Help me, Husband dearest, but NOT like that …

 

18034331_1505368239497034_5653658819984006317_n

Warning: not for the faint of heart feminist

I came across this tidbit in my Facebook newsfeed recently, and had a good chuckle not just because it’s meant to be funny, but because it signifies something about a lot of modern women and THAT makes me laugh.

I think instead the poem could be entitled “Ode to the Never-Quite-Good-Enough Husband” and include more lines that go something like this:

Fold the towels, but not like that.

Cook once in a while, but not like that.

Discipline the children, but not like that.

Communicate with me, but not like that.

You plan the trip for a change, but not like that.

ETC. ETC. ETC.

It doesn’t rhyme, but most of today’s feminists probably won’t catch that; they’re too busy looking for more things to add because they’re loving this poem already and thinking of various places to stick it before he gets home.  And it probably won’t be in a nice homemade casserole either.

Too sarcastic for you?  I think you’re on the wrong blog.  You must have stumbled over here on your way to googling “how to get your man to do exactly what you want” or something like that.  If so, here’s a link you might be interested in:

I’m No Feminist!

And if you still think you have it rough because “he’s like an extra child”, try this one:
Bye for now!

Parenting Done Wrong …

writing47

I know parents are supposed to support each other (it takes a village and all that jazz), that parenting isn’t easy, and that no matter how hard you try, some days just don’t go well.  Even your normally quiet and best behaved little ones are going to have tantrums, outbursts. I get it.  I’ve been there.  I never said my kids wouldn’t do it.  But I did say my kids wouldn’t get away with doing it.  Big difference.

But the cases that really make my eyes pop out are the ones in which the PARENTS are to blame and the PARENTS are the ones you’d like to slap upside of the head because they’re not only condoning but encouraging the unacceptable behaviour either by their lack of immediate discipline or their need to make everything exactly the way their little princes and princesses want it to be, even at the expense of others.  Like, we’re all supposed to put up with your little hellion because you choose to do so?  I don’t think so, Tim.

I’m talking about parents who appear to be raising their snowflakes to grow up thinking the rest of the world will bow to them just like their parents do, and I’m especially talking about the parents who are willing to buy their way out of anything.  Can you say “teenage criminal with money bags daddy who pays off a judge to just make it go away”?  OK, call me dramatic, but that kind of crap starts somewhere and a couple of incidents I heard about this week sparked my attention.

My daughter belongs to a running group online and recently there was a big Disney marathon weekend in Florida, so people have been chatting about their experiences and she shared these two with me: (I can’t link you directly to the posts because it’s a closed group)

Please stop kicking me

One runner who was taking in some of the Disneyworld attractions while there for the weekend, was standing in line for a ride and found herself being shoved and actually kicked by some children next to her.  The parents were right there.  She asked the kids to please stop kicking her, and was told by the parents to get over it, “this place is for kids, you know”. Huh?

IN FRONT OF YOUR KIDS you have just now told them IT IS OK TO KICK PEOPLE because they are standing in an amusement park themed just for them and anyone else there needs to put up with whatever they decide to do, even if it hurts.  And yes, the kids went right on shoving and kicking.  Un-freaking-believeable.

I’ve been at the Happiest Place on Earth, I’ve seen a few misbehaving children in line on occasion – most are just cute and excited to be there – but I’ve never been pushed or shoved by any of them and had I been, I’m really not sure what I would have given as a response to these absolutely rude and ineffective parents.  Those lines can get pretty crowded, you aren’t always close to a staff member to ask for help,  and you never know how someone might twist off at you if you dare suggest that their perfect little wonder child is annoying you.

No, you can’t have my medal

Another runner who had just completed a challenge – a 10K run and the marathon – was sitting in a restaurant afterward with some friends and had one of her medals sitting on the table.  A boy about five years old went over, took the medal, put it around his own neck and went back to his own table.  The runner went over to the table and asked for her medal back.  He gave it to her, but a few minutes after she got back to her own table, the boy’s mother came over to say that he really wanted her medal and she would pay $50 for it. (cough – privileged brat – cough).  The runner said no, that it wasn’t for sale, she had earned it and wasn’t giving it up.  The mother then offered $100, to which the runner again said no, and the kid came over and proceeded to throw a temper tantrum.  The runner said she was sorry that the boy couldn’t handle the disappointment of not getting what he wanted.  The mother told the runner it’s just a medal, she had ruined the boy’s day, and that perhaps she would understand if she had kids of her own.

Just take a breath and let that sink in.

The runner EARNED her medal – if you know anything about running marathons you know what that means – and because some kid’s mom can pay his way out of everything  the rest of the world is supposed to bow down, surrender their stuff, take the cash and move on.

