SARcasm











I just read the following article over at ThinkProgress (good folks, by the way):

Call To Ban ‘Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl’ Prompts Sensible Response From Michigan School.

And I have just two thoughts to throw out there.

  1. If in reading this book about a young Jewish girl hiding with her family during the Holocaust, who ultimately didn’t survive, the most objectionable and difficult material for the parent in question in the above article to absorb consists of Anne Frank’s thoughts and observations of her body’s progress through puberty/adolescence etc., then she really is missing the forest for the trees. And …
  2. Whatever material we might find difficult, uncomfortable, worthy of oversight and ‘parental guidance’ – be it sexuality, war, violence, or a little old thing like genocide – I can’t drive home enough that the answer is not ban, hide, ignore, head-in-the-sand-ism. Your children, in the course of their lives, are going to learn about all of the above and then some, whether you like it or not. And whatever values you wish to instill in them – non-violence, patriotism, abstinence, bigotry, inclusiveness – are not best instilled by ignorance, but by frank and honest awareness and discussion, lest – for better or worse – they stumble upon this material and (gasp! horror!) develop their own opinions on it anyway.

BOTTOM LINE:

Whether you wish to participate in, or nay, even control, your child’s education, the answer is not  to prevent their education, but to educate yourself so that you can help, participate, advocate. We don’t owe our children ignorance – we owe them frank, honest lessons and as much knowledge and wisdom as we can cram into their heads. Lest they, too, grow up one day thinking the answer to ‘I don’t like that’ is to hide it forever from public view.



Despite being woefully late to this dance I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the last 10 days or so; as this blogging absence has not been the typical ‘busy and distracted’ absence. As I’m sure we all know, last Monday, there was a terror attack in Boston at their annual Marathon. The week that unfolded, as three people died in the initial attack, a police officer was later killed, and a 24-hour+, city wide manhunt resulting in gunfire and explosives Thursday/Friday kept the city, the nation, and the world riveted, frightened, and confused. You could not write a week like Boston just had. And I wanted to write about it – to write about anything else would seem trite and inappropriate – but I had absolutely nothing novel or creative or original to offer. How awful? What monsters? This is surreal? A warning against condemning all Muslims, to not jump to conclusions and assumptions? Lamenting the woefully inaccurate coverage on CNN? It had all been written.

It is now ten days later; it turns out two self-radicalized brothers were the perpetrators. The eldest is dead, the youngest in serious condition but in police custody and answering questions. Memorials and moments of silence have been observed. For all intents and purposes, the nightmare is over, and I have been silent. Here, anyway – as anyone in contact with me on Facebook knows, I have offered thoughts, prayers, condolences, and shared practical advice offered by others for help in a crisis. But nothing of substance here, out of some self-conscious, self-absorbed desire to produce something smart, pithy, emotional, ‘right on’. And now it feels like it would have been better to add even unoriginal words to the chorus, than to have said nothing.

On the other hand, perhaps I can put my tardiness here to good use. As so often happens, there is also the risk now that ‘The Story’ is over that people will go back to their lives while there were still – as of Monday – at least 50 victims of the bombing still in hospital. And more to the point, even as Boston recovers, there are others all over who are ill, injured, organizations which do good work, help that can be given. So I think at this point, I want to offer the following:

  • Let’s not forget the victims mentioned above, and whether or not there might be tangible things we can do to help. Donations to the American Red Cross, donations of blood, etc. are all worthy causes. ‘Thank yous’ to the men and women who kept Boston safe I’m sure would also be appreciated. Just because a week has past and the news cycle is (or shortly will be) moving on, doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there whose lives will be changed forever; they still deserve a place in our thoughts and prayers and – where appropriate – actions. And remember, there is always a glut of donations, both monetary and in terms of volunteer time, blood etc. – to organizations like the Red Cross in the process and immediate aftermath of tragedies; it is often times like this, where there are still people in need but the rest of us are moving on – that it’s most critical to donate. So please give what you can in that regard.
  • While I will by no means and in no way get on any kind of sympathy trip for the perpetrators of this crime, I am thankful that justice seems to have worked out here, that a day in court will be had. In the meantime though I want to express my condolences to the Chechnyan community in particular and the Muslim community in general who I fear might be in for a renewed hard time in light of recent events; I want to praise the many I saw on Twitter in light of this incident reminding us all not to demonize the Islamic community, and I want as well to pray for healing for those in the Tsarnaev family who were innocent – in particular Tamerlan’s 2-year-old-daughter whose life has been changed so much at such a young age by her father’s despicable choices.
  • Let’s not forget the lessons all events like this teach us – the lessons that life can change in a heartbeat, to pursue our dreams and goals, to hold our loved ones close, to spread compassion and to help one another in times of need – Boston exemplified all these things beautifully over the last ten days and have set an example for us all as a city which handled a horrible situation with class, grace and justice. Let’s all strive to be Boston Strong!

