Mockingjay, Part 1: Philip Seymour Hoffman Does It Again, But For The Last Time…

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Well, PH and I got to Mockingjay last night. As you may remember, we LOVED Catching Fire, which you folks are simply not used to hearing after I’ve gone to see a book-to-movie film. Mockingjay shoot

We went in extremely hopeful. We were disappointed with the original Hunger Games movie, although it was acceptable, but then Catching Fire actually had us slow-clapping when the credits rolled.

Our hope was that the presence of Philip Seymour Hoffman would keep the good ball rolling (we’re convinced that he somehow infused his essence into Catching Fire, thus perfecting it).

Overall, I’m happy to report that it did.

Critics have complained that there is too much exposition in this movie. I personally disagree. I LIKE exposition.

One of the things that frustrates me is when movies skip over extremely important plot points because they assume their audience will be too stupid to sit through two more minutes of dialogue.

Besides, it actually has a lot LESS exposition than the book. One of the best things about translating a first-person narrative into a movie is that they can show you things that you don’t get to see in the story because the main character didn’t see those things.

Mockingjay Part 1 actually SHOWS the effect of Katniss’s “propos” in the districts. There are multiple very-cool, very-exciting rebellion shots which you totally don’t get to see in the book, because Katniss is too busy moping in an underground bunker.

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Critics have also complained that the movie just builds towards Part II, but I disagree there, as well.

The focus of the first movie is on Katniss’s concern for Peeta, and to me, getting Peeta back seems like the obvious goal and building-point.

Those of you who have read the book know how well THAT goes, and I think the movie ends on a great “what next?” note.

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Overall, much of the dialogue is word-for-word, which I value. The sentiments of the movie are very well expressed. The desolation of District 12 is not understated.

They leave in stuff I thought they’d cut, like the Hanging Tree song (VERY NICE), and the white rose in Katniss’s house. They even left in Buttercup chasing the light in the bunker.

Other than removing some of the best Boggs lines, the only things that got cut were very specific – they cut everything that shows District 13 and/or President Coin in a negative light.

Which I thought was a little odd.

The prep team? Gone. Instead Effie Trinket is there, which I accept because the first movie basically eradicated the Prep Team when they should have left them in. So Effie is there instead as damage control. But she is treated very well – no complaints there.

The restrictive lifestyle, Coin’s coldness… all of that is cut.

It struck me as an interesting choice. Are they trying to build up our trust in 13 and Coin, only to tear it down? Or have they decided to wipe out that whole aspect of the storyline (surely they can’t??).

If the first option is correct, then they had better do it fast and well in Part II, that’s all I can say.

And with Philip Seymour Hoffman lost to us, I don’t know how much faith I have in their ability to do so…

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Lord, Give Me The Patience To Answer Questions My Child Can’t Possibly Understand The Answers To…

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Like many small children, I think, Owl is a little scientist, and I’m not handling it very well.

I’ve always looked forward to explaining things to my children. When I was just a teenager I made sure to know why the sky was blue and why water boiled, so that some day I could explain it to my kids.

But I always imagined my kids understanding the answer.

For years, Owl and I have experienced mutual frustration with my inability to deliver answers that he can understand. On the bright side, his questions these days are actually coherent most of the time. He no longer asks me what a tree is doing or why I am driving him to school.

Now his questions are actually VALID, but he still can’t understand THE GOD DAMN ANSWER.

That’s not his fault. He’s FOUR. He’s a bright kid. Some day he’ll probably be winning science awards. I’m sure that no one finds it more frustrating than he does. But it still doesn’t make it easy when I’m constantly being badgered for questions that I can’t answer.

He doesn’t just want to know IF he can have a sandwich. He wants to know WHY he can have a sandwich. He wants to understand the PSYCHOLOGY behind my willingness to acquiesce to his request. He doesn’t think that “because you said you were hungry and you asked for a sandwich and it’s lunch time and we have the ingredients to make sandwiches so I considered your request and decided it was reasonable” is sufficient FOR SOME REASON.

