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Monday, June 29, 2015

How to make your own goldfish crackers -- Fail kitchen

"Let's make some, out of flour and cheese and heartbreak."


Saturday, June 27, 2015

A privileged personal history of gay rights activism

When I was in high school in the late 1990s, a group of amazing students formed a club one day. They called it the GSA, or the Gay-Straight Alliance. Smalltown, Connecticut, offered an incredibly sheltered existence to all of us, back then. I went to school with literally fewer than 400 students in the 9-12 grade and graduated with something like 98 other kids. And they all looked and behaved just like me. Anyone who behaved even slightly differently, therefore, was subject to scrutiny and side-eye.

Now, we were fairly nice kids, and while a few of my more bullied friends could tell you war stories from that school that would make you shiver, from where I sat in seventh period World Cultures, we all seemed pretty open, honest, and kind. There was the immature name-calling every once in a while, the hallway fist fight once in a blue moon, a few people everyone whispered about for one reason or another. Many of us (and really I can only speak for myself, but I'm guessing many of us) did not understand the reality of oppression, of marginalization, because it truly did not affect us. We were white, straight, well off monetarily, and children. As such, we threw around the phrase "that's gay" very easily, and I distinctly remember at least twice when separate students were made to feel supremely uncomfortable because someone started a rumor that "they were gay." I have no idea how it must have felt to have to walk around with that label, true or not, particularly when they had not yet made a personal choice to share that private information. I do know that I saw red faces, tears, and students drawing into themselves. As if being gay were the absolute worst. Again, I say we didn't know any better, but someone did. Where were the adults?

All this to say my alliance with progressive causes did not start until well after I left high school, and even college. I literally did not understand oppression. I had no concept of it. So when the GSA came along, and quite a few of my friends were in it, I would hang out with them after school every once in a while, when it was convenient to me, mostly to chat with my friends. It may as well have been a sewing circle, or a club for frisbee golf for all I cared or paid attention, but it did spark just a sliver of awareness in me personally, that there was a group of people who felt ostracized enough that they needed a group to support them. And my childhood self did like the idea of equality. Even then I thought that people were people and we should all just let them be and let them love and treat them fairly. I just also thought that they were already treated pretty fairly. I truly had no idea. I was busy reading MacBeth and studying Elementary Functions and playing soccer, and singing in choir, and heading up the Environmental Team. I figured my life was full and complete and did not for one moment consider how incredibly selfish it was.

It's important to note that I didn't even think I knew any LGBT people. I really figured that every single time something like that was brought up, it was mean-spirited talk meant to segregate a person and find something not-normal about them so that they would be made fun of for like a week. I was a fairly smart kid...but I never put two and two together that if I thought being gay or a lesbian or bisexual or transgender was a huge insult meant to wreak havoc on teenage self-esteems, then perhaps I was part of the problem, even though I thought I was doing my diligent part by saying things like, "no, they're not!" I mean, really? So very little I understood in those days.

Turns out, at least two people I knew there were transgender, and many more gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer, or without sexual orientation label, per their preference. And that it was okay for them to identify that way. That it wasn't necessarily a source of ridicule, but actually a legitimate identity to be protected, to be held sacred, much like my straight, white life was never questioned. I wish I had known that, then. I wish those students had been able to say with confidence, this is who I am, and I wish I, as a straight person, had known that the correct answer wasn't to immediately thrust the person back into "normality" but to venture to understand what life must be like having to hide from your earliest years. I wish I had known that a better answer than "no, they're not!" would have been, "and what the hell is wrong with that?"

But I didn't know. And for that I am sorry. Regardless, all this is to say that yesterday marked an official turning point in the nation, and the high school friends I still keep in touch with have grown in leaps and bounds since 1996, everyone celebrating, everyone understanding what an enormous weight has been lifted now that our government agrees that love is love and we should not police which gender people have the right to fall in love with.

This entry has been personal and whiny in the face of tremendous societal change for a reason, and that is to say this:

One of the collateral victories in this fight is that when my kids go to high school, they will already know that LGBT people are not a segregated flock of people there only to provide a petty comparison to what straight kids don't want to be. I've taught them from birth that "girls can marry girls and boys can marry boys" and now that we're living in Florida, I can tell you that they came home from kindergarten and first grade at least once a month telling me that so-and-so said I was a liar, or that so-and-so's mom said I was totally wrong and what I said was a sin.

That's not really going to happen anymore in a way I cannot defend. As they grow, I can point to this decision, and guide them in the knowledge that people who identify as LGBT are not only okay, but amazing because they fought for their rights and actually won a battle in our lifetime. When my kids go to high school, "gay" won't be used as an insult. It won't be interchangeable with "stupid" or "ridiculous" or "something I really fucking dislike right now". And that might be a very small thing, but a very good thing. And maybe it's not so small after all.

My children will grow up in a world where more people are treated as equals in the eyes of the law regardless of their personal choice of who to be and who to love. And if they decide they are part of the LGBT community, those who have fought together so hard in my lifetime while I was busy failing Home Economics have paved the way for them, not only personally, but legally, and rights will be afforded them that have been kept away from this group for so long. And I am eternally grateful.

Congratulations, everyone, and thank you. You did it. #lovewins

Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrating Your Teenage Daughter’s Birthday

Whether you like it or not, it’s about to happen. Your little girl is about to turn thirteen. You wonder how this happened. You wonder where the years all went. And seriously, when did she start acting so grown up? You might not be able to answer those questions, but one thing is clear: when it comes to celebrating her birthday, you’re not getting away with a Dora the Explorer theme, a pony petting zoo, or a princess party.

Nope, you’re entering uncharted territory, and let’s face it, you need help. Because as grown up as she might look and act, there’s an emotionally volatile child in there. Throw her an embarrassing party for little girls or buy a present she wanted when she was eight and heads will roll! I think we know whose head we’re talking about, too.

Good thing we’re here for you. We’ve been there with our own teenage daughters and made every mistake in the book so you won’t have to. So, take a deep breath and read the following suggestions for celebrating your teen daughter’s birthday.

· Turn your backyard or living room into a dance party. It’s easy enough. Just hire a DJ for a few hours or do it on the cheap with an iPod and home stereo system. Rent a disco ball, a strobe light, maybe even a fog machine, then throw on a little T-Swift, and you’ve got yourself a makeshift nightclub—without the booze and older men! Your daughter and her friends will love the dancing, the presence of boys will make things seem a little bit adult and a little bit dangerous (you’ll be there, of course, if anyone gets fresh), and a good time will be had by all.

