Don’t do anything they tell you to.

10 years ago at this time I was the young mother of only 4 children. We were going through the excruciating process of getting child number 3 diagnosed (PDD-NOS, which I know is no longer a thing) and beginning to get her some help. I was homeschooling her 2 older brothers and her younger brother was just learning how to walk.

The professional in charge of our school district’s special education department had a lot of advice for me; you see their team was full of folks with master’s degrees and Doctorates, and I was just a stay at home mom with a high school diploma. It was advised that I put my older boys in school asap, enroll the girl in EEE, and have a troop of therapists ect. come to our house on a daily basis to work with her.

My response?  “But there are 6 of us, the whole family cannot revolve around one child!” They however believed it should. Afraid that my other children would resent their sister (and eventually me), I went my own way, ignoring most of what I was advised, and feeling in turns guilty, terrified, and glad every day since.

This week my number 1 son turned 16. He celebrated with me and his 5 siblings. He laughed at private jokes with his now “highly functioning” sister. He offered me a hug. He played video games with his youngest (non verbal) brother. Everyone was included, no resentment was evident, and the high needs kids were in the thick of it even without the benefit of thousands of hours of therapies that I refused for them. It’s a lovely thing to behold when this family thing is working.

So, I offer you this, the only parenting advice I shall ever give:

We all have different stories, different needs, different priorities. But when you look at your child what does your heart tell you to do? Because only a parent knows what their child needs, knows what is best for their family, knows what they are willing to risk or sacrifice. I have faith that you know what is best for your kids, you should have faith in that too.

And never do anything just because “they” told you to.


You Should Date An Illiterate Girl

Thought Catalog

Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in the weary squalor of a Midwestern bar. Find her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love. Fuck her.

Let the anxious contract you’ve unwittingly written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like sushi, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into…

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Letter of Gratitude to a Terrible Principal

Dear Draconian Administrator;

We have had our disagreements these past 4 years (some of them have involved the police and courtrooms). I know that you shake your head in disbelief at my parenting strategies in the same way that I shake my head at your power trips and obvious dislike of my boys.

I want to first apologize for leaving our last meeting early, you see I felt that I was perilously close to violating several of my Quaker testimonies (simplicity, peace,integrity,  community, equality) and I just didn’t want to go there.

Mostly, what I would like to do is express my Gratitude to you. Sounds crazy, I know; but you have helped me teach my oldest sons lessons that I never could have taught them alone. Big Life Lessons. Important Stuff that will make them better, stronger people in the long run…

Thanks to you, they have learned to Stand Their Ground, to weight their choices and decide if their conviction was worth facing the consequences, to listen to their own hearts and trust that still small voice to tell them what is right instead of following the leader.

They have learned to Fight for the Little Guy, because sometimes those people charged with protecting the most vulnerable just won’t do it, and when that happens people of conscience have to step up and step in and join the fray in the name of those to weak to fight themselves.

They have learned to Question Authority, because no matter how well educated you are, no matter what your position, no matter who else trusts you – you may be wrong, and someone needs to call you out on that.

They have learned Public Relations, everything can be spun, and public opinion is rarely based on facts. Armed with this understanding, they can chose how they present themselves for others perception.

They have learned Civics up close. They now know the inner workings of the Police Department, the School Board, the City Council, and the Court Room.

They have learned persistence. They now understand that losing a battle does not mean you should quit before you win the war.

Most important (to me, at least) you have given me the opportunity to show them that I will always have their backs; that when they screw it up I will hold them up while they fix it; and when they’re in the right, I will fight tooth and nail to make sure they win.

Thank you for all of this, Terrible Principal. I wish you well, and sincerely hope that I can find a better way to teach my younger children all of the wonderful lessons you have taught their brothers.

Girls With Swords

Girls With Swords

My sons opted out of Halloween this year (well, sort of). The 14 y.o. dressed as a “disaffected teenager”, the 12 and 9 y.o. dressed as their older brother. The 7 y.o. has sensory issues and doesn’t dress up.
But my girls… my girls did it up. The big one went as a “dragon fighting knight” or Joan of Arc, depending on who asked. The little one, a blood thirsty pirate. In solidarity, I went piratey too.
When we were all done up it occurred to me – all the girls have swords!
Now, I know that as a Quaker and a pacifist I should be bothered by this. I should probably never have strapped on that sword, or allowed them to.
But here’s the thing, I kinda think we rocked. Given the choice, with no input from me, my girls chose to haul out their brother’s old costumes and fantasize about being someone who kicks butt and takes names, rather than someone who looks cute and requires rescuing. They were fierce in costume as they are fierce in life.
Girls with swords… finally some tangible proof that this Mama is getting some things right.

