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Springer's Final Thoughts on Some Random Sh*t

Not Pictured: Sustainable
parenting practices.

Normalize Saying No to Your G-ddamn Kids Once in Awhile. 

Omg, Mama.  Your child will not die because you had to carry him out of Target’s toy aisle without a hot pink canister of Fart Putty to call his own.  You also might have to physically stop your three and-a-half year old from hitting another child upside the head with Thomas the Tank Engine at the park; this effective intervention doesn’t mean you’re not doing the positive discipline thing right. And attachment parenting is nice, but if my kids try to get in my bed with me anytime between 11pm and 6am I will, at best, throw them an afghan and let them sleep on that yoga mat over there on the floor.  Boundaries, folks.

Yes, children are young for only a short time. And obviously I’m not talking about neglecting your kids or refusing to indulge an infant with whatever he needs. But parents are people with needs, too. Fiscal reality and the human need for restorative sleep (not to mention, sex without an audience) are real parts of life.  After they reach about three and-a-half (give or take) we actually make life harder for our kids when we let them be annoying AF in a completely unchecked way.  We do our kids no favors by pretending parents don’t have a few needs, or that their every last childhood impulse must be honored.

Prioritize bringing Driver's Ed back to public schools in the summertime.  Everyone suffers when teens and young adults suck at driving.  Why, might you ask, do they suck?  They only have, like, six hours of formal instruction, which takes place in two-hour blocks.  When you binge-teach someone to drive, it's not as good as the student driver having, say, eighteen lessons that are each twenty minutes long.  And the self-reported logs that keep track of teens' practice hours are signed off with a wink and a nod.  We need to force the issue here.

Bring back the Bookmobile, but somehow find a way to combine it with the ice cream truck.  Include more graphic novels/comics for reluctant readers, and offer incentives for kids (like a Personal Pan Pizza!) who read prolifically during the summer.  It’s possible that one of the reasons kids are stressed is because they never read for the joy of it, thus making things more difficult when they need to read stuff for school.  Let’s kickstart that transformative experience.

Raising sons is different (and often, much more physically demanding) than raising daughters, for most parents. 

I thought this was complete baloney before I had kids.  Sexist horsesh*t, right?  Surely, surely, surely we influence our children by unconsciously steering them toward traditional gender roles in their play, in the things we read to them, in the things we say to them, etc, etc.  In my humble experience, we can certainly shape our kids’ behaviors and engage their curiosities to some extent, but a lot of times they’re into whatever they’re into from a very early age.  We can be resolute in keeping an open mind and nurturing/emphasizing things equally among our sons and daughters 'till we're blue in the face. But a lot of the time, they’re interested in what they’re interested in.

I don’t have anywhere near enough data points to make this a publishable scientific inquiry.  I offer only anecdote and the observations of parents I have known over the years.  But here is my one data point for “girl” behavior: even as a toddler with two preschooler brothers my daughter had an obsession with shoes, sitting quietly and neatly doing fine motor-type things, and engaging in other stereotypically “girl” stuff.  And talking!  None of our sons could have cared less about shoes, apparel, or whether they were even wearing any. Our daughter cared that her diaper was full of poop; our sons most certainly could not be bothered with caring. The boys also make a huge f**king mess all the d@mn time and never, ever stop going going going. The boys are less cooperative about hygiene, whether or not anybody has expected them to be.

If you know me, you know I am not “girly”— while I appreciate cute shoes, I own fewer than ten pairs and do not shop recreationally.  My daughter didn't learn it from me or another caregiver (I asked!).  And I consistently admonish my kids to help clean up regardless of their apparent sexes--guess which one is the only one who actually cleans her room?  After almost 18 years of parenting I firmly disagree that boys and girls haven’t got (on average) natural inclinations toward certain sex-stereotypic things.  There will always be exceptions to this, but in general this is the d@mn truth.

This is not at all to say that, for instance, boys don’t have deep inner emotional lives, or that it’s not normal for girls ever to be very physically active—the expectation of anything otherwise can really hurt people.

BUT, men and women can (and should) be nurturing parents who support their child's emotional life.

The idea that women are the only ones who are geared toward raising kids and supporting them emotionally IS horsesh*t.  I'm biased in that my husband is an unabashed Baby Whisperer.  But men are just as capable as women here.

Let trans athletes compete

I don't want to condescend in any way, but life is probably hard enough for those of us whose inner life/gender/sexuality/identity doesn't match what is expected of our apparent sex.  And gender and sex are extremely complicated matters on a biochemical, social, and hormonal basis.  It's pretty obvious from her finishes at elite meets that Lia Thomas is not dominating the sport of swimming despite having testosterone levels that are higher than some of her competitors'.  Testosterone and performance are not as invariably intertwined as we have thought, either.  Just chill out and be inclusive, and understand that Cis- women have variable testosterone (and/or athletic performance!) that is considered to be outside the arbitrary range of "normal", too.  Everyone. Is. Different.  The odds are overwhelmingly good that someone.Will.Always.Be.Faster.Than.You.  Whether you decide it's a fair fight or not.  And this is part of life.

