Of COURSE words matter. Duh.

our-words-matter

I have spent nearly 20 years guiding, coaching, encouraging, modeling AND reminding pre-teens and teens of this….words matter.  No one will EVER convince me otherwise. #wordsmatter

Words matter because they can hurt.

Words matter because they can inspire.

Words matter because they can escalate anger.

Words matter because they can guide.

Words matter because they can diminish.

Words matter because they can elevate.

Words matter because they can crush a soul.

Words matter because they can warm a heart.

Words matter because they can divide a nation.

Words matter because they can bring civility to a situation.

Last night’s debate took a tangible turn when candidates were asked to put into words a compliment about the other.  They had to use their words to find the good in each other…I felt my shoulders (that had been hunched up by my ears for the previous 90 minutes) soften.  I relaxed for a brief moment knowing that now, finally, I didn’t have to brace myself for the next insult, disparaging remark or snide innuendo.  The candidates were forced to choose words that focused on a positive rather than a negative.  I exhaled.

I will be with teens all week either working on college essays and applications, talking about boarding schools or organizing and focusing their minds to attain goals they have set for themselves in school and in life.  The debate will come up – everything always comes up.  Why?  Because they want to talk to someone with whom they know their words matter.  I will listen.  I will let them say their opinions.  I will gently guide them to be careful when articulating their arguments.

And then I will point out the end of the debate.

I will pull it up on my laptop.  We will talk about the shift in tone.  We will talk about how words change everything.

If you didn’t feel it – go back.  Go back and watch it.  Watch it with the lens of recognizing the shift in tone.  When the candidates were asked to be intentional about the words they chose, be aware of the adjustment.

And then notice they shook hands after.

Words matter.

WordPress daily prompt – Flattery

Failing in Science

how-to-turn-a-failure-into-a-wild-success

My teaching partner and I giggled like little middle schoolers.  We knew exactly what we were doing, and we were over the moon excited to watch our dear sweet science students come completely undone.  We were setting them up for failure and we couldn’t wait.

One bulb.

One battery.

One wire.

One job – make the bulb light.

One rule – figure it out on your own.

Panic.  Sheer panic.  Immediately 12 out of 15 hands shot up and the other three peeps simply decided to forgo the classroom decorum and start shouting out questions.

Is this graded?

How long do we have?

What happens if we can’t do it?

I forgot my pencil…

Do we get partners?

I have a headache – can I go to the nurse?

Nope, not graded.

You have as long as it takes.

You can do it.

Don’t need a pencil right now….

No partners this time.

Sure – but hurry back from the nurse.

Strategies emerged within the first five minutes of trial and error (or rather failing, over and over again).  There were a few that immediately lit the bulb.  As to be expected, they sat smug in their chairs, arms crossed with a vicious little grin across their face.  One guy credited a Christmas gift of a circuit board and supplies for his success.  Across the room I heard “Man, all I got was an x-box…”

We had protesters.  Sit ins.  Silence strikes.  Arms crossed in flat out refusal to try any longer. (It had been 6 minutes)

We had nose-to-the-grindstone kids that wouldn’t look up for anything.  Those were the ones who built a wall around their space at the table with binders and books and were doggedly determined to figure this out.  And NO ONE was going to cheat off of them.

We had the cheats.  The prowlers.  The ones with the wondering eyes.  Some were more subtle…strolling casually up front for a tissue, glancing around for any little piece of knowledge to help them escape this little bit of hell on Earth.  Others practically fell out of their chairs trying to look for clues.

The blamers were the best.  The bulb was faulty – can I have a different one?  My battery is dead.  You gave me a bad wire.  They were 1000% sure this was somehow my fault.  I asked them to bring up the equipment in question and Iducked under my desk to do a little test run myself.  I always popped back up with a big grin, let them know everything worked for me, and turned to the next customer in line who was ready to lodge a complaint.

There were tears.  A lot of tears.  Some sobs but not enough to change the course of the activity.  Valiant attempts I might add, but ultimately the whimpers and whines fell on deaf ears.

