Thursday Open Thread

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Have you heard about the Pennsylvania teacher under fire for blogging about her students? While she didn’t name the students and the blog was intended for friends and family, Natalie Munroe has been suspended with pay and isn’t backing down from what she wrote.

“My students are out of control,” Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post. “They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying.”

And in another post, Munroe — who is more than eight months pregnant — quotes from the musical “Bye Bye Birdie”: “Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS.”

She also listed some comments she wished she could post on student evaluations, including: “I hear the trash company is hiring”; “I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son”; and “Just as bad as his sibling. Don’t you know how to raise kids?”

Some people are saying Munroe has no business being a teacher; others are praising her for telling it like it is. Me, I think teachers are human and allowed to get frustrated. It’s unfortunate that she chose to vent on a blog, but I don’t think this should mean the end of her teaching career.

What do you think about this teacher train wreck?

We’ve talked before about the Mean Girls phenomenon, and I for one am SO glad those days are behind me.

Not so fast, according to this article, which says the Mean Girl phenomenon is alive and well among the senior citizen set.

“It’s kind of an institutional thing,“ says gerontology expert Robin Bonifas, an assistant professor at Arizona State University School of Social Work, who’s currently researching senior-to-senior bullying. “It tends to take place in senior centers or nursing homes or assisted living facilities, places where they’re spending a lot of time and need to share resources, whether it’s chairs or tables or TV stations or staff attention.“

Mary Noriega, a 64-year-old from Phoenix, says she has had run-ins with a group of “mean girls“ at the senior complex where she and her husband moved a year and a half ago.

“I’ve endured a lot of bullying,“ she says. “There’s a clique here of probably 20 women and they feel they control the property. I’m their kicking stone.“

Noriega says the women in the group gossip about her (“One piece of gossip that went around was that we’d been evicted from our last apartment,“ she says); spread lies about her; discourage other residents from befriending her and give her dirty looks whenever she tries to use community facilities, like the rec room.

“No one should have to deal with the harassment I’ve endured,“ she says. “The first six months I lived here, I used to sit in my apartment and just cry. I’ve never dealt with anybody like this before.“

While explanations mostly boil down to human nature in all its flawed glory, dementia can also play a role in increased aggression. And of course, sometimes an a-hole is just an a-hole.

There’s also a tendency for people to become more and more uniquely themselves as they age, she says.

“Chances are, if you were kind of a nasty, selfish person throughout your adulthood, you’re probably not going to be the benign grandma type when you’re old,“ she says.

Have you encountered grown-up or even elderly bullies? Do you think personality flaws become more pronounced as we age?

Lastly, my prayers go out to Lara Logan in the wake of her unspeakably horrific attack at the hands of a mob while covering the Egyptian revolution.

Just as awful is the incessant victim-blaming that Logan’s attack has prompted. Scores of trolls and insensitive asshats saying that a blonde, attractive woman had no business being there, and what about her kids? What was she thinking putting her job before her kids?

I have nothing but admiration for Logan’s dogged dedication, and found this CafeMom column spot on.

In a world where moms are told more times than not that we ought to stay in the kitchen, stick close to home, and keep ourselves safe, Amanpour and Logan are doing the opposite. They are purposely going into harm’s way to serve a greater good and they are paying dearly…

Television journalist Bob Woodruff is a father and no one questioned his decision to be in Iraq when he was critically wounded by a roadside bomb. Anderson Cooper was attacked in Egypt and though he isn’t a father, no one mentioned the way he looked or suggested it as the reason he was targeted…

Fear is paralyzing and if someone doesn’t have that holding them back, then more power to them. Logan has courage and strength, and in the end, if bad were to befall her, her son and daughter would know their mother was undaunted by fear, that she was willing to stand up to the naysayers and put her life on the line for the greater good. That isn’t stupid. That is brave, so amazingly brave. She is so much braver than most of us, and rather than piling on her, we should be thanking god that there are people like her who are so willing to sacrifice in order to get information to us.


What’s on your mind today? Chat away!


my video project and blog about spouses who commit suicide

For those of you who don’t know, my husband killed himself 2 years ago. My then 17 year old daughter and I found him together. Truth be told I was miserable in my marriage…living with a bi polar spouse is horrible. There are long periods of time when you have no spouse..oh sure there is a body there but that’s about all. So in the space of 3 months, I lost my corporate job and was a widow. I went back into therapy and very quickly discovered that what I was dealing with was not his suicide, but how I came to stay in a marriage so profoundly hurtful. and unloving..

like my own childhood..You see my own mother was bi polar

I have few regrets in life.But one of them is that I never became a documentary film maker. I studied film making in college. Like everything else, the world of film making has changed.So I have been taking classes and have written a documentary about my life the last 2 years. I am in the process of applying for grant money to actually film my movie. In addition I have also  created a blog where I hope other women like me can hang out and share (when I start shooting, I am going to stream some of the video) Men kill themselves about 4 times more than women…so I am sure that there are other women like me who have lost their husband to suicide. And most of us have never spoken to others…Anyway let your friends and colleagues who have lost spouses know about me. Maybe we can help and learn from each other.

