Dolls Are For Girls, Arguments Are For The Immature, and The Bible Is For The Non-Religious

I was at a thrift store the other day, buying way too much stuff, and since I kept noticing and going back to pay for more and more, the woman at the register and I got to talking.

We talked about ties, and then the casinos, and then union jobs. Then she mentioned she voted for Trump. I said I didn’t, but I said it with a smile and followed with “but I do hope he does a great job and I support him because I want my country to succeed”.

Then we talked about baby names and she liked Holden and the other two I have picked out and others that are uncommon (she didn’t like “Thor” or “Michael”). Then she mentioned she’s against vaccines and asked if I get my son vaccinated and I said yes, with a smile, and just played it off like I never looked that much into them but made sure to stress that my son shows no signs of any disorder or syndrome or ailment.

Then I bought a chair and she said “This would be a perfect time-out chair and I replied “That’s what I’m going to use it for!”.

Then we talked about kids some more and I don’t remember why but she commented “You never know, by the time he’s 6 he might tell you he’s a girl with the way the world is today” and I said “Down, girl” to myself and “Heh, yeah” to her. I tried to sway the conversation by stating that my son is naturally drawn to both (stereotypically labeled) “girl” and “boy” toys. And she got my hopes up when she remarked that her grandson sometimes plays with dolls and “You shouldn’t tell them it’s wrong” and I cried out “YES!” but before I could add that it teaches them that their natural likes are bad, she continued “You just have to guide them” and at this point I knew it was going downhill so I tried to say that I didn’t mind when my son carried a purse because he was just copying me and hell, he held his own things for once. And she was nice and didn’t argue but I don’t think she was really paying attention because she went on with how she “guides” her grandson by telling him which toys are for boys and which are for girls (which is somehow different from telling him which toys are right and wrong) because “It’s god’s will, it’s natural, god is nature, and you can’t go against the word of god”. I just smiled and pretended to notice a movie for sale and excused myself while she helped another customer (who also voted for Trump and was on the fence about vaccines, I learned).

This story has two points:

1. I managed to control myself, mainly my mouth and attitude, even though I feel VERY strongly against her beliefs and am an advocate for the other side. This is the first time I recall that happening in my life.

Short version: I’m maturing.

2. People need to stop justifying their ignorant beliefs with “it’s what my religion says” when it’s NOT WHAT THEIR RELIGION SAYS. SHOW ME WHERE IN THE DAMN BIBLE IT SAYS BOYS HAVE TO PLAY WITH TRUCKS AND GIRLS HAVE TO PLAY WITH DOLLS. Spoiler, it doesn’t. It says children should obey and honor their parents. It says girls should be trained to be good wives and mothers. It says women should submit to their husbands (which can be interpreted in many different ways) and be silent in church and aren’t allowed to teach. It does not say what children can play with or that certain toys or childhood activities are for specific genders. It does not say that pink is a color solely for girls but it’s okay for girls and boys to like blue. It doesn’t say shit about your child being damaged for life if they don’t follow the fucked up rules 21st century society made up for them (to profit from them, mainly, but that’s another post).

Let your children be children. Let them explore. Let them find their own attractions. Don’t steal their souls because you’re too intolerant to let them be “different”. If we didn’t pigeonhole (“guide”) them into these trite, imaginary labels, they wouldn’t even be different, because plenty of boys and girls would be playing with whatever toy they naturally found appealing.

Short Version: Let kids be kids, read the bible before you preach God’s word.

Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

So I broke my own rule this year.

You might remember when I posted about My Christmas last year. And also when I ruined a lot of little boys’ and girls’ dreams when I told them Santa Isn’t Real.

If you’re new here and too lazy to go read those posts, because I totally sympathize with anyone who has the lazy virus (yes, I made it up, but I also think it’s a real thing — upcoming post on that later), in short I explain that I hate Santa. Not really, but I don’t tell my son that Santa is real, Santa doesn’t bring him presents, there is no magic on Christmas other than the real magic of love and family and Momma finding ways to pull money out of thin air because she goes way too overboard with gift-giving.

