Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The birds and the bees...let's talk about s.e.x.

One of those things that I am not sure any of us as parents are quite prepared for, no matter how liberal you may think you are, is the idea of talking about sex with our children.  It starts to haunt us as soon as they start looking at belly bumps, and we no longer tell them those stories about storks and cabbage patches - no we are of the "there's a baby in there dear" generation , and asking about when will the baby come out.  It is easy to answer at that point but a little twinge hits us -- oh are they going to ask how the baby comes out or worse yet ...how the baby got in there...stork anyone????

I have liked boys for as long as I can remember.  I distinctly remember Petru's (Peter) shirt and close cropped blonde hair, he was 5 and I was about 4, we played in the back of our apartment building ...I was smitten and if you think I am making this memory up I can assure you I am not - I do not remember much about him but his little blue shirt and the hair and that he bit me.  Yes, he bit me.  I do not think it was bad - I cried -- probably in stereotypical woman fashion I liked him more for being a little mean - or maybe then I had the sense to dismiss him -- I do not remember much before that day or after -- but that day and the way I felt - well that I do remember.   I have had crushes on boys and have pined after many of them...I would say the vast majority never even knew it.  I pride myself on the many male friends I have - but boy there were "friends" out there that I went home and wrote for hours in my journals about...boys who I am sure never wrote about me....to be near them, to be with them, to (sigh) give them advice about other girls...well that worked until somehow they morphed into what they had been - just friends. 

It is very natural for me to see my boys, especially my 8 year old, and his friends (both female and male) start this process around now.  I mean they sort of like girls - until they are annoying - or they sort of like boys - until they are obnoxious.  I hear about it - and of course it is always followed "but I do not like any of the girls more than friends yet" - hmmm really ??? This is a very different world than my 8 year old times. I once had a teacher who said "your parents were never the same age you were" because they were not the same age in our times, this feels even more accurate now with relation to my boys.  

I have consulted books, parents, and even our pediatrician about when the write time to bring up a sex talk is - because I know that kids get "active" earlier - and though I really think they are just not ready in so many ways - it is the reality of the world I live in.  The answer seems to be that you have to get comfortable - too bad for you, you signed up for the parenting job after all - and be able to give them little bits at a time until they are ready for it  - and this is probably based on how well you know your kid. It is very important that we have programs as they get to middle school and high school that have intelligent, open and all encompassing discussions about sex education.  

My oldest recently asked me how he came out of the belly....silence...he asked again...I said you pushed your way out ...seemed enough though closer to Alien than childbirth.  If he had kept asking I may have asked for a moment to think about it...I dread the next question "how did I get in there"...I was sleeping and your father is a bad, bad man is probably not the appropriate answer.  

There is nothing wrong with sex ..though looking at how the conservative movement around the world is bent on pretending that no one should like it - that you can choose who you have an attraction to - that it is for birth so no control needed -- well I guess they would like to think so.  Not me - being with someone that makes your stomach drop at the sound of their voice, whose name on your phone brings naughty thoughts to mind, whose kiss lingers long before it is actually placed on your lips and ooooh so long after - well that is all good.  Yet to have to those feelings it takes more than being "able" to have sex.  I think as the mother of boys I have to teach them to respect their bodies and their partners ...there is nothing wrong with sex but there is a time when sex may be wrong for you.  The fact that they are growing up so fast is scary to me - but the fact that they are finding the wonder of liking someone well that is actually a nice thing to watch.  I hope to teach them about how to know when they should be with someone not because their friends have "done it", probably not true anyway, or because it is there ...but because they are ready for it.  That will not happen for many years and I am not sure if I will be "ready" when they are - but as a parent I will be here to give what I give naturally - unconditional love with a dose of explanation. 