He doesn’t just want to know how to make his little McDonald’s toy car go. He wants to know WHY pressing the lever makes it go, and any attempt at explaining physics to him will simply result in a more pressing “WHY?”IMG_1086

Even if he could understand Newtonian physics, asking WHY physics works that way enters a realm of science that Nobel Prize winners have not been able to answer.

This morning, he asked a series of increasingly in-depth questions which basically led to him questioning the entire fabric existence of the world as we know it, and there was no answer I could give him that didn’t involve trying to explain quantum mechanics. A lot of the time I have to settle for “because that’s how things are.”

I’m beginning to wonder if things like religion and superstition weren’t invented by harried moms just trying to shut their kids up. It’s EXHAUSTING, especially when you get to the end of a very long discussion only to feel like it was entirely useless.

Here is a sample transcript from our drive home from daycare this evening:

Owl: Mom… why do my boots fall off when I put my feet down?

Me: Because they’re loose.

Owl: But why do they fall?

Me: Why do things fall, Owl?

Owl: Because of gravity?

Me: Right.

Owl: Why does gravity pull things down?

Me: Because that’s how gravity works.

Owl: But how does it work?

Me: I… you’ll understand more when you’re older. Very big things have gravity and pull things towards them.

Owl: Yeah. And the Earth is big so it has gravity!

Me: Right.

Owl: Why doesn’t SPACE have gravity? It’s big.

Me: I… because space isn’t a THING, honey, it’s empty, it’s the place that holds everything else. Things that are IN space have gravity, like planets and the moon.

Owl: And us.

Me: We’re too small to have gravity. Only very big things like planets have gravity.

Owl: Or like those streetlights.

Me: … No… the streetlights don’t have gravity. They’re small.

Owl: They’re bigger than US.

Me: Not big like the EARTH, Owl. Only VERY BIG THINGS have gravity.

Owl: And everything on the Earth is small?

Me: Right.

Owl: Why everything on the Earth is small?

Me: Everything on the Earth is SMALLER THAN THE EARTH, because otherwise it wouldn’t fit on the Earth. Size is relative, right? An elephant is big compared to us, but small compared to the Earth. We are big compared to an ant, but small compared to an elephant. That TREE is big compared to us but small compared to a skyscraper. Right?

Owl: Right. And the Earth is big compared to everything.

Me: No… The sun is bigger than the Earth, right?

Owl: Yeah.

Me: So the Earth is big compared to you and me, but small compared to the sun. The sun is small compared to a bigger star. Stars are small compared to a galaxy. Galaxies are small compared to the whole universe. RIGHT?

Owl: Right. Because space is big.

Me: Yes.

Owl: Even a whole CAR could fit in space.

Me: …Pardon?

Owl: A car. I said A CAR. A CAR could even fit in SPACE!

Me: A car?? Of COURSE a car could fit in space, EVERYTHING is… OH LOOK WE’RE HOME NOW.

And so I am exhausted and frustrated after a mere 5 minutes with my child. And the worst part is knowing that these are the conversations I always thought I would enjoy. I worry a lot, too, that my frequent simmering impatience is going to have a negative effect on his curiosity and self esteem.

I’m hoping that I will enjoy this more, when he actually understands that street lights and cars are smaller than the entire universe. I’m sure he will.

In the mean time, at least PH doesn’t mind this sort of thing. If he were well I think I would hand all child care responsibility to him until Owl developed the ability to understand basic science. As it is, I’m just going to have to find some way to fight my constant frustration.

Any tips?

Maybe I should just introduce him to God.

But then he’d probably want to know why God exists and how God was made and why God happened to make green that particular wavelength and…

How I Managed To Avoid Being A Victim of Sexual Assault

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I have never been raped.

In a world where victims of sexual assault are blamed, disbelieved, and shamed, I am fortunate to be free of that.

FORTUNATE.

Canada is currently going through Ghomeshi-gate, in which an always-creepy Canadian celebrity has actually lost his job amid a wave of accusations from multiple women who all say that he has beaten them and sexual assaulted them.

Canada seems firmly divided on who to believe – the powerful celebrity who hired a PR firm to help craft his “poor me” facebook post defending himself, or the multiple unconnected women who have only their reputations to lose by coming forward.

