Flaw lead parenting and why I won’t do it anymore

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Flaw led parenting is very real.  It is parenting lead by finding the “flaws” in your child and trying to fix them.  And I have decided to stop doing it and advocating against it.  I am very aware of my “flaws”, the ones in my character and the ones in my body, because the people around me and who love me the most have pointed them out to me over the course of my lifetime, repeatedly.

I used to believe that a parent’s role in life was to make their children better, in other words, fix them.  Mold them into better versions of themselves, and that is what most people would call positive parenting.  My six year old is blissfully unaware of her strangeness in this world.  She thinks it is completely normal to wear goggles all day long for weeks just because she wants to (we even went grocery shopping once with her wearing them).  She wanted to wear glasses so she asked for a fake pair of glasses and has been wearing them religiously for weeks.  She lives in her own little bubble.  She chews her fingernails when she is bored, nervous or tired.  She knows how to manipulate us when she wants something.  She is overwhelmed with sadness when bad things happen to her or to the people around her.  She still refuses to go to sleep totally alone in her room. But on the other hand, she has other amazing qualities like boundless curiosity and amazing compassion.  Things I did not teach her, perhaps she learned them from just copying some people around her or they are qualities she was born with.  It is irrelevant.

She had a swimming lesson this morning and I was watching a little boy getting our of the water and practicing dives.  The swim coaches are amazing and patient, exactly what little children need and thrive on.  Suddenly the little boy’s mom (no older than 10) comes out of no where and start yelling at him for not standing correctly and tells him to improve his posture.  She stood there for a couple of minutes giving him the “look”, I am sure all of you know it.  As children we were all on the receiving end sometime or another and as parents we have delivered it.  It says, you are unworthy, you are wrong.  The little boy’s face had a totally different “look”, a look we all know too.  A look of fear, shame, bewilderment, stress and a boatload of negative emotions.  I have seen the look on my daughter’s face when I yelled before, but never had it been so clear to me how damaging it is.  I also know the look, from my own face, when others put me down so aggressively.  Ten minutes later a much younger little boy, around five, was crying his eyes out because he didn’t want to get into the pool, the mother gave him a hug, told him to take a deep breath and decide if he wanted to swim today.  The coach talked to him for a couple of minutes and personally took him into the pool in the safety of her hug and gave him a few moments of one on one attention.  The little boy suddenly took the water like a little fish.

I am not mom-shaming.  On the contrary, I know we all stumble, mess up and make mistakes occasionally and the rest of the time we are caring, responsible and kind parents.  Perhaps all we need is a little more compassion and empathy, towards ourselves and our children.  There is no point in raising a miserable prodigy.  A happy, balanced and well adjusted child that is kind and caring towards herself and the world is a treasure, no matter what she grows up to be.  We are not kind to ourselves because we were never taught, we never saw our parents doing it.  We mainly saw disappointment, anger or resentment.

Resentment is another huge issue.  How many of us have heard the words “after all I have done for you” and wished the person saying them hadn’t done anything for you.  Your children do not ask you to push yourself so hard that you end up angry at them, but they do ask to play with you, they ask to go to the park and ride a bike, they ask to spend time having fun, they ask for your help building living room forts.  And when you give them what they ask for and what they really need, they are almost always grateful.

They are especially grateful when they see you practicing gratitude.  When they hear you saying “thank you” to others sincerely.  Believe me, they can tell the difference.  Children will model themselves like their parents.  Treat them with true kindness and empathy and they will mirror that and it will become part of their character.  Use emotional blackmail on them, and they will throw it right back in your face.

I will no longer try to “fix” the flaws in my daughter, but I will be there for her to help her out.  To explain things and to help her grow whichever way she chooses.  She might be small and inexperienced, but that does not mean she is stupid or that she needs to be told who to be.  It just means she needs support and help figuring herself and the world out. She needs a mother, a shoulder to cry on, a comrade, a conspirator, a partner in crime, a pretend fairy in pretend fairy wings, someone to carry her piggy back around the house, someone who trusts her enough to learn how to handle the sharp knives so she can make everyone lemonade.

