Consequences of our Behavior

The Wizards hardcore sense of fairness continues to please and impress me.

Yesterday, I got to take the kids to the jail to visit The Husband, and then immediately had to drop them off with my dear sister Brette, who The Squid has taken to calling “Auntie Butt” which gives both me and The Wizard much entertainment.  However, I ended up doing decently well @ work (especially for not being on the schedule, which provided me with the opportunity to yell “I’m not even supposed to BE here today!” in an enjoyable homage to Kevin Smith), and so after I got off, I took the kids out for a rare eating-out type experience (fast food yes, but we need to find our highlights even while balls-deep in poverty, and 5 dollars for 2 burgers, fries and an ice cream cone cannot be complained about), in order to discuss their feelings about our visit, and have a nice chillaxing time.

Beforehand, we discussed how ice cream would be an option if everyone did a good job and was well behaved in the restaurant.  For The Squid, the most I can really ask is not climbing out of the booth and running around, and this was one of those running around kind of occasions.  Poor kid.  I never was angry with her, rough with her, or raise my voice, but we did discuss the fact that she had lost her ice cream opportunity.

The Wizard, who, having six years on The Squid, of course had a much better time managing his behavior, and was well aware that he was going to receive an ice cream cone for this.  However, he asked me if he would be allowed to share some of his cone with his sister, and let me know that if this was not an option, he would pass on the ice cream, because having an ice cream while his sister couldn’t have any violated his sense of fairness.  Is it strange that I’m pleased to be the mother of an eight year old communist?

I told him that his ice cream was his own and whatever he chose to do with it was up to him.  So he did share with his sister.  This might go against the common perception of “punishment”, but while I don’t tend to have a really big reward system for good behavior (other than letting my kids know that I’m proud of them), because I want my kids to know that good behavior is what is expected from them, my “punishments” tend to run much more along the lines of consequences.  I try for those consequences to be as natural as possible, but at the same time, there’s only so often that natural consequences even apply.  The most common consequence for The Wizard is a loss of video gaming privileges, or an occasional writing assignment when I feel like he really needs to take time and think about his behavior.  The Squid’s most common consequence is a time-out.

I also try to always take into account the circumstances surrounding my children.  This will not prevent them having consequences for their behavior, but it may gentle them.  The Squid, for example, is acting up a lot since her Dad-Dad’s incarceration.  Her potty-training came screeching to a halt.  She started having tantrums, and has even taken to using a pacifier occasionally.  However, even at the ripe old age of two, she needs to know that regardless of circumstances, she is still accountable for her behavior.  I feel for her.  It’s impossible to explain to her when her Dad-Dad is getting out, or why he’s gone.  She cannot understand why she only gets to see him through a little window one hour a week.  All she knows is that Dad-Dad is “in a big time out”.  I believe she understands it better than she can communicate, but it still is a difficult situation.

I do not agree with the legal system in this country (nor any other, as far as I know), but I believe the best way to keep my children from becoming involved with it one day, and to show them how to deal with it if they ever chance to become involved, is by teaching them accountability.  No matter how much we hate the figures of authority that come down upon us, the only way to be able to exist as sane individuals within the insane system of government, is accepting accountability for our choices.  If we make the choice to protest, we are accepting the possibilities of pepperspray, police brutality, and incarceration.  Does it make it fair or okay?  Of course not.

But that’s the way it is.  This is the world we live in.  If anyone is to change it, it will not be from fear or anger at our unjust punishment.  As unjust as it is, it is a possibility every day in this world, and we must be willing to accept the consequences of our behavior with our heads held high, and with a righteous disagreement.  I don’t have to agree with the fact that when I had 5 police officers beat the shit out of me in Santa Barbara I got charged with assaulting an officer.  But I do accept that I am the one who placed myself in a situation that brought about those consequences.  I wish we lived in a world without those consequences.  I believe someday we will.  But the only way that Anarchy will EVER work is if humanity is able to start personally, one by one, to accept their own accountability for the things that happen in our lives.