Pinterest screws up lives.  

I just…can’t. Who gives a damn about the way your kid’s birthday party ends up looking on the ‘gram?  My three year old was thrilled when he got a red balloon and a cupcake smash with just our nuclear family.  And your wedding would’ve been a thing of great significance even without the sand dollar napkin rings, no?  Stop painting with chalkboard paint on your kid’s wall or redecorating your bank account into oblivion, and read your kid a book. It’s likely that I am just lazy, unmotivated, and cheap. But we should pace ourselves for the marathon-not-sprint of child rearing and the rest of life.

Alcohol is dumb.  

It has strong associations with lotsa cancers. Get a new hobby if you’ve been into self-harm.  And cut it out with the “drink ‘till its pink” mantra. Seriously, if you can’t TTC for however long that may take and then go ten straight months without drinking, do some hard thinking about why that is.  Spoilers for those who are TTC: Unless you are an actual teenager, drinking alcohol is counterproductive (for all parties involved) for getting pregnant—ask an RE if you don’t believe me. TTC/TTTC, dealing with babies, and almost everything about kids in general is stressful as all hell, but that’s what binging Property Brothers and mowing down Red Vines after 9pm is for.

Come on, Alec and Hilaria Baldwin.  

Nobody familiar with large families reasonably believes you can effectively parent seven children born over a nine-year span.  Even with a fleet of nannies.  The kids you have need you a little more than they’re going to get.

That said, people should generally try to have (or foster, or adopt) more kids than they tend to these days, if at all feasible.  

Except if you are Alec Baldwin, Eddie Murphy, or any of the Duggars besides that one rebel daughter who has told her whole creepy family to f--k off. 

I'm not on board with the Pope's decree that people need to forsake having pets in favor of babies--that's mean.  But why should we generally try to raise more than one or two kids, if we should choose to have them?  The future needs humans with less brand-new sh*t purchased for them and fewer unbelievably-childcentric upbringings. Your kid doesn’t need to grow up believing it’s normal for anyone to want to go to 25 travel 8U soccer games a season and feel the heat to race them straight to Kumon afterwards. 

People should grow up with the most loved ones around them they can possibly have (within reason)—more people to love as well as argue with respectfully.  My cousins literally saved my life when I was a dangerously lonely and depressed teenager.  (I also saved the life of one of my cousins by trying to Heimlich her when she was choking on Sprite, but has she ever thanked me?) 

This is a privileged view, and an environmentally problematic one, to be sure, but it’s also important for moving toward detachment from loved ones’ f****d up opinions and not having extremely polarized politics.  If you love lots of someones whose politics you loathe, you’ve probably got a better chance of helping those people feel a sense of belonging and significance while respectfully disagreeing.  We belong to ourselves but also belong to each other. 

Forcibly sterilize Mel Gibson.  

We do not need any more of this man in the world, so at the very least we should all agree to stop breeding with him.  See?  I am not Catholic.

We should all go back to the days where it was less of a thing to bring your pet everywhere.  

This sounds Grinchy, and I do like pets.  And I think we can all agree that there are some places that should be off-limits for your dog, no matter how much support he may provide you.  Such places might include the NICU at a hospital, the produce section of a grocery store, or maybe even (gasp!) an airplane cabin in which people have to rebreathe the same air for hours.  If horses (which are the princesses-and-the-pea of the domesticated animal world) can ride in the (colder, but still climate-controlled) cargo area, so can Bella the pug.  I don't want to wheeze because Sadie (the hypoallergenic but still technically allergenic animal, who probably has papers, like Walter's ex-wife's dog in The Big Lebowski) would have gotten upset had she gone to a pet sitter for four days.  Isn't that kind of the point of a dog, that she needs you but doesn't need need you every minute?  If you're wigged out by flying and you need to snuggle a living, breathing animal while you do it, stay home or drive like a normal person.

In a home with more than one parent, one parent should stay home with the kids if humanly possible, or try to work part-time (the Holy Grail of balanced parenting)

This is crucial for society because studies show that, even more so than parental neglect or abuse, consistent absence of both parents causes trauma.  Yes, I know there is a significant wage gap, and addressing this needs to be a huge priority.  It appears that we’re making progress on this front; in 22 U.S. cities young women actually out earn their male counterparts. Stay-at-home dads and other male caregivers, (and of course, those who are nonbinary) are extremely important.  It would also be super cool if our kids could walk home from school more safely than they’ve been able to do in recent times—more adult eyes around to notice when something goes awry. Together we will keep moving the wage gap issue forward on the socioeconomic agenda. 

