sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

June 19, 2014

Dear Parents of Russian Federation, Are You Nuts?

Filed under: parenting, politics, Russia — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:39 am

Echo Moskvy, one of the few opposition media sources (this is not an all-out endorsement, there are some despicable opposition figures in Russia) retells a personal story, corroborated with pictures, that previously made the rounds in Russian social media.  The event took place in late May:

Sick and sunburned, my daughter Ksenia returned from a Saturday celebration staged for Putin on St. Petersburg’s Isaakievsky Square.  5000 people, most of them from children’s’ choirs were appropriated to sing songs for the leader!  It was titled “The Limitless Wonder of the World”.

It was 30 degrees Celsius [~90 F – ed.] in Peter [St. Petersburg -- ed.] that day.  All 40 under the sun!  The children were sent off at 8 am.

Prior to the entrance to the square, the children’s choir was thoroughly searched. Documents were required (my child is 12, so I provided her birth certificate), then bottled water and juices brought by children were confiscated.

And then as usual – everyone waited several hours for the tzar, who’s always behind the schedule.  A five-thousand-strong crowd was blazing under the sun until noon.  The only entertainment was watching the snipers that swarmed all the roofs around Isakievsky Square.  Six out of the 37 children in our choir fell ill, and, our daughter observed, people were fainting right and left — volunteers and doctors were barely able to take them away and treat them with water.

Putin appeared for about 3 minutes in the middle of the concert, took pictures against the background of several thousand children (the leader and children — always a good picture!), then gave a short speech and departed.  The concert went on until 2 pm.

Ksenia did not last until the end of performance. She regained consciousness in medical tent where they threw water on her.

With all the traffic jams, the children returned to Sestroretsk by 4:30.

The child was hungry — she was not allowed to take any food — sunburnt, and in wet clothes, so she refused to go to the Birthday party of our friends’ child.

She also missed school on Monday because she wasn’t feeling well.

She is still not 100% after this show-off (Russian показухa — ed.) for the leader, which should really be called “The limitless shame of Peter”…

Words fail me.

Words fail me too, but for a different reason.  It’s not merely that the children got sunburnt — kids get sunburns — or even that so many of them fainted. It’s that the parents allowed the state to use their kids for propaganda purposes, when they should have expected the state to use them up and spit them out.

How to raise a slave

When in 2008 a group of Beverly Hills parents encouraged their children to sing a silly ode to then presidential candidate Obama, at least half the country was vocally disgusted by the creepy production.  But note, that was parents raising their own kids.  And while some of these parents surely think, in abstraction, that children belong to the “community”, they do not realize that the logical outcome of this line of thought is wholesale child abuse.

The fatalistic submission of St. Petersburg parents is not at all surprising.  When I was growing up in the former Soviet Union, subjects, young and old, were herded to all sorts of mass events.  We went because we went. Adults had their own parallel holiday — gave to Caesar what was Caesar’s and had a semi-discreet swig of vodka.  Children came, and our little selves were twisted into submission early on.

Not much has changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  It did not occur to the parent, who obviously dislikes Putin, to excuse her child from the event, however easy that would had been to do.  Nobody called in sick. Everyone knows their place.

March 13, 2014

Why I Can’t See Myself Homeschooling, Even Though I Kind of Am

Filed under: education, parenting — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 6:15 pm

A few weeks ago, I attempted to show my 6-year-old how to sew.  When I was her age, I knew how fabric was made and had the basics of needlework down.  I tried to show my daughter how make certain stitches and planned on helping her to sew a small toy.  I don’t know why I was under the impression that she would listen to instructions.  She immediately decided that she wanted to make a more sophisticated toy, and that she could do it all on her own.

First, I panicked, because OMG she’s setting herself up for failure. Then I figured that maybe she needs to fail and learn from it.  Only she didn’t really fail.  First, she asked me to thread her needle, a process in which she had no interest.  I showed her that she needs a knot at the end of her thread, which she watched me tie.  Then she proceeded to making a toy out of a sock, occasionally asking me for assistance with some technical details.  I finished off some of the elements (like tying the knots on the other end of the thread) when she was done and wasn’t even looking.  Her “pet” turned out touchingly crude, and she was very disappointed in some of her failures in the process, but at the end she succeeded.  All on her own.  I’m very proud of her, but she took on an open-ended project.  I can’t teach math or spelling in this manner.

