Modelling, My God

My kids have a modelling job, and it’s killing me.

In case you’re wondering how exactly a kid gets a job modelling, here’s a brief timeline:

*My kids say, “Hey, did you know that (insert name of any of their friends, because they all seem to model) gets paid a lot of money just for wearing different clothes?  If I did that, I could buy the really big Lego sets.”

*I nod and ignore, per the ushe.

*The boy repeats said statement at the exact moment someone posts on my town’s local Facebook page that some company is looking for a boy model, age 6-9.

*I say, “Oh yeah?  You want me to send your photo in?”  He says yes.

*I find some random pictures, taken by me, with my phone.  I don’t even click the little “‘retouch” thing.  Or crop his sister out.  I just send them.

*A week later, I get a call that he’s been chosen.

*A month later, I get another call, asking if I own the cute little girl who wasn’t cropped out of the photos I sent in.  Yes, I do.  Great, they’ll take her too.

That’s all it took.

Well, kind of.

Originally, the photo shoot was taking place over two days.  Day 1 then got canceled because a tropical storm.  The reschedule got canceled because of a hurricane.  They rescheduled again while we were in Thailand.  No big deal.  Salary drops by half; they’ll do one day instead of two.  It’s still plenty of money for a Lego set.  Day 2 gets rescheduled because of monsoons.  And again.  And again.

It’s done nothing but rain all fucking summer.

Okay, so now Day 2 is fixed, with a backup day scheduled in the event of rain.  To clear these two days that kept changing, I had to change my kid’s drama camp three times.  Three.  That’s more drama than a whole year of drama camp.

We haven’t even talked about clothes yet.

At first, the agent was all, “Weigh them, measure them, send the details my way.”  Nice.  I do this.  She comes back with, “Okay, we’ve got a wardrobe of 10-12 outfits for both of them.  Please photograph and send 4 outfits for each of them for backup.”

The outfits cannot have loud designs on them.  Nor can they have popsicle stains.  Nor can they be the booty shorts my daughter wears exclusively.  They can’t have Darth Vader on them.  Or ghasts.  I’m fucked.  My kids dress like hobos.  They learned it from their mother.

Thankfully, this modelling shit is coinciding nicely with everyone’s end-of-season sales, so I was able to pick up a few solid-colored t-shirts for, like, free.  I even got some for myself, so I can model more-than-hobo.  Done.

Then the agent texts, “Make sure they wear their white shoes.”

Ummmmmm.

Let me tell you what we wear every day.  Flip flops.  That’s it.  That’s dressing up around here.

I was thinking, “This woman is smoking crack.  Who the hell wears white tennis shoes?”  Then I remembered that in Hong Kong, all kids are expected to have one dark pair of shoes and one white pair of tennies for school.  Oh, right.  Lots of days, my kids never wear any shoes.  Having to wear shoes (and pants) basically pushed us into homeschooling.

I refuse to budge on this one.  I hate buying shoes for my kids.  They hate it.  I’m not doing it.  I’m sorry, I say.  We don’t own white shoes and we’re not buying them.  Fine, she says.  She’ll do it.

Thank god.

The modelling is supposed to happen in two weeks’ time.  It’s done nothing but rain for the past two weeks.  I am flying out of the country the week after.  If it doesn’t happen the day it’s supposed to, it’s not going to.

All of that is enough stress, but you want to know what’s super ridiculous?  My daughter HATES having her picture taken.  She promised me, before she accepted the job, that she’d smile and be polite.  That she understood that having her picture taken was not just a part of the job, that it IS the job.  But six is a fickle age.  I have no faith.

Stay tuned.

IMG_8694


I think I’ve become a zealot, and I hope I’m not the only one surprised by that. Alternately titled: Ramona Quimby is an asshole.

I’m pretty sure I’m not a dick, but if I am, this is definitely a sign of it.

My kids and I read from chapter books every day during lunch. (This is made possible by the fact that I eat my lunch while making theirs. Not because I want to read to them, but because I’m typically too hungry to make food for someone else without eating it first.)

Our last chapter book was from the Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary. I remember reading these when I was a kid, and they get rave reviews all over Goodreads, so I got number two in the series: Ramona the Pest.

The story follows five-year-old Pesty Ramona through her first few months of kindergarten, where she learns the ins and outs of the school house. The climax of the story comes when Ramona gets herself removed from school because she keeps pulling Suzie’s hair. (Suzie?? Fuck, I don’t know what the kid’s name was. Something.) When she gets kicked out of school, she comes home from school madder than hell and proceeds to kick the wall of her bedroom. She then stays home from kindergarten at her own behest, because she feels like her teacher doesn’t like her. When her teacher sends a note home, saying something to the effect of, “When are you coming back?” Ramona decides her teacher does indeed like her, and she’ll return.

