Posted in differences, know better do better, mindset, parenting, thoughtfulness

“We turned out fine”

“We did xyz when we were kids, and we turned out fine.”

I hate this argument.

If we’re making a strictly alive-vs.-dead argument, the people who died aren’t here to argue the other side. Seat belts, car seats, bike helmets immediately come to mind.

As a health argument, young people now have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, so that’s not working out.

On an emotional level, people who make this argument tend to lack self-awareness or introspection and don’t realize how not fine they are. My favorite was when an alcoholic argued that his parents’ parenting was something to emulate because he turned out fine.

In some cases, the world is just different. There are more cars on roads now. People are in more of a hurry. People are more distracted while driving. Many passenger vehicles are taller, heavier, and more lethal. Foods are grown with large amounts of toxic-to-us chemicals on and in them. Water carries heavy metals. Plastics have poisoned the water, the soil, animals (food) when it eats the plastic, plants (food) once they’re cultivated, foods when they’re cooked. Mattresses are full of chemicals that restrict breathing. The internet exists. Social media exists. Smart phones exist.

It’s possible to say, “I’m going to do this differently than my parents did” without saying that your parents were bad parents, if that’s where you’re stuck. (And, if you’re watching the grandkids grow up, your kids raising their kids differently isn’t an affront to your parenting.)

We know more now about child development. We know more about how our bodies and brains work. Nutrition facts on packaging didn’t even exist until the 90s.

It’s a disservice to kids to fall back on “It was good enough for me, so it’s good enough for you.

We know better. Do better.

 

Posted in differences, know better do better, mindset, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Autism, chemo brain, women, trans people, POC, siblings

A friend shared a meme about autism researchers “proving” things that people with autism have been writing about for 20 or more years.

I thought about how that is applicable in some way to every group of “other.”

When I was going through chemo, I experienced chemo brain, a side effect of many chemotherapies that patients have been complaining about for years. For me, it was a huge loss of cognitive functioning, memory, focus. People brought me books to read to pass the time, which I appreciated—I love to read!—but I didn’t have the focus to read. (Interestingly, I could still do math/logic puzzles that required focus.)

On my worst days, conversations would all be a game of charades, because words escaped me. (This happens to everyone every now and then; this is similar but happened in every conversation about anything.) I lost both short-term and long-term memory. There are things that I remember remembering (that’s weird) that are gone. My memory used to be better than average (based on conversations with other people about it). I’ve worked on it quite a bit, once it became apparent that this was not something that was just going to “clear up” once the chemo cleared out of my system.

As a side note, I read through several sites’ worth of information on chemo brain, and most of them listed a dozen or more possible causes of chemo brain … without listing chemotherapy as one.

Also, it’s apparently bad enough in some people that they can’t return to work and end up on disability. One more thing that pushes the “it wasn’t me” button.

Anyway, the point is that also while I was going through chemo, a friend sent me an article that basically said: people have been complaining about this for a long time and doctors are just starting to consider that it might actually be a thing.

Good of them, no?

In trying to find a more definitive time frame than “years” for the chemo brain, I learned that women going through treatment for breast cancer were the first to complain about it. Which may be why it was ignored for so long.

Women are another “other” whose experience is ignored. Medically, women have only recently started to be used in trials for medications, for example. Heart attacks have different symptoms in men and women. Women are much more likely to be dismissed as overreacting by their doctors.

I talked a little bit yesterday about social differences. Reactions to #metoo highlight some of these issues. Women are treated differently at work than men. Accounts written by trans people reveal what women have been saying all along. Men are taken more seriously. (But they lose intimacy. We need to fix both sides of this!)

You don’t have to understand where someone is coming from to believe them.

I know a handful of trans men. I have no idea what it’s like to go through life feeling like I’m in the wrong shell. (How many spotlights does this put on the differences between how we treat boys and girls, men and women? How much would all people’s lives improve if this changed?) I can’t imagine looking in the mirror and seeing a woman but feeling like a man.

That doesn’t mean their experience is invalid, that they’re looking for attention or “just trying to ____” (with whatever nonsense you fill in the blank). It just means they experience something that I don’t.