Everyone chill the hell out about breastfeeding, and here’s how long it's reasonable to do it.  

Yeah, breastfeeding is typically a good thing.  But sometimes EBF isn’t compatible with staying sane during an already-tough period.  We need to prioritize maternal (parental) mental health a hell of a lot more than we do.  So for the love of all things holy, quit (breastfeeding, not parenting) when you even start to feel like it.  And if you do breastfeed and some idiot decides to make it known he thinks your boobs should stay covered in public, tell him to suck it.  Then stop breastfeeding by the time your kid’s three.  That sh*t gets weird.

Siblings should be raised in groups of three whenever possible.  

Three is the “sweet spot” number of kids for conflict but not chaos. It’s also good for kids to figure out how it feels when people gang up on you or exclude you, and, in turn, how others might feel when you’ve ganged up on or excluded them. For only children or psychological-only children, manufacturing this dynamic may involve spending a sh*t load of time with two close friends, so they can experience enough healthy conflict resolution not to be that person who never learned to play nice in the sandbox.  That sh*t shows.

For their own fulfillment in life, nudge your children to be teachers, not doctors.

Mommas don't let your babies grow up to be money-chasers.  Happiness matters. High-powered doctors are generally not the happiest people, nor are lawyers, even the ones who make a metric f**k ton of money.  I have six kids and have yet to meet an unhappy preschool- or kindergarten teacher.  Paradoxically, nuns shouldn’t teach young children unless they are a Fräulein Maria type of failed nun who plays guitar and isn’t in possession of a ruler. 

Bring back the Wendy’s pita and the McDonald’s Southwest Salad.  

I know they weren’t 100% nutritionally optimal, but a little bit of healthy food goes a long way in the age of the KFC Doubledown.  Also?  Nutrition experts need to stop telling people not to eat too many grapes.  Yeah, other fruits might have a lower glycemic index and you might want to avoid bagels if you’re diabetic, but don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

The hand-wringing over digital blackface needs to be rethought.  

Yes, microaggressions are real, insidious, and pervasive.  And Black people/POC should absolutely, positively be the ones deciding what’s offensive and/or racially insensitive.  There was just a Scary Mommy post on this that was compelling—not exactly hard-hitting editorial journalism, but still an important piece. But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say POC and parents-OC have bigger fish to fry and kites to fly than to concern themselves with someone’s questionable choice of reaction image on TheBump.  

Yes, white people can step away from the computer and not be nonwhite.  But the whole point of a meme is that it’s not actually you you’re representing, but rather, someone from pop culture you can relate to on some level.  However, this does not require us to relate to said person in the image (or, to each other) in every single possible way.  Relating to each other, even in a limited, internet, by-proxy sort of way, is a good thing.  Some people object to what they see as the entertainer-of-color’s face being used as a caricature.  There’s no question that this is valid.  But it also promotes empathy to acknowledge the similarities in the ways we react to other people/situations. 

This is a case of appreciation of a shared emotional experience, not appropriation.  The shared experience is not necessarily of being the same race, but of having the same public figure in our collective consciousness.  It’s probably a low common denominator but it’s quite a bit better than a lot of the super-divisive things going on over the internet.  

Everyone knows some of the best memes happen to be Black, from the squat-and-squint lady, right down to the Michael-Jackson-eating-popcorn one**.  Are these memes the best because black people are funnier or just more expressive?  Probably not.  Some moments in movies or on TV just speak to us for some reason.  Laughing at an entertainer and posting something in homage to her does not a digital minstrel show make.

Trying not to use that Jackie
Chan WTF meme

Anyhow, who doesn't try to channel Confused Nick Young at times?  We all are him, and he is us.  Condescending Wonka and Mr. Bean are versatile enough tools of expression for white people.  And I think in Beavis and Butthead voices all day.  But, for better or worse***, there isn’t (and never will be) another person like the late Michael Jackson, and that iconic popcorn moment in the Thriller music video might actually be one of the few times we all could relate to (what we imagine to be the thrilling emotions of) a global superstar.  Furthermore, if white people are relegated to memes of Dr. Evil or Side-Eyeing Chloe, the internet won’t be fun.

TL;DR—How hard is it really for white people to stop reacting to things online with a POC image from pop culture?  Not hard.  And I’m listening.  And?  This extreme reaction to the slightest whiff of co-opting of Black things by white people isn’t helping us any of us meet each other halfway politically.

Swear in front of your kids and everyone else’s.  