At least, that’s how it used to be. Until that jolly old bastard forced his way into my life.

Stern Santa

Photo Credit: LadyDragonflyCC – >;< / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 / (cropped)

I have never, not once, not ever, encouraged a belief in Santa. But that bitch is everywhere. Every time anyone talks to my son, they ask him if he’s excited for Santa to bring him presents. They ask him what he wants from Santa. They tell him he better be good or Santa won’t come. They lie, because Santa ain’t bringing shit and Momma is going to get Holden way too many presents no matter how bad he is because she’s a sucker. So I tried not to lie.

I tried not to lie not only for my own selfish reasons (I wanted the credit, I didn’t feel like dealing with my son’s devastation when he found out the truth, etc.) but for the world. I don’t like the concept of Santa for many reasons, but some of them are kind-hearted. I don’t like the concept of Santa because what happens when one kid gets the pony he asked for but another doesn’t even get the pair of socks she wanted? Is Santa mad at her? What happens when rich parents buy their daughter a whole room’s worth of presents but poor parents can’t even afford to give their son a decent meal? Did Santa forget about him? What happens when the really bad kids get all sorts of stuff but the super sweet and kind children get little to nothing? I’ll tell you what happens — the super sweet and kind kids think they weren’t sweet and kind enough and become broken, while the really bad kids realize that they can get away with whatever the hell they want, because Santa is a pushover.

I know there are a lot of systems in place to make sure some of those things don’t happen. Toy drives and food banks and the like. And that’s wonderful, and I’ll talk more about that in a moment. But, what happens when a child’s world is turned so upside down that they don’t want toys or clothes or food? What if they want their sick mother to get better, or their deceased father to come back, or for their brother to stop coming into their room at night, or to have a home bigger than a cardboard box? What does Santa do then? There are some pretty amazing people in the world who have just the right thing to say to these kids to restore their hope, but sadly not every child gets paired up with such a person. Sometimes, kids won’t even tell an adult that these are their wishes so no one even knows, but Santa knows because they wrote a letter to the North Pole. I just think that “Santa” should be more realistic, more attainable. I don’t know how Saint Nick turned into a fat man in a red suit shimmying down chimneys to leave everyone a puppy, but what if Santa was more of an idea than an actual person?

Instead of having that image in their heads, we could tell children that Santa was a helping hand. A kind stranger. A welcomed friend. That family member who took you in for the night so you could have a home-cooked meal and a roof over your head, that’s Santa. That stranger who donated a toy so a needy child somewhere would have something to unwrap on Christmas, that’s Santa. The friend who gives you their kids’ old coats and shoes, that’s Santa. The teacher who takes extra time to really listen and speaks those words I talked about one paragraph up, that’s Santa. Anyone who keeps the hope alive, those people are the Santa I want my son to know about. It doesn’t have to be any less magical just because it’s real. Reality is filled with the best kind of magic, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find it.

And I did find it this year, which is why my grinch heart grew ten sizes and I broke all the rules I just spent 800 words telling you about.

At first everything was going according to plan. My son and I had a little talk and I was like “You know Santa isn’t real, right? He’s just pretend. But you can’t tell anyone because some people think he’s real, so it’s a secret.” and my son was like “Yeah! Okay!” and everything was good. We went to a Christmas parade later that night with Holden’s best friend and her parents and Santa was there but we didn’t feel like waiting in the ridiculously long line to meet him so while the adults were discussing it Holden mentioned that Santa was just pretend and that Mommy got all his presents and I had to remind him that he had to be quiet about it because Sylvia didn’t know about the secret but thankfully she was far enough away that she didn’t hear anything.

