Not even if she’s a friend. Not even if she’s hugged you before.

My son is a natural born sweetheart. He writes you notes of encouragement when you’ve had a bad day. He hugs you, and sings to you, and always tries to make you smile. He has no intention of ever hurting anyone. But if not taught important lessons, intentions may not always match actions.

When he was in kindergarten we went to a story and pizza night that his school was putting on. He saw a friend as we were entering and ran up to give her a hug. She said no, she didn’t want a hug. He started to hug her anyway and she gently pushed away, so he stopped and began to chat with her. I gently pulled him aside and spoke with him in private.

“When someone says no to a hug you don’t hug them. I know you love hugs and do them to be friendly and caring, but not everyone likes them. Or sometimes they do like them but don’t want one at that time. You need to listen when they say no. So even if she’s a friend, even if you’ve hugged before, don’t hug if she says she doesn’t want one. And the same is true the other way. If you don’t want a hug, or a pat on the back, or other touches or words that don’t feel good at that time, you say no. They are expected to respect that, and if they don’t you tell me, ok? Does that make sense?” He smiled and said “yeah mama, don’t hug when they say no. I’ll remember.”

To a casual onlooker it may have looked cute. A kid giving his friend a hug. And oh, she’s cranky and doesn’t want a hug. But I did not see it as cute, I saw it as a learning opportunity. I taught my son something that day, a lesson he isn’t even aware he got. When you’re touching someone and they say no, you listen. Regardless of reason or situation, you honor their request. My son will not be a predator. I also taught him that he has a right to say no, and if someone doesn’t respect that it is their fault, not his. And I will listen if he comes to me with a problem. Even if he’s not sure anyone else will.

We have to teach our children young. We have to show them what it means to respect boundaries. Don’t wait until they’re old enough to talk sex, because that is not the only form of abuse. Don’t gender specify, because boys can be victims too. I beg you to teach your children now so that situations like what Christine Blasey Ford had to go through do not continue to repeat with this next generation. It is up to us to teach our children, and not assume that they will magically know boundaries.

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The perfect age for imagination

My youngest son loves science and history. He enjoys learning new facts and is not shy about explaining the facts he has discovered. He is also 7 years old and has a highly developed imagination. This makes “facts” far more interesting when explained by him. Here is what he has taught me so far this week:

1. “The Loch Ness monster eats stones.”

I said I had no idea, to which he explained that it’s simple to understand. “The Loch Ness monster is a modern day variation of the plesiosaur which has been discovered by paleontologists to have swallowed stones. That it is possible the stones helped digest food. So of course the Loch Ness monster swallows stones to help digestion too.”

2. “A girls lifecycle is longer than boys”

I asked if he means average lifespan. He does not. “A girl can have a baby that might grow into another girl, that would have a baby, and the cycle continues. Boys can’t do that.” I had never thought of it that way.

3. “You are a girl momma and you were broken cause you had me and brother.”

Broken? “Yeah, cause a cat that can’t have kittens anymore is fixed so before that they are broken. Momma was able to have the human version of kittens so must have been broken, and is now fixed.”

Conversations with a 7 year old

7yo “This is not a joke”

Me “Okay”

7yo “Why are squirrels on land called land squirrels?”

Me “I don’t know”

7yo “It’s not a joke”

Me “Correct”

7yo “Why is it a land squirrel?”

Me beginning to laugh “I have no idea”

7yo “Why are you laughing? It’s not a joke!”

Me “Sweetie, I don’t call them land squirrels. I call them squirrels. I have no idea why we would call them land squirrels.”

7yo “Are there such things as sea squirrels?”

Me “I don’t know”

7yo walks away thoughtfully.

Which dinosaur had nipples?

So my son was imitating a dinosaur and asking “what dinosaur am I?” He was upright, walking with large steps and had his arms tucked in with pointer fingers pointing forward. So I guessed T-Rex. He sighed and said “No Mom, these are not short arms. They are nipples.” He was dead serious, I of course was laughing my ass off. He began to get frustrated and said “I’m serious! I can’t remember the name of the dinosaur but it is big and walks like this and has long nipples!”

