Apperances

It drives me nuts.  The beautiful girls, you know them, tall with long straight hair and not an ounce over-weight, standing before the mirror in a cluster keeping everyone else away.  I’m not talking about a quick swipe of powder across the nose and a re-freshening of lipstick.  No.  Nothing but a full tease out session and complete application of their face over their already flawless skin.  Primp, primp PRIMP!

Of course these girls are not only the prettiest girls in class, but the most sociable.  There they stand monopolizing the mirror, laughing and joking, and totally involved with each other.  They never even notice that others are quietly waiting their turn.  That I am waiting my turn.  Total oblivion.

I’m not tall, my hair is short, and as the new girl in school, I am so painfully shy.  I am not allowed to wear makeup, and now that I think about it, maybe they aren’t either.  Why do full face makeup in the john, if you are actually allowed to wear makeup?  I am so annoyed.  Selfish is how I see them.  They can’t share the mirror.  Do they think they are ugly?  Nobody else does.  They certainly get all the boy’s attention.

Okay, not all the attention is the good kind.  Much of the attention is a little handsy.  A pat on the butt, a quick feel of breast.  The girls laugh it off.  I glare!  Touch me and die!  It isn’t an issue, no-one tries.  An arm slips about a waist, “I’ve got my lab partner,” he exclaims, giving her a squeeze and hauling her giggling to “their” station.

What’s a girl to do?  “You are so uptight!  Loosen up.”  Jerk!

My lab partner is another girl.  Together we take our station.  Our first experiment is about the displacement of liquid.  Someone bumps against our table sliding a book into our vessel and spills the liquid.  “We need to refill our vessel,” I tell the teacher.

Our teacher, a man, laughs.  “No refills.  You are only in this class, because it’s required.  No-one expects you to actually learn anything.  You are women.  A woman’s  brain is smaller than a mans.  Your only going to get married and have babies.”  My first assignment, and I have an F.  What am I going to do.  I am going to be in so much trouble.

I toss my aborted report into the trash.  What else can I do.  Day after day of this.  God I hate school.  My headache starts as I leave my block, and gets worse as I get closer to school.  I run a comb through my hair, since I can’t get near the mirror, and go through the same routine again.  One failing paper after another.  “Oh look.  Proof girls should not be in a science class.  All of these girls have F’s.”  The boys laugh.

If I had been facing the class, instead of the board, I might have seen the few boys just sitting quietly, but of course I don’t.

My headache fades as I get closer to home.  The steady steam of F’s is a problem for another day.

Tell Me NO Secrets

My very good friend (and the very good friend of every other person she knew) wanted to tell me a secret.

No thank-you!  I do not want to be the secret keeper of others.

“Really, I have to tell you this, but you have to promise never to tell anyone.  You can’t even tell your husband!”

Again I tell her No!  I don’t ever keep secrets from my husband, and I don’t want to hear anything that I have to keep secret from others.  I am terrible at keeping secrets.  I can’t possibly promise not to tell anyone, because what if I do?  Just don’t tell me.  My Mom taught me not to make promises I can’t keep, and I didn’t make this one.

So what did my friend do?  She told me!  She told me she was lusting after a 19 year old man, at least 12 years her junior.  This was a secret?  Everyone admired that handsome face and athletic body, and he had a brain also.  The complete package.  That was enough, but she proceeded to tell me of her affairs!  I couldn’t make her stop.  I knew her husband for crying out loud.

So here I am with this knowledge, that I didn’t want, and really didn’t take seriously enough.  I thought it was just idle talk.  I could not seriously believe she would further risk her marriage for a teenager!  To be honest I thought she was kidding.  Even I recognized him as handsome, but he was still growing!

So a bunch of us girls, us two old ladies and the 3 girls 18/19 year old were getting ready for our day, and someone made the comment that my very good friend had it bad for the young man.  Lots of laughter in agreement, and me in agreement,  in a way that I thought would minimize the entire idea.

Well that didn’t work out.  If there was any doubt remaining, her reaction certainly removed it.  I realized for the first time just how serious she was.  At first I felt bad, but really, the kid needed to know there was a cougar on the prowl.  I wish I’d told her husband.