Then the next day I was telling Jack about how proud I was that Holden was so cool with the whole thing, but Jack doesn’t agree with me and wants Holden to believe so he wasn’t convinced and called Holden over to ask him if Santa was real or not. Holden said he was. I was confused. I asked him a few things and did a Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” (which pretty much means I’m so stupid for those of you who have lived on Pluto for the past 20 years) when it became very obvious that there was no way for me to have kept it real. In an above statement I said “that bitch is everywhere” and I was not lying. There are Santa decorations on people’s houses and in stores. There are Santa shows and movies on TV. That fucking elf (which I will have no part of, even if does make me a horrible parent and destroy my son’s sense of wonder) is even in his school, which I think is horrible because what about the other religions? But that can be addressed later. In the end, I came to the conclusion that he really wanted to believe in Santa, so I decided not to be that asshole parent who fights with her kid over his imagination. I decided to let him believe.

I’ve still never uttered the words “Santa is real” and if Holden ever asks me I’m going to tell him the truth. And it was difficult to find some sort of middle ground where I don’t feel like I’m lying to my kid but I’m also letting him relish in these childhood moments that he obviously wants.

I didn’t find it. Over the next week I realized there was no way I couldn’t lie. There’s still a part of me that doesn’t like it, but we’re having fun so I guess it’s okay? I don’t know. I’m still torn. I guess I’m like Darth Vader (speaking of which, STAR WARS amirite?! I haven’t seen it yet but I plan to on Tuesday or Wednesday so SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTHS about anything that happens), because he is good (and realistic) but then he turns to the Dark Side for a long time but he still holds on to some of the light for his son that makes its way through and saves everyone in the end. Except for himself. I hope I don’t have to sacrifice myself when it comes time to stop this charade. I’d be all “Holden, I am your mother. Santa is a ruse. Run child, save yourself!” because obviously all of the elves would be riding the reindeer and shooting candy canes at my Death Star’s hole. That much sugar isn’t good for anyone.

I’ve gotten way off course so let’s bring it back. We left off at Over the next week:
my son decided he wanted to write Santa a letter. So I helped him. He first asked for Santa to bring his friend Sylvia presents, then said he would like a “Transformer Optimus Prime that turns into a truck”. That’s when I knew I’d made the right decision. Because any kid who puts his friends first and only asks for one thing deserves to believe whatever they want. That’s also when I realized I’d have to make another trip to the toystore even though I had previously thought all my shopping was done.

Then my mom wanted to take Holden on The Santa Express, a train in my area that goes 45 minutes in one direction, makes about a 20 minute stop so you can explore, then goes back another 45 minutes in the other direction. Doesn’t sound too exciting but I forgot to mention that Santa himself, and some of his elves, are on the train. Plus it’s an old, cool train. Holden loves trains and Santa and elves and had never ridden a train before or met Santa (except for in those mall pictures I forced him to take) so it seemed pretty freaking perfect, actually. And according to my mother, it was.

Holden brought his letter and they sat in the Cafe car at actual tables in actual chairs and snacked and played with a Christmas Rubik’s cube (that I’ve since hidden because fuck those things). Then Santa and the elves walked down the train and met with, talked to, and spent time with every single person. It wasn’t a quick hi-hello-snap-a-shot-goodbye — “Holly” the elf came first and spent a good long while talking to Holden and waiting him out while his shyness subsided, then Santa sat down with him and read his letter and watched him coloring and talked to him about Christmas, and then my mom took a picture.

Santa and Holly the elf

When I was typing the description for this, I put “Seawhore” instead of “Seashore” and I think that’s what we should call it from now on.

Holden got home and was very excited to tell me all about it. So, I think possibly being attacked by killer candy cane-wielding elves and their reindeer counterparts is worth it.

And over the next week he’d ask me if the elves were done making his present or if Santa had come yet and other various questions that were based on a lie, and I answered them all, according to the lie. (I did not, however, tell him that Santa wouldn’t bring his present if he was bad. I told him I’d beat him with a shoe and lock him in the closet.) (Just kidding, jeez. I told him that I would give his presents to someone else. Even though we all know I won’t. But he already knows I’m a sucker, I don’t want him thinking the same thing about this mythical creature of his.)

You’d think I’d be done by now, but I’m not.

Remember my last two posts talking about the James Garfield Miracle over on The Bloggess? It’s where people who are in need and people who want to make a difference all come together and make magic happen. See, there’s that real magic I was talking about before. The kind people who helped gift I-don’t-even-know-how-many children (and some adults and fur babies) are the real Santas. And the people who were gifted know that. There were so many praises to their “Santas”, “Secret Santas,” “Elves,” and “Angels” it was heartmelting. (That’s my new favorite term, by the way.)

