Friday, April 14, 2017

For just a minute, tonight, things just got real...

"Do you remember that boy babysitter?" asked my sister via text.  "Nathan, or something?"

Yes.  His name was Bruce.  Bruce Anderson.  I remember him as "Bruise."

Even as a 5 year old girl, picturing shades of purple fading into green, I wondered why ANY parent would name their child Bruise.

He lived next door; and he often babysat us.

Their family was as nice as ours was. Sherry was my age, and despite the fact that her mother referred to me as "your little friend" (my outrage was visceral), she and I were good friends.  My big sister (one year older...almost to the day) joined us also in our important girl business.

Almost every time Bruise babysat, we played "house."  It wasn't weird - my sister, my brother. and I played House all the time.  When Bruise came, it was just, mostly, more of the same.  Bruise was the dad, my (barely) big sister was the mom (which rendered me eternally jealous), and my brother was the baby.  I was the "big sister" which I found to be an utterly stupid role since I was ALREADY the big sister.

And that's what it was.  Four children playing house.  One mom, one dad, a sister, and a baby brother.

Fucked up shit happens every day.

And normal, natural, curious, loving, childish shit happens too.

Bruise, my sister, Me, and my little brother played house.  Often.

Plain and simple.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Love me like a bomb
c'mon baby get it on...

easy operator come 'a knockin' at my door....

I'm hot, stick sweet
from my head to my feet.

pour some sugar on me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Note Against Exploiting My Child