Be well. XOXO



I can’t even begin to process my thoughts on this tragedy today, in which a gunman left 26 people – 20 grade school students – dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT. There’s not much I know. There’s not much I can even imagine.

I can’t imagine, first and foremost, as a parent, getting that horrific phonecall.

I can’t imagine, as a teacher, having to face that situation and remain calm, despite having participated in numerous lockdown drills over the years.

I can’t imagine those whose first priority is heading into defensive mode over the ‘gun rights’ that have gone way too far in the United States.

As un-politically correct as this might sound, I can’t fathom, when the gunman ultimately killed himself, why on Earth he had to take 26 others with him on this death spiral. I know this lacks such depths of the Christian empathy and compassion I struggle to embrace, but I have no patience for people who insist on dragging others – innocent others, completely uninvolved in their own personal tragedy – down with them. I have tried to consider and pray for compassion today -for understanding that for this person to commit such inhumane acts his own pain, his own derangement, must have been so great … I am not there. I’m not sure if the world is there.

I do, however, know a few things.

I do know that the discussion about guns in the United States needs to change. Period. That is not politicizing a tragedy. That is ensuring a tragedy does not occur in vain. If this is not ‘the time to discuss it’, then when? And on this day of all days, when in stark contrast to this mass murder, there was a similar mass attack at an elementary school in China. Similar numbers of casualties come up in that case – 22. However, the weapon in the China incident was a knife. The number of casualties actually dead as opposed to wounded? Zero. These are cold hard facts in regards to gun violence. Yes, “guns don’t kill people, crazy people kill people”, in the tactful and tasteful words of Richard Dawkins today. However, crazy people with guns kill more people than crazy people with knives. Those kids in China will no doubt be traumatized by their experiences; but they at least get to go home and hug their parents, have some hope of working through it. They get to live. And anyone who thinks their right to own a gun trumps a kindergartener’s right to attend school safely is themselves in some serious need of introspection in terms of their values.

I also know that I believe in the words of Fred Rogers:  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” I look forward to the stories of those who saved lives, those who helped, those who are reaching out to these families. Through all this, may we recognize those who deserve to be recognized, and may their names stay with us long after that of the perpetrator of this evil act.

Lastly – and this might seem small in the wake of all the tragedy, but it bears remembering – let’s remember that the most vulnerable victims here are small children, most not even in the double digits of age. To see, just hours after what I am assuming is the most traumatic experience any (most) have faced in their young lives, reporters interviewing third graders about the tragedy at their school just makes my stomach turn a little. Again … I know it seems small … but please. Let’s not buy into whatever media hype and spin is about to come of this. Let’s let these kids process this and heal in peace, while we focus on the important issues here – comforting the families directly affected while taking a big picture view on issues like gun control, mental health, school security, etc., to at least ensure SOMETHING can come of this, as cold comfort as it might be. And that does not come in the form of the sensation a frightened little 8-year-old might cause with her firsthand eyewitness account of this shooting.

May God provide comfort and healing to all those affected by this tragedy, and may those mere mortals among us – particularly those who make our laws – who are actually in a position to do something about it here and now, please do so.

Hug your children close tonight. XO



{December 6, 2012}   A Photo Worth Dying For?

