Archives

FFS, People! Teach Kids to Share!

**This post has a lot of swearing in it. You have been warned.**

sadI was preparing an entirely different blog post with significantly less swearing, but that one will need to wait. All this week, I’ve been seeing the same ridiculous “article” being shared all over Facebook and lauded as good and true and the way we should be raising our kids. It’s this one, in which the author (Very Bloggy Beth, henceforth referred to as VBB) argues that we should not teach our kids to share because by doing so, we are enforcing the idea that  our children are “entitled” to anything they want and that they can “step all over people to get what they want.” I have read this “article” several times over, trying to glean even a semblance of common sense or veracity from it, and all I’ve gotten for my trouble was an eye sprain from rolling them so hard at the overly-entitled bullshit attitude presented. I’ve also gotten a severe case of the sadz from both the “article” and the egotistical congratulatory attitude of, “Yeah! No one should have to share!” that I’ve been seeing all over FB this week. Thus, even though I can’t believe I have to say this, I will say it: “For Fuck Sake, People! Teach Kids to Share!”

 

Share, Goddammit!

Share, Goddammit!

Before I go further, I will say that I do agree with the first scenario VBB presents. That child brought a toy from home to the playground and should not have been made to share it if he didn’t want to. Personally, I wouldn’t have allowed my kids to bring something into a public place where there are other children if they weren’t willing to share it, but that’s me. So whatever. As for the rest of the asshattery presented, OMFG. There is no way in hell I would have allowed my child to monopolize a communal toy other children were waiting to use, and I sure as shit would not have sat on the sidelines if my kid was unwilling to share. That bullshit doesn’t fly here. I usually never judge other parents, but I am going to judge the shit out of that. Way to teach your kid that no one matters but them! Excellent job, VBB, you’re parent of the year! *said Juliane sarcastically* I’m curious to know how VBB would have felt if the situation was reversed? Would she have been just hunky-dory, A-OKAY! with another child denying her special snowflake the opportunity to ride on that toy for an entire 90 minutes? That might as well be a year in a toddler’s mind. And if there really was another “almost identical” toy nearby, why couldn’t HER child have used that one instead? Or why couldn’t the two kids have taken turns on the identical items, trading off after every few minutes? To me, that whole situation smacks of pure selfishness and plain lazy-ass “parenting.”

VBB defends her fucked up view of life by giving the example that “you wouldn’t cut in line at the grocery store just because you don’t feel like waiting,” and that is true. But, as a woman in my parenting group pointed out, you also wouldn’t stay at the front of the check-out line all day and say, “Screw all these people behind me!” Instead, you’d do your thing and then you’d move on, and then the next person would take their turn. Hey, wait! That’s sounds an awful lot like…*gasp* SHARING! I sure hope VBB isn’t encouraging her most special child to wait in lines! <<eye roll>> <<holy shit, my left eyeball just rolled away!!>> <<Fuck! Hold on.>> <<Okay, eyeball reinserted.>> VBB also states that by not teaching sharing, our kids learn how to cope with disappointment. While I agree that children do need to learn how to deal with disappointment since life is full of it, that doesn’t give our own kids the right to purposefully CAUSE frustration and hurt feelings in others by acting like self-centered fuckwads. Nor should we, as parents, condone that type of behavior by our silence from the sidelines. That is NOT okay. As for VBB’s bullshit examples of sharing cell phones and sunglasses, those are personal property, not public equipment and thus are not applicable. And, anyway, who hasn’t loaned their cellphone to someone needing to make a quick call? Is that just me? Well, I guess it’s because *MY* mom taught me how to share and take turns.

sharing5

“Would you like some of this crap?” “Why, yes! Thank you, I would like some of that crap!”

Look, I get it. Parenting is hard. It’s so much easier to just let the kids do what they want, whenever they want, for as long as they want. And it’s certainly easier to sit your ass on the sidelines than to get in there and explain life to your kid or to be the one implementing a disappointment. But, when we don’t teach and enforce common courtesy towards others, THAT is when we are doing our kids a great disservice. Sharing itself is what teaches kids that we aren’t entitled to whatever we want for as long as we want it. Sharing also teaches kids the art of negotiation, empathy for others, and patience. It will also teach your special little snowflake how to deal with the disappointment of not getting exactly what you want exactly when you want it. Sharing is mostly a lesson for the person doing the sharing, not for the person on the receiving end of the sharing. Knowing how to share and take turns is an important life skill and kids are not born with it. The fact of the matter is that kids are born as selfish assholes. It’s really their defining characteristic. That means that it is doubly important that we grown-ups teach children how to be functional in society. To that end, how about we not teach kids that it’s okay to hoard something that’s for the entire group? How about we NOT teach little Jonnie and little Janie that they are the center of the universe and that the rest of us mere mortals just have to wait? How about instead, we DO teach our kids the joy and sense of fulfillment that can come from allowing someone else to go ahead of you in line, to take a turn with a coveted item, and to just be kind to others because that’s what people should do?