One man on Perfect Husband’s facebook feed actually had the gall to say that since some of these women went on one or two subsequent dates with him after the initial violent incident, and since none of these women went to the police about it, they were therefore “consenting and complicit” to the abuse which followed.

*cue steam coming out of Perfect Husband’s ears*

Furthermore, while some people ripped this guy a new one, others, including women, agreed with him.

And I can’t understand it. Because even if you’ve never been assaulted, does that really imagine that you can’t imagine what it would be like? Why do people need to believe that assault victims are lying, or to blame?

I know people who were molested as children. By a family member, by a babysitter, by a parent’s boyfriend.

I have friends who were raped. No, they didn’t call the police. They somehow allowed the rapist to convince them that it was their own fault. They didn’t think they would be believed. They didn’t want to be called a “slut” by some victim blamer on Facebook.

I can’t blame them. Not for the rape, not for keeping silent.

I firmly believe that sexual assault victims did not bring their assault on themselves. I firmly believe that rape can happen to any woman. When people blame a victim of sexual assault, or refuse to believe her because she didn’t tell anyone for years, I am filled with fury on their behalf.

Because there but for the grace of… what? God? Who is he to pick who is and is not raped? No. There but for the grace of good fortune go I.

Do certain situations increase the likelihood of rape (such as, for instance, drinking at a big frat party)? Sure. But getting into my car increases my likelihood of being in a car accident. If someone ELSE runs a red light and hits me, THEY are the ones who broke the law, and they are the ones the insurance company would find to be at fault. The insurance company wouldn’t say, “Well, you chose to take that particular route, even though there is a high crash frequency at that intersection, so what did you expect?”

I have been through a few high-risk intersections, when it comes to sexual violence.

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Why I Loathe Vani Hari, Or, There Are No Pancakes In My Chicken Fried Rice

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I need to talk for a moment about how much I despise The Food Babe.

At first I was barely aware of her. I heard people making a stink about the “yoga mat chemical” in Subway and largely ignored it because what do you expect in fast food?

Then the Pumpkin Spice Latte thing happened.

Suddenly, my Facebook was alternately full of people going “OMG PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE SEASON” and this:

food babe pumpkin spice latte

 

Several things struck me as weird about this.

Let’s go through them.

1. Caramel Colour Level IV. I googled it. The first three hits are a variety of studies on its safety in which IT IS FOUND TO BE TOTALLY HARMLESS.

2. Did anyone actually think there is really bits of pureed squash in their latte? Wouldn’t that taste weird?

3. So… the cows ate feed which contains GMOs… so… I should avoid Starbuck’s milk? Is… that different from all the milk sold in all the stores? Because I don’t think so.

4. I’m sorry, 50 g of sugar is TOXIC? I mean, sure, no one’s saying that 50g of sugar is healthy, but isn’t there more sugar in a candy bar? (why yes, there is). In fact, a Banana Berry Smoothie at Jamba Juice contains more sugar. Besides, to me, “toxic” defines as reaching the LD50, or dose that is lethal enough to kill half the people who eat it. The LD50, or “toxic” level for sugar is 300 g/kg. Based on my body weight, that means that I would have to drink 504.5 Pumpkin Spice Lattes for even a 50% chance of getting killed by it (I hope no one does the math and figures out how much I weigh…).

And finally, I went on the Starbucks website and actually it’s only 50g if you get a GIANT one with 2% milk AND whipped cream. An actual normal sized drink without a bunch of EXTRA DAIRY is really more like 34g, which matches up with a veggie puree at Jamba Juice.

5. I’m not even sure why this is supposed to be scary. These natural flavours could be from ANYWHERE! Oh noes. What if it’s MEXICAN natural flavours? I don’t want my xenophobia tainting my drink, even if it IS natural.

6. If you haven’t had an allergic reaction when drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte, you’re probably okay. If you have, you probably don’t need The Food Babe to tell you to steer clear.

7. POSSIBLE pesticide residue? Like, she’s just throwing in “maybes” now. MAYBE, okay, not positive, but WHAT IF the coffee beans were picked by someone WHO HAD EBOLA. ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DRINK THAT.

