This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter…

And make believe… It’s all the homework due this weekend!

If you don’t have the earworm, we have very different taste in music.

I really don’t have much to say except WHOA! I’m pretty behind. I mean, I’m gonna get it done. I’m not afraid it won’t all happen, but I am going to be running my butt off, well, the rest of the year!

20130920_222112School is crazy. I’m so behind in reading, I’m skinning by. Sorry, Stephanie, my friend from college who always had a knack for kicking me in the pants when I needed it, academically. I’ll catch up, I swear, and I’m not blowing stuff off. Well, maybe at the moment while I write this I am, but really, I’m moving all day long. There’s just a lot to pack into those waking hours! And those kids want to eat and wear clean clothes every day!

Oh, and that brings me to my sad house. It’s a mess. I’ve been limping along cleaning toilets when they need it, and keeping the laundry going, and even running the dishwasher every day, but nothing else is getting done. The kitchen floor is in such a need for a sweep it’s sad. And the living/dining room areas are full of folded laundry and kids’ clothes and shoes in flux between seasons. I wrote about the whole season change chaos in the spring. That same thing is going on for fall now, and with the exception that now Baby can wear some of the stuff Middle wore a couple years ago, it’s the same process. What to do with what, and pondering my blessings.

So, yup, I’m swimming upstream. And it just occurred to me this evening that it isn’t going to get any better. I’m in class until November 3rd. The following weekend I have a two day workshop for school. The Monday after THAT I begin my annual week plus of solo parenting. Immediately after THAT is Thanksgiving! That’s it, folks, we’re smack dab in the holiday season then! And between now and the end of classes, life is crazy, too. Daddy Bird is Popcorn Kernel for Middle’s Cub Scout pack. There’s a camp-out for for Daddy, Girlie, and Middle. There’s numerous short assignments and papers, plus the usual round of school stuff, Middle’s fall baseball season, piano lessons, church and choir practice.

No, I’m no busier than any other typical (whatever the hell that is) suburban mom. Life is tough. Suck it up, right? Right. I will. I just looked down the timeline and had a bit of a panic attack tonight. It will all be alright. Really. But I feel a little like I did at the beginning of the summer. Here it comes. It’s gonna be a fun ride, but a ride, nonetheless!

Oh, and a couple other things, while you’re reading. Middle caught a pop fly in tonight’s game. He was proud of himself and I was proud of him, too. Then he ran off the field with the rest of his team and they all congratulated him and patted him on the back like teammates will, and I swear his head was about to explode he was so proud. I got all teary eyed watching him beam like that. He needed that.

And Baby is potty trained. That’s right. I’m calling it. The kid does his business in the potty. Yeah, we have some accidents from time to time, and sometimes he’s not happy about being made to sit on the potty. Still, he does his business and moves on. It’s all good. 🙂 Now this family wants a puppy. You know because there’s not much else going on around here. :

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More social media procrastinating

It seems that my most effective tool for procrastinating on school assignments is social media. I’ve recently picked up playing on Twitter again. I use it to follow all sorts of library and archive organizations, about six teenage girls who are cousins, nieces, or friends of them, and a few college and high school friends. Mostly, I keep the college and high school friends to Facebook, though, because, well, I’m over 30. Seems the kids don’t hang on Facebook much, now that a bunch of us middle-aged folks (read: parents) have taken over. Nevermind that I joined Facebook when the earlier mentioned crop of young ladies from my family were entering middle school. Yes, they came into MY world, as far as I’m concerned. But yeah, I know I jumped into a younger world there, and whatever, I get it. I’m old, they aren’t, and now they hang out on Twitter.

So, anyway, I’ve been tweeting. Look for me there. I’m very boring.

