Sunday, February 19, 2017

There's this thing called an election..

So, we've got an election coming up, here in Southern California. March 7th. But you knew that, right? Because you are registered and you read the mail from the County Clerk/Registrar Recorder's office, the Sample Ballot, right? Right????
In our portion of LA county, there are only 2 things on the ballot: Measure H and a School Board election. Which is more important?
If we pass Measure H, there will be a 1/4% sales tax add-on to pay for homeless services, about $335 Million per year. It has to pass by a 2/3 majority. It will affect massively the work of caring for the homeless: services to help with mental issues, drop and alcohol addiction, family shelters etc. There are 47000 homeless families in LA County. 
The reason we have Measure H, is that the supervisors and the mayor have been arguing for years about getting things done for the homeless. Endless discussions about who, why, how, where have gone on for more than a decade. At this point, it has to be forced down everyone's throat by the people. These people are elected officials. Where did they come from?
The first step to major political office is almost always a smaller, more local office, like School Board. Or Deputy Mayor.
If you have any dreams of one day replacing one of the 2 parties with a third (and believe me, I know the math at least as well as you do), then you might want to think about who we elect for School Board. Because there's a really good chance you'll be hearing those names again in the next 10 years. Do you want those names to be tagged (D) or (R)? Or (L) or (G)? Or (P&F)? This is the moment to think about that. These small elections are where building happens.
The biggest failing that every single 3rd party attempt has made is to not spend enough time building a base of electable people, who bring with them voters to a larger election ("I know Nancy and she's part of this, so it must be good.") This is basic civics. If you are even a little bit serious about changing the way this country runs its political business, you have no excuse to not pay attention to these elections. They happen about every 6 months, sometimes as often as every 3. There are a LOT of people in my FaceBook feed who claim to be so enraged by the last election's options/issues that they would rather see 45 in office than Hillary. Fine, dudes. Put your money where your mouth is. Run for office or support someone who is. Vote in off-cycle elections, Canvass. Be a poll worker. Do something proactive. Or admit that you are simply a whiner.
Me, I'm voting Yes on Measure H. But I'm looking really closely at the 2 School Board candidates to see who is going to haul water for us over the next years. Are we going to get more testing? Or more services? More aides? Who is in favor of what?
And the first person who says, 'They're all the same", is going to be given a sheet of 80 grit sandpaper to wipe their butts with, and be told, "Hey, it's paper too!" There is an actual difference.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A letter to another parent


I didn’t get back to you yesterday, both because I wasn’t feeling well and because frankly I was pretty upset at your yelling at me and demanding that I do something to fix your issue. And make no mistake, it was YOUR issue you were trying to fix: your need to control directly what your child does and doesn’t do, and your anger that they weren't doing what you wanted.

I don’t deserve to be attacked by you in your uncontrolled feelings. I have done nothing wrong towards you or your family, and the only reason I didn’t hang up on you was that we had somewhat of a relationship, however tenuous, and I will always try to salvage that if possible. Further, my child is not your child, and you have zero say in how we are working with them to bring them to full adulthood, much less a place to stand to demand that I tell them to do something. I am always willing to ask, but I don’t demand, just as I don’t demand from any other adult of any age.

Take this away: your child was never in any danger. They were doing something you disagreed with and were angry about and you attacked the person you wanted help from. I think that getting help beyond AlAnon for you would be more helpful to them than almost anything else you could do, because based on yesterday’s events, you have stuff that you need to work on as well, and it is far more often our changes that drive changes in the family dynamic than we get from demanding other people’s changes.

You say that the kids are dependent on us, and therefore we should be in control of their every action? That's kind of disgusting, isn't it? To use the dependency that we created as a lever to force behavior we desire? How infantilizing for a child to be treated as if they were completely incompetent because they wish to make different choices from us! I don’t control my child the way your IOP and many others wish; I am far more interested in forming a life-long relationship than getting momentary compliance or winning a power struggle. I do set boundaries (a task that I do not enjoy and have struggled with for years), and enforce the consequences, but I have learned to be very very clear with myself that they are MY boundaries that I set for MY reasons, and I don’t demand that they approve of them. But I treat them as an adult, with adult consequences: tailored to their age and maturity, to be sure, but as an adult.

(I also don’t try to hide behind a screen of “It’s for your own good”, “You’ll thank me when you’re older” and (my least favorite), “ I rescued you and you should be grateful!” / “I gave birth to you and now this is how you treat me!” It is true that I have all those feelings, but they are mine, not theirs, and I don’t demand that they acknowledge them as valid reasons to do my bidding.)

I have told my child the terms of your child's program, but it is they who needs to ask my child to respect the terms, not me, and for your child to enforce it, not my child or me. If you or I do their work, they learn nothing, and this is maybe the hardest lesson that any of us parents learn. It is their diagnosis and treatment, not ours, and their road to walk with our help, not our road to drag them along. The harsh truth is that your child will do what your child decides to do, and you will have only a limited say in that, and less if you alienate them. You can throw them out (although I doubt that you would actually do this: it sounds more like the program coaching you in "taking control of your family"), but it only serves to put a period on the relationship: "I'm done with YOU, you're not worth trying any more" is what the child hears and responds to. Most parents cannot do this, and threatening and not following through damages what little credibility we have in their eyes. In my experience, in general they won't come back crying pitifully, but decide that now that they're not living with you, they can do whatever they want. 

If I sound harsh, it is because I'm still a bit raw from being raged at, and also because I want to cut off the idea that I am ever going to try to force my child to do something when the situation isn't a dire emergency, the kind where people die. Visiting a friend who is off-limits doesn't qualify and I don't want to support the idea in any way that I agree with why you called, let alone with how you spoke.

I'd love to stay in touch, but please don't call me to dump on me again. I'm happy to help where I can, but I won't be a punching bag. OK?