8.  Okay, this is the only valid complaint. Secret dairy. I accept that as a concern.

Anyway, so I went on a bit of a rampage posting snopes articles at this thing left right and centre until it stopped showing up on my news feed.

But the Food Babe didn’t.

The next time I saw her it was a complaint about MacDonald’s fries.

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The claim was that America and Canada have silly putty in their french fries, while those lucky brits do not.

So of course I googled it. And I learned that this supposedly scary chemical is NOT silly putty but an ingredient thereof. Furthermore, it is used to help prevent workers from being burned, because it reduces spitting and such from the fry oil. The chemical is largely harmless and present in fairly small quantities.

Also, wait. Why is Silly Putty scary? It’s non toxic and we hand it to small children for them to mess around with.

So, basically, the logic goes as follow:

1. Something we eat shares an ingredient with something else.

2. Therefore, that something else is IN the thing we eat. (I love this logic. Eggs are used to make pancakes AND to make chicken fried rice. Therefore there are pancakes in my chicken fried rice.)

3. The something else which shares this ingredient is a harmless substance that is considered safe for small children to play with and probably eat.

4. ?

5. PANIC.

Amusing as the bizarre logic is, here’s what gets me riled:

It’s not that I am a big defender of MacDonald’s. Clearly, being a rational human being, I don’t think their food is good for me.

But that’s actually my point.

DID YOU ACTUALLY THINK THIS WAS GOOD FOR YOU?

You ate at a fast food restaurant knowing that the food would be bad for you. Then you find out one of the ingredients is something which has been cleared by the FDA and is added to keep workers safe. Cue OUTRAGE.

WHY???

I mean, are we supposed to be upset that the British are getting much healthier, safer fries? Because they aren’t. THEY’RE STILL SALTY, FATTY, CARCINOGENIC FRENCH FRIES.

And they’re delicious.

So either eat them and accept it or avoid them and suck it up. But ONE TINY INGREDIENT ALSO FOUND IN A HARMLESS CHILD’S PLAYTHING should not be the deciding factor here.

So after this, I started looking up this Vani Hari woman.

I discovered that she launched giant campaigns against places like Chick-Fil-A and Chipotle because their food contains GMOs. Even though pretty much all the food at your local grocery store and in every chain restaurant everywhere are ALSO GMO and even though there is no scientific reason to be scared of eating GMOs.

I learned that she has caused numerous false food-scares by mixing up chemicals, such as pointing to the ingredient propylene glycol and calling it “antifreeze”, when actually it is used as a non-toxic antifreeze ALTERNATIVE.

And I have watched her style of fear mongering spread all over my facebook feed.

Now, I see other pages who have copied her scare tactics.

Here’s how it works:

1. All-Natural Generic Facebook Page/Blogger picks a multisyllabic ingredient from some already-recognized-as-unhealthy food.

2. All-Natural Generic Facebook Page/Blogger finds some non-food product with that same ingredient.

3. All-Natural Generic Facebook Page/Blogger shares a photo of the two products together with a question like “what is paint thinner doing in Lucky Charms?”

No, that wasn’t a random example. For serious:

lucky charms paint thinner

Never mind that the product on the left is NOT PAINT THINNER, but something we use to clean our walls before we apply the paint.

If the All-Natural Generic Facebook Page/Blogger was ACTUALLY interested in educating the public, they would answer their own question. But they aren’t, because the actual answer (I learned with about 30 seconds spent on Google), is boring:

Trisodium Phosphate is a non-toxic food additive which is sold in some health food stores as a nutrition supplement because it has been linked to improved performance in cyclists. It is also very good at cleaning things.

*yawn*

But instead of actually learning something, people go up in arms about it and freak out, when the REAL question is,”DID YOU REALLY FEEL GOOD ABOUT FEEDING YOUR KIDS LUCKY CHARMS TO BEGIN WITH? HAS THIS REALLY SHATTERED YOUR FAITH IN ALL THAT YOU THOUGHT WAS SAFE AND HEALTHY?”

If I see one more version of “this ingredient has more than two syllables so let’s be scared!” I’m going to start making my own:

I’ll point out that Gripe Water, promoted for helpless colicky infants, contains baking soda – sorry, SODIUM BICARBONATE – which is ALSO FOUND IN INDUSTRIAL GRADE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS. WHY ARE WE FEEDING FLAME RETARDANTS TO BABIES.

