Musings About Life... After Birth
Posted by Janna on September 20, 2011
On September 6, 2011, an article by Ron Clark titled “What teachers really want to tell parents” was featured on CNN.com. I’m guessing most of you saw it because it seemed to harvest a lot of attention on Facebook and Twitter. If you missed it, I encourage you to take a look. Clark offers some important suggestions that, if put into practice, would serve our children well.
In this article, Clark addresses what he believes are the key issues that are encouraging some really phenomenal teachers to leave the field of education. These issues are, in Clark’s opinion, due to problems with parent-teacher relationships and I gotta tell ya, he knows what he’s talking about. The challenges he mentions are real and they do make teaching more of a headache than it should have to be.
I’ve been in the field of education for six years, but right now I am taking a break as I re-evaluate my career path. There are a lot of things that I miss about being in the classroom…I miss middle schoolers. I miss the humor that can only take place inside of a school full of pre-pubescent kids. I miss opportunities to help struggling students master a new math skill. I miss exploring Greek Mythology and Shakespeare with my students. I miss working with the parents who went out of their way to help me help their children succeed.
Clark’s article, though, reminded me of what I do not miss about teaching.
For example, it is a pretty crappy thing when a parent refuses to hear something that you need them to know. Obviously, it is a problem if a student is uncooperative. Teachers need to try to help students choose to cooperate, but sometimes, even if a teacher is doing more than his or her part to keep students engaged in the lesson, some students will still choose not to cooperate. I know that I’ve done a million different things to foster student interest in my lessons. I’ve even been known to wear tap shoes to class and shuffe-shuffle-flap around the room to keep things interesting, but that didn’t stop some students from making poor choices, and when that happened I had to let their parents know. However, a lot of parents can’t handle it when you make that phone call to explain that their child is making that choice. As a result, there were many times when parents spouted off a laundry list of ridiculousness as to why it was my fault that their child was not being cooperative in the classroom instead of working with me to try to find a way to reach that kid.
And excuses were not only made for children who chose not to cooperate. I often heard them made in response to me calling to discuss behavior issues. Conversations such as this were not uncommon:
“Hi, Mrs. Jones. Do you have a minute to chat? I’m calling because I have a concern about Joey’s behavior today.”
“Oh, he already told me about that. He says that he can’t behave because he is sitting next to Billy and that distracts him. He also told me that all the other boys in the class were misbehaving, but you didn’t discipline them. And he said that he was bored because he already knows how to multiply fractions and the way you were teaching it just confused him. And I forgot to remind him to take his medicine this morning. And we were running late, so I think that just threw him off today.”
Unfortunately, in the minds of some parents, those are all valid reasons to excuse poor behavior. Now, teachers should do what they can to prevent poor behavior in their classrooms, but even the very best classroom managers will have students who refuse to behave. And when students make poor choices, excuses being made for those choices are the last thing they need from the adults entrusted with their care.
I have also encountered parents who make excuses for their children earning poor grades instead of holding them accountable for being unprepared for assessments. If a student chooses not to study and earns a low score when they are definitely capable of a better grade, what does it teach them when mom or dad excuses that choice? I heard stuff like this on numerous occasions:
“Madeline couldn’t study because she left her book at school. And she has test anxiety (which does exist, but in my opinion is used as an excuse in too many cases). And she had an argument with her best friend yesterday, so she couldn’t concentrate. And she doesn’t like the desk you assigned her. And she couldn’t attend the tutorial you offered last week because she had basketball practice.”
Believe it or not, I even had one mother tell me her son flunked a test I gave because he didn’t have a bowel movement that morning before school. She requested that I give him a chance to re-take the test. I wanted to ask, “Are you shitting me, lady?”
As if those issues weren’t insane enough, I have also had parents attack and/or belittle me in front of their children. One occasion in particular comes to mind. We were doing a pretty cool geometry project that required the kids to each sketch a tessellation that would be used to create a fabric square for a class quilt. I cannot tell you how many times I reminded the kids to put their names on the back of these sketches. Despite my reminders, one sketch was turned in without a name and when I checked off the names of the kids who had turned them in, it became apparent that two students were missing their sketches.