my blog…


Late-Night Liberty: Finding Romance Edition

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I leave you with the wise and hilarious words of Rand Richards Cooper, a daddy blogger over at Wondertime, who precisely echoed every parent’s experience in the bedroom once baby arrives:

I’m writing this because Valentine’s Day is coming up. For parents of toddlers, Valentine’s Day can be a trial. You’re taunted by memories of years ago, when you strategized, found the perfectly-chosen gift, made reservations for a three-hour dinner at an aspirational restaurant, and the whole thing had a plan and a slow build-up and deft unveiling and lavish, luxurious culmination, with lots of sparkling conversation along the way. Now conversation is more like, Hey, did you forget to get Larkin’s turkey dogs at the store today?

Here’s the question: How to maintain something resembling romance, when the daily grind of family life continually wears it down? There’s no time, no space. Given how disorganized our life feels, it’s stunning to realize how ruthlessly it is actually dictated by efficiency. Molly’s and my morning routine with Larkin, for instance, is about as variable as an auto assembly line, and any deviation by either of us causes a glitch (and wins a frown from the other.) Does this take a toll on spontaneity? You bet. As a famous writer wrote, Habit is the great deadener. Yet here we are. You know how when you don’t flip your mattress every few months, it develops these two little depressions, these shallow pockets, where your bodies go? It’s your little slot. That’s what our lives feel like these days….

For a grown man there are few feelings more unsatisfying than your own petulance at being outtalked by your child. But — since this is about Valentine’s Day — here is one of them. It has to do with another thing Larkin seems bent on preventing, along with parental talking. Not to be too explicit about this, but the girl seems to have special supersensitive radar set to detect any amorous parental intention anywhere in the house, anytime day or night. Thus, in the potentially romantic stillness before dawn, should I dare to try my charms on Molly, no sooner have I turned toward her in bed than we are stopped by a passion-deadening yelp from down the hall: Hey guys — come and get me! This has happened so often, we just laugh. What are we supposed to do? Hire a sitter and go to a motel?

Honestly? Yes. Unless a family member visits and takes the kids for a weekend, it just doesn’t happen for us. One time my brother-in-law visited us and offered to babysit so we could go dancing. We ended up checking into a hotel instead for a few hours. (We napped part of the time, too. :)

“How was dancing?” my BIL asked us.

“Great!” we replied.

It is so very hard with kids around. But we don’t mind as we know our lives have improved in other ways such as the endless amount of comedy in the house. We, too, laugh when Eli stands up in her crib in the wee hours of the morning and calls out, “Mami? Papi? Ah-dee?”

This Valentine’s Day we will settle for what we have done the last five years: nothing. Nothing is great. No pressure. No stress. We even go as far as to say, “Don’t get me anything because then I will have to reciprocate!” I know, romantic.

So, what will you and your partner do this Valentine’s Day? How do you carve out some romantic mommy-partner time?


The Gospel of Oprah

Here’s an idea I wish I’d had: Spend a year blogging about how I only do things that Oprah Winfrey told me to do either on her TV show, magazine, or website. I discovered in the New York Times on Sunday that a Chicago performance artist Robyn Okrant is doing just this (and yes, she already has an agent, although no book contract until her year is up).

Living Oprah is an experiment to see if Okrant can in fact live her “best life” as Oprah exhorts and also an exploration of what the costs (economic and otherwise) will be.

Full disclosure here: I’m a recovering addict. I can’t get within ten feet of a fashion magazine without getting sweaty palms and a crazy desire to read every last motherloving word of its contents. It started innocently enough with Seventeen when I was twelve. But that proved only to be my gateway mag – soon I was on to Teen, YM, Mademoiselle, Glamour, and eventually as an adult Marie Claire, Mirabella (remember that one)? Martha Stewart, Vogue, Real Simple, and the worst of all, In Style. At one point I think I had something like fifteen magazine subscriptions. And this was when I was in graduate school and couldn’t afford to buy anything.

I decided at some point late in my twenties that I would be a happier and more emotionally healthy person if I gave up magazines altogether. They incited a kind of continual want and feeling of inadequacy (especially about my clothes) that I just found it hard to shake. And so now, except for an occasional impulse purchase of Better Homes and Gardens at the grocery store, my house is free of these seductive pages full of expensive ways that I can better myself, inside and out.

But in typical fashion, I’m already addicted to Living Oprah and will probably continue to follow it. Okrant has a great voice – she is honest and funny and is genuinely invested in this project. This is from the NYT article:

For the most part, Ms. Okrant is deadpan about her experiences following Ms. Winfrey’s advice to the letter. She does not mock her guru’s vast audience, but occasionally reflects on her blog about what they might really be seeking — beyond a tip about summer reading.

