Navigating the Tricky Season of Preparing for School Next Year

The school district my boys attend had their last day of school yesterday. With another school district releasing their tentative guidelines for next year and the state releasing theirs, it has caused a lot of… mixed feelings. From uninformed people saying their kids are going to die of carbon dioxide poisoning if you make them wear masks and the others fighting about how selfish non-mask wearers are, there have been a lot of opinions on this topic. As usual, I’m here to share mine and I’m choosing to look on the positives.

For instance, the biggest positive is that I won’t have to do “distance learning” with my kid every day of the week. Sure, I’ll have to do it 2 or 3 days a week potentially, but I’ll take that over struggling to get them to do their work done every day. Those other days, they will have the teacher in the classroom helping them out as best as they can with restrictions in place. I’m sure their help, even as restricted as it may be, is going to be a lot better than what I’m doing as I frustratingly scream at my youngest saying “Just use a calculator, I don’t even care anymore.”

I have started “doomsday prepping”, if you will. I ordered materials to make masks for the boys for school so that they can comply, while being as cool as possible. I bought some Spongebob fabric for my youngest, and this really neat “peacock” colored fabric for my oldest. I bought supplies ahead of any announcement because honestly, I don’t want to be put in a place where I’m stuck without anything I need and I have to resort to “homeschooling”.

I will be sending my boys back, even if these strict guidelines are in place. My oldest is going to be a senior and he needs to have as much of this senior experience as he can. My youngest has his own set of issues and getting him back into the strict routine school offers is going to be the best thing for him. Will getting him to wear the mask be hard? Maybe. But as someone with a terrible immune system, I’m okay with having extra protections to ensure I don’t get sick. It’s fine when you’re a healthy person to throw a fit about making your kid wear a mask, but this is for as much my protection as it is his.

I think the smaller classroom sizes only benefit the kids, especially kids like mine with sensory issues. With less “noise” going on around him, he might be able to focus better. The teachers may not be able to closely interact with the students, but they are still going to get more individualized attention in the classroom instead of getting lost in the shuffle of 19 other students. The teacher will be able to take more time explaining things that other kids are struggling with.

People tend to always have this knee-jerk reaction of negativity, without looking at the positive. Like, now I get to send my kid back to school for at least some of the time and regain some of that “me-time” I haven’t had since March. If done well, this could be a positive thing for students. I have to start thinking about the positives because right now everything seems to be on fire around us in the world that we need to start looking at the positives in the situation.

Upending the Lives of Children

My child thrives on routine. Due to his many difficulties, routine is something that is sacred to him. If things don’t go to an exact routine, his entire day is destroyed and that’s the reality of having a child like him. Even my older son prefers to stick to a routine and gets a little antsy if things don’t go according to plan. But he’s far more flexible when his routine is shaken up. This is probably one of the biggest challenges I have so far.

I do have as strict of a routine as I possibly can for him, while also managing my own work expectations. This is something a lot of parents are trying to manage right now: juggling their work commitments to their home commitments. That’s not a new concept; working parents have been struggling with this for a long time. The problem is now we are trying to do everything at the same time. Spoiler alert: We’re all failing at it. It’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to admit that my son has failed every science project that we’ve received because he doesn’t follow the instructions, such as “work with a parent”. I’m honestly not sure how his teachers manage to get him to listen. His teachers are saints and magicians all at once.

Their lives are, and I don’t mean to be dramatic here, ruined. They aren’t getting that social interaction with other children that they need to thrive. They don’t get to run around at the playgrounds. Seniors are missing their year-end events. Juniors are missing out on prep time for their things like college tours, college fairs, and exams. These are experiences that they aren’t going to get back. And that’s sad. My heart hurts for them. Just because I didn’t care about these events, doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the milestones. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel compassion for those students missing out on this. You only have your youth for so long and to have these major moments not be a part of them, that does make me feel bad for them.

That doesn’t mean there’s no reason for it. I keep seeing petitions about how people should be at risk to put these events on anyways. I agree about the importance of these events, but to put lives at risk for them? Until there’s testing made more available and a vaccine created, it’s never going to be safe out there. That’s science. There’s more evidence of the probability of reinfection than there is that there’s no risk of it. But this is so new that no one knows anything. If this were my kid, I wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony because it was too risky for me, nor could my parents who have a very close relationship with my son. There are safe ways to do things and there’s being completely stupid.