I had originally gone there to tell Jenny (aka The Bloggess) how amazing she was and had hoped to purchase someone a small gift, spend maybe $20 or less. Then I realized my stepkids needed help so I asked for it. Then things turned around and I was blessed (for lack of a better term) to be able to get my stepchildren really cool gifts (not the main, big one they both wanted, but still awesome gifts nonetheless) and give back and help the tribe.

While searching through the lists to figure out exactly who to help and what to get them, I saw a woman post that her son had asked for a Flash costume, but he wasn’t expecting to receive it because “Santa can’t make superheroes”. I had to get it. Not only because it reminded me so much of my son, but because of that word — can’t. I wanted to scream from the rooftops “SANTA CAN DO ANYTHING” and I don’t even believe, or want my child to believe. Where was this coming from?

I got her son the costume and her daughter a poster and added a gift message — “Santa can do anything if you believe. So can Mommy. She’s the real superhero.”

So I broke my own rules. But my son is happy and I am happy and a bunch of other parents are happy and so many kids will be happy on Christmas morning. Love, guys. That’s what Christmas is about. And I love each and every one of you. So if you still believe in Santa, or insist on teaching your kids he’s real, that’s fine with me.

Your Child’s First Bully

[Throwback Thursday — Originally published March 2014]

My son is almost three years old. He has been classified as “all boy” by many of my family members and friends when they see him bouncing off the walls, playing in dirt, crashing cars, and shooting fake guns. Other people have literally said the words “he might be gay” because, at the same time, his dressers are pink, he has several baby dolls he nurtures and cuddles as if they were real, he likes Barbies and Dora, and has a pink shopping cart he brings every time we go grocery shopping.

Breaking Free of Traditional Gender Roles

Photo Credit: Paul Windle / Found On: nytimes.com

Honestly, his sexual orientation doesn’t matter to me, not because he’s so young, but because it never will. I will always love him regardless. And, I am more than happy to buy him the pinkest, “girliest” toy on the shelves if he asks for it, because I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. 

Things, material things, are not masculine or feminine. We have defined them as so, but they’re not.

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My Christmas

I’m going to tell you about my Christmas.

I’m not religious. At all. Whatsoever. I’m actually agnostic. It’s not that I hardcore don’t believe, but, well, I don’t believe either. If that makes sense.

In other words, I’m not ruling out that there is a god. Maybe there is. It is a possibility, yes. But I haven’t experienced this god, so I don’t believe. Yet. Maybe I will someday, maybe not. But right now I simply don’t.

I don’t have anything against you if you believe. I think it’s great — I think religion can be life-saving for many people. Just don’t try to push your beliefs on me and we’ll be the best of friends.

I’m not religious but I celebrate Christmas.

Why? Is it for tradition, or family, or the love in the air?

No. It’s for the motherfucking presents.

There, I said it.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I still have traditions and still enjoy the love in the air. But really, I simply adore to give my loved ones presents. And I know I can do this any time of the year, but I choose to do it on Christmas.

I’m one of those people you hate, because I’ve turned your sacred holiday into a consumerism one.

And you know what? That’s my prerogative. That’s how I do things.

I like shopping for my son (and others) and hiding the presents and wrapping the presents and seeing the look of joy on his (and others’) face(s) when he (and they) tear into the wrapping paper. I like wasting paper, since we just throw it out anyway. I like spending too much money and getting shit people don’t need, because when else are they going to get it?

Before I had my own family, my Christmas used to be about family. Going here and going there and waking up at the asscrack of dawn and rushing out of the house without my coffee.

I hated it. I hated fitting in every single person in one damn day. I hated sitting there, poor, watching them open gifts from every single other person but me. I hated the awkwardness of seeing people I hadn’t for a year and telling them what I was up to and getting judgmental glances.

So I stopped it. That may make it sound like Christmas is for me, but it’s not. It’s for my son.