These stories wouldn’t be so annoying if they weren’t so damn typical in today’s world of self-entitlement.  Yes, I had kids and no, they were not – nor are they now as adults – perfect.  But here’s how this would have gone down had one of my kids even tried to pull such a ridiculous stunt:

  1. My kids, at five, were not allowed to wander freely around a public place unsupervised.  Problem solved.
  2. IF by chance one got away from my table before I could stop them, I would have followed them immediately and prevented the taking of the medal.  Problem solved.
  3. IF I hadn’t made it to my child before they grabbed the medal, I would have turned them straight around to give it back with an apology FROM MY CHILD to the owner.  Problem solved.
  4. IF for some reason – like the runner’s table was right beside mine and my child was able to take two steps over without me stopping him/her – as soon as they got back to the table with the medal in hand they would have been taken to the owner to surrender the medal and give an apology.  Problem solved.
  5. If my child threw a temper tantrum over not being able to have the medal, I wouldn’t have been whipping out my wallet.  I would have been dragging my child to the car where they would have received what is now probably an illegal smack on the butt and maybe even the deprivation of further entertainment in the theme park designed for children.

I cannot fathom the arrogance and stupidity of the mother who decided that her child’s immediate desire trumped the choice of a woman to keep something significant that was her own to begin with, and that it was OK to sanction the lifting of someone else’s possession with no consequence other than having to bear the disappointment of knowing that even mommy’s money couldn’t make it all better.

As to the first situation with the kicking children, had I been the receiver of the kicks and the parental response, I think I might have spoken directly to the children and told them that “mommy and daddy say that kicking people is OK so if you want to kick someone, turn around and kick them”.  After all, they’re certainly the people who deserve to be kicked.  Hard.

I can honestly say here that I have a hard time imagining even my most active little guy thinking it was OK to kick strangers in a public place, so the behavior of these children must have been learned and tolerated long before the trip to Disneyworld! Had one of mine crossed the line though, they’d have been made to apologize – I would have also apologized for not paying close enough attention to see what happened – and if it didn’t stop, my child would have been removed from the line-up to miss going on that ride and learn a lesson in proper behaviour because the place was NOT DESIGNED JUST FOR THEM and even if it were, there’s still no excuse.

I can tolerate children who are stepping out of line; it happens.  I cannot tolerate parents who stand by and allow it, not because they didn’t see it, not because they don’t have enough hands to deal with it, but because they actually say it’s OK and are willing to reward their children for bad behaviour.  I can’t even …

 

 

 

 

Transgendered people aren’t the problem, the laws are …

I discovered a blog post describing an event which directly relates to some concerns expressed by myself and others regarding gender neutral washrooms.  The writer is definitely not discriminating, and it’s absolutely worth the read if you care either way about this issue because there’s something to consider from all sides.

A Man in the Women’s Restroom at Disneyland

Was this man doing a “social experiment” as we’ve seen in the past with regard to various topics?  It’s reasonable to predict that men who are inclined to intimidate – fully heterosexual men – could simply enter a women’s washroom because they can, and wait for reactions so they can then show cases of discrimination based on appearances.  There’s already a TV show that has people doing very similar tests in social situations, so don’t shake your head as if I’m being too dramatic!

Was he a predator of some kind?  Was he just confused and behaving strangely?

The main point is that even though he was doing nothing washroom related the whole time he was in there, none of the women felt safe in addressing his presence.  None of them felt they had the right to question it.

I’d like to direct a couple of my own points to the transgendered group – specifically to those who are transitioning from male to female – for their consideration as they decide whether or not the rest of us have any reason to feel uncomfortable with certain things that are happening.  Please forgive me in advance if I don’t use the proper terminology.  I’m not always sure which terms are acceptable, so it isn’t my intention to be offensive.  And please be clear on this: I AM NOT AFRAID OF YOU OR OF HAVING YOU IN A WOMEN’S WASHROOM.  I expect that most of you are, as most other people are, very nice people who wouldn’t want to hurt anyone.

If you’re a man transitioning to a woman:

  1.  While I recognize you’ve likely dealt with your own kind of bullying at various levels – which is always wrong – please remember that you’ve never actually been a woman.  As girls, we’re taught to be careful, to watch out for who is walking behind us when we’re alone on a sidewalk or a street, to be aware of our surroundings in public, especially in public washrooms (to check that no one is hiding if it’s empty when we enter), and to make direct eye contact with strangers who might be intimidating to appear strong and avoid giving an impression of vulnerability.  With current laws and the risk of being accused and charged with some version of discrimination or a hate crime, we’re now being silenced.  If we make eye contact with a male looking person in the washroom, we’re “staring”.  If he/she looks more like a man than a woman and we take a second look, or even ask security for help because we’re uncomfortable with their behaviour – as in the case described in the blog I have linked to – we’re profiling and discriminating based on appearance.  We no longer feel able to reasonably protect ourselves from possible danger because anyone can say that they “feel” like a woman and enter a space where private womanly things are happening.
  2. Have you considered that once you have fully transitioned to a woman, you will also be in the same position we are now in as far as safety?  With your background and life experiences, you might not feel the same discomfort at having men walking freely into a washroom where you are taking care of private business, but you will be every bit as much at risk of danger as the rest of us once you look like a woman.  Perhaps, think of the reasons you’re not comfortable using the men’s washroom!  And because of laws and the risk of being accused and charged with discrimination or some hate crime, the silence we feel forced into will mean that we can’t protect you either, if you are among us and a suspicious man walks in.  You might know many feelings and experiences that we do not know, but you don’t know what it’s like to be a woman and feel threatened by a potentially dangerous man.  Never mind what it’s like for a young girl to feel that way.  I just ask that you consider it, even just for a moment, because this isn’t just about your rights.  It’s about real life danger and how it affects all of us, even you.

When people say there should be no complaints about giving rights to various groups because it has nothing to do with our own rights, that it won’t take them away, please consider that it does change things.  Our freedom to express our valid concerns in situations like the one described in the blog post I’ve mentioned is being squashed because we know that anything we say will be turned into some kind of discrimination or hate speech as determined by the laws that have been put in place to give you certain rights.  I’m not saying you don’t have a right to use the women’s washroom.  I’m saying it’s a lie to tell me that your having that freedom doesn’t in any way change my own.  Because it does.  It has. And that’s what we’re afraid of, not you.

 

 

 

All You Need Is Love (?)

you-deserve-love

I want to know what the hell is up with the human condition and why on earth life itself has to basically be a tragedy with some comedy thrown in here and there just to make us keep hoping for more?

No holds barred on this one.  I’m sick and tired and it isn’t anyone’s fault.  And I KNOW I’m not alone in this.

I recognize that not everyone grew up in a safe, happy home with two parents who paid the bills, taught and modelled values and integrity, protected, nurtured, advised, sacrificed, and LOVED their kids.  But I did.  And my kids did.  And many people I know also did.

So how is it that we could have all that love and encouragement and security and STILL NOT LOVE OURSELVES?

The sheer number of books, articles, psychological and therapeutic efforts available today to help us LEARN TO LOVE OURSELVES makes it painfully clear that we’re all messed up.

Well, at least those of us who are actually willing to see the truth.  I’m sure there are some “I have all my shit together and I always will” people walking around out there, and if denial works for them, great.  I don’t believe them.

It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with money or success or fame or having the “perfect job” (like that even exists!), or having a great family.  Many people have some or all of these things and they still don’t know how to love themselves.  Does Oprah even love herself enough yet?  (and I’m not joking when I say that)

I can envision a bunch of very aged seniors right now, sitting and discussing this blog post and rolling their eyes (well, not really, because they probably aren’t online).

This is not to generalize; I just happen to know that many of the older generation balk at talk of such things because they were taught to just suck it up and work hard and do what you have to do and then when it’s over, it’s over.  They might say they never had time to worry about their emotions or whether or not they were happy or fulfilled in life because they were too busy living it.  And maybe they were.  Maybe the depression and the wars and all the concern that those world events caused did give them enough to deal with and the emotional things were buried and left alone.

However, at the risk of being bombarded with criticism over what I have and have not experienced and what I could possibly know or not know at my young-to-them age of fifty-one years, I would like to suggest that just as many things in our society develop and change, so do our lifestyles, our stress levels, our expectations, and our understanding of things that weren’t topics of discussion even fifty years ago.

Most of us don’t seem to have a problem loving others and wanting to help them love themselves.  Perhaps the compassion we feel for others is somehow related to the love we wish we had for ourselves.  We give them advice and post pretty little pictures on Facebook with words about how great we all really are inside and that the most important thing is to love ourselves.

And for a few minutes here and there we can digest those words and they inspire us to do little things for ourselves, to “treat” ourselves and make ourselves feel better.  But it doesn’t last because it isn’t real.  WHY ISN’T IT REAL?

We’re all broken.  But why and how?  Were our hearts ever really as they should be? Did we love ourselves EVER and then somehow we lost it?  If so, that’s not true love anyway.

