As parents, we spend a great deal of time teaching our children the right ways to treat others. Much of those conversations involve statements about how we don’t push, kick, bite, or hit others because it is not nice and because it hurts people physically and emotionally. I know this because the wife and I are in the midst of full-on toddlerhood with our son right now, and these are constant conversations we are having with him.
Our son, like a lot of toddlers, doesn’t do well with having items taken away or being told “no” when he wants something, and sometimes his frustrations result in hitting one or both of us. Our response to such outbursts (currently) is to express our disappointment with his choice, then to walk away to another room. We try very hard not to scold him, but instead explain that he made a very bad choice, and that there are consequences to negative choices. Because life is all about choices.
During one of my moments of sitting in silence after an outburst this weekend, I was struck by an overwhelming thought: We spend so much time teaching our children that hitting other people is wrong, and how there is absolutely no excuse to hurt anyone. Yet, as I watched/read the news this past week, I found it dominated by a story of domestic violence and an overwhelming amount of justification for why it happened. So at what point exactly does all our teaching of nonviolence and care for others go by the wayside? When exactly is it that we, as parents, tell our kids that society has taken all that we taught about being kind to others, about there being no excuse to hurt anyone, about taking accountability for our actions, and thrown it right out the window? How do we explain that, if you have a certain status in life, society will overlook the harm you’ve caused to others?
Of course, I’m alluding to the story of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s violent assault of his then fiancée (now wife) in an Atlantic City hotel elevator back in February of this year. Rice is seen on video dragging his fiancée out of the elevator after (allegedly) striking her so hard in the face that it rendered her unconscious. While the public has not seen any video of the actual assault, Rice accepted a plea bargain in order to avoid trial of probation and anger management, yet he still entered a plea of not guilty. As egregious as his assault was, the NFL was right there to one-up Rice.
The NFL finally weighed in on the matter this past Thursday, and they handed down a suspension, as most fans expected. However, what was not expected was the length of the suspension: 2 games. That’s right, 2 whole games. Ray Rice was given a shorter suspension than linebacker Daryl Washington (Arizona Cardinals) and wide receiver Josh Gordon (Cleveland Browns) who have both been suspended for the entire 2014 season for multiple marijuana violations. So let me get this straight, partaking in marijuana use is somehow (by NFL math/rational) 8-times worse than violently assaulting, not just a woman, but your fiancée? Well, that message should really give a boost to that female fan base.
It’s already been said in a ton of articles, as well as on TV, but the NFL missed a major opportunity to send a strong message when it came to a growing demographic of their fan base. Look, I’m disgusted with the NFL, and not just because of the way they handled this situation, because this is par for the course for them, because I am no longer shocked by the NFL’s inability to care about anyone or anything outside of their business. Because that is what they are — a business, and it’s all about dollars to them.
What I AM in complete shock about and, frankly, appalled over is the overwhelming amount of victim-blaming that has come out over the past 4 days. It’s literally rivaling the amount of coverage from those calling for a harsher penalty.
The consensus line that is being used is, “We don’t know what happened in that elevator, but she shouldn’t have provoked him.” What?!? Are you kidding me with that kind of comment?
How did this line of thinking ever come to be, and furthermore, why are people giving it credence? News flash, people: IT’S NEVER THE VICTIM’S FAULT; THAT’S WHY THEY’RE THE VICTIM!
How the hell do we, as a society, switch rationales so quickly, from telling our children, “don’t hit, it’s not nice,” to “well, maybe they shouldn’t have provoked the person into hitting them”?
I grew up in a fairly abusive household. And not in the ways some might instantly assume. I wasn’t physically abused by an angry father, but instead by an angry single mother who routinely hit home (literally) that I had brought all of the abuse on myself.
Because of this, I have taught and will continue to teach my son (and any other children who may come along) that hurting others in never the right answer.
But it really saddens me, and frankly drives me a little mad, to see that there is a subset of our culture (especially in the media) who is actively working against me and other parents who are trying hard to instill non-violent values to our children.
