Thursday, August 09, 2018

Boys pick on girls they like

For some reason I can’t sleep tonight. Or should I say this morning. My mind has been wandering. As a Girl Scout leader we do a lot of badge work and learning about bullying behavior and relational aggression. A couple of years ago I was at a leadership conference that was centered around empowering women and girls. The speaker at the conference was both entirely on nerving and brilliant. She told stories about her growing up and the names she was called by others. She had us work in groups and we had to write down things that were said to us when we were teenage girls, or even young adults. In some instances we said those things allowed and then we wrote affirmations about ourselves. It was a very difficult thing to do, which was shocking to me because I consider myself a very strong willed person with a good sense of self worth. 

Having a daughter who is just 11 days away from junior high, I can already feel the dread of the drama that comes with that time in your life. I can vividly recall exact phrases and things that were said to me. And the strangest thing of all, is that none of them that come to my mind were said to me by other girls. Sure I had conflicts with other girls. I had arguments with them. I had “enemies.” But only ONE of the lasting hurtful things that were said to me came from girls. And that girl was 3 to 4 years older than me and she chose to put it in print in the yearbook. She was no one to me. She wasn’t friend, she wasn’t classmate, I didn’t look up to her or respect her opinion or care what she thought. So it was very barely a lasting hurtful thing. The only thing that was lasting about it, was that instead of making her thoughts known to me she printed them in the yearbook. And someone - who was supposed to be an adult teacher- let her do it. That happened in high school. I didn’t feel like it’s guard me and I didn’t feel like her opinion was really something I should take seriously. But every time that a boy gave me an unsolicited opinion or comment- it was life-altering. Not just them, but now. As a 39-year-old woman who has a wonderful family and a job that she loves. I don’t sit around and think of these things, but I haven’t forgotten them. When I participate in an activity and someone asks me to write down the most hurtful things that have ever been said to me, I can tell you who it was, what they said, the context it was in, and sometimes even the place I was at when it happened. Everyone of them came from the mouths of boys. 

Why, girls, are we always taught that “maybe they’re mean to you because they like you?” Why is it OK for boys to say these damaging lasting horrible things to girls under the guise of “liking them.” Looking back as an adult I can find two reasons why boys said things to me that were hurtful.

The first reason actually seems to be that they liked me. But strangely enough it wasn’t that they liked me and they wanted me to go out with them... it was that they liked me, they wanted me to go out with them, I turned them down and told them I didn’t feel that way about them, or that I was happy with my current boyfriend, and that I just wanted to be friends, and that’s when things got ugly. Were they trying to make themselves feel better because they had been turned down? Were they trying to show me that they didn’t care and didn’t want me anyway because I was defective in someway? Were they trying to convince me- or themselves? I can think of at least two guys who I was good friends with in high school. We hung out. We had great times. And after I turned them down they turned in assholes. They stopped speaking to me or the only things they said to me were mean. Another repeatedly tried to convince me that he was better for me than my boyfriend. He even had his own girlfriend at the time. We worked together but hung out in other circles also. I laughed it off, told him that I enjoyed being his friend but that was all. Explained that I was happy where I was. Continued our friendship until one time when we were alone he saw picture of my sister. He said to me “Maybe she will go out with me. She got all the looks in the family anyway, but I guess you got lucky because you got bigger boobs.” This was my little sister, he was at least 10 years older than her. She was underage. What he said was not only creepy and inappropriate, it was mean and spiteful and hurtful. Suddenly nothing about him seemed friendly. None of this left a doorway open between us that I would ever want to walk through. Not only did I not feel like he was a friend, I felt like he was an enemy. What would drive someone to treat me that way. Was it simply frustration over being turned down repeatedly? And truly my thoughts lead me to the second reason.... The second reason I feel that boys picked on me. 

Some of those boys were raised to believe that men were in some way superior. There was some misheld belief that they were “manly” and that girls should be smaller and less than. Did they say these things because I didn’t make them feel manly? Because turning them down question they’re worth? Because telling them no triggered something in them that really makes me a little scared - even as an adult. These were the boys who didn’t like me because I was “too mouthy.“ or I was a smart Alec or I was sarcastic in my responses to them. The boys who didn’t like that my brain was firing faster than theirs. The boys who couldn’t think of anything better to say except “you’re fat” or “shut up” or “you’re ugly.” The boys who took all of their frustrations out during dodgeball in PE class, purposely attacking the girls by throwing a ball at THEM harder than anyone else. Boys who ended our thighs and our chests, trying to leave red welts. Boys who enjoyed making us cry. Boys who enjoyed embarrassing us, or making themselves feel stronger. 

