Brainwashing My Kids

“Papa, you look like a girl,” laughed Cookie Monster.

“Why?” replied Hapa Papa. “Is it because I have Sasquatch in an Ergo*?”


I had to interject. “Remember, Cookie Monster, there are no boy clothes or girl clothes. Just clothes. Just like there are no boy things or girl things. Just things.”

“Oh, yeah!”

“Do you know what the only difference between girls and boys is?” I continue.


“A boy has a penis and a girl has a vagina.” I pause, because technically, that is not always true. “Actually, sometimes, girls are born without penises but their brains feel like they are boys, so they don’t have penises but are still boys.”

“Some boys are born with penises but they are actually girls so they also are girls,” Hapa Papa continued, surprising me.

“How does that happen?” Cookie Monster giggled.

“Some people just change the way they dress for awhile, or they take special medicines to change their bodies,” I replied.

“People just want to be happy,” continued Hapa Papa.

And then I left to go write.

As I was driving, it occurred to me that if I were to post the interaction on Facebook, folks who disagreed with me would likely accuse me of brainwashing my children.

But you know what?

All parenting is brainwashing our children. ALL OF IT.

No matter what you do as a parent, you are brainwashing your children with how you think they should view, participate, and interact with the world.

Whether it is something as mundane as how to load the dishwasher or something more “radical” (but hopefully, just as mundane in the future) as normalizing transgendered people, we brainwash our kids by imprinting our values upon them.

That’s our job as parents.

Whether or not our kids choose to continue with these beliefs in the future, that is up to them as people.

And thus, Hapa Papa and I try to normalize things that we ourselves did not grow up learning. We don’t make a big deal out of it. We just point things out consistently and gently remind our kids every time they state something that is the current norm (eg: dancing is for girls or trains are for boys).

This is how Glow Worm dresses up as Elsa or a mermaid or wears heels and sparkly shoes and necklaces. Cookie Monster went through this phase as well and grew out of it. If Glow Worm never does, that is perfectly fine, too.

Or this is why, when Cookie Monster once asked me if two men could have a baby, I said something to the effect of a baby could have two daddies, but making a baby required a sperm and an egg. (Hey, biological fact is also important.) I’m not really sure what the conversation entailed due to the vagaries of time, but that was the gist.

After all, we offer them unfettered access to YouTube which reflects mainstream views about what is supposed to interest boys or girls. I know it is impossible for us to catch and “correct” them all. And even if we did, they exist in this world and this reality and they are not stupid.

My kids are bound to absorb the unconscious messages they receive from media, family, and friends.

But hopefully, with years of repetition, my children will grow up thinking that people and families come in all shapes and sizes, abilities, colors, talents, loves, and desires. Some families have two fathers. Some have more. Some have only one mother. Some have none. Some have brothers and sisters. Some do not.

It is really that simple.

And mostly, people just want to live, love, and be without explanation and fear. That people want to just be who they are, when and where they are.

Yes, yes. Of course not every body can be who they are, when and where they are, because pedophiles and bad people.


Neither are gays, lesbians, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

If I were really worried about pedophiles and bad people, I would tell them to avoid middle-aged white men who are religious leaders. (Don’t get mad at me for stating facts. Get mad at the white men doing bad things.)

At any rate, I am hopeful, in the era of 45 (I refuse to call him President because it hurts my brain and I am still unwilling to acknowledge reality), that the more of us who teach our children that all peoples are deserving of the freedom to live and love how they choose, the less likely another 45 will come into being.

Incidentally, that’s also why I wanted more kids. The super conservatives are outbreeding us liberals. (Kidding!! Kidding! I wanted lots of kids because of other reasons – but this doesn’t hurt!)

How are you brainwashing your kids?


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Where’s My “Women’s Work” Medal?

women's workThere should be a special kind of swagger after you complete a shit ton of housework. Or a badge of honor. Whatever it is, it should be obvious, huge, and awesome.

After all, I just spent two entire days doing several loads of laundry, folding it, and actually putting it away. (We all know that it’s the folding and then the putting away that is the most difficult. And for some, remembering to move from the washer to the dryer without having to run the cycle again because you forgot and the wet laundry got mildewy. I confess: this has only happened to me once. I consider myself lucky and fortunate. We are in a drought.)

That alone took awhile, but the bulk of these past two days has been finally stripping beds of long overdue sheets, as well as washing the months worth of sheets that have been piled up in my upstairs hallway for who knows how long? We have a lot of beds. And I hadn’t washed my sheets or blankets or sheet protectors for at least two seasons and cycles (this is where having multiple sets of sheets and sheet protectors is handy for procrastinating).

I am not kidding when I say there were close to ten loads run just these last two days. There goes that drought thing.

And sheesh. Have you ever folded sheets and duvets and fitted sheets? Especially for queens and king sized beds? EXHAUSTING.