Bible readers or not, we would likely all agree that:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

OK, so wait just a minute here! Sounds great when we’re talking about loving others, doesn’t it?  Makes sense.  But let’s see how this fits with loving ourselves:

  1. Patient and kind:  Nope.  I’m trying to learn to be more patient with and kind to myself and it’s coming more with age, but seriously?  Fifty years of not patient or kind?
  2. No envy, boasting or pride: Hmmm.  I guess the envy and boasting parts are more about how we treat others – although if we’re envious of others or “boasting” about their accomplishments and comparing ourselves to them, that’s certainly not loving. And pride?  Yup, got that pride.  It shows up when I think I can handle things on my own and forget that I need other people and that needing them DOESN’T make me weak, or stupid or helpless.  It makes me human.
  3. No dishonouring or self-seeking: (throat clear here) how about that negative self-talk? I talk about being stupid or call myself an idiot when I make a mistake, brushing it off as a joke – but is it really a joke?  Not a funny one.  How about the infamous “I always mess that up” or “why can’t I ever do it right?”.  That’s dishonour all over the place.  Then there’s the confusing one “self-seeking”.  We can see how it applies to our treatment of others, but why is it harmful when we do it to ourselves?  Because in the moments that we have that attitude, it isn’t usually to help ourselves, it’s usually leading to some form of self-gratification that is just going to make us feel worse in the end: eating too much of something we want, drinking too much, shopping too much, whatever.  And often we’re doing it because we feel crappy about ourselves or just in general and we want to fill a hole.
  4. Keeps no record of wrongs: YEAH, RIGHT!  I think I can leave this one right here.  WE are our own worst critics, every day, all the time, and our most accurate memories are of our faults and mistakes which we can list ad nauseam.
  5. No rejoicing in evil, rejoice in truth: again, calling ourselves down when we do something wrong and making sure we never forget that we were bad isn’t helping.  But to rejoice in the truth about ourselves, we have to face it and accept it and sometimes it isn’t pretty.
  6. Protect, trust, hope, persevere: Sometimes the thing we most need to protect ourselves from IS ourselves, our self-deprecation, our constant interior reminders of every time we failed to live up to our own or someone else’s expectations.  Trust ourselves? The person we are most critical of and about whose judgment we have the most doubts? And then hope we’re on the right track? OK. That’s gonna take some perseverance …

I know this bible passage has always seemed to be about how we treat others, and ultimately how we love God.  But we have to be able to apply it to ourselves as well or it doesn’t count, in my opinion.

Quite frankly, I’m not looking for more reinforcement or lists of reasons that I SHOULD love myself; I want to know why I don’t.  Why most of us don’t.  I’m looking for answers that aren’t there.  They aren’t anywhere.

In my experience, our lives can be filled with love, filled with good people who love us and tell us often and give us reasons for why they love us, and we still don’t get it.  It doesn’t sink in.  And then we get to therapy where we learn tools to deal with our issues so we can cope going forward and that’s very helpful but I do have to wonder sometimes if even the therapists really love themselves or if they’re just very good at helping others?  Of course, they can still do their jobs and be very effective – if we all waited until we were perfectly good at things we would never help anyone! – and I’ve personally benefitted from counselling more than once over the past few years, but it’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

We crave appreciation from others, to feel needed, to know that we are loved.  Yet, to this day, just as was the case all through my childhood, I am uncomfortable receiving praise, even when I know I’ve done a good job.  If I don’t get it, it hurts somehow.  But when it comes, I don’t know what to do with it.  I usually end up minimizing it somehow because, really, am I worth it?  Others are, but me?

Life is definitely worth living because somehow the good parts are enough to keep us moving towards the next one.  We know it’s going to come, it always does.

Sometimes I just tire of what feels like a board game, where sometimes I get to roll the dice and choose the next move, but most of the time someone else is rolling the dice and throwing me in a direction I don’t want to go, skipping all the cool spaces I hoped to land on and landing me in jail without the get out free card.  And by the time I do get past the current obstacle, the cost of going around again will have doubled or tripled from last time and I’ll be treading water just hoping to keep my head up until I pass GO again.

There’s a risk in me putting this out there: when I write personal things about myself that anyone can read, I make myself vulnerable to their judgments of who and what I am, whether they find me completely off my rocker or someone they can relate to.

At this point in my life, with the experiences I have had, I just don’t care anymore.  I don’t care if someone sees my inside self and tears it apart.  They can do no more damage than has already been done there, by life, by loss, by me.

I honestly believe there are many, many others out there who feel this same way so this is for all of us.  If one of the “I’ve got all my shit together” people stumbles upon this post, please be “loving” and refrain from offering your T.E.D. talk version of a life plan.  I’ve probably watched it already.

Rebel with a cause, part 2 of 2

img001 copy

It was a dark and stormy night…

Ok, I won’t make you wait any longer.  Just make sure you’ve read part 1 before you go any further.

Grade eleven Social Studies:  We were given the assignment to write an opinion essay, remember?

I chose the school system as my topic.


I’m pausing here so you have time to laugh or gasp or choke or whatever you want to do.


Better now? OK.

I don’t remember all the details, but I touched on some very current and pertinent points for the time period, respectfully but honestly, including something about independent thinking being encouraged unless it led to questioning or criticizing “the system”.  It was a great paper, no bragging intended (I can’t necessarily take credit for the things that came easily to me).  I did hand it in with some concern about how the subject would be received, but I was damn proud of it.  I got an A.

