Tag Archives: WGOM featured

You’d Look So Much Prettier If You’d Smile: On #MeToo

What have you done today to protect yourself from sexual harassment or assault? What has your wife done? Your mother? Your sister? Your daughter?

Someone you love was sexually abused as a young child. Someone you love wanted to say no and didn't know how. Someone you love believed she was dirty, damaged, worthless because of something that was done to her.

I have had this post on my mind since the Weinstein allegations came to light last fall, but I somehow kept putting off writing it. I don't need to tell you that sexism, harassment, and assault exist. We don't need to talk about any of that as a dynamic of this community (thank goodness), but I want to share a few things from my own life and share some thoughts about raising kids in a world where sexism, harassment, and assault exist.

The summer when I turned 18 was one of my favorite summers. But thank God I'm not 18 anymore. There is a particular vulnerability in being a young woman that brings out the worst in men. They somehow seem to know that you aren't prepared for it, don't know how to respond. That you'll let their comments get to you. My parents have always been loving and supportive, and on the whole, they did a wonderful job of raising me. But they never told me how to handle catcalls, how to brush off men drawn to my youth and naïveté.

Your mother, your wife, or your sister has almost certainly experienced at the very least some type of low-level harassment. Your daughter almost certainly will, if she hasn't already. And while the experience may have been nothing more than a comment from a passing stranger or a brief hand on her back, the shame and disgust she felt afterward likely lasted much longer than the incident itself.

So for those of us who are parents, how do we raise our children in a way that doesn't perpetuate sexist beliefs and behaviors? I don't really know, but somehow I don't think that simply saying to our kids, "everyone's equal, we're all the same, be nice to everyone" is going to do it. Before I had children, I had a lot of ideas about how to raise kickass girls. And then I had two boys.

We've talked before at the WGOM about ways of addressing consent with young kids. Tickling is okay only when the child says it's okay. A child (or an adult) can say they don't want a hug. It's not okay to touch another person in a way they don't want to be touched.

I also try to put into words when my kids touch me in a way I enjoy: "That was nice." "I like when you hug me like that, it makes me feel really loved." It is my hope that this will help them develop their own vocabulary for navigating all manner of physical encounters as they get older.

After the Weinstein stuff came out, I talked a little to the jalapeño (who is 7) about how women haven't always been treated fairly. That they have been paid less for doing the same job as a man, that there have been a lot of jobs they were told they couldn't do at all. His response. "Well, that's really dumb." Sing it, brother! It feels weird to point out inequality, but my gut tells me that he needs to know about this stuff if he's going to play a part in not perpetuating it.

Earlier this year, I had a rather unpleasant experience with a man while I was waiting in line to order a burrito bowl at a large grocery store near my job. There was a creepy comment and a hand on my waist. But lucky for me, I'm no longer that 18-year-old girl who doesn't know what to say. I turned and looked right at that guy and he asked in a slightly sarcastic way, "Is that not okay?" I said, "No. It's never okay to touch someone without permission." And he left. That night after dinner, I told the jalapeño about it (without many specifics). He didn't say anything, but he gave me the kind of hug that makes me feel really loved.

And yet, women talking won't by itself fix everything. That's where I'm hoping all of you come in. Men have to talk with other men about these things. They have to talk to kids about these things. And kids have to see the men in their lives making their way through the world in a way that is respectful toward women. Because nothing is going to get better for anyone unless we're all in this together.

Thanks for reading, guys.

“Age-appropriate behavior” … or something else?

Question: When are fidgeting, spacing-out, silliness, lack of focus, inattention to detail, emotional overreaction to 'change' and hyperactivity "normal" in a child?
Answer: Apparently, it depends on if those things are causing said child to struggle at school, with friends or at home.

Question: If you find it necessary to attempt to address (i.e., "fix") those aforementioned behaviors, and following an in-depth conversation with an "expert", the first thing said expert(s) identify is ADHD, followed by a suggestion of medication, what should you do?
Answer: I. Don't. Know.

This is sensitive, because I'm not really seeking advice, per se, and my wife straight-up told me that she really doesn't want to tell our family about this (though my mother already has some knowledge of it). However, I know we have lots of parents here, with a pretty wide variety of experiences - both professional and personal - who might be willing to talk about what they know, think they know, or otherwise have an opinion on.

I have a child with a lot of intelligence, curiosity and quality interpersonal skills. Great kid - caring, empathetic and friendly. Also, this kid cannot sit still in class, stay on task, pay attention to things that aren't of interest, etc., etc., etc... to the point that two-years worth of teachers have spoken to us about her inability to complete tasks on time, without continuous prompting and repeated reminders. No surprise there, because tasks like getting ready for dinner, bedtime, breakfast, school, play, bath .... all take much longer than they should, and frequent prompting typically results in tears and overreaction (on my/our part as well).