Look, I know people are going to raise their children in the manner they see fit and that, ultimately, this post only serves to vent my own feelings and make me feel a bit better about this shitty world. Some people are going to teach their kids the atrocious manners espoused by VBB. It makes me sad for your kids if you decide that MEMEMEMEMEMEMEME! attitude is right for your family. I can only hope you are in the extreme minority and that majority of us (I know I am) are still teaching our kids to share and to take turns. I suppose that only time will tell, but it seems to me that any delightfully self-centered egomaniacs will eventually be put in their place by their peers. I mean, think about when you were a kid…did you want to play with someone who didn’t know how to share and take turns? Did you want to play with someone who hogged all the good toys? I’m guessing not. To be clear, I’m not advocating that kids must share everything all the time, but I am saying that we DO need to teach our kids that we should share and we should teach them how to share. For example, in VBB’s second scenario, she could have said, “Hey, why don’t you, sweet fruit of my own loins, ride that toy for 5 minutes and your new friend can ride this on this one for 5 minutes, and then we could switch?” (OMG…compromise! negotiation! *clutches pearls* sharing!) Contrary to what VBB seems to think, those are skills most of us adults use daily. Guess what? We started practicing those skills at a young age on the playground. So, FFS, People! Teach Kids to Share!

sharing1

Advertisements

All’s Fair in Friends and Brothers

I have two handsome, highly energetic, and vivacious sons. Now ages 6 and 4 years old, M and R (respectively) have been inseparable ever since R made his appearance in February 2010. Born to the same gender and only 20 months apart, they have created a kind of built-in peer and friend environment within our home. It’s a boy-universe of trains, trucks, cars, and airplanes ruled by complex procedures, routines, and play that M and R both shift and navigate. A universe inhabited by them and them alone. Until recently.

Brudders.

Brudders.

Of my two sons, M is a bit more like me-a touch socially awkward and not exactly sure how to make new friends. He’s a witty and charming, but content to play by himself or with R most of the time. R takes after my husband socially; he’s the life of the party and seems to innately know how to connect with new people. These differences were never more evident to me than this past Saturday when we attended a birthday party for one of R’s best friends. It was the standard kid party fare-outdoor play, presents, piñata, cake. It was a great time; however, it was the first time M has seen his brother run around, play, and behave like a 4-year-old boy with other 4-year-old boys. While at the party, I could tell that M was discomfited with the situation. He repeatedly tried to enjoin R in familiar “at home play,” and although R did not ignore him, he was clearly more interested in running with his buddies and engaging in their familiar customs of pre-school chase and play. M did his best to insert himself into their routines, but it was to no avail. At the end of the party, as we said our good-byes and thank yous, M was clearly jealous as R hugged his buddy with reckless abandon and clear affection. It wasn’t until the day after the birthday party that M could hold back his upset no longer, confessing amid tears after a minor brotherly scuff-up that he thought R was “not my best friend anymore” and asking “why didn’t R play with me? I’m his friend!” I had no real answer for him.

*pause for a Mommy Sob*

I assured M that he and R would always be brothers and no friend could change that. I tried to tell him that R was just excited to see his school friends and that brotherly friendship is different from school friendship, but it was unfamiliar ground for me. My own sibling and I are, and always have been, estranged. My brother and I have too many years between us to have been close growing up, and after we both reached adulthood, there were just too many differences, too many real fights, and too much in the past to bridge our gap. Thus, I really don’t know much about how siblings should play. Or how they should bond. Or how a sibling relationship evolves as the siblings grow up and branch off to their own friends, their own interests, and their own lives. Are you supposed to grow apart? It doesn’t seem that way from what I observe of my IRL and FB friends and their siblings. But what do I know about this?