I spoke to those two kids the next day to try to figure out what happened. They both swore adamantly that they had turned in sketches. I showed them the sketch that was missing a name and they both swore it was theirs. Clearly, one of them was not telling the truth and because I am not a mind reader, the only fair course of action I could figure to take was to require that they both redo the assignment. Neither boy was very happy about that, of course, but there was no other choice.
Later that day as I was getting ready to go home, a man in a black suit and tie stormed into my classroom. He blocked my doorway and yelled at me for over twenty minutes about how unfair I was and how his son hated school because of me making him redo the project and how I was obviously out to get his kid and how he couldn’t believe that I was certified to teach school because I was such a horrible and mean person. I was appalled when I noticed that hovering behind him was his son, who was looking rather smug while listening as his father berated me. After the father finished his rant, I explained the details of what really happened. In the shocker of the century, it turned out that his son actually left out some of the details and added some others that simply weren’t true. Once this father had the whole story, he apologized and said he would make sure that his son handed in a new sketch the next day. I suppose that it was nice that he apologized, but the damage was already done. Once a kid sees a teacher treated with such a lack of respect, how can he or she be expected to be respectful? Not surprisingly, this student was a behavior issue for the remainder of the school year. When students see their parents treat teachers with blatant disrespect, everyone’s educational experience suffers and teachers can’t do their jobs. It isn’t fair, especially to the children.
I have a child of my own. I understand those *mama bear* feelings that burst in a parent’s heart when they feel that their child has been unfairly treated. I understand that parents love their children with a beautiful fierceness. I understand that parents want their children to have the best of everything and that parents want to protect their children from feelings of hurt or disappointment. I understand all that, because I feel all of those things for my son. I also know from teaching these last few years, that I need to not let those feelings get in the way of forming positive and supportive relationships with the teachers who educate him, because kids don’t benefit from “parents vs. teachers” environments. However, they can flourish when parents and teachers support one another. And yes, there are some terrible teachers out there…but don’t forget that there are some truly amazing ones as well, and like Ron Clark, I believe that there would be a greater number of the amazing variety if more parents were supportive of their efforts.
Posted by Chelsea on August 26, 2011
I just got back from our (quite large and well-stocked) local hardware store where they were completely sold out of batteries and flashlights. I guess Hurricane Irene hysteria is fully upon us here in the DC metro area. Aside from picking up a little extra non-perishable food, I haven't really done a whole lot to prepare. Am I being dumb? We will likely lose power for a while, but aside from fretting about what the heck I will do to entertain my kids, I am not completely freaking out. I just kinda feel like we'll weather this storm as we have others, no pun intended.
I recently received an article that made me consider that if I were breastfeeding right now, I would probably need to plan a bit more in the wake of this impending weather crisis. In it, Gina Ciagne, CLC and Senior Director of Breastfeeding Relations at Lansinoh Laboratories, offers a checklist for breastfeeding moms to consider when faced with a possible power outage. Some of Gina's advice includes:
- Keep a cooler of dry ice on hand just in case your electricity goes out and you have frozen milk stored in your freezer.
- Have extra batteries on hand in case your electricity goes out and you need to use your pump.
- Familiarize yourself with hand expression in case you don't have batteries and need to pump. Remember that the baby is the best way to remove your milk, so even if you are predominantly a pumper and breastfeed sporadically in an emergency situation, you should focus on feeding the baby on demand. You can also use a manual pump.
You can view Gina's full list on OnCloudMom.com in the event that you need to be prepared for whatever Irene blows our way!
Posted by Chelsea on February 23, 2010
Maintaining a romantic relationship with your partner is nearly impossible when you’ve got little kids. Luckily for you and your partner, The Family Groove has a great feature this month on how to keep that spark of romance alive when you’ve got kids. Here it is, courtesy of The Family Groove:
ESTHER PEREL, AUTHOR OF THE PROVOCATIVE AND EMPOWERING BOOK MATING IN CAPTIVITY: RECONCILING THE EROTIC + THE DOMESTIC, TALKS TO THE FAMILY GROOVE ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LOVE AND DESIRE, COUPLE PRESERVATION AND THE NEED FOR MORE PLAYDATES—WITH YOUR PARTNER
THE FAMILY GROOVE: Every parent needs to read your book. It would be a great gift with purchase of a stroller.
