Friday, March 27, 2015

Unpopular Opinion: I’m teaching my kids to be judgemental.

It was an innocent Facebook link share of click-baity fluff that finally made me decide to speak up regarding judgement.

Specifically this one. Confession: I didn’t even click through to see the article before I commented on the friend’s post. The title was enough, “16 tattooed senior citizens finally answer this question: 'What will it look like when I’m older?'”

My comment? “Badass. The answer to that question is ALWAYS, 'badass.'”

(I did eventually look at the pics and I was correct in my assumption. Heh.)

And I understand her share of the link was not to stir the pot—not at all, by all means it’s a celebration of choice, with perhaps a dash of thumbing the nose at conservative conventions.

I get it.

But it stayed with me, for lately the theme of judgement has been circling around my wee peabrain, as I’ve been attempting to reconcile my views with the ideology of judgement—or non-judgement as the trend has become.

You hear it all the time: "I don't judge."

In my journeys across the internet of late I’ve heard a lot about nay-saying judgement, specifically condoning parents who judge.

I hate to break it to everyone, but I judge.

I try not to, but I do. Usually when I witness other people’s parenting in public. Quietly, to myself, I will judge another parent, without knowing their story or the trials they face.

I know. I suck.

My judgement scale is a pass-fail. If I see a parent trying to do something, anything—even something unsuccessful—they pass. If I see a parent leave a kid in a car alone?—that parent fails.

Go ahead, judge me harshly for it. I deserve every scowl.

To be clear: I'm not talking about questioning other people's parenting philosophies—I'm talking about the basics: a fact of life is that it's a parent's job to prepare their child to function in adulthood.

It's not a job that comes with training. As long as you're trying, who cares what method you're using? Go ahead, read parenting books purported to hold magical wisdom, or fly by your gut instinct, or co-sleep until your kid hits puberty, or put off potty training until you save the equivalent of their college tuition in toilet paper—it's none of my business.

I don't care what method you choose. At the end of the day if your kid is surviving, you're doing great.

But teaching them no one's going to judge them? Ever?

Oh lordy...

There's a current trend of, "OH, I DON'T JUDGE PEOPLE. OH, JUDGING PEOPLE IS OMFG SO BAD."

And I agree.

Half agree.

Okay, I live by the philosophy of there's a time and a place.

I teach my children to not judge others for matters that aren’t by choice; things such as cultural background, skin colour, sexuality, illness and ability, or socioeconomic levels.

I teach my children to not judge others for matters that are by choice; religious values, expressions of personality such as tattoos, piercings, hairstyle, or clothing choices.

I teach my children that everyone is equal, and that they are no better or worse than anyone else walking this Earth.

However, I teach my kids that the actions of everyone—including their parents, including themselves—are judgement-worthy.

My children know that if someone is bullying them, they’re welcome to walk away and choose to not be that kid’s friend.

No, you need not be everyone's friend unconditionally in this world. Feel free to judge, boys, no one has the right to use you as a doormat. Don't subject yourself to degradation because someone in authority has erroneously labelled your classmates as your friends—they're not. "Friend" is a title that is earned, not distributed willy-nilly as a right.

You can love anyone you want, but it’s never unconditional: the condition is that that person isn’t an asshole, and doesn’t physically or mentally harm you. End of story.

Here's the tricky part: I teach my children they should never judge others unless it’s on their actions, but that they themselves need to anticipate being judged on everything.

On their actions. On their choices. On that mile-long list of things that are out of their control.

But Mom, that's not fair!

Buckle up, boyos: life isn’t fair. And judgement is part of the human condition.

Because society has rules. (Gasp!)

And I fully expect them to anticipate being judged. Because we are all judged in this world, regardless of this “no judging” mantra being thrown around.

Make choices, stand by them, and reap the reward or wrath of others as it falls.

Life is judgement.

And I sure as shit hope other people are judging, too; it’s how society works.

I mean, I send those boys to school and am eventually expecting a report card—if their teacher doesn’t bother grading their work, I’m shit out of luck, aren’t I? And so is their academic career.

Life is judgement. Actions are judged.

Hand something in late to school? Be prepared to have marks docked.

Break a law? Be fined or jailed.

Mismanage your money? Financial penalty.

Be a jerk to someone? Don't expect a date from them.

Say something unpopular? Expect a backlash.

Life is a myriad of choices, a myriad of possible actions to be judged. And it’s going to happen, whether we teach the upcoming generation that it’s going to happen or not.