I spent most of Sunday thinking about the bond between M and R and wondering if this was the beginning of the next stage inaland hug their relationship: Brothers Who Have Separate Friends. How would I help them navigate this? It has always been my most sincere hope that my children remain close for their whole lives, but I can only encourage that, not control it. I was at a loss. As Sunday rolled into Monday, we went shopping for some home improvement items, one being a pull cord extension chain so the kids can turn their overhead lights on and off without affecting the ceiling fans. Apparently, such an item is only available in 1 foot or 12 foot lengths, which is so helpful (not). I purchased the 12-foot length and figured I would have extra if I needed it. After installing the required lengths in each room, there was about 6 feet of cord left. I set it on the dresser in M’s room, and went off to put away the sharp tools. When I returned to retrieve the cord, I stood in M’s doorway and watched he and R each wrap one end of the cord around their wrists until they were connected, wrist-to-wrist–a visible representation of their invisible bond. “This way we’ll always be friends!” R exclaimed, pointing at the chain. “And we’ll be brothers, too!” said M.

I hope so, boys. I hope so.

Number Sense

I have a terrible affliction!

I have a terrible affliction!

When my son started kindergarten last July, I put off telling his teachers my occupation. First, I didn’t want them thinking I was judging their every teaching decision, and second, I didn’t want them labeling M. You see, I have this thing. This terrible, terrible affliction and I didn’t want my child caught up in the vortex. In spite of my best efforts at hiding my occupation, though, word got around. M’s teachers found out, and my efforts to protect M were all for naught. The words I’d been dreading were uttered at his fall parent-teacher conference and again at the spring conference: “He’s above grade level in math. But, of course, you already knew that. You’re good at math!”

 

Yep. I’m good at math. It’s a terrible thing to be an American who is good at math. People assume so fuck this shitmuch about you, but the worst thing is that people assume you were born naturally good at math and that you didn’t have to work for your knowledge. That you didn’t spend hours and hours and hours trying to understand Calculus III or Abstract Algebra. That differentiation and integration came to you naturally. Geometry? No problem! I sprouted from the Geome-tree!  *sigh* And people also assume that because you’re good at math, your children will also be good at it.  *double sigh* I’m also good at reading and writing. Does that mean M doesn’t need to practice those skills? That he popped out of my womb reading War and Peace and soon after wrote a book report on the tome? *sigh and eye roll*

 

Georg Cantor 1845-1918

Georg Cantor
1845-1918

Certainly, just as some people have a natural inclination for drawing or for writing, there are those among us who DO trend more naturally toward mathematics. As far as math being passed down genetically, though, no known mathematical masterminds had children who also carried on their same love of mathematics (at least, none that I can find). For example, Carl Friedrich Gauss, sometimes considered the Prince of Mathematicians, had two sons and a daughter, none of whom ended up being mathematicians. Georg Cantor, who put forth the modern theory of infinite sets, had six children, but again, none of them took up the mathematical mantle. Other more famous mathematicians, such as Newton and Liebnitz, had no known children. Science has also shown that your genetic make-up has little to do with your mathematical abilities, and that any natural abilities you might possess must be enhanced by hard work, perseverance, and a positive attitude. That might why those elements were included in the standards for mathematical practice in the Common Core. But, I digress.

 

The real problem, though, with people generally assuming that math genius-ness is passed to you from your parents is that those same people assume that no amount of hard work will propel them to understanding mathematical concepts. They put off the hard work of learning true mathematics and blame failures on a lack of inherent ability. Which is a crock of bullshit. The truth is that we all have an inherent number sense, or an idea of the quantity of people, animals, and stuff around us. We’re born with it. Having good number sense was essential for our distant ancestors, early man, who needed to use that number sense to determine if s/he was outnumbered in a situation and to answer the question, “Do I fight or do I fly?” Those with better number sense chose wisely and lived to pass on their genes. Although most of the people I know don’t have to number sensebattle wildlife for their food on a daily basis, you use that same number sense that helped our antecedents every day. You use it when you estimate how many cars are ahead of you in the line for the traffic light or to choose which check-out lane is shortest at the grocery store. You use it to estimate how many kids are at the park, how many boxes of cereal are left on a shelf, and whether or not you need to buy more goldfish crackers or if what left at the bottom of the box will last the week. And it’s that same number sense that allows your kids to accurately protest when you accidentally pour out too many Cheetos for kid #1, but not the same number for kid #2. That number sense is what we math teachers try to mold into mathematical prowess later on in life. It’s that number sense that this math-lovin’ momma is trying to capitalize on every day with my own kids. Frankly, THAT is why M is good at math…it really has nothing to do with my own abilities.