· Try a sleepover. Maybe dancing and boys aren’t exactly on your daughter’s radar yet. No problem. Perhaps a sleepover’s the thing for her. It’s a classic birthday solution. Load up on desserts and sugary coffee (because isn’t coffee very adult), rent a few scary movies or rom-coms and then let them talk into the night, which they will after all that sugar and caffeine.

· Pool party. Believe it or not, this works, even with a teenage daughter. You’ve just got to approach it differently than you might with a younger child. For instance, have it in the late afternoon and invite boys. Provide pizza, soda, chips, etc., and let the kids do their thing. Get some fun inflatable pool toys for them to use. Maybe some will lay out in the sun for a bit. Maybe others will get a game of water volleyball going. And maybe still others will relax in the hot tub while they talk. Once it starts to get dark, send the boys home and turn the pool party into a sleepover.

· Spa night. This one culminates in a sleepover, too. But instead of a pool party with boys to kick things off, make it a night for makeup tips and pampering. If you’re willing to spring for it, you can hire a nail professional to visit the house and do all the girls nails. If not, the girls can do each other’s nails and makeup. Maybe even turn it into a contest. Most talented beautician wins a Starbucks gift card. Once everyone’s all dolled up, take the girls out on the town for dinner or a movie.

· Pre-party with just the family. Parties are all well and good, but you’ve still got to squeeze in some special time on her birthday for just the family. Maybe take her out to her favorite breakfast spot, and while there give her one of her gifts. For teenage girls, remember it’s not all about materialistic things. Often sentimental, she’ll want something that touches her heart and shows how much she means to you. Maybe you can start a fun tradition and get birthday gifts for her like chocolate covered strawberries. Give her the same number of strawberries as the age she is turning, and give her an extra one every year. She’ll look forward to this special tradition year after year.

There you have it. Five ways to not only survive your teenage daughter’s birthday, but to really celebrate it and the young woman she is becoming. Taking the time to do it right will go a long way to building that loving bond we all want with our daughters as they journey through those tumultuous teen years.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Recipe: Vegan French Toast -- Guest Post

Photo by PianissAmma

For years, I have been a fan of brunch. I love the idea of getting together with friends and family to commune with a tasty late morning meal. Perhaps a Belgian waffle, or a spicy potato quiche served up with juice and sunshine on a Saturday morning.

One dish I have loathed since becoming an adult however, is French toast. Restaurants often serve them too soggy with egg batter, or they’re much too dry and flavorless. Even one slice can be heavy enough to make me regret getting out of bed for the rest of the day.

This spring, I challenged myself to revisit the concept of French toast on my own terms. I wondered if it was possible to make the dish without eggs. I had already began removing eggs from many dishes with a bit of success. So would it work with a brunch staple like French toast? To my surprise, the answer was ‘yes.’

Now that we are facing another egg shortage in much of the United States courtesy of a particularly bad avian flu outbreak, I wanted to share this recipe.

Vegan French Toast


1 ripe banana
1/3 cup apple sauce (I used Mrs. Gooch’s, because there is no added sugar)
3/4 cup milk of your choice (I have plain soy, but I think oat milk would work well here too).
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
oil or margarine for griddle as needed (I use Earth Balance)
8-10 slices of stiff bread of your choice
Note: You can use fresh bread, but lightly toast it prior to dipping in batter

Ingredients used. Photo by PianissAmma


Preheat the griddle or skillet.

Beat or puree the fruit, milk, vanilla and cinnamon until it reaches the consistency of a smoothie. Add mixture to a plate or shallow bowl.

Dip the bread into the batter, soaking up to seconds per side. Don’t let the bread get too soggy.

Place on heated griddle or skillet, and cook until both sides are browned. This particular mixture takes a little longer to cook than it’s egg enriched counterpart. Allow for about five minutes on the griddle.

Serve as you like.


Jill Redding blogs at Pianissamma. You can find this recipe and many others there!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A freelancer's roundup

It's been almost exactly a year since I started attempting to freelance on a regular basis for actual money. This is not statistical data or anything, but I thought some people might be interested in the numbers of a first-year freelancer (who, admittedly, has had plenty of past writing experience, but never in the world of paid-for print). So, here are the numbers I can give you, based on my fledgling and not-quite successful career at this point:

In the past year, I sent out 542 pitches. Out of those pitches, I was ignored 211 times. I received 187 rejections, and had a piece accepted 144 times. That means I was ignored 39 percent of the time. I was told LOL NOPE 35 percent of the time, and I was allowed to write a piece for a publication 26 percent of the time.

I've published in 32 different outlets, writing from one piece to dozens of pieces for each.

I've written pieces for anywhere from $50 a piece (if you don't count free), up to $1,200 a piece, so far, with my average per piece probably hovering around $200, but I'm not doing that math. Maybe it's way lower, I don't know. I hope to markedly increase that this year.

I have made a grand total of: $15,069.55 so far. I am still waiting on a few thousand dollars worth of checks because haha, why pay freelancers in a timely manner, amirite?

Not great for a real person job, for sure. But not really that bad, either, considering if you'd told me last year that I'd be trying to make a go at freelancing for a living, I'd have laughed in your face.

So, recap:

Pitches: 542
Ignored: 211
Rejections: 187
Acceptances: 144
Money: $15,069.55
Publications: 32

And that's really it. I mean, what other info would be helpful, I don't know. This has been your "Darlena's first year as a freelancer" summation. Kbye.

Monday, June 22, 2015

My kids pretend to get along

My identical twins are getting better in their advanced age (almost seven now) at letting go when things don't seem fair. Up until this point, and lingering still, they have had huge problems with comparing what they have with what their twin has. They fight over turns, the television, who touches whose stuff, who said what in which other fight, how they're being represented by the other twin, really, anything they can fight about in terms of trying to have everything exactly equal is fair game.

They'll even fight about who gets to tell a story about what happened at school. Or how long each of them gets to talk to me before the other one gets to speak. I'd say 92 percent of their day consists of annoying each other and measuring their own worth based on the other.

Starting last year, though, they began to embark on these imaginary games, which to my writer's ear sound just like stories with a plotline, adventure and adversity woven into whatever they are currently experiencing in reality. Not only are they experts at spinning adventures for each other for hours and hours at a time with intricate precision, during these bouts, they actually get along.

They become expert problem solvers, not only working together as a team within the game, but compromising and working out the story in on-the-fly drawing board sessions without so much as a whine or a whimper.