ESTHER PEREL: If every time you buy a stroller, you get a book that reminds you of another focus that you are likely to forget at that time, that would be incredible.
TFG: You are so likely to forget about your sex life when you’re mired in your life with little children. It’s often the first thing that parents give up on. In your book, you talk about overzealous parenting. A lot of media and child-related companies have picked up on the overzealous trend and have exploited parents by playing on their worst fears that their child won’t be successful or happy or smart or pretty or won’t be liked unless this is done or that is done. And so we play into this fearmongering by giving up our own lives and our own identities for the sake of our children. It really strips a woman—and probably a man, too—of sexuality.
EP: Well, it’s not helping families—that’s the main thing. The divorce rate is very high, and for those who stay together, it’s very hard, too. There is something so isolating about overzealous parenting that disempowers them. It empowers the child but disempowers the adults.
TFG: Let’s talk about security and passion. We need both in our lives, but how can we as parents who really need security and the ability to foster security re-establish the passion?
EP: If I were to take the general frame, I would say that Mating in Captivity came out of my work as a therapist with many happy couples who have good, caring, loving relationships but whose sexual lives are dull. Time and again, they would describe to me the paradoxical relationship between the security, the familiarity and the predictability that people seek in their committed relationships and the eroticism, the novelty, the mystery and even risk.
How can we reconcile these two sometimes conflicting human needs? How can we sustain desire over the long haul with one person—especially given that we live much longer than we did before? The idea of reconciling security and passion is in itself very new. It is not something that we thought to do in our marriages or committed relationships historically. Marriage was for companionship, economic support and family life. Passion existed somewhere else, if anywhere at all. We must understand that this is a new expectation that we bring to our relationships. We marry out of love—it’s a free choice en-terprise these days in the West. We come with expectations about intimacy and sexual gratification. What happens when people transition to family is that they begin to bolster the security needs and begin to make themselves more of an anchor so that their children can become the ones who will go out to explore and discover the world. They will be the adventurous ones, but in order for them to do so, they need to have a secure base, emotionally speaking. There is a tendency in us to begin to suppress our other side during that transition. This is not the time to race the motorcycle—it’s the time to trade it in for a car with safety belts and air bags. This is not a time when you can decide at the spur of the moment to go out, because there is somebody else here who needs you at home.
So you slowly begin to change your own adventurous needs and your own desires for the spontaneous and playful. The transition is a shock to the system—a shock that sometimes takes a long time for people to work through, to find their bearings and to get some time back for themselves. It often takes people a long time to remember the beginning of the book when they reach the end—especially when it’s taken months and months to read the book.
Parents must learn to be able to cordon off an erotic space in time, where they can be adults with each other and not just together in their parental, responsible, caretaking roles. The joke is often that sex must be out the window as soon as children enter the picture. When you look at this new modern family, you notice that the erotic energy is very much there, but it is transferred onto the children. The children get to experience novelty—you look for the latest activity to do with them—and the adults often become mired in repetition and routine when they try to do something together. The kids get to wear the latest fashions, and we walk around in our colored sweatpants. Kids get the long hugs, and the parents are left with a diet of quick pecks. So at some point, the erotic energy needs to be brought back to the couple. You are not going to live in a steady state of passion—desire doesn’t flow all the time—but there is a need for the adults to reintroduce the X in sex. Bring back playfulness, curiosity, novelty and imagination into your own life instead of cordoning it off exclusively in the realm of parenting.