I celebrate Christmas to spoil my son with everything he doesn’t need and everything he wants, which may or may not involve seeing a few other family members as well, on our own time.

This is my Christmas.

My Christmas is going out on Black Friday, because why shop on another day if I’ll probably find better deals on this one?

My Christmas is donating one (or more) of those toys to a toy drive for kids in need.

My Christmas is going through all of my son’s old toys and donating half of them, too.

My Christmas is waiting to get a tree until the middle of the month, because why keep that enormous thing in the house for more than two weeks?

My Christmas is slowly, over the course of a month, wrapping way too many presents and keeping them hidden from my toddler and somehow finding places for them all under the tree.

My Christmas is waking up whenever the hell we wake up — sometimes early, sometimes late — and opening our presents immediately.

My Christmas is taking some time to let my son play with his new stuff, and enjoying it with him.

My Christmas is realizing that so many other people don’t have it as good as we do, and hoping for them that some day soon they will.

My Christmas is then, after we’re settled with all our nice new stuff, calling our family to see if they want to see us (if we’re not too late).

My Christmas is materialistic. I admit it. But it’s also about my family. Not yours. Not your traditions, not your religion. It’s mine.

Ironically, this is not my photo. (Photo Credit: Alain Matthes / texexample (CC BY 2.5)

Ironically, this is not my photo.
(Photo Credit: Alain Matthes / texexample (CC BY 2.5) )

Overcoming the Clouds is Different for Everyone

I feel the need to put two things out into the world right now:

1. There are different types of depression.

2. It’s not always that easy.

There have been a lot of posts lately about clouds. Most of us use clouds to symbolize depression, or the onset of depression, or a depressed period, or, you get the point. With winter coming / here, many of us with depression, bipolar, seasonal affective disorder, etc. have been struggling.

And in response to these clouds posts, there have been a lot of posts trying to help us find the light. And I thank you for what you’re doing, and I appreciate your advice and your words and your encouragement, but it’s not always that easy, and there are different types of depression.

I feel the need to remind everyone that no two people are the same. We all handle things differently. So, while you may have a reason to be depressed, I don’t. It just hits me. There’s nothing I can do. Maybe you’re dealing with a lot right now and it’s all too much and you can’t help but retreat. On the other hand, my life is going rather smoothly and suddenly I can’t get out of bed. Neither of us are worse off than the other, and we’re both going through legitimate depression. But maybe, just maybe you can do some of that self-help stuff to work you through it. I can’t.

There’s always something you can do. For me, it was seeing a doctor and getting on meds. But, it’s not always that easy. It took me months, months to work up the courage and energy just to pick up the damn phone. From there, it took me more months to get an appointment for therapy. From there, it took me more months to get an appointment to see a psychiatrist, and from there, I had to wait more months for my meds to kick in. My worst clouds hit last winter, and I’m just now starting to see the light.

This wasn’t a matter of forcing myself outside — I physically could not get out of bed.

This wasn’t a matter of looking for the good in my life — I had plenty and knew it.

This was simply a case of an imbalance in my brain. Only therapy and meds could help me, which they are, now. But in a sense you’re right — I did have to force myself to do something. It’s just not as easy as doing anything.

Some people can’t see the good in their lives, either because it’s already there and not helping, or it’s not there at all, or they just can’t see it. Some people can’t force themselves out of bed. Some people can’t afford a fancy new sunlamp. Some people aren’t all people.

Some people can focus on the good, and turn things around. Some people can get their endorphins going with exercise. Some people can afford the best gadgets. Some people aren’t all people.

So, to those experiencing the clouds, I feel for you. I can’t begin to say I know what you’re going through because in reality, I don’t. My depression, or bipolar, or whatever, is not the same as yours. But I am struggling right beside you, and I am here to help you through those dark days. And I encourage you to do whatever helps you, even if it’s letting the clouds take over for a while.

And to those who want to help us see the light, I thank you. I do. But I also remind you that our depression is not yours, and sometimes it’s not that easy. And I encourage you to keep reaching out, with that reminder.

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