Perhaps, my reasons for doing this are entirely selfish, and there is nothing wrong with putting yourself first.  I know first hand what trying to fix your flaws does to a person.  It doesn’t work, it just magnifies them.  The  best about parenting is that it is an opportunity to parent yourself all over again in the process of parenting a child.  Make the most of it.

Annual Halloween Parade Rant

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So I was at the Halloween Parade this morning at my daughter’s school and thought I might treat you to my annual rant about the costumes.  Why does every little girl want to be Elsa?  I understand the dress is cool, the song is catchy and that ice superpower thing is awesome, but seriously?  Anna is way cooler than Elsa.  Frozen was one of Disney’s movies that had great female role models, two strong girls, sisterly love, and perseverance.  Anna, had no superpower, no gift, yet she was the one who insisted on saving her sister and her kingdom, sacrificing herself to do so.  She understood responsibility and tenacity, and did it with grace that is truly inspiring, yet I saw at least 4 Elsas in every class this morning.  One class even had 7. And these classes usually have 20 – 25 students in them.  There was one class that had two Annas, but that was the only one.  The rest didn’t have so many.  There were still the usual costumes, tons of fairies, princesses and generic witches.  One little girl was dressed as a bride which I found disturbing.  The boys were the same as last year; superheroes, pirates and vampires. There was a Harry Potter, but sadly no Hermione.

There were some really notable ones, like the little girl in the super cool wolf costume and the one in a Japanese kimono.  One little boy was wearing a flamenco dancer dress which I thought was awesome.  I also saw a Wonder Woman, a little girl dressed as Jack Sparrow (totally kickin), a girl Ironman, a Robin Hood or Peter Pan (not totally sure but either way cool) and a girl Thor.  The teachers were a little more creative and empowered;  a couple of superheroes, a FridaKahlo, an Amelia Earhart and my personal favorite Cruella DeVille.

It is not that I want girls to be superheroes or pirates, although they can if they want to.  They can even be princesses if they want to, but I sometimes feel that it is what they are led to believe they want, instead of given the space to explore who they are.  I just worry that they pick the princess with the pretty dress instead of the princess who saved her Kingdom, or her mother and could shoot arrows like Merida in Brave.  I don’t want my daughter growing up thinking that she has to be a damsel in distress to be a princess.  She can be a powerful and empowered princess.  She can save her kingdom and rule it too.

I wish there were more diversity.  I wish kids had a wider range of interests instead of the usual.  There were two storm troopers and a Darth Vader, if I were that kid, I would have taken over the school.   More creativity.  More imagination. More flair.  The world needs imaginative, fearless and creative kids.

 

 

No

SayinNoI do most of my thinking in the car, actually that might not be true.  I think about random stuff all the time, it is just that usually in the car I have enough time and nothing else to do and can formulate entire thoughts.  Today’s thought was about saying No.  I had recently seen a couple of posts on facebook about rape culture and consent and how anything other than a clear YES means No, which should be obvious, but apparently isn’t.

This isn’t about rape, this is about No.  In our culture, No, is not an acceptable answer. Ever.  It starts really early on.  A mother is feeding her child, the child is still an infant or a toddler and closes her mouth because she is no longer hungry.  That is a pretty obvious No, isn’t it? What does the mother do? She forces said child to eat some more, because No is not acceptable.  A different scene, the family goes to visit relatives, and the little child is ordered to hug and kiss one of the people they are visiting, the child refuses.  Another quite obvious No, again the child is forced to give hugs.  And it goes on and on into adulthood.  An arranged marriage is taking place and after the prospective groom leaves, they ask the girl if she is interested  and she says No.  Now that is a very clear no, instead of accepting it, she will be required to explain and justify her answer.  She will also probably be pressured to say yes, at least to another meeting.  Even as grown ups, if you are invited to lunch, your host will try and force you to eat more than you want foods that you probably don’t want to eat.  Even if you say things like “No thanks, I really don’t eat liver” they will probably ignore you and pile that liver on your plate.  I hate liver, and I hate how it smells and I will not eat it even if you beg me, yet these people refuse to accept taking No for an answer.