A letter addressed to my Mermaid's school principal - 'cuz THIS is how I roll: 
(oh, and names have been changed to protect the innocent...)  :)
Hello Mr. Principal ~
First off, CONGRATULATIONS on the significant increase in the math proficiency level of [Shady Tree Elementary's] students last year! What an extremely commendable feat for you and your teachers! As a Mother and a Student of the Philosophies of Childhood and of Education (as separate entities that intermesh in a most critical way), I appreciate how much work you all put in to accomplishing that increase.
My daughter, [The Mermaid], is in [Mrs. Lovey’s] first grade class. [My beautiful Mermaid] absolutely adores [Mrs. Lovey] and (for the most part ... she *is* a kid ...) looks forward to attending school every day. I, too, am impressed with [Mrs. Lovey] and am honored to have her assist me in educating [my daughter] into a whole, well-rounded person.
I’d like to address a concern I have. Because the tone of email communication can sometimes be mistaken, I’ll start by saying that I’m coming from a friendly place.
School has been in session for just one month and the FIFTH fund-raiser was sent home with my daughter this week. ( #1: Teacher request for parent donations to classroom, #2: Coupon Books, #3: School Carnival, #4: Request for Donations to Silent Auction, #5) Cookie Dough.) 
Also, there has already been 1 Scholastic Book Order Form and, now, the Book Fair. Finally, school spirit day is every Friday, with lots and lots of suggestions (schoolwide) to purchase school-logo’d clothing to wear each Friday.
In comparison: to date, there has been ONE parent-teacher conference. There has been ONE field trip. The take-home library books have been distributed for ONE week.
[My Mermaid] attends school to receive a valuable education. She is not attending school for elementary job-training, nor to learn how to become an efficient sales representative, nor to feel personally responsible for securing adequate funding for her school.
She is six.
All of this fundraising bothers me. In my opinion, it is exploitative. I feel like it exploits children by seeing them as little more than a free workforce to raise exorbitant salaries for [Our] School District (and DOE) Executive salaries. Due to disclosures by the DOE and [Our] School District themselves, I am aware that some of those are six-figure salaries. (don’t get offended ... hear me out please ...)
Of particular concern to me is how these fundraisers (I’m speaking specifically of the Coupon Books and the Cookie Dough) set my child up to feel like a failure. 
First, she attends a school assembly where she’s promised riches and gold and prizes beyond comprehension (as cheap plastic trinkets are to a six year old) if she can just sell a bunch of crap. 
Then, she comes home to her poor Mother (I support my family of 5 on $260/month) who cannot afford to buy anything (and, frankly, who simply DOES NOT USE OR WANT what’s being sold). 
Next, still inspired by the MLM-esque assembly, she traipses around the neighborhood ... the neighborhood where every other school-aged child is peddling the same wares. 
Finally, she approaches her grandparents – the same grandparents who have SEVEN grandchildren attending [Shady Tree] Elementary ... all of whom are, yet again, hawking the same stuff. (Not to mention her grandparents’ OTHER 35 grandchildren who have things of their own to sell). 
After extensive effort, and after following all of the advice and tips she’s been given, and after literally pouring her heart and soul into making a overpriced sale in order to win a twenty-five-cent plastic piece of garbage, she emerges defeated. She is left believing that to sell something as “awesome” as pre-portioned cookie dough is easy for everyone but her... because that’s what they told her at the assembly. 
She has learned a poignant lesson that nobody cares about her goals nor about her desires and that she is unable to MAKE things happen in her life. Consequently, a beautiful and innocent piece of her dies.
She is six.
For the record: I will not allow her to be exploited, nor to feel downtrodden because those who are in charge of the education system in our country are unable to handle their money efficiently. If [Shady Tree] chooses to hold any further sales-training assemblies, please notify me in advance so I can remove my daughter from the school premises.
NOW ... with that being said: I am also aware that [Our State] is at the very bottom rung of per-capita money for students. I am aware that teachers make an average of about $6.00/hour to pour their blood, sweat and tears into loving and teaching the children whom they are honored to host for a year in their classrooms. I most certainly do not think that any of this fundraising is some sort of wicked conspiracy on your part, nor on the part of your teachers nor PTA. It doesn’t change, however, that I think it is a horrible, horrible thing to focus so much energy into raising money. 
You people are educators – not salespeople. 
The children are students – not peddlers.
 My request is this: Knowing that [Shady Tree] (like, unfortunately, pretty much every school in the country) needs money ([My Mermaid] has come home and told me so several times ... that her school doesn’t have enough money to buy her books and things), perhaps there are some more creative ways for you to raise funds than at the expense of violating your students’ rights to be children. Some other ways that enhance, rather than rob, their self esteem and dignity.
Here are some ideas I have:
1) I think of your Marathon Gig last year, Mr. Principal, – what a SUPER COOL idea! I don’t remember if you asked the parents to sponsor you in order to raise funds, but that would’ve been great.
2) [A Neighboring Elementary School] did a 5K race last year as a fundraiser. $5 entrance fees and optional T-Shirts to buy ($5 to register w/o T-Shirt, $15 to register with). They also sought community sponsors whose names were on the back of the T-Shirts. I, with all of my children (all of whom I gladly paid an entrance fee for) ran the race. IT WAS PACKED ... Grammas, Grampas, Aunties, Uncles, Neighbors, Siblings ... EVERYONE was there ... Heck – my family alone brought 38 people (we only represented 5 students at Northridge). Oh, and it was fun, too! People got to exercise, to hang out with community members, some got to win, and no one had to purchase (nor handle the disbursement of) any crappy product. Also, 100% of the proceeds (including community sponsorship monies) went to the school. (As opposed to the 45% you’re gonna get from those yucky cookies).
3) As a KUDOS: Your School Carnival is a FANTASTIC idea. Keep it up with that one. I had NO PROBLEM paying $3.00 for a $.25 meal, nor in paying for tickets so my kids could run around the field and get a star spray painted on their hair and toss a ball for a tootsie roll. It involved creativity on the planners’ part, volunteer energies from the community, and fun interaction from the kids ... how great is that ? ! ? ! ? !
4) A No-Fundraiser Guarantee: Create some sort of “official” packet to send home with kids promising that if each family donates $ X.xx, there will be no hawking of third-party garbage all year long.
5) A school-run walk-a-thon or jump-a-thon (or some other “a-thon”). I’d GLADLY give money to sponsor a kid jumping rope for 3 hour straight. Heck! I’d give them $15 to do it! I also wouldn’t feel any reservations in coercing my friends and family to sponsor my kid, either. (And, in contrast, I assure you I *will not* pass any fundraiser catalogs on to them - ever). In fact, I’d love to jump WITH my kid as she “earned” her “sponsorship money” – I’d pay another $5 to be a jumper myself. Oh – what if it were done in teams (divided by, say, classroom) and each team got a community sponsor to do T-shirts or banners or whatever ... or some sort of benign (winner/loser-free) competition to see which team could come up with the craziest theme within which to do their jumpathon / walkathon efforts.
6) OH – what about a student garbage-collection-a-thon where sponsors pay a certain amount for a student to pick up X lbs/oz of garbage throughout the community? That’s a COOL idea .... You could make a huge deal about weighing the garbage bags as they’re turned it and commenting on how much more beautiful our Earth is now ....
7) Maybe a Sale of Great Services where the students go out and offer to do work to earn money, then choose to donate their proceeds (or a percentage of their proceeds or whatever) to the school? This can build character, can enhance community relations, and can teach the students about sharing a portion of their wealth ... (this one is a rough idea and would require a bit of tweaking ... but I’ll be it can be done ....)
8) What if you got a chorus (or a few chorus-es) together who sang Christmas Carols at a Mall (or at Walmart, or at the Library, or wherever) throughout December ... and just had a “tip jar” out in front of the group with a sign saying that 100% of proceeds go to STUDENTS at Aspen Elementary.
9) It might be nice to create a school newspaper that parents can subscribe to for $15/year (with the guarantee that every single student in the school will have at least one submission published). Every month a new edition would come out and it would be PACKED with essays, art, poetry and pictures BY the students. (What a cool idea! Think about the ramifications on reading and writing that could have)
10) and, well, those were ideas off the top of my head. I was gonna shoot for an even 10, but, well, I’m just one woman with 30 minutes to write this note.
I admit, I may be out of line ... I certainly don’t know any rules or regulations about any of this stuff, nor what your resources or limitations are, (I do know that you have a pretty nice-sized PTA, though!) but I wanted to offer some solutions rather than just voice my very serious concern. So – for what it’s worth, those are my thoughts!
Thanks so much for your time, and remember, please, to give me notice enough to remove my child from the school during any future fundraiser propaganda assemblies.
~['da Renegade Mama]
aka: 'da Mermaid's Mama