Do those boys know who they are today? Are they fathers? Are they embarrassed about the way they treated girls and are they worried about who’s going to treat their daughter that way? Sometimes I wonder, at 2 AM. It’s interesting to me that I can think of four or five boys in PE class who would never have treated a girl that way. And I think to myself, what did their mothers teach them? What did their fathers teach them? What do I need to be teaching my boys to ensure that they don’t treat girls that way? How do I get through to them to be sure that they understand that they are not better than... they are not stronger than... and even if they are physically stronger - they don’t use it to hurt someone else. They don’t use words or actions to belittle girls. When a girl tells them No, they respond respectfully, even if their feelings are hurt. Even if they feel their “manhood” is damaged.

Those five boys, the good boys, I still talk to every one of them. They are all boys who I would be proud to call friends and whose wives are proud to call them husbands and fathers. I don’t know about those other boys. Some of them are married. Some of them I know little to nothing about now. Some of them I entirely avoid, some of them I’ve learned to tolerate. Two of them tried to pick me up at a bar right before I was married. With whistles and cat calls. It’s apparent they still don’t have the right of it. 

But I still wonder, with the daughter heading into junior high, how do I help her navigate through those situations. Am I equipped to help her understand that good boys don’t do those things to girls? That a boy who is treating a girl badly is not a gateway to a relationship? It’s not flirting... belittling girls isn’t a good thing. The ones who are the real catches- they will defend a girl- even when no one is watching or listening. The ones who will treat her with respect are the ones who will tell those assholes to knock it off. They’re the ones whose mothers and fathers somehow pounded respect into their little brains. 

It’s taken me a long time and I still don’t think I fully get it. So girls what was your experience? Do you remember boys who treated you that way? Who said the hurtful things to you and can you still remember them? Remember the way you felt or the way you reacted or where you were standing when it happened? I can. It’s amazing how some things can last a lifetime.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

These Hooks in my Brain...

Anyone who knows me well, has spent time volunteering or working with me, would probably tell you that I am one of the most focused, driven, and organized people they know. Or that I can be. But I am a shocking victim of parental ADD.

It gets worse with every kid. I don't lie. These are truths. It gets worse as they get older. You may do silly, ridiculous, sleep deprived things when you have small people, but when you are managing schedules and driving all over in a mom-taxi, life is hectic. If you aren't there already, trust me on this. If you are there, I don't have to tell you. If you've been there, I know you understand. But Parental ADD is this thing that is a lot like memory loss, but it comes from the overloaded to do list, when you can't finish anything because you are constantly interrupted, and even when you have a moment peace, you still can't seem to accurately complete tasks as you once did. Because your mind works differently. It's managing too much information, and it's managing too many tasks... more than one person can possibly complete.

Today I thought I had a hair appointment. My boys have haircuts, and I worked with a friend this morning on some of his computer/business issues. I had everything scheduled right down to a T, and the boys went to daycamp and the girl went to theater camp. This is week three of transporting kids to different activities every single day, and It was going smoothly. Last night we pulled off music lessons and groceries, and I even was able to prep and wash fruits and vegetables and get the lunches packed last night with the kids' help. This morning they filled their water bottles and my cup and then we all loaded up and went on our way. Dropped the girl off at theater camp, the boys to day camp, worked with my friend and toured his newly established pollinator gardens. Made my way to my hair appointment but was early, so touched base with my mom and chatted for a bit while I had no kids. Get to my hair appointment 20 minutes early and sit down with a magazine that I brought with. Then the girls realized that I was there for an appointment that I *thought* was today, but in fact, it's Thursday. Ah. Well. I battled with whether or not I should just pick up the boys or leave them at day camp, and decided ultimately that they were having fun, their lunches were already packed, and I might as well make the most of this time alone. So I ran home and stopped at the Meat Locker and bought things for meals for the rest of the week, and then I came home and unloaded. The scatterbrained part of me wasn't grossly affected by my hair appointment mishap. Things like that happen. Not alot, but they do happen. I have mostly learned to let go of that, because when managing these HUGE and intricate schedules, It happens. I have yet (knock on wood) to leave a child somewhere, and only once have I actually forgotten a hair appointment (which made me feel HORRIBLE) but scheduling things just HAPPEN. Most people are understanding. For me, I am there when I am not supposed to be more often then I am missing. Haha.

