Sex, stockpiles and sophomores

What Table Talkers are saying this week on nontraditional families, fear-mongering and that awkward age.

By Salon Staff

Published September 17, 2004 1:24PM (EDT)

White House

George W. Bush: Public Enemy No. 1, part XVI

Rosella - 07:13 am Pacific Time - Sep 12, 2004 - #6982 of 7151

Yes, 3,000 lives were lost in the WTC, and it was a horrible and barbarous act. We hope it will never be repeated. But, we cannot live in fear, nor can we completely control our environment. We must do what we can to make ourselves safer, but we should also know that complete safety does not exist, except perhaps in death. Those who tell us to be afraid, be very afraid, are trying to control us to further their own ends.

And perhaps we should look at other terrible events around the world for guidance in our responses. How many people were killed in London during the Blitz? How many civilians were raped and murdered in the Rape of Nanjing? How many deaths were there in the genocide in Rwanda and Burundi? What about Bosnia? What about the siege of Leningrad? Do we think that people sat down on the ground and wailed out their fear and allowed themselves to be immobilized by it? But as for revenge, I do not know what we should have done. I know though that we did right in Afghanistan, but that the attack on Iraq was an act of unjustified aggression and not an appropriate response to 9/11. It was done for the sake of achieving a hidden agenda on the part of the Bush regime.

I was a little girl in Australia when WWII began in 1939. During my childhood, all the men were gone -- my father was in the Air Force and was sent to New Guinea, an uncle was in the Navy, captured by the Japanese and sent to a hideous prison camp, two more uncles (did I say I come from an enormous family?) were in the western desert of Libya where they were caught in the siege of Tobruk, and Australia itself was under imminent threat of invasion. Those of us old enough to remember are still grateful to the U.S. for the Battle of the Coral Sea, where the Japanese invasion fleet was met and turned back. I forgot -- all those adults are dead now, but for the rest of their lives, they were so proud of their wartime "service" that it became the touchstone of courage for them.

Not once during those years do I remember any words of fear being spoken by the adults around me. There was nothing extraordinary about these women -- they were secretaries, nurses, dressmakers, housewives, but they carried themselves with courage because they saw that to express the fear they felt would be corrosive to their family, and to the larger family of the society. So, we too have to ignore the fear-mongers and put our heads up and go on.

Don't mean to preach, just wanted to get it out. I'm not stupid, and I know that the bogeymen are real, but damn it, I will NOT quiver inside a plastic and duct tape bubble, and I will continue to travel if I want, and I will ride the Metro and go to the theatre and I will only stockpile chocolate and pleasant wine.

Mothers Who Think

Mother of a Day Eight: Enough is Enough!

StephanieL - 11:33 am Pacific Time - Sep 11, 2004 - #5434 of 5522

...The baggage and stigma placed on nontraditional relationships and families belongs to adults, not children. I'm not saying children are unaware of what other people think and say about them, but I'm not sure it's anyone's job to cater to prejudice and judgement.

One of my favorite stories of how children think about gay relationships came from a friend and mentor of mine, a lesbian, who had two children with her partner. At one family night at their oldest daughter's school, my friend introduced herself and her partner to her daughter's friend, as DD's moms. The little girl looked at their daughter and them in surprise and said, "TWO moms? And no dads? You guys must have GREAT food!"

And that was it. That's what having two moms meant to this child. There's nothing more natural about a heterosexual relationship, nothing inherently evil about a relationship that goes against tradition. Those are just value judgements we construct and then impose on children. Or don't, if the kids are lucky.

Private Life

Since You Asked by Cary Tennis

BDragon - 12:42 pm Pacific Time - Sep 11, 2004 - #1918 of 2029

There have been times stretching over some years where I have dealt exclusively with sophomores at a rate of 200 of them a day. Yes, I teach. Sophomores are, as a group, the most difficult aged kids to get a grip on, and that is in large measure due to the fact that, at least in terms of their emotions, they cannot get a grip on themselves. While other teachers assiduously avoid the classes peopled by sophomores, I go ahead and take them. I do that because they crack me up. They swing from child-to-adult every 10 seconds, and it's fun trying to calculate which manifestation is asking the question that requires my response. They are doing "adult" things by beginning to take responsibility for their own actions, and they will hide behind the threat of siccing their mommies on you if you confront them. So many teachers and parents get completely upset by these kids, and they get sucked into their rebelliousness, their non-logical arguments, their "me-me-me" selfishness. I have discovered that if you can just wait five minutes, like California weather, the kid will change. The main reason I like it when I teach sophomores, though, is that they will go through major changes during this year, and those changes will be unlike most others. They begin to actually define themselves, position themselves relative to their experiences, and begin to become independent human beings. When they poke their heads into the classroom as juniors, they inevitably make a comment like, "We were never like this class, were we? We weren't this bad." To which I get to shake my head and say, "No, you were worse." PaganMama, I admire the courage of a mother who has to go through this period in a child's life. It takes incredible endurance and provokes many fears for the child's future. But, let me say, that if you can find a way to glean the humor from the dance they do which resembles water in a hot, greasy pan, your son will return to the center that you instilled in him, and all will be well. Laugh before you become exhausted from worry. Think of him as a puppy who used to be cute and cuddly and is now humping the legs of all your guests. He'll soon be distracted by a vagrant moth or a squeeky toy, and then finally he will mature into an adult male who will cause you real grief by being no different than all the rest of us men who pretend to dogdom while having nothing to redeem us except the hint now and then of a cuddly puppy that used to entertain you.

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