It's as if they are practicing how to get along in real life. In their little world that they make, they are best friends, usually playing sisters, but with the enhancements of magic powers or the title of princess. They are unstoppable here, and they can keep it up all day.

How do I harness this positive energy and friendliness from pretend to actuality? Why are they able to get along when they put on a slightly false persona, but when it's them in real time, they'd rather scream and cry over who put a foot on the other's beanbag first than play? Are they thirsting for real-life interaction with each other to mirror the world they created? If so, why don't they just get along in both places? Did I do something to force them to play out their better selves in a mock-world in a way they feel they cannot when just their own selves?

Is this a positive thing or a negative thing?

As with everything that happens with my daughters, I have only questions, no answers. But I do know that I will take 3 hours of intense pretend where they love each other and work together than a fight every ten minutes over who got one more grape.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dating while married with kids

My husband and I rarely get a chance to go out. We moved to a new town five years ago, now, and in that time, we've made friends, but having little kids puts a cramp in the social calendar. It is extremely rare that our schedule coincides with that of our friends, given everyone has babies of different ages, or are working on dissertations, or are travelling, etc. So, when we do get a chance to go out, it's usually solo. Which is great, as we happen to really like each other's company, however, when you take a couple dynamic that has existed in a bubble for five years, and will resume existing in that bubble for the foreseeable future directly after venturing out into society for 3-5 hours, you end up with a very lackluster evening.

Couples with children are usually not usuals at any one establishment. As such, they cannot wander into a restaurant, bar or coffee shop and run into acquaintances or even people they've ever seen before and possibly have reason to converse. Unlike people traveling in larger groups, or oppositely out on their own, engaging socially with people who already have a pattern in place looks out of place. The cadence of conversation is slightly off. If already social couples, groups and singles are like ropes swinging toward and away from each other as they go from place to place, meet new people, and say hello to old friends and acquaintances they at least know a bit about, an isolated couple is like a ring: any attempt to engage with others bounces off the boundaries of the dynamic already present within the couple alone.

And without having any set plan, conversation is limited to what is going on directly around you, which runs out quickly, no matter how many observations you make. As a solid couple, you already know about the other person, and any other conversations could just as easily be made at home, in a more natural way.

It's not that couples don't want to be social. It's more that it's incredibly difficult to do so naturally. I know a lot of people will disagree and think about how easy it is for them to go out with their partner, and easily float from situation to situation, finding ways to be invited and inviting wherever they go. But I equally know that that doesn't happen for everyone and a lot of couples look at themselves and wonder why. I'm putting forward that it's not you, the couple, but the way in which modern life has secluded families. Extended families no longer live in the same location. Neighborhood communities are getting increasingly rare. Friendships are complicated, and people just aren't free at the same times.

The next time we organize a date night out, I'll do more planning beforehand. If we went to see a show or an exhibit or play or something, then we could do dinner and drinks and talk about the experience we just shared. We still most likely won't be branching out into social revelry, but even that is more likely, as we could talk to others about a shared experience for all of us. We wouldn't be rooting around in the dark, trying to strike a conversation out of nowhere about nothing simply because we remember how we used to do it all those years ago, and how easy and fluid it was.

It's good to get out of the house. It's better to do so with a plan.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How to make a melted rainbow cake -- Fail kitchen

If anyone wants to know how to make a 392074390647 foot cake with rainbow colors, you've come to the right place. Almost.


Monday, June 15, 2015

5 ways a dog helped my kids

When I first got our puppy, Fletch, I was told in no uncertain terms by someone that it would be a huge mistake, that we weren't prepared to be pet owners and that my kids would literally kill the dog. (I swear.) Not only has that not happened, but I can say with authority that having this puppy has really helped the mood of our household overall, not least because he's there for my kids in a myriad of ways only a dog could be.

1) He will always play with them.

Mom working on the computer again and can only make bracelets with the kids for ten minutes? Don't worry! Fletch is there with a ball to help them out of their doldrums.

2) He takes the blame.

I don't know how many times missing shoes, broken toys and huge messes have been blamed on this little guy. We always laugh about it, because it probably wasn't Fletch who forgot to flush the potty after all.

3) He's always there for them.

My kids are really sensitive, so when they have to be reprimanded, they take it hard (for like a second before they go right back to misbehaving again). But nothing in the world is better than a live snuggle buddy who loves you no matter what when you're feeling down.

4) He LOVES them so hard.

Every morning when they wake up, he'll spend a half hour celebrating this momentous occasion. When they come home after being away, or even if they just come inside after playing outside for a bit, all bets are off for ten minutes while he licks them to death and wags his tail ecstatically. He does not hide his emotions, and his emotions are OMG YOU ARE BACK I HAVE MISSED YOU SO MUCH LET ME LOVE YOU RIGHT NOW I CANNOT HANDLE THIS. They love it and need it in their lives.

5) He gives them something to take care of.

They worry over him, and take charge of him as if he were their own kid. They help feed him and give him water and take him outside and make sure he's feeling happy all the time. This has the added benefit of them realizing that the sun doesn't rise and set on their faces alone. With a smaller thing in their lives, they see that they might not be the end-all be-all forever for everyone, and that other things may also need our compassion and strength. It's helping them (slooooowly) become big girls.

Fletch has been the perfect addition to this family. Absolutely.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Dealing with change

Most people don't like change much, even when that change is pleasant. Something about routine disruption makes people uneasy. The same is true for children, except, unlike adults, they usually can't pinpoint the cause of their distress. This makes the first few weeks of anything new a cranky, whiny mess...including summer vacation.

So how can families move seamlessly from one routine to another?

First, if you can,  structure your summer days so that there actually is another routine to go to. Many times we want to leave summer days open to give them a proper vacation feel, but what we consider a break might be incredibly stressful for our children as they struggle to figure out what to do with all the hours that had until recently been laid out in excruciating detail for them. You have to ease then into freedom. Start by lining up activities and chores for the entire day and gradually introduce ten minute breaks of free time. Then fifteen minutes. Then half hours. Soon enough your cistern should be able to create their own structure with just your suggestions,  and then you'll be home free until school starts up again and you have to deal with that change.

Second,  do not forget to feed them. Not that you'd starve your kids but remember that school meals aren't necessarily at normal times. My kids eat loch at school at 10:30 a.m. Their bodies are trained to be hungry at that odd time but without the set routine that tells them they're hungry,  they might not recognize the feeling and get cranky instead of asking for food. If you make sure a snack is out when your kids are used to eating, you'll save yourself many unnecessary breakdowns.

