Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Family, Friends, Rants and Raves

Pinkie Toes

Posted on Apr 13, 2011 in Featured, Rants |

Pinkie Toes

My son once wore nail polish. It was black, or maybe it was blue. I would only let his little 3-year-old tootsies be painted “boy” colors. And really, the only reason I let him get his toe nails painted was because his twin sister was getting hers painted, and, well, there you go. On another transgender moment in parenting, I once let him wear  fairy wings, a pink princess dress and pink Fancy Nancy high heels too, but he ditched them before he could get to the grocery store, claiming, “Girl stuff can’t go in my car seat,” (dang fairy wings).

I’m pretty hard core about boy stuff being boy stuff and girl stuff being girl stuff. I’m sure it comes from raising my son in a same-sex household by two women and a twin sister; I’m particularly sensitive to making sure my Thing 1 is alllll boy.

JCrew got nailed today when Jenna, the company’s president and focus of their email marketing campaign, was photographed with her son painting his toenails bright neon pink. Conservative media went completely postal saying insane freak-o-matic things on-air, accusing JCrew of ““blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.” Transgendered children? What the smack are you talking about? Fox News went on to claim that the little boy would need therapy some day for his neon pink tootsies. And then I got mad.

There is little to celebrate about the painful acknowledgement of a transgendered child. And what the hell is in that nail polish that could make someone transgendered? Whatever it is, Glen Beck has been using too much of it. Or maybe I used too much of it and it made me fall in love with a woman — or wait, maybe not enough bright neon nail polish. That’s it! My mom didn’t paint my nails pink enough! That’s how I must have ended up with La Gringa. Oh, it’s so clear now.

I know a child who is transgender. The pain for the parents is unsurpassed. The sheer love for the child is a force of nature — they protect their son so passionately, working with therapists and family members to try to ease the pain for the child and themselves.  The child, a boy, identifies as a girl. He always has. And let me tell you, it wasn’t damn nail polish that burdened this poor child’s soul. Being transgender is no joke. But neither is a mother’s love.

At some point, The Female Brain and The Male Brain should be compulsory reading for anyone that plans on representing themselves as media, conservative, liberal or trans-political. The chemistry of a human — from the love of lacy panties and pink nail polish to the soothing sound of crashing cars and jackhammers — is imbedded in who we are from long before our toes were painted. The sheer irresponsibility of the media to pounce on the sexual identification of a child, and in this case, a specific child named Beckett, is abhorrent. Shame on you.

I signed the petition in support of the ad. And, more importantly, I just bought the Tranny polish from Jcrew.com and will put it on every man and woman I know — to “celebrate” the beautiful, tortured transgender children among us.

Sign the petition.

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Every Child Left Behind

Posted on Apr 4, 2011 in Featured, School |

Every Child Left Behind

I want so badly to write a post about the No Child Left Behind Act that is tearing into schools and communities throughout California. I want to write about angry parents and saddened kids and politics of the whole thing. But in all honesty, it’s just too maddening a subject to write about. I don’t understand how we Americans could have allowed a bill into effect that could cause so much damage to all children.

No Child Left Behind seems to help no one. It doesn’t help the high performers, the midline performers or even the low performers it’s designed to aid. NCLB seems to attack the very notion of Darwinism. Who let this obscene form of standardized hell for children come into our schools?

I want to write what I’ve been hearing statewide for months: Why can’t there just be smart kids and dumb kids and kids in the middle? Why can’t we have support for all of our kids? Why do all of our needs have to go to the children who will never prove to excel academically no matter what kind of services we pour into them Why? Because there are smart kids and dumb kids and most kids who fall somewhere in the middle. It’s not pretty, but this is what’s being said on playgrounds from Sacramento to San Diego.

But I can’t write that.

Somehow I’m encouraged and paid to write about Earth Day, skin care products and diet options. But I can’t write about what matters right now. Right now I can’t write about political decision that affected every child I know. The fallout for NCLB in California is like effects of a tsunami, barreling through our communities and leaving disaster everywhere. Families that can leave public school are leaving in droves for private education, home prices are so out of whack because of the schools that we find ourselves trapped, unable to leave and unable to stay in public schools. It would be unpopular to write about the clear racism that stems from NCLB, where the Hispanic kids in California are seen as the little rodents that our dragging our schools down because they were not raised speaking English and have a higher likelihood of being underprivileged.

I can’t write about how painful No Child Left Behind is for the middle-of-the-road kids, or, how kids with true potential are falling through the cracks right before our very eyes because all of the support services goes to the underperformers. I can’t write about how frustrating it is to see midline children in need of a little boost get no support at all. I can’t write about the high-level performers who also receive no support or learning services of any kind.

What are parents left to do? Fight? Fight whom? Fight for what? And which battle should we fight first?

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April Fool’s Day, Granddad!

Posted on Apr 3, 2011 in Family and Friends |

We tricked Granddad!

Making Mud Cupcakes!