Some places have setup schedules where an individual student can bring a couple of family members to see them do the walk and the students get that experience, even if they can’t share it with their friends. That’s a safe idea. That’s a good approach. That allows for social distancing, while giving the child that experience. It won’t be the same as the grand graduation ceremony students usually get, but it’s better than a Zoom graduation.

People are making rash decisions because they aren’t thinking logistically; they are thinking selfishly. Your want to do something doesn’t take over the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is that there are over 50,000 people across the country who have died and that number doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I’d even be willing to bet that those places who have decided to say “eff it” and reopen are going to make those numbers jump even higher. Do I like it that I’m in charge of providing barely adequate education to my children? No. Does that mean I think the schools should open up just because I don’t want to deal with it? I’d rather have my children alive, I’m silly like that.

In a time when we should be growing closer together, helping each other, we are bickering like children. We are stubbornly following whatever our political affiliation wants to spoon-feed us and doing so blindly. This was a test to see if our country could unite to do the right thing and make the changes to become better, and I’m sad to say we failed.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

I’m not a particularly positive person. I’m more of a jaded realist. The thing about being a realist is that you are often accused of pessimism. Am I guilty of pessimism? Who isn’t? Hope is the most treacherous of human fancies, after all. A motto I lived much of my teen years following.

Some time after becoming a parent, I lost the need for pessimism as a crutch though I still mention how my class voted me the class pessimist with my dear friend. We deserved it. I started more towards realism, still careful not to hope. Hope leaves you open for disappointment. I prefer logically considering things and determining the most likely outcome. Things didn’t turn out how I would have liked? I started living by “It could be worse.”

As it turns out, people hate that phrase. I like it because it centers me. It puts things in perspective. Sure, school is officially cancelled for the rest of the year leaving teacher Mom in charge. But, it could be worse. At least I know they are safe. I’m not going to be worried about them contracting the virus at school. I don’t have to worry if their schools become a statistic for school shootings or being bullied. I just have to worry more about whether or not I’m enough for them. And my never getting a moment of quiet time until this lockdown ends. Send help. By “help” I mean “wine”.

Does this new normal suck? Sure. I can’t take my kids to the park. I have to juggle trying to help with 2 sets of remote learning plans plus an OT learning plan. But we’re safe. Aside from the stomach bug that took over our house, we’re healthy. I don’t have as much time to clean because I have to juggle teaching, my own work, keeping them quiet so they don’t bother my husband as he works in the makeshift office in the basement. But, it could be worse.

Whenever someone vents to me about something, I try to remind them that sure things suck but life’s too short to stress over everything. That’s how I remain so seemingly emotionless. It’s not that I don’t care about the Patriots getting rid of another player. It’s just in the grand scheme of things, is that really something worth my already limited sanity? This is something we should appreciate now more than ever. Yes, you are validated in feeling emotionally done. But looking at how things could be worse doesn’t dismiss those real feelings of stress and anxiety; it helps puts things in perspective. At least we have a roof over our heads to stay safe during these difficult times. We have food in our fridge. Because there are a lot of people who don’t have these luxuries. They don’t have the luxury of remote learning capabilities. It could be so much worse for us.

Most importantly, we have each other. And as long as we each do our part, things will get better. We just have to do what needs to be done. This may be considered a war time, but do we have to go to war? No. We have to sit on our asses playing video games, catching up on our reading list, binge-watching whatever we want. Some people have to still go out and work, my husband being one of them. But he wears his mask, uses his hand sanitizer, and washes his hands because it’s more than just about him getting sick. This is our time to shine. This is our time to come together and ask for help and put a smile on another person’s face. Because they probably need it. We all do.

Managing a Tummy Ache During a Pandemic

What we’re learning so far is that life still needs to move on, even in a way that isn’t our usual, no matter what circumstances are going on around us. We still have to work to pay bills, if we’re fortunate enough to do so. We have to juggle that with remote learning plans to ensure our children are still exercising their brains. We have to manage their science projects from school that you messed up because your child was so excited he tore off the instructions and you were left going “oops” or you have to grow a plant even though you have the worst green thumb in the planet and ended up killing their science project.

Deep breath. Now, you just have an added worry. Fortunately, my husband has been spending a majority of this working from home though there have been times where he’s had to go out. He’s the one who goes out for groceries because his wife has a terrible immune system, so I stay home with the youngest. The only trips the youngest and I ever make out is to walk over to the school to grab their food packs, because it gives the kids some routine where they go out and get fresh air to do something.