I have always encouraged the scientific questions of my children so was ready to explain that there were probably a lot with nipples cause they need them to feed their young. Then I remembered that no, that is how mammals feed their young and dinosaurs are reptiles. Then I remembered we were sitting in McDonalds and this probably wasn’t the place for a lively discussion on dinosaur nipples. So I changed the topic.

Now my brain is curious as to whether this is a real dinosaur and if it had nipples but I am afraid of what bizarre thing may appear from the depths of the Internet if I search “dinosaur with nipples”. So I shall ask you. Do any of y’all know what dinosaur had long nipples sticking out its front? Is there even one like that? I would consider this part of my sons imagination but he is almost always right when it comes to creatures I don’t know about.

Why should I ignore their ancestors?

My husband has no information on his biological father other than the Indian tribe he was from. He never built an interest in his genetic past so didn’t much research the tribe. I however have always had a great deal of appreciation for Native American tribes and their rituals. I have even been honored with the opportunity to be a part of a religious ceremony with a local tribe in my youth. So when I married my husband I began to research his tribe.

My oldest son is a Cub Scout and part of what he’s supposed to review with me is our family’s belief system. Well, our family believes in the First Amendment. That is what we teach and practice in our household. It would be simple enough to go the traditional route of “here’s Christianity in a nutshell. Have fun at your grandparents church” but I wanted to teach my son something new. I went back to the religious practices of his tribe, for which he is one quarter, and thought that would be a good one. But then I became nervous.

He’s awkward to speak to, so may not articulate well what he learns. Someone who does not know him well may take his knowledge the wrong way. If I help him make a headdress with feathers carefully placed in the unique manner his tribe did, then it would be thought that he was being inconsiderate of tribal fashion by those who don’t know what we’re doing. If someone sees me, naturally blonde with green eyes and glow-in-the-dark-white skin, teaching my son about his tribe it will look like I’m misinforming him about Native Americans.

It is not okay that I should fear teaching my children about their ancestral past. It is ridiculous that I should be nervous to teach feather placement and bead color of a headdress. I hate that I can’t speak about Spirit Animals without someone assuming I’m making light of it when they have no idea the amount of research I’ve put into the beliefs. I need to be able to speak with my son about the religious practices of the tribe he comes from even if we don’t live anywhere near it or know who among the tribe he is related to.

I’m doing it anyway. I don’t give a shit what other people think of it, I don’t have patience for that right now. So tomorrow we’re studying the culture and I won’t allow my fear to get in the way this time.

Why is your face grey?

Because I’m doing a charcoal face mask. My son literally just walked into the living room and asked “why is your face grey?” I explained I was doing a face mask and so he asked “um, is it a real mask or just paint?” Well not the type of real mask your thinking of. It’s basically a thick goop. “So paint?” Um, I guess so. Kind of.

So I’m sitting here with charcoal face paint and eating chocolate ice cream. As weird as my face seems to my child, it is cleansing. As is the ice cream. Ice cream is always cleansing. And hiding in the house is cleansing. All in all a very nice evening. I hope you all are having a nice and cleansing evening as well.

Clingy but Hidey

I’m a bit on the agoraphobic side recently. Hiding in my room, or nearly completely under a blanket on our comfy living room chair while playing video games. I would much rather fight monsters in Hyrule than go to the grocery store for the bottle of wine I desperately want. The problem, however, is that my kids need me in the outside world. I needed to be at 3 Cub Scout events recently, only one of which I called in sick to. But it was difficult to get myself to these. So I found the most comfortable parent for me to be around and clung to her. Not physically, that would be weird… I’m married. But mentally I drew from her energy, I existed in her bubble of calm, I let her overshadow me so as not to draw attention to myself. My hope is to get out of this clingy and desperate to hide phase soon. I need to get back to real life. But for now I will keep a worry stone in my pocket, an anti-anxiety pill in my purse, and a friend to cling to.