Posted by Chelsea on January 07, 2009
There’s an article in today’s Washington Post about a 6-year-old boy who after missing the bus, elected to drive himself to school this morning. Sadly, some crap parenting seems to have likely been the precursor. The article says that the boy’s father was under a court order not to leave the 6-year-old and his 4-year-old brother alone with their mother at their home in the town of Wicomico Church, VA. But Dad left for work at 6:30 a.m., and Mom was still asleep when the 6-year-old missed the bus and then drove off at 7:40 a.m. for school. A court order not to leave the boys alone with their mom? Yikes. Fortunately, the authorities are on it: the parents were arrested and charged with felony child endangerment.
Thankfully, the poor kid, who was desperate to get to school so he wouldn’t miss breakfast (this makes me especially sad) and P.E., avoided injury, as did the other drivers he was sharing the road with. He crashed the car into a utility pole and, understandably, was majorly freaked out, but ultimately, fine.
Because the story ends relatively well (moron parents nonwithstanding), I can admit I find it rather hysterical. Especially the boy’s justification for getting behind the wheel:
“The sheriff said the boy told him that he had trained on video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Monster Truck Jam.”
Big Bro, though too young for Grand Theft Auto, is obsessed with monster trucks - especially the kids cartoon “Bigfoot Presents: Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks”. Monster Truck Jam video game, monster truck cartoon, what’s the difference? Will he, too, one day hop behind the wheel of my car and send it into motion, certain that he can handle it because of his “training”? He’s enough of a wild man that I’m sorta concerned that the answer is yes.
New Policy in the Kaplan home: television viewing is limited to “Handy Manny” only. 3-year-olds receiving premature training on fixing things: good, 3-year-olds receiving premature training on driving, bad.
Posted by Chelsea on July 29, 2008
I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican - if you’re a parent and are anything but disgusted by President Bush and the Republicans, you’re not paying attention. Here’s the deal:
In today’s Washington Post, there’s an article about how yesterday, Congressional negotiators agreed to a ban on a family of toxins found in children’s products. This ban will include three types of phthalates, which are found in plastics (they make plastic softer and more durable) commonly used in children’s toys, and to outlaw three other phthalates pending a study of their health effects in children and pregnant women. Why? Well, phthalates act as hormones and cause reproductive problems, especially in boys. Federally funded research found that male babies born to women with high levels of phthalates in their blood exhibited low sperm count, undescended testicles and other reproductive problems. Other studies have connected some phthalates to liver and kidney cancer. For purposes of global comparison, the European Union banned the six phthalates in question from children’s products in 1999 and more than a dozen other countries have done the same.
In a mind-blowing response, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said that President Bush opposes this ban. I’m going to repeat this and make it bold, because I want to make sure everyone gets this: President Bush opposes banning plastics that are harmful to children and pregnant women.
This makes me so angry that I am shaking. Shaking. Do I even need to explain why?
Joining President Bush on the deplorably disgusting list: (no shocker here) Exxon Mobil, which manufacturers the phthalate most frequently found in children’s toys. The company spent a chunk of its $22 million lobbying budget in the past 18 months to try to prevent this ban and try to get people to believe that banning phthalates may inadvertently expose children to greater risks, because manufacturers will be forced to use substitute chemicals that may be even more hazardous. Let me get this straight, Exxon Mobil: the U.S. should so allow toxic chemicals to be placed in kids’ toys because there’s a chance that whatever we decide to replace them with might end up being toxic too? Um, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and recommend we just go right on ahead and get rid of the stuff we know is highly toxic, mmmkay? I have faith that on he next go-‘round we’ll make sure that sperm and kidney-destroying chemicals aren’t allowed into rubber duckies. Seriously, how do these people sleep at night?
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sponsored the ban, said yesterday that the action is a first step toward moving the United States closer to the European model, where industry must prove the safety of a chemical before it is allowed on the market. Now seriously, doesn’t that make sense? Perhaps some prelim research prior to a chemical additive’s approval (as opposed to waiting until children suffer health consequences and THEN taking action) is a wise plan, no? Sadly, only the Democrats agree with her. Senate and House Republicans all voted against the ban, and you know why. Of course, the jerks at Exxon Mobil, etc. poured all kinds of obscene money into the Republicans’ re-election campaigns (check their campaign finance records - it’s publicly available info) in exchange for promises that they’d vote to oppose this ban. Really, how can we not be disgusted by the fact that our governmental representatives can and are willing to be bought at the expense of our safety - ESPECIALLY that of our kids?
