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

holidays = consumerism? or, how to track down thanksgiving dinner without caving to “the man”.

holidays in this culture, it seems, are all based on some form of consumerism.  when I first moved out on my own, I was strongly of the opinion that I was no longer going to celebrate holidays.  thinking that all they were was a chance for big businesses to cash in on the emotions and programming of the masses.

and then The Wizard came along.  who was I to deprive my son of holiday memories?

I was distraught and confused.  floundering in poverty and political ideals, I didn’t want to go out and throw down a fuckton of money on gifts and meals and decorations.  what to do?

Dr. Seuss to the rescue!  honestly, one of my favorite people of all time (busted out with the amazing quote of “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”).  unwilling to deprive my son of the awesomeness of The Grinch, we watched the original movie on cartoon network.  (the one based off the Seuss illustrations, not the one with Jim Carrey, who admittedly did a wicked rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”.)

to make a long story short, I am a sap.  when it comes down to it, I love holidays, conceptually.  I just needed a friendly reminder that “stuff” is not required to make a good holiday.  the answer of course, lies in my answer to almost every life struggle: D.I.Y.

I was nervous that I’d get sucked back in to the drama and commercialism, but I kept the idea of majick, and making a bright center in a cold and dark time.  we potted a little tree and brought it indoors, bought a box of hooks for 97 cents, and then had a blast turning random little items about the house into ornaments (my favorites: a condom {in wrapper, of course} and a little orange plastic army man), and discovered almost everyone who came over wanted to contribute to the tree.  that was when I realized that ghetto-rigged holidays have more power and memories to them than anything that we buy.  and I’ve tried to keep that feeling and spirit for each holiday which has followed.

halloween, we can make our costumes, and make our treats, like people have done for decades, christmas we can make presents and decorations… but what of thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving consumerism is of course, Food Consumerism.  the meal is the focus, and we stress about the cost, the time, and the effort.  …however, when you think about it, most traditional Thanksgiving foods, are tradition simply because they were accessible, cheaply, in November.

the basic spread:

Turkey: how to acquire a turkey without buying it from the grocery store?  easy as pie (HA!).  while turkey hunting isn’t that common anymore (and lends the mental image of guys with muskets and buckle-hats running through the woods), there are quite a few people who still raise them.  craigslist, around thankgsgiving, starts getting alot of posts from farmers who raise turkeys, offering them for sale or barter.  most people sell them pre-butched, plucked and cleaned, and if you offer to help with this lovely process, you can probably get a significant discount.  if you still can’t afford it, or if you can’t find farm-raised turkeys in your areas, don’t fret!  people give out turkeys like crazy around thanksgiving.  lots of employers give turkeys to their employees, and if yours doesn’t, odds are you know someone who does.  there are also lots of agencies that will give you a turkey if you qualify.  there’s also churches that hand out turkeys, often without prying into your private life.  ask around.

stuffing: okay, bread is THE EASIEST food to acquire, period.  grocery stores and bakeries both get rid of day-old bread.  you can check dumpsters if you want to go the punkrock route, and otherwise, just check or ask around to see where it gets donated to.  senior centers are a good resource here, my father-in-law is always bringing us free bread he got from the senior center.  leave it sitting out on a plate overnight to get good and stale, and thereyougo!  now all you need is some onions and celery.  …speaking of which:

veggies: you can check craigslist for local farmers, cruise your area, or talk to family members who garden.  posting something on an actual bulletin board “seeking local produce”, is also a pretty good idea, and brings people to you.  you can always offer to trade labor for food.  alot of the traditional thanksgiving veggies are roots (sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.), which are infamous for storing well.  green beans are one of the easiest foods to can ever.  in other good news, fruits and veggies are THE foods to dumpster dive.  they get thrown out well before they ever get moldy, and cutting off some brown spots never hurt anyone.  if you see an over-ripe banana, grab it, and mash it into your sweet potatoes, the consistencies are similar, and rather than making your sweet potatoes taste like banana, it’ll bring out the flavor of the sweet potatoes.

Apples: apple pie and stuffed apples are a staple.  fortunately, autumn apples are plentiful.  dumpsters are, again, a good resource, and there are lots of orchards that let you go and pick your own, sometimes for free, sometimes for a minimal fee.

Pumpkins: there’s a reason thanksgiving falls right after halloween, and many pumpkin farms grow pie pumpkins as well as carving pumpkins, and if you don’t have any left over from halloween decorations, post-halloween they usually come dirt-cheap anyway.

if you want further tips for dumpster diving, or just acquiring free food, is pretty much the place to go for advice, as well as just being an awesome website for anyone who wants to duck out of the economy and consumer culture, or just save some money.

