Friday, July 27, 2012

Haiku For You

The English major in me was delighted to discover recently that haiku is a trend. Specifically, haiku by and for parents is a trend, and it's all over social media these days.

How cool is it that poetry is a trend? Maybe this fall everyone will be dressing like Emily Dickinson.

I collected a bunch of my favorite haiku parenting poems over on Strollerderby, and then I got so caught up in the excitement that I wrote a few of my own.





For another haiku by me, and a bunch by other awesome moms and dads, check out my post, Parenting Haiku: Poetry for the Twitter Generation on Strollerderby.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Weekly Ketchup: It's All About Viral Videos and Stupid Animal Pics Today

First of all, the actual news today is just so horrible, I can't even deal. So instead I decided to just bring you as many stupid, funny, viral videos as possible.

Go ahead and distract yourself with:




'Call Me Maybe' performed (sort of) by the cast of all six Star Wars movies.
It wasn't called "Luke, I Just Met You, And This Is Crazy, But I'm Your Father, So Join Me Maybe?" but obviously it should have been. People really need to call me when they need help like that.


\
A 'One Direction' spoof for moms who rock out in minivans.
It's just like me except her van isn't covered in juice boxes 'n' crap. Oh and also, I'd be belting out, like, Dexy's Midnight Runners or something, not New Directions, or One Direction, or whatever it is. And also I wouldn't care who hears me. And also my kids would be singing along. And also she has better hair.


A little girl apparently taming a lion through zoo glass
Or maybe he just wants her stuffed animal. I'm not sure.


Oh right, like I'm the only mom who's going to be busting out some moves while the kids get ready for bed tonight.

Yeah, sorry, you have to click over to Strollerderby for all of those. I'm sure it's irritating but mama needs to earn her page hits.

This week, NickMom also re-ran the "Platonic Friendship Day" video, which I wrote the script for! I'm not sure why they're re-running a Valentine's Day thing in July. I guess my screenwriting is seasonless or something. Or maybe they're so sick of all this heat, they're pretending it's winter. In any case, if you missed it the first time, here it is again:


Memos From Your Class Parents - Platonic Friendship Day
Get More: Memos From Your Class Parents - Platonic Friendship Day

Want more distraction from reality? Go check out:

25 Signs Your Family's Obsessed: The Very Best Batman Geekery of the Interwebz. I think some 5-year-old girl named Molly is my new BFF. That cake is EPIC.


and


18 Animals Dressed Up As Batman Characters. Dudes, there's a freaking Meerkat Batman. So there.


If you seriously still can't bear to focus on the laundry, or parenting, or whatever you're supposed to be doing, you can always visit my new Pinterest page.


I'm sure I wrote serious stuff this week, too, but screw that. I'm all for stupid videos and animal pics today.


xoxo,
SRMM

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Paper Dolls, Popularity, and Sunblock: My Kids Take on the 'Sexy Dolls' Study

Two-thirds of girls aged 6 to 9 said they'd like to
look like the girl on the right.
Neat.
 A barf-inducing study out of Knox College in Illinois, published in the psychology journal Sex Roles, says that girls as young as six want to look "sexy." The study, which involved 60 girls aged six through nine, looked at how media consumption and maternal influence influence young girls' self-sexualization.

The upshot of the study, provocatively titled Sexy Dolls, Sexy Gradeschoolers? is pretty much that as moms, everything is either our fault or our success, depending on which doll your kid picked, I suppose. The good news is that even if your kid watches a crapton of television, that in itself won't make your kid want to look like a Bratz doll.

However, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and wager that if you yourself want to look like a Bratz doll, that's probably going to trickle down. Also probably if you buy these Halloween costumes.

You can read all about the study here on Strollerderby. I even got to interview the lead researcher!

Here on SRMM, I thought I'd take a look at what my own kids had to say about the dolls. Researchers asked the girls four questions: which paper doll they thought looked more like them, which paper doll they'd rather look like, and which paper doll they'd rather play with. They also told the girls a neutral little story about "Leila," a girl who is popular at school, and then asked, "which doll is Leila?"

The study involved girls aged six through nine. Two of my daughters would have aged out of the study, but I'm interviewing them anyway. Also, boys weren't included, but Little Dude has lots to say about what girls wear, it turns out. The study didn't allow for commentary or discussion; it just had girls choose one or the other. My kids, of course, gave commentary.

The Peanut Butter Kid, Age 8:
Two-thirds of the girls thought the doll on
the left would be more popular.
The Peanut Butter Kid is actually the only one of my kids who was in the target demographics for this study.

Which doll looks more like you? PBK chose the more modestly dressed one, although she said that if it was a hot day, she would wear shorts. "But the shorts would have to be longer. And there needs to be more shirt."

Which doll would you rather look like: PBK chose the more modestly dressed doll. "I don't want to wear just a little skirt and a bra. I think that's a little too little."

Which girl looks like she'd be more popular at school? "To the popular girls, it would be this one [points to the skimpy-dressed one], and in my world, it would be the other one. Not a lot of my friends would be wearing that kind of stuff."