The scatterbrained part comes afterwards, when I get home and try to accomplish something, and I can't keep focused on one task. Instead of putting all the groceries away in the refrigerator, four times I find myself distracted. I go to the basement to put something in the freezer, and I see the towels waiting to go in the wash, so I throw them in and then I realize I wanted to sort laundry today, and I head that way before I realize I have $50 of meat on the counter upstairs that needs to be put away. Once I finally get through the meat task, I decide I am going to brown some ground beef for later this week and on my way to get the skillet, I see the snacks I bought last night for lunches that I haven't put in the cupboard in their bins yet. So I stop and unpackage all the snacks and put them away, and then I have all these cardboard boxes, which I usually pile until someone can take them outside. But I am trying to be better about that, so I decide to take them out and burn them (yes I know) before it rains because it's supposed to rain and I already have some from yesterday in the burn barrel that need to be lit. So I go outside and light the burn barrel and when that's done, I walk past my plants that need deadheaded. So I stop and deadhead all the plants when I realize that I should have watered them last night. But it's going to rain, so should I water them now? Oh wait.... I have ground beef on the counter. So I go back inside and I start the ground beef and I think "I should go ahead and start the dishwasher!" But then I realize that the towels are in the wash so I should delay the dishwasher and have it start in two hours when I have to take the boys to their haircut. So I start the dishwasher on delay (THIS MY FRIENDS IS WHY THESE FEATURES ARE SELLING POINTS TO BUSY PARENTS.) I go back to get the skillet and I get the ground beef started and then when I look for the Pampered Chef Mix N Stir, I realize that the utensils in the crock next to the stove are overflowing so I start to organize them and split them so some are on the back counter in the other crock. Then I realize I am supposed to be stirring the meat. Then I see a cucumber slice on the floor and pretty soon I am putting things in the garbage. Then it's back to chop the meat, and the skillet isn't hot yet and I hear a noise so I wander to look out the front door, where I see the trampoline has several of the pool noodles knocked off the springs, so I pop outside to put those back on. My neighbor drives by and I wave, then I see the tadpoles swimming around in the pool that we didn't get filled yet (another story) but I go check them because BACK LEGS! THEY HAVE BACK LEGS! and I glance over to the garden that I haven't planted yet and think "I should pull all those weeds out before it rains" and then I can plant it tonight or tomorrow. I head for the garden when I remember- GROUND BEEF ON THE STOVE!!!! On the way to the stove I get distracted by yesterday's mail that my husband left on the dining room table, that I haven't seen yet. Then I hear the ground beef. Then  my phone rings, so I grab it from my purse, but it's a telemarketer so I put the phone back and then I see the magazine in my purse, the same one that I was trying to read (FINALLY) in the salon before I realized my appointment wasn't today. Have I mentioned that I have looked at the first 32 pages of that same magazine exactly FOUR TIMES since last night, but I have never gotten through it and I think "wouldn't it be nice if I could just finish that?" and then I remember GROUND BEEF.

THIS is Parental ADD. This is what my life looks like WITHOUT three kids and a spouse to interrupt, ask for things, want to show me things, or be fighting and need to be broken apart.

How does a person get OVER this? Besides kids growing up, moving out, and HOPING that you have some sanity left at the end of that journey?

Currently on my Bookshelf, All read and absorbed.
Up until recently, I thought for sure that there was no answer. I am not sure that there is, but I have an inkling.

This spring I was able to attend a LEADS leadership seminar at the GFWC Illinois 123rd Annual Convention in Peoria. I couldn't take enough time off work and away from the kids to attend the convention, but I wanted to get this seminar in. I jumped right to LEADS 201, because I have been volunteering for a while, and I'm no stranger to organizing things, and I wanted to get the most out of the day that I could. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe more than I expected to. The speaker who resonated with me the most, was the one whose topic I thought I needed the least. You see, my house might be a wreck, but I was an organized person. I have all of those skills in me. I have read and absorbed and tested more organizing books than the average person. I am a Type A Personality with the resume to prove it. There are no less than Eight Organizing Books on my bookshelf at this moment. This doesn't count the large number of special issue organizing magazines that I finally purged in my recent round of clutter cutting.

That speaker was Shelli Fehr., then President Elect of GFWC Illinois. It's not to say that I wasn't looking forward to meeting her, or hearing her speak, but I unjustly assumed that she had nothing to tell me that I hadn't already heard. Except, that she literally brought me to tears. She was me. She was so amazing and relatable that I actually had to TRACK HER DOWN after the seminar to tell her that what she shared was so powerful to me, I couldn't thank her enough. From the very beginning, she was very open about the fact that this wasn't some brilliant idea that she had come up with, but that it was an amazing book that she had read that had been life changing to her. This Seminar was THE BEST $35 I had spent in a long, long while.