This past weekend, I deep cleaned my bathtub and shower. (Last time I did this, I was pregnant with Glow Worm.) I even cleaned the jets/pipes for our tub. That wasted a lot of water. I also cleaned our sink area and the bathroom.

I was sore for days. I’ve only recently been able to sit down without holding onto a wall. Scrubbing a bathtub is a really good butt workout, apparently. No wonder I avoid it.

Did I mention that I also vacuumed most of the upstairs?

Have I just spent approximately three hundred words telling you about how I cleaned my house and did laundry and did the stuff that millions of women and caretakers do every fucking day?

Yes. Yes, I have.

I don’t care that this is the stuff that doesn’t seem important and amazing. It IS important and amazing.

I know. I wrote about this already and often refer back to the book that changed my life: The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work,” by Kathleen Norris (Amazon affiliate link).

But truly, it bears repeating.

Why shouldn’t we celebrate doing “women’s work”? The menial tasks of life that are looked down upon but make a life of meaning possible.

Yes, I did just say that.

The shit work we do makes a life of meaning possible for ourselves, our partners, and our children.

It is a noble task whether I am like some of my friends who are always cleaning their homes or like me, slovenly and meh about it.

So, I know this post is shorter than my norm by about 65%, but I’m exhausted from all that laundering I did these past two days (as well as purging the house, taking the kids to their camps, and prepping for our trips).

Anyhow, today’s post is to give you, my dear friends, a place to brag about the shit you got done today (or recently). I don’t care if it’s as simple as making lunch for your kids or doing the dishes. There are few things I hate as much as providing three meals a day for my children. It sucks. I hate it. But for some reason, they get hungry and stuff.

Ok. Have at it. Tell me how awesome you have been! No task too small. Be shamelessly braggy. I look forward to reading and celebrating how fucking fantastic you are.

If You REALLY Wanted to Protect Your Daughters

img_8149Around the end of May, I was seeing a lot of hysteria on my FB feed from my religious friends (not all of them, mind you – nor even the majority of them – but ENOUGH of them) going out of their proverbial minds because OMG WE MUST PROTECT OUR DAUGHTERS FROM MEN WHO WILL PRETEND TO DRESS UP LIKE WOMEN JUST TO RAPE OUR DAUGHTERS OH NOEZ!

And really, I want to just go off on these normally nice people because FFS, you fucking hypocrites.

You say you want to “protect” our daughters? So you choose this ridiculous straw man to oppress people who just want to be left alone and pee and shit in peace without fear of assault? Because guess who has actual reason to fear assault in a bathroom (or really, ANYWHERE)?

That’s right. LGBT folks.

Not your daughter. (Unless, of course, your daughter is LGBT.)

To date, ZERO people have been raped or assaulted in a public restroom by a transgendered person. As for all the other people who have assaulted folks in a public restroom, THAT IS ALREADY ILLEGAL.

I’m pissed off because if you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would care about equal rights, reproductive rights, consent, and dismantling patriarchy.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would be very careful about who your children (because let’s face it, our sons are also potential victims) hang around – especially since 93% of juvenile victims knew their perpetrator – of which 34% were family members.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would be terrified of white men over 30 (instead of any black male) because 57% of perpetrators are white and 50% are older than 30.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would teach your sons about consent and not give them a “pass” because boys are just being boys.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would not find it cute or tell the lie that if a boy hits a girl or annoys her or in anyway refuses to acknowledge her “No” on the playground that it’s because he likes her or he must find her pretty.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would demand that victims of rape are not asked about what they were wearing, how much they were drinking, or any aspect of their sexuality or character during a rape trial. Because THEY ARE NOT THE PERSON ON TRIAL. The RAPIST is.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would tell the fashion police at school to STFU because your daughter is not responsible for how your son thinks.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would teach your boys and girls not to slut shame.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would support Planned Parenthood for being one of the nation’s leading providers of low cost health care (reproductive or otherwise) and information to millions of women and men.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would believe your daughters when they tell you they were raped or sexually abused or assaulted. You would believe them even if their abusers were famous, rich, powerful, in politics, or in their faith community (particularly a leader).

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would believe Amber Heard, Ke$ha, Dylan Farrow, and the 57 women who came forward after decades.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would support sex education and none of this abstinence only shit. Girls and boys deserve to know how their bodies work and function.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would arrest the johns and not the sex workers.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would make sure that entitled white athletes convicted of rape and sexual assault didn’t get 6 months for their convicted crime because they no longer can eat steak.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would do a lot more to defend and provide for the poor in terms of welfare and SNAP because the majority of people they provide for are children – and many of them are daughters.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would fight for equal pay for equal work.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would fight to end the “Second Shift.”

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would value traditionally “women’s work” such as child-rearing, care-giving, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would stop it with the body shaming and allow your daughters to have the body that they have because it’s beautiful.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would do all these things and more.

But what you wouldn’t ever need to do, is worry about whether a transgendered person was using the “right” bathroom.