Which doll would you rather play with? PBK chose the one with the skimpy outfit. "I like playing with the dolls and making them say [this next part is in a Sharpay / Valley Girl voice] 'Yah, that is totally in.' In my game, she would be a fashiony mean girl. Some people I know are kind of like that. Sometimes that's just how people are."


Cookie, Age 11:
Which doll looks like you? Cookie chose the more modestly dressed one.

Which doll would you rather look like? Cookie chose the more modestly dressed one. "It looks more comfortable, and also I don't want people to think of me as a popular girl. I want people to think of me as just awesome."

Which doll looks like she's more popular at school? Cookie chose the skimpily dressed one. "It seems like the girls who are popular and have more popular friends, all they care about is fashion and how they look. But it shouldn't be that way. Popularity should be about your personality, having a kind heart, and loyalty."

Which doll would you rather play with? Cookie chose the more modestly dressed one. "The games I play don't usually require a girl who looks like the other one."


Little Dude, Age 6:

First of all, I had to answer a bunch of questions for him about those red lace-up sandals before we could even have a conversation. (Did I cover those sandals in my Top Ten Skankeriffic Sandals My Daughters Will Not Be Wearing This Summer?)

Which doll looks more like your sisters? Little Dude chose the more modestly dressed doll.

Which doll would you like your sisters to look like? Little Dude chose the more modestly dressed doll, "because I don't want them to be really fashionable, or like girly-girls." Little Dude is also very uncomfortable when his sisters even wear bathing suits because it looks like underwear and people can see it. The Professor and I look forward to one day sending Little Dude along on the girls' dates as a chaperon.


Everything you need to know about
social hierarchy
can be learned from Sharpay.
Which doll would be more popular at school? He chose the girl in the skimpy outfit, "because she has that fancy stuff." He noted, however, that he wouldn't choose to sit next to that one at lunch, because "she looks mean." He would sit next to the more modestly dressed one, because "she looks nicer."


Which doll would you rather play with? Little Dude chose the more modestly dressed doll. "She looks nicer."

Pork Lo Maniac, Age 11

Which doll looks more like you? PLM chose the more modestly dressed doll, "because that's how I dress."

Which doll would you rather look like? PLM chose the more modestly-dressed one, "because then I have less of a chance of getting skin cancer."


Which doll would be more popular at school? "It depends. Either one could be popular. The [one in the skimpy clothes] might be popular for getting in trouble. And because people would be gossiping, 'Did you hear Leila got in trouble?' Or it could be the other one. She could be popular, just because she's popular."

The researchers of the actual study found that girls as young as six had figured out that looking sexy is your ticket to popularity, and most of the girls wanted to look like the sexy, popular girl. 


In my research, I found that my kids think:
  • Dressing "fashionable" and "fancy" makes you popular.
  • Popular girls are mean.
  • The popular girls are possibly from another planet.
  • Popular girls talk like Sharpay from High School Musical.
  • Short-shorts look like they give you wedgies.
  • Belly shirts should come with sunblock. 
It's worth noting that nowhere in these conversations does the word "sexy" come up. My kids thought of the skimpy outfit as "fancy" or "fashion-y." 

You know, I'm more disturbed by the whole mean popular girl thing than I am by the skanky outfits thing. Our culture gives girls a clear message that being popular means being a self-absorbed mean girl. That's a shame, partly because it's not really true. I went to a pretty big high school, and the girl voted Prom Queen was just super nice, athletic, and smart. Sure, some of the girls in the "popular" clique (that group was called the "Preppies" back in the day) were kinda bitchy, but so were some of the girls in every other clique.

I'd love to be able to say my kids picked up the "popular girls are mean" attitude from me, but I really try not to say that stuff in front of them. I also never refer to other people's clothes as "skankeriffic" out loud. (Just in print.) I'd love to be able to say that learned it all from Sharpay. 

But that isn't it at all: What's happened is that they've already met popular mean girls. That crap started in second grade, and was full-blown by the second half of fourth grade.

Again, you can read all about the actual study results over on Strollerderby. Click on Study: If Your 6-Year-Old Wants To Be 'Sexy,' It's Your Fault.

(Image Credits: Paper dolls: Christy Starr, Knox College. Sharpay: FanPop.)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Helpful To-Do Lists from Little Dude

It just occurred to me that maybe Yoda
might have been a little Asperger-ish, what with that
black-and-white thinking.
Little Dude, like all my kids, is very understanding about my ADHD. They know that I constantly lose my cellphone (fun game: whoever finds Mommy's phone gets a quarter!), forget to buy things unless they're written down (and sometimes even when they are written down -- where's that list again?), and

In some ways, it's all good. Given how many important things I absolutely must remember (like dosing out the kids' meds), I've made a decision not to allocate brain power to things that are really their job to remember. I didn't sign your homework log last night and you got a 'mark' from the teacher? Well, that sucks. For you. It's your job to bring me the homework log to sign, because you're the one who's going to get the mark. This plan has already paid off in many ways: my anxious kid no longer freaks out about getting the dreaded 'mark,' and my ADHD kid actually remembers to bring me her log to sign. Win-win-win.

