Adults Just Wanna Have Fun

Adults Just Wanna Have Fun

A conversation with my 5 year old while driving home yesterday:

Kid: “I can’t wait until I’m your age so I can get a job.”

Me: “What?”

Kid: “I can’t wait to be your age so I can have a job.”

Me: “Why do you want a job?”

Kid: “Because I like to have a job.”

Me: “Well, having a job is okay, but I would much rather be a kid and not have to have a job.”

Kid: “You want to be a kid? That’s silly! You already were a kid!”

Me: “When you’re a kid, your only job is to have fun, but when you’re older you don’t get to have as much fun all the time. I mean, I guess sometimes being an adult means you can do really cool things, but not very often.”

Kid: “Did you have a lot of fun when you were a kid?”

This is where the conversation pretty much ended. I couldn’t think of an answer so gave him some generic response “yeah sure, I had fun” and we moved on to the next topic.

I kept thinking about it though. It was a really good question. What is it about childhood that I even miss? When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to be older. I’m not even sure when it turned around. Was there ever an age when I thought, “This is it! I don’t want to be older than I am at this moment” or had I spent my whole life pushing the proverbial boulder up the hill and then running down after it? I remember having fun, I think. Truth be told though, I think I’ve had more fun as an adult. What the hell kind of crap is that? I thought as a society we had all accepted that being a kid is awesome and being an adult sucks balls.

Bills, insurance, student loans—all those things that ruin my life definitely fall into the ball-sucking category. Still, that list is relatively short compared to the reasons being an adult is the best ever. Independence is probably my favorite part of adulthood. I get to decide my own day-to-day activities (to a certain extent; I still have another human being depending on me so that’s a huge responsibility I don’t take lightly). I get to choose my meals and set the thermostat where I choose. I take the vacations I want. I had the best day of my life last year when my dream of being up close with a red panda was realized. I’m still in shock from that one.

My favorite memories are probably the ones I’ve made in the last few years with my son and husband. There is something so different and special about watching a kid make amazing memories. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast at Disney World, but getting to watch him experience it was the best thing ever.

I think the difference between childhood fun and adult fun is that childhood fun is tame, but pretty consistent. When you’re a kid, you can have fun every day. There is always some part of your day that you can look back on as fun. When you’re an adult, you may go weeks without feeling like you’ve had fun, but then the fun you do have is so much more profound. When I have fun as an adult, it is epic and will hold me over for years.

Realizing this has made me a much happier person. We all tend to buy into that narrative of adulthood being shitty because we didn’t appreciate our childhood when we had it. That kind of thinking just adds to our sense of unhappiness in our current age. I’m done with that nonsense. I think I’ve found that sweet spot where my inner Sisyphus can step away from the boulder and jump on a plane to Disney World. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any plans to go back to that fucking hill either.

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Beef of the Week

Beef of the Week

5/15/16

Attention spans—a thing of the past?

If there is one statement we all dislike hearing it is the one disparaging our generation, spoken by someone older than ourselves. We are all victim to this and we are all guilty of this. Lately, I have found myself pointing out the differences in my own childhood, namely that it was free of the ability to instantly communicate with anyone via social networking or internet-related anything. I point out that the Internet wasn’t something I had access to in my home until I was a teenager and that I didn’t use a cell phone until I had graduated from college. I’ll make snarky comments like “How did we survive?!” and clearly mean it in a disparaging way toward those who have never used a pay phone.

Last week, I had one of these conversations with an older couple that came into the museum where I work. I was standing in our exhibit that focuses on how the horse influenced the lives of Native Americans. I was showing this couple a beautiful cradle that is decorated in glass beads. They were commenting on the amount of time it must have taken to complete this and we were discussing how the skill of creating such a thing is nearly a lost art. We don’t concentrate on a single task like that anymore. We take pride in doing too many things simultaneously. Gesturing to the elementary school group that had just entered the exhibit, the woman said, “Can you imagine telling these kids they had to wake up with the sun and immediately get to work and not stop until the sun went down? How would they survive without their phones or tablets?” I laughed and made a comment about my own child’s lack of an attention span. After they left, I stood for a minute, watching the children spill into the exhibit, running from case to case, not bothering to read the signs, and I realized how unfair I was being.