I’ll make sure everyone knows that their favourite brand of pickles contains vinegar – sorry, ACETIC ACID – which has been proven to be effective against 99.9% of bacteria. WHAT IS DISINFECTANT DOING IN YOUR GERKINS?

I’ll advertise the fact that X Brand of Jam contains PECTINS, which are used to GLUE CIGARS. WHAT IS CIGAR GLUE DOING ON OUR TOAST???

It may not stop people from panicking over nothing, and it may not teach people to use Google before they get frightened by big words, but dangit, it’ll be amusing.

Maybe THAT’S why she does it.

How Do You Grown Up

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Sometimes I wonder how people manage being grown ups.

Like, when I go to train dogs in people’s houses and the houses are spotless show homes despite two smiling, well behaved children in the house and I wonder how they manage to work well paying jobs and raise two kids and still don’t have soap rings in their bathroom sink.

PH and I both heavily value a clean home. We both grew up in clean homes.

We do not live in a clean home.

At the best of times, we manage a cluttered and messy home.

When we’re doing well, the only dishes in the sink are from the past 24 hours. The toilet has been cleaned within the last two weeks and the fur has been swept off of the floor when guests come over.

Then there are times like now.

The first trimester exhaustion kicked in for me around the 7 week mark. Until that day, PH and I had fallen into a rhythm for managing our family dishes. I washed them at night before bed, and he took them out of the dry rack and put them away the next morning. Each of us kept up our end of the deal because the other person kept up theirs.

Suddenly, I didn’t have it in me to wash those dishes. I looked at them, and I walked away.

And now our kitchen looks like this:

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Not Dead Yet

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We haven’t really been taking my pregnancy seriously yet. After last time, we are a bit more guarded in our hopes and expectations. By which I mean that we make constant dead baby jokes and PH’s repeated imitation of our embryo is basicly an elaborate death pose.

But, that being said, we went in for an eight week ultrasound and the ultrasound technician told me right away that he had found a heart beat.

At eight weeks, there’s not really much else to say about a little gray jelly bean on the screen. It measured eight weeks two days, which means that my estimated due date is spot on, which is pretty unusual, and its tiny heart is beating.

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Or it was, as of that particular day.

In our minds, it could have stopped the next day, or the day after that. So we weren’t super excited, and we still haven’t talked much about our plans for April, when our still-considered-hypothetical baby should be born.

I have lost all trust in my body. When I was pregnant with Owl, and again in my second pregnancy, I assumed that if I was experiencing pregnancy symptoms and not having cramping or bleeding, that the baby was probably okay. When we had that brief no-heartbeat-on-doppler scare we acknowledged the possibility that the baby might NOT be okay, but a reassuring ultrasound was all we needed to get us expecting a baby again.

This ultrasound was reassuring, sure. We were definitely relieved to hear that our baby wasn’t dead…. yet. But we can’t get that “yet” our of our psyches.

Sure, my abdomen is already starting to expand, even though the scale reads the same as it did a month ago, so clearly my uterus is growing.

Sure, I am experiencing that terrible first trimester exhaustion that is not really describable to people who haven’t experienced it. My doctor even said to me, “you know, my patients always talked about that first trimester fatigue, but I didn’t really understand how deep it goes until I experienced it for myself.”

And while I’m not having much morning sickness, I do experience low grade nausea at several points in the day.

But you know what? My pants got tight last time, too. I had morning sickness last time. I went through all of the sucky aspects of the first trimester, and experienced them for weeks AFTER my baby had already died.

I don’t think I’ll really believe it until I can feel the baby move and KNOW it’s alive.

 

Well, That Explains A Lot, Actually

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So, the day after my stressed-out freak-out (yes, I did thoroughly apologize to the staff member in question) I was back to my normal self. Several people needed me, and I had no complaints about helping them. I even drove over to a friend’s house with husband and son in tow to do some first aid on her pug dog.

The day after that, I learned this:

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So, hormones.

That’s good.