There are many simple activities you can work into your everyday routine to help your kids build their number sense. Doing these activities not only helps your own and your child’s number sense, it also helps your children see mathematics in a more positive light and it inherently tells them that math is important to you. Both of which have been shown to help children do better with math in school. Here are some every day math activities for the preschool/early elementary set that any parent or caregiver can do:

  1. Estimate & then Count Stuff! Guess how many crackers on a plate and then count them to see how close you are. Do the same thing with the number of steps from one point to another. Count how many minutes it takes to do something. Count how many signs you see while driving to school. Count money and count change. For older kids, count by twos, by threes, by fives, by tens. Count, count, count!
  2. Sort Stuff! Sort by shape, by color, by size. Then count how many of each. One of my favorite things to do is to give my m and mkids a fun-size bag of Skittles or M&M’s and have them sort by color. Then, we stack the candies by color to make a bar graph on the table.
  3. Name Shapes: There are so many shapes in the world. Start by pointing out common shapes like circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles. Once your child has mastered those, move on to more complicated shapes like trapezoids, rhombuses, and other polygons. Then start asking them to tell you the name of the shape you point out. “What shape is that?” and “How do you know?”
  4. Compare Stuff!: Which item is bigger? Which item is smaller? Which item is the biggest? Which item is lightest/heaviest? Who took more steps—you or me? How many more/less? Which number is bigger – 4 or 9? How do you know?
  5. Ask Math Facts: For my kindergartner, I randomly ask questions like, “If I had 7 trains and then two more came into the yard, how many trains would there be?” Or, “If you had 6 angry birds and your brother stole two of them, how many would you have left?”
  6. Introduce Fractions: Cut a sandwich in half (or have your child split an item). Show them that two halves make a single whole by putting the halves together like a puzzle. Or split a small bag of pretzels three ways. State that adding together all the thirds make a whole bag. And so on.
  7. Measure Stuff!: You don’t need a ruler, but that can help. Use a crayon, a pencil, your foot, a hand, etc., and start measuring the world around you.
  8. Read Maps: The next time you’re at the mall, or an amusement park, or anyplace that offers a map of the grounds, homer simpsonread it with your child. Point out (on the map) where you are and where you need to be. Estimate how far away you are from your destination. Which path should you take? Point out the symbols and the legend. Help your child decipher the code.
  9. Do Puzzles: Puzzles promote logical thinking, extrapolation from the whole, are a form of map reading and color sorting, and are just plain fun!
  10. Read Books about Math: There are many kids’ storybooks about math. My personal favorite is relatively new: 1 + 1 = 5? But, I also like: G is for Google, How Much is a Million?, Whole-y Cow: Fractions are Fun!, Bedtime Math, Mice Mischief, and How Many? How Much?

Honestly, it really doesn’t matter if your child answers your questions correctly or if you don’t know how to respond to some of the unique answers your child will inevitably give you. What matters is that you are practicing math with your child and you are giving them a glimpse into the everyday mathematical world of an adult. Just as you read stories to your kids and that helps with their early literacy skills, these activities will help with your child’s mathematical literacy. Then you, too, can be told that your child’s mathematical prowess stems from your own abilities. 🙂

So, the next time you catch yourself blaming a lack of mathematical ability on your genes (or thinking that someone’s math abilities came to them naturally), stop right there. Not only are you wrong, but you’re also setting a bad example for your kids and others around you. I can’t tell you the number of times students have stated that their problems in math are okay because, “…my mom/dad isn’t good at math either.” As if genes had anything to do with it. You ARE good at math. You were born good at it. We all need to start acting like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter!

Hello All…I took the week off to prepare for and celebrate Easter, but I’ll be back next week with a regular post. In the meantime, enjoy some of my Easter photos and this cool 3 minute video from The History Channel on the origins of the holiday. Have a great day! 🙂

 

Gwynnie Bee & Self-Image

**This is a self-reflective piece about body-image, juxtaposing models of average-ish weight against the wafer-thin models we normally see. Both types of models are lovely and needed. This is an exploration of my own thoughts on the issue.**