After about 30 minutes, roughly half had succeeded and moved on to reading out of the coveted science nonfiction books with titles like UFOs, Unexplained Mysteries and Ghosts and Spirits.  Happy as clams, kicked back, feet up.  Success.

The other 50% were struggling.  Some switched strategies and gave up.  Others rallied and came back.  Some were successful in their sad attempts to cheat without being noticed….I suspect they did not share the feeling of accomplishment that their peers did who stuck with it and figured it out.

Next came the tough part.  With 3 minutes left and a small number still with in various stages of angst and protest, I had to decide – do they walk out “failures” or do I reveal the answer.

Some gave up their recess to come back and keep trying.  Those were the ones that got a little nudge from me to help speed the process along.  Others I didn’t see the rest of the day.  But I did hear from their parents that night.

The tone of the emails ranged from pleading and desperation to borderline anger and rage.  They asked for extra help.  They wondered if a science tutor was needed.  Some asked about the impact on grades.  Another questioned exactly how long would I let this game go on and sacrifice real learning (loved THAT one).

Eventually everyone was able to light their bulb.  Not everyone used perseverance and trail and error – some looked it up on the internet or asked a friend.  Some unabashedly threw their parents under the bus and declared that they had given them the answer.

simple circuit

We had spoken about failure for months in class and how it is an intricate part of scientific discovery – you make a guess, test it, sometimes you are right but more often you are wrong.  You tweak and change and re-think and try it again. But when push came to shove – when they had to fail in order to learn in a real way….they had very,very little experience with how to handle it.

As a middle school teacher, epic failure seemed to be as common as too much Axe cologne in the mornings. Kids failed daily. Their outfits failed. Make-up attempts were usually a failure on some level. They failed tests, their friends failed them, lunch options failed, ….. It is the great connector and the great teacher during the adolescent years. But it is hard – as much on us to watch as it is on them. We remember the struggle and we want to take it away. Hopefully this book will put more of the teacher in my parenting ….it is much easier to tow the line when the kiddoes aren’t your own!

 

 

Pokemon NO

Pretend rat in my car

“What makes Pokémon Go so different from other games is that its boundaries are seemingly unrestricted. ” – M Buxton, Refinery 29

Clearly.

I reached my personal tipping point when reading about the two men (MEN – early 20s – old enough that they should be somewhere WORKING during the day…) who had to be rescued after falling off a cliff chasing invisible cartoon characters.  It begs the age-old parenting question – If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow them?  Apparently so if there is a rare Pokemon hovering nearby.

I needed more information.  I am going to be judgey, that is a given.  But I needed to know more before fulling embracing my haughty, middle-aged woman stance on things that simply don’t make sense to me.

I took to the internet – Google in fact – to learn more about the game that has my son’s brain rotting, but in the outdoors while walking around. This, by the way, is the most prevalent aspect of the game that is being lauded – it gets people outside and moving.        I. Can’t. Even.

I am going to concede that kids – meaning 18 and under – and retirees – let’s say 68 and above – can have at it.  Not going to judge.  There are certainly worse games out there they could be playing and maybe keeping the seniors moving is a good thing….

dad with a pretend rat
My Dad trying to touch a pretend rat on the Pokeballs.

Ultimately what I have learned was that this is far, far beyond anything I want to devote brain space to at this point in my life.  I was reading about species that can evolve, eggs that can hatch and wild Pokemon that live in unique habits.  There are gyms and battles and Pokestops and Pokeballs.  (Pokeballs actually make me laugh because I have the humor of a middle schooler.)

I came across this poke-splaining paragraph that was written by some self-proclaimed gamer and expert with the intent to help the poor souls like me understand this important cultural event occurring all around me.

For example, if there are a large number of Poliwag in your area, but no Polywhirl nearby, catch a lot of Poliwag to eventually gain the ability to have one of them evolve into a Polywhirl. – Daniel

Daniel, I have no fucking idea what you are saying.