This is unfortunate, instead of saying what you mean and meaning what you say, you end up either being passive aggressive or just lying to get out of having to say No.  Passive aggression is more socially acceptable than saying No.  I wish I had an answer for why this happens.  Could it be control?  Everyone likes to feel that they have control over others by obviously forcing them to do things they do not want to do?  Or is it just another cultural thing that no one has ever thought about?  It doesn’t seem like it is an accident that one of the first things babies learn to say is No.  I understand that as a parent, we need to teach them to say Yes too.  The tricky part is teaching them where their boundaries are and how to protect them.  The trickier part is to teach yourself all of that as an adult.  And this is just the direct refusal of your No, I haven’t even got to the part where you say Yes/Maybe/Whatever because you just can’t say No because you don’t have the heart for another confrontation or just want to be accepted, but that is a totally different story.  Or they can’t take being guilted, blamed or shamed for their choices anymore.  It is exhausting.

We need to say No if we want to.  We also need to understand that when others say No, we need to accept that and back off.  We don’t own others no matter how much we love and care about them.

 

 

Here is a cool printable for helpful ways to say No <<http://www.juliehanks.com/2013/10/23/free-printable-helpful-ways-to-say-no/>>

Unleash your inner two year old and say No <<http://livingthebalancedlife.com/2011/unleash-your-inner-two-year-old/>>

On deciding what to be when you grow up

I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up. I did for a while. I was a software engineer. I liked doing that. But I wasn’t really all grown up. Then for a while I was just a stay at home mom. That too was fun and not so fun all the time. And since I was still not done growing up I didn’t feel like settling on that. Then I became a knit wear designer. I still sort of am. I still enjoy it. But I am still not done growing up. I sometimes entertain myself with thoughts of things I could do. I could become a novelist. I would definitely like that. I would also like to be a photographer. I like telling stories with pictures. I don’t want to tell sad tales of defeat but of happiness and spontaneous brightness in life. I could become a chef. I like cooking. Experimenting in the kitchen with ingredients and telling a culinary narrative with edible items. Or maybe I could make jewelry and use gemstones and metal that describe fairy tales.
And then I realized I am a story teller. We all are. The medium doesn’t matter. Everything we do or don’t so tells a story. Every picture, word, stitch, movement is just another part of the puzzle. Another paragraph in our autobiography. Some are better than others at curating their stories. Some are more meticulous in what they reveal. Some are raw and open. Some are private and share with only a select few and others happily tell the world using the biggest megaphone they can find.
I am going to be a story teller now and when I grow up. I am going to use all the different outlets that can be used to tell stories. Real ones, made up ones, legends, fables, useless ones; it doesn’t really matter. The story is not the end. It is the vessel. The telling is the real destination. The way you tell and the content you share with the world. To find the beautiful and show it to the world in the form of a story. That is what I am going to be doing while I grow up.

Notes from the internet apocalypse {Book Review}

NotesFromInternetApocalypseI just finished the book Notes from the Internet Apocalypse.  It is Gladstone’s journal following the internet apocalypse.  Suddenly the internet disappears and he is trying to find it.  It is an interesting read.

“Magic is a cliche, but what do you call it when you enter a place and you can pretend you’re anywhere and everywhere from the Mesozoic era to present day, provided you haven’t killed every bit of childhood wonder with cynicism? It is magic. The kind that exists.”

What would happen if the internet is gone? I wondered.  I am from the generation that existed pre- cell phones and constant connectivity.  But I am also from the generation that has become so accustomed to the ubiquity of the internet.