George Michael "sex is natural, sex is fun"....yep but he forgot to add "sex is best when it is the right time to be done"....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Andy Rooney moment

Hard to focus this week on a blog...do I join the melee and say I have no compassion or understanding for the mindless violence over a cheap YouTube video? Or the idiot filmmaker who made a movie that is just meant to insult and incite for no reason? Do I comment on Scientology's noted apprehension about the upcoming movie The Master? Complain about the Ramapo, NY public school district that has been hijacked and looted by Ultra conservative Orthodox Board Members who are doing to others exactly what was done to them in years past -- excluding based on faith? Maybe I could just listen for the latest nonsensical totally voodoo crap about vaccines, evolution, solar systems, and a host of other scientific facts - doesn't matter how often you prove those people wrong - it is not about science or fact but about the Snake Oil salesman pitch - they are more interested in Kate's boobs than in not being boobs themselves!  I could get all on my soapbox about how discriminatory and offensive I am finding a lot of my "liberal" friends with their comments about the "rich" - do they not see their hypocrisy - they of the rightful outrage at remarks about stereotypes about the poor the same they that propagate stereotypes about the rich ? For the Republicans how come you do not see the hypocrisy of talking about small government but yet advocate laws that are aimed at personal choices and invasive non-necessary medical procedures for women?  Maybe as school just started I could just get on my usual annoyance at home schooling.  Or ask where is the money from the Iraqi troop pull out? Why don't people making millions pay the same percentage of taxes  - while we are it why don't more than 40% of the population actually pay any taxes?  Why is the healthcare reform act so lacking - soooo lacking - and yet we need one that actually would address the issue of lack of insurance that faces so many people?

There is the fundraising for politicians but no millions for the people they are supposed to represent?  I could always tackle religion - but that is too easy a target and maybe people need it - just not sure what it is doing for them.  I could just be annoyed by the ever growing prices at the grocery store.  There is the government and the fact that to date they have yet to say how they are going to streamline, correct and budget going forward.  I am tired of the billions we spend on foreign aid for things like Israel and Egypt not to fight each other (really - why ?)  and the lack of actual resources that have not reached the people from the yearly billions that have been given to that region- the lack of micro loans and the lack of responsibility those nations take about their situation and the crap leaders that they keep putting in place (speaking of which that last bit applies to the whole world including here).

I look at this and feel better and worse - it seems overwhelming - endless - sad -- or I could look it and be grateful for being able to write it - to hope that others are addressing some of these issues - that maybe some day my kids will read this and wonder what was going on because they are living in a world where these issues are diminished (I am a realist so will not imagine eradicated).  I miss Andy Rooney and his 60 minutes rants so much that I just created my own.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven years ago....

How can it be hard to believe that 11 years have passed since that Tuesday morning and yet feel like it just happened ???

There is not a lot to say about 9/11 that has not been said - thought - felt...but especially for those of us who were here in NYC, in Manhattan that day is a fresh wound.  It starts to scab but it does not quite heal  - it starts to scab but not ready to be just a scar. 

I look at what we lost that day -- our friends, a part of our city, people we did not know - and I think of who we in New York were that day - brave, quiet, helpful, kind, a unit of different religions, races, colors...we did not care who you were married to, or if you were married, we did not care if you were a Democrat or a Republican -- that day we were all Americans - quietly hanging flags and honoring the country that housed us by choice or by birth.  We were survivors and we were everything those without souls who brought this terror to us hated...we were different and we were one. 

I am sad when I do not see that in our country- it should not take an act as heinous as that to remind us all that inside of us in the United States is something that is unlike any other part of the world.  It should not be that we New Yorkers - gritty, tough, often described as rude (I cannot disagree with this more - rushed yes rude only at red lights) - are forgotten as the model of the world as it could be.  Yes as it could be - packed together, fighting for every penny we have, spending it to live near this amazing metropolis of people like us and so different from us - tough and amazing in times of need.  It should not be that it has taken 11 years to finally remember the heroes of that day with Federal funds for the illness they got as a result of their heroism... whether they had been told the truth at the time about the dangers or deceived as they were - they would have gone there all the same.  That is who they are, were, that is who we should honor with our gratitude and with all the healthcare they need - not to give money to protect places that unleashed their terrible sons upon us.  

It has been 11 years and it feels like a long time ago that happened just last week.  I get weepy - I get scared - and most of all I wish I did not have to teach my sons that there was a world before 9/11 - that 9/11 was just a date to them.  I also get hopeful that we may use 9/11 to stop bickering, to be grateful for the millionaires, for the middle class, for the poor - for all of us who make us America.  I lost a lot on that day - but I did not give the terrorists anything of me.  I lost a lot in that moment but I took from the terrorists the terror of being proud of being everything that frightens their narrow little worlds.  We lost a lot that day a- what will we do as a nation to gain something from it????