Third,  keep your bedtime routine the same. They'll need a constant in their lives as everything else changes and at least they'll know that your part of their day remains the same whether they're in school or not. It will show them you're consistent.

Fourth,  even though they have nowhere to be, when they wake up, make sure they get up and ready for the day. This gives them menial specific tasks to concentrate on as their brains wake up and they won't be drowned in a fog of general anxiety at the thought of an empty day they have to fill with their own ideas.

Throughout it all, remember, school will be starting again before you know it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What do you picture when you think of an autistic child? You're wrong. -- Guest post

What do you imagine when you picture a child with autism?

I can tell you what I imagined.

A child who is antisocial. A child who refuses to make eye contact. A child who is withdrawn, sullen, disconnected, unaffectionate, devoid of empathy.

Which was why my first reaction when that word was brought up in relation to my daughter was to scoff. Autism? Juliette? Really?!

But she’s….so social!

And she is. From the moment she was born, that girl has radiated sunshine. People used to comment everywhere we went that she was just so happy. She was always smiling. She loved people. Not only was her personality bright, but so was her mind. She was inquisitive. She was magnetic. Well, she was just plain brilliant, in so many ways.

She was NOTHING like that image I had in my head of an autistic child.

Most people, before they have a loved one with autism, have that same image of the withdrawn autistic child in their minds. Sadly, many health professionals do as well. That image is the biggest roadblock getting in the way of autistic children gaining the proper diagnosis and support. I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard parents recounting stories of how they went to their doctor, concerned about their child’s development, only to be waved away and told their child couldn’t possibly have autism because he/she “made eye contact” or appears to be “too social.” Some parents are satisfied with that response, and the child continues to struggle through life without help. Some parents continue to fight for YEARS before finally getting their child diagnosed and accessing supports and resources. We were very lucky that we found a wonderful psychologist who easily diagnosed Juliette, then Lennon, and then myself. All of us make eye contact and are quote-unquote “social,” by the way. Not one of us looks anything like that image you’ve got in your head.

Look. That image….it simply doesn’t exist in real life. That autistic kid who is completely in his own world, refusing to look anyone in the eyes under any circumstances…..doesn’t exist. At least, I’ve never met him. And I’ve met my fair share of autistic children, on both ends of the spectrum. Beautiful, bright, curious, magnetic, sensitive, funny, and gosh-darn adorable autistic kids who are literally the direct opposite of what I had imagined. They are completely “normal” looking children who are so full of life, only their brains are just wired a bit differently.

When my son, Lennon was a baby, I knew he was different right away. He was the most wide awake, alert newborn I had ever seen. He cried a lot, and he almost never slept. He seemed unable to shut his brain off. His eyes were always wide open, taking everything in. He hit all his developmental milestones early, especially speaking. He talked like a miniature adult, and he was so incredibly intelligent. He was a challenging child in many ways. He was very strong-willed. He knew what he wanted, and he did not respond well to being told “no.” When he set a goal, he would never give up. He had traits that we admire in adults, but are challenging to deal with in children.

Somewhere along the way, in my obsessive searching for answers as to why my child was so different, I came across the terms “high needs child” and “spirited child.” He is both of those things, but it would be six years before I would realize that he is also a child who has Asperger’s. When he was a toddler, I got the book “Raising Your Spirited Child,” and the author describes spirited children as being “MORE.” More intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and energetic than a typical child. What a perfect description! While the book isn’t about autistic children directly, many children on the spectrum would definitely fall into the category of spirited as well. Lennon is, and always has been, more. He may be small in stature, but he is larger than life in personality.

Let’s go back to the image of the autistic child in your head. Picture him. Do you think of that child as being MORE? Or LESS?

I am telling you….forget about that image, because that child doesn’t exist.

Also, forget about the eye contact thing. It should be taken out of the equation, as far as I’m concerned. Yes, some people with autism struggle with direct eye contact (usually more often in unfamiliar situations with unfamiliar people. Most find eye contact easier at home, with their families). However, it is just one of MANY factors to be considered when diagnosing a child. A child can have flawless eye contact and still be very much autistic. And yet, somehow, we have chosen to latch onto this one small trait as THE definitive trait of autism. If a child makes brief eye contact at a doctor’s appointment, they are immediately dismissed from the spectrum? C’mon, people, we can do better than this. We are failing our children because we can’t get over that stereotypical image of the sullen, autistic child with the downcast eyes; the child who is somehow “less” than other children. We imagine that they are less social, less connected, less emotional, less intelligent, and less empathetic. We need to consider that we may have this all backward. These are kids who experience everything more intensely: sensory information, emotions, empathy. Their nervous systems are more fragile, and they are much more easily overwhelmed. Because they are MORE, they have more needs and require more support.

Most importantly, they are human beings. They are individuals. Generalizing all autistic people as antisocial is doing them a big disservice. There are introverted and extroverted autistic people. There is as much variation among autistic people as there is among neurotypical people. I see this firsthand with my children. Lennon and Juliette are both diagnosed with autism, yet they are so different from each other. They each have their own unique strengths and challenges. Lennon has impressive verbal skills, and he is very driven to achieve his goals, but he sometimes has trouble going with the flow. Juliette struggles more with communication, but she is more adaptable to change and more conventionally “social.” Again, neither of them is anything like what I imagined an autistic child would be like. That was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around when Juliette was diagnosed. She just didn’t SEEM autistic to me.

But then I realized, I had been wrong all along about what autism looks like. I’ve learned to replace the incorrect image in my head with images like this, of my beautiful, creative, smart, kind, loving, and MORE children.

"Amber Appleton Torres" is a stay at home mother of three, the eldest two of whom are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. After their diagnoses, she realized she is on the spectrum as well, and got her own Asperger's diagnosis. She blogs about her family's journey at

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wobbly Knobby -- Guest post

The weather was like any other bright, humid, and sticky Texas summer day. And, like every morning, dressed in jeans, white shirt, navy blue blazer, and red cowboy boots, Marcus walked down the cement paver lined path from his double wide to pick up his mail from the trailer park community’s mailbox. Rifling through the mail in hand, he headed over to the parking lot to his pickup truck. But unlike every other morning, as he opened his mail, which was littered with unwanted paper junk still legally polluting mailboxes all over the great U.S. of A, unlike electronic spam now illegal to send via e-mail, he took in the fact that he was now living in a new America. With a little extra bounce in his step, Marcus hopped into his truck before speeding off to work.