“I think they want her personal help, because they think she has the secret,“ she said about Ms. Winfrey. “She has a private plane and she came from nothing. If she’s lifted herself up from the horrible background she came from, she’s got the key. When she gives advice it’s sort of like doling out some of that.“

But there is also a negative side to this power. “Oprah’s like the popular girl in high school who knows how to emotionally blackmail us,“ Ms. Okrant said. “The way she’ll deliver advice is, ‘This will make you happy, unless you don’t have enough self-esteem to do it.’ “

I was definitely that girl who could be blackmailed and I still find message like Oprah’s really tempting (“Be good to everyone else – but be good to yourself first!” “Find your passion – but make sure you’re wearing pants that make your butt look small when you do it!” “You’re perfect just the way you are – here’s how to lose ten pounds eating smoked salmon and cereal three times a day!” Paraphrases mine.)

So I put this to you good citizens of Mothertalkerland: do you read magazines for pleasure including O? Does it have any impact on you positive, negative, or otherwise? I’m looking forward to continuing to read Okrant’s blog to see how it affects her.


Barbie Blog

From time to time, marketers (or “blogger outreach representatives”) solicit us MT moderators. They try to get us to review certain books, check out new products, or link to corporate websites angling for parent traffic. Guess we’ve been identified as bellwethers, or just a joint that can direct the desirable mommy demographic to a virtual destination.

Now, some marketing genious thought that I would be the right person to appreciate and send traffic to a Barbie blog. Not just any old Barbie blog, but a Barbie blog that is meant to “improve and inspire the lives of girls worldwide.” The primary concern of this Barbie blog–We Believe in–is the early sexualization of girls. I kid you not. The irony is as deep as Barbie’s cleavage and as steep as her stiletto-ready instep.

Why me? Why us?

Barbie and WeBIG are now looking to connect more with the mommyblogger community because we know you are motivated to empower girls with a strong sense of confidence and encourage them to dream big. Like you, we’re interested in the best ways to support today’s girls as they move through childhood to young adulthood. We want to hear your ideas, opinions, point of view — in short the unfiltered truth.

Hmmm…the unfiltered truth. Okay, well since you asked, here goes:

  1. Barbie is a sex-crazed ho. I should know because my sisters and I played with her–alot. She was the sexiest thing in our toybox. She was the only sexualized toy we had, and she and Ken engaged in some interesting NC-17 dramas. Apparently, researchers have also discovered that “BARBIE, that plastic icon of girlhood fantasy play, is routinely tortured by children.” Sex and violence. That sums up my childhood afternoons with Barbie. The doll helped me channel great gobs of id.
  1. Just because some marketing schmo told you that blogs are the “hot new thing” doesn’t mean that everyone has to have one–including Barbie! As far as I know, people do not hang out at blogs that are a feature of a corporate website hawking a product. Except maybe Mac-heads drooling over Mac products, but that’s the exception!
  1. What kind of parents do you think are going to want to hang out on Barbie’s website, talking about how to empower girls? Progressive moms, most of whom identify as snarky feminists? Uh, yeah…
  1. I don’t give a rat’s ass what Chuck Scothon, Barbie’s General Manager and Senior VP for girls’ brands, has to say about raising a daughter. (The website features his bland, avuncular blog that just screams I care!) His position at Mattel makes him uniquely unsuited to be someone I’d want to engage about healthy childrearing. On the other hand, I applaud him for making himself available to parents who may want to ask him some pointed questions. For instance, questions about Mattel’s outsourcing policies and recall problems (2007 was a bad year for Barbie–9 million Barbie toys recalled in August and 18 million others recalled in September due to high levels of lead paint.) Or questions about Barbie’s PVC head. I’m prejudiced against PVC, particularly in toys. The production and incineration of PVC creates the by-product dioxin, which is one of the nastiest, most persistent toxins around. It’s linked to immune system suppression, reproductive disorders, a variety of cancers, and endometriosis. If you want to talk about empowering girls, you’ve got to be willing to talk about environmental emissions that mess with their developing bodies.

The comment section in Chuck the Senior VP’s daddy blog contains this disclaimer: “We will only post comments that are relevant and appropriate to the We Believe in Girls community.” I am trying to figure out what community they’re talking about…


Plugging a friend’s blog (Austin girl)

So, per rule 2 up there, I’m not supposed to do this. But I think I can manage to write enough to make it not so one-liner-like.

I have a single mom friend, Jill, in Austin TX, who has her own blog. And damn, she writes really well! I know she’s smart and all, but I didn’t know she had such a knack for analyzing things so well. She draws cool metaphors and paralells and all that.

I’ve invited her (more than once, I think) here to MT, but while she’s totally liberal – I suppose MT isn’t the forum for everyone. Some folks wanna do it on their own.

So here’s the link. http://www.thinkswansonthink.blogspo…

Calls herself Little Miss Patriot. I dig it! And she needs more visitors. And I think, deserves more.