Back to that click-bait tattooed seniors article, which I understand is a visual rebuttal against those silly questions people inanely ask the tattooed. Why anyone would bother questioning someone else’s choice of body modification by implying they’ll regret it when they’re older is beyond me, unless the underlying reason is to passive aggressively label them as lesser. Obviously the questioner wants to make the tattooed person uncomfortable, otherwise why even mention it?

Being tattooed is a personal choice, one that takes finances, time, and physical pain—the significance behind it some individuals choose to share, but ultimately it’s a private choice.

So yes, I teach my kids that judgement is a complex thing. They are taught to appreciate that each individual brings their own experience and opinion to the table, and understand that disagreement with another's opinion does not lessen that individual.

And I desperately hope they are retaining the lesson that people will make judgements for or against them as individuals based on their actions and efforts, and many other categories out of their control.

And that's okay.

Because it doesn't change my children, but it will change my children's opinion of that individual. It's a lesson in how a person's response says more about them than it does about you—a line my boys hear often.

Because this big world of ours is a marvelous, wondrous place, but one that can also be filled with assholes. (Yep, I said it, and you know it's true.)

Because I want to raise terminal realists. Boys—eventual men—who will recognize the difference between judging someone on their actions and efforts, and knowing when it's a dick move because that individual had no choice in the matter.

To teach my children anything less is a disservice.

Friday, March 20, 2015

FANTASTIC MR FOX by Roald Dahl - Book Review

[Note: This book has been read and reviewed by R, my oldest son, who is nine years old at the time of this publication.]

8/10 - Great!

Title: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Author: Roald Dahl

Format: paperback

Published: 1970

Genre: fantasy

Publisher: Puffin Books

Landed in my hands: purchased by Mom

Summary (from cover blurb):

Every time Mr. Fox steals a chicken from the farm, Farmer Boggis, Bunce, and Bean grow wild with rage. They’re the nastiest crooks in the valley, and they’ve concocted a cunning plan to dig him out of his hole once and for all. But it never occurs to them that Mr. Fox has a fantastic plan of his own...


Fantastic Mr. Fox has an interesting story where lots happens, so it’s easy and fun to read. Three farmers dig out the roots of the tree so the animals have to save it, and that’s all I’m going to spoil. In this book the animals talk and speak English, and that wouldn’t happen in real life, but it makes for an interesting book. My copy had pictures from the animated movie in the middle, and they were great pictures, I loved them. I have seen the movie before and enjoyed it, but it was so long ago I don’t remember the details so I was comfortable reading the book. I would recommend this book, for sure.

March Breakery

The marble run has been this week's hit for creative play.
Today is the Friday of the March Break here chez Lannis.

It's been a busy one, but less frazzled than in the past. We haven't done anything huge. We scheduled no special outings. We focused on enjoying sunshine, and family, and creativity.

It's not that I don't want to take my kids anywhere. They're well behaved, I have no doubt they'd be on their best behaviour. I'm simply not interested in dealing with the madness of March Break crowds, and since we're lucky enough to have our extended school calendar it means we have a second spring break in May where I can take advantage of all other schools being in session and hit the road with my crew for some kids' fun without the frenzy of overcrowded, over-caffeinated, overstimulated, overboard action.

(I think this May we'll hit up Toronto's Science Centre... jury's still out, though.)

Instead, over this March break, I've worked three days (which means the boys had built in play dates for those days), as well as:

- Celebrated Pi Day (the boys' new favourite holiday, even though I lazied out with a butterscotch pudding pie.
- Celebrated Papa's birthday by having him and Gramma Boo over for lunch.
- Had two Mathathons.
- Went to Costco (exciting, eh?).
- Roasted a turkey with all the fixings for dinner one night (who says stuffing needs to wait for the holidays?).
- Hit up our local favourite secondhand bookstore.
- Bought Dollarstore crafts to keep us occupied.
- Played outside, specifically hauling the bikes out of storage (eeee!).
- Swapped some bins of toys from storage so they had something new less-familiar to play with.
- And costuming... I did costuming, of course... (JordanCon is less than a month away, and thankfully I'm right on schedule...)

That's one marble run that's taller than a particular nine-year-old.

Quiet days around the house: they're underrated.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

STUART LITTLE by E. B. White - Book Review

[Note: This book has been read and reviewed by R, my oldest son, who is nine years old at the time of this publication.]

9/10 - Woooooow!

Title: Stuart Little

E. B. White

Illustrator: Garth Williams

Format: paperback


Genre: speculative fiction


Landed in my hands:
purchased by Mom

Summary (from cover blurb):

He’s one small mouse on one very big adventure.

Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he’s shy and thoughtful, he’s also a true lover of adventure.