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that do not hide the fact that I am a liberal. To me, however, this shouldn’t a partisan issue; liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, parent or not, you should support a ban on using toxic ingredients when making kids’ toys. The record is clear, though: the lawmakers against this ban are Republicans, and the ones supporting the ban are Democrats.
We must keep this in mind when we vote this November.
Posted by Chelsea on July 11, 2008
Yesterday’s L.A. Times featured an article about American interrogators and their “torture playlists”, essentially, the songs they’ve been playing over and over again in an attempt to torture prisoners and detainees.
As I read the article, I was reminded of when I was in college and my then-boyfriend, making me take a vow of secrecy that I am clearly breaking here, reported that during his fraternity’s Hell Week, he and his pledge brothers got locked in a room where cold water was dripped on them and “Here Comes the Hotstepper” (specifically, the “chi chi chang chang” part) was put on the stereo system’s repeat. He said it was sheer torture, and apparently, the U.S. military agrees, as they use the same tactics on suspected terrorists at Abu Ghraib. The only difference between the two scenarios is that my ex-boyfriend and his pledge bros voluntarily signed up for and endured that crap, and then the following year made the dudes dumb enough to do anything to be allowed into their social circle suffer through the same thing. Woo hoo, brotherly love!
“Here Comes the Hotstepper” was not mentioned in the Times article, but one of the songs supposedly used to break the will of terrorist suspects and cause them to confess to crimes against humanity was one I know well: the “I Love You” song from the “Barney” TV series. It’s actually the song I sing to Big Bro every night before I put him to bed, with the words slightly changed to include the names of everyone in our family. Interestingly enough, I didn’t pick the song to be our featured bedtime lullaby because of its association with Barney, but because it is sung to the tune of “This Old Man”, which is one of Big Bro’s all time faves. I actually loathe Barney with a hatred I only reserve for Karl Rove and nude pantyhose. Ugh, he’s so horrifically grating. And lame. If a children’s character could ever be designated a douchebag, Barney would win such honors. I’m sorry, but you know it’s true.
The author of the article, Bob Singleton, who was music director for the TV show “Barney and Friends”, wrote: “When I heard that “I Love You” had been used at Abu Ghraib to break the will of terror suspects, I just laughed. It’s absolutely ludicrous. A song that was designed to make little children feel safe and loved was somehow going to threaten the mental state of adults and drive them to the emotional breaking point?”
Uh, Bob, have you actually heard your song? It does precisely that, brother. The U.S. Military is using your song against the enemy for the same reason it employs assault rifles and smart bombs: they work.
Is it me, or is Bob the only dude on the planet baffled by this news?
Posted by Chelsea on July 09, 2008
On July 4, the New York Times ran an editorial imploring the FDA to update its safety data on sunscreen. In a nutshell, here’s why: Despite the fact that the F.D.A. proposed creating new safety standards and a new ratings system for sunscreens last August, they’ve done nothing in terms of actually creating them. In the meantime, the Environmental Working Group, a Washington research organization, looked into the safety and effectiveness of the sunscreens currently available to consumers (nearly 1,000 products). After collecting all their data and testing the sunscreens, the group found that it could recommend only 15 percent of those on the market with S.P.F. ratings of 15 or higher. The ones they could not recommend - 85 percent of what’s out there - either did not protect skin enough from some radiation that can cause skin cancer or included ingredients linked to possible health hazards.