My kids, let the record state, loved this book. Actually, it’s too young for my son, but my daughter loved this book. She keeps asking me when the next one is coming from the library. She really, really got a kick out of it.

As for how I felt about it? Ugh. I’ll give you the good bits first: I genuinely liked how Ramona misinterprets sayings, situations, lyrics to our national anthem due to her age. Cute, and interesting to think about how a kid understands the world around them. Also, I think Ribsy is a fabulous name for a dog.

But honestly, I’m not too interested in having my child understand why Ramona feels it necessary to kick the walls of her house. Mostly because my children do not kick the walls of our house. Nor do they pull other kids’ hair. I don’t know if it’s a complete fluke or if it’s down to our parenting or what, but my kids have never once, I don’t think, pulled another kid’s hair. They don’t call people names. They do not, bless their little hearts, kick walls. And I have to think that they don’t do this now because they understand it’s bullshit to act like a dick, but that they didn’t do it when they were younger because they knew their punishment would be quick and unapologetic if they did.

So, having given up my job, my sobriety, my friends and my life to try to turn out kids who know right from wrong, who have a really good moral compass, who will challenge the world around them, I really don’t want Ramona and her adult buddy Beverly Cleary trying to justify the ‘need’ to pull folks’ hair.

I kinda spent the whole book thinking that Ramona was going to end up inpatient somewhere. I also thought, “This child is desperately craving attention. Why is this entertainment? It feels kinda sad to me.” I mean, I know little kids do dick things, but I also kinda think that by age 5, you probably shouldn’t be pulling hair. Am I wrong? Here’s where I’ll give a little. If your kid IS pulling hair, I do think this is a good book for them, because it does give voice to the angry feelings and help bridge the gap between emotion and action a bit.

So, how does this make me a zealot? Because I don’t want my kids reading stuff like this. The other day, on a whim, my daughter and I turned on a movie about some girls in some gymnastics competition. I turned it off when they started mean girling each other. This is a kids’ movie, y’all. Made for children. And it showed one group of girls being awful to another. Look, my kids don’t KNOW that sometimes groups of kids act like little shits to other groups of kids. It would not be on their freaking radar if it weren’t for movies like this telling them that, oh well, it’s just something everyone goes through, so let’s resolve it quickly and nail that back tuck, shall we?

I go back and forth. I don’t want my kids being entertained by shit that normalizes bad behavior. I also prefer not to raise sheltered little weirdo homeschooled kids. My attempt to work around it is a lofty ambition. I hope to fill their little heads with real problems and help them work towards real solutions. Our environment is fucked. Here is how it’s fucked. Here is the potential fallout from it being fucked. Let’s think up some stuff we can do to unfuck it.

But can you skip it? Can you just leave out that part? There’s a tiny chance that my daughter may never experience the relational aggression so common in girls. A teeny, eeny weenie chance that she may never be mean-girled. Do I have to expose her to it, even if I’ve built her world to not include it? Can I fill in the real problems of the world in its stead?  Do we slay the beast by not feeding it? Or do I just need to look for literature that sides more with the “Ramona has issues” camp and less with the “It’s normal for a five year old to hurt people and kick walls” camp?

I get to this point, exactly, in my reasoning, and then I think, “Holy shit, if you said this stuff out loud, every single person in the room would think you were fucking insane. Let it go, yo. Let it go.”

But I don’t. Because I still think it’s important.


I’m off my meds, and I cry about everything.

Everything.

My kids make fun of me, because I cry about everything.  Sometimes I cry because I’m sad or hurt.  But mostly I cry because I’m simply overwhelmed with emotion.

The Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage?  Waterworks.

President Obama’s eulogy for Reverend Pinckney and his rendition of Amazing Grace? Sobs.  Like, those gasping, hold your hand to your chest sobs.

I cried at Jurassic World, y’all.  Jurassic.  World.

I don’t know how I’m expected to go through life with a heart this raw.  I find myself now intentionally shutting down, so as to avoid the trauma of emotion.  I can’t get into political discourse, because if I’m THIS emotional about Obama singing an African American spiritual at a funeral, and you dare to say anything negative about that, the level of emotion will, no doubt, break the damn bank.  I can’t even appropriately deal with my own emotions anymore.  I certainly can’t take anyone else’s on board.

I’m not sure if it’s going to get better or if this is just how the unmedicated life works.  It’s been a few years.

