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2:16 p.m. - 2013-09-10
TED talks? Here it's MOM talks.

Since it looks like we're not going to war in Syria, thank God, I'd like to address one of the week's other big stories. At least it's big in that there's been a lot of chatter and blogging and heated opinions flying around, especially in the parent-sphere. Some woman wrote a blog post in the form of an open letter to all the young women in her sons' lives. (I'm not linking it because it makes my eyeballs pulse.) In this missive the woman declared that all the hussies need to put their clothes back on and stop parading themselves in front of her sons. Oh, she wanted to be so helpful! Gave out a fine set of rules and warnings about how not to be a trashy slut and how such behavior made her good Christian boys think lewd and unseemly things. How these girls with their provocative photos and sexy texts were forcing her sons to be cretinous douchebags and think of those young women as sexual targets and dehumanized orifices that exist solely for her sons' lustful pleasures. And the young ladies didn't want that, did they? In any case, this upstanding mother was slamming the virtual and physical door on those degraded wretches who used to be fine young women before they prostituted themselves by discovering they owned breasts and vaginas. They and their lady parts were no longer welcome in her home and the family's social media. Be off with you, bimbo temptresses! This valiant mother assured the young tartlets (who are not only doomed to Hell but have already ruined their entire lives here on Earth with their slutty antics) they were solely responsible for the way her sons thought of and treated them. Boys are animals whose lusts must never ever be provoked. Boys, of course, cannot help themselves and it is the girls' responsibility to police not only their own sexuality but that of every male they come into contact with!

See how helpful this brave mother was? Setting all those young women straight about how not to be disrespected, pawed, leered at, and most likely raped because, hey, it's their own damn fault for letting loose the beasts if they don't button up and cover themselves and be all demure and shit.

(We pause here while I do a rage dance.)

Okay, whew, I'm back.

I am the mother of sons. Two of them. And a handful of foreign kids who were my sons during their exchange student year. And of those seven young men so far not a one has raped anybody. Despite all the hussies and tarts waving their skanky selves in front of their faces. (Sarcasm there for the snark impaired.) How was such a miracle accomplished? How have the ravening lustful animals not gone buck-nutty and done what any male will do when provoked with female prey right there out in the open?

Shh...it's a secret. I taught my sons respect. For themselves. For the people around them. I had this crazy idea that if over the course of their young years I spent time teaching my sons empathy and compassion and manners and self-control they'd grow up to be more than jerks following their dicks through life.

Simple, eh?

While I cannot speak for the European and South American kids I was host mom to I can say with complete confidence that my actual sons are feminists. More than that they are humanists. They are inclusive in their thinking that while each person has their own story and challenges due to race, gender, education, etc, etc, we are ALL part of the whole and as such should be given respect. Grace space to be who they are free from threat of violence or scorn.

For once I'm going to say something positive about my sons' Asperger's. My kids weren't born knowing how to recognize emotion or physical space and lacked the skill set for compassion and empathy. I was forced to teach them those things. Societal rules we expect people to come by naturally were totally absent in my sons. Sure, that stuff isn't there full-blown from the first, but by pre-school most kids understand that hitting hurts, they understand the meanings behind sad faces and smiles, they enjoy approval and dislike punishment and causing disappointment.

Not my kids. All of that stuff had to be learned from the ground up. I missed the boat some with Alex because I didn't know anything about autism or Asperger's back then. All I knew was I had a 4 year old who liked to hit the cats with a broom because they made funny noises when he did and he refused to stop. Alex didn't understand why he couldn't beat the cats; it was funny when they yowled. Already reading chapter books and doing algebra, my elder son's cruelty toward the pets was a horror to me, but I knew it was my job to teach him to know better. So I did. As best I could, but it wasn't quite enough. I didn't have enough self-respect of my own yet. Kind of hard for a beaten dog to give lessons about integrity and the rights of others. But at least I know he's not a rapist or a sexist asshole. So there's that.

I was more fortunate with Wolf. My little Wolf was trapped behind a wall of the incomprehensible. He didn't understand his own feelings, let alone those of others. So we worked. And worked. And worked. By 10 or so he was starting understand rules if not the reasons for them. Hitting, spitting, biting, pulling fire alarms, cursing, self-harm, destruction, disruption, tantrums, death threats, letting fly with any and everything on his mind no matter how cruel it was- all of those behaviors came back to the same root cause...he had no emotional context. Finally after so many hard years the smoke began to clear and Wolf started to get it. At 12 he put the goal of returning to public school in front of him. He began to acknowledge and practice the behaviors he needed to meet his goal. He started to recognize when his classmates didn't do right and that he could. Confidence grew. And with it Wolf began to truly see and understand the Why of things.

Under Mick's example he's learned how a man treats the woman he loves. I am so grateful for this! Not only is my life wonderful, my son had this good, good man to teach him about being a mensch. When puberty hit like a tsunami Wolf wasn't entirely overwhelmed. He had structure, he had rules, he had an idea of how it goes between the sexes. He understood how a good man behaves.

And of course we talked. We still talk. All the time. Naturally sex is a biggie. Wolf is 16. We've talked about what's okay and what's not. We've talked about how LOUD some feelings are and how every kid on the bus and everybody in his classes is dealing with the same thing. Girls and boys. We've talked about love and wanting to get nekkid and how it's not wrong or disgusting to want both those things.

What I've never done is lay the responsibility for my sons' behavior at the feet of women. My sons own themselves. I've taught them to be in charge of their choices and actions. Nobody forces them to do anything. (Except maybe being a defensive driver- gotta deal with the jerks who tailgate, text behind the wheel, and pull out in front of you regardless of how well you obey the rules of the road.) When it comes to the he-she business I hope I've been clear. How there's a whole world between wanting and doing. How everybody is trying to figure stuff out and how the advice from your gonads isn't ever the smart choice. That the physical is never divorced from the emotional. We've talked about pressure from inside and out. And that there's an order to things. Brain first, then heart, then penis. But ever and always and not just about sex but about everything...what they do is always their choice. Bottom line.


In full-cry mom mode, ~LA



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