I have lead a devastating life.  I have been abused by countless people in pretty much every possible way.  My mind was twisted at an early age.  I am not responsible for the things I have suffered.  …I am accountable, however, for the person I am today.  Each day, we choose our own behavior.  Regardless of our circumstances.  We choose the risk, sometimes, of very negative consequences.  If you believe the risk is worth it though, you have already accepted accountability.  If you say, “I am aware of the things that could happen due to my behavior, but this is important enough to risk it.” you have accepted accountability.  No matter what comes of your behavior, you can hold your head high.

To everyone who has children, I encourage you to raise them with a sense of consequence and accountability, but respect their right to make their own choices.  Don’t be angry at your children for choosing something against your wishes.  Do make sure that they’re aware that there will be consequences for their choices.

To everyone without children, I encourage you to greet each day with a sense of accountability.  We are not victims.  We are warriors.  We make our own choices.  Each creature on this earth makes choices each day, and our consequences can vary.  As long as we believe in our choices, we have no reason to feel shame.

This post is dedicated to everyone who is being a strong voice in the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Keep your heads up, and continue the fight within yourselves every second of the day.

-Domestic Anarchist

Healthy Meals for Toddlers

The Squid enjoys her Widget French Toast

The Squid enjoys her Widget French Toast

It’s too easy as parents to get in the habit of serving our toddlers quick and easy foods, which are frequently lacking in nutritional value.  The most common vegetable eaten by toddlers is potatoes, which is resultant of their high french fry intake.

Why?  The obvious answer is that feeding tiny people is wicked inconvenient.  Unless working in a daycare center, or taking care of quintuplets (in which case you’re so busy and frazzled that you probably don’t want to cook anyhow), you’re putting effort into turning out extremely small servings, which are likely going to get picked apart and abandoned.  Toddlers are also fickle.  The food they love one day, they could loathe the next.

Thusly we find ourselves picking up frozen nuggets of this and that, and serving our kids meals based on convenience, instead of nutritional value.

So, how do we make sure that our kids can get the nutrition they need?  The toddler years are debatably the most important time for good nutrition.  Our kids are expending more energy than they ever have before, their brains are developing constantly, and their emotional crises are rarely alleviated for long.  How do we tempt that toddler palate enough to get our kids to stop going long enough to get the nutrients they need?

In all honesty, extended breastfeeding is the best answer.  No matter how picky an eater you have, or how hectic your schedule, nursing your toddler lets you know that they are still getting the necessary nutrients to develop a healthy brain, body and immune system.  Allowing your child to miss out on these benefits out of fear of societal judgement blows my mind.  The Wizard nursed in the evenings until he was two, and The Squid is still nursing several times a day. 

However, I don’t think this means I can get away with loading them up on junk the rest of the time.  It is a nice safety-net though.  But as far as actual meals go, we need to prepare things that we and our other family members are going to be interested in as well.  This not only ensures that our toddlers are going to receiving complex meals, it makes it so we’re not just preparing tiny frustrating meals and dirtying endless dishes for one very small and unappreciative person.  There are many things we can vary in order to be toddler-sized or toddler-appealing.

Secondly, things that can be given in small, convenient servings and offered repeatedly through the day.  Toddlers have very small stomachs, and smaller attention spans.  Sometimes when your child stops eating it may not be that they don’t like the food, it may be that they’re full or bored.  Let them get down and play for a couple hours, and then re-offer the foods as a snack.

Thirdly, they need to be easy to eat.  Another reason toddlers may not finish a meal is not because of frustration.  Foods that are too large, too tough, or difficult to handle, are in a toddler mind, which doesn’t understand the importance of a balanced diet, not worth the effort.

Foods that are convenient to make, easy to eat, and enjoyable for the rest of the family?  Sound like a tall order?  Not so much.  They might need to be somewhat different than the food the rest of the family eats, but easy to prepare at the same time, with similar tastes.

The best way to explain is to demonstrate, so here are some of my (and The Squids) favorite recipes.