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Oh, the Whiny Woes of a Mother

I feel defeated today.

I am tired.  I am cranky.  I feel overwhelmed. 

The Occupation of Wall Street is currently underway.  A glorious effort on the part of so many thousands of people to change the broken American way of life.  I itch and twitch all over to be a physical part of it, but, alas, my circumstances are not conducive to me packing up and heading to New York City to walk with the protesters.

I support the Occupiers fully with all of my heart.  I send them energy, I donate small amounts of money to feed them, I cajole my family and friends into acknowledging the possibility of triumph, and I take action on a much smaller, more personal scale by writing letters to congressmen, by signing and distributing petitions and by publicly voicing my disdain over my Mermaid's school's apparent love-affair with child-exploitative fundraisers.

In doing so, I have neglected my homework, I have forsaken my "alone time", and I have taken a solid stand against the very prevalent "Norm" of my neighborhood/community. 

And, contrary to the euphoria I had anticipated, it has left me feeling despondent. 

My children, though, WILL NOT inherit the disgusting Corporatocracy that we have created for them if there's anything I can do about it.  My children WILL NOT grow up thinking that what they OWN defines who the ARE.  My children WILL NOT feel dis-connected and disempowered, and they WILL NOT allow themselves to be belittled and controlled by money-mongering soulless demons.

If there's anything I can do about it.

I look at their beautiful faces as they are quiet, in sleep, for a few magical hours, and I know they are destined for so much more than that.

I feel defeated.  Yet tomorrow I will arise again and move forward again.  I will challenge the status quo.  I will blaze trails.  I will insist that this world move away from greed and towards collective joy.

This is what I can do.

I wish it were as easy for me as walking and chanting on Wall Street seems to be for others.  (Well, I must admit that I AM glad to be retiring to my toasty-warm bed tonight while they lay themselves to sleep on a cold, hard sidewalk ... small comforts for which I am immensely grateful.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

You - the Children of this New Age

In re-reading my last post, I got quite a chuckle.

Some of my statements, ("You, the children of this New Age") were identical to a lot of the corny crazy stuff that comes out of tHM's mouth.  He is, as we all know, the completely enlightened reincarnated Jesus.  (Oh, yes he is ... just ask him!)

So - for the record, I apparently get a little too enlightened and  >dare I say it<  condescending (?) when I've had one too many glasses of wine.  For that, I offer an apology and invite you to just laugh at how damn ridiculous I can sometimes sound ...