Here are the top 10 products, in terms of effectiveness, as determined by the research conducted by the Environmental Working Group:
1. Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30
2. Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+
3. California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+
4. Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30
5. Marie Veronique Skin Therapy Sun Serum
6. Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40
7. Vanicream Sunscreen, SPF 35
8. UV Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
9. Sun Science Sport Formula, SPF 30
10. Soleo Organics Sunscreen all natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Basically, it seems the products that received the lowest marks all had a few things in common: non-lotion formulas (sprays, even a few powders), the ingredient oxybenzone, fragrance and a low SPF number. I was shocked to see that among the lowest-rated sunscreens were products from some of the most distributed brands: Neutrogena, Hawaiian Tropic, Banana Boat and Coppertone. And I’m not even referencing SPF 2 oil - it’s products like Hawaiian Tropic Ozone Sunblock, SPF 70, Neutrogena UVA/UVB Sunblock Lotion, SPF 45 and Banana Boat Ultra Defense Broad Spectrum Sunblock, SPF 80. The bottom line: Just because a product has a high SPF and comes from a recognized brand doesn’t mean that it’s one you should slather on yourself or your kids. To search their findings by brand, product or formula, click here.
To help you make there best choices, here are the common brands the Environmental Working Group most recommends, based on the products’ effectiveness:
1. Blue Lizard (anything without oxybenzone)
2. California Baby (anything with SPF 30+)
3. CVS (with zinc oxide)
4. Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock
5. Kiss My Face (“Paraben Free” series)
6. Neutrogena (Sensitive Skin Sunblock)
7. Olay Defense (Daily UV Moisturizer with zinc)
8. SkinCeuticals (Physical UV Defense)
9. Solar Sense (Clear Zinc for Face)
10. Walgreens (Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose, & Ears)
More than a million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. every year, yet it seems no one at the F.D.A. feels it necessary to set the sunscreen safety standards the agency 30 years ago that it would. Meanwhile, companies are free to claim but not provide broad spectrum protection. Until FDA requires that all sunscreens be safe and effective, I advise using the Environmental Working Group’s comprehensive sunscreen guide—including a list of 143 products that offer very good sun protection—to fill in the gaps. If you’re fed up with the F.D.A.‘s negligence, click here to sign a petition being sent to Dr. Jeff Shuren, who heads up the F.D.A.‘s sunscreen standard process, telling him you want safe sunscreen—and you don’t want to wait another 30 years.
Posted by Chelsea on June 27, 2008
Momtourage member Amy recently sent me this article from the New York Times, which once again makes me thank God that I have two boys. Here’s the deal:
Jamie Lynn Spears, the TV actress and sister of the singer Britney Spears, sent the celebrity gossip machinery into a lather last December when, at the age of 16, she confirmed to the world that “I’m pregnant.” Today, she’s rocketing to the top of Google’s search charts with the arrival, reported initially by People magazine, of Maddie Briann, weighing in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces. (The child presumably has a surname, but it isn’t mentioned in the report.)
In the intervening months, Ms. Spears has tried to chip away at what seemed like a scandal to most people. While avoiding the paparazzi, she passed a few important milestones to adulthood: she got engaged to the young man who is reportedly the baby’s father, she passed her G.E.D. exams, she bought a home in Liberty, Miss., and she turned 17, the legal age of consent in Louisiana, where she and her family had been living.
Just when it was starting to look safe to embrace that all’s-well-that-ends-well feeling, though, a disturbing new blast of teenage pregnancy news has surfaced: a sudden baby boom among students at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts, which Time Magazine says is apparently no coincidence:
As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies — more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. […] All it took was a few simple questions before nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. Then the story got worse. “We found out one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless guy,” the principal says, shaking his head.
Once again, the news has touched off a round of soul-searching and finger-pointing. According to the Time article, adults in Gloucester variously blame a depressed local economy, broken families, adrift children, difficult access to birth control and hit movies like “Juno” and “Knocked Up” that they say glamorize pregnancy to young audiences. Bad examples set by celebrities off-screen did not come up, though, and no one Time talked to in Gloucester seems to have mentioned the most famous teen mother of the moment.
Oh. My. God. Kinda makes me yearn for the days that the most idiotic thing American teens were doing was getting Botox and facelifts.
Posted by Chelsea on May 09, 2008
There are far too many examples I’ve been receiving lately that make me seriously question the mental fitness of my countrypeople. I wanna feel proud of this beautiful land, but damn, when I read things like the fact that 13% of registered voters believe Barack Obama is Muslim (even in the wake of this Reverend Wright silliness? Who are these people?) or witness talentless, perpetually stoned warbler Jason Castro propel to the #3 spot on “American Idol”, I get very sad. And angry.
