Teenagers (Also) Aren’t Assholes

You may recall I wrote in April about how children aren’t assholes, when I realized with shock that older kids are only terrifying in groups and from a distance. I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping this in check when we go to the park, and we’ve had no incidents that make me recant that. But there’s still one thing that always hung at the back of my mind.


There are two levels to my terror of teenagers. First is that I remember being a teenager, and I was a monster. Until I was 16 I was angry, spiteful, petty, and downright rude. I tend to assume that all teenagers in a group are misanthropic sociopaths. Second is that I was also picked on pretty ruthlessly until I was 16; I was the fat girl, the ugly girl, the weird girl, et cetera. When I see a large group of teenagers it doesn’t matter that I’m nearly 25 and moderately confident and successful — oh God I’m 15 and I’m fat and they’re definitely all going to pick on me when I leave. It’s irrational, but it’s also practically Pavlovian.

Today Miles and I went to our apartment complex’s pool, and as usual it was empty. The fringe benefit of working at home — apparently I’m the only one taking my kid swimming at 2 in the afternoon. Rock. We do our thing, and after about 45 minutes a hoard of teenagers joins us. As you can expect, I’m paralyzed in terror.

There’s seven or eight of them, ranging (I’m guessing) anywhere from 17 to 12. The youngest of them can’t swim, so he stays in shallows with me and Miles. We kind of chat, and I try to stay as unassuming as possible. I hear a couple comments about, “Oh, look, a baby!” but otherwise they generally go about their business, shoving each other into the pool and whatnot.

Miles started to play with them, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they were all cool with it. They all let him push them into the pool. They learned his name and engaged him in play. They got worried one time when he stumbled and fell into the pool without warning. They tried their damnedest to help me keep him away from the deep end — none of us succeeded in that, though thankfully the deep end isn’t very deep and has enough of this weird ledge that I was able to keep footing. They even made a point of catching him if he tried to jump in before I could make it to where he was — one of the guys even catching him when he took a leap into the deep end unexpectedly. They didn’t even get upset when Miles had to inspect their bikes.

They had fun with him, and he had fun with them, and in turn I had fun with them. We got into some low-impact conversations between casing and catching Miles, and they seemed like decently intelligent, nice kids.

It’s generally said that teenagers get a bad rap, that they’re in the awkward position of being treated like children and expected to act like adults — and there’s a lot of truth to that. Despite my lingering issues left over from high school and the cultural programming that teenagers are something to fear, I got to learn firsthand today:

Teenagers can be pretty cool. Congrats, teenagers, you’re off my short list.

Literacy is Weird

I was reading to Miles the other night when I was struck by how strange reading and writing is. Here’s a combination of symbols that have no meaning except what we as a people assigned to them. Dr. Seuss put them together to tell a story, and I understand them. In turn I pass these words onto my son, in the form of Green Eggs & Ham.

Upon sharing this brilliant and overwhelming observation with Andy, he nodded and replied, “There’s a reason reading and writing used to be considered witchcraft.”

I’ll sometimes hear those stories about people who make it to high school and are functionally illiterate, and I admit that I have a hard time comprehending. I was both privileged enough that I always had access to a decent education and lucky enough that I had an aptitude for reading. I’m logically aware that there was a time when I couldn’t read or write, but I can’t remember it.

I don’t know any parent who doesn’t want their kids to love reading. When I was pregnant with Miles and we tried to work up so hopes and aspirations for our unborn child, we only really came up with, “We hope he likes to read.” So far so good; the child loves his witchcraft books. And isn’t it weird that it makes me proud? I would be just as proud if showed a particular aptitude for sports or art, but I wouldn’t be able to relate as well.

We spend to much time communicating through written word, especially on computers.

Sleep and Daily Routines

A couple of weeks ago I first heard of the best children’s book I do not yet own: Go to the Fuck to Sleep. You’ve probably heard of it. I mean, Samuel L. Jackson did the audio book. (Which is free, so you know — you should get on that. XD)

Anyway, my point is mentioning it is that it could not be more timely. As the summer has worn on Miles’s bedtime has gotten later and later, with him just completely incapable or unwilling to go to bed before it gets dark out. (I don’t blame him; I hate sleeping with lights on.)

All of  a sudden we’ve been facing bedtimes of 10:30 or 11:00 — from our usual 8:00 or 9:00. For some reason this isn’t leading to later mornings, but it is leading to later naps — which feeds back into the late bedtime. I didn’t realize how valuable those couple of hours were to my nighttime routine. I didn’t realize how much harder it is to handle my same workload with two hours shaved off the alert part of my night, and it is. I find myself back at work nights that wear on until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning.

It’s interesting how bedtime affects the whole of our daily life. Miles has been clingy and demanding, and I’m short-tempered. I don’t want to do anything because I’m exhausted, and clingy and demanding becomes angry and loud. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Which is why I haven’t gotten anything written here lately. I keep starting, and then saving posts to draft and not getting a chance to finish them. I have been on Twitter, though; 140 characters is about as far as I can think right now.

We’re trying to sneak him into bed earlier, and have had some luck with snuggling down into bed with him. I think we got him to sleep by 10:00 last night. Maybe tonight we can get him down at 9:30. Fingers crossed!