I wake up and call my mom and sister who live on a different continent using VOIP.  I check my email and my social media accounts.  I also make a living selling digital files on the internet using a skill which I coincidentally learned by watching online videos and visiting blogs.  I watch my movies, buy my books and learn stuff.  I even use it to stay connected with my husband even when I am not away because we share photos, music and random notes.  I use it to monitor what I am eating (and what I shouldn’t be) and upload the data from my wearable tech to find out how much I am moving (or not) and then compare that to what I should be.  I listen to podcasts about topics I find interesting, that I might not otherwise have access to.

My daughter is 6 and she already knows that if she asks me a question and I don’t know the answer, we can Google it.  She knows that she can stream her favorite cartoons on demand or read books on it.  She sometimes even video chats with her grandmother and aunt all by herself.

But the question continues to pester me, what if it is all gone?

I wouldn’t be able to call my family. Would I resort to calling cards? Would we go back to writing letters?  I wouldn’t mind writing letters, but with the current state of local post, I would probably be luckier to send homing pigeons.  I know I would read more books.  I remember when I would go through a couple of books a week.  I still read a book a week, but I am sure that I would have more reading time if I didn’t get sucked into watching YouTube videos of people walking on water or doing strange magic tricks.

I would watch movies on TV when they aired or rent DVDs.  I would listen to music when it played on the radio or buy CDs.  I don’t mind these things, as a matter of fact, I might even enjoy the slowness of life.  Everything is on demand now.  Just think of a type of media and you can instantly devour it.  I haven’t read a paper in years, I get my news from the internet.

I might even enjoy my bubble, not being bombarded every 10 seconds with sad and horrific news from around the globe, either from events that happen to people I know or people I do know who are scattered around the world.

But then the thing I would miss the most is people.  I am an expat.  I almost have no friends where I live.  I stay connected with friends using technology and to be denied that privilege would be sad. Or maybe it would force me to go out and actually make friends.  Even the friends I made here were found on the internet.  I complained once about the lack of friends on twitter once, so a twitter friend who lives in the UK, connected me with her friend here.  A friendship that grew and brought more friends with it.

I am sure we all suffer from information overload, all the time.

“There has not been a piece of technology designed to save labor that has not increased labor. Word processors allow you to do what your secretary used to do for you. The Internet, BlackBerries, iPhones, yes they keep you tethered, but that’s not the main problem. It’s that along with increasing personal productivity, they increase the expectation of productivity. It no longer becomes a bonus to do the work of one and a half men, but the norm. And then when everyone’s working at one hundred and fifty percent capacity, they can fire a third of the workforce and still maintain output.”

And then there is this quote.  So much more is expected of us, of our children and of society.  We no longer think that normal productivity is ok, we have to be overachievers.  Children aren’t left to grow in their own time and speed, they are constantly being compared with everyone else on the planet. And when it comes to society we are expected to relate to everyone else, have a stance on everything and try to change the world.  When people try to live in their bubble now, they are mocked, ridiculed and called self centered.  The need for self preservation is higher than ever before.

I understand that it is a great tool.  It has opened the largest gateway or portal for mankind to more information than we know what to do with.

The future will probably be even more connected than the present, but I guess there is no harm in going completely offline every once in a while to be ready for the apocalypse (just in case).

On roots, wings and home

My father had an interesting habit, whenever he came home after a day or more away he would open the fridge and just check the contents.  It had nothing to do with being hungry or wanting to eat, it was his way of confirming the fact that he had come home.  I carry on the tradition.

I was born in a country that I was not a citizen of, moved to another country while still a child, lived in 2 different cities there and then finally we moved back to Egypt.  Years later, I got married and moved to the country I was born in.  I have no roots.  I don’t share memories with a lot of people because the memories of my childhood were not shared with the friends I have today.  When I started my own family I was obsessed with the idea of growing roots, settling down in one place and being buried there.  I did not want my child to have to live through the same things I did.  I wanted her to still be friends with her KG friends when she was 20 or 50.  It is a romantic view.  Not suitable for life today.