Fast forward to grade twelve English, same teacher, Mr. Cramp. (Let me pause here to give him credit for being a far better English teacher than my previous one had been!  I liked him during Social Studies and I liked him for English, until …)

It was time for our big novel study to be done as a class and Mr. Cramp chose George Orwell’s 1984.  The first day we were to start reading, we had a substitute teacher and a double block class – usually silent reading for one block and then a regular class for the second.  I opened the book, read up to page 16, was disgusted by the scene described there, closed the book, and put it on my desk.  I took out some other work and quietly passed my time.  Not long after, the sub noticed and then started walking up and down the rows of desks until she got to me.  She asked quietly why I wasn’t reading the book.  I answered quietly that it offended me and I didn’t want to read it, but that I would continue working  and talk to my teacher when he got back.  There was no fanfare; everyone else continued reading.

My dad called that evening from Vancouver where he was for a meeting, I explained the situation to him, and he assured me that I did not have to read the book if I didn’t want to read it.

The next day, Mr. Cramp returned, and I was asked to stay after class.  He told me that the sub had left a note saying I refused to read the novel and that I had caused disruption in the class.  I assured him I hadn’t caused anything of the sort, that I’d answered her question respectfully, and that I’d worked quietly so as not to disturb anyone.  He then wanted to know why I refused to read the book.

I told him it offended me, that there were immoral sections in it and it was not the kind of material I wanted to read.  At one point in our debate, I even reminded him that I knew he was a church going Christian and that he should understand why I wouldn’t want to read something like that.  He chose it because it was considered a “classic.”  I questioned what constitutes a “classic” and who gets to decide.  He wasn’t pleased and things got more heated.  I asked to be allowed to read any one of the many other books on the suggested reading list for our grade and was denied.  We debated for a while longer and we both left unsatisfied.  Again, to his credit, he wasn’t harsh or rude with me, but he was very upset and understandably frustrated.

So began the power struggle between us: the classroom discussions – unrelated to the book – that I remained quiet for even though I knew the answers to questions he posed and he knew I knew them (sometimes I was the only one who knew them) but wasn’t putting up my hand, and the various quizzes I was doomed to fail after assigned chapter readings (even though a few of my other classmates tried to give me daily summaries in Biology whenever it fell before English on our schedule!).  I was disappointed in him and while I wasn’t willing to be rude to him, I had lost my interest in participating energetically. He couldn’t break me.  I think he probably always knew he wouldn’t win but, as the teacher, he also couldn’t bring himself to bend.  Perhaps he even wanted to but wasn’t allowed to, who knows?  Regardless, though we had once shared a good rapport we were now just mutually respectful adversaries.

My biology teacher – an eccentric but fun little guy – casually teased me one day that he heard I was refusing to read a novel in English class.  I responded that I didn’t think it appropriate for teachers to sit in the staff room and discuss something like that when it had nothing to do with anyone else.  He just laughed.  I knew then that probably all the teachers were aware of my stand, but I was long past caring.  I was, after all, nearly old enough to vote, so I certainly had the right to stand up for myself and my values.

During parent teacher interviews it was common for students to walk their parents around to find their classrooms (huge school!) and I sat outside while mine went in to meet with Mr. Cramp.  The typical time slot was about ten minutes, so after half an hour, a couple of the other parents waiting in line were joking with me, asking just what kind of mark I was getting in the class (one of the other parents was, ironically, the principal from the junior high school science teacher incident described in my previous post!).  I told them I actually had an A.  That gave them all a good laugh.

When it was over, my parents said that he had expressed his concern over my refusal to read the book and the fact that he knew I was avoiding class participation since the issue began.  They expressed their support of my right to not read the book.  He made sure they knew that it would affect my mark because I wasn’t able to participate in the assignments or the quizzes.  We were aware of this and I did drop from a high B to a low B average for that section.  And, as part of his perspective, he then brought in the matter of the paper I had written in grade eleven about the school system, using that to further his point about my non-compliance.  Dad reminded him that he had given me an A for a well-written paper.  He admitted it was well written despite its indication of my tendency to rebel on certain matters.  I can imagine from what I know of my parents and what I knew of Mr. Cramp, that the whole meeting went off without raised voices or rude comments.  But it remained a standstill nonetheless.

At the end of all that came the book report I wrote in its entirety while working coat check at a New Year’s Eve parish dance.  I used class notes and came up with a paper that earned my teacher’s 87% grade – not up to my usual level (in my day, 87 was an A minus) but a very reasonable result for not having read the book.  And he knew I hadn’t read it, but he was reasonable enough to mark my writing on its own merit.