We want to help, and want help, so we sought out expert advice. I trust experts - attorneys, physicians, accountants, mechanics, etc. I look for the 'best' and trust what they tell me. That initial meeting went well, confirming (but not formally diagnosing) what we'd already considered. However, when the inevitable discussion of options to address the concerns led to information about medications, I immediately felt a panic - "No! Not my child! I've seen/heard too many horror stories about [insert whatever 'brand name' stimulant or anti-depressant(!) comes to mind] to be giving that to my child!" That's all the farther we've gone; still working on a formal diagnosis, but I'm feeling conflicted about what comes next.

What do ya got for me?

I mean, c'mon, even the label warns to "Keep Out of Reach of Children" !!!

Cooking the Books

We've talked about books, we've talked about cooking, but have we talked about cookbooks? I have my eye on the new cookbook from Smitten Kitchen (a.k.a. Deb Perelman) and am hoping it shows up under the Christmas tree later this month.

I know that there are approximately a bajillion recipes available on the internet for free, but I do still love a good cookbook. And far better to spill on a book than on my laptop! Do you have favorite cookbooks? Are there cookbooks you're eager to take a closer look at? Do share!

And of course, please share anything else you've been reading lately.

(Over)Protective Fathers … or, “Other People’s Kids”?

Editor's Note - Copied an LTE of mine from yesterday that got away from me. I started typing a response, and it blew up. Instead of making a standalone FKB post, when I realized it was paragraph(s) long, I went back and added the cop-out "FKB(?) alert..." and hit "Mail Letter to the Editor".

Context: My daughter is very sensitive & emotional ... like, look at her the wrong way (make a face she thinks is mocking or angry) and she's ready to cry; give her a hug and tell her how amazing she is and she's beaming. Lately, she's been concerned (is certain) that other kids don't like her or are laughing at her. It doesn't take much to break her heart.

We were in the hallway at child care and I was checking her and Niblet into the computer system, when a snotty voice from her classroom (adjacent to the keypad, but out of my sightline) mockingly calls out to her, "What are you looking at!?!" as she's standing there next to me. We couldn't have been at the door for more than 10 seconds at that point. She embarrassedly looks down and away - and I damn near lost my shit. I leaned into the doorway and stared this kid down (7-9 years old maybe? - it's a classroom for various school-aged children, before & after school care) and he sort-of nervously grins in surprise at me, then leans back and looks at his buddy and snickers. Says under his breath, but loud enough to hear, "what's he staring at?" I stand there long enough for it to be uncomfortable, and he just kept grinning at me. So ... I walk into the classroom and over to his table. I stop about 6 feet away, with the table and some other students (and a "teacher") between us, I tell him in my dad voice that it's not okay for him to talk to my daughter that way. Tell him that he better not do it again, either in front of me, or when I'm not there. He stops smiling and just holds his half-eaten toast partway to his mouth. I say if I hear about it from her that he treats her that way again, there will be consequences (I did not define what they might be - pretty sure there isn't anything I could actually 'do' about him being a jerk ... at that point I was working hard not to yell or swear at him). Then I had my daughter come into the classroom, and told him to apologize to her. He did. The two "teachers" and the rest of the classmates eating breakfast just sat there. I was so livid, that I just nodded at his apology and Kernel and I walked out to take Niblet down to his room.

On the way back, her lead "teacher" met me in the hallway and asked if this was an issue that she hadn't been aware of. She seemed very concerned about it being bullying or somesuch. I said, "No," but informed her that my kid is sensitive and isn't very good about standing up for herself (quite the opposite, she shrinks and feels bad about herself). So, if there's someone being mean to her who's old enough to know better, and I'm standing right there, I'm going to call them out on it. I said that no more follow up was needed ... I just wouldn't put up with that kind of behavior.

I'm hopeful it isn't an issue, but man, it was not something I was prepared to deal with. I just reacted to the tone of his voice, and his response to my stare only exacerbated things. I guess I was hoping he'd be embarrassed or something ... I don't know.

There were a few immediate responses:

Zee German

In my head I'm seeing that video of the guy who starts knock-out slapping everyone in sight after something happened to his kid.

Might be a good FKB discussion, but if our kids are out there among...people, we best prepare ourselves for the inevitability of these situations. For the record, my son is usually the super-sensitive one who is now recognizing that he's an outsider in middle school. Tough place to be. He's an easy target for someone who wants to provoke a little entertainment. Still not sure how we handle it.

zooomx.2

Good for you. I know it's easy as a parent to not engage in these situations as we think we may embarrass our kids. I had 2 situations like you describe. One, a kid in the hockey locker room was making fun of my quiet /introverted son. I did get in his face about it not being the way to treat a teammate. I then went to the Dad and explained what happened and described how I handled it. 9 years later the Dads and the boys are good friends. A couple years after that incident a neighbor boy, bullied my son on the bus. We are good friends with his parents, and he is a year older than my son. I called their house and the boy in question answered. I told him that I heard about the bullying incident, and that I was greatly disappointed. I told him that I was giving him one "pass" when it comes to bullying. I told him I would not tell his Dad this time, but the next time he would not be happy with the ramifications. Never had another issue since. Families are great friends. My son was actually proud that I stood up for him both times, which surprised me. Shorty after these 2 incidents, he had a couple situations where he totally stood up and had his own "Christmas Story/Ralphie" moments. Both times, he intervened when a friend or teammate was bullied and fixed the problem. Proud papa moments. I once had a supervisor that told me that as managers, we had to approach conflict like firemen. Rush into the fire and put it out. Don't stand across the street and hope it rains.