Apologies for digressing- yet again- but in order to remember the book she referred to, I had to go find the notes I took during seminar. They were in one of four horizontal piles, but in the process of searching for the "red folder" I realized that I needed to package the now cooled ground beef and put it in the fridge, which also let to me changing the laundry, putting another thing in the freezer, and noticing the "gift" on the kitchen counter. The "gift" is something that I need to get rid of. It's never been used. It was graciously given to me at my bridal shower in 2005, and I have stored it, inside the box, in a basement cabinet, for what is now 13 years, because I felt guilty that I wouldn't use it. And even now, I am afraid to publicly offer it to someone for free, because I am afraid whoever gave it to me (and now I can't even remember who) will be upset and see that it still has the tags on it, and will never speak to me again. Although for all I know that have since passed away or can't remember what they gifted me in 2005, or don't talk to me anyway, so-- there's that!

Anyway, now the red folder has been located. Shelli's Presentation was about ways to de-stress and Organize, and how the two go hand in hand. She started off by making me smile with- "To Be Organized means to be neat and tidy- FALSE! There are a lot of neat people who are EXTREMELY Disorganized. So what does it mean to be organized? It mean you get everything done when it's due, and you fund everything you need when you need it."

Her phrase "Introducing Organization Into your Daily Life is Guaranteed to Lower Your Stress Level." was intriguing. But the statistic "Getting Rid of Excess Clutter would eliminate 40% of the housework in the Average Home." Of course, we all know this. Deep down we know this. I can see all of you people WHO OWN NO THINGS looking at me with your judgey eyeballs and your haughty clean houses and your two or fewer children and I want you all to just GO AWAY NOW. This does not apply to you. However, to all of you crafty types, you volunteers, you Girl Scout Leaders who have to store ALL THE THINGS because you will need them someday (and you will, don't let anyone lie and tell you differently) - This is for you.

Now "THE THING" that Shelli referenced that was incredible and RESONATES with  me, is called "The Cycle of Completion" and it is in author Jack Canfield's Book "The Success Principles- How to get from where you are to where you want to be." This book, it's in all kinds of libraries. And a local librarian told me that it must be a good one, because in several libraries it has been declared "lost" which is maybe secret code for "I am keeping this for myself." (Although It's much more cost effective to purchase your book on Amazon than to purchase it through a library once you've lost it. There are fees you know, and the cover price is much higher... ask me how I know this!)

So this book is coming for me, via inter-library loan, and then I will get to read it. And I am excited. In the meantime, after pointing you in the direction of the information you need, Let's talk about the cycle of completion? Yeah? There are five steps to the cycle of completion, from Shelli's Presentation.

1. Choosing to do something (I'm really good at that!)
2. Start It (usually really good at that.)
3. Continuing it (75% success rate. lol)
4. Finishing It (uh oh.)
5. Acknowledging that it is done.

So every time I start a craft project (crochet! Sewing! Scrapbooking!) and leave it "in progress"- and never finish it, or never acknowledge that it is completed, you haven't gotten through all five steps, and you continue to devote what Jack Canfield calls Attention Units, or mental energy to the task or project.

So the theory is that we humans only have so many attention units available our their brain to attend to a task. Think of all the incomplete tasks you have around your house. Shelli mentioned something as simple of having your neighbors rake. Every time you walk by that rake you think "i need to get that back to my neighbor" and if you are constantly walking past or seeing things that are not completed- that stack of mail, the crochet project, that unfolded laundry, that gift you meant to give to someone else but somehow hung onto it for 13 years unnecessarily- All of those things are constantly taking up some of your available attention units. Think of all the ENERGY it is taking, all the BRAIN SPACE, that we are using, in order to remember all the steps that need to be done, or the ACTIONS that we need to do to complete all these tasks. All of these things, have HOOKS IN YOUR BRAIN. Seriously. This is revolutionary to me. Before you lower your stress level, you have to clean up the past incompletes, so that when it comes to new tasks, you have all of you, or as much of you as possible available to devote to a new task.
Shelli goes on to talk about HOW we can do that, but I am excited to read the book, because this principal, this explanation alone, was enough to shake the ground I walk on. It's something that I can't ever explain to anyone, that someone unlike me probably doesn't even GET. But for me, it's like someone finally put a name to this situation I constantly find myself in.


One more statistic you might like- The US Department of Energy reports that 25% of people don't park either car in their two car garage. and 32% can only park one car in their garage. That's a 57% majority of us folks.

Maybe I will have more to say once I read Jack's Book, the Success Principles


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