“People of color” is a lot of people, including tons of diversity within. (That by itself is enough evidence of their “other” status.) To use another hashtag summary, the clash between “black lives matter” and “all lives matter” highlights some (too many) people’s unwillingness to listen and understand.

Just listen. Don’t defend. Don’t argue. Just listen.

Taking this down to a micro level … One of my siblings told me once that since we all grew up in the same house and their experiences were positive that I’m the one with the problem.

We can debate on another day about what constitutes “fine.” For today, can we consider that not all kids are the same, and you can’t treat them all the same? A local friend has identical twins who have very different personalities. All of the identical twins I can remember growing up had a shy twin and an outgoing twin. None of the twins I’ve taught have been similar to each other.

Just listen. When people tell you their experience, just listen.

Posted in differences, know better do better, mindset

Complimentary vs. creepy

6th graders:

me, to a boy who was leaning on a music stand: Be nice to the stand.

boy: Hi, stand. You have beautiful legs.

girl nearby: Why are you being creepy?

boy: I’m not being creepy. She said to be nice, so I’m being nice.

And so a conversation ensued about the difference between being nice and being creepy.

I used whistling at a girl as an example.

Girls immediately said it was creepy. Boys were confused.

“It’s a compliment.”

We had a conversation about safety, about understanding the position of the receiver.

It might be a compliment in certain contexts (from whom? where?), but usually, no.

Some of the boys seemed to get it. Some of them willfully refused. Some legitimately still didn’t understand. And some had tuned out.

A microcosm.

But if that was enough for a few of the boys to make better decisions regarding how they treat girls even a little bit of the time, then it was time well spent.

And if it helped validate the girls’ experience, it was time well spent.

“I would take it as a compliment” is not a good argument.

The context of the receiver matters. Tangent on that tomorrow.

 

Posted in differences, mindset

It’s all relative

Yesterday’s post started with a quote from myself: “I have eaten a lot (for me) of junk food in the last week or two…”

This qualification comes off as “better than you” to some people. “A lot for you but not a lot because you’re already so good.”

I give it because if I don’t, I hear, “Well, how much? That’s not a lot!”

People.

It’s all relative.

It doesn’t matter how much you eat compared to someone else. If you’re making healthy changes for you, then don’t compare yourself to anyone but you.

And don’t let anyone else do it, either.

Assume positive intent in other people’s stories and qualifications. Either they’re insecure and are qualifying to help themselves feel better (mine sometimes are!), or the qualification is there for some other reason. Either way, let it be.

Posted in about me, differences, know better do better, mindset

My path from introversion to introversion

I’ve always been an introvert. I’ve not always know I wasn’t defective.

I have never been comfortable around strangers.

I have no idea whose house we were at, but they had a piano. I must have been pretty young, because when I was in elementary school, my parents bought a piano and my sister took lessons. I wanted to play the piano. (I didn’t know how to play the piano.) She said I needed to ask. I was terrified of asking. She said if I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t get to do it. I didn’t ask.

That’s not introversion. That’s anxiety.

I remember in 7th grade seeing a (very extroverted) friend of mine talking and laughing with a couple of other people and thinking that I wished I was more like that because it looks like so much fun.

I spent the next 25 years trying to be that.

And then I realized: that’s just not me. And that’s OK.

In the mean time, I gained skills in hanging with people who I’m uncomfortable with, maybe without it being completely obvious. (I’m still pretty self-conscious in those situations, so it’s hard telling what it looks like from the outside.)

I can have a conversation with a person I don’t know, if they can hang for their half and if there’s something to trigger a conversation.

Most of the time, I still can’t start a conversation from zero with a person I don’t know or don’t know very well.

Unlike the current pop definition of introvert, I love spending time with people. They just need to be my people. I spend so little time in meaningful conversations that when I can spend time with friends, it definitely feeds my soul. (And if I’m feeling particularly chatty, watch out!)

But, like the real definition of introvert, I also need time to myself to recharge. But recharge from the energy spent with people teaching or small talking or other necessary-but-draining activities. Not from hanging with friends.

I’d be thrilled to lose more of the anxiety, or to be better able to make conversation, but not being an extrovert? That’s OK.