five things, birthday eve edition

  The sun sets on Cal's 14th year.  

The sun sets on Cal's 14th year. 

1. I think  I kinda can't believe I'm going to wade into this one, but here goes. Have you seen the uproar surrounding this blog post over the past few days? If you're not raising a teen or friends with someone who is, let me fill you in. In it, the author pens a "letter" to teenage girls admonishing them to have a bit more care regarding the suggestive selfies that they're posting on their Facebook walls. She doesn't want her boys to see them, so she's going to block them. Go check it out; I'll wait.

What did you think? My reaction was interesting. Countless moms were linking to it on my own Facebook wall, and, considering that I do have concerns about the suggestive pictures that pop up from time to time (from seemingly younger and younger kids), initially I liked someone's share of the post. I don't like how sexualized our kids seem to be, and I have my concerns about navigating social media with our own son. But then I read the post again. And again. And here's what I decided. Her words, interspersed with photos of her own muscle-flexing, bathing-suit clad sons, were designed to shame those girls. And even if that wasn't her true design, the message she sends with this post is "How you dress and the photos you post is responsible for how my boys think and feel and react."

What a minute. Boys aren't responsible for how they think and feel and react? Hmmm.

Am I distressed to see so many kids (boys and girls) overtly sexualize themselves on social media? Of course I am. Am I foolish enough to think that teens (boys and girls) don't think about sex (even without photos staring them in the face)? Well, duh. What distresses me about this woman's post is that she's saying to these girls, shaming these girls, don't put those pictures out there so my boys can stay boys of integrity. I'm sorry, but I'm calling bullshit. Your son's integrity rests solely with him and his actions, and honestly? It has very little to do with whether or not he likes looking at pretty girls (or boys). Seems to me that she's skating awfully close to "Did you see what that girl was wearing? Well, she deserved what she got."

Now, let me be clear. Do I like what some of these girls are posting on their social media accounts? Hell to the no. And it's not just girls who can post pictures of suggestive body shots, so let's not discriminate. I may not personally like the way some girls (and boys) dress and post and act, but the truth is that sexual responsibility lies within, as does integrity and as does honor.

This is a tricky world to navigate, for sure. We monitor Callum's social media, more than he'd like and probably less than we should. I hope to raise a son with integrity too, but I hope to do it by saying, "You're going to see girls on your Facebook or your Instagram, but no matter how they're dressed or how it makes you feel, remember those girls are people first. Not just bodies, and you should always respect them as such."  

If you want to read a pretty funny parody of that original post, one that says this much better than I could, you can check it out here: The Iron Daisy Writes.  An even better, less satirical take on how to talk to our sons about stuff like this is here: NatePyle.

And now I'm done talking about sexuality and my kid in the same context. Forever and ever, amen. ;) 

2. I think  Neel's giving an important talk today in Washington DC, and I can't stop thinking about him! Please, if you can, spare a thought or two for him too!

3. I think  my butt gets kicked by the first weeks of school, every year. I never get used to it. I'm behind on comments, emails, and work. It can only get better from here, right?

4. I think  I can't believe that fifteen years ago today, I was laboring to bring forth my man child into the world. Holy moly. Callum was two weeks early (he's always in a hurry to get things done!), and I labored over most of Labor Day. Spent the first part watching a Law & Order marathon refusing to believe that I was even in labor. I think I can say that the one gift that a migraine-life has given me is an ability to manage an unmedicated labor. When he was finally born, and they placed him on my chest, he looked at me as if to say, "Oh yeah. There you are." It was one of the best days of my life.

5. I think  we'll have a great day tomorrow, because hello. FOURTEEN. I need to sit down. We won't be seeing Erin or watching the Phillies get rained out, but hopefully Violet won't eat his cupcake like she did last year (it was as big as her head!). We're going to Busch Gardens and then maybe out to dinner (if we're still standing). There will be presents. There will be mayhem. There will be happiness.