Bitty Bruschetta

I thought of these when I encountered at the grocery store a bag of marked-down whole grain “party bread”.  Bruschetta is one of my favorites anyway, and these soft little slices of bread were perfect for making The Squid her own option.  They bake along with the rest of ours, and sometimes I just make a bunch of the small ones and join her in a snack.  They can refrigerate during the day, but don’t hold up as well overnight.  The bread gets mushy.

6 party bread slices

pesto, marinara or garlic sauce to taste  (you can be sneaky with your pesto and work in zucchini, spinach, or whatever nutritious vegetable your widget is not inclined to ingest).

desired toppings (olives, tomatoes, etc.  if any meat is used, make sure it’s pre-cooked.)

about 1/4 of a cup of medium-soft cheese (mozzarella works best, but I’ve also had success with colby jack.)

1. Place party breads on a baking sheet, or a plate if you’re going to be microwaving (not recommended).  2.  Spread pesto, or desired sauce on top, and then sprinkle with your toppings.  3.  Put a pinch of cheese on top, or to make it a little more fun, you can slice the cheese and use cookie-cutters to cut out shapes to decorate the brushetta with.  They hold up surprisingly well.  4.  Pop in the broiler on “low” until cheese is melted.

Macaroni and Cheese Bites

2 cups pre-prepared macaroni and cheese (from scratch or box both work fine, but if you do them from scratch Bertolli has come out with a new line of mini-pastas called piccolini.  They’re adorable.  For very, very small children, you can even use pasta stars.)

1/4 cup cooked veggies (broccoli, peas, carrots, etc.)

1/2 cup medium hard to medium soft cheese  (mozzarella is again, my winner here, but if your kid is a cheddar fan, that works fine too.)

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup butter

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 and butter a muffin or mini-muffin pan.  2.  Mix the vegetables into your macaroni and spoon into muffin pan.  3.  Top with cheese.  4.  Melt the remaining butter, and add to your bread crumbs.  5. Top your macaroni and cheese with bread crumbs and pop in the oven til it’s looking golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.  These hold up alright in the fridge AND freezer, so after you put ALL the effort (ha) into making a batch, you’ll have several easy meals prepped and ready to go.

Widget French Toast

Just came up with this the other day, already a favorite.  Obviously, when I’m feeding the whole family, I just add in a couple of the party breads in with the regular bread, but when it’s just me and The Squid, I munch the widget bread too.  It’s an eye-baller, the measurments are slightly different every time, and I tend to add varying spices depending on the day.

10 party bread slices

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

natural sweetener (agave, honey, stevia or the like) to taste

teaspoon vanilla

cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to taste

1.  pre-heat griddle or frying pan to about 325, or medium heat, lightly grease. 2.  mix egg, milk, sweetener, vanilla and spices in a small bowl.  3.  add party bread, about 4 at a time or so, make sure egg mixure coats both sides.  4.  fry for a couple minutes on either side until golden brown.

Vegetable Curry

Cooking a bit of apple in with the vegetables adds a slight sweetness and some extra vitamins.  Use a nice firm apple that won’t break down.

1/4 cup each of peeled and chopped potatoes, carrots, apple and zucchini

1 cup of vegetable or chicken stock

2 tablespoons mild curry power or garam masala

1. Bring the stock to a boil in a small saucepan.  2.  Add potatoes and carrots.  3.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  4.  Add apples and continue simmer for about 5 more minutes.  5.  Add zucchini and simmer until all vegetables are tender, this will vary depending on how finely your vegetables are chopped, which should depend on how big of pieces your child can handle.  6.  You can either drain the remaining stock, or keep it and use it to make a light sauce.  …obviously, the sauce is messy, and you may want to serve it with bread or a sandwich to sop it up.  7.  Add curry powder and stir til everything is coated and mixed together well.  Cool, and serve!

Some of you may be thinking “I thought these were supposed to be healthy meals!  Look at all these fats and carbs!”