The lack of attention span isn’t a generational thing. We are all guilty of it. How many of us spend longer than ten minutes doing nothing? I mean nothing. No television, no phone in our hand, nothing. Sure, my 5 year old has a hard time sitting through a cartoon longer than 15 minutes, but I am just as bad. I watch my non-cartoon television shows after the kid goes to bed and I can’t keep from picking up my phone every ten minutes to check Facebook or play 3s. It’s not that I’m disinterested in what I’m watching either! I do it constantly. My mind is never allowed to focus on one thing. It almost feels as if I’m wasting time if I am not engaged in two or three different actions at once. I’m constantly reading, which sounds great, but if it takes me longer than a few minutes to finish, I become annoyed, stressed out even, and need to scroll through to the next thing. We want our information to come to us quickly and concisely because we are most likely reading/watching it while performing a number of other tasks. Some of us are more inclined to this than others, I believe. Before the age of social media, I was this way about books. I could focus on three different books at any given time, but never more. I would be almost finished with one, halfway through another, and beginning a third. Once I was done with the first, I would add another to the rotation. I never got the stories confused. I always read with the television on because I needed the background noise to keep my mind from wandering. I know that sounds completely crazy, but I’m sure some of you completely understand. The difference was that I could read for hours. I didn’t want to stop to do anything other than read. Still, I feel like my personality was primed for the reality of this technological age.

We are not given the opportunity to feel boredom or have idle time. Idle time is the enemy. We do not sit in a waiting room staring at the wall or making small talk with strangers. We pull out our devices and do what we do all day long, plug in. I’m done being self-righteous about “how easy kids these days have it” because, the truth is, we all have it easy these days. Just because some of us had childhoods free of the Internet does not mean that we somehow understand a higher truth of life. If anything, we are more clueless because we remember what it was like to focus on a single task and yet we choose to become slaves to technology. I remember being able to read a novel into the wee hours of the morning and how much joy I found in it and yet, I can’t even start a novel these days. A part of me knows that if I do, I will lose hours reading; I will be able to focus on that single task, and the thought of this frightens me. I need to be able to multi-task, my inner voice screams. I cannot lose myself in a book because I am subconsciously weighing the opportunity cost. What will I be giving up if I allow myself to focus on a single thing?

We read countless articles about how screen time negatively affects our children and about how our own screen time takes attention away from our children, and still we cannot put the phone down while sitting next to our children on the couch while they watch SpongeBob. As I write this, my child is throwing stuffed animals at me, claiming we are fighting a Pokémon battle and I am asking him to please leave me alone while I work. He sees how much time I spend on the computer and my phone. He knows what’s up. I pretend I don’t know what’s up too, but I do. Of course I do. We get down on these kids for having no attention spans, but have you ever seen a 5 year old take a bag of magnet shapes and build a stadium for his dinosaurs? Sure, this kid can’t focus on a cartoon for longer than 15 minutes, but he can sit on the floor with his magnets for over an hour and never break concentration. I know I couldn’t do that.magnets.jpeg

The next time you hear anyone start a sentence with “When I was a kid,” just remember that while it may drive you a little crazy, you have been guilty of saying it to someone else. Shaming another generation is just a way of deflecting guilt from you. We’re all terrible. We all kind of suck at life. Hindsight isn’t so much 20/20 as it is photo shopped.