I decided to hit the streets for some real life exposure in the hopes I would start to get it – (not #GetThemAll)

millenials
Chasing Pokemons in the 100 degree heat and 90% humidity in Charlotte, NC

When this smart group of millennials paused at the corner I hid behind a pillar to listen in, silently hoping they were actually doing something – anything – remotely acceptable for young adults.  This is what I overheard.  And I quote….

“Someone had a Jigglet coming out of their toilet…. ” Hearty laughter from all.

I threw my phone on the ground and walked away.

In a last-ditch effort for some level of understanding I decided to take the “What Pokemon Are You?” quiz.  I had my eye on Jigglypuff (appropriate for the 45-year-old me) so I put a lot of thought into each and every answer.

Even the quiz was mostly indecipherable.  I did catch a few of the questions….

What is your favorite activity? Of the stupid choices presented, the one obvious for me    was Karaoke.  (I mean,duh, isn’t Karaoke pretty much always the answer?)

Where would you vacation?  A tall mountain – no.  Too much walking for a vacation.  Walking about – No.  Again, movement does not equal vacation. Volunteering at the egg hatchery – NO.  Vacations are real not imaginary.  Splashing around in water where it is ineffectual.  BINGO!

How could I be defeated?  Since a Karaoke sing-off wasn’t an option I went with being strangled by a vine.

Favorite food? Chocolate.  Nailed that one.

Favorite Pokemon game?  Shut up.

Then I had to pick a cat….I chose a REAL one who was normal looking.  Perhaps that is where I went wrong.

I felt like I was back in Vegas watching the little white ball go round and round ….

MAGIKARP.

Much like Magikarp doesn’t put much effort during a battle, only feebly splashing its opponent, you did not put much effort into this quiz.  One can only hope you one day evolve.

Screw you, Pokemon.  I AM a Jigglypuff.

I’m out.  I gave my best effort to become a #PokeMOM but instead have to stick with my first instinct and keep my hashtag #PokemonNO

May the force be with you.  That’s Pokemon, right?

jigglypuff
Image from the Jigglypuff official Wikipedia page
mosse
Me.  With another pretend friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only Because of Their Skin Color.

toms hands

I didn’t sleep well last night.

Outside was a typical summer storm – lots of distant lightning, some thunder, a little rain.  That is not what kept me awake. What kept me awake, and I hope kept you awake as well, were the incidents of the past two days.  What kept me awake was the knowledge that my children witnessed two men being shot and DYING on the television.  Let me say it again so it sinks in.  They saw two men – real men – being shot and dying on the TV. This was not a movie.  There were no special effects.  Both were shot and died at the hands of police officers.  Both were black.  And both had their moments of death broadcast on the television.

Even writing these words I feel like I threw up in my mouth just a little bit.

But the story doesn’t end there.  As the kids retreated to watch Netflix, I continued to watch more violence unfold.  This time 5 police officers were shot and killed, 7 more people injured, in a calculated attack aimed at assassinating police officers in Dallas, TX.  Some of their deaths were captured on video.  Over the day maybe we will see more real death on the big flatscreen TV in the den.

Watching real people die on television has become too common.


Over the course of our lives we tell ourselves stories.  Stories that ease our minds.  Stories that justify actions and thoughts.  Stories that motivate us.  Stories that scare us.  We live in stories.  Stories are often self serving, mind easing and deliverers of comfort.  Stories almost always have elements of truth and as well as fiction.  We believe our stories to be 100% true; some even are willing to die for their story.  Too often we ignore others’ stories.

Think you don’t have a story?  Think again.  You have a million.  Are you white?  Are you educated?  Are you wealthy by the world’s standards?  Republican?  Democrat?  Can you eat out at a moment’s notice and have the privilege of deciding whether or not you will return based on the quality of the service?  Can you educate your children in the way you want them to be educated?  Do you fell like you have control in your life?

Stories.