That doesn’t mean no germs are coming into the house. Last weekend, my husband ended up with a stomach bug that we watched carefully, but it went away after a few days. Then, my youngest had it. This stomach bug is making its way through our house during a pandemic. That’s not great for my anxiety at all. This is where educating myself comes in. I understand the symptoms of the virus. I know that it’s a stomach bug because there’s a very low-grade fever, nothing with the respiratory tract, and the symptoms went away after a few days. Though it does seem to spread. My oldest is now showing symptoms. My house is doomed. Mommy is the last person standing, so you know that means she’s going to get smacked. Let’s see how these monsters last without me for a few days.

Still, it’s easy to freak out. It’s normal to. The idea that you can be as safe as possible and you just need someone else to do the same to avoid getting sick. That’s why we avoid going out. That’s why we avoid takeout as much as possible. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself and #science. By denying science, denying how serious this illness is, by not educating yourself is not only hurting you but the people around you. It doesn’t matter that you’re young and healthy. It can still get you. It doesn’t matter if you’re young and healthy, the people you visit may not be. Is it really worth the risk?

Finding the right balance of being concerned without being overly freaked out is important for your sanity. Again, this is the importance of staying educated. That’s why you wear your mask out, even if you think you look ridiculous. Even if it fogs up your glasses. Even if you don’t think you can breathe in it. You can, I promise. That’s why you wash your hands constantly no matter how dry they get. Just buy a lotion from Lush Cosmetics, trust me they’re great. (Not paid sponsor, I’m not popular enough for that. But, I like sharing great products.) The sooner that people stop being idiots, the sooner this gets under control. Sure, you can be scared. I’m pretty terrified, if I’m going to be honest. Not just that this thing is going to cause serious damage to my friends, who are out there working despite all of this going on. Not just that my family can be impacted by it. But because if this keeps going on, we’re all going to run out of food and toilet paper because people panic buy everything. Then that makes other people panic buy even more because they are afraid they aren’t going to have any food because now you’re in a cycle where the only winners are the businesses selling us the food.

As for now, I’m going to practice my vomit exercise as one child has started vomiting in the bathroom (hopefully the toilet, but you never know with him) and the other into a bucket while laying on the couch. All while trying to keep my sanity and hold off this stomach bug as much as possible. Because that’s what mom’s do.

As It Turns Out, I Would’ve Been a Terrible Teacher

I know it’s been a while. Adjusting to this new normal has been a bit crazy, but I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things again to get back to doing this. I’m hoping now I can get back to my usual schedule, but these are uncertain times so who really knows. I do promise that I’m going to try my best.

If you’re new the the blog, then you probably don’t know that I originally went to college to be a teacher. After some time in the field and doing some of the coursework, I definitely reconsidered that choice. The teachers at my college basically informed us that it was a thankless job that we’d probably fail at and that we were just glorified babysitters that get abused by parents and administration. A few of the teachers I observed seemed to be less than thrilled with their choice. I had such high hopes of having an impact on the lives of my students while sharing my passion for books and literary theory. I slowly realized maybe that wasn’t what I was meant for. So now you have me here as an adequate blogger/author. Yay you?

I often toy around with the idea of going back to school, just to do it and try. Why not? But then this new normal of remote learning with me trying to teach my kids happened. Then I realized, I would have made a terrible teacher. It definitely confirmed that elementary school wasn’t going to be my area of specialty. Especially when dealing with a child who has a 504 plan that I’m also supposed to be sticking to. Who has anxiety struggles, sensory struggles, and attention problems. My oldest one is fine. He mostly just does it all himself without asking questions, unless he’s come up with great question and wants to discuss and debate it. That I enjoy.

I would be that teacher that sneaks wine in a soda can during school. Or Bailey’s in my coffee. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m trying to manage my workload on top of playing teacher. Or if I’m just super stressed dealing with everything and wish I could just take them to the park to burn off energy, even though my youngest never runs out of energy. (I live in a house but my neighbors don’t seem to be practicing social distancing and I’m not risking it.)