Beef of the Week

Beef of the Week

Clothes Shopping

The older I get, the fewer shits I give. That being said, I am also increasingly aware of the huge number of shits I once gave and it makes me sad, disappointed, and angry. My sister and I talk about this a lot. “Why couldn’t we recognize our beauty in our teenage years? Why didn’t we feel confident to wear what we wanted and express ourselves in unique ways when we had the chance?” This is where I have to stop and remind myself that I am not done having chances. Just because I am no longer able to wear size 4 jeans, does not mean I cannot wear whatever the fuck I want. Yes, I have that stubborn spare tire around my middle that proves I am a mother, but does that mean I can’t wear formfitting dresses? Am I forever relegated to baggy clothes because I am in my thirties? Oh hell no. I regret not feeling more confident in my teens and early twenties, but I am quite proud of my sureness now. I insert my quirkiness into my wardrobe. I wear vintage cats eyeglasses and weird bug jewelry. I have a thing for t-shirts with stupid-hilarious puns and sloths. When I was a self-conscious teen, I never would have felt comfortable wearing any of these things. I never wanted people to look at me.

Now that I have that confidence though, I am constantly being reminded that society hasn’t caught up. This is never so clear as when a woman goes shopping. My sister and I went to four different stores last weekend, attempting to find a dress for an upcoming event. Aside: I know that most people think women love to shop, but I can honestly say that I have never met a woman who genuinely enjoyed it. The idea of it is always great. Your friend asks if you want to go and you’re all “that sounds great!” but it’s like you have temporary amnesia. Once you get to the first store and are faced with the prospect of trying anything on, your memory suddenly comes back and you feel like you need a barf bag for the anxiety attack that’s coming on. By the third store, my sister and I realize something: society doesn’t want women above a size 6 to wear anything cute. I mean, this store had the largest selection of dresses we had seen yet. There was a long rack of nothing but dresses for just about every size, starting with XS/4. There were as many size 10s as size 6s. The difference was in the actual dresses. We found a dress in size 6 that we wanted to try on, but couldn’t find it anywhere else. The store was sending a very clear message: IF YOU’RE BIGGER THAN THIS SIZE, PLEASE DON’T WEAR ANYTHING REMOTELY FASHIONABLE. YOU CANNOT PULL IT OFF. TRUST US.

For any woman who wears a shoe size higher than an 8, you also know this to be the case for footwear. Do these sizes exist in these styles? Of course. Do stores want to stock them? No. Society is constantly telling women to go to a plus size store where they will have a larger selection and “feel more comfortable shopping.” We do not see this with men’s clothes. In any given store, men’s sizes go up to XXL (at least) in just about every style. Why are these same stores so comfortable allowing men to wear whatever they like, but feel they can tell women what they should not have access to?

This is why I enjoy online shopping these days. There are some great companies that celebrate all shapes and sizes and allow for self-expression. I hope soon we will see this kind of celebration and acceptance in our neighborhood stores where a majority of shoppers still take their amnesia. In the meantime, I’m going to channel some early 90s rap and remind myself:

How many rules am I to break before you understand
That your double-standards don’t mean shit to me?
I know exactly what you say when I turn and walk away
But that’s OK cause I don’t let it get it to me”                    

-Salt ‘N’ Pepa, “None of Your Business”

 

Beef of the Week

Beef of the Week

Other parents/society/the media

It seems that no matter how deliberate I am about instilling in my child a sense of feminism, other parents/society/the media are there to counteract every lesson I teach my almost five year old.

When he was younger, it was so much easier. For his second birthday, he wanted a baby, so a baby is what he got. We went to the toy store and he picked out his first baby doll. She was a black cabbage patch kid named Cameron. He begged for a stroller to go with her so we picked out a purple one with white hearts all over it. He was ecstatic. Cameron came everywhere with him and he always remembered to bring her pacifier, but usually left the bottle at home, instead opting for breastfeeding. I know others may have silently judged me about letting him play Mommy, but I was so proud. He used to talk about the baby in his belly and would play pretend when he would give birth. I never had the heart to explain to him why he would not be a mom in the way he imagined. He talked about the babies in his belly for years, would put diapers on stuffed animals, and never left the color pink out of his daily rotation of favorite colors. He would beg for sparkly sandals at the store, and ask my sister to paint his nails all different colors.