 

Mommied-Out, Or, Someone Needs To Grow Up And That Person May Be Me

Today, I’m tired of being a mother.

I’ve always wanted to be a mother. I’ve always looked forward to it. When I was a teenager, I got attached to my Baby Think It Over and didn’t want to give him back to my Family Studies teacher.

I like to be needed.

I like to take care of things.

Even PH’s Quidditch team has voted me their “Quidditch mom.” I already have refreshments ready for practice next week, and I’m going to make sure they’re wearing sunscreen. I may get a shirt.

However, there’s another side to me. I warned PH about it before we got married, but I think he already knew it:

I have a strong need to be cared for.

I am an only child. I like to be doted on, to be spoiled a bit. I like to have someone to lean on. Luckily, PH was always very good at that. He took care of me, I took care of the animals/baby, and it worked.

Over the last year, it hasn’t been working so well. 

Overall, PH has been doing better. He stepped up wonderfully when I was sick, taking over a lot of the parenting while I slept, but it took its toll on him. As my functionality improved, he collapsed into a dip that he’s only just starting to emerge from. When he is in a dip, all of his physical and emotional energy are devoted to staying alive. I become the only functional parent and I still have to work at two jobs. I feel like my entire life from dawn to well after dusk is consumed by the overwhelming needs of others.

Owl needs me to get up in the morning. Owl needs me to play with him. Owl needs me to pull down his pants even though he is perfectly capable of doing it himself but needs the parental care and attention. The house needs me to wash its dishes and sweep its floors and clean its counters and scrub its toilet. Then my dog training clients need me. PH needs my love and support. Then work needs me.

And boy, how does work need me.

I’m not sure what is more demanding, my three year old or my job. In a strange turn of events, this particular workplace perceives me as competent. Since all my workplaces since 2007 had considered me to be a useless waste of space, I find this turnaround both flattering and bewildering. I didn’t mind being asked how to do insanely simple tasks, because it felt so good just to be needed instead of hated.

But with no one to actually take care of ME, I’m crumbling under the weight of it all. I’ve given and given and given until I’m hollow and still more is needed so I’m starting to just hand out pieces of myself and I’m not being gracious about it.

I’m losing my ability to handle it. I resent having to put on Owl’s shoes on the days when he wants me to do it. Sometimes I snap at him and make him do it himself anyway, even though I know that this really isn’t about shoes (Owl is Mr Independent and loves to do things by himself, so if he wants help it’s usually because he’s feeling lonely or insecure in some way, probably because Mommy has turned into a resentful ball of snark).

I’m no better at work.

Don’t know why your user profile has corrupted on your laptop? Neither do I. No, I don’t feel like fixing it for you. I am not an IT person, just someone who knows how to use Google. Google the solution. That’s what I always do. No, I don’t really feel like showing you how to do something that I’ve already shown you three times. I realize that you’re new, but I still don’t have the patience.

Today, I lost it completely.

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TuTu Cool For School

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Every parent I’ve spoken to agrees – the selection for girl clothes is way better than the selection for boy clothes. The girl section is always twice the size of the boy section, and full of adorable pea coats, polka dot dresses, and bluejeans with butterfly embroideries. Meanwhile, the boy section is full of grubby looking t-shirts covered in corporate characters like Batman and Ninja turtles.

I guess Owl agrees, because one day we were trying shorts on him in the store and he looked longingly over to a rack of pink tutus and said wistfully, “Someday… when I’m a girl… I’m going to wear that.”

PH and I exchanged looks. We looked at the price tag of the tutu. Seven dollars.

“We can get that if you want,” I said.

“No, but those are for girls.”

“Yes, they are,” I said. “But you can PRETEND you are a girl. I mean, you wear a fireman suit sometimes, but are you a really a fireman?”

“No! I’m a little boy!”

“Well, you can pretend to be a girl just like you pretend to be a fireman.”

“Okay! Let’s try it on!”

He has never been so excited about a piece of clothing. He carried it proudly to the cashier, and insisted on donning it the moment the transaction went through.

We were pretty amused, and took some pictures, and tried to cherish this moment while it lasted. We got seven dollars worth of cuteness just that night at Montana’s alone, where he did pirouettes for the admiring waitress.