On Monday, Ki-Suck Han, 58, was pushed onto a subway track and killed by an oncoming train during a confrontation with a clearly-deranged homeless man (who has since been arrested). Photographer R. Umar Abbasi – a freelance paparazzo for the New York Post – snapped the scene before submitting the photos to the Post. An incredibly clear shot, which looks to be from reasonably up close, was splashed across yesterday’s Post cover with a tacky, almost jubilantly morbid headline that I will not repeat here (nor will I republish the photo).

Now I try to be cautious about judging – especially in situations I’m not aware of (although I suppose my nasty little piece on Nicole Kidman awhile back might demonstrate to the contrary … but I was careful to base that on her public behaviour and comments, not assumptions about her private life to which I bear no witness). Especially a gruesome scenario like this – a man on a track in the face of an oncoming train, with the madman who pushed him there still lurking around (and clearly willing to hurt/kill), I know that I, for one, am a panicker and am all too familiar with the inartful habit of freezing in urgent moments (ask my husband about my (non-)reaction to our dining table going up in flames several Chanukahs ago). But it flabbergasts me that in this picture, there is not one hand reaching out to help this man, no evidence of anyone even trying, although the photographer, Abbasi, stated there were others around. Reports suggest there were 22-60 seconds between Han’s landing on the tracks and the train making impact; honestly, no one in that time could have reached in, hit an alarm button, screamed for help, something? Plausible I suppose – and not something I can really get on my high horse about, as I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do or how to help myself and probably would have panicked and shut down – but every last person on the platform? Perhaps not evil or worthy of rage, but … perhaps a sad and disappointing commentary on our coping and survival skills, our compassion and willingness to help our fellow man, etc.

And what about photographer Abbasi? I’m willing to acknowledge he might have been too far away to actually be able to reach this guy in time to save his life. However, in that time, Abbasi had the opportunity to take several pictures (with a flash, clear enough to merit front page placement in the NY Post) – granted photo technology can be an amazing thing at all, but I guess … in this case, I’m just thinking that here is someone who  didn’t panic and freeze, who had the presence of mind enough to pull out his camera and take several (in)decent shots … who took them to the NY Post and sold them thereafter … while he speaks to taking the photos being almost instinctive, to it happening oh so fast, he didn’t realize how well they’d turned out, he hadn’t even looked at them … I’m just having a hard time reconciling these two realities; the panicked journalist almost nervously taking flash photos either because ‘that’s what he does’ or because he was trying to get the subway driver’s attention to see if he could stop quickly enough (two stories the photographer has told), who didn’t even look through his viewfinder while taking these pictures, with the quick presence of mind he demonstrated to get those pictures – perfectly framed, zoomed in and clear –  back to his newspaper, and sold in time for the next day’s edition, with no editorial say over the use or placement of said picture. Someone that shrewd was alert enough to do SOMETHING … or at least try … I can’t help but think.

And as for the New York Post … I’m not even going to try to get in your head or mitigate this or justify it. The photographer and other bystanders may or may not have had a story, a reason for panicked ‘in the moment’ behaviour, decisions good and bad in a crisis. I doubt it in some cases, believe it in others, but that’s at least a discussino with two sides. You, on the other hand, made an insensitive, greedy, cold, calculated choice to sensationalize that which needed no sensationalizing; to put on the front page a huge, provocative picture with little journalistic value (the story has been told well elsewhere simply with pictures of the subway station itself) and an almost snearing-gloating headline. Those who were there witnessed and went through a harrowing ordeal and to the extent anyone could have done anything more, I think the memories of that day and the conversations they will inevitably be having with their God – or conscience – is more than enough punishment to mitigate that guilt. You, on the other hand, have no excuse. The real tragedy here is and will always be the (possibly needless) death of a New York City commuter at the hands of a violently ill individual; the tragedy for the news media is that you, NY Post, continue to be referred to as anything other than a tabloid rag.



I have to admit I’m about to break my own rule a bit here. I’m a huge advocate that women in general, and moms in particular, need to be nicer to each other than we often are. We are human parents, with human children, just doing our best. And as long as we keep our claws out, sharpened, and directed at each other, we’re not focusing on the things that really matter.