I sometimes wonder what home is. Is home a place?  Is it the bricks and mortar that make the building? 
It is a place, a time, family, familiar sounds and smells, a meal, opening the fridge. And so much more. It is the things you carry in your heart and yearn to all the time. It is that cup of coffee in the morning before anyone else is awake. It is the sound of the alarm clock. It is the shelf of books that you have already read and the shelf of books still waiting to be read and cherished. It is the box of old photographs. It is the smell of lunch cooking and a sink full of dirty dishes that no one else will wash. It is the place where you belong even if it doesn’t exist.

I don’t want to grow roots anymore, at least not just yet. I want to grow wings. I want to learn how to fly and discover the world. There is so much more homes out there that I still want to experience and enjoy before deciding on one that doesn’t move from place to place.

Are you a sexual harrassment supporter?

Yes, you! And might I also say that it is time we call it what it is, violence against women, which is becoming a norm in Egypt.  Sadly, many people who say they are against sexual harassment are actually supporters without realizing it.

If your first response is, she got attacked because of how she was dressed or where she was, then I am sorry you are a sexual harassment supporter.  No one (regardless of their gender) should be abused or harassed for any reason.  Period.  Why is that so hard to understand?  When people say things like women are like candy and need to be covered up, they really are saying that men can not control themselves and are rapists waiting to happen.  Women are scientists, doctors, engineers, fighter pilots, moms, referees, etc.  They are not candy.  They are not diamonds.  They are human beings who have the right to dress as they choose without having to justify it or be punished for it.

If you think that sexual harassment affects a woman’s honor (شرف ) then you also have a problem.  Her humanity, dignity, soul, heart, psyche, body and more have been violated, but not her honor.  Her honor is only defined by her actions not what someone else does to her.  It is time we stop being dinosaurs and realize that honor has nothing to do with it.

If you are a man and feel that your honor is being violated because a woman was harassed/raped/abused/attacked please take a number, have a seat and wait until hell freezes over.  This has nothing to do with you.  You do not own women.  Your honor is only defined by your actions not by what happens to someone else.  Your job is not to harass women.  Full stop.  If as a decent person (regardless of gender) you choose to stand up against harassment then thank you, that means you have chosen the right thing.

If you feel that videos of attacks make us look bad in the eyes of the rest of the world, then please go drink some arsenic. The fact that you believe that half the population lives in constant fear of being abused or harassed is less important than our collective image means you really need some therapy.  I totally agree that the privacy of victims needs to be protected, they at least deserve that from us. But covering an attack up or pretending that they are not an epidemic is just sick and stupid.

We have a serious problem in Egypt.  It is called misogyny , as defined by wikipedia

Misogyny /mɪˈsɒɪni/ is the hatred or dislike of women or girls. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women.[1][2] Misogyny has been characterised as a prominent feature of the mythologies of the ancient world as well as of various religions.

If you find any way to blame a victim or justify an attacker then you are a misogynistic inhumane creep that needs to find a hole in the ground to bury yourself.

If you think you don’t support violence against women, but see people blaming the victim and don’t say anything that makes you a supporter.  If you lead men to believe that this is about their honor and don’t right their views, then you are supporting more violence against women.  If you want to hide the fact that these attacks happen then you are a supporter.

If you do not take a stand against crimes against women, you are supporting them.  If you belittle efforts that are made to stand against these crimes then maybe you support these crimes.

If the only solution to this problem in your view is violence against men then this is another problem, it is called misandry.  We can not fight violence with violence. We can only start educating everyone on how to stop the current epidemic and to make sure it never happens again. We need strong laws and implementation of these laws.  We need to feel safe by knowing that we are protected, not that we need to walk around carrying weapons to fight back.

A stand, is long overdue.

Airport Brides

Yesterday at the airport there was a bride in her wedding gown flying to meet her groom.  In her full gown and made up to the nines she looked gorgeous, happy and stuffy.  Almost 7 years ago to the day I flew to Kuwait with my husband as a newly wed after my wedding and quick honeymoon.  I spent years feeling sorry for myself that most of my family had never visited me at my new home, that I had never been able to host a family dinner and that they are never near by.