The stories of the world are, for me, like the distant lightning in a summer storm.  As a privileged white woman, the lightning strikes are often from far-flung corners of the world.  I watch them from the couch with my kids beside me.  We can talk and try to process the events.  We can chew on the situation, look at it from different angles, listen intently to others.  But we are far far FAR away.

I can hear the thunder, though.  It gets a bit closer and becomes a bit more real as each day passes.  Deep down there is a sense that things are going really wrong in this country.  I hear hateful talk from people who are lauded as future leaders of this country.  I watch anger overtake anything and everything good.  I see real men die on the TV.  Watching men and women die on the television should be like a rumbling of thunder for all of us.

And then it rains.

boys
Chase, Will, Sam
What is the story here?  Do you wonder?  Some of you know the story; others don’t.  Stop and just honestly sit with where and what you thought, in the first split second you saw this picture.  That is one of your stories.  I suspect, whether you are white, black, asian, or any other race, you were struck by the whiteness and the blackness of these three boys.  My guess, if you are being honest, is that you were curious at the very least. I would be if I didn’t know and love all three of these boys immensely – one my son and the other two my nephews.

Over the next few weeks I am going to tell you parts of their stories on this blog.

I am going to tell you how they came to be a part of my very white, very privileged family.

I am going to tell you their story in the hopes that it influences, maybe even changes, the stories you tell yourself.

For now, this is a part of my story…

My nephews know that color matters.  They have the same privileges as all of the children in my family have – loving parents, supportive families, quality education, clothes, houses, food, friends, vacations….and yet they know they don’t have every privilege that the rest of us have.  Only because of their skin color.

Sam and Will have had conversations with my sister that I will NEVER have with my son.  Only because of their skin color.

My son and his neighborhood friends played with air-soft guns in my yard, even were  mischievous and climbed upon my roof during the hot days of summer a few years ago, and hid behind the chimney with their toys.  I have definitely rethought why I allowed this (so please no haters on this subject – THAT would be a diversion and a straw man argument to take away from the real point here).  I suspect ultimately I didn’t take enough time to actually THINK – a white privilege problem for sure. I never worried someone would assume the guns to be real, though.  Little white boys running around, laughing.  No, those guns would never be seen as threat.  Will and Sam will NEVER be able to do that.  EVER. Only because of their skin color.

Will and Sam matter.  Their stories matter.

our-lives-end-MLK-quote.jpg

 

 

 

My Teenage Boy has Brain Rot

teenageboywithbrainrot

I think my son’s brain is rotting.  There are outward physical signs – he sleeps late into the morning, he is so lethargic apparently all he can do is play some NBA game on the x-box for hours on end, he smells, and he seems to have lost his ability to speak clearly and in complete sentences.  He does show interest in some activities like basketball, golf, and baseball so I feel like he may be able to beat this. And he eats.  Boy does he eat.  So he is keeping up his strength, which is important.

Summer brain rot has set in for the teens in this house, and I am defenseless.  I day-dream about looking out the kitchen window and seeing him there, stretched out on the back porch, engrossed in War and Peace.  I dream of calling him in for dinner and hearing in response “OK, Mom.  Just let me read one more chapter!”

It is a start contrast to the real view – a lanky, quasi-hairy boy sprawled on the back porch with bright orange Cheetos dust settling over his body, engrossed in yet another YouTube video.  He is watching, get ready for it, other people play video games.  The same game that he has logged innumerable hours playing himself.  He is watching, intently I might add, someone else playing the game!!!  My heart stopped last week when he told me, with admiration in his eyes, that the “best” YouTube gamers make a lot of money posting videos.  It is their job.  At that point I lost consciousness.

My kids have never been readers.  They can read (whew) but it is always under a threat of some kind.  I appreciate, as they get older, that there are books they need to read for the upcoming school year.  But the summer book selections NEVER help my cause.  I am a voracious reader, but really?!  I don’t want to dive into historical novels with weird wording and deep meaning.  It’s hard enough to breathe in the summer heat.