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That was months ago.

He STILL loves his tutu.

We won’t let him wear it to school, ostensibly because tutus are dress-up clothes, and it is no more appropriate to wear tutus to school than to show up in his shark costume. The real reason, though, is that there is a boy at his school who is a little punk and would tear him a new one. This charming child introduced words into his vocabulary like “dead” and “kill” and “gun”. The same kid also taught Owl that pink is for girls, among other things. Once I took him to school with his nails painted and he came home and said “Little Punk says that nail polish is FOR GIRLS.”

God knows what would happen if Owl showed up in a tutu.

We’re not just trying to protect Owl’s feelings – we don’t like things like that parroted at him and we’re not going to set up opportunities for him to receive a lecture in gender norms from some four year old peer.

Other than that, he can wear it pretty much anywhere. He wears it to the store and playing around our complex and out to the park. He wore it to a boy’s birthday party, using the logic that birthdays are a dress-up occasion. We couldn’t argue it and so he went. No one teased him. One larger boy did see and point, but Owl didn’t notice. The other three year olds didn’t even blink.

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He was just another boy… in a tutu.

He even sleeps in it most nights. Last night he didn’t sleep with it, but he must have put it on first thing in the morning because he was wearing it when he crawled into bed with me this morning, saying “I’m pretty now, Mom! I’m VERY PRETTY.”

We don’t know if this is a phase or not. We used to think so, when he was a baby. It was his love of pretty dresses that turned me into a feminist. We thought he’d outgrow it once he understood about gender. Now we aren’t so sure. He spotted a doll in PH’s study and wanted red lips like her, so I came home to find him wearing lipstick.

For the most part, he seems all boy. He likes to pretend he’s a super hero who fights bad guys. He likes to shoot things, and destroy things, and he has the restless energy of a male child. But he really likes to do these things while wearing a pink tutu.

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Maybe these are the sort of passing inclinations that all children have, and PH and I have seen more of it because we don’t discourage it. Maybe other boys admire tutus and their parents just nod and keep walking, which is what we almost did.

Or maybe he’s a cross dresser. Or maybe he’s a trans girl (although I don’t think so, his mind is still pretty masculine). Or maybe he’s gay. Or maybe he’s just Owl, an active boy in a tutu, like Puck in the performance of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream that PH and I attended recently.

Will this be Owl in twenty years?

Will this be Owl in twenty years?

We don’t care.

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Maybe he will grow out of this and then be humiliated by all of these photos of him in a tutu. If so, we’re going to have a word with him, and try to explain that admiring the feminine is not a shameful thing. If a girl can admire the masculine and play with tools, what’s wrong with a boy admiring the feminine and playing ballerina?

That’s the part that I don’t want him to outgrow. I want him to always know that it is okay to be whoever he wants to be.

As long as the Little Punks of the world don’t wreck it too much for him.

 

In Which We Attend The Quidditch Global Games 2014 and are Blown Away by Awesomeness

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We found out about it totally by accident.

We were at an indoor play gym as part of our constant battle to keep our little extrovert entertained on the weekend. PH picked up a local paper to flip through while we sat in the overwhelmingly loud atmosphere.

“Hey, the Quidditch Global Games are in Vancouver,” he said.

“Like, where people run around on brooms?” I said.

“Yeah.”

“Oh, we need to see that. When is it.”

He scanned the article. “Today!”

So we packed Owl in the car and headed down to see.

It took us a while to find it. International competition not withstanding, the Quidditch Global Games had not attracted a large crowd. Most of the spectators were family and friends of the players.

We were geeking out.

20140720-121752-44272804.jpg“They have MERCHANDISE!” I said, running over to the booth. There were shirts from many of the international teams. After much hemming and hawing I bought shirt from the Mexican team, where were newcomers this year and could only afford to bring half of their team.

The shirt says “Viva Quidditch, cabrones!” and really, how often do you get a chance to buy a shirt that says (loosely translated) “long live Quidditch, bitches!” in Spanish?

We showed up at the perfect time, because Canada was just starting their match against Australia. We watched as all players bowed their head while the “Snitch” – a heavyset dude in yellow with a sock hanging out of the back of his pants – ran off of the field to hide.