As a fifteen year veteran employee of Wobbly Knobby, America’s premier chain doors and knobs, pharmacy, and guns and ammo store, he knew that by virtue of waking up that day a red-blooded American male, he held more rights than those of his female counterparts. Well, at least the ones he worked with at Wobbly Knobby. Marcus reflected on how his future was transformed overnight. The day before, the Supreme Court of the United States, also known as SCOTUS, handed down a decision in The Department of Justice vs. Wobbly Knobby stating that any closely held company, whose ownership sincerely held a religious belief disavowing female contraception, could deny paying for its female employees’ birth control under its company provided medical insurance plan. The Wobbly Knobby Brown family was thrilled. A closely held company, Wobbly Knobby would no longer have to pay for a woman’s device of abortion, which they believed to be a weapon of the Devil.

A virile, single, semi-handsome, high school dropout, who’d become a gun loving and toting Texan by way the of the Ozarks, Marcus began his career working for the Evangelical Christian bible thumping Brown-family owned Wobbly Knobby empire when he was only fifteen years old, after his family died from eating tainted possum road kill. His vegetarianism had saved him from the fate that befell his parents and twelve brothers and sisters. Wobbly Knobby had accepted him with open arms as one of their own, herding the wayward sheep that he was into their flock. He started out first as a janitor, then stock boy, followed by cashier, finally moving his way up the ranks to manager of the company’s San Antonio flagship store.

Upon arriving at work, he bee-lined through the company’s signature gold gilded automatic doors to its pharmacy, where Earl, the pharmacist, was manning the counter.

“Mornin’ Earl.”

“Mornin’ Marcus. Great day to be an American, don’tchya think?”


Marcus was a man of few words due to his reserved demeanor, not because of his lack of a high school diploma.

“What can I do ya fer today? The usual?”

“Yup, but with a twist. Triple my order.”

“Okie Dokie. It’s only Wobbly Knobby’s money. Good thing you ain’t a woman.”


Earl disappeared into the back, as Marcus flipped through a Good Housekeeping magazine he found lying about lazily on the counter. Five minutes later, Earl returned with five bottles full of little blue pills.

“So, this is a six month supply. Will you be needin’ anythin’ else?”

“Nope. Just my Viagra.”

Marcus took his generic white bag containing his penis party pills. He marched into the employee lounge and punched in his time card. 7:52a.m. Eight minutes until his shift began. He walked over to his locker. After opening his locker, he dropped off his wallet, keys, and virility medicine. It’s gonna be one busy day, Marcus mused to himself.

“Hiya Marcus,” a young nineteen-year-old woman named Lucinda cried out. She was sitting on the employee lounge’s sofa flanked by two of her female coworkers: twenty-four year old Sally Mae, and thirty-two year old Jeanine. All three women were dressed in company issued blue polyester pants, white t-shirt, and red smock. All three women worked in shipping and receiving.

“Mornin’ ladies. How’s it goin’?”

“Fine,” Lucinda said in her deep southern drawl.

“No different than last night when we were chattin’ online,” Sally Mae replied.

“We still on for our 10:00a.m. ciggie break?” Jeanine inquired.

“Yup,” Marcus confirmed.

“And, lunch?” Sally Mae added.

“Yup,” Marcus advised.

“Don’t forget coffee at 4:30p.m.” Lucinda reminded him.

Marcus nodded his head.

“Just remember ladies, I punch out at 6:00p.m. sharp.”

The ladies nodded their heads in agreement. The 8:00a.m. whistle blew signaling a shift changeover.  The four parted ways. The women walked off to the shipping dock, and Marcus stalked off towards his office to relieve the night manager.  They were nothing if not hardworking, loyal Wobbly Knobby employees.

Marcus and the ladies met throughout the day as planned, and by 5:46p.m., he was clock-watching, antsy to leave for the night. When the 6:00 o’clock end of shift whistle blew, Marcus hightailed it back to his locker, picked up his wallet, keys, and pills, before he headed out to his noble steed. He drove over to the bar adjacent to his trailer park to drink beers, get shit-face drunk, and shoot pool until it was time to hit the hay so he’d be refreshed for work the following day. By the end of the night, Marcus was drunk as a skunk and ready for some shut-eye. His life had been on cruise control until that very day. His work and after work routine were set in stone. But, he knew that soon enough things would change. They had to. Lucinda, Sally Mae, and Jeanine made it clear that they were not going to take the Wobbly Knobby decision lying down.

Two months passed. Marcus’ life post-Wobbly Knobby decision was hummed along on rinse and repeat, until one early Monday morning when it came to an abrupt end. Walking into the employee lounge, his dream-like bubble was burst when Lucinda, Sally Mae, and Jeanine cornered him with very stern looks on their faces. Their expressions told Marcus that they meant business.

“Mornin’ ladies.”

“Mornin’ Daddy,” the women chimed in unison.

“S’cuse me?”

“You heard us. You gonna be a daddy times three,” Lucinda advised.

“You shittin’ me?” Marcus asked.

“Nope,” Jeanine stated.

“That’s whatchya get when you don’t have no money to buy no birth control,” Sally Mae stated.

“What’s that?” Marcus asked.

“Babies,” Sally Mae answered.

Marcus’ dumbfounded expression was quickly replaced with a Cheshire grin when the women waved three positive Wobbly Knobby home pregnancy test sticks in his face.

“Guess I ain’t gonna be needin’ them little blue pills here no more,” Marcus pondered aloud, digging his Viagra bottle out of his pocket.

The three women’s sexual appetite over the past few months had become voracious. No longer able to regulate their hormonal surges since they couldn’t afford to pay for birth control on their minimum wage salaries, their inner horn dogs emerged. Luckily for them, Marcus was a willing and able participant, whose company-paid for Viagra enabled him to satisfy their needs.

“Don’t be getting your hitch caught up in your giddyup, ladies. The Browns are gonna be so damn pleased with this miracle from Jesus. You’ll see,” Marcus offered. “Hallelujah, I’m gonna be a daddy!”