If you’re still here, good job paying attention!  I didn’t realize that I remembered so many things so clearly until I started writing them down.  It’s pretty obvious that I’m strong willed.  It’s also obvious that my parents stood with me when I stood up for something important to me.  None of these situations show that I “won” anything.  But I also didn’t lose.  I stayed true to myself, I was respectfully assertive, and I learned that even if you can’t actually beat the system, you don’t have to let it beat you.

I came away from my many years of school with two favourite teachers I remember fondly to this day.  Neither stifled my spirit; both showed me that being an effective teacher was about far more than the subject matter, and that respect is earned. It doesn’t just come with age or degree.

Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you about kindergarten, when I was so bored and angry about having to use those big fat red pencils to print when I could already write my name in cursive script, that I deliberately scribbled outside the lines on all the pictures on a counting sheet, just to make a point.  THAT was talked about in a parent-teacher conference too …

Rebel with a cause, part 1 of 2

img001

I referenced a couple of school related incidents in my previous post about writing,  so if you remained at all curious, it starts here, with a few years of leading up to my final stand 🙂

When most people talk about rebellious teenagers, they’re referring to rebellion against parents, rules, societal norms, and authority in general.  Much to the relief of my parents and the disappointment of my children (no juicy stories to share!) I didn’t go through a rebellious stage at home.  I had moments of rebellion, but mine weren’t typical, and I always had my parents’ support in them.

I rebelled at school.  I didn’t rebel against rules or hard work.  I didn’t disrespect teachers, I got very good grades, I didn’t skip class, I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink, I didn’t party.  I didn’t even stay out late at night. But I did rebel.  (Can you even believe it, looking at that face?)

I rebelled against injustice and ridiculousness.  I rebelled against having immoral ideas and material forced upon me.  I rebelled against anything sending the message that I had to conform to what teachers said, even if it was against my personal beliefs, just because I was a kid.  I wasn’t rebelling against authority;  I was standing up for a cause.

Just the beginning

I didn’t like my grade eight (or nine?) science teacher because he was a forty-something playboy type who thought he was “all that”; I thought he was a creep.  Along with his generally annoying ways, he made a blatantly inappropriate sexual reference one particular day while speaking to the class about something in the area of biology, and I reacted to it in a way that got me kept after the bell.  I don’t honestly remember what I did, but I do remember that once everyone had left except me – and a friend who stayed to support me – I was sure I was in trouble and I smirked.  This was my unfortunate reaction when I was nervous or in trouble for something, and it landed me in the principal’s office that day.

I was very disappointed because the vice principal (principal was busy) seemed much more concerned about my smirking at the teacher than he was about the teacher’s behaviour.  This was my first indication that as a student my guilt was assumed first and foremost, regardless of any truth I might be sharing.  Apparently, my previous record of good grades and respectful behaviour were either unknown or irrelevant to him.

I stood my ground that the teacher was wrong, and was then told that “they” would be checking in with all my other subject teachers to see how I was behaving in class.  I told him that was fine with me and that I had no concerns.  Just to be sure, I personally approached each of my other teachers after school that day to let them know they might be asked about my behaviour as a student in class (kept the details vague) and that if there was anything at all they weren’t happy about I wanted to know directly.  None of them had a problem with me and assured me that I was a good and respectful student.

I remember my dad coming to the school either the next day or not long after and going to the office with me to meet with the principal himself.  I wouldn’t give up my own position, my dad supported that, and when I asked the principal about the results of talking to my other teachers, he had nothing to say.  He decided to have my science teacher join us; the guy sat down and was acting all nice and trying to be casual about things, but I didn’t even want to look at him. When the principal asked me why, I told him I wasn’t comfortable with him and that what he did was wrong.  I don’t remember exactly what happened after that meeting, but it was near the end of the school year, and we heard over the summer that the teacher wouldn’t be returning to a school in our district.  There had been other complaints along the same line after the end of the school year, from people who probably weren’t wanting to rock the boat with him during school time.  Take that, administration.  I was not wrong.  I got used to standing alone amongst conformers.

Then came the videos

In grade nine we were all supposed to watch a video about venereal disease and how to prevent it.  The announcement of the start of the video came over the speaker when I was in English class and while the rest of the students were leaving their desks, I stayed in my seat.  My teacher came over and asked me why I wasn’t leaving, and reminded me that we were all supposed to go because it was an important educational video.  I told him that the only way to get VD was by doing something I had no intention of doing for a long time so I didn’t need to watch it.  I was “preventing it” just fine on my own.  He was a very nice and reasonable man, and he thought I had a point, so he let me stay and get back to my work.

When I got to grade eleven – a different school with a whole new set of teachers to surprise! – I found out one day during lunch hour that there would be a video shown during a class of mine later that day of an actual vasectomy surgery.  No, thank you.  I went straight to the pay phone and called my mom.  She agreed that there was no way I had to watch such a video; she called the school directly, backed me up and that was that.

