Boys and Girls are equal

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. Allow me to indulge in some parental bragging for a moment. I ended up wanting to write more than 140 characters in twitter will allow, so I decided to dust off this old blog.

I am so proud of my son. I guess that also makes me proud of how my husband and I are raising him. Let me give you an example of why from this morning.

As we do, our children are spending their Sunday morning watching cartoons on the Cartoon Network. When my husband and I came downstairs, they were watching an episode of Teen Titans Go. This episode: Teen Titans Go: Boys vs Girls

I didn’t see much of it, only caught the tail end. What I did catch involved cooties, and the boys not liking the girls (although Robin was conflicted because of his crush on Starfire) because boys are better than girls. The girls were saying similar things about girls being better than boys. In the end, they all had to work together to defeat the cooties and put them back in whatever box they’d escaped from. Robin makes a big speech about how girls are superior to boys in every way, and then Beast Boy points out that only a boy could make such an awesome speech. Ha ha ha. The End. It’s actually one of the funnier cartoons we let them watch.

The show ends, and my son says “I didn’t really like that episode. Boys and girls are equal.”

And with that simple statement, I know I am raising him right. I know my husband and I are setting a great example. Because for all of the girl empowerment and sexism bashing (and outright mean spirited attacking of old white men scientist guys who say stupid things) going on in social media, he knows that it’s not a competition. We are equal. Boys and girls. Men and women. We are all equal. That’s where I hope we are heading, and that’s what I hope my children are bringing into the world.

Day one of our Multiple Family Disney World Vacation

Port Orleans Riverside dockDisney World trip report time. I promised I’d start going through the Multiple Family Walt Disney World trip that my family and I went on this month (December 2013). In all, five families, myself, my three siblings and our parents, traveled down to spend a week together at Walt Disney World. Not surprisingly, we weren’t all able to arrive at the same time. Based on everyone’s work schedule, and the number of days they wanted to stay at disney, everyone arrived in more of a phased approach.

Because my Mom and I were the ringleaders of this magical trip, and because we’re Disney nerds, we were there first, staying from Saturday to the following Sunday. Eight days. Arriving first gave us a chance to set up everything, and make sure things were ready for the two families arriving the next day and the third family arriving two days later still.

It is a very good thing that we did.

When we booked this trip, through the lovely Disney specialist travel agency Mousefan travel, our agent made sure to code things with Disney as “travel with” to make sure they kept all five of our hotel rooms as close together as possible. When Mom and I (and my family) arrived, we found that four of the five families were together in the same building, and the fifth family was half way across the resort.

This was not good.

My Mom freaked out just a little bit. (It was all internal, but I could tell).

This was also not good.

As it turns out someone on the Disney side of the resort booking messed up . I verified with my travel agent, that she had made sure we were all “travel with.” She had even called earlier that week to make sure the reservation was all set and we’d end up together. So, it was entirely on the part of the Port Orleans Riverside folks.

We had specifically chosen the Port Orleans Riverside because we had a couple of families with five, and didn’t want to go up to either the Art of Animation or a Vacation club resort based on price. The trouble was that two of our five families have three children, making for a family of five but only one of them was seen as an “actual” family of five. The second family of five had a two year old as the fifth. At Disney,under three only counts as half a person in resorts and free at park entry. So, the family with three kids over three was placed in Alligator Bayou somewhere, and the rest of us were in the Magnolia bend section.

This was not at all acceptable to my Mom.

Thankfully, there were two lovely cast members working the check in at the resort, and they worked with the back office (I don’t know what to call reservations, but they had to do a lot of calling to some folks off site) to get us all together.

They offered an option (and I think at this point, it was our only option) where my family and my Mom (my step dad was joining us later because he couldn’t get the whole week off of work) had to rooms in one section of the resort (the Magnolia Bend) that first night, then we would move our stuff over to Alligator Bayou the next night, where we’d be joined by the rest of the families as they arrived. They didn’t have rooms all together until the next night.