But I am teaching her math and spelling.  When I went to school, I did homework on my own and was graded for each assignment.  Now I find that all parents supervise homework, and that homework is not graded because that would amount to grading parents. I frequently find myself explaining rather than reviewing.  I find that basic penmanship was never consistently taught, and for that reason I have to break the bad habits she’s already developed.  Why did I ever assume that a public school teaches students?  In the best schools in our area, students are red-shirted and start kindergarten already knowing how to read.  They don’t learn in school, they learn for school, often in private tutoring that starts at kindergarten or earlier.

/End rant

January 26, 2014

Is It OK To make Fun of Women Nearly 20 Years Younger Than Me?

Filed under: feminism, parenting — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:20 pm

It’s easy to go incognito with a name like Amy Glass.  When a feminist named Amy Glass wrote an anti-mom screed, my first thought was to check out her age.  It was practically impossible since there are so many Amy Glasses out there, so all I have to go by is that she sounds like a rather immature 23.

Ms. Glass confidently announced that she looks down on young wives and mothers:

You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.

I hear women talk about how “hard” it is to raise kids and manage a household all the time. I never hear men talk about this. It’s because women secretly like to talk about how hard managing a household is so they don’t have to explain their lack of real accomplishments. Men don’t care to “manage a household.” They aren’t conditioned to think stupid things like that are “important.”

And there I was, thinking that I’m doing the most important job in the world — raising the next generation of citizens.

It’s amazing how little respect people who make the world go round get these days.  Me, I’m just a lowly housewife — but Amy Glass, she blogs for Thought Catalog.  Now that’s a job for the ages!

Judging by the originality of her ideas, the young woman is destined to be a foot soldier of the pink sneaker brigade for years to come.

Feminist leaders want followers, and they found a faithful one in Ms. Glass; good for them.  But what’s in it for Ms. Glass herself? Perpetuating one’s genetic material and one’s values onto children is a kind of immortality.  Very few women (or men, but especially women since we are more ordinary) are capable of achieving immortality by other means.

Amy Glass’s profile photo.  Ripped jeans + laptop = free spirit + “big ideas”

On the plus side, by eschewing young motherhood Amy ensures that she has time to party.

I’m looking forward to reading about Glass injecting round after round of hormones 15-20 years from now.

UPDATE: Linked by Linda Szugyi over at Da Tech Guy — thank you!

November 14, 2013

Loosing Innocence

Filed under: parenting — edge of the sandbox @ 9:41 pm

My six-year-old daughter was screaming her lungs out.  I sent her upstairs to get ready for her ballet class, normally a seamless procedure, save me raising my voice a few times to remind her to stay on task.  She’s an actress, my six-year-old, so, once she started with the yell I had to pause to consider if it was real.  I knew her brother was in the room with her, but he seemed to stay silent.  What could be happening?  I went up.

DD was covering her body with the curtain:

“He just wants to see me naked!”

DS, now four, was dumbfounded.  If being naked means anything at all to him, it’s that it feels rather good, even if mommy and daddy do not approve.

That same night they changed into PJ’s together, so, I guess, the girls in her ballet class were talking modesty which she connected specifically to changing into her leotards.

She’s generally becoming more self-aware.  For instance, she came out with an idea of wishing grandma a happy birthday on a “float”.  The “float” was a large cardboard box in which she was pushing herself.  She made a flag out of a pencil and a paper on which she drew a fancy heart, and she wanted to wave it as she was pushing herself.  She loaded her float with gifts she made for grandma.  Somehow the whole project didn’t work out.  I offered to help, but she immediately became self-conscious.

At the same time she’s very unselfconscious when it comes to her table manners.  She just wants to kind of eat as quickly as possible and then play.  I’m going to miss that once she grows out of that stage.

July 9, 2013

Growing Old Is Hard To Do

Filed under: parenting, society — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 5:50 pm

Heather Havrilesky had her her driver’s license picture taken at 33.  Ten years later she has this to say about the woman in the picture:

Her hair looks unnaturally shiny. Her smile says, ‘I have nowhere in particular to be. Let’s go grab a cocktail!’(Via Instapundit)

It’s a strange state of affairs when a 33-year-old middle class women has nowhere in particular to be.  I should know; I was one of them myself, albeit I was planning my wedding part of that year and gestating a baby the remaining time.

I remember waiting to be four and then five and then six.  Waiting, and waiting, and whining to my mom that my Birthday just never seemed to come.  Mom always smiled: “When you are a kid time moves slowly, but when you grow up, you want it to stop, or at least to slow down.  I’m not too exited about my next Birthday because I want to stay young.  But time doesn’t stop.  It seems to go faster and faster.”  I am now older than she was when we were having this conversations.