But one of the things that *I* personally thing really matters, is the emotional wellbeing of our children … and I do have to admit to becoming a bit dubious when issues, regrets, unresolved grownup emotions end up impacting our relationships with them. To wit – Nicole Kidman.

Now I want to start out by saying that Ms. Kidman is a phenomenal actress and I am a fan of her work. I also completely sympathize/empathize with her on so many levels – I can relate to her struggles with infertility, her journey to becoming a parent via adoption, and even her desire, after that experience, to still experience pregnancy and childbirth. While I haven’t experienced anything like being married to, divorced from, or co-parenting with Tom Cruise (thank God), I can assume it must be crazy-making, and I have sympathy with that too. She’s been handed, in many ways, a highly imperfect life, despite her many blessings, and I want to admire the lemonade she’s made out of her lemons – having adopted two beautiful children, having two biological children, a successful career and now a happy marriage … and I admit there’s much I don’t know, not being ‘inside’ her world. I’m sure she’s a great mom, and would never intentionally hurt her children, and what I’m about to quibble about is semantics … it’s words. But. since we all know ‘Words Matter’, I feel kind of compelled to get this of my chest. So I apologize in advance for breaking my own cardinal rule of non-judgement on my fellow women and moms, and appreciate in advance everyone’s forgiveness for a bit of a venting session.

I worry for Kidman’s older kids, Connor and Isabella, who she adopted with Tom Cruise, and her relationship with them when, now that she has also become a biological mother, she says things like, “Having my baby has been a healing experience. It took me so long to have a child. I feel enormous gratitude. [My baby] Sunday has healed an enormous amount in me. It’s a very private thing, but she just has.”. Bearing in mind that this “taking so long to have a child” bit, comes as her two adopted children are almost grown up. “So long” indeed.

And this isn’t the first time she has raised up her biological children, and the experience of ‘having children of her own’ over the years, as she is also responsible for such quotables on parenting, pregnancy and adoption as … “[Pregnancy is] why I’m glad I’m a woman. Men will never have a life inside of them – it’s why I’d never choose to be a man!” … and “now my priority is my family – my baby, my husband – and that’s non-negotiable,” with no mention of her two older children.

Now look. Let me backtrack here a bit and say I don’t necessarily expect her to be an adoption advocate. I will speak to my own experiences, but I don’t, myself, necessarily advocate. We had an overwhelmingly positive experience, but that’s not everyone’s story, and it isn’t ideal for everybody. Just like pregnancy, or fertility treatments, it needs to be entered into with care. I guess I’m just thinking, it’s something that is already so stigmatized in some ways, and ignored in others … could she at least maybe then approach it quietly, in a matter-of-fact way? When this famous, respected woman makes no secret that she values her connection to her biological children more highly than the one she shares with her adopted children, it is unhealthy both for her kids, and for the profile of adoption generally. She doesn’t need to help it and advocate for it – but when it’s already so ghettoized, could she perhaps at least ‘Do No Harm’?

Especially when, frankly, given how controlling and scary Scientology generally and Tom Cruise in particular can seem to be at times, I suspect there are probably much stronger reasons she feels disconnected from Connor and Bella than DNA, or a lack thereof. And I could even see, admittedly from the outside looking in, a great deal of sympathy for this young woman who had her children taken away from her by a horrible situation, person, organization. I in fact tend to assume the best of her when discussing her and Tom’s situation, using terms such as  ‘parental alienation’, and I know there are so many other issues at play here,I just wish she understood that too. I’m not inclined to judge simply because she’s a non-custodial parent – and in fact, if that’s the right decision for your family, then good for you! – or even her feelings about her children, whether they result from adoption/genetic issues, or other – we can’t help those. And again, as I said, I don’t even doubt, in private, that she loves all of her children and is a fantastic mom. I guess, considering her public profile, I’d just think she would then choose her words wisely and speak with a bit more care towards them, or not at all – especially as she speaks of valuing privacy. For such a ‘private’ individual, I just find myself wondering if in her grief, her oversharing might be hurting her children, and contributing to the negative perception some might have towards adoption. Just my two cents from over here in the peanut gallery.