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad “fashions” being foisted upon the unsuspecting public. Although I did not address the issue in the last week’s blog post, I have continued my quest to find something cute, wearable, and reasonably priced in my new sizes. After being so thoroughly disappointed in every store in my city, I began searching the internet for a viable clothing alternative. I came across Gwynnie Bee, which is apparently the Netflix of clothing. Like Netflix, at Gwynnie Bee you pay a monthly fee, create a list of desired items, and, based on the plan you chose, the company sends you a certain number of clothing items at a time. You wear them and when you decide you’re done with the items, you send them back in a pre-paid envelope, and then the company sends you the next items on your list. The website even has the measurement charts for all the manufacturers they carry, thus minimizing the vanity sizing issues. So, to recap…clothing delivered to your door for a monthly fee and you can send back and get new items an unlimited number of times each month. Sounds great! How much? And what do they have? I went to the Gwynnie Bee website, clicked on the “Fresh Looks” menu tab, and started perusing the clothing items (which were no uglier and sometimes less ugly than what’s in stores now), but I couldn’t help but notice something…the models on that website are…FAT. Fat by typical modeling industry standards, anyway. Why are there fat models on a clothing site? I investigated more closely and saw that Gwynnie Bee caters to women’s clothing sizes from 10-32. Well, okay, so the company offers fashions to women who are usually ignored by clothing brands. But why are there fat models who are showing off the clothing? Don’t wafer-thin models schlep all the clothing sizes? And, wait, are the models on this site really fat or do they simply depict a more realistic picture of an average woman? These models are curvy and pretty, wearing nice clothes, and they all have hair and skin that I’m extremely jealous of. Why am I so distracted by their body types?

I first visited Gwynnie Bee’s website about 2 weeks ago. Since then I’ve been popping over to the site daily and I’ve random modelbeen thinking a lot about why I’m bothered by larger models showing how clothing made for larger women will fit said larger women. I don’t quite understand why my brain is stuck on this. Is it simply because I’m so used to seeing the standard, highly-photoshopped, blend-into-the-background young, pretty, skinny, perfectly toned model that when I’m confronted with a more middle-of-the-road body type I can’t deal? Has my brain been so warped by the photographic imagery of women (and men, too) that we see in the media every day? A few weeks ago, I would have said no, but clearly, my questioning of the models on the Gwynnie Bee website show that I’ve been deeply affected by how the media depicts women and what body characteristics give a woman “beauty.” Are the women modeling for Gwynnie Bee not beautiful (of course they are)? I wear usually wear a size 10 or a size 12 depending on the clothing manufacturer…sizes offered by Gwynnie Bee. Am I not beautiful (of course I am)? Am I more beautiful now than I was when I was 25 pounds heavier?

 

In which photo am I most beautiful? That depends on whose standards you use.

In which photo am I most beautiful? That depends on whose standards you use.

While I’ve never really consciously thought about the social norms of body types, I’ve struggled with my both my self-image and weight my entire life. When I was a young woman in my 20’s, I never really thought of myself as beautiful—I was overweight, freckled, occasionally pimply, and had/have stretch marks and cellulite marring my body. Now, as I approach middle age, I’m more confident about myself (still freckled, still occasionally pimply, still with stretch marks and cellulite) in general, but I still fret about stupid body image issues. Even with my weight loss, I am constantly wondering if the clothing I wear is acceptable for someone my size and age. I worry about the bumps and bulges that occur in more fitted items and although I’ve been eyeing 2 lovely swimsuits on the Victoria’s Secret website, I hesitate to buy either because I don’t know if I can “pull it off.” Why do I care? I like the swimsuits, I think I would look good in either of them, I have a rewards card that needs used soon, and so I should buy one, but I don’t. If I do buy one and I look nice in it, does that validate my weight loss? I like the borrowing terms and clothes offered by Gwynnie Bee, but I don’t sign up. If I use Gwynnie Bee’s services, and the clothes fit and look nice, does that make me average/fat? And why am I letting someone else’s idea of beauty and worth cloud my own thoughts?

I can’t help but wonder if, as a rather reflective 36-year-old woman, my brain is so addled by the typical images shown by the media on a daily basis, how will my sons end up defining beauty? Will they think that all women are Coca-Cola-Clothing-Spring-Summer-2011.12-MaleModelSceneNet-02supposed to be magazine perfect with smooth skin and no bumps or imperfections? That all men should aspire to six-pack abs and chiseled arms? If they were to look at a website that shows perfectly lovely women modeling nice clothing, would they, too, be thrown for an existential loop? How do we solve this? Is the solution as simple as ensuring that all body types are equally represented in media or does this problem call for a more drastic solution? I don’t know, but I do know that visiting the Gwynnie Bee website multiple times over the last two weeks is helping my brain normalize body types that differ from the typical modeling industry standards. I may or may not order that swimsuit from VS. I may or may not sign up for Gwynnie Bee’s clothing service. In the end, it matters not. The only things that really matter are:

(1) Being newly aware of prejudices I didn’t know my mind held

(2) Working to change my those perspectives

(3) Helping my sons realize that people come in all shapes and sizes and they are all beautiful.