Not even a day after the lackluster penalty for Ray Rice’s action was announced by the NFL, we already had our first case of foot-in-mouth disease by one such TV talking head.
ESPN analyst (and I use that term lightly) Stephen A. Smith, who is known for his brash and frequently over-the-top opinions, voiced his opinion on the topic and created a massive fire storm of backlash (click here to see a full transcript of his comments).
Smith literally lost any credibility he meant to gain within the first sentence of his diatribe when he said, “It’s not about him; it’s about you,” then went on to chastise victims (mainly women) by saying they need to do more to avoid provoking their attackers. WRONG!!
Smith issued an apology early Monday morning, attempting to clarify his bonehead statement by saying that in no way was he suggesting that women provoke violence. But in reality, that’s exactly what he did. ESPN even put him on camera with a female anchor who accepted his apology (as if she speaks for all women in the world) and had her deflect from Smith by aggressively shaming the NFL and calling for an apology on behalf of all women.
What’s worse, it’s not just men who are spreading these kinds of foolish and very dangerous ideas. Women are too.
Back in May of this year, the whole world was abuzz when video was leaked to the media of an altercation between Jay-Z and Solange Knowles in an elevator at the Met Gala.
Seriously, what is with people and elevators? Maybe take the stairs next time.
In the video, Solange is seen aggressively attacking Jay-Z, kicking and punching him, all while security attempts to restrain her and Beyonce stands by and watches. You know what you didn’t see — Jay-Z hitting Solange back. In fact, he defended himself by putting his hands up and attempting to deflect her attacks (take notes, Ray Rice).
As part of the media circus that followed this incident, the ladies of The View weighed in. One in particular, host Whoopi Goldberg, was adamant in her statement that Jay-Z had the right to hit Solange back, saying, “Where I’m from, if you hit anybody, they have the right to hit you back. If a woman hits a man, he has the right to hit her back. That’s why I don’t hit men.” Whether you agree or not, unlike Smith, Whoopi stood by her statement and even came out and defended it.
Allow me to counter using words similar to Whoopi’s: No one has the RIGHT to hit anyone, and if someone does hit you, you do NOT have the RIGHT to hit them back. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman.
Now, I’m no historian, and I was a pretty awful student, but the last time I checked, knocking someone out (male or female) was not in the Bill of Rights, or the Bible, or the Koran, or the Torah, or any other place outlining basic human rights.
Now I realize that this is easier said than done, and if I was in a situation where I or a loved one was being attacked, there is a very good chance I’m going to strike back. But you know what the difference is? I would never say my striking back was my RIGHT; rather, it was my CHOICE. Ray Rice made a CHOICE to physically assault his now wife, and thus cemented his status as a D-Bag. Jay-Z made a CHOICE to not to hit Solange back, thus showing a high level of decency.
Victims are victims because someone else made a choice to hurt them; it was not their right. Life, is all about CHOICES, remember?
Enough is enough. It’s is hard just to raise a child in today’s society. Raising boys and girls to be well-adjusted, stand-up men and women is even harder.
Topics like physical abuse, rape, and an overall shaming of women that seems to still be alive and well in our society, are going to be heart-wrenchingly difficult to explain to my son when the time comes someday. As a man trying to raise another man, I refuse to continue or cultivate a culture of, “Well, she was asking for it” or “Well, she shouldn’t have provoked me.”
I will instead raise my son to make the CHOICE to be a good man.
On a rather hot July day five years ago; five years ago today in fact, my life changed forever. July 18, 2009 was a wonderful day filled with love and laughter that we shared with friends and family, alike… it was the day my Wife and I got married.
I can hardly believe it’s been five years already; we’ve actually been together for a little over eight. But truthfully, as I reflect back over the last five years, our wedding day feels like it was a life-time ago. So much has happened in our lives that has changed each one of us individually as well as a couple that I almost don’t recognize the two people in our wedding photos.
