(This was originally written in 2003, which was the year half of the Pagan Horde was headed off to jr. high. I was inspired to go find it by my neighbor's return from shopping with her brood, and her query as to whether her daughter bought a particular pair of shorts from Build-A-Bear. I don't miss these days....)
The dreaded First Day of School fast approaches. We must arm ourselves for the dread tasks that lie ahead. First, a trial of strength and endurance of epic proportions as we set off on our quest: School Shopping.
Seriously, we aren't going to pull a sword out of anything. We just have to pick up a few things. Come on! It'll be fun! Based on our previous experiences I took the time to write up a few things, just so you know the schedule and we are all on the same page. Take a look.
I have a hard time with a lot of these "meme" photos out there. Instead of laughing, I end up frustrated at people's lack of understanding of what's really going on there.
Today's example: The World's Most Useless Cat (stuff like this)
There are a bunch of these types of pictures out there, but the general theme is a cat who is just hanging out with a mouse instead of killing it.
Well, duh. Most housecats were never taught how to cat Hunting isn't just an instinct. It's also knowledge. In the wild (or in the case of a household who is keeping them) they're taught by their mothers, starting from the time when they're weaned. That's about the time they're usually sold/given away.
The training they get as they're raised by humans is to be gentle, to only damage things like their scratching post and their squeaky toys. So why would you expect them to go hog-wild on an actual fuzzy living creature?
That's not to say many of them can't pick things up fast if you let them outside and give them some time/motivation to figure it out. Many of their "play" behaviors in the house are limited or unfocused pieces of the art of the stalk. The instincts are still there, and hunger is a sharp sauce.
But you don't take a kitten who comes from a line of probably generations who have been born of mothers who never have left a house and were never taught themselves what to do and who has been taken from that mother just when it's time she should start showing them the ropes and expect it to act like a slavering beast just because it's shown something from the order Rodentia.
I had written a thing (and it is an awesome thing). However, it sort of turned into a possible GWJ article. So I ran it up the flagpole on that side of things and we'll see how that goes. ;)
Been cleaning out my closet and dresser, and organizing things to get ready for packing for PAX Prime. Back in a deep corner of a drawer I ran into a little piece of family history -- a certain pair of white denim jeans. These things bring back memories, but it requires a bit of story-time to explain.
When a kid misbehaves, people judge the kid. But they also judge their parents. And being a single-mom, you start off with a double-handicap. I used to get so much crap from all sides. I was too strict. I wasn't strict enough. If I'd punish them more, then they'd not act out. They were acting out because I punished them for anything at all. Why are you hanging out with kids so much? Why did you just drop them off and abandon them at this other place? Between the kids' need to push the boundaries and grow and the world's expectations for how a mother is supposed to act, everything I did was a careful negotiation through a minefield.
Dealing with a situation when a kid is acting out in public and you don't feel safe rounding on them for it is difficult. Adding my personal approach of trying to frame everything as a natural consequence without actually just giving them enough rope to hang themselves and it gets doubly complicated.
But one day I accidentally found an equivalency I could express that gave them just enough of an idea of how I was feeling about a given situation and put them on notice they were headed outside the lines, while being framed just weirdly enough it could be used anywhere.
And it all started with these white jeans.
Back in the day, the Gang liked to go to our local roller rink every Friday night. And one time I wasn't thinking and wore this certain pair of white denim jeans and a white t-shirt. I'd forgotten it was "Black-out Night"; they turned on a set of black lights on the floor so everything was this eerie purple and clothes glowed. To top it off, I decided to skate too.
Under black light, that outfit glowed like a good deed in a naughty world. The dye in them is really phosphorescent. Then to top it off, Oh... My... Gawd, Becky. "Baby Got Back" rolled up, and I was grooving along, not even realizing that I was basically Casper the Unfriendly Ghost, public-image-wise.
I was a known quantity anyways; the regulars around there knew I was weird as chicken mittens. No one actually said a word. But after I got off the floor I realized that, socially speaking, that might have been a tactical failure on the scale of Napoleon calling a rain-day at Waterloo. So I stayed off of the rink for the rest of the night.
A few weeks later, some of the yahoos were acting like dorks in a store and some random "concerned" citizen had just given me a bunch of crap for my "permissive" parenting style. I was really upset. On the way home in the car I pointed out to the kids that the way they were acting made me feel embarrassed in public, just like they might have felt when I was skating in those jeans. They remembered. And they then told me that I'd made the rounds of the school rumor mill again. Not bad, just at the titter-and-eyeroll level. That made me feel even worse.
But now we had common ground. We talked about it then and at various other times, and the code-word "White Jeans" came to mean, "Hey, you're acting like a putz in a way that's going to cause problems. Quit it." It went both ways. They could use it on me when I'd rolled the geek-o-meter up in the high 8's in public. I could use it when they were headed to Brat Alley.
The point of it wasn't to actually do it. I never did wear those (or a white t-shirt) to Skate King again. The point of it was to be able to communicate how we were feeling about what was going on and ask the other to quit it without going into specifics we weren't comfortable with in public.
We used that tool all through the rest of their growing years.
The infamous jeans are laid across the bed while I finish this up. The girls will be here in a while to help me to sort through more of my mom's things that have been sent down to me in an attempt to get this house in some semblance of order. I'm considering meeting them at the door wearing them, to see if they remember. ;)