 

Facebook Free Fridays

facebook-addiction-7I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook (FB). The website occupies a larger space in my life than I really want, but somehow, I can find it in me to quit. How else will I instantly keep up with my all friends and family simultaneously—who’s getting married, who’s having babies, who’s graduating or achieving some other life milestone? Where else will I get to see vacation photos, baby/kid photos, everyday snapshots, and the like? FB also helps me know what going on with all my favorite restaurants, companies, and amusements for the kids (hey, there’s a show at the Science Center this weekend. Does the zoo have anything? Oh, a new movie is coming out? Do they have a FB with the trailer? Let’s watch it and see if the kids are interested in going). FB tells me all the latest news headlines, both serious and humorous. I use FB to watch for items I need on various local swap sites (as well as sell some of my own no longer wanted pieces). It’s also the place where I co-admin two great groups of science minded parents from all corners of the globe, none of whom I would have ever met without FB. And frankly, I love all those parts of FB. I love seeing everyone’s daily news and pictures and videos. I love attending virtual FB parties and being able to support people.  I love sharing my own news and pictures of my mostly lovely children. But I also hate FB. I hate how much time it takes to keep up with everything. Especially when my FB newsfeed doesn’t show me what I want to see (thanks, crappy FB algorithm) and I have to go looking for it. And all that time on FB is time I have my face in a screen and not in front of my family. It’s time I’m not doing something remotely productive. It’s papers and tests ungraded and my dining room table untidied. It’s the yard unraked and the dinner unmade. So, as much as I love it, FB is a time suck, and that’s why I’ve decided it has to go. For one day a week-Friday.

Last Friday was my first Facebook Free Friday. I was determined not to log in from my computer or check FB from my phone for the entire day. Not logging in from my laptop was easy enough, but multiple times throughout the morning, I found myself reaching for my phone with the intention of checking FB. It was a compulsion…what am I missing? Did so-and-so have her baby? What about that other mother-to-be that I know? Or the other one? Are there any interesting articles that I’m missing? What’s trending? Is everyone in my groups behaving themselves? These thoughts ran through my head all morning. But as the day wore on, not only was I more productive (in fact, I wrote last week’s blog post on Friday, cleaned out my closets, and caught up on grading), but I found that I also craved looking at FB less and less. By 4pm, I was no longer reaching for my phone to check FB. I spent the evening watching Iowa State give away a basketball game and interacting with my kids. Then I went to bed–without checking into FB “one last time” and then getting sucked in for 2 hours. It was nice.

Although it was lovely to spend time free from Facebook, the day did not break me of my FB habit. As soon as I got SNN2724A1-532_1460433aup on Saturday morning, I checked FB from my phone, but when I was done reading updates and checking in on my groups (which really only took about 10-15 minutes), I was able to put down my phone and move on with my day. In odd moments on Saturday and Sunday, I still checked FB. Monday; however, found me without interest in “checking in,” and as the week wore on, I found myself less drawn to FB, the web, and technology in general. For whatever reason, it just didn’t hold the appeal it did previously. This past week, I didn’t pull out my phone during those odd moments where I had nothing else to do…like in the doctor’s waiting room, or while I was supervising my children play outside, or during the time where I wait for the clock to reach the hour where I can start class, or a hundred other times I might have normally reached for technology to entertain me. I found myself present during those little moments in life where there isn’t really anything going on but just being a human among other human beings. It’s nice to remember how to just be.

Knowing how tFacebook_like_thumbo just be and be happy is a powerful skill as is the ability to entertain yourself without a flashing screen in your face every second of every day. This is not to say that I think we should give up FB permanently. I have nothing against social networking sites or technology in general or the manner in which we use these tools. I don’t pine for the days where information was scarce, we couldn’t immediately connect with people both near and far from us, or where I could only shop my local retailers and had to be satisfied with their hours and their current inventory. FB is lovely and I will continue to utilize all the features of it that I love. Just not on Fridays. Fridays are Facebook Free.