Marcus was right. News of the triple immoral conception that was anything but immaculate, spread far and wide, even farther than the ladies’ legs had spread to offer Marcus’ manly member warmth and shelter. Management heralded the news, sending it up the chain directly to Mr. President and C.E.O., Jep Brown, himself.  Upon getting word of the eventual birth his employees’ bundles of joy, Mr. Brown flew down to San Antonio from his polar bear hunting compound in Alaska to congratulate Marcus, Lucinda, Sally Mae, and Jeanine in person. Mr. Brown was self-congratulatory, for he knew that his hard fought and won Supreme Court victory had allowed him to do God’s work on Earth by compelling his female employees to play host to Marcus’ seed. To celebrate his fine, fertile employees, in a Canadian-like gesture, he offered each of the women and Marcus a full year’s paid maternity and paternity leave, respectively. Mr. Brown also promoted Marcus to regional manager, which came with a significant bump in salary, annual bonus, and lifetime job security, so that Marcus could provide for his growing family. Mr. Brown even bought Marcus a house, putting title in Marcus’ name, so that he, Lucinda, Sally Mae, Jeanine, and their brood could live in Wobbly Knobby-sanctioned sin. Marcus and his three Mary-like baby mamas were going to be poster children for his anti-female contraception crusade.

As news of Mr. Brown’s beneficence spread across the company, the number of male Wobbly Knobby employee Viagra prescriptions quadrupled, overshadowing the non-existent IUD sales to their female cohorts. Mr. Brown was happier than a pig in feces since Viagra was far cheaper than those damn devices of abortion. However, now an expectant father, Marcus was the only one on the Wobbly Knobby team not participating in the erection-enabling mechanism-buying bonanza. Instead, as if channeling the first American pioneers before him, he opted to go the route less traveled. He bought himself a company-paid for vasectomy. He’d made his baby bed and was ready to lie in it.

Mr. Brown didn’t give Marcus’ decision a second thought when he’d learned about it. He’d enjoyed his own company insurance provided vasectomy after having his sixth child with his fifth wife, and Mr. Brown was not one to be labeled a hypocrite. Even though his company invested its employees’ 401K plan in contraception manufacturers in China, Mr. Brown was still no charlatan. Rather, he was a shrewd businessman who knew how to make money for his hardworking staff—helping them to save for their retirement. To him, investing in the companies that produced female contraception that he denied his women staff was not double-dealing. It was justifiable God’s work, for it was an instrument of population control in a godless land. And, when those birth control tools were exported, finally making their way to the golden American shores, Mr. Brown turned a blind eye in good conscience because his pastor told him that it was ok to do so. And, anything his pastor told him was as good as scripture.

Mr. Brown didn’t even bat an eyelash when his company’s chief religious health “hall monitor” officer reported to him that Marcus’ health insurance account contained personal prescriptions for estrogen and progesterone.

“We have no business snooping into the health, bedroom, or personal lives of our employees,” Mr. Brown admonished. “I don’t abide by that kind of behavior. Your job is to just keep an eye on any attempts by employees, especially the women ones, to buy birth control. Since it ain’t birth control, we’ve got to pay for it. Anything else doesn’t jive with my sincerely held religious belief against paying for female contraception that was upheld by the highest court of this land. Got that?”

Mr. Brown’s birth control snitch nodded, acquiescing to his boss’ missive.

Six months passed. Lucinda, Sally Mae, and Jeanine ballooned in size as their babies grew. With the women nearly at full term, not having taken any time off in two years, Marcus booked a four-week vacation with Mr. Brown’s blessing. After all, he was set to become a father of three. Unfortunately, the women’s maternity leave would begin only once the babies were born. Having no vacation to use in order to rest up as their respective third trimesters drew to a close, Lucinda, Sally Mae, and Jeanine continued to work until their due dates, which all happened to be on the same day. Thanks to the constant sex and the fact that the woman weren’t on any birth control to regulate their cycles, they all ovulated and got pregnant at the same time. Seeing that fact as bearing the hand of God, Mr. Brown, a fervent disciple of Jesus, took it upon himself to ensure that the babies entered the world safely. With Marcus gone, Mr. Brown promised to be there for the women when they went into labor just in case their babies’ daddy didn’t make it back in time for the due date.

Without warning, and one week prematurely, all three women’s waters broke on the shipping and receiving floor. Mr. Brown, who lived in San Antonio, drove his new BMW to the store to take charge. He commandeered a company cargo van to drive the women to the hospital since he didn’t want to ruin his brand new car’s leather seats.  He instructed his staff to move hell and high water to track down Marcus, who’d failed to leave word of his whereabouts. Once at the hospital, Mr. Brown played Lamaze coach for each Mother Mary laboring conveniently in neighboring rooms. He only popped out to read a flurry of texts from his minions informing him that Marcus was nowhere to be found. Eighteen hours and three healthy baby boys born later, the boys shared a birthday, while the brothers’ different mothers shared a public four-person ward hospital room. The company insurance plan didn’t pay for semi-private or private rooms. Mr. Brown justified this policy in the circumstances given that all three women’s children shared a father. It didn’t matter that they also shared the room with a ninety-two year old palliative care patient who was suffering in pain from E.Coli infected and oozing bed sores.

“Praise be the Lord!” Mr. Brown preached to Lucinda, Sally Mae, and Jeanine. “Marcus is the man. Father of three strapping boys who will grow to become men, leaders of tomorrow, who’ll help lead this great nation of ours. I’m so grateful to those five learned judges who didn’t force me to pay for the lady abortion pills. Aren’t y’all just so happy to be mamas?”

Each woman was passed out. They’d experienced natural childbirth by default thanks to the company imposed birth plan that didn’t include paying for an epidural. Mr. Brown believed that if God intended for women to use an epidural, then Mary would’ve been offered one in the manger.

“I’m only sorry Marcus couldn’t be here to see this,” Mr. Brown said to no one in particular. Even the palliative care patient was in a morphine-induced coma and was paying him no heed. Without warning, a young, thirtyish-year old woman wheeled herself into the wardroom.

“Hello there young lady!” Mr. Brown exclaimed, jumping up from his lounge chair. “Did you hear about this great revelation and come to give these laboring mamas your best wishes?”

“No, sir. I came here to see my kin.”

“Oh, are you related to one of my employees? Are you the sister of one of these women?” Mr. Brown wagged his finger at each of Sally Mae, Lucinda, and Jeanine.


“Are you Marcus’ sister?”


“How are you related to them then?”

“These be my babies.” The woman pointed at the mewling infants swaddled in their bassinettes.

“Ma’am, with respect, I think you’re mistaken. You see those women sleeping over there? Those are these babies’ mamas.”

“Sir, it’s me, Marcus.” Marcus looked down at his body and realized that Mr. Brown didn’t recognize him anymore. “Shit, my apologies. I go by MacKayla now.”

Mr. Brown turned white as a ghost.