OK – so really, people judging each other’s parenting choices is probably a pastime older than the hills; from whether or not to have children, to how many, to how to raise them, to how to prevent having them, to how to go about having them if things don’t just happen ‘naturally’, to whether we should prevent having them … there are plenty of opinions to go around and always have been. Perhaps the advent of internet 2.0 – social media, blogging, etc. – has just made it more prevalent, quicker to be put out there in the world, harder to erase, and  all the more mean-spirited and less open to compromise and actual debate due to the anonymity of the internet and the braveness … brazenness … that provides. But in the meantime, the debates over whether to parent or not as more and more people make the choice not to, the arguments over access to contraception and abortion, and the ridiculously judgemental “Mommy Wars” that the potentially useful but often nasty “Mommy Blogging” culture has led to, is by no means healthy for anyone. And while these might at first blush seem like disparate issues, really at the end of the day they come down to the same core; an attack on women on the one hand, and/or women being too busy attacking one another to recognize the realities of the world around them, and the fact that honestly we have more common ground than not.

First of all, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. I find it telling that almost the entire focus of any of the above debates – from contraception/abortion to whether or not it is selfish/selfless to have children or not have children to how to raise them if and when you do, focus on women as opposed to, you know, that other parent in the room, which one is he? Right – “Daddy”. In an age where dads are getting more and more involved in parenting decisions, or should be, where women are more and more accountable for the ‘working outside the home’ issue, where the domestic and public spheres are blending more and more, neither parent should be solely accountable, or not accountable whatsoever, for these decisions. And this isn’t to disparage single moms or dads out there – where you ARE solely responsible for all that heavy lifting though, perhaps that’s more deserving of empathy than judgement, and a recognition that the fact that the balls you are keeping in the air make up an amazing feat, rather than the ones that get dropped being recognized as a glaring failure. But when talking about two-parent homes, be they homosexual or heterosexual in composition, let’s remember that both partners are co-parents, co-bread earners, etc. at this point. If they CHOOSE to divide those duties traditionally, or reverse traditional roles, then that’s OK, of course, but it’s a choice, and not to be judged any more than splitting both ‘types’ of work is. If we are going to judge and rate women as moms, if it is going to interfere with their careers and become perceived as their primary role, men, where involved and able, should be involved in some of those sacrifices and help lift that burden as well.

I experienced this disparity in perception first hand, by the way; with our first, I stayed home on parental leave while Ari went to work, and this was simply ‘the way things were’. When our second came along, we decided, as Ari worked for the government and would be topped up  pay-wise for leave while I worked on call and was only paid if I worked, would continue working. This choice, when it was made for me to stay home, was simply the natural order of things; when Ari decided to stay home, I got to hear what an AMAZING partner I had and a whole lot of dumbfounded, dare I say somewhat judgemental ‘Oh? Really?’s. Now – for the record – yes. I have a phenomenal parenting partner. I don’t want this to seem like complaining about the role he plays in our kids’ lives because he is fantastic. But he’s fantastic as all fantastic parents, Mom or Dads, should be.

Now, having said all that, given that the world seems to focus its attention on women in these issues, while I clearly disagree with that. I will do the same. And I want to point out and share, that “Pro Choice” doesn’t just mean being in favour of legal abortions – it means allowing people to make the best choices for them, trusting them to make the right one, and maybe supporting instead of judging and fighting with each other. If we as women learn to accept and understand each other’s choices, even when they differ from one another, we would be better equipped to deal with, for example, grey-haired male lawmakers telling us how to do things because we’re too busy pointing fingers at each other. This ca be demonstrated along almost any decision relating to parenting … or not.