As always, I’ve spent the last month or so trying to come up with the perfect gift for my Wife, but to be honest I’m not very good at gift giving. Before you chime in with *typical guy* kinds of comments, let me tell you, I am VERY romantic. Take a look at what I did for my Wife on a not-too-long-ago birthday:
It’s just that when it comes to gift-giving I struggle. When it comes to being on stage or entertaining a room full of people, or even writing, my creativity knows no bounds… but when it comes to the art of coming up with unique gift ideas, I’m clueless.
When I began my hapless gift-seeking pursuit by Googling gift ideas, I found out the 5th anniversary is the “wood anniversary”.
Great, that provided me no help at all. It did, however, inspire one suggestion for the Wife, in a brief meat-head man moment (those are some of my best btw) for a gift involving *wood *, but she simply pointed at our two year old son acting all toddler as hell at the table and responded, “No thanks, I’m good.” What can I say, I tried.
But in all seriousness, as I scrolled through lame idea after lame idea of gift ideas carved out of wood, or kitchen utensils made of wood that “All Women Must Have” (SERIOUSLY Amazon, are you trying to get me fucking killed over here?!?), I started to reflect back on the symbolism of the traditional anniversary gifts from the past four years of our marriage (although I put no stock in them at the time) were actually very fitting, and how this year’s meaning, wood, might be the most appropriate of all. Follow me here…. I’ll show you what I mean.
1st Anniversary – Paper
Has it been a year already?!? You most likely missed most of that first year because of the constant bragging to all your friends and coworkers about your wedding day and eventual honeymoon, only surpassed by the amount of time having tons of new marital sex, because no matter what anyone says, the sex is totally better after the I Do’s. One thing that is often overlooked in that first year of marriage is the delicate and fragile nature of your relationship. You’re both still learning each other, because despite what many may believe; I’m here to tell you that the title of “being married” changes EVERYTHING… there’s no going back. You’re playing for keeps now.
Our 1st year was very difficult for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, I was going through a very rough time emotionally, both personally and professionally. I was in a dead-end job where I was treated poorly every day, and my personal life was a mess because I wasn’t adjusting to our new life on the East Coast well. I missed the only home I ever knew (San Diego, CA), missed all my friends (making new friends as an adult SUCKS!), and I had a multitude of family problems that just wouldn’t stop. I felt I had no safe-haven to decompress and like I had no one I could talk/relate to that could brighten my perspective. The Wife tried to comfort me as much as she knew how, but I made home life pretty difficult at times. Needless to say, I wish I could have that time back.
2nd Anniversary – Cotton
Wow, that first one was fun, we should do that again! Now in year two you’ve begun to soften into your new titles of husband and wife, but mostly you spend a great deal of time simply enjoying each other, wrapped up and cuddling, like in a nice cotton blanket.
Many of the issues improved in our 2nd year of marriage. While we had great deal of ground to make up from our rough prior year, we did a better job at supporting each other. We began wrapping each other up in that blanket of love. I was eventually let go from my horrible job and my Wife was totally supportive in that situation. This year was filled with so much uncertainty that it felt really good to be comforted in the soft, cottony warmth of love. Our second year of marriage came to a close with a couple of high points: we took a vacation home to San Diego, I got a new job, and best of all we found out we were going to have a baby!
3rd Anniversary – Leather
Year three already huh? Congratulations, your relationship has become broken in like a nice pair of leather shoes. Wear those bad boys around with pride, and treat them well, because you’re going to have them for a while.
Boy… shoes are a great symbol for our third year because the new member of our family gave us little to no time to sit down. We were always up and moving with this kid. As for year three, I think the best way to describe it is, “One step forward and two steps back.” Shoes come in helpful with that saying too. Our son was not the easiest of babies, which made life for the Wife and I…..tricky. We openly admit we struggled as new parents, but keeping up with the shoe theme, we kept going forward on the journey. Sure, we hit some bumps (actually, some really big bumps) but we never stopped moving forward. Eventually we hit our stride and learned that this whole parenting (and marriage) thing is a marathon, not a sprint.
4th Anniversary – Linen
Year four; it’s time to change those sheets, and in our case, the scenery! By the time you reach year four of marriage you feel like you’re building a life with someone; a home built on love and joy.