But years have passed, years that have added wisdom and peace.  I never could understand why a woman would do that.  Traveling is stressful enough without having to wear a wedding dress. A white one that will probably pick up dust and dirt.  Make up that will probably smudge and melt in the heat of the plane. Being cramped in those tiny seats that seem to be designed to torture anyone who is taller than a meter and a half while wearing a huge dress.

But a week earlier I had watched a bride arrive at the airport and I heard the claps, the ululations (زغاريط) and the happiness of people who were waiting for her to arrive and I finally understood.  This was a woman who chose to deal with all of these discomforts to be happy, to take what was given to her by life and to accept it and enjoy it.  She still got to wear the dress, she still got the celebrations but most of us, she was still a bride who was happy to be married and join her husband.

We do not choose what happens in life, we only choose to accept it and enjoy it, or to refuse and whine about it.  And we all know that whinging does not work.  It just robs you of happiness.  I spent years doing the latter.  Trying hard to change the unchangeable and challenging a fate I could not control.  I was robbed of happiness.  I robbed myself of it.  I chose to be miserable and sad.  I was so caught up in wallowing in my own misery instead of enjoying all of the things I had been blessed with without any doing of my own.

I say a little prayer for airport brides, may they forever be happy, may they be blessed with happy and full marriages and lives, may they always have the ability, wisdom and grace to walk in their lives with smiles on their faces whatever they may face.  May their husbands understand the sacrifices they have made of leaving family behind and trekking out in the world on their own to meet them half way.  May they always be blessed with the ability to find the silver lining.

“Expect nothing and accept everything.” I read that quote somewhere and it sounds defeatist at first, but it isn’t.  It is finding the strength not to put conditions on happiness.  It is harder than it sounds but it is rewarding.

When a nerd mom goes to a Halloween parade

Today the 5yo had the Halloween parade at school.  It is a simple affair, they dress up and walk around the playground once then go back to classes. The parents were invited too.  I had a problem with two things today.  Which is quite good because I usually have more issues than just two.

First was that the parents were asked not to cross the white lines that marked the area where the kids would be walking.  They were also very clearly asked not to stop the parade to take pictures.  And what did many parents do? They did the exact thing they were asked not to do.  This bothers me for so many reasons (see, I told you I always have more issues) first is that it is unfair to the parents who did the right thing and stayed in the designated area.  They too have kids whom they want to take pictures of to immortalize the moment, but they chose not to stop the parade.  Second it sends out the wrong message to the kids, that rules are not real and that people who break the rules get what they want and that the people who do not break the rules get nothing.  That just deeply irritates me.  If you are a parent and you really NEED to take pictures then do it before school or after school, not during an event that everyone else is involved in.

The other thing was the gender gap in costume choices.  Girls were dressed as fairies, princesses (Disney princesses mainly), a few witches and fewer black cats.  There was a total of maybe 4 girls in super hero costumes.  The boys were slightly more diverse superheros, pirates, explorers, monsters, animals, two Pharaohs, a Riddler, a Charlie Chaplin (which was my favorite costume because it was so detailed and different) and a Harry Potter.  Almost all the costumes were store bought.  I want to see a world where there are more girl superheros.  And more kids who are willing to think out of the box.  Who want to be more than what they are taught they can or should be.  I hate the Disney princesses.  Just think about it, why would I want my daughter to be Ariel, who gave up her voice (the voice is quite symbolic here)? or Snow White, or Rapunzel both of which had to wait to be rescued?  Perhaps Merida is an exception, it is about her own personal bravery and the mother/daughter relationship.  Why would I want my daughter to be a fairy?  I might want my daughter to be a powerful good witch.  Empowered, smart and can help herself.

There wasn’t a single girl wearing a lab coat.  Not one single girls thinks that being a doctor would be a good idea.  Think about that.  I think there might have been about 70 girls.  Give or take some.  There was a Wonder Woman whom I thought was awesome. Even the girls who were wearing witch costumes were almost all identical.