Nothing, however, perplexes me quite like the emails I receive when I have an article up on MSN.com. As most of you who read this blog know, I am a freelance writer, and often, I pen dating and relationships-oriented articles for MSN.com’s “dating and personals” section. Most of these articles focus on a particular dating topic like “dating after divorce” or “how to get over your fear of first dates”, and are written in a question and answer style, with my interviewing an author or professional who lends his or her thoughts/professional advice on the topic.
It is ABUNDANTLY clear - if you actually read the articles, that is - that the opinions expressed in said articles are those of the experts, and that I’m merely the interviewer/transcriber. However, there are lots of folks out there who don’t quite comprehend that, and this baffles me, much in the way Paris Hilton’s celebrity or the popularity of the WWF does.
Each time one of my articles goes up, I get countless emails from nutjobs across the country who have found fault with what “I” have to say on each subject. I won’t even get into how frightening I find people who actually take the dating and relationships pieces I write MSN.com seriously enough to track down my email address, much less write me with their thoughts, but what really strikes me is how it seems most people don’t understand how a question and answer exchange works, and the difference between one who “questions” and one who “answers”. I mean, am I the idiot here, or is this a concept one learns in elementary school?
For the past couple of days, I have had a piece up on the site called “How to win over a bad boy”. For this piece, I interviewed and quoted Lauren Frances, celebrity love coach and author of Dating, Mating and Manhandling: The Ornithological Guide to Men. While your average 4th grader could figure out after reading the article’s intro that the opinions listed next to each “A:” section are her answers, all sorts of wackos don’t, and email me their irate comments.
Here’s a sampling of some I have received today (some of which were actually posted to the blog, as it’s listed in my byline):
“Just read the stupid Bad Boy article on MSN. God you’re an idiot. Why the f**k are you wasting space like you are? I hope you’re kids are smarter than you - we don’t need any more dips**ts sucking down what clean air is left.”
I love how that person called me an idiot, yet is unaware of how to correctly use “your” and “you’re”. And such rage over a dating article on MSN.com. And I’m the dips**t sucking down what clean air is left? Discuss.
“I have been a frequent reader of your articles that appear on the front page of msn.com. I hope you are able to handle constructive criticism because I have plenty of it for you. Just when I think you were incapable of writing something more moranic than the day before, you do. You suprise me once again with your article about winning over a bad boy. What do you hope to accomplish by these articles? If you are trying to come across as a secularist, libretarian, atheist, pagan, individualistist, hedonist pig, then you more than surpass that title. You seem to be encouraging women and men to have fun at all cost. Do you believe that hopping from bed to bed will somehow make things better for people and not worse? In any relationship emotions are invloved. No matter how hard you try to keep things “fun”, you are really leading people down a road of misery and heartache with your senseless babbling articles which will have an adverse effect on many of your readers. Your endless attempts at comedic humor are an insult to people with a brain. As a Catholic, I am offended by your writing and I insist you stop encouraging sexual promiscuity in your articles. The lives you damage by your articles will be on your conscience and you will be called to account for it. Perhaps if you yourself were on the recieving end of one of these “relationships” that ended with heatache and pain, you would learn sooner or later that its not all about “fun.” Perhaps you should investigate the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality and the sacredness of the human body. Specifically the Theology of the Body written by Pope John Paul II. Here you will find the true value of the human person instead of making people sexual toys. In closing, I believe your writing needs to change. You need to find ways of focusing on helping people instead of focusing on perverted desires.”
I’m not even sure where to begin with that one, but that spelling-challenged gentleman writes me all the time, calling me a pervert, moron and, my personal favorite, “hedonist pig”. How very “Catholic” of him! Uh, dude…the last time I checked, Jesus wasn’t so into name-calling…
You know really nothing of bad boys…
I’m a bad boy and you have us figured out only just a little bit, But nice try kid!!