After we survived the first year of our son, and were able to come up for a breath of air, we took a look around and decided we needed a change. We upped and left our cramped two bedroom apartment behind and moved. We spent the next year transforming our new house into a home… complete with new sheets. I had never lived in a house growing up, only apartments, so it’s been really cool to watch our son thrive here. He gets to run around, play in the yard and wander around the house… claiming every area as his own.
5th Anniversary – Wood
Around year five many couples may feel that the shine of newness is gone, and that things have become dull, much like old wood. However, the reality is that our marriage is not some dull stick. More accurately it is like a growing tree of love with roots that are strong, and deserves much respect.
In looking over this list of anniversary year symbols, there I have to say there are some really silly representations of love, and I place wood pretty close to the top of that list.
But the more I’ve thought about it, I’ve started to see the deeper meaning of the symbolism of wood. Our marriage has grown and grown over the past five years. It started out as a small, but pretty tree. It took on major storms to begin with and lost much of its beautiful leaves and flowers, but even as the storms raged on the tree stood strong, and would not be uprooted.
After the storms, the tree took time to soak in the joy of the sun and grow strong roots. Eventually as it grew, it even sprouted a new branch; a beautiful, and sometimes trying, branch.
Happy anniversary my love. I’m glad our love was planted together; went through the storms together; created a life together (in all meanings, a home and an actual person in the Boy), and like any strong piece of wood we keep riding the waves and never sink. I love you so much.
I guess wood isn’t that bad of a symbol after all. I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do for our 9th anniversary; what can I do with pottery?!?
Few people speak, or even know much Latin these days – what, with it being a dead language and all. You might as well throw some Sanskrit out there while you’re at it. But then again I think if people really thought about it there are probably only one or two phrases they’re familiar with. Most people know “carpe diem,” which translates to “seize the day.” I’ve heard the phrase about a million times, but I have never really been one of those “carpe diem” types. But, one of my other favorites, and to be honest the only other phrase I know is “quo vadimus” which translates to, “where are we going?” Read more
Look, I know we’re supposed to teach our little ones to be humble and not be the self-absorbed a-hole celebrities they see on TV these days, but I mean come on, isn’t it okay to be a little self-absorbed?
My kid seems to think so; in fact, , at the young age of 2, he loves to stare at himself in the mirror, and I mean REALLY stare at himself.
Before you brush that off with the, “Oh toddlers are fascinated with their reflection” line, know this – my kid will take every opportunity he can to catch a glimpse of his beautiful-self staring back at him in the mirror. I’m surprised his first words weren’t, “Hey there good lookin’.”
What makes it worse is our living room AND master bedroom each have a wall that is floor to ceiling mirrors, which provides the Boy with a smorgasbord of viewing pleasure. On top of his budding narcissism, he’s kind of becoming a dick too.
The Boy will sweetly ask me or the Wife for a “big hug,” and while we are overcome with his sweet affection he uses that moment to stare at himself in the mirror and give his reflection winks and googly eyes. Oh, and don’t even get me started when he comes walking into our bedroom post-bath in all his naked glory. The Boy loves himself some him, and you know what? The Wife blames me as the cause of all of this narcissism in our household.
Me? Well, I call bullshit. You will never catch me admiring myself in the mirror; I barely enjoy my reflection as it is. I mean, I’m not repulsive or anything, but I’m sure as hell not giving Ryan Gosling a run for his money in the hotness department ; just ask my son. The other morning he walked in our bedroom first thing after waking up, saw me standing there and said, “Ugh Daddy, shirt on!!” He then proceeded to go stare at himself in the mirror for ten minutes. Nothing like being fat-shamed by a little person who regularly walks around with a deuce in his pants.
The Wife went on to explain that it was a clear case of monkey see, monkey do, because she has been telling me for years that there is no bigger fan of me, than me. Still calling BS my Wife said, “Seriously?!? You think you’re the funniest person in any room, at any given time, and your son wants to be just like you.” You know what; I can no longer dispute her claims. The woman is right!