My daughter wanted to be a bat, which evolved into bat girl.  She wanted bat wings and tried to figure out a way to sleep upside down but couldn’t.  She was totally fascinated by the fact that bats are blind and can still fly around and get around.  The process of making the costume fascinated her.  I asked her a couple of times if she wanted to go pick a costume or if she would like to look at ideas on pinterest and we could make it together, and she wanted me to make it.  It took me a couple of weeks to get it all done.  She helped with the process and spent a few days wearing parts of it.

Yes I understand that not a lot of parents have the time that I do, or the skills to sew a costume or craft one.  But it isn’t rocket science and it doesn’t need to take more than a an hour or two.  We can’t teach our kids that everything can be bought like that and devalue creativity and hands on work.  It is taking away from their childhoods as well as their creativity.  Children need to build forts out of blankets and cardboard boxes.  They need to make their own masks using paper and crayons.  Every.day. They need to paint and draw and make up silly languages.  They need to experience this kind of creativity and curiosity.  They need to embrace it.  And parents need it too.  Parents need to be silly and play pretend with their kids.  If we don’t then we are telling them that they can not be who they are or what they want to be.  We are packaging them in little generic labeled boxes for life.

That is just it.  It might be dress up and it happens for most kids on a single day in the year but that is just wrong.  Every child needs to own a crown and a superhero cape.  The crown is for them to pretend to be kings and queens.  Which is a great opportunity to talk about community and how decisions are made and why?  It is about teaching compassion even when we are in power.  It is a fantastic opportunity to open their minds and widen their horizons.  The superhero cape is to make them believe they can be heroes.  Most of the superheros in comics pop culture are just ordinary men and women who became extra ordinary.

And then there are the real heroes in life,  the ones that are extra ordinary because of the hard work they put in.  Every day.  There was one little boy who was a soldier and another who was a fireman.  These are great examples, of people who keep us safe who put themselves at risk to get their job done.

The costumes don’t need to be fancy, a cape can be made of an old towel and a crown can be made of newspaper.  It is not about them being real, it is about them being tools for change, dialogue, imagination and tons of fun.

Finally, it also makes you question, who do our kids see as role models? Who do they want to be?  What do they want to become?  Are they being taught the right values? Are they seeing these values enough in real life so that they grow up believing in them?

Sometimes, I wish I could just go to a Halloween parade, push the other parents, take pictures of my daughter while standing where I shouldn’t be standing and then go home and forget all about it.  It would be so much easier than all of this thinking.

What do you want for your birthday?

Every year after her birthday is over in October, my sister starts asking me what I want for my birthday.  It is in November. And every year she ends up yelling at me, because I almost always won’t tell her what I want or if she suggests something that I feel is too expensive I will make up excuses about why I don’t want it.

Every year.

The fact is, I feel uncomfortable asking for something, it feels impolite or wrong or needy or whatever it is.  I am uncomfortable asking.  It is that simple.  Even though I am certain she doesn’t mind and can afford whatever it is I might want or ask from her.  It is sort of like when someone asks you what  do you want to do or where would you like to go out today and instead of telling them what you want you just say “whatever”.  Whatevers do not make us happy.  They are just a silly way of saying I want something but instead of asking for it I will just say that so i don’t feel like I asked for something.  Maybe I don’t want to want something and then not get it.  I am guilty of that too.  The fear of rejection or failure creeps up in every part of your life when you let it.

I also feel bad about wanting things.  It is like I do not believe I deserve to receive a gift from my loved ones.  I do not feel worthy.  I don’t feel I can afford to reciprocate a more expensive gift so I don’t want to receive one.

I did not see that reason coming.

I do not feel worthy of receiving gifts.

It is a scary sentence.  It is also heartbreaking.

But it is not true, it is a lie.  A lie that my brain has obviously so intricately woven into my thoughts that I was unaware of.  A lie that I am no longer willing to tell myself or believe.

So this year I am going to make a list and send it to her.