The Sexualized Body

At an open air flea market a woman is haggling for a price and gets an extra $5 off with the offer of a hug.  A hug of gratitude.  A comment is made in my hearing along the line of, “Sure, rub your breasts against my chest and I’ll give you another $5 off.”

There was a time, as a very young woman, I would have been put off hugging any man after hearing such an immature comment, no matter their relationship to me.  Now I merely ask Hubby if that is really the way men think of the offer of a hug, because most women, certainly not myself, would think of the offer of a hug as a way to treat a man to a chest rub with her breasts.  In fact, as a woman, I don’t think of my breasts much at all.  Breasts are a part of my body, as are my arms that I would hug you with.

So what does an offer of a hug mean?  In the case of the flea market negotiation it means a show of appreciation, a thank you, perhaps even a small feeling of affection toward the person who was willing to make an extra concession to you.  While I don’t think the offer of a hug would be made during a negotiation with a woman, I do think a hug might still be given after a successful negotiation where extra concession is given by the seller to the buyer, and few (if any) would imply any sexual payoff in such a hug.

Women hug each other all the time.  Wherever women meet, they are likely to hug.  Saying something nice, or doing a small favor for another woman will most likely result in a hug.

Women are also free with hugs to men they feel comfortable and safe with.  Men mature enough to see them as whole people, and not as sexual body parts.  These are men who treat them respectfully, and take their cues from the woman, making sure she is comfortable.

When a woman’s body is sexualized then everything she does is viewed through a sexual lens.  Breast feeding is seen as a woman exposing herself.  A woman dressing attractively is seen as asking for male attention (and deserving whatever attention she may get).  Young women learn that hugging an uncle is asking for it, and that women are not safe with any man, resulting in a rape culture.

It is true that some women use their sexuality to get what they want from men, but that is a blog for another day.

 

 

The Child Within

Our children come with no instruction manual, but everyone has advice, from the very experienced grandparent, to the single friend with no children.  Add to the mix adults who can’t agree, sometimes within a family, and child raising is a real challenge. Some believe children should be left to find their own way, and learn from their own mistakes.  Other people believe the job of a parent is to direct and guide the child toward proper behavior and achievement in life.

A neighbor’s son nearly got hit by my mother-in-law when he drove his Big Wheel down his drive and into the street in front of her car.  His parents never knew that it was a set of good breaks enthusiastically applied that saved their son from certain death.  The world is full of dangers, and as these dangers have presented themselves, a lifetime of research and legislation have tried to remove many of the dangers from children’s lives.  Children are now restrained in the back seat of cars, and will never know the joy of sitting in the front with Mom or Dad.  Playgrounds have wood-chips, or rubber mats to give soft surfaces for tiny bodies to fall upon without injury.  Leashes, once frowned upon, no longer elicit dirty looks from other adults.  Helmets and pads protect children in a variety of activities, which are often structured and with adult supervision.  Even with these protections, parents still worry every second over their children.

Parents should worry every second, and when they get old enough, our children let us know every mistake we have made. Children need to come with a customized manual because they are all different.  Some children are naturally compliant, and others are very determined to have their way.  Happy and easy-going children can live in the same family as sensitive, defensive, and teary children.

Children show their tendencies very early.  I would say I knew something about  each of my children’s personality in-utero.   One child did flips in the confined space, another stretched out pushing so hard I thought he might pop himself out, and the third was dancing for long stretches at a time.

It is a parent’s job to protect a child from danger, teach a child how to behave in an acceptable manner, learn how to treat others, and how to defer immediate gratification for worthy goals. But children want what they want, and they want it now! Does this obvious frustration of their childish desires cause damage to their emotional development?   Is this correction from parents, teachers, and society going to destroy the self-confidence of our children, chaining them with self-doubt and self-loathing to handicap them for their entire lives?  Good God I hope not.

My inner child still wants what she wants, only in place of her dolls, are my adorable grandchildren.  My inner child cries, screams, and stamps her feet that my children don’t live near me, and I can’t see them every week.  I still want things I haven’t worked for, and wish I could just go play and not do my work.  This is nobody’s fault.  This is just how children are, and that is perfectly okay.  I am an adult now, and understand how things work, and that I can’t have everything just the way I want it.  But I also have the freedom and a car to make a trip when I really need some one-on-one time with my babies.

Thank goodness I have enough maturity to have a little self-discipline.

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