Update - No blowback at the school this morning, but Kernel did say the boy had repeated his "What are you looking at!?!" on the bus and indicated both that he is kind of a jerk (her word!) and that she'd told the bus driver. My initial thought was basically, "Well, I can't be with her 100% of the time, so good for her for doing what I'd recommended - tell an adult." On the other hand, we've been noticing a lot more lying from her lately, about really stupid (& easily verifiable) stuff; lies for reasons that make sense to her ... because she's 6. My second reaction was, "Did he really? Or, did she see how angry I was with him and liked knowing [seeing] how much I cared?" or something like that.

Curry Chicken Pot Pie

By popular demand, here is an improvised version of curry chicken pot pie.

The good doctor requested fall food because the outside air temp dropped below boiling. We had a curry in London that resembled super smooth butternut squash soup with chicken bits, and decided that we could make that happen at home. After several attempts we discovered that we were missing some fat source be it cream / butter / ???. We shelved the recipe in favor of a Korma recipe that is always solid only to return to the idea when the weather turned cool(ish). To do this you'll need:

cubed butternut squash
cubed sweet potato
diced carrots
peas
a toe of garlic smashed
a small hand full of raisins
diced chicken parts (we used breasts, though thighs would def. amp up the flavor values)
curry seasoning (make your own if you feel sassy)
nutmeg
a bay leaf
salt and pepper
pie crust (if you make your own then you win) (trader joes is pretty alright, pilsbury is more than alright)
pyrex or similar oven safe bowls (though some consumer groups say that pyrex aint what it used to be... so be careful when dealing with wild temp swings and glass cookware)

The ratios of this are really not hard math, I used a bag of butternut squash cubes from trader joes (because lazy), 4 carrots, two small sweet potatoes from my garden. I roasted half the veg to roast, and half the veg for the sauce. I ended up with thee of the 2 cup pyrex individual pot pies. I used the left over crust to make a flower top for decorative / more pie crust goodness

Method:

I roasted half the sweet potato and butternut squash along with the carrots to add flavor / texture dimension to the final product. I tossed the veg with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and curry powder prior to roasting in a 450 degree oven. I removed the veg when brown / starting to blacken on the edges (about 25 minutes). I dumped a handful plus of frozen peas onto the roasting pan after I removed it from the oven (both arrests the cooking of the veg and thaws the peas). While the veg is roasting I add the remaining butternut squash and sweet potato (you can also add some carrot / parsnips) to a 2 quart sauce pan with just enough water to cover, plus salt and pepper and a dose of curry seasoning, and bring to a roiling boil. Boil this mixture until the veg falls apart, and mash in the pan. At this point the liquid in the pan should be fairly runny. Add the diced chicken parts to the pan with another dose of curry seasoning, the bay leaf, a pinch of nutmeg (my secret weapon...) and the smashed garlic toe. Simmer until the chicken in cooked through and the sauce is thickened to your desired taste. Add the roasted veg + peas + a handful of raisins to the pot and simmer out any additional liquid. As this happens have your oven preheated to 425 (YMMV). Portion out your sauce / chicken / veg mix into your baking dish(s), and cut your pie crusts to hang over the edges. Cut some vents and bake until the crust is golden brown. (an egg wash will help with browning, but isn't necessary for flavors). Basically this is a boiler plate for seasoned chicken pot pie with no dairy. You could use (gasp) tofu, ginger, lemongrass, green thai curry etc etc etc etc as flavor enhancers.

you're welcome.

Monster-esque Cookies

I had these cookies for the first time at a Halloween party a long time ago, and therefore I always associate them with Halloween. I don't know for sure exactly what elements are required for a true monster cookie, but these are at least a close relative of monster cookies. While there's no small amount of sugar in these, they somehow don't taste overly sweet, which I appreciate.

1 cup (8 oz.) butter, softened
1 cup (9.5 oz.) natural peanut butter
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) brown sugar
1 cup (7 oz.) granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups (7 oz.) old-fashioned oats*
1 1/2 cups (7 7/8 oz.) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 oz. chocolate chips**
2 cups M&M's
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional; I didn't use them)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer (or sturdy electric hand mixer and a large bowl), cream butter and sugars for approximately 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl.

Add eggs and vanilla, mixing for about 1 minute.

Add oats, flour, and baking soda. Mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Stir in chocolate chips, M&M's, and walnuts (if using).

Use a cookie scoop, spoon, or your hands to form dough into 1.5-inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating sheets on top and bottom racks halfway through. When done, the tops of the cookies should be just beginning to brown. Remove cookies from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight plastic container or ziplock bag for up to 1 week.

*The recipe calls for quick-cooking oats, but I didn't have any, and I thought the cookies turned out great with old-fashioned oats.
**I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips because I love them, but any variety will do.

Recipe source: a lovely woman named Amy who may or may not have originally gotten the recipe from a Martha Stewart magazine