This is new to all of us parents who don’t already homeschool. Trying to make sure that they keep up while trying to adjust based on their needs is a struggle, especially when you have your own work to do. Times are tough right now. You try to avoid the news so that you don’t get anxious and spread that to your kids. You try to make their lives as normal as possible when there’s nothing normal about this situation. They are scared and you have to suck it up to be their light in a tunnel that just seems to get darker every day. These are trying times. These are new times that many of us have never experienced before. But, I’m hopeful that once we get through this tunnel, we can make it through anything.

The Two Most Important Questions to Ask Your Kids

Every day when I first see my boys after school, I ask my boys 2 simple questions: “How are you?” and “How was your day?” I consider these the most important questions that I will ask my kids every day. There’s a subtle difference between these two questions, even if you think I’m just asking the same question twice. But it’s very deliberate.

The first question I ask them every day is “How are you?” I’m asking them about how they emotionally feel after their day. Do they feel good? Excellent, even? Are they feeling a bit meh? I want to know how they are feeling because that’s the most important thing to me. I want to make sure that I ask because I want them to know that first and foremost, I care about their mental health. If they have a few days in a row where they shrug or answer negatively, I plan a surprise to cheer them up. I give them more individual time to see what’s going on. I make sure that they know how important they are.

The second question immediately follows. “How was your day?” This is me asking them what happened. Did anything fun or exciting happen? Was it a crappy day? This gives them the opening to know that I’m here to listen to them, no matter how great or boring or bad their day was. Surprisingly, they always open up. “This kid was a bully to me, but it’s okay because I just ignored them.” Or my oldest goes on long discussions about how amazing his forensics class is or how he roasted his friend. This can also give some excellent insight into how they are feeling.

These questions are incredibly important for a few reasons. First of all, it tells them that I honestly care about how their day was no matter how mundane it was. I give them my undivided attention as they answer these questions to show them that no matter what, I’m going to be annoyingly there for them. I stop work when they answer and any other time that they want to talk to me. I want them to know that I am there for them and have this open line of communication so if there is something big, they’ll let me know.

Most importantly, I’m emphasizing how important mental health is. In the past, mental health was shrugged off or seen as a weakness. Even today, there’s still so much stigma around it. I want them to know that they are loved and valued. I want them to know that I care about their emotional health more than I care about their grades. As it turns out, this is something that may even help them do better in school. My expectations for them are that they grow up happy, love what they do, give back, and just be productive people in society.

I stand by my belief that these are the most important questions to ask your kids every day. This forms a special and trusting bond that may be helpful to them when they need it the most. Maybe this can make a difference in their lives, no matter how annoying they find me today.

The Challenges of Being a Mom of a Teenager

In our house, these past few weeks have been emotionally challenging. Not because my oldest, who’s 17, is a challenging child. He’s not. He’s actually extremely and unusually easy to deal with. Somehow, he managed to keep his sweet and mature nature even after the dreaded puberty hit. Sure, now he’s more confident in himself and isn’t afraid to show his more sarcastic side, but he’s only stepped out of line once with his mouth and it wasn’t even that bad. It’s because the reality is coming that next year, he will be graduating.

This week, he starts lifeguarding training, something that he’s been wanting to do for a while but then talked himself out of it. After passing his initial online course and learning more about it, I watched him become more confident. He was afraid of the importance of his job. The fear of being responsible for the life of another person was overwhelming to him. I told him I get it. Try being responsible for keeping 3 people alive at the same time. (Husband included in the number. Those boys don’t make it easy.) He wanted a job that didn’t interfere with his school work and would help him pay for this swim team that his coach recommended that he joined in the off-season. His fear turned into excitement this week as he headed off to do the hands-on portion of his certification, but really he’s just happy to be in the pool again.

We also just signed him up for the SATs and next week, he’ll be all signed up for his 2 AP exams. I half joke with my husband that I’m not ready for this. I’m not prepared. I pass it off as a joke, but we both know it isn’t. Now’s the time where I just hope that I did more than just an adequate job of “momming”. That my jokes about being an adequate mom are really just jokes. The first years of his life before high school were his training; now I just hope he can finish the job successfully on his own. Be free, blackbird.

After signing up for the course, it turns out that he may potentially miss out on our mini-weekend away during his school break. I gave him his choices and refused to give him the answer: either he skips it and finds another course or he misses this mini-vacation and stay with family while we’re gone. (The vacation was a free trip that we won and was scheduled long before this.) He asked me what he should do, hoping that I was going to make the choice for him. I wasn’t. Kids never learn if you make their choices for them. I gave him advice. “Well, you get it done now or you hope that you don’t miss the next one.” Ultimately, he decided to take the risk of missing out on the vacation because this was something he needed to do.