But I have this new hobby on Facebook. Before I go into all the creepy stalker details, I should remind you of a few details of my story. So, I was born in Ohio, went to elementary school in North Carolina, moved to Georgia in middle school, and went to college in South Carolina. A few years after graduating, and bouncing back and forth between Georgia and South Carolina, I decided to pack it up and move to Ohio. Lots of extended family here, right? And I just felt a pull to come “home” even though I hadn’t lived here since I was four. All of that is just to tell you that I thought of all of these places as very distinct periods in my life. I had entirely separate groups of friends in each place, right? Well, sort of. I had friends through church in Georgia who knew a few friends from college. I went to a Lutheran school, that wasn’t too shocking. There had been youth gatherings, and meet-ups at the regional church camp in North Carolina, Lutheridge. Then some of my friends met other people I knew when we got old enough to be counselors. A little more overlap. Nothing major.

Then in 2007, I joined Facebook, as did a whole bunch of my mid-30s peers. I found a few more connections. Degrees of separation, I guess. I found out my pastor’s son from Georgia had once dated my pastor’s daughter from North Carolina. There was even a picture of them together on Facebook. Neat. Now, I differ from some people in my approach to social media. If I ever knew you, you can friend me, and I might friend you. I’m not picky. It is so easy to move someone to the “acquaintance” list, or just leave them off the accepted list. I follow the “if I wouldn’t want it on a billboard” approach to posting, and so I like having a large friends list. Besides, how else could I keep up with who YOU know, or who you friends know?

So, this brings me to my new hobby. I love to browse the friends lists of my friends looking for one and two degrees of separations that we didn’t know existed.

I know, it’s a tad creepy. I’m sorry. It’s really just a way for me to kill time when I should be doing homework, but at the same time, it’s fascinating. Turns out, a neighbor from when we first moved to North Carolina (I was FOUR!) later moved from that town to another and lived near a girl I’d later go to college with in South Carolina, and none of us would make the connection until Facebook. I’ve got friends from high school who are just one degree removed from friends from college, and even one friend I recently made here in Ohio, though she did her undergraduate work in Georgia. And another mom in the neighborhood grew up in a town north of here where my mother’s father’s family is from. Just discovered a couple one-degree connections there after friending a cousin at the family reunion today.

Now, don’t get all weirded out. Somewhere out there, some guy who had a crush on you in high school is blowing up your Facebook snapshots to some incredible magnification to see if you still have that one tiny mole under your chin. I have not reached that level of stalkerdom, yet. I just like to find the connections.


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FYI: It’s NOT that simple!

Yup, I’m probably going to piss some people off, but I’m gonna just take the risk. A few days ago I came across a blog post that has apparently made the rounds on Facebook and other social media, called FYI (if you’re a teenage girl), by Kimberly Hall. Mrs. Hall is the Director of Women’s Ministry at All Saints Presbyterian Church in Austin, TX. I mention her position just to give her a little credibility that her intent is good. Doesn’t mean I’d likely agree with her on every point of theology, or even most, or for that matter all parenting points, but it does mean that she’s likely given these issues some real thought and not just rattled them off with a self-righteous zeal at the top of her mind.

So, Mrs. Hall is of the mind that teenage girls should be more careful about the things they put on Facebook. (Here we agree and I’ll elaborate on my opinion shortly.) She regularly gets together with her three teenaged sons and one pre-teen daughter, and looks through the social media scene with them. (Not sure that’s how we’ll handle social media in our house, but we haven’t had to cross that bridge, yet, so it’s still to be determined.) She blocks those girls who might be “tempting” her boys to “impure thoughts.” (Okay, here Mrs. Hall and I part ways, though I think she means well. I completely disagree with this approach, but I’ll get to that, too.)

Now lots of people are offended by this mother’s approach and she’s been accused of everything from slut shaming to irresponsible child rearing. There are all sorts of responses on other people’s blogs now, and here I go writing one, too. I was going to link to some of them, but I don’t want to get too off track. A simple Google search brings up almost 140,000 of them. Most of them are offended that she has put out the message that teenage girls bodies are bad, boys bodies are wholesome (she did include a bunch of pictures of her shirtless boys), and that it is entirely a girl’s responsibility to be sure no boy or man, for that matter, sees her a sexual object. After all, the male of our species is completely incapable of controlling either his eyes or his thoughts, right? Well, no, and I don’t for one second think that’s Mrs. Hall’s point.