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Boobies - Tatas and Bazongas

Sorry bit of a tease - not going to show you any of these...but am going to take a few minutes of your time to talk about breasts.  

This Sunday I and my 8 year old son will be doing the Race for The Cure in NY.  I have done this race in the past and this year I almost did not participate when the Komen foundation became a pulpit for an anti choice, anti woman platform by implying that they will not be funding Planned Parenthood.  They reversed themselves, sort of - still up for annual review, as the voices of men and women were heard loud, clear and in vast numbers that this would be an outrage.  They, of all people, should know the power of united citizens taking on a cause - they should have remembered that Planned Parenthood (contrary to the lies and misinformation the anti woman far right sends out does mostly family planning, prenatal care, gyn care for women without insurance, birth control options, breast cancer screenings, and yes some abortions - notice I put that last, because that is the least of what they do) is not an abortion clinic but a wellness center for women to educate them.  The Komen foundation reversed it's decision and so I signed up for the race. 

BREASTS -- hmm something women talk about, shop for, nurture children with....something men look at, think about, nurture fantasies about .....whether someone admits it or not they are a part of what being a woman is and there is nothing wrong with that.  They are parts not the whole of a woman - though must say mine have been spoken to (instead of me) many a time so to some people maybe there is a belief that they will magically also respond - say hello -- or something -- sorry fellas to date I have not seen them do that.  I have seen mine in good bras, pinched in bad ones, crushed by inexperienced teenage boys, caressed with affection and as the first food my sons had in this world.  

I have seen the devastating effects of breast cancer on loved ones.  I saw this disease when I worked for a surgeon many years ago, a surgeon who more than once was devastated by the lab results she already thought were possible, a surgeon who offered women all their options with their results and never dismissed these women like many others I have seen who said "well she is lucky it is in the breast - you can always cut that out". That's lucky?? No lucky would be that the lab results came back negative.  Lucky would be that you never have to hold your breath for those results.  The idea that it is just a body part and that any body part can be removed without trauma is just unfathomable to me.  These "girls", boobs, tatas well they define who we are in some ways - and without them while it is the right choice often our lives are changed.  I know that reconstructive surgery has come a long way but please let's remember that it is not as easy as removing an earring for a woman.  

I have seen cancer eat away and spread beyond the breasts even once they were removed - killing slowly and painfully the body and the person  - but I have also noticed it cannot seem to often touch the spirit.  I am in awe of the medical professionals and medicines that have come so far that it is no longer a pre-ordained deadly outcome.  I look forward to the invention of medicines that will not do as much damage to the body as they do to the cancers.  I do not believe in hollistic care on this one - I have seen too many people die on that route - but I do believe in pain relief from the traditional meds that accupuncture can provide.  I have seen my friend Donna beat this cancer with the dignity that it tried to take away from her, with the grace that cancer in it's nasty little form tries to beat away from it's victims, and with the strength that no overgrown white cell was able to take away from her.  She is a survivor and the medicines and care she received should be what all women can have.  I applaud you D and all the women who are survivors.

On Sunday my son and I will run and raise whatever money we can, shameless plug here as my donation page will be at the bottom of this and anything from a $1 on up is appreciated but not expected.  We will walk in remembrance of my close friends' moms, Nuti and Mimi, who had their mothers taken from them by this awful disease at incredibly young ages, who fought and taught me (especially Nuti) that you do not give up ever if there is still a chance.  We will walk to show our support for research and innovations and to tell the insurance companies that while it may not be "cost effective" to have mammograms every year  - since they came on the scene as an annual check, along with education, the numbers on this disease have dropped significantly- and to stop funding studies that imply that they do not help and then spend money advertising those studies without mentioning that they funded them to begin with (how about using that money to fund mammograms for the uninsured instead ?).  I walk because I am humbled by the sea of pink that I see around me on that day, with my friends, family and others (men and women) that say we may not be able to do it on our own but together - well watch out.  I walk because women and their breasts are a force to be reckoned with and should not be ignored, or told what to do, or dismissed -- the "girls" and I will walk because we choose to. Seems like in an election year the power of one voice aligned with many is a chorus that needs to be heard. 

Thank you also to my amazing friend Margaret for setting up a team, Pink Renegades, donations are welcome....