“You’re not in trouble. We don’t get into trouble here.” – my daughter Phoenix, to a friend

Today my friend Wendy tweeted an article by Norm Lee, the author of nopunish.net. It was just my kind of thing – a brief history and analysis of the school system.

I’d been thinking about Norm Lee just recently. On the seventh of March, 2010 I sent him an email asking to subscribe to his newsletter. Five days later I received an email from him. It read, in part:

Okay, you’re included on the nsltr list. you happy? For the week following your email, I haven’t been able to do a lick of email work – AND IT’S YOUR FAULT. Engrossed as I’ve been with reading your stuff, I’ve kept wondering if there is an end to this wonderful tunnel of love & freedom. Lovit, lovit, lovit! Where did you get the devotion-to-kids, the insights, the compassion, the courage to be so open and vulnerable and brave the brickbats that are inevitably visited upon anyone as free? I’ve worked on it for more than the last half of my life (I’m 81), and I just get stronger and more dedicated. But then, I’m a trained Buddhist (Bodhisattva), with 40 years of daily meditation practice, so slings and arrows are just slings and arrows, nothing personal, nothing more.
 
I believe I love you. (So much for training in detachment.)

I remember how I felt reading this email. It was kind of a Big Deal at the time. First, I felt glad that someone out there in the Ether, an experienced parent and grandparent at that, supported my husband and I in trying to raise our kids without coercion and violence. There was light at the end of the tunnel, there was a mentor saying, “You can do it!”, and that meant a lot. Because believe me I am surrounded culturally and personally by adults who either flat-out denigrate these aspirations or at the very least, have a complete ignorance as to how to live them or what life is like when you try.

I appreciated Norm’s support; but I also knew I wasn’t where he was at – and I envied him. His sentence, “slings and arrows are just slings and arrows, nothing personal, nothing more” stuck with me. Ever since. I knew what he wrote was true for him, and I knew I wanted it to be true for me. It was a truth in my head but not in my heart. At the time I had recently received my first “anonymous” hater online. And despite handling it okay, maybe, I perceived other people’s opinions of me mattered too much. While critics, either directly criticizing or implicitly shaming, had sometimes helped me a great deal, I also knew they could upset my little happy-rowboat. It’s not an exaggeration to say I let other people keep me awake at night.

Today I also know slings and arrows are just slings and arrows. I know it is nothing personal. And I know it in my heart. My change didn’t come from Norm’s email and it didn’t come entirely from practicing Buddhism (although both of those things helped) – and it didn’t come overnight. My life is very different now. It’s a wonderful thing.

It is possible to arrive at this place; and having arrived, to practice the principles that give us this grace.

As for non-punitive parenting, I still get it wrong sometimes. But I get better and better at leaving that way of life for others. Sometimes I get a few days in a row being a nurturing, present parent. Today I’m content with my commitment to the practice, and I’m grateful for those who do better than I. They are my mentors.

Today there is not much a critic can say to upset my rowboat. Thank you, Norm, and the many others who’ve helped me and continue to help me.

Did that go the way you thought it was gonna go? Nope.

Short(-ish) linkage for this Friday!

An interview of Willow Smith, from a half year ago. She’s a real treat to watch. The grownups involved in talking with her (more AT her) make me laugh while they flip their shit about how AMAZING she is (I also notice they’re giving her tons of advice – does she look like she needs it? Sheesh). She really is a great kid and I’ll bet we’ll see some wonderful things from her – most likely because her parents are taking good care of her. Incidentally the condescension and hate in the YouTube comments on the source vid reveal a lot about our adultist culture.

Make: thread sketching. I’ve been doing this (as you may or may not know). Not from this tutorial or anything, but I’m passing it along because it’s fun.

Bridesmaids: Death to the Chick Flick at the Stranger (h/t Paige for sending this on). Another good review, making some salient points such as:

“[A]m I really expected to swallow the phrase “These are smart, funny women”? Really? As though that’s a sentence worth writing down, let alone reproducing in poster form. Can you imagine a poster proclaiming “Movies with men in them don’t have to suck!” or a critic writing the phrase “These are smart, funny men!” No. Because that WOULDN’T MAKE ANY SENSE, BECAUSE PEOPLE TAKE MEN SERIOUSLY BY DEFAULT.”

“You Might Be Making a Mistake While Considering Homeschooling If…” at Parent at the Helm. Nice to have a reminder of some of the reflexive stereotypes – and the easy smack-down regarding all of them. I sometimes forget. This was a witty and laid-back piece.

“Parents keep child’s gender secret” at Parent Central. I had many people send or tweet me this. I’m sorry, but the whole thing seems pretty damned simple to me, which is, good for those parents (in all the brouhaha it’s interesting those who cry foul haven’t addressed the fact that many intersex people are born and exist and would report all kinds of damage as a result of others imposing sex and gender upon them). I will address these two sentences of the rather lengthy article, briefly:

“Friends said they were imposing their political and ideological values on a newborn. Most of all, people said they were setting their kids up for a life of bullying in a world that can be cruel to outsiders.”

