Not as blurry as it seems...

Some days its a struggle not to become a big judgemental fuddy-duddy in my old age. I hear that voice in my head and wonder who the hell it is? You know, the one that says shit like:

"WHAT. ON. EARTH. is that girl wearing?"  or "Are you serious? THIS is what kids call music these days?" or  the ever popular "Well, I never (insert thing you never have/will/or would do in your lifetime)...."

Its hard to look around some days and NOT think that the world is going to "hell in a hand-basket" (that's fancy for really fucked up!) and we had better just hold on for dear life and hope we don't all fall out of our baskets and into the proverbial lake of fire!

I can't help but think that every generation feels this way when they see all the new fan-dangled ways that the younger generation goes about their business. The way they dress, the way they talk, the kind of music they listen to and the way the world (and primarily technology) is changing, which these days is kind of like one of those crazy super exponential math problems that I for one, could never quite figure out!

The kids these days love their Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. I loved Madonna and Billy Idol. They have Edward and Bella and we had Keifer Sutherland in 'The Lost Boys'. Short shorts or leggings are the uniform du jour for most teenage girls right now and in my day, it was mesh crop tops and fluorescent hammer pants. I am sure a lot of "grown ups" thought we were a bunch of crazy kids, listening to our devil music and wearing our clothes backwards (Kris Kross will make you JUMP! JUMP!!) and rolled their eyes at us just as much as my generation does today seeing some of the things the kids do that make us all go, HUH???

Being a parent brings all of this front and centre in your life. You become painfully aware of the world you live in and the influences that exist outside of you and your home on your children. Things that never bothered you before, all of a sudden become the things that keep you up at night wondering how/when or why it may or may not mess up your children's lives.

Ok,I am sorry.

Enough vague-blogging...

(I am taking full credit for that one, as Urban Dictionary only lists vaguetweeting and vaguebooking as actual things!).

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I've got a problem with Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines song. And the YouTube-banned video and the subtext of the lyrics and the fact that the lines may be blurry, but the message (at least to me) is NOT! You can head over to read Julie Green's post at Yummy Mummy Club for a sampling of the lyrics and Thicke's explanation that all three of the contributing artists are "happily married with kids" to justify that it's just a song and they are just having some fun objectifying women, something they don't get to do in real life, because they have "...always respected women".

Seriously???

Here is my issue. These LINES can get VERY blurry for a lot of kids, the primary consumer of this particular brand of pop culture. Oh, I don't know, how about a bunch of drunk boys at a party in Ohio, thinking that it would be fun to just objectify and follow around and subsequently sexually assault a passed out sixteen year old girl. Supposedly "good boys" at that, who didn't realize that what they were doing was a crime. That in the end, what they did, was in fact NOT funny at all, NOT actually that blurry of a line and didn't make any of them, the perpetrators of said crime or the filmers of its extremely offensive and objectifying play-by-play commentary, cool, hip or particularly date-able in any near or far distant future!

I am not saying that THIS particular song has anything to do with that incident, but its hard to deny that there is a theme in a lot of today's music that degrades women, making them seem more like objects to be won, fondled, man-handled or "torn in two". It exists in television and in film as well and the Internet and our easy access to so much media and in so many forms makes these images and these songs lyrics just part of a normal days entertainment for most kids.

It's easy to just brush it all off with a casual, "Oh, it's just a song, he/she is an artist and doesn't mean anything by it." or "That's just a TV show/movie/video game, it's not REAL." And that my friends, is where the lines really start to blur. WE, as the grown-ups may be able to understand or more clearly see those lines between artistic license and reality, but our impressionable young ones? Maybe not so much.

“Adolescent brains don't cement up as fast as we thought they did," observes Gordon Neufeld, a child psychologist in Vancouver. “For a long time we thought that the brain's hard-wiring was finished by the time kids hit their teens, but we now recognize it has a high degree of plasticity, which means that young adults are still highly adaptive creatures that can learn from example and experience."

If the examples that they hear on the radio or on their Songza playlists and see on TV or Netflix on a regular basis are ones of objectification of women, violence, and sexism, this kind of stuff gets stored in their brains and then ALL the LINES start to get really BLURRY! Girls may start believing that their only worth is tied to what they look like or what they are or are not wearing and boys may start to believe that no means maybe, or maybe means yes, or passed out means fair game. If you don't believe me, check out the Instagram feed of anyone under 16 years old.

Look, I am not trying to be all soap-boxy here and saying that Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. are single-handedly contributing to the perpetuation of rape-culture in our society. I am saying that "I" have a problem with this particular song and its message and it is not something I want my kids to listen to. Kids who, by the way, have somehow become very good at picking up song lyrics these days. The "Mom, what does he mean when he says "I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two?" is NOT the conversation that I EVER want to have with my child!

So for now, for this song (and for a few others as well) I flip the station or turn off the radio.

Also, I have convinced them that Daft Punk is not "staying up all night to get lucky", they have actually "grown up with Mexican Monkeys!"