nails    diaper pandas    cameronmakeup

Then, daycare became necessary. I had given up the flexibility of multiple part-time jobs in favor of one full-time job that paid much more. Where before it made no sense to pay for daycare, now it was affordable and convenient. It is a great place and would provide my child socialization, which I knew we both needed in order to get ready for his school years. I have only wonderful things to say about his time in daycare and he continues to thrive there. I did, however, notice a difference in my child after only a few weeks. He would say things to distinguish between “girl” and “boy” toys or clothes. He would say “eww” or laugh nervously when I would talk to him about his babies. He started insisting I always be a girl character when we played pretend because I already was a girl and he couldn’t be the girl because they weren’t as strong or as awesome as the boy characters. All of a sudden, I realized that other kids had unknowingly undone all of my hard work. My kid was changing or, even scarier a thought, he was being made to feel like he wasn’t right in some way for never before realizing that he had a specific gender role to perform.

I have no control over how other parents raise their children, nor should I. We are all entitled to our belief systems and I would be incensed if another parent thought they could tell me how to parent my son. I am frustrated though. It is so much easier to be the child who believes there are real, identifiable differences between girls and boys. History is on their side. Many adults are on their side. How is the child who never felt that way supposed to defend his position of equality and fluidity when the majority of his classmates disagree with him? I want my child to feel accepted, but it breaks my heart to see him conform to their expectations.

As he gets older and Netflix begins to play a larger role in his life, I have come to realize I am utterly alone in my battle. Even the “progressive” cartoons that show female characters as being badasses who save the day (and in the process often save the male characters as well), the roots of misogyny run deep. The male characters are always shocked by the female character kicking their asses or make comments about her being different than most girls. Fuck that noise. Can we not just have a female heroine who is amazing and who no one questions for being so? This kind of shit is not helping the cause. My son looks at those cartoons and thinks “yeah she’s pretty good, but she’s not like other girls.” NO NO NO NO NO NO! The media might be making an effort to create strong female characters, but they are consistently reinforcing the status quo. How does my sensitive, empathetic, lovely boy stand a chance against this?

I will continue to point out to my son when he says something misogynistic, but I fear my words are lost on him. He has started to say things that shock me and make my heart hurt. I try to speak with him calmly and rationally, but often times I reflexively respond with an “excuuuuuse me, what did you just say?!” We have a long road ahead of us and, while I have no doubt my child will continue to grow into a beautiful human being, I know it will not be easy while we feel so much opposition from society as a whole.