I am also sure that my son will enter 9th grade with a note in his file pointing out that every August in MS he came back to English class having proudly read Nate the Great.  AGAIN.  4 years straight.  Nate the Great.  See what I am battling?

It is a very real struggle to be a teacher mama.  Everything I know about educating kids is sooooo much easier to enact with YOUR kids when they are physically trapped in a room with me.

I know this 15-year-old boy MUST DO SOMETHING with his brain this summer.  I can smell the rot.  I shifted into teacher mode and here are some ideas to try….

  • Find a book that actually might be interesting to a teenage boy.  Think nonfiction Into Thin Air, Thunder Dog, 438 Days, Unbroken.
  • Reading is reading is reading.   Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair.  You will probably need to find an article…throwing the whole magazine at him might knock the iPhone out of his hand but in my experience it doesn’t inspire him to browse the index inside.
  • Have a thoughtful conversation in non-neanderthal English.  Watch a great TV series together this summer that is thought provoking.  The OJ documentary is fascinating, as is “United Shades of America” on CNN, and any “30 for 30” on ESPN.  Whatever they have an interest in, scour Netflix and find something that you can talk about and revisit.
  • Pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).  Not Easy.  Try encouraging them to think like a screenwriter (TV shows, movies – those guys make a lot of money too and they are likely not still living in their mother’s basement).  Chunk the writing small parts with the intention of capturing “scenes”.  Baseball team come back and win against all odds?  Incredible people watching on a family trip?  Encourage them to capture those memories like stories.  Tap into creativity.

By no means am I saying I can pull this off with my own kid.  I am going to do my best and hope that just I might stave off the final stages of rot before it is too late. If it doesn’t work, Harris Teeter has air fresheners on sale this week.

teenageboywithbrainrot

 

 

 

 

 

45 is the new 15

young me

“Middle age is when you’re sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn’t for you.”  — Ogden Nash

Today I officially declare myself …. middle aged.  Not over the hill, just cresting it.

Smack dab in the middle of my life.

Straddling the line of sooooo many things – desperately leaning toward 40 but being pulled quickly towards 50.  Wait, when did 40 suddenly become wishful thinking?  It’s bad.

Maybe the most shocking part of it all is that I am not really that different from the 15 year old girl from four score and blah blah blah years ago.  I worry basically about the same things I did in middle and high school.

Did you used to casually sniff your armpits, ever vigilant for the trace odor of anything but Secret deodorant?  (You did, right?  Please tell me you did.)  Same thing today except now I am constantly twisting around and trying to look at my back to see if the latest hot flash has left a tell-tale trail of sweat soaking through my shirt.  Good times.

Ever get slammed into the lockers in the school hallway by the mean girls?  I was little – easy target.  I don’t find that there is much aggressive physical contact these days, but I assure you there is intimidation.  Why else are these women parading around nude (well, at least topless) in the yoga studio locker room, obviously taunting me with surgical enhancements and and tire-free middles?  It’s a subtle shove, trust me.  I’m not even going to get into the unnatural state of cellulite-free legs….

Do we ever get over stressing about our clothing?  Lordy.  The angst over Jordache jeans and Docksiders has morphed into the anxiety of dressing “my age”.  I refuse to cross that line but some days I can’t help but think my love for all things JCrew does date me perhaps.  That is mostly because I am the exact opposite of any model used in their catalogue.  (see!  Im old!  who says catalogue??  geesh – website.)  I’m not worried about slipping into Mom jeans and elastic waisted polyester pants (yoga pants excluded of course.  And yes, they CAN be worn as pants TC!*).  But it is hard to draw the line between the expensive rips in my jeans being just right and just stupid.

Plus I have developed a really (disturbing) habit when it comes to my waistline. Yoga pants (which I wear a lot and, yes, in public TC!)  are pretty low, right? And sometimes (ok, a lot of times) the elastic slips a little south…just enough to let the bonus middle escape over the top (and sides – gag).  It doesn’t matter if it is a little or a lot – it is maddening!  It demands an adjustment and I, apparently, adjust by snapping the elastic waist of my pants.  Over and over and over….much to the dismay of my family.  And if it isn’t the yoga pants it’s the bikini underwear….satin briefs here I come.  Don’t judge.