Well, yes.  An “Atkins” type diet would be very unhealthy for a child.  We ALL need fats and carbs, but especially children.  Carbohydrates are where we get our energy from and there are good and bad carbohydrates.  Carbs that take a while to break down can give us lasting energy and keep our blood sugar balanced, which is very important for a child.  Fat is necessary for both muscle and (!) brain development.  Again, it’s the kind of fat.  It’s not something to be gratuitous with, but olive oil and butter are both very positive sources of fats, and there’s many more, though it might require some more research on your part.

Alright, that was my first soap box.  Here’s my second one.

If you’re going to feed your children meat or animal biproducts (milk, eggs, cheese and butter having all been included in this post), you should know where they’re coming from.  The fact that animals are tortured for human convenience is disgusting, but even if you don’t care about that, the hormones that are pumped into these animals are ingested by your children.  This causes an early onset of puberty, as well as aggressive behavior and obesity.

Think about it.  The hormones that are given these animals to keep them producing eggs and milk at an unnatual rate, are obviously going to attempt to do the same to your children.  The hormones that are given to them to get them to grow and pack on weight (to make them more profitable to an industry powered by greed) are going to do the same thing to your children.

Also, it’s known that emotions that we experience are literally chemical interactions in the brain and body.  So, when animals live miserable, torturous lives, and then die in terror and suffering, these chemicals are FROZEN in their bodies.  And then, yes, ingested by our children.  There is enough stress in our kids lives without passing on the tension of a deceased bovine.  Seriously.

I’m aware that free-range and organic milk, meat and eggs are very expensive.  But the grocery store is not the only place to get food, and is really the last place we should be purchasing it.  Farmers Markets and www.craigslist.com are both resources to try and find farmers and a trip to the farm or Farmers Market to acquire these biproducts is an experience that your children should have.  Many kids don’t understand that their hamburger used to be alive, or that their grilled cheese or scrambled eggs came from an animal.  How are we supposed to teach our children to think freely and make their own life choices without informing them of the basic backstory required for moral thinking?

If there is no available farms or farmers markets, and you can’t afford to buy the free-range meat in stores, maybe it’s time to start seriously considering a vegan lifestyle, or at least cutting way back in your intake of hormonally and chemically polluted food.

Okay.  So, some recipes and a rant.  I’ll get back off my soapbox now.

-Domestic Anarchist

Discipline?

As an anarchist parent, and someone who affirms independent thinking in my children, people frequently think that I do not believe in or approve of discipline.  This isn’t true.  Discipline is necessary.  A home, even when run as an autonomous collective, must have rules, so that all living within it can be happy.  It needs boundaries, respect and contribution from all members.

Children, while completely valid human beings, do not have the maturity or life experience to know how to set or respect boundaries, and they’re instinctively selfish which means they do not have the instinct for contribution.

There is nothing wrong with this.  The selfishness which is inherent in all children results from the fact that when starting out, they have had to do nothing.  A baby’s responsibility is to grow.  Their selfishness IS their contribution, because they have to develop before they can contribute.  A toddler’s responsibility is to explore and become independent, but this is soon joined but necessary discipline.  They need to very young start learning that other people have rights, and that violating these rights is not okay, or else they will not be able to be respectful, contributing members of their collective.

As children become older their responsibilities increase.  Cleaning up after themselves, and helping take care of the home, as well as younger children and pets, become daily responsibilities.  When they try to balk at these added responsibilities, there must be disciplinary action.

What kind of disciplinary action?

Much of it is just logical consequences.  If you make a mess, you clean it up.  If there is refusal, then there is a removal of privileges until the necessary action has taken place.  If The Wizard refuses to fulfill his responsibilities, he goes to his room until he is ready or willing to do so.

Today, he did not want to respect others, listen, or contribute to cleaning the house, and was sent to his room.  However, we didn’t want to just put cleaning the house on hold and wait for him, nor did we want to just let him “get out” of his responsibilities.  The Husband, in a burst of ingenuity, told him to write a letter, explaining why he should listen and contribute.