It was the mature decision. I agreed, it was the right call. It was the cheaper of the courses and you get more from it than others. I’d say there will be plenty more vacations, but the reality is that he’s going away to college soon. Who knows where he’s going to go. Who knows if he’ll even come back to the area. One of the schools he’s looking at is close enough to the cape where he may decide to take up lifeguarding over the summer at the beach instead of coming home. He may end up renting a place off-campus with friends or his cousin. It’s really hard to tell what will happen after he graduates.

That’s where raising adults versus raising kids makes the difference. At least I know hope that I gave him the tools that he needs to make the right choices for him. I have a good feeling about him, but he’s been mostly sheltered. It’s hard to say what it will be like for him out there in the real world. I can’t read the future. I just hope that I did enough that I become this nagging little voice in the back of his head, steering him towards the right path.

Don’t Believe the Social Media Hype

We all live off of our social media. I’m definitely on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit for an obscene amount of time everyday. It’s the best way to keep up with Overwatch League news and get those precious Baby Yoda memes. (Those get me all the time.) But this is also where people put out the best versions of themselves. Even I try to take images on my more self-conscious days that don’t show off that pile of toys and other crap on the floor that I just didn’t feel like picking up.

The problem is that for every time a parent brags about their child’s grades or gets those adorable photos, it’s not real life. While they are taking that picture of that awesome report card, her children are probably tearing apart the house as they scream bloody murder and tattling on each other while she has her other hand on the bottle of wine. Because sometimes the glasses aren’t enough and you just need to go to the big show. It’s like that meme where everything’s on fire and they are sitting there going “It’s fine”.

That mom isn’t posting a selfie saying “felt cute” because she felt cute. More likely she needed the validation because that day was an awful day. That’s fine. People need something to make themselves feel better and they shouldn’t be judged for that. I’m pretty much a 90% anti-judgement person. The rest of the 10% is reserved for parents who don’t use car seats for their kids, mistreat their children in any way, mistreats my children, mistreats dogs, and people who don’t like Baby Yoda memes.

People see those perfect photos of their “perfect”children and other people get jealous. I’m guilty of it. When I see a parent who has a young kid who started speaking on time or early, I get a little jealous or feel bad about myself because my youngest didn’t start talking until he was 4. It’s normal to feel bad about yourself as a mother, especially when looking at social media, because there is so much pressure on us. We have to stay at home with the kids, but also work to earn money. We have to have a clean house all the time, have a size 3 body with DD chest, be perfect cooks, and slaves to society. It’s a lot of pressure to put on people who on most days just feel successful if their kids are alive at the end of it.

You need to be careful on social media. Don’t believe everything you see. Don’t believe every news story that pops up without checking sources. Don’t believe that the person didn’t take 20 selfies before deciding on the perfect one. Social media is about perception. People want others to perceive them as perfect. See, I may sometimes take photos that minimize the mess that’s usually surrounding my home. But I’m honest about being an adequate mother that just gets lucky sometimes. It happens. Sometimes I do get the house perfectly clean. Sometimes I cook a killer homemade meal, and others I toss chicky nuggies and tater tots on a cookie sheet so I can get back to work. No one’s lives are perfect, so don’t let social media trap you into thinking they are.

No Use Crying over Spilled Coffee

I have found myself in a perpetual state of being tired. Like, I have gone beyond “mom” tired into a realm of crossed-eyes and feeling as though I’m watching my body function rather than actually functioning myself. I was too tired to make myself a coffee yesterday, which I probably could have used my entire Chemex full of coffee and still be tired yesterday. After waking up to having my hair pulled out of my scalp by my violently-sleeping child and then struggling to get back to sleep when it happened around 2 a.m., I managed to barely get through my work. Though the second much longer article I needed to work on took way too long due to my brain short-circuiting throughout the day. Still, pretty productive day thanks to not sleeping.

Last night, probably around 11pm, a good 20 or so hours later, my body finally gave in and I tried to sleep. It was a rough go because apparently at that point I had gone beyond exhaustion into “second wind”. Finally, midnight I was out for the count. Then woken up at 2am again, then asleep until 5am. Then I gave up and just started to work again.