“What?” Mr. Brown asked.

“I had my man parts rearranged into womanly ones.”

“I, uh….I, er,” Mr. Brown stammered.

“It’s ok, sir. I see that you’re confused. Thanks to you, and your court case, I used my company health insurance to make my lifelong dream of becomin’ a woman come true.”

“I, um….ah, I…”

“I’ve always believed that I was born a girl trapped inside a boy’s body. I’d scrimped and saved fer years fer meetins with all the doctors: a vagina doctor, urologist—you know a pecker doctor, head shrinker, even a hormones doctor, to tell me what I had to do, so that I’d be all systems go when I had the money to pay to Bobbitt my little Marcus off. But, I never had enough to go through with it. When the Supreme Court said the only thing you could deny an employee under the company health insurance was birth control, I knew I could finally undergo the sex reassignment surgery I’d been dreamin’ ‘bout on your dime.”

Mr. Brown looked ready to pass out on the floor.

“Since none of these ladies could afford birth control no more, and never wanted to be mamas out of wedlock, we created a plan fer dem to have my babies, so I could be both their mama and their biological daddy. Company paid-fer Viagra helped me knock ‘em up fast and furious, and the company paid-fer vasectomy was the first step I took to become a lady. Wobbly Knobby’s health insurance covered all pregnancy-related costs, so Lucinda, Jeannine and Sally Mae didn’t have any out of pocket expenses to be my surrogates. Your generous accepted offer of paid maternity allowed these women to save more than enough money over the last nine months to buy IUDs out of their own pockets. Now, they’ll have time to recover from pregnancy, labor, and delivery in the house you gave me. I got to become a woman, getting rid of my own wobbly knobby in the process, and you have to continue to pay fer my lifetime supply of estrogen and progesterone since I have lifetime job security. As the biological daddy on the boys’ birth certificates, according to my ACLU lawyers, the law can’t be takin’ dem away from me. At least that’s what Misters Stein, Goldberg, Shenkowitz, and Chu told me. I’m so grateful to you and the Supreme Court fer all you’ve done fer me and my boys. And, to ease your troubled mind, you’ll never need to worry about my wantin’ you to pay fer my birth control, even though the law says you don’t be needin’ too, cuz medical science says I won’t been needin’ none.”

© 2014. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.


Naomi Elana Zener is the author of both Deathbed Dimes and satire fiction, which is posted on her blog Satirical Mama. Her vociferous blogging has been read and appreciated by industry bigwigs such as Giller Prize winner Dr. Vincent Lam and New York Times best-selling author and journalist Paula Froelich. Naomi blogs for Huffington Post and her articles have been published by KvellerAbsrd Comedy, and Erica Ehm’s Yummy Mummy Club. She’s currently working on her sophomore novel. You can connect with her on her website or on Twitter @satiricalmama.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Seven reasons you shouldn't publicly shame your kids as punishment

So, this happened. And it was only a matter of time, honestly. And it's sad, and horrible and words cannot describe the level of awful it is.

And I am not going to pile on the father who ended up on the internet scolding his daughter as he cut off all her hair. Yes, that was my first instinct, but honestly, without having seen the video (I can't/don't want to/it's gone/whatever), and giving the benefit of the doubt, I'm guessing that man is is a puddle of guilt-ridden grief right now. God forbid I or you or any one of us make the mistake of implementing a discipline method we think will really deter behavior only to lose our child forever because of our decision. My guess is that man is already just barely hanging on, if that. I don't want to add.

I'd like to make a generic list, though, outlining reasons why public internet shaming of kids is a really shitty idea (in case what has happened isn't proof enough). The internet, we forget, particularly social media, is still fairly new, and it's not just our kids we are teaching about how to navigate it safely and effectively and what the repercussions of viral can really be.

7) It shows your child at his worst. When did we become a society enamored with the darkest sides of our loved ones? Why would we want to save a moment that marks a low for the child we are supposedly raising? Isn't the point to get the best behaved, nicest, most polite child we can muster at any given time? Don't we want them to shine? Everyone gets a trophy, right? That's the new motto? So why on Earth are we starting to post up videos and photos of 5-14 year olds at their worst for anyone to gawk at? And not just at their worst, but lower than their worst because they're being punished for their wrongdoing, which is humiliating enough in private, if I recall correctly from my childhood.

6) It shows you at your worst. These videos, meant to showcase the bad behavior of the children being taped, inadvertantly show the bad behavior of the parents. Any parent who has to resort to mindful, purposeful humiliation of her child as a form of punishment is clearly no longer in control of her household and trying desperately, no-holds-barred, to get that control back. Is that the face you want to forward on your social media? Hi, friends, aquaintances, former bosses and strangers! Look at how I'm no longer able to manage my kid!

5) It airs your dirty laundry. That's a dated phrase my own mom used to use, but in this case, it's true enough. How many people on the internet need to know the intimate particulars of your squabbles with your kids? If you don't care about your child's privacy at all, what about your own? What about your household's? Are you still going to feel happy about this decision two weeks from now when whatever your kid did has blown over a bit? What about two months from now? Or two years? Or twenty? You are forever labeling your home life as tumultuous at best, and inviting others not only to laugh at your kid (cruel), but to laugh at your life. Good job, parent.

4) It's bullying. Yes, your kid did something very wrong. That's why you are disciplining them. And, yes, you think that filming this and sharing it is part of the discipline, but it's not. Remember back to when they were little. Using your big force to push around the little kid was bad. Enforcing natural consequences was good. It remains the same. Filming and sharing is using your power against that of the child. It's 'putting them in their place' in a mean-spirited way. Showing them who is the boss, who has control of their image, their life, their very being. It's bullying.

3) It lasts forever. If you change your mind about it, too bad. You can delete it all you want, it will still be there. Only one person out of all that saw it had to right-click save, and you're doomed. And if it goes big enough, there will be the articles about it that remain after the original source is gone. And even if it never gets that big, it still captures a moment in time that families outside of that stressful second would have forgotten about. But on the internet, it can be relived years from now. It will follow your child throughout his life.

2) Whatever the kid did wrong is not that big a deal. If you find yourself reaching for the camera, it's a good bet your emotions are running high enough that you are no longer seeing life in its correct perspective. I don't care what the kid did. Drinking, lying, theft, whatever the worst thing you can think of is. It seems like the end of the world at the time, like you must take strong steps to correct the behavior, but how will you feel about it five years from now? Chances are, without a video, you'll be laughing with Great Aunt Hilda about it next Thanksgiving. Because a mistake is a mistake, and caring families can get over that shit. A video poisons that family dynamic. Memory cannot make it fonder or lessen the impact. It's just there as it was in that twisted moment, forever.