Now, The Wizard is seven years old, and in the second grade.  This obviously would not work for younger children, but they could be asked to write a short apology, or even younger children could draw a picture of how they feel, or showing the negative result of their negative behavior.  These alternatives could also be implemented when there is learning or behavioral disorders, or if it’s a very difficult assignment to start.

With The Wizard, as this was a disciplinary action that had never happened before, there was of course, revolt.  Screaming, yelling, statements of the injustice of it and of the world, kicking the wall.  Which resulted, in tired, frustrated parents, yelling in return.  A “time-out” and assignment that should have taken no more than a half an hour, took instead, an hour and a half.  However, we told him repeatedly to write what he was screaming about instead, and once he ACTUALLY started doing so, it was a big relief for him.  It allowed him to express himself, and at the same time think about how his contributions are necessary.  It allowed him to say why he was upset, and slowed and calmed him.  At the end, even he declared it a success.  Which is a good way to measure these things.

Kids are not going to like disciplinary actions.  But the disciplinary action will demonstrate itself to either be a success or not.  Sometimes it might take a battle in order to get our kids to follow through, sometimes we need to use alternate methods to find what works for our kids particularly.

Positive disciple ends with discussion, with our children understanding the reasoning behind the action, and it is adapted for the children and the situation.  It results in everyone being able to express themselves, and resolving the original problem.

Positive disciplinary methods are respectful, and when in our frustration, we treat our children with a lack of respect, we owe them an apology.  Everyone makes mistakes, and showing our children that they’re not the only ones who need to apologize, and they’re not the only ones who need breaks and time outs and “cool downs”, makes them feel equal and understood.  If we treat our children with respect, and ask for it in return EVENTUALLY (when they have the emotional and mental maturity) they will return the favor.

In other news, The Wizard lost his first tooth today!

-Domestic Anarchist

Sugar, sugar, sugar!

 

Browsing parenting magazines is a favorite hobby of mine.  Theres not many that I consistently agree with, but nor are there many parents I consistently agree with.  Some articles annoy me and occasionally some thoroughly piss me off.  But most of these are simply differences of opinion, and societal programming.   You know, stuff like “Americans let their kids cry it out and stop breastfeeding at 6 months because Americans value independence!”

…right.  I’m sure all the co-sleeping tribal kids that breastfeed til the age of four end up very insecure and irresponsible. 

However, this is the first time I’ve been driven to rebut something I read in a parenting magazine.  In the July Issue of Parents, they stated “Some studies have found that small amounts of sugar can increase a child’s focus and calmness (but it’s still smart to limit sweets since they’re typically low on nutrients).”  This is in a health Q & A with the question “Does sugar cause hyperactivity?”  Their answer is simply “No.”, stated as if there is no other possibilities, no matter what.

Okay, for a start.  It’s a known fact that people with autism and autism spectrum disorders (which includes such common disorders as ADHD), are sensitive to sugar, especially as children.  In these children sugar certainly does cause hyperactivity, as well as poor processing and even more limited self-control than usual.  They’re also frequently sensitive to artificial coloring and preservatives, substances that are often found in high-sugar foods and beverages.

foodforthebrain.com has a full list of disorders and the food sensitivities that accompany them, with lots of references to many, many different studies.  Many of the disorders, including autism, ADHD, bipolar, depression and schizophrenia are all listed as sensitive to sugar.

I’m aware schizophrenia is fairly rare in children (it normally manifests in the teen years), but the diagnoses of autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder and depression for young kids are steadily on the rise.  I’m not necessarily saying all these diagnoses are accurate.  I’m of the opinion that the pharmaceutical companies have a huge impact on diagnoses, and schools do receive money for each high-needs child they have enrolled, which might make things get rounded up here and there.