As if body image and clothing aren’t enough, there is always my hair.  The upkeep of spiral perms was nothing compared to the pesky battle with grays and the delicate balance of overly blond-ifying my natural brown hair in the pursuit of age defiance.  It can go the other way fast, ladies.. Careful with those foils.  Add in crossing the line with “The Cut” …soft waterfall in the front, knives in the back….you know the look. It can be oh so tempting some days when the humidity is high and you want to give up just a little bit.  Thank you, SNL, thank you, for that PSA. **

Let’s not forget Thelma and Louise…the rogue hairs that spring from my chin and cheek.  On some level there is a sense of vitality that I have some part of body able to thrive and grow so quickly.  Smooth skin to stubble in literally one minute!  One minute!  It is absurd.  My obsessive touching of T&L leads quickly to an overwhelming desire to shed all responsibilities and obligations in order to get to a pair of tweezers.  First I have to find my reading glasses, of course.

I learned today that the average lifespan in the US for a white woman is 81.48 years.  Sadly, living in NC brings me down to 80.81 (Bojangles & humidity, no doubt).  I am going to give myself  the benefit of yoga (good GOD let’s hope so – I endure a lot of bullying and I should get something out of it!), a lot of laughter and a generally happy disposition.  Diet Coke and too much sunshine could conceivably take me down before my time … but I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of gal.  I think aiming for 90 is still within the realm of possibility and reaching much beyond that would probably be overly optimistic.  So on the 45th anniversary of my birth I am embracing all things middle age.

45 is the new 15, you know.

* TC = Tracy Curtis.  Hilarious writer and yoga-pants-in-public hater. www.tracyleecurtis.com

**   The Cut

Donald Trump. STILL a role model?

Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, pauses while speaking during The Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, July 18, 2015. The sponsor, The FAMiLY LEADER, is a "pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-life organization which champions the principle that God is the ultimate leader of the family." Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Donald, oh Donald.

Since 2004 you have been my guy.  I watched you glide down the escalator in front of eighteen contestants, all lined up like Democrats in front of a Republican firing squad.  Of course some of those years you were the Democrat and they were the Republicans… oh well, no worries.  It is totally your earned right as a rich, white male to change your philosophical stance on something so silly as abortion. I totally forgive you for shifting your core morality and philosophies so as to better position yourself in a run for President.  Smart.

You made my heart sing during the 185 episodes of The Apprentice, a show dedicated to showcasing your accomplishments and undeniable power and charm.  The eight seasons you brought in “celebrities” were brilliant!  You showed that even people in the public spotlight still worship your complete dominance in anything worth doing.  Honestly, I thought it was really gracious of you to throw them a bone and call them “celebrities”….we know the real celebrity, don’t we? (wink)  With every dollar you matched to their chosen charity, I cheered the incredible self-sacrifice and generosity you displayed on national television.  You reminded all of us that philanthropy works best when it is done publicly.  I applauded your commitment to self-serving endeavors, both on and off the camera.  You seemed to genuinely care about yourself, and that’s number one in my book.  In fact,  you seemed to genuinely love yourself.

Maybe that is why I love you right back.

On June 16, 2015 you reminded me that there is joy and happiness to be found in politics.   You understand that “calling it as you see it” and forgoing any sort of civility, manners or respect for others is, indeed, an important part of all politics.  You make it your personal mission to show the rest of us exactly how to behave.  It is fun watching a big kid, on and off the campaign trail, loving his life.

I have said over and over again – Donald is a great man who is also a role model. Many times I said it to people who do not share my same level of enthusiasm.  I still say it and then I call them all losers – that’s how I roll.