Anticipating Birthdays in my teens didn’t seem like such a terrible ordeal.  I was fairly content with the passage of time.  And then something happened.  I turned a corner, and half of my twenties were gone.  I blamed it on the climate.  In the old country we had seasons.  Looking out of the window I would see a maple tree shedding its last leaf and babushkas doing a balancing act on newly formed ice; that’s when I knew it’s time to get the fur hat out of the wardrobe.  Another year went by.  In Northern California fashion conscious “girls” wear knee high boots with sundresses year round.  That was my excuse for wasting time.

My thirties flew by pretty quick, but at least I have something to show for it: I’m raising kids.  I can’t say I never feel nostalgic for my “have nowhere in particular to be” days.  The other day on the way to pick up the progeny I spotted a young couple walking into a bar.  Just like that.  In the middle of the day.  Then I had to remind myself about the hangovers.  20’s are not what they are cranked up to be.

Amazingly, in our frank age Heather Havrilesky managed to pen an essay on aging without mentioning the m-word.  She’s 43.  I’m 40, and I have to admit that the commercials on talk radio about women over 40 needing to exercise an hour a day just to prevent weight gain fill me with panic.  Someday soon the day will come when I will find myself reaching the age when women are no longer attractive.  And even if an aggressive facial regime and a splatter of hair die can deceive casual acquaintances, I will know the truth.  Havrietsky complained that motherhood aged her (that she shifted that stage into advanced maternal age is part of the problem).  But childbearing is a function of youth.  My young children make feel young.  It’s the knowledge that a few years down the road (if not now) I will be no longer able to bare children that really saddens me.  What’s left are wrinkles and decay.

My mother is now switching to orthopedic shoes.  I look into my closet.  Do I have another decade of stilettos?  Fifteen years?  Is a 55-year-old allowed to wear a heel over 2 inches?  When to I bestow my collection of fashionable footwear onto my daughter (if she happens to wear my size)?

April 17, 2013

Why This Blogger Doesn’t Believe Boston Bombing Was The Work of #Occupy

Filed under: parenting, politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 1:28 pm

Not that anyone is suggesting otherwise.  A certain guy from Barack Obama’s old Chicago neighborhood might have built bombs filled with shrapnel, and I’m not sure what the Anarchist Cookbook advises on this matter.  But that was baby boomer radicalism.

Bill Ayers might have been a rich brat, but the brats of his era grew up playing cowboys and Indians with gangs of friends and siblings.  Around the time of puberty they got jobs at fast food joints and bought cars. They were the risk takers.  I’m not saying they were good at making bombs; they weren’t.  They were mostly blowing up each other.

The parents of #Occupy alumni glued corner guards to coffee tables once babies started to crawl and shuttled their progeny from one activity to another in [improperly installed] car seats. Instead of mowing neighbors’ lawns future occupiers spent their adolescence on social media.  The only thing they thought of doing once college diplomas were placed into their hands is to demand cancellation of student loans.  And sure, they’d like to be dangerous, and from time to time #Occupy grads do get caught with explosives, one occupier was sentenced just a few days ago.  But that’s the thing: they get caught.

Radicals of the crawling helmet generation. Unlikely to be capable of much, including much evil

Whoever planted the bomb at Boston marathon (and like all normal people I suspect Islamists) was a deliberate sadist. The bombs were created to inflict maximum damage, and were placed at a location where relief effort would be difficult.  The Left today is incapable of such forethought.  They thought of targeting an iconic event that has little symbolic importance to the left.  The right, for that matter, is also not interested in the Boston marathon, but, nasty fantasies of progressives aside, most of the political violence in this country comes from the left.

March 6, 2013

War on Women: SF

In decades past San Francisco sent Nancy Pelosi to the Lower House and nurtured Dainne Feinstein.  The local electorate keeps dutifully reelecting Barbara Boxer, the other incumbent California Senator.  And yet the current political culture of this two-party (Democrat and Green) municipality smacks of misogyny.

Only 12 out of 31 elected office-holders are women.  No big deal, you say, perhaps the gals around here have better things to do with their time.  But against the background of Pelosi bragging about the number of Democratic women on the Hill, the low representation of women in politics in her hometown looks embarrassing.  And so the Democrat establishment of the City demanded that mayor Ed Lee appoint not merely an outwardly female double-X barer, but a mother to fill a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors because, it turned out, there is not a single mother among the 11 board members.  Perhaps Mayor Lee could had done one better and appoint a transsexual “mother” who was once a father or something like that, but, I guess, he didn’t know any.  So he found a 29-year-old “girl” to be the 4th double exer on the Board.