I went to make coffee, apparently the last of my coffee, when I noticed my son didn’t put away the cheese after supper last night. As I grabbed it to remove it from my counter, I turn around to hear the sounds of the coffee beans spilling out of the coffee grinder. I was all ready to go. I was excited that even though it was my last bit of coffee, there was a delivery coming from the coffee subscription I signed up for when I got my raise from work. I envisioned the joy, albeit short-term joy, that this coffee was going to give me. I was even eyeing to see if there would be enough to enjoy a few cups throughout the day, then of course try the new coffee when it came in later. My hopes and dreams of caffeine were crushed with that sound of the coffee beans hitting the floor.

I swept it all up into a pile, then I sat down to mourn my coffee. My dreams. My caffeine that I so desperately needed at this moment in time. I’m not particularly known for being emotional. Some would even say I’m cold. (They’re probably not wrong.) But that moment, I almost felt tears. It was a tough one. I considered whether or not my floor was that dirty. I was that desperate. I looked at the pile and noticed pet hair. I still considered it, if I’m being completely honest. I’m not sure if it’s because A) that coffee was that good; B) I was that desperate for coffee; C) Did I mention I barely slept in 2 days and my sanity is gone?

Today is really one of those days as a working at home parent where I don’t think there’s enough coffee in the world to deal right now. Sure, the easy solution could be kicking my anxiety-night terror-riddled child out of my bed. But, I’d still have to wake up and try carrying this tall and not so light child to his bed every time I wake up and notice him. And as I like to think that I’m more stubborn than him, I’m probably not especially at any time between 12 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. I keep hoping that it’s just another phase I need to get through, figuring that his emotional development has always been a little behind the rest. Maybe.

But there’s no sense in crying over spilled coffee, no matter how exhausted you are. I still have to put on my big girl pants and work, clean, and being the adequate (maybe mediocre) mom that I am. Except I’m a little less adequate today without any caffeine to cover my lack of sleep. I do have to say, until my body crashes this lack of sleep has done wonders for me on a productivity level.

Raising the New Generation of Men

I’m a mom of boys. #boymomlife? It’s never boring. I spend more time using plates and cups that aren’t glass, not because I don’t have them or am too lazy to do the dishes. It’s because they break things. I don’t subscribe to boys being boys, but boys can kinda be monsters. They wrestle and nut shot each other. They hit each other to the point that I just let them as long as they don’t kill each other. Honestly, that’s my motto. If everyone comes out relatively okay at the end of the day, I didn’t fail.

I always say that we are responsible for raising the next generation of adults. It’s an important job being a parent because you really are shaping the future. It’s a heavy burden when you really think about it. I have made all of my parenting decisions on that premise of I’m not raising kids; I’m raising future adults. Adults that could be the next president or working the beat as police officers or teachers that help mold their next generation. Sure, you could do everything right and your kid still ends up a serial killer as an adult. But, that’s not something to dwell on.

I also always point out about how my parents didn’t really stick too much to those “gender roles” that so many people force on their children. Sure, I can cook, knit, sew, and other “domestic” things, but I’m also able to do minor repairs around the home, and various other “men” things. I was raised to be a strong, badass Irish woman. My boys spend a lot of time learning from both myself and my husband. I teach the boys how to do laundry and lately, how to cook. My oldest even cooked a pretty awesome pot of curry. My youngest wants to start learning how to cook. I don’t want my boys to rely on their wives to take care of them. I want them to be able to take care of themselves, or their partners, or me when I’m old and unable to do anything for myself.

The old-fashioned people would tell you that letting boys play with dolls is bad. It isn’t. Worst case, they end up becoming compassionate and caring fathers. When I bought my youngest a kitchen set, there were people even mentioning that this was me teaching my son to be a girl, to be gay. It was a bit shocking. There’s nothing negative about a man cooking. (Then again, there’s nothing wrong with a man being gay either.) Men cook. My husband was even in the kitchen last night teaching our 17-year-old how to make the perfect runny egg. It was a bonding experience that they enjoyed as they talk about anime and comics and current events.

Food brings people together. I appreciate that my boys want to learn my family recipes to cook for their families. We should encourage our men to be compassionate and caring. We should be teaching our daughters to be strong and independent. Maybe the flaw isn’t that we aren’t teaching our children their “roles”; it’s that we are. The fact is, there are no definitive roles anymore. Men stay at home with kids while moms work. Men help out around the house. They are more active in the child rearing. These aren’t negatives. This is the way it should be.