Whether or not to have kids I have seen childless women and couples judge people for having kids, for letting them run wild, for having the nerve to be parents to imperfect little people. I have seen parents judge and condescend to non-parents that ‘they’ll change their mind’, they ‘don’t know what they’re missing’ … and to a certain extent all of the above can be fair, in individual cases. But not all parents are ‘smug marrieds’ who aren’t aware of their kids and their shortcomings, with a nose up at anyone with a different concept of familial bliss than theirs; and not all childless people are simply selfish hedonists who simply haven’t met the right person, or grown up yet. In fact – if you don’t want children, ‘selfish’ is having one simply to avoid arguments, judgements, etc. IF you do want children, ‘selfish’ is not having them when they could be raised by loving parents to be a positive force in the world. BETTER OPERATING ASSUMPTION: People should be able to choose whether or not to have children based on what’s right for them; they should not be guilted into one decision or another due to societal expectatins or pressured or any of that. And yes – this includes people getting off the backs of women who don’t have children, and it includes making it easier for women who do have children to do so without taking such big setbacks in their career. Men can have it all – a good career and a perception as a good dad. They can also choose to not have children without being seen as some kind of failure or somehow missing out. Why can’t we?

Whether to use contraception or abort when an unwanted pregnancy occurs No brainer. Some parents who didn’t expect to become pregnant can ‘come around’, pull it together, and become really amazing parents. I’ve seen this. But for those who can’t, or those who don’t think they can, or those who just think they would do really a much better job with a few years and maybe an education behind them, or with a partner, or really, no thanks I don’t want to do this at all … If you can’t empathize with the woman (who of course, if she ends up in this position, must have made a slew of horrible choices and must therefore be condemned to a life of unwanted, ill-timed parenthood), please do any potential babies  in this siuation a favour and allow them to not be born into a potentially horrible start to life. Contraception and abortions should be accessible, for everyone’s sake.

If you want kids, but can’t have them naturally, you had better … adopt/visit a fertility specialist …Our babies are adopted. I couldn’t love them more if I’d gestate them for nine months. I am a huge adoption advocate who really hopes the myths about it (that it MUST take a long time, MUST be expensive) be dispensed with (we took one year, without spending a dollar outside of what raising kids costs). I don’t personally understand the importance of genetics in loving someone more or less. HOWEVER – I DO grieve a bit over having never gotten pregnant and, unless I lose a fair bit of weight, probably being unable to do so responsibly even through fertility treatments. I understand people build families that work for them. And just because a biological connection isn’t important to me, it IS important to enough people I don’t think it’s strange or unusual that it is. That’s the thing – I don’t need to ‘get it’ to support your right to it as a choice. If genetics IS important to you – by all means do yourself and your future children a favour, tune out the “Why don’t you just adopt” rhetoric and check into a fertility clinic because you will be a happier and more comfortable parent in the long run. IF you could see adoption working but are concerned about money/time/open-ness … it might be worth taking the time to speak to your local social service agency, and don’t let anyone make you feel like less of a parent for the lack of a genetic connection to your children, or because you can’t breast feed them, or whatever. You’re Mommy and Daddy at the end of the day. Period.

Choices we make on how to raise kids attachment parenting, helicopter parenting, breeding more independence, letting kids make their own choices, breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, one parent staying home vs. both parents working, daycare choices … God we moms can be a catty lot to each other (ignoring, again, of course that our partners, where applicable, often get out of this debate with minimal judgement). How about whether or not we need to work, whether we give our kids more or less supervision vs. independence, or any of those things, be left to us to choose? You don’t know my kids and what works in our home, anymore than we know you, yours and what works for you. Honestly, if kids aren’t being frozen to death, starved or beaten black and blue (or really put in indisputable danger, like throwing a non-swimmer into a deep pool, to yes, admittedly exaggerate wildly to prove a point) I’m going to tend to assume you’re making the best choices you can in your situation, and would appreciate the same credit.

BOTTOM LINE: Women, moms and non-moms alike, there is enough out there in the world, even today, to beat us down, stand in our way, and there are more than a few people (men, and other women) who are more than happy to step in and make our decisions for us. Why don’t we at the very least stop doing it to each other? Why don’t we at the very least say, hey – just as we mock the other side of the abortion debate for being ‘pro-life’ until birth, when we want to deny food stamps, education etc. and send them off to war at 18, let’s not stop being pro-choice simply over the abortion issue. As human beings, we are all (or OK, mostly) capable of making good decisions, and they aren’t necessarily the same for all of us. Until there is evidence to the contrary, let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt, huh? Because as human beings, much less women, there’s a whole world out there more than willing not to.



et cetera