On another note, although I already live a pretty cash-free lifestyle, committing to documenting it here is already feeling a little overwhelming.  SO, in the interest of de-stressing myself about it, I will add this disclaimer:  Maybe I'll be good at it, maybe I won't.  Maybe I'll like sharing it, maybe I won't.  Maybe you'll be inspired by it, maybe you won't.  However this looks, I'm gonna relax all of the expectations I've already placed on myself in the last 24 hours and just roll with it.  AND, for the record, the whole "money thing" is not going to be the primary driving topic behind this blog -- just one more interesting (?) piece of it.

In closing, I will assert that I, with all my heart, believe this to be true:
When we remove money from the equation, we can finally recognize how rich we all already are.

Now, go, my children.  Go and climb the mountain.


Shift of Reality

Alright Fans ... it's time for a shift.  A total shift of Reality:

This is gonna take two forms:

1) This blog, 'da Renegade Mama, is gonna shift from merely my stories of my experiences of  being an incredible Mama of 4 delightful children (Mermaid, Fairy Princess, Lady Leprechaun, and Dream Boy)  to my experience as a "Mama of the World". 
My "Mother" archetype runs deep . . . I love everyone, and want to care-take you all.

2)  I am committed to a Utopian Society.  I have true belief that living in a world based on cooperation, respect and love will lead to phenomenal happiness and deep-seated joy for Humanity-at-Large  -- AND that it is the only means for the perpetuation of our race in the long term.  

Believing such, I am committed to living as money-free a lifestyle as I can.  Up front, I recognize that my City will probably want money to pay for my garbage removal and sewer services, but on the whole, I experience a life that is rich and fulfilling with a minimal expenditure of actual cash money.  I intend, from this point  forward, to use this blog to document my experiences as a tremendous Mama, delightful Person, and Renegade Citizen - with MINIMAL use of money.  And I do it as an example to YOU, the children of this new age.

With love,
'da Renegade Mama (dRM)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Resignation. What is ... is

Well, it's final.  The creation of the Ultimate Family M will not occur this weekend. That's ok -- I have a wretched head cold and, frankly, it's snowing.

Allegedly, the Grand Date of Unity will be on the 15th.  Cool - that gives me another coupla weeks to actually begin packing. 


Big news on the Renegade Mama front today:  the Holy Man (tHM) telephoned this afternoon and "officially resigned" as the father of our children.  While I was unaware that someone could officially resign as a parent, apparently when one has a 20 year old lover who isn't interested in kids, and when one is certifiably crazy, to do so actually IS an option.

Before you begin crying in your beer for me, let me state this:  I'm not surprised.  I AM tremendously sad and feeling terribly hurt on behalf of my children, but I'm not surprised.  Once upon a a time, he was an absolutely amazing man - an exciting husband and a phenomenal father. 

And then he went crazy.

And that's how it goes sometimes.

It seems that from here on out I get my amazing little grommies ALL TO MYSELF. 

I ask you:  How does a mama get so lucky to be the deserving recipient of so much deliciousness delivered via Mermaid Kisses, Fairy Magic, Leprechaun Charms and a bona fide Dream Boy?

I dunno.  What I DO is this:  No matter what tHM finds it desirable to discard, I recognize a jackpot when I hit it!

Blessed and lucky,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No Room At The Inn

Due to the lack of comments on my last post, I have a pretty good idea that no one but me is counting down the days until I enter the realm of Communism.

Eh, that's ok --

HAD anyone been paying attention, they would have noticed that the big moving day is scheduled for this weekend . . .

Well, as a refresher, Xrad's family and mine have not begun cohabiting as The Family M just yet.  Her ex husband hasn't moved out yet.  At present, there's "no room at the inn" for my grommies and myself.  As to WHY her ex husband hasn't moved out yet ... well you'll have to check with her on that !

No worries ... he'll be out when the time is right.  Rumor 'round town is that his exodus will culminate next weekend.  We'll see ....

While excited, I'm also tremendously nervous about the whole affair, and am cool to wait patiently and let it happen in its own time.

My Mermaid and The Fairy Princess, on the other hand, are foaming at the bit.  For the last several weeks, they've asked me approximately every two hours if we can start packing.  Cute lil' grommies!

Short, sweet, and signing out,

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Family M

 When I was in my 20's, (200 years ago), I devised a plan to create a commune.  My idea was to build an apartment complex, carefully screen the applicants, and have it be a self-sustaining little community.  I had visions of a central community garden and park, a workout room where the treadmills and bikes were generators, a volunteer-based daycare and other such amenities for a very low rental rate and a minimal amount of required volunteer work for the good of the project.  (I know, I know "required volunteer work" is an oxymoron ... get over it ... it's the easiest way to explain it quickly).