Top 10 Don’t Do That Tips for Disney World with Kids

Top 10 Don’t Do That Tips for Disney World with Kids
  1. Don’t schedule long flights. Seriously, traveling is the most stressful part of any trip, so why do that to yourself?
  2. Don’t arrive at your hotel before check-in or after dinnertime. You may be thinking, “If we get there before check-in, we can just drop off our bags with the concierge and go explore!” Fuck. That. Shit. You are a crazy person if you think sitting on a plane and then a shuttle bus for any amount of time is going to somehow energize you into wanting to “go explore!” All you will want to do is check into your room, unpack a few things, use a clean bathroom and flop onto your bed with the clean sheets and perfectly positioned pillows. That is not to say that you will be taking a nap or even staying in your room for more than a few minutes, but, trust me, you will be relieved to have finally arrived and your child will most likely be more excited about the novelty of the hotel room than they would much else on a travel day. Now if you scheduled a late flight and are not arriving to your hotel until the evening, you have also made a damn mistake. I will repeat: traveling is the most stressful part of any trip. That being said, why would you schedule travel during mealtimes? Have you met your own child? Seriously, think about that shit. If you get to the hotel after dinner, one would assume it is close to your kid’s bedtime. Your child is cranky. Now they’re eating an hour or more past their usual dinnertime. This means they’re staying up at least another hour and if you’re traveling from anywhere not in the Eastern Time zone, you have the time change to also account for. Oh yeah, and you want to be up at 7 the next morning to arrive at Magic Kingdom when they open, right? You’re an idiot. Don’t do that to yourself or your kid.pic2
  3. Speaking of bedtime, good luck with that shit. Especially the first night, your child will be way too excited to sleep. So will you for that matter. Most of your first day will be powered by pure adrenaline, but expect to crash around 11 a.m. Try for an early lunch that day because a little food and caffeine will go a long way to bring everyone back to life, at least temporarily. If your child, like mine, is not accustomed/allowed to drink soda, this is the perfect day to introduce them to it. Not even joking a little. They will be so excited by the prospect that it will energize them immediately (even if they know nothing of caffeine). After that first day, bedtime will not be as much of an issue. You will be walking so fucking much and having so much damn fun that your entire family will be exhausted by the end of the day.  pic5
  4. Speaking of exhaustion, don’t overdo it, dumbass. If you find yourself getting irritated every time your child even mentions being tired, odds are you yourself are suffering. Like I said, after lunch you will get a little burst of energy, but it is only temporary. Once you start to fade, make the decision to go back to the hotel. Your kid will probably fall asleep on the shuttle back and that 20 minute nap is usually all it takes. Now, you didn’t get a powernap on the bus so you’re pretty pissed your kid is now acting like they were never tired to begin with, but this is when you turn on the TV in your room and let them veg out with some Disney Junior while you attempt to get an hour of crappy sleep. Eventually you will give up and decide to go explore the hotel with the kid or think about what’s next on the agenda for the day. That night, you will all sleep like the dead and the next morning you will notice a huge difference. Expect to be able to go longer each day of your trip. That first day is the hardest for damn sure.pic4
  5. Don’t plan the best thing for the first day. Again, the first day is the hardest so don’t do that to yourself. Pick the park you think you can see the most of in the shortest amount of time for the first day and then pick a good one (still not the best though) for the second day. The third day is a good day for the one you think will take the longest to do. If you have the park hopper pass, which you definitely should get, you will be able to go back to that one on the fourth or fifth day if you decide you didn’t do everything you wanted (or if you just want to re-do the things you fucking loved).
  6. Don’t worry about money. For real though, that shit is going to ruin your trip so cut it the fuck out. This is Disney World. You are going to spend a shit ton of dough. Just remember, it is worth it.
  7. Alternatively, don’t buy your kid everything they ask for. Weeks before your trip you should be prepping that little shit for Disney and this includes explaining that you are not there for souvenirs. This trip is about rides and shows and hugging Eeyore a little longer than is socially acceptable. Give them the option of picking one thing to bring home and let them think about it long before the trip. Remind them what they chose every time they see something they “need” and tell them you will only buy it on the last day of the trip if they do a good job of listening and having a great attitude. Odds are you will be buying souvenirs for other people (cousins, grandparents, etc.) so when your kid undoubtedly starts whining about why so and so gets that but they can’t have anything, make them understand that those souvenirs are not nearly as cool as getting to be at Disney World. Hopefully someday they too will experience the magic but, until then, your kid gets to be the ambassador hyping it up.
  8. Don’t lose your shit in front of other people. If your kid is being a dick, go back to the hotel and have a conversation in the privacy of your room. Don’t lose it in front of a crowd of people waiting to get in to talk to Crush from Finding Nemo. That shit says way more about your parenting than it does your child’s dickishness. Trust.
  9. Don’t schedule all parts of your day. You will only be disappointed. If you do want a vague outline of what you will be doing, by all means plan that shit, but try to hold your expectations so that if you don’t get to everything, you can focus on the awesome things you did get to do. This goes especially for meltdowns, whether they be by the adults or children in the party. Be prepared at any given time to say “fuck this shit; we’re going back to the hotel.” You spent a lot of money to get to the happiest place on Earth, but that doesn’t mean you should try to get so much out of your day that it turns into the most miserable place on Earth. Know your limits.
  10. Don’t assume you will remember everything you did and loved during your trip. Write that shit down. At the end of every day, have each person in your family tell you their favorite memories of the day and put it in a notebook. Don’t forget to add your favorites as well. When you’re back home and putting together your scrapbook or shutterfly photo book, add those memories to give your pictures context. It will help you all hold onto your memories that much longer.pic1