-Domestic Anarchist

National Indoctrination Day and the Folly of Being “More PC Than Thou”

On Sept. 8th (starting the school year off right!) Obama is doing a speech especially for the school children of the U.S.

this is not a speech on TV where you can tune in and watch with your kids and have a discussion if you so choose.  this is a mandatory viewing that will take place in public schools, with teachers who have government funding, and who are told ahead of time how and what to discuss with their students.

questio0ns such as:

“what is my civic duty?”  and “what does President Obama want from me?  can I do it?”

this offends the fuck out of me.  I don’t indoctrinate my kid with my political beliefs and no one else should either.

the supposed purpose of our public schools is education.  not political programming.

children are extremely sensitive to political programming.  this has been proven, both through the development of the Communist Red Party in China, and by Hitler Youth in Germany.

don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling Obama either a communist or a Nazi.  odds are he honestly has the best of intentions to ‘reach out to the youth of America’.  and if he did want to do it through a format that parents would have the option of viewing and discussing with their children, I wouldn’t have such a big  problem with it.

but political programming of children?  children already have pressure to be what the schools want them to be, what their peers want them to be, what their parents want them to be.  now their government?

my son is 6 years old.  there’s no way he should be wondering what the president wants of him, or what his civic duty is.

and why are more people not up in arms about this?  when Bush pulled something similar in 1991, many democrats were pissed about it.  not just about indoctrinating kids, but for using tax-payer money to pay for political advertising.

now, however, since the democrats voted him in, it’s okay?  no matter what the setting is, no matter what president is doing it, this isn’t a positive direction for our schools or country to be moving in.  it’s as though people feel like since they voted for the man, they can’t disagree with him.

and on top of it, we have the race factor.  now.  there was  people I talked to before the election who were honestly racist, who said that the biggest reason they weren’t voting for Obama was that he was black.  on the other hand, there were alot of people who did vote for Obama on the basis that he was black.

personally, if I voted, I would have voted Obama.  not because he’s black, but because John McCain was a terrifying man with one foot in the grave.  I agree with Obama on more issues than McCain by a long shot.

I think it’s awesome that we finally have some racial variety in the white house.  culturally, a huge step.  does this make Obama a figure of great historical relevance?  of course it does!

however, does the fact that he’s a living historical figure mean that we should stop questioning anything he does?  hell no.  come on, people.

I live on the west coast.  more specifically, I live in the Pacific Northwest, just outside Washington’s capital city, Olympia.  now, Olympia is known for being a very politically correct and  green area, moreso even than much of the state.   it’s largely populated by college students who attend Evergreen State College, who we fondly refer to as ‘Greeners’, a title worn with pride by most of them.

now, there are obviously HUGE upsides to living in this area.  (ease of recycling, awesome farmers markets, kickass parades,  pretty good music scene, et cettera.)  however, I’ve noticed a tendency in this area that I call the “More PC Than Thou” complex.  the irony is that much of political correctness, is based on the theme of non-judgmentalism.

HOWEVER, when being “PC” is turned into a competition, it ends up being incredibly judgemental.  “You recycle?  Well, not only do I recycle everything, I don’t buy anything that’s not second-hand.”  “You breastfed your kid for a year?  Well, I breastfed mine til she was three.”  “You montessori school?  Well, I homeschool.”  “You’re a vegetarian?  Well, I’m an organic vegan.”  Everything is a one-up.  I realized this when I was 17 and I got shot down from expressing my political beliefs at a party by a Greener who called me an Oogle and essentially said my opinions didn’t count.

ah-ha.  the neo-hippie strikes again.

often, people it seems, are so afraid of being declared ‘not PC’, they are afraid to express their opinions.  disagreeing with Obama might imply that you have a problem with him as a person, which could mean you’re racist!  disagreeing with partial-birth abortion might imply you have a problem with women’s rights, which could mean you’re sexist!

and if you don’t like queen, that probably means you’re a homophobe too.

plus, it’s a lose-lose situation.  if you’re caucasian, and you disagree with Obama, you’re afraid people might think you’re racist.  if you’re a minority, and you disagree with Obama, people might think you don’t appreciate what he’s doing for minorities just by being president.  the un-PCness of racial betrayal looms before you.

…we can’t be afraid to question the decisions or actions of the president, just because A. we wanted him in office, or B. we don’t want to be accused of a lack of political correctness.  otherwise, we’re putting ourselves in a very bad position.  we should not blindly accept the words or actions of anyone, no matter who they are. 

there has been lots of great men and women in history, but that doesn’t mean we should blindly accept anything they say.

so… if you have kids in school, I urge you to look at this more closely.  figure out how you feel about it, where you stand on it, talk to your childrens school and find out what alternatives they have, and don’t be afraid to disagree with someone because of their political party or their race.

if my son’s school will be showing the speech in his classroom, he likely won’t go to school that day.  if I can get a copy of it, we might watch it at home, in an environment free from pressure or teachers with a political agenda.

do you really want the schools directing your childrens political beliefs?  think about it.  would you be okay with a religious leader getting piped in and giving a speech to the schools?  there’s little difference.  the schools should not be in charge of our childrens religious, moral or political beliefs.

-Domestic Anarchist