Conservatives need to stop acting like it’s cool for everyone to have their own concealed, hand-held instrument of death but we can’t be calling someone a Fucktrumpet in traffic. Nobody says "Fiddle Dee Dee!" when they step on a nail, à la Homer Simpson trying to be more like Ned Flanders.  You know who swears more, statistically?  Honest people and smart people.  In turn, some of the most abhorrent behavior I have ever seen has come from people who do not curse.  Being a d*ck has nothing to do with using the word “d*ck” when talking about something or someone—this goes for using “d*ck” as a verb, too.  So don’t d**k anyone over for swearing in context, unless they’re being a d**kish d**k.  Unless you are reading this and I babysit your kid, in which case, I never swear in front of children.

Violence is real bad but some adults do kind of need to be slapped.  

I don't know that Chris Rock in particular needed slapping for his b*tchy comment on Jada.  It was a messed up thing for him to make fun of, but Will could have communicated his displeasure much more effectively by delivering a sick burn of his own.

I’d usually rather not be the one to do it, but sometimes someone should get slapped.  The slappees?  Those people who stormed the Capitol come to mind. And Tom Brady and his stupid, formula-feeders-shaming wife.

People’s pronouns really do matter.  

You wouldn’t keep talking to someone IRL and call them by the wrong proper noun because they “just don’t look like a Clara”, so don’t use the wrong pronouns for a trans person, either.  I forgot what day of the week it was yesterday but am starting to get the hang of this; you can, too.

They never should have cancelled Brad Neely's Harg Nollin' Sclopio Peepio.  

For the uninitiated, this was a thing on Adult Swim.  The Professor Brothers one is the best by far.  It's about part of the bible and makes me pee my pants laughing.  

Us Magazine and People need to stop with this "relationship timeline" thing.  

Realistically, nobody should ever care about (a publicist and a magazine columnist's consensus about) when a celebrity started bumpin' uglies with anybody.  Unless they are the very-unwise Miranda Lambert getting impulsively married to that stupid guy whose partner was pregnant at the time.  Ewww-uhh.

Ditto the "[So-and-so] Opens Up About..." headline.  You're a celebrity who is contacting a media outlet by means of a publicist, not a twelve-year-old girl reticently admitting to a school counselor she is jealous of her stepmom.

Verizon Wireless needs to go down like Ma Bell.  

I won't feel sorry for them when, in the distant future, telepathic communication (or whatever) inevitably disrupts their business model.  It's their own fault for charging me $180/month for five people in one family to (mostly) communicate by text.

It kinda might have been Jon Stewart’s fault Trump got elected in 2016.  

He retired in 2015, right in our godd@mn hour of need with respect to critical takes on political bullsh*t.  Whether or not Stewart’s original Daily Show could fairly be called “fake news” or completely panned by the political Right, we needed his exact face on that screen and his exact brand of satire.  Nobody, not even the excellent comedian Trevor Noah, could have called out that creep Trump (or his ridiculous ideology) as witheringly or incisively.  This might have turned the tide.

Keep abortion safe and legal, but it's okay to feel sad about abortion or try to convince your close friend not to terminate her pregnancy if she's talking with you about it.  

It IS sad.  Let's acknowledge that.  And, depending on what you believe, it might actually be killing something (or someone) unique in the universe.  But oftener than you might think, it’s necessary.  And even when it may not be necessary in your humble opinion, this must remain the choice of the individual woman.

Stop naming your daughters the names that have a long, storied history of usage for males.  

These traditionally male names are timeless and appealing, yes. But it’s sexist.  Women are *enough* without needing to be mistaken for men at the top of their résumés.  I am looking at you, J. Simpleton and Ryan Reynolds.

Sure, someone has to be the trendsetter, but trying too hard to set the trend by using an actual person’s name is peak gauche celebrity. If you love that name so much and are using it as a tribute to a loved one, use a feminization—Maxine, or Jamie, or Jacqueline, for instance. These are not insubstantial or weak; they are cool and under-appreciated. Plenty of people would be delighted to meet a little Jemima (or even a Jamesina!) who was named after her grandfather James. Better yet, if you feel the need to make a statement on gender politics with your kid’s name, use a truly (traditionally, roughly 50/50) gender-neutral, and/or modern one like River or Rowan.

** Yes, there is major irony in holding up MJ as a “reasonable” meme for white people to use.  It may have been complicated feelings on his own Blackness that led him to destroy his face’s appearance with plastic surgery.  Or there may have been other motivations. He was, undeniably, an entertainer who went out of his way to self-appoint for a role of extreme popularity and mass appeal.  Meaning, he intentionally used his face, his body, his apparel, his voice, and pretty much everything about himself to entertain, like, everyone on the planet. More so than people want to co-opt being Black, they probably want to co-opt being unbelievably talented, rich, famous, able to moonwalk, having eyes that end up flashing like a demon’s at the end of the Thriller reverie, and being in your own damn music video with an attractive date at the movies.

***And by “better”, I mean society doesn’t need any more people who sexually harm children. 

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