The other day, my daughter and I were on our way to a dentist appointment and someone sent me a video clip of LSU student, Lloimincia Hall, competing in a gymnastics competition.  I, like, couldn’t breathe, I was so trying to keep my shit together.  My daughter watched, interested, and said, “That’s a weird kind of gymnastics.  It’s more like funky dance.”  And I started crying, y’all.

Un.  Hinged.

Christ, we’re redefining beauty, femininity, and power.  There is so much I want to tell my daughter about how she can be any kind of woman she wants to be, and about how important it is that she not cave to everything society is going to try to sell her.  And about how she is in a position of privilege and it is not a niceness of hers but rather a requirement that she do whatever she can to lift up those who are not.  And I’m on a damn bus going to the dentist.

So, I don’t know.  I mean, is this the way forward?  Do I just accept that I’m the chick who cries all the time?  How am I supposed to be tough enough for anything if I’m crying at everything?


FitBit

I bought a Fitbit last month, because I wanted to keep track of (and increase) my daily activity.  It’s a fascinating bit of machinery, really, for something so darn simple.  Basically, it’s a pedometer that also measures your sleep quality.  Here are my results, in a nutshell.

I walk a lot.

I sleep a lot better than I thought I did.

Both bits of good news.

With the Fitbit, you get to set a daily goal of how many steps you’re going to try to walk.  I think it comes pre-set for 10,000, or else that was suggested or something.  I started with that and then bumped myself up to 12,500 when I realized that I was always hitting my goal.  Now I’m at 12,500, and I am still always hitting my goal.  I think it’s time to bump it up to 15k, but that sounds like a lot so I’m scared.

Now, here’s why I’m writing this.  I don’t intentionally exercise.  Like, hardly ever.  Although my kids and I really enjoy hiking together, and probably do so at least once or twice a week, those are the days when I break 17k, not when I break 12,500.  Let me give it to you like this: I’m kinda lazy.  I really am.  I’m busy; I don’t like sitting around.  But I do not aspire to physical greatness.  I don’t pop on running shoes and hit the track.

Which means that my 12,500 is just how much I walk in my day.  And why do I walk 12,500 when most Americans are, apparently, coming in under 5,000?  Because I live in a country that makes it kinda hard to avoid.  I live in the center of my little town.  Every single thing I need is here, really.  I don’t have a car because I don’t need one, but even if I did want one, I’d have nowhere to park the darn thing anyway.  No parking lot.  I also live on the fourth floor of a walk-up apartment.  100 steps to my door.

If I stay in my little town, which I do probably 5 out of 7 days a week, I get 12,500 steps easy.  On the few days I venture out (via bus and subway) I clock many, many more than that.  I walk to the bus stop.  Walk from the bus stop to the subway.  Walk from the subway to my destination.  When we first moved here, I was exhausted all the time from all the damn walking.  Good lord, I’d think.  How the fuck do people do this?  Now I’m used to it.

Why am I boring you with this?  Because it’s part of my very recent enlightenment regarding weight and obesity.  I used to really kind of dislike overweight people.  I know that’s not okay to say, but there it is.  I used to think, “For the love of all that is holy, would you get off your ass?”  Because I know this is a prejudice of mine, I’ve been thinking on it a bit more and trying to not be such a dick.

And this Fitbit thing has helped me.  I cannot move very much less than 12k steps a day in this country.  I just can’t.  To do anything, I need to move my ass.  That is not the case in the States.  In the States, I walk to my darn car and drive to wherever.  The streets of my parents’ town in the States (where I always spend my vacations) are not pedestrian-friendly.  Only the homeless and drug-addicted wander the streets.  Everyone with any sense drives.  Laziness is institutionalized.  There isn’t always another option.

In this particular slice of Americana of which I speak, you’d have to be a freaking revolutionary to get 12k steps without hitting the gym.  I wouldn’t come close, because I’m (as I mentioned) lazy as balls.  I’d go so quickly to the dark side if I had to drive a car to a place so I could walk on a treadmill.  It wouldn’t happen.  I know this because I lived there for 24 years and it never happened.

And I’m a relatively privileged girl with the world at her damn feet.  I don’t have a chronic disease or four kids under four or live in a place of poverty and lack of education.  I hit the lotto in the birth department.  And I STILL don’t go to the gym.  How on god’s green earth do I expect people with a shitton more than I have to care about to pull it off?  Add to it that bad food is cheap and good food isn’t, and of course people are fat.

So the next time I get on my high horse about fat, lazy Americans, I’ll hopefully remind myself that I’m freaking lucky to not even have the option of being a fat, lazy American.

Because if I things had shaken out just a little bit differently, I may well have turned out that way.


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