However, we must consider how many of these kids just had sugar sensitivities to start with, which resulted in behavioral issues and thusly, diagnoses of ADHD?  There is very few foods you can say across the line “These cause no behavioral problems at all!”  if someone wrote in asking about bread, I would expect any decent parenting magazine to put in a disclaimer saying that while many kids are not impacted by bread, there are also kids with wheat allergies who will exhibit behavioral problems if exposed to wheat.

In the magazine they say that the study saying sugar causes hyperactivity  was published more than 30 years ago.  What about the study published in October, 2009 saying children who eat candy on a daily basis were more likely to be convicted of a violent crime by the time they’re 34?  (you can read about that one here)

Yes, sugar is empty calories, but don’t try to say that’s the only reason to avoid it.  That just glosses (or should I say glazes?) over the problem.  The problem is that sugar and candy and soda are treated like such normal, natural parts of children’s lives.  They make candy EVERYTHING.  Candy bugs!  Candy jewelry!  Candy cigarettes.  Even (how cute) candy binkies.  Candy baby bottles.

Hypoglycemia (a disorder they now frequently call “pre-diabetes” because it’s very rare that someone with hypoglycemia doesn’t end up diabetic) is on the rise, especially among children.   It’s when your body cannot handle sugar properly.  So when you eat sugar, your blood sugar levels spike, causing hyperactivity, jitteriness and poor self-control.  Then your pancreas sends out a large amount of insulin, larger than needed, which makes your blood sugar plummet.  This results in lethargy, depression and disorientation.

Sound like your kid after a big sugar binge?  Every parent knows about “the crash”.  What they might not know is that this is a result of low blood sugar, which means your child’s body is releasing excesses of insulin, and after too many of these “crashes” that poor little pancreas is going to get burned out, and your kid is going to end up having to shoot up their insulin.

Now, I’m not doctor.  I’m not a scientist.  I’m a mother, and someone who developed hypoglycemia as a child.  (If you think you or your kids might be hypoglycemic, or want to know more about it, check out What Is Hypoglycemia which has good info, and a test.)  This is my blog where I use my right to free speech to put my opinions, life-experience and research out there.  Don’t base your opinions on what I say, look into it yourself.

I’m not going to say that my kids never have sugar.  I use sugar occasionally when baking, I just usually cut in half from what the recipe says.  if someone else makes a sugary treat, or offers The Wizard a piece of candy, he always asks me if it’s okay, and 90% of the time I say yes.  But those times don’t happen all that frequently, and he doesn’t have any disorders or issues that seem to be triggered by sugar.  So why do I limit him?

Much like peanuts or eggs, sugar is something your body can develop a reaction to.  With peanuts or eggs, it’s exposure in early childhood that can cause an allergy to develop, because your immune system reacts to them, and after early exposure, sometimes a childs immune system can see them as a serious threat, and over-react as an allergy.  After your child is a certain age, the immune system is mature enough, and allergies don’t usually develop.

However, with sugar, it’s not the immune system reacting, it’s the pancreas.  So there’s not a time when the risk ceases to exist.  It really depends on the individual person, the individual pancreas and liver, as well as the frequency and level of exposure.  As with most things though, the highest risk is in infancy.  Also, a “sweet tooth” is something that’s developed.  If you don’t give your baby sweet foods, they won’t have the same taste for them as a child who was raised on sweets, and you’ll have a much easier time keeping sugar out of them later on.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty.  Like I said, my home is not a sugar-free zone.  I try to limit it though, and I think saying that sugar cannot cause hyperactivity in children is very closed-minded and irresponsible.  It might take a little extra work to cut back the sugar in our children’s diets, but there are lots of alternative sweeteners.  (And no, I’m not talking about Splenda.  It’s made from sugar, and the only real difference is a cut in calories.)

Personally, I like agave.  There’s also stevia, or fructose.  Many, many options.  Search it online.

And congratulations to Parents magazine for an awesomely irresponsible FAIL on giving out researched, thorough and concise information to their subscribers, some of whom are likely parents of kids with sugar-sensitive disorders.  Way to suck at life.  Feel free to criticize them at Parents.com!