When the Snitch was out of a sight, a whistle blew and all hell broke loose. The players grabbed their brooms, mounted them, and then fought to get a “Quaffle” (which, confusingly, was white) through the other team’s hoops. Since they were all holding onto their brooms, all throwing and catching was done one handed.

It all sounds pretty silly, until you watch it played.

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This sport is FULL BODY CONTACT, guys. They were tackling each other like mad. We saw at least one person carted off of the field in a stretcher, and several more down for a good 5-10 minute count. This isn’t about some silly geeks LARPing in a soccer field. It’s like Rugby with extra balls and literary roots.

While Chasers fought one-handed over the Quaffle, Beaters were throwing dodge balls at the players. Whenever one of them got tagged by a “bludger” they had to dismount and run back and touch their hoops before they could re-enter play.

After 18 minutes the Snitch returned to the pitch and then the play became (if possible) even more intense. The seekers tried to tackle the Snitch, who wasn’t afraid to knock them down repeatedly, while opposing team members tried to interfere with play. Meanwhile, the Chasers are still trying to get the Quaffle through the hoops while also helping out their Seeker.

You don’t even know what to watch – keep your eyes on the Snitch and miss another incredible goal? Or watch the Quaffle and miss the capturing of the Snitch?

Craziness.

We were able to stay long enough to watch Canada come in third. We had to take Owl home to bed before the final match, which the USA ended up winning (Muggle Quidditch originated in the U.S, and the page for the international association is actually called USquidditch.com, which bothers me. Hopefully as international teams increase, there will be a truly international page set up).

Some friends of ours who are both sporty AND geeky also came out to watch.

Why don’t we play this?” one of them asked.

Good question.

PH has been missing sports in his life for many years.

In his high school yearbook, you can find his face in pretty much every team photo. Soccer, baseball, football, curling… he did it all.

In University he refereed several sports. But it’s surprisingly hard to get involved in sports here. There’s a big population and a lot of demand. When we moved to B.C. he tracked down the local baseball league and was rejected several times – they just didn’t have room for more players.

He did curling for a year or two, but since he had to take what he could get, he was shunted onto a team of lackluster players who he never quite jived with. He gave up in frustration after two seasons.

So then he decided to try refereeing.  He got qualified as a soccer referee, but was only every called out to a few games, earning a grand total of a hundred dollars over a whole season. The next year they only called once. He didn’t bother re-certifying the next year.

Last year he decided to get certified as a softball referee. It cost us $150 and they never called him at all.

Quidditch, on the other hand, could be a whole other ball game.

PH tracked down a Quidditch referee to ask how he could get involved and they practically leaped on him. Turns out that there was a team in Burnaby that was looking for players, and they are short on referees.

By the time we left the field he had exchanged emails with several people and they were hoping to see him on the Quidditch pitch next Saturday.  Today he downloaded the 150 page rule book and began memorizing it.

Quidditch rules, by the way, are awesome.

Not only is it a delightfully geeky and yet truly challenging sport to play, it is also heartwarmingly unlike other sports.

Besides being the only sport to involve multiple balls in play at once, the International Quidditch Association is dedicated to inclusivity and equality.

Teams MUST be co-ed, and it specifically addresses transgender issues in the rulebook. The co-ed rule reads:

Each team [is] to have at least two players on the field who identify with a different gender than at least two other players. The gender that a player identifies with is considered to be that player’s gender, which may or may not be the same as that person’s sex.

That is AWESOME.

The rule goes on to acknowledge that some players may not identify as male OR female, and that is okay, too.

If that rule wasn’t enough to make Perfect Husband and I fall head over heels in love with Quidditch (we consider ourselves ardent LGBTQ allies), our hearts were entirely won over when we learned that Quidditch also had a decree called Title 9 3/4 (a play on Title IX) which is devoted specifically to gender equality in the sport.

It’s so awesome, and I’m proud that PH is getting involved. I can cheer on Quidditch in a way that I just can’t with other sports. The literary roots of the sport generate some interest in me, and the gender-equality factor makes me want to support it.

I can’t wait to attend more games.

 

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