Weight Loss, Vanity Sizing, and Fugly “Fashions”

**Fair warning: this post contains a copious amount of snark and swearing.**

For various reasons, in August 2013 I decided to try to eat healthier, exercise more, and just generally be more active. Although health and not necessarily weight loss is my ultimate goal, seeing excess pounds slowly drop away is nice side effect, and I am happy to report that I am rapidly closing in on getting rid of 25 pounds from my frame. While I would like to lose a few more than just the 25, this milestone indicates the time has come to shop for new (smaller) clothes. Not only do the clothes I currently own fit my body like an army poncho from the WPAFB Exchange, no pair of pants in my closet will sit correctly on my hips. In fact, my last few days at work have been an exercise in me covertly hitching up my sliding pants…that is NOT good when your profession involves walking around a classroom and frequently alternating between sitting and standing as you help students understand the enigma known as mathematics.

I was initially excited to shop for new clothes (SHOPPING!), and possibly a cute pair of sandals for the upcoming summer, but I was also a little irritated. Shopping for new clothes means I have to make a whole day of it or spread out my shopping time over several days. Why? Well, because of vanity sizing, of course. I’ve made no secret of my hatred of vanity sizing; not because of the psychological issues, but because I don’t feel I should have to try on EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE. OF. FUCKING. CLOTHING. IN. EVERY. SINGLE. DAMN. STORE. to find something that fits. A ladies shirt size large should be standard across all stores and all brands. A ladies size 10 pant/short/skirt should conform to standard measurements. If you outgrow it, either get comfortable with the next size up or lose weight. Clothing should not grow with you. I should not have to take the entire rack of a single style of shirt or pants into the dressing room because I have literally no fucking idea what the hell size I am. Am I a size 10? Size 6? Size 14? WHO THE HELL KNOWS? IT SURE ISN’T ME THAT KNOWS! AFTER ALL, WHY SHOULD I KNOW MY OWN CLOTHING SIZE?

Image

This was all I could find to try on. Note how many different sizes there are in just 7 items. They ALL fit. ::headdesk::

*rant continues* Additionally, not only should *I* not have to schlep all those damn clothes into the dressing room, store employees should not have to reshelve all those damn items BECAUSE I HAD NO IDEA WHAT SIZE I AM DUE TO SOME DOUCHE-IDIOT CLOTHING MANUFACTURER WHO DECIDED THAT MY WEAK LITTLE FEMALE BRAIN WILL BUY CLOTHES ONLY WHEN THE NUMBER ON THE TAG IS SMALL!  That is not how I buy clothes…I buy clothes I look good in, regardless of the tag number. No one else knows what the tag reads; I don’t go around with a giant red symbol on my chest ala Hester Prynne! The only thing other people see is how the clothes look on me. STAHP WITH THE VANITY SIZING! I DON’T HAVE 20 HOURS TO SHOP SO I CAN FIND A SINGLE PAIR OF PANTS! GET IT TOGETHER, CLOTHING MANUFACTURERS! **deep breaths**

Okay, back to topic…I lost weight. I need new clothes. So, I head on the first of what I know will be multiple shopping trips. I decide to start with Dillard’s; I needed to go out to the “Massive Waste of Land Mall” anyway. I enter the ladies department only to find that 1970’s fabrics have vomited themselves onto 1980’s clothing styles. WHAT THE HELL? The first item I saw is what can only be described as paisley print on what I consider to be pajama pants, but according to the tag, they’re supposed to be dress pants. AND. THEY. ARE HIGH. WAISTED. VOMIT.  NO. NO. NOT OKAY.

And there were jumpsuits and rompers.  For women. Not for children—-for women. Are you kidding me?

I’m not even sure what all this flouncy-ness is across the bodice of this dress. Is it some kind of shield to help ensure my nipples stay warm? All dresses are apparently required to have it. Nipple Shield Dress at the end of this link.

After enduring rack after rack of horror, I called it a day. If you’d like to embrace the fullness of what Dillard’s is offering for spring 2014, feel free to follow this link. Come back before your eyeballs melt. Sobbing.

Okay, now you’re back. I hope your eyeballs are okay. After a day of reeling with both disappointment and amazement (disappointment, because clearly the buyer for Dillard’s is going to be fired! UGH. Amazement because someone thought central Iowans would buy this garbage. Have you been here? Have you seen what we wear? Jeans. Solid color sweaters. Cardigans. Fun t-shirt tops. No one is going to buy $79 paisley pajama/work/yoga pants!), I decided to give clothes shopping another go. This time I was ready to take pictures of any fugly-ness I encountered. THERE WAS SO MUCH FUGLY-NESS. Here is just a sample of what I saw at various IOWA clothing retailers this week:

This is fairly innocuous. It makes the slideshow because it is a white jean jacket. It has a popped collar and TIGHT ROLLED SLEEVES.