If I caught you, I bet I could make you love me & do everything I want,even something you said you never would do. But I’ve got what I want, cause that what every smart bad boy is doing , working on finding what he really wants and then when he get that he makes the right moves to get & keep it…So anyway…keep taken those lessons wherever you are getting them, but get some more tutoring from a bad bay, before you talk about them. Cause there are women out there who are gonna take your advice and end up getting hurt emotionally. cause a bad boy is still a bad boy for life.He just always play it smarter than the average male,cause to him it’s strategy,from beginning to end,for life.”
Abundant grammar and spelling mistakes aside, what I like most about that one is his “knowledge” of me. And the bold text added nice emphasis - thanks!
“I normally don’t comment on anything that I read, but I felt compelled to do so from this article that was written from extreme arrogance and ignorance, obviously from a woman who is bitter and inexperienced…I have slept with many (beautiful) women who were absolutely drop dead gorgeous and never 1 time even complimented them on their looks and treated them like dirt. In fact, I found out later that the reason I ended up with them was because I never did compliment them or treat them well at all and they wanted to ‘conquer’ me to change that. It never worked and I saw them again…until I became bored and broke it off.”
I love how this gentleman boasts of his “many (beautiful)” conquests and demeaning treatment of them, yet bashes “my” take on bad boys. He also goes on to list his MySpace page - seriously, who has a MySpace page anymore ? It’s hilarious - check out his identifying photo. Classy.
I’m all for spirited discourse and even criticism of my work, but seriously, people, if you’re gonna write to me about my articles, try reading them first, ok?
Posted by Chelsea on December 06, 2007
One more reason to love the city of Philadelphia:
As reported in today’s New York times, for the past three years, the Philadelphia council of the Boy Scouts of America has resisted the citys request to change its discriminatory policy toward gay people. The city threatened that if the Philly Scouts Council did not change their policies, the city would evict the group from a municipal (read: taxpayer dollar-funded) building where the Scouts have resided practically rent free since 1928.
Philly officials said they have a duty to defend civil rights and an obligation to abide by a local law that bars taxpayer support for any group that discriminates. The Boy Scouts argued with this, saying they had a right to preserve their culture and deserved the protection of the right of private organizations to remain exclusive and have traditions like requiring members to swear an oath of duty to God and prohibiting membership by anyone who is openly homosexual.
This week, the Philly city council made the decision to boot the Scouts out.
Here’s why I think Philadelphia rules: Under federal law, various forms of discrimination on the basis of race, religion, nation origin and sex are illegal. Sadly, however, according to federal law, sexual orientation is not a basis of discrimination that is illegal. In the city ordinances of Philadelphia, however, it is. Just like it should be nationwide.
Because the Boy Scouts are a private institution, they absolutely have every right in the world to have the policies they do - like ‘em or not. I’ll go ahead and register my opinion on said policies, however: Their (essentially Christian) religious leanings don’t bother me - if you are cool with pledging and oath to God, by all means, join. If you’re an atheist, don’t. I think their policies regarding homosexuality, however, are nauseating. Whether you believe homosexuality is fine or reprehensible, discrimination is discrimination, and in my opinion, discrimination is flat-out wrong (and, if I remember correctly, the last time I read passages from the New Testament, Jesus preached love and acceptance of all people).
The policies of the Boy Scouts bother me so much that unless they change them, I refuse to let my son ever be a Boy Scout. It’s sad, actually, because I’m sure the Boy Scouts stand for and teach all sorts of cool values and skills - ones I am sure my son would benefit from learning. I feel the organization’s ridiculously small-minded beliefs trump all its good ones, however, and I don’t want my son or family to be affiliated with such an unapologetically prejudiced institution. How is banning membership to all openly gay people different than banning membership to all openly Jewish people, or people of any faith? In my opinion, sending my son to join the Boy Scouts is not too different than sending him to join the KKK or some Neo-Nazi group. When you boil it down, they all preach a form of hate. Though some clearly do it more overtly than others, preaching hate is preaching hate.
Boo Boy Scouts and bravo, Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love, indeed.
Mothers of boys (or mothers in general): In light of these policies, would you let you son join the Boy Scouts? Why or why not?
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