1) It could have lasting consequences. At its most brutal, you could end up responsible for your child's death. Or you could put a splinter in your relationship with her that will never heal, the chasm only widening with time. You could forever change the way your child thinks about herself. You could have her believing that your love is a lie. You could introduce trust and boundary issues that plague her into adulthood.

This girl needed help. She needed support. She was obviously making poor choices, and her father was obviously at the end of his rope. But when that tough love happened, instead of straightening out, it extinguished her last line of hope in life, her last vestiges of belief in love or in herself.

Please don't humiliate your child. There are so many other ways to get them to do the right thing. Social media shaming is the worst form of discipline to come down the pike since the belt buckle.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ask a Teacher: What should I do with my kids this summer?

For some, summer is already here. Some of us are hanging on for a few more days before we get to enjoy the sweet, sweet freedom of summer. For parents, summer is a whole different challenge. Suddenly you have these kids and they need to be entertained and summer just feels so long. There are three things you need to try this summer to help you get through the weeks ahead.

1. Check out local kid programs!

This may involve some travel for those living in more rural locations, but it will be well worth it. Check out what free or low cost programs are available in your city. For instance, in Louisville, my hometown, we have a cultural pass for everyone ages zero through sixteen. What does that mean? They get one free admission to most local museums, and so does the parent accompanying them. It's great for kids who want a trip to the zoo, a swing by the science center, or a glance at our art museum. While your city may not have such a low cost program, odds are your local attractions will have some kind of deal going on, you just have to check their websites and maybe start following their Twitter to get in the know.

2. Check out the library programs!

Your kid might be too old for toddler story time, but most libraries have programs all the way up through the teen years, such as reading challenges and classes to attend. You'll get a really cool experience and you can avoid the summer learning loss through programs at your local library.

3. Leave some unstructured time!

While filling the days with activities can be an issue for some parents, overfilling the days can be a whole different ball game. If you've signed your child up for five different summer camps and put them on the swim team and started a reading challenge and on and on, your child won't get the rest they really need from summer. A lot goes on during those school days and kids are exhausted. There is such a thing as doing too much. Try to give your child unstructured time every day and entire weeks off to be a kid.

Remember to have fun and enjoy the days with your children. I know they days seem long and sometimes it seems like a lot, but I promise this time is a great time to get to know who your kid grew into over the last school year. Enjoy each other and put aside worries about next school year.


Emilie is a high school English teacher with two children. She holds a Bachelors in English and a Masters in Secondary Education. After completing student teaching at an urban, Persistently Low Achieving (PLA) school, she was placed at another PLA school in the same school district. Her Ask a Teacher column can also be found over at Teaching Ain't for Heroes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

How to make a cute cucumber crocodile -- Fail Kitchen

"Those don't look like teeth."

"Yes, they do."

"No, they don't."

"Why you gotta be a hater?"

Want to make this cute crocodile cucumber? Instructions here.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Backseat parenting at its worst

This video has been going around and it's very popular, having been viewed nearly 10 million times at this point.

It is the private moment of a boy who looks to be about nine years old, totally freaking the fuck out.

His seatbelt is off, he's screaming and kicking, repeating "I don't want to go". Meanwhile, his mother is driving on, as calmly as they can. It sounds, in the video, as if she says at one point that they are going to therapy.

The video itself is a mess, an affront to individual privacy of a family, or more a child (since the passenger in the vehicle recorded it, and then the mother laughs about it being uploaded...which it then was).

On one level, I understand the taking of the video. My kids can freak out like that (although not often, thank God). But I've had them throw themselves off doctor's cots and split their knees open in a clinic setting while screaming their heads off in a tantrum. I've had to cancel Halloween. I certainly am no stranger to getting my back kicked in when my children are at their worst and we're driving somewhere. They are always strapped in, though. I will stop the damn car and yell at them until they buckle those belts back up. But can I judge someone else for not doing that? Maybe she just couldn't anymore. I don't know her life. My kids once OPENED the door as we were driving, and when I locked them again, they unlocked them to attempt to do it again before they used the brains in their heads and freaking stopped that nonsense.

The point is, I consider my kids to be neurotypical if incredibly spirited. I might be wrong. Time will tell, but as far as being able to function on a daily basis, they do just fine. But they can throw a tantrum like the one in this video at the drop of a hat.

Would I want 10 million internet strangers telling me to spank, whup, or crack my kids' asses? Nope. Would I want them talking about what a horrible parent I was and what a merciless brat I'd raised? Nope. Would I want to be the catalyst for 10 million huge jerks to wax poetic about how they were raised...on the end of a wooden spoon? Definitely not.

This mother was not setting herself for a crash course in internet troll parenting, and yet, with the video uploaded and shared, what else could have possibly happened? That is a family at its lowest moment. And so, the child aside, I would beg everyone just sit the fuck down. Not your monkey. Not your circus.

Now let's get to the main point of this post, though, and that is that this child's privacy has been violated for life. What was a 10-minute lapse of judgement on his part (assuming he is neurotypical), or a flare up of a condition over which he has no control, is now an unending stream of video which will follow him when he's 12, 16, 25, 50. That video is forever. And so are the comments ridiculing him, mocking him, and criticizing him. Is that an appropriate punishment for his behavior?


Is that an appropriate punishment for ANY behavior?


So a couple take-home messages here:

To the parents of that child: Never, ever, ever upload videos like that of your children. You never know what is going to go viral. So many times only your closest friends and confidantes take a look, but then there are times like this, when the internet catches on and spreads it around as if it were not your living, breathing child on the screen. As if it were not your parenting choices on display in public. As if you were two-dimensional, fictional creatures. But you are not, and he is not. Think twice.

To the internet commenters: Shut up. You don't know their life. Yes, that belt absolutely should have been strapped. Any other comment you have about beating children or what a brat the child is? Save it. You do not know what is going on there. You don't know what that child or those parents are actually dealing with. You've seen 90 seconds of someone's worst. If you really have to feel superior about that, you are a small, sad person.

To the child: I am so sorry. Most likely this will get buried in the Internet archives and no one will dig it up when you're applying to colleges. Anyway, calming down would be rad, but if you can't or you just didn't that one time, no biggie. All we can do is try again, right? Tomorrow is another day, no matter what the internet says.


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