track of those news sites you read that have RSS feeds if you want to.

Me: RSS feeds? What the hell are those? Ha, ha–look at me, the educational technology nerd! I love RSS feeds, and CSS scripts JBRLTY programs! Look at my pocket protector!

Him: I’m done with you.
Part 2

I got an email from a high school friend suggesting a few blogs that she found relating to motherhood. I immediately clicked on them. One was blue milk. It was absolutely unbelievable. I was in awe. I started a blog.

Now I can’t survive without blogs, browser tabs, Jott, and Bloglines. (At least I’m only mildly interested in my del.icio.us account. It wouldn’t do for my husband to be 100% right.)

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My high school English teacher–the one who told me feminists could wear white robes–had a bulletin board in her classroom devoted to advertising. Not only did she display the ads, but she led close-reading/seeing discussions on the sexist and racist images and symbols in advertising–and once she clued us in to what we were seeing, we saw it everywhere. What could have been a better lesson for the girls and boys in her classroom than how to read their world along with their literature? Particularly when they learned to read the messages they didn’t even know were there.

We found and collected those images, picked them apart and vanquished them with our discussions, then relegated them to the corner of the room where they belonged.

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This ad is on NOW’s Love Your Body page–go there to see it along with a dizzying array of other awful ads.

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That’s what he calls himself when he does this.

Minutes passed as he ever so slowly crept closer to a group of deer.  One remained, and they just stared at each other.

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Nature is so different to me now with him around.

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A miserable, tired, almost-two-year-old with a cold. A disappointed-not-to-be-at-the Children’s-Museum-as-promised three-year-old with a cough. A cold, foggy morning. A mother with no coffee. No food in the house. The happy angel on my shoulder said: Sure, go to the grocery store! You can do it! The mean angel on my other shoulder said: Yes, do go. The misery and destruction will be high entertainment. I went.

When the little one shrieked with fury instead of joy at being put in the car attached to the front of the shopping cart, the happy angel said: Oooo, very bad sign. Guess I was wrong. Grab a cup of coffee and leave now with your dignity intact. No worries. The mean angel said: Stay. This is gonna be good. I stayed.

The little one would neither walk, ride, or be carried; instead, he sprinted full-speed away. The mean angel laughed . . . and so did the store manager, but in a nicer way.

When the sprinting turned into falling on the floor and sniffling pathetically, I finally decided to leave. But heading toward the exit, I saw them: little packets of animal crackers hanging on the end of the aisle. I grabbed two bags and dangled them in front of their faces. I chirped, “Oh, look, I almost forgot that it’s snack time. Luckily, I found a great snack right here!” The mean angel was thrilled: A bribe, a lie, and a manipulation all in one bag of crackers. The happy angel said: At least they’re organic.

It worked. We shopped at a rate of speed hitherto unseen in this country. We got out, loaded the bags, and buckled in. As we were able to pull out of the parking space, the guys realized that the bags near their feet sounded like thunderous drums when kicked. They kicked and flailed and bobbed their heads. The mean angel was thrilled that the eggs were all getting broken. I opened my mouth to say, “Guys! The eggs and the bread and the fruit will all get . . .” The happy angel said: Shut the hell up and dance with them. So I did.

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Two high school seniors rush down to their English teacher’s classroom with a major problem. Each member of the graduating class would wear either a blue or white gown during the upcoming ceremony. Traditionally, a girl would wear white and a boy would wear blue. But, since that particular high school reflected its community’s progressive and nonsexist personality, the girls usually ended up wearing blue, too. No traditional gender roles for these girls.

But these two good young feminists had a problem: they preferred the white gowns. They just liked them better. Their English teacher didn’t even laugh when she reassured them that yes, feminists can wear white robes to graduation without compromising their ideals. Don’t let that traditional white robe fool you. Or the lipstick–they liked lipstick, pretty dresses, boys, playing field hockey, lacrosse, and softball, speaking out in class (or anywhere else), boys, their Women’s Collective group, doing their hair, and, well, more boys. But finding two stronger girls, even when in their pinkest lipstick and prettiest dress, would be difficult.

Fast-forward ten years to one of those girls, now with a baby, and now leaving her job to stay home with him. Then two babies, a cul-de-sac, a suburb, and then a minivan . . . She’s wearing that white robe again–she looks like that same ol’ “happy housewife” from the commercials for dishwashing detergent. But she’s not. No more than those high school girls fit into any easy gender stereotype.

Feminist can be quite a loaded term–it’s much more convenient for some people to pinpoint “feminists” as people who look and act and live a certain way. What’s the stereotype these days anyway? The cliché of the unshaven legs and shaven head? A man-hater? For people who are exasperated, angry, or bemused by the idea of feminism, it’s much easier to have an image like that because it cuts our numbers and makes a “feminist” an “other.” Definitely no feminists in that group–look at them with their double strollers and minivans. That would be a mistake. Some feminists are out there pushing strollers–and probably raising more feminists.

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Don’t do that.   Stop it.  Don’t touch.  No, no.  Stop.  Don’t.  Please stop.  Hurry up.  I said, please don’t do that.

Imagine that the world is approximately three million times more interesting than it even is now.  You’re fascinated by everything you see, but you have a loudspeaker attached to your shoulder saying don’t touch don’t touch don’t touch all day long.  Sometimes I feel like Martin and Chris must feel like that sometimes.

I detest hearing the don’t-touch-stop-it-put-that-down stuff coming out of my mouth.  As much as it has got to be said sometimes, I try to have a Shut-Up Day once in a while to keep the unnecessary ones from becoming a habit.  If I feel a don’t-touch-it coming on, and if I don’t have a damned good reason for it, I shut up.

If it’s not about safety or rudeness or another valid concern, why can’t he touch it?  Why quell the instinct Martin had the other day to explore every button and attachment on the vacuum cleaner, then use them for magic wands, then catch crocodiles with them.  So it’s a mess–big deal.  When Chris squeals with shock at seeing an ant with a crumb on the sidewalk, do I really need to rush him past it to get to the grocery store quicker?

But sometimes I’m late, or tired, or, worst of all, just too accustomed to the wonder and magic they see everywhere.  If I feel a twinge of that, it’s time for me to shut up for a while and let them talk to an ant.

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