Mud Cupcakes in Bakery Box

Poor Granddad, the Victim

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Religionless Lent

Posted on Mar 14, 2011 in Featured, Thing 1, Thing 2 |

Religionless Lent

I knew when the kids asked about the meaning of Mardi Gras, that it was all over. Dang inquisitive little people are relentless on a mommy who doesn’t really want to talk about the murder of Christ while running carpool to ballet class. These conversations always happen in the car, and inevitably when I’m running late.

Where to start? Twelfth Night? The Three Kings? Magic? Dark magic Ann Rice-type stuff? Ash Wednesday? Sin? None quite appropriate for two smiley faced 7-year-olds. But again, my kids proved to me, as they always do, that they grasp the meaning of life so much more than I ever will.

I told them about Fat Tuesday and the meaning of the word Mardi Gras, I told them that the next day began a long, quiet time for Catholics who sacrifice something each year to remember Christ’s long, quite time in the desert away from family and friends. I told them when he came back that he was killed for the things he believed in. I told them, as to the best of my recollection from Catholic school,  that Easter was not about a bunny, but about Jesus rising from the dead. It’s hard to tell this story, because my own beliefs are more along the Spring Solstice than the death and rising of a man, but I tried to be objective. Yes, Fat Tuesday is a party, but it’s not just for party sake.

“I will give up ice cream for Lent,” my Thing 1 said frankly. “Me too. And guacamole,” my Thing 2 chimed in.

I explained that our family is not a family of religion, but of faith. I told them that this type of sacrifice was not necessary. They nodded at me in complete disagreement:

“I believe in the good of every religion. I believe in the good in every friend. I am going to do Lent with them, because if they are giving up something for what they believe in, they I should do it with them to make it easier.”

And so it was decided. My religionless little children, Christlike without knowing who Christ even is, decided our fate for the next 40 days.

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To Mom

Posted on Feb 24, 2011 in Family and Friends, Featured |

To Mom

Dear Mom,

You became a mother 40 years ago today on a rainy Wednesday afternoon. Your world at 20-something had moved into a new chapter, forever shifting your life’s focus to being a parent. I wonder how you felt that day. I wonder if you felt, as I did at the moment I became a parent, that you had just participated in a miracle, leaving you breathless and full of joy you’d never known — you had become a mother.

I gain my daily and my abstract inspiration from you, mom. Unlike me, you are Pollyanna, always finding the good in every situation. And as time passes, I have tried to learn a bit of that from you — call it a Pollyanna Placebo, if you will. Being a true woman comes naturally to you. I am reminded every day I see you, that being a woman means being as brilliant as your mind can take you, as kind as your heart can muster, and, as strong as your body will push you. Being a woman, I’ve learned from you, is never compromised by being a lady. Being a lady comes first. Mom, you are quite a lady.

Today, I am 40. Today, no different than yesterday or tomorrow, I will rely on you for guidance, and take only half of it. I will look for your nod of approval and then question it from every angle. Today like all days, I’ll not quite be complete without seeing you or speaking with you. Unless I don’t, and that’s okay by you too. Today you’ll make me beef stroganoff even though I doubt anyone in the free world eats beef stroganoff anymore, you’ll do it for me like you do every year on my birthday. And today, you’ll make me a lemon cake because I love lemon cake, even if you don’t. Because you’re a mom and I’m your kid and it’s my birthday.

I have a million birthday memories with you, mom. Most are happy, some hard, some just getting through the day. My first memory of my life is my birthday party in our backyard on Bundy. I was wearing yellow and you were wearing a white lacy shirt. You made my cake, of course, and brought it outside. It was a cold afternoon and my feet were tingling and wet from the cold bricks. There was a rectangular table and my friends and I wore party hats. I remember you bringing out my cake with candles on it. It had white frosting. I’ll never forget that first memory as long as I live: my beautiful mother and my beautiful life and my beautiful birthday cake in the backyard.

There are others too — I can remember a very rainy birthday party where you were sick, much like you are right now, and Aunt Maria was there. I remember feeling claustrophobic, playing Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey on the wall in grandma’s livingroom on Teakwood. On my Sweet 16, you took a chunky, friendless girl and made a magical day for me, despite my pathetic teenhood. I remember my 21st birthday in college with a massive box filled with 21 gifts from you, each with a clue written on it and hand-wrapped. The 21st gift was a string of pearls. I love my pearls, I’m wearing them today. On my 30th birthday you quietly told me to pick boys over girls, not for judgement sake, but because it would just be less messy. Pregnant on my 32nd birthday, you bought me a soft black dress for a small fortune in a maternity size extra large. You made me feel pretty — and surprised! — at that secret fete.

Today, Mom, I’m excited to be 40. I can’t wait to celebrate with you. It is February 24. It’s the day you became a mother.

I love you.

Samantha

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V-Day: The Worst Holiday Ev.ah

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 in Holidays, iVoices |

The worst holiday ever? Valentine’s Day, of course. Watch fellow iVoices reporters and me chat about our most, um, memorable Valentine’s Day gifts. Love, hearts and twinkles. Blech.

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