While the Wife might have thought she was going to bring me down a notch or two with her little nugget of wisdom, I’ve got news for her: I’m grabbing that ball and running with it, and I’m bringing my reflection-loving son with me.
So son, I say keep on keeping on, because your Old Man does love himself some him, and yes, your Mom is right, I do think I’m the funniest person around and it’s high time I embraced that fact.
It’s not like it’s just me who thinks I’m hilarious; other people tell me all the time. So what if they’re just being nice; they said it, so I’m taking it! Take my bloggy-friend Vicky for example.
Last week Vicky posted on her awesome/hilarious blog The Pursuit of Normal and was kind enough to bestow upon me the Blog Tour Award. What’s the Blog Tour Award you ask? Is it something you can hang on your wall? Did it come with a cash prize? Nope, it came with something better than cash; okay not better than cash, because cash would have been awesome, but it came with a mention about my blog, which in the world of writing is known as attention-dollars! Because despite what any person tells you; if you write, you love attention.
And in her post she says, “Mike is funny, really, really funny.” Her words, not mine. BOOM Wife, I do believe that is game, set, match for Yours truly.
In truth, I was so giddy when I saw my blog mentioned, I felt like Sally Field at the 1985 Oscars.
Time to do what I do best; talk about myself and answer the Blog Tour Questionnaire.
- WHAT AM I WORKING ON? Well, the smartass answer would be this, right here. You’re literally reading what I’m working on. Ok, okay, I’m also working trying to get publications like HuffPo to know I exist. So far, no dice, but it will happen. I’m also working on a few new weekly segments for my blog; stay tuned for updates.
- HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE? Well, it doesn’t. I mean how many “My toddler is an a-hole” stories can we parents tell? Or stories involving tantrums, and/or poop? I mean, it’s all been done. I think that’s part of the beauty of blogging. You know you’re not being original for the most part, but your twist on a repetitive topic may tickle fans.
- HOW DO I WRITE/CREATE WHAT I DO? Oh this one is kind of difficult. Not for me so much, but for my editor (aka the Wife). I guess (according to her) my writing style is stream of consciousness. Planning: bleh, who needs it?!? Outlines: never heard of them. I write what I’m thinking about. Why?Because I’m cool like that. However, I do admit I should probably plan better because I think my editor is about to quit on me.
- HOW DOES MY WRITING/CREATIVE PROCESS WORK? Since the Boy is still too young to say silly shit to write about, and I’m certainly not going to sit around and watch him all day to see if he does something noteworthy, I tend to have lapses in my writing. I do however have a colorful childhood (that’s a nice way of putting it) to reflect back on when I want to write one of my more serious pieces. But I tend to enjoy the silly shit more, so maybe keeping people waiting will build anticipation.
So there you go. Me, me, and more of me. But to show you I’m not completely absorbed, I want to introduce you to some of my hilarious blogger colleagues that I enjoy reading, and I KNOW you will too.
~ Michelle from Mommy Back Talk is, like me, fairly new to the blog game. Her writing is so honest and true, not to mention spot-on with her post, I’m Sorry. Can we Still Be Friends.
~ The awesome blogger Foxy over at Foxy Wine Pocket. Whether she’s talking about her struggle with the infamous Poop Tree outside her house, or her two loves, Jason Bateman and stalking viewing open houses in her neighborhood, she’ll leave your sides hurting from so much laughter.
~ Jessica from Welcome to the Bundle is easily one of the funniest and most honest writers I’ve ever read/met. Jessica and I recently met at a blogging conference called BlogU. I was the only guy in attendance with about 200 women, and somehow I still lost Prom King to Jessica. To be fair, her outfit was far superior to mine. Follow along as Jessica talks about her adventures in mommy-hood as she wonders if she should help her toddler get ripped at their local baby gym or where she ranks on the list of her son’s favorite things.
There it is folks, the tour is complete. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Please make sure you collect all your belongings and exit the vehicle in an orderly fashion.