Counting doesn’t count

I saw a lady whose son was hanging onto the gates near the door at the library. It wasn’t time for the family to leave yet, and she was trying to get him to come back to the children’s section. He was having none of it. He was about 6.

She looked at him and said “1.” Pause. She gave him a stern look. “2”. Pause. Another stern look. “2” she said again, looking at him like he better get the clue. And yet again, she said “2”.

I said “No, you have to say 3, otherwise 2 has no meaning.” She said three, he didn’t come, and she went to him, took him by the arm and marched him back to where he was supposed to be.

He cried, of course, and that is what she was trying to avoid. But if she isn’t firm and consistent with expectations and consequences, then she might as well not say anything at all.

Rules have to have consequences if they are broken. Otherwise they have no meaning.

Sayings “shhh” doesn’t mean anything either. The child learns that they yell, and Mom says “shhh”. It is just an exchange of sounds. The parent has to say “Please be quiet” or explain that “shhh” means that. Otherwise “shhh” is just a sound.

Then there was the mom whose child would not stay with her. He kept running to the door, or just away from her. She told him what to do and he kept not doing it.

There were no consequences. He had no reason to obey her.

It was yet another example of “Stop doing that or I’ll say stop doing that again.”

However you want your child to act as an adult, you need to mold them as a child. You are supposed to be a parent, not a friend.

Sure, they won’t like it. That isn’t the point. It isn’t child abuse to set rules and enforce consequences. It is child abuse to not do this. Otherwise they grow up wild.

Fight like a girl

When women are told that they “run like a girl” or “fight like a girl” or “throw like a girl” they are being shamed. They are being discouraged from using their bodies. All of these are physical actions, and all of these phrases are designed to get them to stop. Girls are actively discouraged from exercising in “boy” ways.

We are allowed to walk, or skip, or do yoga, or water aerobics. These are seen as suitable activities for girls. “Boy” sports are off the radar for us. We are strongly discouraged or even banned from playing football, for instance. It is still unusual for women to play in team sports such as baseball or basketball – and those who do are seen as “butch” – translation, no longer female.

Why do we have to trade femininity for hard exercise? Why are women not allowed to “roughhouse”? A little girl who plays rough is called a “tomboy”. The fact that “boy” is in the term indicates that she isn’t seen as a girl. The fact that there is a special term for it is an indicator that it is seen as something unusual – and thus something to be discouraged.

We are shamed into being dainty when we exercise, if we are allowed to exercise at all.

Then, because we don’t exercise enough, we get overweight and then we get shamed for that too. It is a lose-lose situation.

Of course we run, fight, and throw like girls. We are girls. But what do these terms mean?

It is time to redefine these terms, and take back the playground and the gym. It is time to take “run like a girl” as a complement. We need to start fighting like girls, and start standing up for our right to exercise however we feel we need to.

Sure, we can still run, and do yoga, and play hopscotch. And we can also climb trees and throw rocks and climb mountains. Let each girl and woman exercise however she wants, not limited by society. Let us move however we need to keep our bodies and brains strong.

God is not your waiter.

Originally posted on FB February 3, 2012

God wants you to pray. God wants opinions in the opinion box. He made humans with free will because he wants us to be more than part of creation – he wants us to be co-creators. He wants us to voluntarily participate in our lives and to choose good over evil.

But He doesn’t do what you ask Him to do because you ask Him to do it.

God answers prayers all the time. Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes it is no. Sometimes it is not now. If you don’t get what you prayed for – be thankful. Yes. Be thankful. We humans simply do not have the sense of perspective necessary to know what is best for us. Children may ask their parents for the latest toy, and their parents may refuse. The child gets upset. But the parents know that the child has gotten all the previous latest toys and ignored them. Or, they know that they are saving up for something better, so they can’t spend their money on this item.

I have a friend whose husband prayed for healing for a family friend. The friend died. Now the husband says he doesn’t know what to believe. He should believe that God is in charge. Who are we to tell God what to do? Who are we to even presume to go to our Creator and say “you have to do this” – like spoiled little children?

“When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Rabbi Harold Kushner is very helpful on this subject.

The Bible is full of examples of people who apparently changed God’s mind. His wrath was turned away, or special dispensation was made, or healing occurred when there was no hope previously. But God does what God does. If you get what you ask for, cool. But if you don’t get what you ask for – cool as well. It is more than likely for the best. Remember the old saying – “Watch what you pray for – you may get it.” Fortunately God will give you nothing bad. It may not seem good to you at the time, but with time and perspective, you may come to see the wisdom in not getting what you wanted.