How Not To Parent 101….or Why My Kids Are So Damn Cool (2012)

Tonight after dinner my #1 child, age 13, remained at the table to talk with us of many things. We discussed the Hapsburg Dynasty, the League of Nations, the creation of the USSR, the Kinnsey Scale, and predjudices about how people with “alternative” sexualities or gender identities “should” look. The kid was, understandably, surprised to find out his dad is pan-sexual. Once he absorbed this info he was equaly surprised that I am straight. ’cause, ya know, Bey is kinda rugged, and as I sit here typing, I am sporting a crew-cut, jeans, Docs, and a “legalize gay” t-shirt. What we came up with is people are attracted to who they are attracted to; and look how they look. And the two have no necessary correlation.

Also, he has decided to call me “Butch” and his father “Tinkerbell”, cause, well, he is our kid.

Gratitude (november 2012)

I have spent this year mindfully trying to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, and I believe I am making headway. Most mornings I walk out my front door feeling blessed; but it’s a general sort of thing.

So on this day of Giving Thanks I thought it might be a good excersize to enumerate the blessings of the passing year.

I am thankful for expensive lessons learned cheap, and for every difficulty and challenge I faced. I didn’t like them at the time, I’m still not liking them now, but they are the thing that propels you down the road to destinations unknown.

I am thankful for old friends who have hung in. God I don’t know how people have the patience to love me sometimes.

I am thankful for new friends. Some of you are already like the family I wish I had. I fully intend to grow old with a few of you.

I am grateful to the vanilla busy-body who “outed” me. No one has ever done me such a favor! I found strength I didn’t know I had, and a fully open life is such a precious gift.

I am thankful for pies in the oven, the noise and chaos of my hoarde, long distance phone calls, miraculous good health, indoor herb gardens, finding my voice, finding my vocation, losing my hair, losing my heart,  learning to enjoy solitude,  plans and promises, companionable silences (even on the phone!), uncertainty and adventure, possibilities,…

On Defending One’s Orientation (November 2012)

I live in a liberal place, Vermont was the first state to introduce civil unions, and the first state to introduce same-sex marriage by enacting a statute without being required to do so by a court decision. We have a rockin’ Pride Day, our schools celebrate Ally Week. All 6 of my kids have friends and classmates with same-sex parents. Folks working in schools and in politics are “out”, some are way out. Hell, I came out on Facebook as poly and kinky, and the parents of kids at the school where I work sent me messages of support.

So, you ask, what’s this rant going to be about? It’s about defending my staightness. You see, in the circles I run in there seems to be a great deal of both tacit and explicit straight shaming.

Let’s be clear; I find women awfully beautiful. They are softer than men, curvier, easier on the eyes. but in the same way that it would never occur to me to enter a museum and dry-hump a Rodin, it would never interest me to have sex with a woman.

And yes, I have tried! (several times) At a time when I was trying to figure out all the kinky and poly I also gave Bi a go. Principally because I felt pushed by folks who kept asking if I had tried. Friends, I love you, but this is the most disrespectful of questions. And it’s one, incedentally, that you would never ask a man. The question implies that a woman who identifies as straight does not know her own mind or understand her own desires. Bi-sexual women may be the norm in the kink community, but they are not the rule.

What is it about my hetero-sexuallity that offends you so? Do you think it’s a jugement, that it makes me homophobic? I can assure you I am not. My partner of 15 years is pan-sexual, my son may well be bi, some of my very dearest friends are of various orientations-not-straight.

Does it make negotiation impossible? Have I created an impasse in  your “we are poly but we share all our partners” style arraingement? It may be a great set-up for you guys, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

Does it fuck with your fantasy life? Do you like the idea of two women together and I just won’t play? Truely, you can find lots of girls-not-me to do that for you.

Did you think I was cute and I turned you down? Really I swear, it wasn’t you! You are probably fabulous, you just don’t come with a penis attached and I need that. Well, ok, you may have been fabulous, before you got more agressive and nasty with me than any man I ever turned down for less objective reasons. (this has happened to me several times in the last few months… what’s the deal ladies?!)

I should not have to come on-line or go out to events and be afraid of the reaction when I use the S-word. I should not have to justify my orientation. I should not be made to feel guilty just because women don’t get me hot and wet. I have no more control over who I want than you do. I assure you I am not bigotted, or repressed, or afraid; though I am starting to become a little angry.

It is demeaning and prejudicial to ask a heterosexual person if they are “sure”, if they have “tried”, if they “gave it a chance”. It is presumptive to tell us that we “just haven’t met the right girl”. It is not ok to assume that we are unaccepting of non-hetero-normative folks. It is absurd to be nasty about it.

At the end of the day, I want to fuck who I want to fuck. Just like everyone else. And I am of the opinion that as a community of outliers we should make a concerted effort to embrace everybody’s kink, even when it’s not our kink, even when it’s heterosexuality.