Failed them again

It was supposed to be family movie night. I would come home from work, we’d snuggle on the couch, drink some hot cocoa, and watch Cars 3. But I got to work and all plans left my mind. While I focused on the mountains of paperwork and hours of analysis and data entry, my husband went to the Thanksgiving event at the kids school. While I struggled to help my team balance work and make realistic goals to avoid unnecessary stress, my husband helped the kids with their homework, encouraging them as they continue to learn. And as the work day came to a close, I stayed. Forgetting movie night, I sat at work to try to get stuff done. I felt so far behind and wanted a chance to catch up. Until an hour before bedtime when my husband called and asked “aren’t you coming home?” “Yeah, just finishing up a couple more items.” “What about the movie? The kids have been watching for you to come home so we can start.”

I failed my family. I prioritized wrong and missed a chance to snuggle my kids. I got home and they were so sad because it was too late to watch the movie. I apologized, they wandered off to play a little before bed but still with these sad faces. A couple minutes later I heard giggles. Went to see what cheered them up so fast. They were playing with Daddy. My husband to the rescue, again.

I love that they are so close to their Daddy, and that my husband is always there for them. But I feel like such a failure as a mother. Tonight I felt that terribly. I still do. How can my work become so important that I lose sight of spending time with the kids? Will I ever have a chance to prove I can be there for them? Or will Daddy always be the one they need?

Watching him grow up before my eyes

My son lost his fish today. It’s his first experience with loss, and heartbreaking to watch the journey. When we told him his fish was gone he asked if he could have another. He seemed focused on that, on having a new fish. Then his focus shifted to the now dead fish in an attempt to help Daddy get it out of the tank. He didn’t seem too emotional until it came time to flush. He plopped the  fish in the toilet, slowly walked towards it, said “bye bye fish” and in that moment I saw him grow up, just a bit. He gained new knowledge of the world in that split second and it broke my heart. With this new found knowledge of grief he hesitantly flushed the toilet and burst into tears. Lots of tears, snuggles, and ice cream with sprinkles, and he is now feeling more calm and falling asleep. I hope he has good dreams tonight, and that tomorrow he can be a little carefree child again. But I know that to some degree he can’t, that I saw him grow up today and feel a touch of the sorrow that this world has to offer.

Bye bye fishy. Thank you for bringing my son joy through your life. 

Coping with BPD – Motherhood

I was told very specifically that I should never get married or have kids because of my disorder. This statement has haunted me for over 10 years now and pops into my mind every time I screw up.

My children know I have “ouchies” in my head that sometimes make my emotions weird. Until they’re older that is all they need to know. They will likely never know about my self harm, and only about my suicidal ideation when they hit an age that I need to warn them about the mental illnesses that run in the family and how to cope with the scarier sides of it if they ever need to.

When I’m have a bad borederline day I hide in my room. I tell the kids I don’t feel good because it’s better they think I’m sick than they deal with my moods. But even that pains my heart when my son wants to play and asks first “are you feeling ok today?” because he’s noticed the number of times I don’t “feel good” 

Today I am stressed and exhausted. I’m still getting over being sick plus dealing with far too much at work, and I came home and just couldn’t cope. I needed space but couldn’t get it tonight. I snapped at the kids. I started yelling, and it took time to calm down. Yes it was just yelling, but that can be dangerous to little minds.

I’m fairly certain my therapist sees far more people who are grown children of borderline parents, than actual borderlines themselves. I told her once of all my parental fears and she says I’m high functioning and doing very well with my kids. But I still worry.

There are horror stories of borderline parents. Please be careful of these traps. Please remember that it is not your child’s fault you are having emotional issues. Please be honest with yourself on your limits and give space where necessary. Please spend your good days hanging out with them as much as possible. Please explain your mental illnesses to your children overtime, keeping it age appropriate of course. I do these things and hope that I will not ruin their lives or drive a wedge between us as they grow.