My Attempts to Raise Rational Independent Daughters

It’s pneumonia, with a ‘p’. Really? Who the hell comes up with these names? Seriously? Where’s the terrifying names? Fleshmeltingsnotbacterium or maybe Coughtilyoubarfandpissyourself disease. The Plague was quite daunting, but some of this other shit, if you can even pronounce it (I won’t get into spelling), really? Anyway, I’ve said my piece.

Poor Lola. She was sick for a week, and in Lola fashion, on the 5th day her fever broke and the next day she was feeling better. On Sunday (the following day) however, she surprisingly spiked a high fever, indicating it was something more sinister. Clem and I both thought this could’ve been something worse prior to Sunday, but she did improve and her symptoms were very ‘vague’ until it decided to really present itself. That said, it turned out to be pneumonia and she ended up on antibiotics for the very first time in her life.

If you’ve never experienced pneumonia, it sucks the most disgusting ass that resides next to the most offensive and inelegant green weenie you could imagine. I could add more, but I think you get the picture. I’ve had it twice and I don’t wish it on anyone. Sunday night was tough, but Lola managed and made it to the pediatrician on Monday. She’s finally improving, thankfully.

The events leading up to this, were the perfect storm. Exceptionally cold weather, irritated airways, not sleeping or eating well, getting sick and continuing to neglect herself despite our best efforts, followed by pneumonia. I’m not blaming Lola for getting sick at all, but I am trying to help her understand that she is the only one who can decidedly take care of herself. Teachable moment I suppose. We’ve been attempting to illustrate how important it is to go to bed when she’s tired and eating well when she’s hungry. I won’t even enter the arena about wearing appropriate outdoor attire at -40 C, a hoodie isn’t exactly ‘warm’ enough for winter. Not to mention, that chic warm jacket we purchased for her, looks better on her than hanging on the hook by the front door, and that’s after I hung it up.

I think I’d be hard pressed to find many pre-teen to teenage kids who don’t go through this stage, obviously. Clem and I have been doing battle, but the saying, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink, made us realize that our efforts were truly futile. I know, I neglected to take heed on many things in the past and had to learn the hard way, but it sucks to watch people struggle through it. I am empathetic beyond empathetic.

Raising my children to use their brains

Raising children can be a challenge, and I find it difficult to teach my daughters how to take care of themselves. In a world that seems to have accepted that women’s bodies are trying to kill them or are in a state of constant illness or being labelled as not normal because it is merely ‘different’, is an atrocity. The fact that these stupid ideas are backed by modern medicine doesn’t help, and being promoted within the health curriculum at school disgusts me even more.

Discussing BMI (you’ve got to be kidding me), illustrating the use of food journals, filling out mental health checklists and partaking in fitness testing (not everyone is a marathon runner or sprinter), to name a few, aren’t helpful to me raising kids to have a healthy body image, be healthy both mentally and physically and have balanced eating habits or balance period. Using scare tactics to dissuade behaviors that aren’t considered ‘healthy’ or using it to override natural behaviors is beyond damaging as well. Throwing it into the ‘educational institution’ context, doesn’t make it any less harmful, let alone acceptable. I agree with educating our kids so they can make smart choices, but sometimes you have to wonder.

Not all kids are affected the same way, but I certainly know that Lola was anxious about having to keep a food journal for a week. I promptly noticed that that’s when she started to really consider how much she was eating. She began questioning me about how many calories I ate in a day and really had no understanding about food labels and corresponding portions. I am uncertain as to whether she heard the full lesson, or only heard portions of it, but I was a little thrown by it because she started to cut back on her eating. I explained that her growing and changing body most definitely requires an ample amount of nutrition and that she is in absolutely no way needing to diet or watch her weight. She doesn’t listen to me, but she will listen to her teacher? Interesting, I wonder if I can get her teacher to convince her to clean her room…better yet, wear her bloody jacket.

Who’s doing the influencing?