Well, I didn't do it.

Despite that, the idea of communal living has remained in the forefront of my brain for almost 20 years and I have spent countless hours exploring and extolling its virtues.

At present, I live across the street from my parents and within 2 miles of all 7 of my siblings.  It's pretty close to having a little village of our own.  We hang out regularly, watch each others' kids, and are generally around to assist each other with our assorted needs of daily living.

But ... across the street is as close as it's ever gotten.

That, however, is about to change . . .

Due to Xrad's recent divorce and new graveyard-shift job, my exceptionally low income, and the fact that the much-beloved little cottage I live in is being sold, we have decided to move in together.

That may not sound like much at the outset, but consider this:  Xrad and I are both financially poor single moms.  We will be the only two adults in the house.  We are both full-time students.  Xrad also works full time and I run a small business in my "spare" (haha) time.  In addition, we will be co-habitating with and caring for 11, yes eleven, children.  The majority of these children are age 6 and younger.  We have decided not to split the house into "my space" and "your space", but rather to occupy the thing in its entirety as one large, way-beyond-the-Brady-bunch family.

This will be something. 

Because both of our surnames begin with the letter M, we have decided to call ourselves The Family M, and have told the kids (to their utter delight) that we are the M&M family ... lots of sweet and colorful people all packaged together.  (I refrained from furthering that some of us are nutty....)

ANYWAY - let this serve as an introduction, and notification that the countdown has begun:  21 days until the uniting of The Family M.

Celebrating the adventure,

Friday, December 17, 2010

Peek A Boo !

We have a Shelf Elf. 

His name is Norf Dorf.

He's about 4" tall, stocky, and has bright lime green hair that sticks straight up - bursting out of the top of his top hat.  He looks suspiciously like one of those "so-ugly-they're-cute" troll dolls that were popular back in the 80's/90's.

ok, he actually IS one of those troll dolls that was popular back in the 80's/90's.

Norf Dorf hides somewhere different in our house every day and observes the manners he sees being practiced.  Then every night, after the Grommets go to sleep, he magically whisks himself away to the North Pole to report directly to Santa the manners of the day.  Once his report is complete, he returns to our home and hides again to repeat the ceremony.

He usually shows up right around the time we set our Christmas Tree up, and on Christmas Eve, he hides within the Christmas Tree itself, excited to watch my Angels tear through their diligently-earned Christmas Bounty.

He has some pretty amazing hiding places:  On the topmost shower soap dish, suspended from the light fixture in the hallway,  peeking from behind potted house plants, nestled in the basket containing our toothbrushes and toothpaste (holding a toothbrush of his own, of course), balancing on the top of door or window casings, replacing the baby Jesus in the manger of our porcelain Nativity, etc.  Sometimes he has bows in his hair, sometimes he removes his jacket or his shoes, sometimes he has lipstick on, and other times his clothes will be on backwards...  One morning he was bearing letters to the children, and often, when we listen with our hearts, we can here him singing and talking to us.

As it's important that his hiding place is novel, convincing, and n'er repeated - especially since he has to be kept out of reach of the kids (if he gets touched by people, he goes back to the North Pole and won't come back to our house till next year) -  I have multiple opportunities in this cozy cottage of mine for creativity when deciding how/where to hide him each night. Sometimes it's just a pain in my butt and I want to just get the heck into bed.

Well, the other night, Norf Dorf decided to hang suspended, upside down, from the pull cord of one of our ceiling fans.  The fob at the end of the pull cord is a beautiful 2" long, faceted, clear crystal.  I dutifully twisted and tugged and wrapped the cord around one of his legs and wedged him "just right" with the cord and the fob to give the amazing illusion of magical, daring, watchful inversion.  My efforts paid off and he looked great.  I went to bed excited for the girls to discover him in the morning.

"MOM!  MOM!  Wake up!" they shouted, long before the sun considered peeking over the horizon, "come look!!"  ... and then they laughed and laughed and laughed.  "Mommmmmmmmm-- wake up!  Come look at the Shelf Elf!  He's hiding in the fan and he thinks the diamond is his penis!!  Come look!!!  ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaa!"

Yeah - the way I had wedged the crystal fob had created a magnificently obvious phallus standing tall and clear between his legs.