Toddlers, Food, and Trust

I was reading Why I Don’t Watch My Kids’ Weight by LiveOnceJuicy this morning, and I love it. Have I mentioned I love it? Because I do — I love the idea that we can give kids the opportunity to come to their own conclusions about food and lifestyle without making it about weight. But it got me thinking.

Food is hard, especially when it comes to feeding Miles. Some of it is that he’s 2, and trying to do anything reasonably with him is a nightmare these days. A lot of it is that I don’t understand what healthy, unmarred food impulses look like. My relationship with food is a rocky one. I eat for one of three reasons.

  1. I’m hungry.
  2. I’m not coping with something emotionally.
  3. Something sounds really, really good and I want it in my mouth right now, fullness or food sensitivity be damned.
We all know that #1 is good; you should eat when you’re hungry. We all know that #2 is bad; you shouldn’t eat your emotions. #3 is iffy for me, though I believe in me it represents a lack of self-control that colors a lot of my life — I don’t want to wait until tomorrow, or even dinner, to have something that suddenly occurs to me as delicious. I have a craving. I want to sate it. Now.
So, I have a basic common-sense understanding of how I should feel about food, though I don’t always apply that logic when I’m wrist deep in a gallon-sized bowl of popcorn. As such I’m sometimes stumped for what to expect a child who, as far as I can tell, doesn’t really have cravings1 nor the impulse to turn to box of macaroni & cheese for emotional support. 
I let him eat when he’s hungry. I lay out his fruit in the morning and leave the plate in the same spot. Some mornings he devours it, and others it might take him all day to get through one apple. He drinks water or sometimes milk or slightly less often juice — and sometimes I have a pop and he drinks that. Really, I let him eat on a basis of, “As long as he’s eating something.”

Again, I have the logical knowledge. I know that three large meals a day is not the healthiest way to eat — though I also know that three healthy meals are damn good things. Miles has been eating on demand all his life, and I know that he knows his body a damn lot more than I do; he is the best judge of when he’s hungry, and to a certain extent even what he needs. I’ve found the easiest way to guide that is to have certain momma-approved foods2 in the house, and let him take it from there.

It’s just… Sometimes he hardly seems to eat anything at all, and I can never tell if it’s because I have no concept of healthy food portions or because he really hasn’t eaten that much today.

Like a lot of adults my age, I grew up with the dual messages of “You’re (getting) fat, that’s bad,” and “Clean your plate, or you’re be in trouble — not to mention no dessert!” Neither was exactly explicitly stated like that — okay, the clean your plate thing, sure — but until I hit a certain age there was less following natural hunger cues and more avoiding punishment while reaching sweet tasty treat nirvana.

I know now that treats as a reward make them more desirable, and that all the time spent cleaning my plate may have skewed how my body interprets being hungry. I’m not going to lie: I can pack away herculean amounts of food before I feel full. And I’m not blaming my parents/grandparents for this; it’s not like they were trying. It just happened.

It takes a lot for me to trust that Miles is eating enough, especially recently as he got taller and when he lays down his little ribs poke out. I kind of have to do what we did when he was breastfeeding regularly: is he peeing? is he active? does he seem sick?

Meanwhile, I have to lay my food hang-ups by the wayside and try to model a healthy eating and lifestyle as best I can manage. It kind of sucks — I want a fucking gallon-sized bowl of popcorn right now — but at the same time I recognize it as a good thing.

I can do this now and redraw my relationship with food — and help avoid seeing the same issues mirrored in Miles as he grows.

That last part? That’ll be the best part.

1. He does have things he likes more than others — if he’s drinking milk and he sees me with a can of pop he will come to steal my drink, which is an interesting reminder to save my junk food for when he’s asleep or not looking take better care of what I’m ingesting.
2. Not always to be mistaken for healthy foods. I try to an extent, but like I said earlier — hot dogs.

Wordy Wednesday: Convertible Dress Attempt #1

I had seen the tutorial for the convertible dress over at Rostitchery a while back, and was intrigued — but not enough to actually try it. Then the other week I saw Amy of Anktangle’s post Conquering the Convertible/Infinity Dress, and after following some of the links she shared (namely the circle skirt tutorial and the post about how that damn waistband is confusing) I decided to go for it

A couple of observations for if I decide to go to it again:

  • I measured the skirt at the waist, which was perfect when I wore it as a skirt — but when it came time to wear it as a dress it did not wrap around my chest right if I wore it at the waist. I ended up wearing it up under my bust, but then it didn’t fit quite right.
  • I feel like it was hard to wear without showing off too much of my boob, or just an unflattering amount of my fat sides. Some of that might be self-confidence issues, however.
  • The skirt was way too big. I don’t know if I did the math wrong, but I ended up taking the skirt waist in my at least three inches. I wish I’d made note of that, because I intended to use the skirt pattern again. 
And things that are amazing?
  • I love the circle skirt. Whether or not I make another dress, I’m definitely making more circle skirts.
  • My mother-in-law informs me that it looks nice, lol; I wore it up to the farm.
  • It was a warm day and I was so comfortable. I hate heat, and this was so lightweight.
  • It really wasn’t that hard. I’m a really amateur sewer and you can see it — one of my straps has actually come loose at one corner. I did get confused with the waistband, but now that I get it wouldn’t take so long.
Onto the pictures!

Convertible Dress Photos

Convertible Dress Photos

Convertible Dress Photos

Convertible Dress Photos

Convertible Dress Photos

Convertible Dress Photos