Senior High, Holding my own

My grade eleven English teacher was a real winner.  She majored in English but couldn’t explain to us the proper use of who and whom (“I just do whatever sounds best”)  or the difference between a colon and a semi-colon, among many other points of study.  She had a sign-up sheet for students who wanted to help her with her regular marking and “earn” themselves a higher letter grade in the class. She spent a lot of time at the back where the guys were sitting and it wasn’t uncommon to see her sitting on the edge of their desks chatting it up, even though she was middle-aged herself.  I’m not implying that she had inappropriate intentions; she just wasn’t the most professional teacher I’ve ever had.

One day she had us move our desks into groups of four to do a project involving scissors, glue and cut outs from magazines to make collages for some stupid reason; she had previously sent a couple of people out to buy the magazines, telling us that there was still too much money left in the budget for her department so it had to be spent or they wouldn’t get it next year.  Thank you, taxpayers, for those magazines. (Meanwhile, the biology department was struggling to find enough money for the grade twelve fetal pig projects.)

Several ridiculous classroom events led me and five other students to get up and walk out of class one day because we were so frustrated.  We walked straight across the hall to the principal’s office and told him that we were learning nothing, that she was doing ridiculous things, and that we couldn’t take it anymore.  We wanted a proper teacher.  We were all A students.  He told us all about her qualifications and suggested we return to class of our own free will.  We must have eventually gone back but our uprising hadn’t been completely in vain because we had taken a stand for our own education and that was something.  It led to further discussions.

One evening not long after that, my dad took me to the school where we sat with my teacher and the principal around a large table covered with a blown up copy of the curriculum, and they tried using it to prove she was teaching us as she should be.  Interestingly enough, the way those things were worded (vaguely described and without proper explanation) we couldn’t prove her wrong by that piece of paper, but after a civil interaction, they both knew we weren’t being fooled.

I rode it out to the end of the year when, with three weeks left, she gave us our last in-class test, because she wanted to have everything all marked before the actual end of the year to save her time.  Yes, she voiced these things. The next time she asked us to do an assignment after watching a video, I asked her nicely why we had to do it.  Was it going to count for something?  She answered “no”, because the marks were done.  I suggested there was no point in wasting my time doing it then, she suggested that wasn’t a good attitude, and I sat quietly pondering her lack of logic while waiting for the bell to ring.

On final exam day, a few of us heard students of other English teachers talking about the poetry section on the final exam.  Poetry?  We had done nothing at all with poetry! Perhaps that was supposed to be happening during cut & paste time?  We ran to one of the other English teachers and asked for help so we could at least cram something into our heads before the test started.  Thankfully the other teacher was able to quickly go over the main ideas and assured us that there were only a few poetry questions.

I think she must have tried mending fences because I remember going with another friend to her house for tea one day over summer holidays.  She was probably a lot of fun socially, but students need teachers to teach.  That fall she was given a principal position at another school.  And we shook our heads …

Then there was the time in grade twelve that I skipped a pep rally on principle.  Hard to believe, I know, but the story went something like this:

Some of the teachers had actually been complaining to us in class about government budget cuts and how they were expected to cram so much more material into less class time, suggesting that they didn’t know how we were going to cover everything in the shorter time frames.  And then one afternoon there was a pep rally in the gym for one of our teams and all students were required to attend.  It was to be a two-hour event.  WE WERE EXPECTED TO SKIP AN ENTIRE AFTERNOON OF SUPPOSEDLY NOT ENOUGH CLASS TIME TO GO TO A SPORTS RALLY.  Just wanted to make sure you got that clearly.  They even locked the school doors so we couldn’t just leave school altogether and an announcement was made to that effect.  Un-freaking-believable.

So I went straight to one of my favourite teachers who wasn’t attending the rally herself and asked if I could please sit in her class and work on some of my assignments instead of wasting two hours at a pep rally.  She, being one of the sweetest and most dedicated teachers I had, completely understood my rationale, agreed with my sensible alternative choice, and at her own risk allowed me to sit in her classroom until it was over and the doors were unlocked for us to go home.  She was a tiny, sweet, humble, and unassuming English lady, but she was also a stand-up-alone-when-you-have-to kind of person, and we remained friends long after graduation.

And now, the story you’ve been waiting for …

Ok, you’ve only been waiting for it if you read my last post which hinted at my high school years.  This part – the best part – could be a whole post on its own now that I think about it.  I mean, this teacher deserves a whole post…

And really, you’ve already been reading for a long time here.  So yes, I’ve just decided to make it another post all on its own, Rebel with a cause part 2.  Stay tuned for tomorrow …

 

Just so damn tired …

12127788_f520-2

This is not about sleep, although as I reflect on what I’m writing it does make me wish I could just sleep through it all and wake up to find it was just a dream.