Yes, it’s true, how a man looks at a woman, or young girl, and what he thinks when he looks at her, are not her responsibility. Each man, or boy, is responsible for his own heart and mind, and certainly the direction of his gaze. But why would we not tell our teenage daughters that it is silly, pointless, and degrading to ATTEMPT to control them. Posing in your bedroom without a bra, back arched, sultry pout and all, are DESIGNED to control the thoughts of the men and boys for whom they post these pictures. It is an ATTEMPT to make those males on their friends list see them as a sexual object, at least at that moment. Maybe not every pajama selfie by a teenage girl is taken with that goal, but to say that NONE of them are is disingenuous and does these girls another disservice. Will the young men who view these be destined to never see her as anything but a sexual object? No, of course not! But he has now gotten the message that she WANTS to be thought of that way. How horribly confusing to him. And NO, I’m not saying that the young lady wearing a short skirt is asking to be raped, or even to have sex. That is NOT the same thing.

We all agree that our society has over sexualized woman, and that our daughters are being pressured in ridiculous ways to be conscious of their sexuality from an insanely young age. It’s no wonder that they are trying harder and harder to “be sexy” from younger and younger ages. But that’s not what I want for my daughter. I don’t want her to post those pajama selfies. I don’t want it to even occur to her that she should post those. I don’t want her to spend one second ever feeling that she needs the kind of injection of self-esteem that might be gained from seeing how many “likes” or comments she can get from posting a sexy selfie intended to cause her male classmates to imagine being there in bed with her.  I can hope for the best and tell her body is wonderful, which it is, but why would I not also tell her to knock off the selfies with no bra? Why would I not point out how much I disapprove when I see her friends doing it?

And, boys! Yes, you are in control! Here’s a good post with the message I want my boys to get. But even that is almost too far the other way. Boys, you are totally and completely in control of your thoughts and eyes, and playing the victim or blaming anyone else for your thoughts and actions will always turn out badly. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t beware of someone, anyone, attempting to manipulate your thoughts, particularly in a sexual way. Not because she might succeed, and not because you might lose some of that control that you cannot lose, but because it says something about her. It tells you first of all that she thinks that’s a healthy way to interact with you. It tells you that she is gaining some amount, large or small, of self esteem by attempting to exercise a sexual power. She likely hasn’t given it that much thought. She hasn’t thought through the whole thing, but to say that she isn’t hoping for a whole lot of attention as a result of that post is not realistic. That attention gives her some boost of self-esteem, and I’m sorry that she feels she needs it. It doesn’t mean she’s a whore, or that she’s slutty, or that she has any intent to act on the thoughts she might be hoping to provoke.

They aren't teenagers, yet, but sometimes it feels like a freight train barreling straight at me!

They aren’t teenagers, yet, but sometimes it feels like a freight train barreling straight at me!

In the end it’s all about judgement, right? Mrs. Hall got all sorts of grief for judging those girls in their jammies. We want to teach our boys not to judge girls for posting pictures in nothing but a towel. We want to work hard, like this mother did, not to judge Mrs. Hall and her parenting decisions for her post. But none of that is realistic, either. No, we don’t want to make hard decisions on what kind of person someone is based solely on how short their skirt is on a given Tuesday. We shouldn’t BLOCK a young lady’s profile completely based on one poorly advised selfie. We shouldn’t decide a mother is screwing up her sons because of one rashly formed family social media policy. But as humans, we are always categorizing and organizing and drawing inferences based on available information. We HAVE to. Our brains are just wired that way, and we’ve been doing it since birth. The only part of that we can change is HOW we do it, and how permanent those judgements are.

All I’m getting at is that this is a tough parenting dilemma. There are a lot of people making all sorts of absolute statements and getting more and more polarized about this and SO MANY other things. Why must every issue be all or nothing? I want my sons to know they are in control of their thoughts, but it’s not realistic to expect them, as hormone-crazed teenagers, to look at that braless cutie and NOT have a sexual thought. I want my daughter to know that her body is fantastic, and a gift, and though it will give her lots of sexual pleasure, it is not dirty, but I also don’t want her posting pictures like those we’ve been talking about all week. There is a medium. There are so many shades of grey.