This is fairly innocuous. It makes the post because it is a white jean jacket. It has a popped collar and TIGHT ROLLED SLEEVES.

FAME called. They'd like their ugly, over-sized, off-the-shoulder sweater back. *shudder*

FAME called. They’d like their ugly, over-sized, off-the-shoulder sweater back. *shudder*

This poor poor crepe confection top...it never even saw that attack doily coming.

This poor, poor crepe confection top…it never even saw that attack doily coming right for its throat.  RIP, crepe confection top.

Mom shorts. Kill them. Kill them with fire.

Mom shorts. Kill them. Kill them with fire.

WTH is this? Is it a dress? Is it a shirt? *NO ONE KNOWS*

WTH is this? Is it a dress? Is it a shirt? *NO ONE KNOWS*

On the left is a sweater? I think. Your FAME dance partner can wear it! On the right is a sweatshirt. With lace sleeves.

On the left is a sweater? I think. Your FAME dance partner can wear it! On the right is a sweatshirt. With lace sleeves. Yes, you read that correctly. A sweatshirt with lace sleeves. For your FANCY yard-work!

AI-YI-YI! This...well, this is a shirt (it comes in two colors). The back of each color is on the left and the front is on the right. The front is cotton. The back is a crepe-y polyester blend.

AI-YI-YI! This…well, this is a shirt (it comes in two colors). The back of each color is on the left and the front is on the right. The front is cotton. The back is a crepe-y polyester blend. It fits tightly in the front and loosely in the back. JUST HOW WOMEN LIKE.

Stripes? Check. Flowers? Check. Lacy Panel on the Back? Check. Vomit? Check.

Stripes? Check. Flowers? Check. Oddly placed and largely useless buttons? Check. Lacy panel on the Back? Check. Vomit? Check.

At least they're on clearance?

Zipper earrings. At least they’re on clearance?

Dressy shirts should NOT have a Daisy Duke at the bottom. Why not just get me a t-shirt clip?

Dressy shirts should NOT have a Daisy Duke tie at the bottom. Why not just get me a t-shirt clip and be done with it?

They made a matching set. They thought this fabric (polyester) and pattern was THAT good.

They made a matching set. They thought this fabric (polyester) and pattern was THAT good.

Elastic bands at the bottom of shirts look good on NO ONE. Not even the hanger.

Elastic bands at the bottom of shirts look good on NO ONE. Not even the poor defenseless hanger.

Great for a seamless transition from work to your after work golf game!

These pants allow you to seamlessly transition from work to your after work golf game or second job as a birthday party clown!

Perfect for your date with Edward Scissorhands! There will be no need to worry about your clothes being randomly cut because YOU BOUGHT THEM THAT WAY.

Any of these are perfect for your date with Edward Scissorhands! There will be no need to worry about your clothes being randomly cut when you make out because YOU BOUGHT THEM THAT WAY.

Random Ugliness bookended by a 1970's embroidered hippie-like shirt and a paisley mu-mu.

Random Ugliness bookended by a 1970’s linen and embroidered hippie-like shirt on the left and a paisley mu-mu on the right.

Dishonorable mention. The only thing even remotely fashionable here is the necklace on the middle model. It costs $50 and is plastic. NOPE.

Dishonorable mention. The only thing even remotely fashionable here is the necklace on the middle model. It costs $50 and is plastic. NOPE.

I couldn't decide if this belonged in this Hall of Shame or not. It looks like a great outfit to go boating in the 1970's or early 1980's. It also makes me look pregnant. I am NOT pregnant. This is not the 1970's or the early 1980's. I am not going boating.

I couldn’t decide if this belonged in this Hall of Shame or not. It looks like a great outfit in which to go boating in the 1970’s or early 1980’s. It also makes me look pregnant. I am NOT pregnant. This is NOT the 1970’s. This is NOT the early 1980’s. I am NOT going boating.

Well, so what should I do? After all, I still need clothes that at least stay on my body! Shall I embrace this rebirth of terrible fashions in terrible fabrics that were awful the first time they passed through stores? Because that’s all there is out there, ladies! This meme sums it up:

Who’s with me?  Wine and yoga pants are always in fashion.