I’m tired and overwhelmed and I’m beginning to understand why some older people say that the world is moving too fast and they are done, they’ve seen enough, it’s all becoming too much.

But I’m only fifty-one.

I just want to know what the rules are before I leave my house each day and walk out into the public areas where I will encounter other humans.  At home, I don’t have to worry about having the wrong facial expression or saying the wrong thing.  I don’t have to make sure everything is filtered through a politically correct sieve so that I’m not violating any laws.  I can use the bathroom in peace.

Yes, I am going down that road; whether or not you go with me is up to you.  At any moment, you can close the internet window you’re using to read this post but, if you don’t, be ready for what comes next, and please don’t complain because here, in my own space, I get to say how I feel, what I think, how I view the world.  And if you are going to read it, please read ALL of it and not just the parts that reinforce what you think I mean.

I’m tired of watching our society turn into something evil.  Too dramatic for you?  I use real words for real things.  There is loud, in your face, obvious evil.  And there is subtle, flying under the radar, betcha most people don’t quite notice yet evil.  But there’s no difference.

I’m tired of turning on my computer or turning on the TV to see more news about how morality is being stomped on in favour of supposed “tolerance”.  Tolerance in our society right now is a one-way street.  If you deny that, you’re not paying attention, and you probably won’t pay attention until some random line somewhere is crossed – a line that you have drawn for yourself based on nothing more than your own judgment of when and where to limit the evil – and suddenly you can’t believe it.  I’ve heard it happen in conversations and I’ve had no words because to reply would have meant nothing to people who are so deceived as to think that THEIR line is the final straw.

I’m tired of watching governments trample and spit on the personal rights and freedoms of large groups of people because someone else is “uncomfortable”, while I’m not allowed to express my discomfort without being labeled as a bigot, homophobic or charged with some hate crime.

I’m tired of trying to put forth an attitude of sympathy for all and encouraging rules and agreements that respect everyone without forcing one agenda over another.  No one wants to hear that anymore.  If you think I’ve never done it, you’re not paying attention (for example Gender Neutral? Let’s get Comfortable …)  It’s gone too far the other way and no matter how much I give in the discussions about fairness and dignity and personal rights, these groups just keep taking more and forcing their agenda so that many others must suffer the discomfort that they are declaring to be unjust and professing to correct.  This is not tolerance; it’s abusive, the government is participating in it and forcing it on us, and too many people are turning a blind eye because THEIR line has not yet been crossed.

I will reiterate what I have often said:  I believe that all people – regardless of race, religion, sexual identity – should be treated with human dignity.  I do not condone abuse of anyone and I would stand up for any person – gay, straight, bi-sexual, transgendered, black, white, or in any other way considered a mistreated minority – if they were being bullied, abused, taunted, or discriminated against privately or publicly in my presence because of their particular situation, even if it was in a public bathroom.  But people don’t actually hear this because they have names for people like me who choose to separate behaviours and attitudes from the actual person themselves.  They want to keep things lumped together all the time so that if I don’t like something someone does, or if my moral view differs while I try to be kind to a human being, they can call me hateful and tell me I’m afraid (homophobic) and that if I’m going to love a person I also have to love what they do.

THEY make the rules.  Some will say that the reason this happens now is because for so long it’s been the other way around.  But we’re not on a school playground with some tit-for-tat system where the ball was hogged by one group and now they have to give it up to the other group and go play with something else.  Recognizing that we need to be more understanding of things as we become more enlightened than we were before, does not mean that the best and only way to grow and progress is to swing the pendulum all the way over to the other side.  If what is desired is fairness and tolerance for ALL, they are failing miserably and it will only be a matter of time before the group beginning to feel oppression now will revolt later, swing things back, and nothing will have been gained.

I do not believe that any of these people have a right to take away my own comfort or the comfort and privacy rights of children just because they can, and then cry foul if I don’t like it.  But I’m tired.

I’m feeling the apathy creeping up on me day by day and I find myself just being grateful that I have no children left to raise in a messed up world, that mine are grown and removed from so much that is now going to hurt children.  I feel for parents who have to wade through all this, being squashed at every turn and forced into line by peers, by laws.

So I just want to know what the rules are so I can get through the rest of my life without landing in jail because of some word that I shouldn’t have said, or some reaction I shouldn’t have had.

So far, this is what I know: if another person is feeling discomfort, I must allow them to do whatever they wish, wherever they wish.  If I feel discomfort, I must shut up because it doesn’t matter and no one cares.  I think I have that straight now.  Wait, can I say “straight” in this context?  I hope so.

bully

If I don’t post for a while, it might be because I’m just tired.  Or it might be because someone shared this post and I am under investigation for a crime.  I’ve proofread it pretty well just in case, but you never know…