I win at "Parental Controls" and utter fuddy-duddyness this week!!

parentalcontrols

Natasha~

The babysitter conundrum

Ah, the babysitter, that coveted being that you can trust with your kids, that will play with them, feed them, care for them, and keep them alive long enough for you to sneak in a date night here and there, or get to a spin class or do those errands that take 1.5 hours when you are alone, but at least 4 hours when the kids are with you. For some of us the babysitter is a family member. Grandma and Grandpa or the aunties and uncles. But what happens when no family is around to help out? When you live far away from your family or caring for your kids regularly is a bit much for the grandparents?

Besides our family members, my kids have had three babysitters. One is the teenage daughter of my former La Leche League leader and has known my kids since they were teeny tiny and has loved them ever since, one is a wonderful woman that I met at a Modern Mama babysitter mixer and has been our regular day-time sitter for the past 18 months and the third is a new girl that also sits for one of my best friends.

The problem is that two of them are heading back to school in the fall and our regular sitter had the nerve to go off and get married and is starting a family of her own (Sheesh!). So I am now without a regular sitter for any or all of the above reasons that I would need one!

And being as we just moved into a new neighbourhood, I have been keeping my eyes open and ears to the ground for any leads close by. It just so happens that our immediate neighbours across the alley are a lovely family with two teenage boys (14 and 16) and my first thought moving in was, "I wonder if either of them would want to babysit for us?".

I am bringing this up, because the topic of babysitters came up today with the kids while out for a family walk. Little C asked me if our new babysitter was going to be a boy. Up to now and before we moved, I had not really contemplated the idea, mainly because we did not have any boys of the babysitting age around us or available and I already had the best sitters around!

One of my kids favourite story books is a Fancy Nancy one called, "Fancy Nancy & the Sensational Babysitter".  In it Nancy is anxiously awaiting her new babysitter 'Alex' and is bitterly disappointed when HE shows up! In the end Alex turns out to be quite good at this babysitting thing and Nancy gives him a big thumbs up and hopes he comes again soon. The concept of a boy being a babysitter is not a big deal to my children.

But it seems that for others, this is not the case. Tonight just before dinner, I posed this question on both Twitter and Facebook.

"Have you or would you hire a teenage boy to babysit your kids?"

The responses have ranged from a straight up "Hell, no!" to "I have, I do and I would gladly sing his praises. He's an excellent kid and is a fabulous sitter for my 2 year old daughter!".  A few have said that they wouldn't want to 'take the risk' with a boy sitter.  Most comments say that yes, they would and that choosing a sitter is about knowing the person, regardless of gender. A lot of comments have been about fabulous memories of the boy babysitters people had as kids and the common thread is that they often tend to play more with kids than the girls do.

But the two comments that have stood out the most for me are from my friend Farren and from the husband of another friend.

Farren said, "We limit boys and men as nurturers simply by entertaining this idea. Trust people, not genders."

And Doug said, "...Boundaries are defined not only by what they contain, but by what's outside them. It's not about the teenage boy, it's about those who question the teenage boy... and why. It all comes down to individual trust, and I don't see what gender has to do with that."

While the majority of the comments have been that yes, most would or have had a boy babysitter, the ones that won't even consider it an option because of the potential risk that is perceived when a teenage boy is alone with kids and left to his own devices are the ones that are burning a hole in my gut tonight.

I can understand the need to protect our children from any and all potential harm, but what I can't understand is the blatant sexism and prejudice that exists in our world. Yes, there are bad men out there and they do some very bad things {trust me people, THIS I know}, but to paint all boys with a blatant "never gonna happen" paintbrush, just doesn't sit well with me. My 17-year old nephew is a huge kid, he is 6'2" already, has a deep man's voice and is a guy's guy. He is also the most gentle and patient kid I have ever seen. He is an amazing big brother to his 2.5 year old sister and a super fun cousin for my little ones. That someone would think that because he is a boy, this makes him any less caring or potentially more 'dangerous' than say, his 14-year old sister, makes me shake my head.

These boys are the future fathers of our world and like Farren says, why would we want to limit their potential for nurturing? Why not give them a chance to care for small people, to learn these life skills and be better MEN for it? How many of us are married to men who never spent much time with kids before they had their own? Why would we want to perpetuate this cycle?  How can we even start to contemplate a world in which we are all equal when we can't even see a teenage girl and a teenage boy as having equal merit as a babysitter?

I have a lot of questions tonight and not a lot of answers. Doug's comment has me thinking and thinking. About the boundaries that we put up around our children and ourselves. About what we are trying to contain (innocence? theirs? ours?) and what we are trying to keep out. About my own prejudices and fears and from that {not yet talked about} place from which they stem...

The reality is, that I am still in need of a few good babysitters for my roster. If the boys across the alley are game, are good kids (as I suspect they are) and have some basic babysitting skills (IE, can make a mean PB&J sandwich, know a few things about LEGO building and can muddle through a tea party), then I'm pretty sure I am too.

Wish me luck!

Natasha~

 

What about you? Would you or have you had a boy babysitter care for your kids? Why or why not?

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This is Post 25 of the 31 Days of Summer Blog Challenge

There are some good ones today from my co-bloggers, please check them out.

Zita at The Dulock Diaries.

Meaghan at MagzD Life

April at This Mom’s Got Something to Say

Aramelle at One Wheeler’s World

 Jessica at 2plus2X2

and Liam at In the Now