That is what we ended up doing. It was hassle for us, because we had to wait for our bags to be picked up in the morning before heading to the parks, then wait for them to be redelivered when we returned from the parks. But in the end, bell services saved the day and managed to get everything where it needed to be.

For the rest of my siblings, they arrived and checked in, then found us in the Alligator Bayou section, never knowing anything had been amiss. In fact, we were all together on the same floor of the same building. The cousins spent every morning, running from room to room as they all woke up. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Everyone enjoyed the resort, and loved the theming over in the bayou section.

Hitch one successfully handled. Much love and thanks to the kind cast members at Port Orleans check in who helped me to keep my Mom from having a very bad day and managing to get her kids and grandkids all together.

Day one down.

Stay tuned for more Disney magic.

All our Children need is love

Yesterday, across town, a high school student brought a gun to school and shot five of his fellow students. At the time I write this, two of the victims have died, and the other three remain in the hospital. The details of why this happened are still being investigated, but there’s been mentions of bullying, and family troubles.  I have been staying away from the sensational reporting of our local news, but enough of it has made it my way, that I have a picture of what is known right now.

Upon hearing the news from a Facebook friend on my way in to work yesterday morning, my first reaction was fear. Fear as a mother who has two grade school age children and wants nothing more than their happiness and safety. My whole being wanted to wrap them up in a little cocoon and protect them from the bad things in this world.

I didn’t bring up the shooting in our dinner time conversation last night. I waited to see if it had been mentioned in their school day yesterday, ready to answer questions, but none came. They are only in third and first grade, so their teachers might not have felt the need to talk about this event to their classes.

Bullying, however, did come up.

My son’s friend is a bit of a bully. He makes fun of younger children, and rarely has a nice thing to say to or about anyone. This perplexes my son, who has tried very hard to be friends with this young boy. They have been friends since they met in first grade, and hang out together at the extended care after school.

For about a month at the beginning of the school year, this boy wouldn’t talk to or play with my son. When my son tried to ask why, he’d been brushed off. Then, the friend started to try to get their mutual friends not to play with my son. Eventually, the boy apologized and they were back to being friends. No explanation was given.

Still, the questions remain. My son asks: Why does this boy say mean things? Why does he pick on younger children? Why does he insult people? Why?

The best explanation I can come to, simple as it might be, applies to all children who bully and all people who choose to act out of hurt and not love. They are somehow unhappy with their lives. The unhappiness can be anything, and might be hard for someone on the outside to understand, but I believe that all meanness comes from a deep unhappiness. If you are happy in your life, and have all that you need, then you will pass that  happiness on to others. If you are sad, then all you  have to offer others is that sadness.

My daughter jumped on that idea, and came up with home life reasons as to why children might be unhappy and therefore might be mean to others. Then they went through other children they knew at school that were mean, and tried to think of reasons why they would be unhappy.

My point wasn’t to analyze the state of their schoolmates, but was rather to teach them compassion and try to give them insight in to why people make hurtful choices. I am not trying to excuse these bad choices. We are all responsible for our choices. You can be happy because you choose to be so in spite of all that might stand in the way of happiness. But if you are never taught that you can be happy and choose happiness, how do you believe it? If you are a child and your examples are to be hurtful, how do you learn differently? Rather than excusing, I am only trying to understand, because I believe that understanding something allows you to deal with it and perhaps help to make it better.

My heart breaks for the parents who sent their children to school yesterday, and who did not have those same children come home. I cannot fathom that loss. My heart breaks for the boy who believed that this was the answer to whatever his problems were. My heart breaks for all children, everywhere, who are so sad that death is an option at the end of their stories.

Sometimes I worry that no matter what we do as parents, there are influences (media, movies, peers) that are beyond our control in the raising of our children. It’s that worry that makes me consider quitting my job and home schooling my children. Slowly, I let that worry pass by and allow myself to believe that the unconditional love I show my children and the compassion I teach them by words and hopefully by example, are what they need to prepare them for the bad and the good in this world.

As parents, loving our children, really and truly, is the best way to raise them to love themselves and to love others. A world with people that act out of love is a world worth working toward.

Thank you for listening.