Right. FIRST, who exactly imposes political and ideological ideals on newborns (and babies, and children) – specifically with regard to gender? Oh, like LOTS OF PEOPLE (and in some rather horrid ways). Second, parents/carers who support their children instead of supporting bully and bully culture, are super rad in my book.

Third, do people really and truly think there is any evidence that random internetty strangers, Faux News fools, and talky-faced “experts” care more about Storm than Storm’s parents and siblings do? Um. LULZ.

And, on the same subject, another excellent piece from a blog I think is rock-solid: Your Baby’s Gender is a Secret Too.

Two places you might consider donating:

Deb and her boy to LiG Conference. Yes, the conference is happening NOW, but you should totes throw her some cash anyway. Trips are expensive, and the cause is lovely.

and:

fund this: matthew shepard was my friend via Angry Asian Man

Quote of the day: Every society honors its live conformists, and its dead troublemakers. ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

And this – well, you’ve probably seen it, but it’s pretty much a SOLID GOLD BABY:

you wanna be in the show / c’mon let it go!

That’s right! It’s Friday (the 13th; & also Stevie Wonder’s birthday), and I have a fresh steamed batch of link awesomeness. Pour your favorite beverage and let’s get going!

Ethics and health: Factory farms the only way to ‘feed the world’? Not so, argues Science paper by Tom Philpot

Teen Moms Look for Support, But Find Only Shame by the wonderful Miriam Zoila Pérez at Colorlines:

“Advocates like Bayetti Flores think that focusing narrowly on [teen] preventing pregnancy doesn’t address the root cause of these disparities, many of which exist among communities of similar socioeconomic status regardless of age of parenting. Instead, she argues, it turns a societal issue into an individual problem, where the blame for negative outcomes gets transferred onto the individual girls themselves—most frequently girls of color. Despite the fact that there are more white teen parents than teen parents of color overall, Latinas and African Americans are often the target of prevention programs because of the higher incidence of teen pregnancy and parenting within the communities.”

“That data can be picked apart pretty easily,” says [Verónica Bayetti Flores of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health]. “If you look at those negative outcomes in terms of socioeconomic indicators, I think you’d see similar trends. It’s trying to place the blame on something that is more a symptom than a cause.”

And from a year ago: author Hilary Mantel ruffles feathers regarding the same subject (thanks, reader Amy for sending this link on).

And listen: I’m a fair-minded and judicious moderator, methinks. But I was a pregnant teen, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and going over bone-deep hurts, and I’d encourage people to read the articles and really consider what kind of statement they want to make – if they make one at all (it’s really okay not to, you know).

Why do Girls Feel More Depressed after First Time Sex? from Rachel Rabbit White. Well one reason is, we usually have some pretty inept lovers and have been entirely too pressured about the whole business. This is a great, thoughtful piece, and I encourage anyone to read it if you plan on further interacting with the human race.

In both the No-Shit-Really? and also the I-Want-To-Cry-Because-The-Status-Quo-Sucks category (in other words, people are now shying away from “dieting” and calling the same behaviors, “lifestyle choices” etc.), we have: Dieting Linked To Eating Disorders at Medical Health News. Thanks reader Jeanne for sharing this through Google Reader.

“Constant dieting in a bid to improve appearance and reach what is perceived as a ‘socially acceptable’ low weight can cause an obsession with weight and an increased likelihood of developing an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. ”

*ahem*

Film: How to Die in Oregon. I will definitely be seeing this. Even watching the brief promo vid brought up a lot of emotions regarding the hospice and dying care of my father, which I was so intimately involved with.

Lovable Local Cop Tells Other Cops How to Be More Lovable at The Stranger (also shared by Jeanne). “It doesn’t matter which population we’re dealing with, it takes multiple contacts to build trust,” Gracy explains. “But every positive encounter helps build our good reputation.”

“Women bare real pregnant and post-pregnancy bellies to show hypocrisy of glossy media images”. No photoshop, surgery, smoke and mirrors, “flattering” lighting, etc. I seriously want to give each of these women a high-five, or a fist-bump, or buy ’em a coffee or tea or margarita. Great project (related: thisisawoman.com).

Local: Child Luring Incident Reported in Aberdeen. Sounds like those two girls handled things well.

Malls Across America; a great slideshow from 1989. Be sure to read the artist’s commentary, too!

Crafters: you can knit “The Dude”, inspired by a new-classic film I can’t get enough of! (and not just because of how many “fuck” words are in it).

Make: I was complimented on my rhubarb pie this week (and ’tis the season!). I followed this recipe.

And finally – this? Is so, incredibly, simply, beautiful.