-Domestic Anarchist

Walking with Children

now that the weather is beginning to warm up a bit, we’ve started making a regular habit of walking with the kids.  The Squid and I often go for walks during the day, with her either in her sling or mei tai, either napping or observing.  she loves being outside.

The Wizard, on the other hand, is becoming less interested in just walking for the sake of walking, and now for him it’s all about exploring and challenging himself.  any hills or bolders we encounter he must conquer before we can move on.  and he always looks for the most complicated way to do so.

this is doing more than just getting out of the house and getting exercise.  as humans in our culture, we’ve become so accustomed to being in houses, places we seldom leave except for set activities, such as shopping or soccer games, and then we travel in a car.  we’re disconnected from the reality of the world.  we don’t think of it as a huge interconnected organism, we think of it as a number of places, conveniently attached together by roads.

getting out in the wild, exploring the world around us, gives children a sense of not just the earth, but themselves and their place in it.  that place should be a connected, living space.  a space where they’re aware that while we’re part of a much bigger picture, we contribute to it.  we’re part of it.  finding frogs and climbing trees and splashing our way through rivers and creeks, picking up contributions from beavers, we find ourselves reconnecting to the truth of what we are and what’s around us.  in lands that have no ownership, we have the same right to be there as every bird, deer or bug that crosses our path.  we are all equal and we all belong.  our heads lift, our breath becomes deeper.  when at last our bodies begin to tire and we push through, we learn of our own strength, the hidden strength within us and the power we can draw from the universe around us.

Proof! That all my encouragement of Freethinking is paying off!

Okay, so The Wizard had some homework the other day.  His first grade class had been studying sea life, and he came home with a sheet about crabs that he was supposed to read, write a brief synopsis at the bottom, and then circle the answer-words to some questions.

So while he was reading it, he stopped and said “this is wrong.  This says crabs have 10 legs.  Crabs have 8 legs and 2 claws.”  When I asked him why the claws did not count as legs, he said that they used them for grabbing, not walking, therefor they were arms.  Checking his hypothesis, he went on line and googled “Do Crabs have 10 legs or 8?”  The answer?  Crabs are decapods.  They have 8 walking legs, and 2 claws.  so that is what he wrote on his paper.  he underlined the part that said “crabs have 10 legs” and drew an arrow down to where he wrote “8 walking legs and 2 claws”, and in the answer-circling section he crossed out the “ten” answer and wrote “8” by hand, and circled it.

…Did I break to him the information that Deca means “10”, and pod means “foot”?  No way!  It’s not his fault that the technical terminology is wrong!  Really, if they use their claws for grabbing, they’re more of arms, right?  …ahem.

So, anyway, I was worried that he would get discouraged for filling out his paper “incorrectly” when he brought it to school.  But instead, he was given a piece of candy for bringing up a valid point.  …candy.

At least he’s receiving his pavlovian rewards for standing up to authority figures.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand the public school system.

-Domestic Anarchist

On The Value of Story

after following the Evelyn Evelyn controversy for a while, and venting to The Husband about it, he suggested that I write a blog.  my argument was that my blog is pretty much solely about children, culture, politics and general domestic pursuits.  however, after thinking about it, the fact that this controversy has even arisen says something about our culture, and the culture that our children will be growing up in.  so I felt I had to stand up, in defense of story.

I’ve been a Jason Webley ( www.jasonwebley.com ) fan for about 8 years now.  I’ve been a Dresden Dolls ( http://www.dresdendolls.com/main1.htm ) fan since he started touring with them and I checked them out on the theory that anyone that Jason Webley works with is badass (including the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band {http://www.bigdamnband.com/}).

so, when I heard Jason Webley and Amanda Palmer were involved in a project together, Evelyn Evelyn, I was immediately curious.  after doing some research on myspace ( www.myspace.com/evelynevelyn ) and youtube, I was incredibly entertained.  also, as a long-time Webley fan, I was cynical.  this is, after all, the man who faked his own death annually, and I witnessed it several times.  I was never emotionally distressed, though I did get emotionally involved in those shows.  however, it was always through appreciating the value of story.  he was telling an incredible story.  I never saw it as a mockery of people who had actually died, or even as insensitive.  it’s always been art, and story.