That there are no mothers on the SF Board of Supervisors is only natural.  It’s not just that we, mothers, live on tight schedules; the City is notorious for its adult ambiance.  Parents and kids are fleeing to the suburbs, the Pacific North-West and just about anywhere else, really.  San Francisco can not remain both a party mecca and a family hub, and it seems to be committed to being a party mecca.  Although this situation says something about the City, I don’t view it as a problem: hipsters are people too, and they need a place to party.  One group that sees it as a problem are the teachers unions who see the family flight and anticipate lay-offs.  The politicians beholden to the union go out of their way to make the City family-friendly, but have little to show for their efforts.  It’s a topic for a different post.

I wonder if the Dems are feeling the pressure from the likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.  I heard a rumor that they want to tap into the demographic of women getting a “second wind”, former stay at home moms with grown children.  That should be interesting.  Married women are generally a Republican demographic.  We are zealous about good economic outlook, worried about national security and understand the value of human life.  I’m not sure what liberal mommies are going to bring to the table besides their peculiar brand of environmentalist neurosis.

Mommie issues aside, the political culture and social life in the City by the Bay is not exactly pro-woman, and this is immediately obvious.  Walk down the streets of the Lower Mission, for instance, and watch “girls”, many of them potentially attractive, going out of their way to look ironic.  Those who partake in the prestigious hobby of biking in the hilly city streets often grow thighs.

If the “girls” get involved in grass roots politics, it’s usually through outfits like Code Pink or with that septuagenarian (what’s her face?) who can’t shut up about her reproductive organs.  Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers have a revealing picture of the former.  I hate to bring it to Code Pink, but they fall more than a little short of Inna Shevchenko.  Zombie documented some interesting vagina/abortion dances and an anti-rape rally attended by mayor Lee (and possibly the entire Board of Supervisors, though not sheriff Mirkarimi, more of which later).  This kind of assemblies are bound to repel anyone with a semblance of self-esteem, no matter how sympathetic they are to leftie causes.  And besides, grass root politics around here is a domain of dead end narcissists; it’s a lifestyle, not a way of getting ahead.

Some local women do get ahead.  A case in point is Kamala Harris, Bay Area’s most recent gift to state politics.  Kamala, a spinster in her late 40s who now occupies the office of Attorney General of California, launched her career by sleeping with then-Speaker of California State Assembly and later mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown.  In addition to appointing her to positions on several Committees, Speaker Brown bought Kamala a Mercedes.  Then he helped her launch her successful District Attorney bid.

In the nearby Alameda county, Nadiya Lockyer, the young wife of the State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, became County Supervisor in 2010.  She was considered one of the rising stars in California Democratic politics until she resigned last year after a scandal involving substance abuse and a sex tape.  Sleeping one’s way to the top hardly raises an eyebrow in the post-third wave feminist Bay Area.  We are very sophisticated here, and we don’t judge.  Still, it’s one of those things that are bound to give pause to a number of women with political ambitions, particularly those who are married and especially the ones with children.

Harris and her ex laugh

Look who else is active in San Francisco politics.  Why, the co-founder of the California Green Party Ross Mirkarimi.  In November 2011, Mirkarimi, who had no prior law enforcement experience, was elected San Francisco sheriff.  He started off 2012 with a bang, literally.  The sheriff’s wife ran off to a neighbor’s house, and the neighbor videotaped her sobbing and showing the bruises inflicted by her husband.  Unlike Lockyer, Mirkarimi managed to survive the ensuring political storm.  (The interesting thing about Mirkarimi is that, while virulently anti-2nd Amendment, the man owned three pistols.)

Don’t lose track of what matters: San Francisco sheriff Ross Mirkarimi gives away what appears to be washable grocery bags on the steps of the City Hall

There is a lot of feminist rah-rah in San Francisco, but the optics are gross.  The feminist rhetoric, sometimes goofy, sometimes over the top, covers up a culture of indifference to issues that are supposed to excite a feminist, issues like family violence or an opportunity to make an honest living.  Underlying it all is a culture alien to the women who are not single — or at least childless.  No wonder there are no mothers on San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

…And on the right we have the Tea Party, a successful grass roots organization driven to a large extent by women, many of whom are mothers, many of whom embarked on a career in electoral politics.

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