Stuart’s greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. He finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend?


This is a good book because it’s about this mouse that likes to travel and it takes place in New York. Stuart is different because he’s a regular mouse but he acts like a human and he does all kinds of great stuff. One time he was a substitute teacher. I would definitely read more books like this. At first I wasn’t sure that it would be good when my mom recommended, but I tried it anyway and it’s a great book.

Friday, March 13, 2015


Some days when I describe what The Wheel of Time has meant to my life it’s difficult to portray the depth to those who aren’t invested in the series, or who haven't experienced a fandom community share itself and its love.

My first experience of OMG-these-people-are-awesome-and-they-get-me-and-are-oh-so-generous-with-their-thoughts-and-time was back when I stumbled upon Leigh Butler’s WoT Reread on

My second experience of the same was my first JordanCon, where I discovered the extended family I didn’t know I had.

My third experience of the overwhelming connectedness and all around fuzzy goodness this fandom brings happened today.

I logged onto Facebook this morning to see a Wheel of Time fan group was in the midst of playing what at first appeared to be a generic casting game. Fans were posting selfies for other group members to decide which WoT character that selfie resembled.

It came with the hashtag #WoTme.

And a backstory.

Apparently, while I slept some drama had rumbled through this group. It's a sizeable group (over 5000 members), and one that ranges in age, geography, cultural background, and any other variant you can think of—including stages of (re)reading the book series.

Usually drama unfolding in this group involves someone slipping a spoiler onto the main page without a warning as to that spoiler’s presence.

Friday morning (Thursday evening?), the drama began from a selfie...

Yes, an innocent selfie.

Someone posted a selfie and asked the group to identify a corresponding character.

Someone else decided to bully that original poster.

I didn't see the offending exchange, because admins came to the rescue and rid the group of the offender—they’re particularly awesome admins who act fast and have a zero-bullying-tolerance (as they should!).

Usually that’d be the end of an issue and we'd all move on. Right?

Not today. No, this particular day magic happened...

Someone else posted a selfie, and asked the group at large to pick a corresponding character, in solidarity of the bullied selfie-poster and as a stand against bullying everywhere.

And then there was another selfie posted.

And another.

It kept going.

People were commenting on others’ pictures. Responding kindly, sillily, remarkably, and en force. It would appear I woke up right when the group was getting into the swing of the fun, and as the day rolled on, it only gained speed. Hundreds—possibly upward of a thousand—selfies have been posted.

(And it's still going on as I write this.)

It's astounding.

My newsfeed was flooded with selfies and the hashtag #WoTme, and The Wheel of Time community reminded me yet again why it is so incredible...

It is kind.

It is welcoming. (It's damn attractive, too.)

And best yet: it’s a community in every sense of the word, regardless of the majority of it existing in cyberspace.

It’s heartening.

When you’re a fan of The Wheel of Time you’re part of a giant family, and you many not have met them all, and you may never will, but like a family we’ve got each others’ backs.

So I’m posting here in solidarity against bullying.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

JACOB TWO-TWO AND THE DINOSAUR by Mordecai Richler - Book Review

[This book has been read and reviewed by R, my oldest son, who is nine years old at the time of this publication.]

10/10 - Amazing! Everybody needs to read this book!

Title: Jacob Two-Two And The Dinosaur

Author: Mordecai Richler

Illustrator: Norman Eyolfson


Published: 1987

Genre: speculative fiction

Publisher:  Penguin Books Canada

Landed in my hands: purchased by mom

Summary (from cover blurb):

When his parents give him a cute little green lizard on his eighth birthday, Jacob Two-Two is thrilled. But as the days pass, Jacob realizes that Dippy, as he calls his pet, isn’t a lizard as all. And as the months pass, it’s obvious he’s not little, either.

As Dippy grows bigger... and bigger... and bigger, he begins to attract some very big attention—from the Certified Snobs’ Golf and Country Club, from Professor Wacko Kilowatt and, worst of all, from Prime Minister Perry Pleaser and his yes people. Before Jacob knows exactly why or how, he is on the run from the entire government of Canada with a full-grown dinosaur to hide. This is a hilarious, fast-paced sequel to the bestselling Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang.


This book was very well written and I couldn’t keep track of the time because of it—I kept reading past my bedtime because I couldn’t put it down or stop to check the clock.

It has wacky illustrations in a good way—really interesting to look at. There aren't too many pictures though, just enough.

I read the first book, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, and really liked that one, too, so I wanted to read this one. This book is good for everyone, no matter what age. I’m only nine, and I loved it. It’s definitely something other people would like, too.