Story: “a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.”

is Jason Webley the first person to tell a story without mentioning that it was fictitious?  hell no!  telling stories this way is an age-old tradition.  C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy is a fabulous example.  so is JT LeRoy.  sometimes, that is the way to tell a story.  through a character.

Jason Webley’s tales, as painful as they have ever been, have always been lighthearted, joyful and inspirational.  so when I learned that Evelyn Evelyn had become incredibly controversial, and had offended many people, I was taken aback.  many people had become emotionally invested in Evelyn Evelyn, the tragic story of two conjoined twin girls, who had led a painful, exploited life, and started making music together.  the songs are lighthearted and humorous (in a somewhat dark sense), and The Wizard has been running around yelling “Elephant!  Elephant!” since he first heard it.  if you listen to the songs, you might notice that one of the girls does have a startlingly deep voice (a fact that Jason mentions in his blog http://www.jasonwebley.com/weblog/ , which was made solely for the purpose of confronting the drama surrounding Evelyn Evelyn).  if you watch any of the videos of Webley and Palmer discussing the project, you notice them giggling and exchanging secretive grins.  I will not say here if my opinion is whether or not I believe that Webley and Palmer ARE Evelyn and Evelyn Neville, because I have far too much respect for Story.

I’ve spoken before about the folly of excessive politically correct-ness.

all of us have pretended, as children, to be someone who we were not.  and many of the stories and games that were most empowering were the ones where we were dealing with incredible odds.  I remember after I saw “The Jewel of the Nile”, I told everyone for YEARS that I had consumption, and would be dead before the year was out.  I dare anyone to say that they did not, at some point, climb into a piece of oversized clothing with a friend or sibling and claim to be conjoined.  was this because we were heartless, insensitive children?  NO.  it’s because we knew and respected the value of story, something I feel like we are losing in this culture.

the risk of being excessively PC is the risk that we will feel the desire to compare ourselves to others.  the desire to be “more PC than thou”, is dangerous, because then we start looking for things to judge and criticize.  instead of appreciation, inspiration and awe, we feel the urge to be the critic, and start looking for problems and fallacies in the things that we see and hear.

storytelling is arguably the most ancient form of art, and often becomes the most intricate.  in the form that Webley and Palmer are working, their project involves not just storytelling, but song-writing, character development and performance.  try and find any performer who is not developing a character, or stage presence.  do we criticize them for this, or do we appreciate the entertainment and thought-provocation that they’ve gifted us with?

I told The Wizard the child-appropriate parts of the Evelyn Evelyn story, and watched him become emotionally invested in it.  and then I played a video of an Evelyn Evelyn performance for him, and watched the dawning of realization on his face.  the result?  a smile.  as we age, we must not lose our understanding of the value of story.  Einstein said “The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not, who can no longer wonder, who can no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.”

We should appreciate that Evelyn Evelyn gives us the gift of the mysterious.  Their story makes us feel and imagine, and, heaven forbid, even makes us laugh.

there are many people who disagree with me.  I’m not trying to accuse them of having a drive to find fallacies in the world around them, or of being a snuffed out candle.  their views are valid, in their own right.  I’m just urging people to try to see things in a different light.  if you like, you can find an opposing view at http://disabledfeminists.com/2010/02/09/evelyn-evelyn-ableism-ableism/  it’s a well-stated blog by a woman who is offended by Evelyn Evelyn.

In closing though, I would like to say, respect story.  respect the artists who continue to give it to us in it’s truest sense.  also, go and listen to Evelyn Evelyn ( www.myspace.com/evelynevelyn ) and, if you are so inclined, buy the album.  it’s coming out March 30th, and I’m all over it, because good lord.  it’s some good shit.

-Domestic Anarchist