I'd like to pretend this is all part of some master parenting plan, but really I just can't remember every damn thing. Probably that's the case for all moms, but for those of us with ADHD, it means that if I try to remember to sign their homework log, I'll forget something like paying the water bill. Um, really.

Anyway, because my kids like to be helpful, and because Little Dude certainly doesn't want me to forget the things that really matter (to him), Little Dude has been making me these handy-dandy To Do Lists every day.

Here are a couple recent samples, in case you might find them helpful too.


On the off chance you can't decipher any of that, it goes like this:

Mom's To Do List

1. Go swimming
2. Do work
3. Play Lego Batman 2
4. Make dinner
5.  Do work
6. Play Lego Batman 2
7. Put kids to bed

This would be funny except that really is my day. The next day's list gets a little more optimistic, though.


1. Wake up kids
2. Eat breakfast
3. Play a bit of Lego Batman
4. Do work
5. Complete Lego Batman 2

Sadly, we did not manage to complete Lego Batman 2 yesterday, so it's pretty clear that I've been slacking. To be fair, though, we did go swimming again, plus I had to get milk and pick up medications, so there were some last-minute additions to the agenda. I'll do my best to get back on track with Lego Batman 2 today.

Incidentally, we went swimming with The Domestic Goddess' family yesterday; she's got two kids on the spectrum, too. Seriously, with all the flapping and splashing between our two families, it's a wonder there's any water left in the pool.

Also? With as much swimming as my kids do, you'd think all that chlorine would have bleached the autism right out of them by now.

Too soon?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy News, Sibling Struggles, and a Plea for Advice

Possibly my favorite photo in the whole history of ever.
(See more animals in other animals' ears on Babble Pets.)
So right off the bat, my happy news here is that my husband, The Absent-Minded Professor, is gainfully employed. As you may or may not recall, he was laid off last winter because, you know, Merry Freaking Christmas. I give him total props for taking every damn side job he could find in the mean time, and basically taking over all the house-related stuff while I took on more writing projects.

So, yay. No more COBRA payments!

I'm going to keep working my tail off with my writing stuff. I basically work more than full-time right now, and while freelance writing is never going to make us rich, I love what I do, and it allows me to work around important parenting tasks like mastering Lego Batman 2.

I love writing funny posts for NickMom that are short enough that moms can read them on their iPhones while going potty. That's particularly convenient if, like me, your bladder has been stomped on by multiple babies and now you're like one chuckle away from being a geriatric patient.

I love that I get to do stupid, funny stuff like 15 Animals Wearing Other Animals' Ears, because seriously, most of the news is horrible and sometimes you just need to look at a ferret wearing bunny ears. I'm not sure exactly what qualifies me to write for Babble Pets, except that I have two cats that I kind of tolerate and also I really like photos of animals wearing hats. I will do my best to bring you the very latest in pet-related news and stupidity.

Mostly, I love that I get to bring special education stories to a mainstream audience. When I write here, I know I'm pretty much preaching to the choir. I hope that in some small way, my work at both Redbook and Strollerderby brings a greater awareness about special needs issues to the neurotypical world. When I write about Holly Robinson Peete slamming 50 Cent for tweeting "you look autistic" and "I don't want no special ed kids on my time line," I hope it inspires everyone, not just parents of special ed kids, to keep fighting the good fight.

But I still need this. This blog. This community. Although I don't post as often, I need this place to vent about stuff that only you understand. Like trying to find another damn ounce of patience when your supply feels entirely depleted. Like trying to balance the immense needs of one child with the immense needs of another child. Like knowing that your neurotypical child kind of gets the shaft; you know it, and she knows it, and there's not a thing you can do about it right now except simply say I'm sorry, I know it's not fair.

That, right now, is the hardest thing for me. I can only attend to the squeakiest wheel for so long, because that very quiet wheel needs attention too. Cookie, who is 11 now and getting ready for sixth grade, is my highest-functioning kid right now. Her anxiety is well-managed, and she continues to develop better and better coping skills. And I feel like she gets ripped off because of it.

There are times when I'll ask her to do something, or give up something, simply because it's easier. I know she'll go along with it without having a meltdown. I try to take each of my kids out individually, even just to run to Target. I actually try to take Cookie out for one-on-one time just a tiny bit more than the others, because so often during the day my attention is elsewhere. That one-on-one time gives her my undivided attention, and honestly, a break from the meltdowns and stimming and anxiety of her siblings.

I know a lot of you have both special needs and typically-developing kids. What do you do? Please, please leave your suggestions in the comments, and I'll collect them into a post. 

Oh, and a couple other fun things:

 - Like some kind of gift from the gods, coffee now lowers your risk of skin cancer, which brings us one step closer to solving world peace, I'm pretty sure.

 - I'm on Pinterest now, because of my deep commitment to bringing you nonsense in every available form of social media, and/or my deep commitment to garnering page clicks for my writing. I don't really know what I'm doing, but if you're a pinner, you can follow me at http://pinterest.com/starkravingmadm/.
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