Much of the same occurred, when she had to answer questions about how she was feeling. She came to me saying that this questionnaire is telling her she’s depressed. I asked her if she was, and she said she didn’t know and then she said with the most puzzled look, maybe. The influence of a piece of paper with exceptionally vague questions is telling her how to feel, imagine that. Society and their labels and convincing people that they are diseased or abnormal is disgusting. Shame, shame, shame. Aren’t we supposed to do better? I want to make questionnaires and distribute them to some of these ‘questioning’ factions and see how they like it. The topics of the questionnaires I could come up with are endless!

I am not making excuses because we have been through some shit with our kids that’s not the ‘norm’. Admittedly, Lola’s been through so many things in the past few years with us, many of them sad and very much ‘grown up’ in context, but we have had some very good moments too. This, on top of all of the hormonal changes, has turned into another perfect storm for her. I explained that there is a difference between depression and sadness, and that they are two very different things. Once she understood that, she was a bit pissed. I don’t know if she felt the need to act the part, or if she was afraid of a label being affixed. They don’t explain anything when handing out these stupid questionnaires, nor contemplate the subjective nature of such a thing.

I think she finally understands that not every moment of her life is going to be filled with exuberant happiness full of rainbow pissing unicorns where the storm clouds rain candy (unless you’re high on something, I’m guessing) and that’s normal. She’s at the age, where you grow up and realize you’re not a child anymore and much of the ‘magic’ (if you will), disappears with it. This ‘culture’ that we live in, is so misleading that I just feel like we need to move off of this continent and get away from it entirely. I don’t want this disillusioned ‘standard’ to rob my children of a ‘real’ life. Being duped into this thought process and buying into it, only to wake up decades later and realize it’s cost you time that you can never get back, is a real travesty.

It’s all in the balance

While I can, I want to teach my daughters how to take exceptional care of themselves and that starts with me and what I emulate. It wasn’t so long ago, that I realized that despite thinking I was doing the right thing, I was promoting the very ‘culture’ I despise and know is wrong. The realization of what I lost, is beyond infuriating. How could I be so stupid? Talk about being an idiot. Needless to say, I am attempting to clean up my act. As difficult it was to adopt and adapt to the ‘culture’ I am trying to defy, this is just as difficult and will take time to adjust.

Attempting to teach my girls to think for themselves in such a toxic environment, is a difficult undertaking. I’m not a quack either. It’s the basics really, and includes self-respect, self-care, self-acceptance, self-trust, don’t be a follower and self-love to name few. Of course they know about being compassionate and caring human being, but they also need to think about themselves as well and not be misled by society.

They’ve witnessed me on those diet roller-coasters and low moments of comparison where I desperately try not to self-deprecate in front of them. I’m teaching them that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and that is normal and healthy. They’ve witnessed the exhaustion and subsequent crashing and burning, from me trying to be everything and anything with perfect execution at the exact same time because I bought into the bullshit idea that I should and can do it all. I’m human and I have limits, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. The reality is this, what is being promoted isn’t sustainable, nor healthy and that you are the only one who can determine what’s right for you.

It’s all about balance. And, if anything, I believe I was the perfect muse of what not to do. I’m not proud to admit that, but I hope that my girls acknowledge that balance makes for a healthier and happier life. Don’t be afraid to use that beautiful brain, and if you see and smell bullshit, it likely is. You are who you are, and you should be who you were meant to be. Don’t let others decide that for you. That is one of the many keys to happiness. Notice how I wrote many keys? There’s more than one, isn’t that a beautiful thing?

In the meantime, I will continue to nurse my child back to health. To see her frustrated by the fact that she is sucking wind from walking across the house and from climbing the stairs, is a positive sign that she is definitely feeling much better. Hopefully she takes the initiative to help herself to regain her health and maintain it as best she can. I hope she has learned from my mistakes and has the balanced, healthy and normal life that she deserves.

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