I would like to be clear about one thing, though.  Too often people overlook your skill in peeling back the layers of bullshit about people many consider to be role models.  I once said that John McCain is a role model.  I cited his remarkable military service to our country.  You pointed out that being captured and held as a prisoner of war isn’t something to admire.  It was then I realized how “off” my thinking really can be.  I also once admired McCain’s sponsorship of a bipartisan, anti-torture amendment that stated aggressive interrogation techniques “compromised our values, stained our national honor and did little practical good.”  I, mistakenly, have been teaching my children that the horrid violence and lack of respect for human rights, even when the people are our enemies, is not the way any of us would hope to operate in the world.  Thank you for pointing out that human rights only apply to certain people, specifically people who look like us.  That is a sound principle that can be applied in many, many life circumstances.  

I put the Pope on a pedestal.  I swooned when he said “In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.” during a speech to Congress back in September 2015.  Shortsightedly, I saw this as a powerful expression of Christian values.  It wasn’t until you pointed out that all Mexicans who cross the border are probably really, really bad guys, that I was able to step out of the propaganda of inclusion and tolerance.  We are Americans after all!  Plus, who can really trust a guy who is “humble” anyway?  If he is going to lead the largest church in the world , he should at least dress the part with the red cape and Ferragamo shoes.  Am I right?

Oh boy, and then there are the other candidates you are having to share the spotlight with…. please.  Jeb Bush – weak.  Ben Carson – no ability to comprehend issues.  Hillary Clinton – a major national security threat.  Ted Cruz – a complete and utter liar.  Carly Fiorina – ugly.  John Kasich – total dud.  Paul Rand – a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain.  Marco Rubio – can’t even get through the State of the Union without sweating and chugging water.  Bernie Sanders – a wacko and a disaster.

Your opponents, Donald, are not role models.  You were, unfairly, lumped in with them.  You have shown us all that, in fact, you are standing waaaay up in front.

I believe 100% that what we see from you is a real(ity) TV personality.  I applaud your authenticity in your over-blown ego and self- congratulatory air.  How refreshing to see someone be convincingly pompous and offensive!  You know what they say, all publicity is good publicity.  I absolutely believe that you do you.  

And here’s the thing – when people are authentic, they are always authentic.  You, Donald, are authentic.

You are taking a lot of heat for that very trait…and maybe you should.  Wait!  Don’t yell at me and tell me I must be bleeding from an unmentionable lady part….hear me out.  

I cringed during one of your campaign rallies in New Hampshire.   I wanted to hear more from you – I wanted to hear YOU call Ted Cruz a pussy, not just repeat it from a female audience member.  That kind of vulgarity and lack of class should be on the tip of your tongue and not be the responsibility of white trash in the audience.  We know you admire your daughter, Ivanka, in a slightly disturbing, I-would-date-her way. Melania’s well-perfected, aloof, I-am-so-above-all-this stare is clearly admirable to you as well.  But to be upstaged by a woman?  I think we all expect more from a presidential candidate.

Despite that one slip, you are still a role model in my opinion.  That authentic, flinch-inducing, ill-mannered persona is nothing short of real.  Real white privilege.  Real haughtiness.  Real hubris.

Thank you, Donald, for the conversation I had last night with my own kids.  We talked about what it must feel like to bask in the glory of your own success while watching your opponents call off their campaigns and admit defeat.   We had a chance to put ourselves in your shoes and talk about how we, too, should gloat.  We stepped outside of ourselves and saw the game through your eyes.  We practiced disdain for others. We talked about indifference.

Here’s the thing, Donald.  I know what a role model is….and what a role model is not.  You have given me chances to parent my kids – which is my job. Your job is to be a brazen, self-proclaimed demi-god who illustrates that the only person who really matters is YOU.  You, sir, are a prick.  A glorious, unapologetic son of a bitch.   And by being that great asshole, YOU have allowed ME to have conversations, so precious and rare in the teenage years, about important topics.

We have started talking more about self-interest.  We now talk about how powerful words can be, and how, being privileged and white themselves, they need to use their words to belittle others and propel themselves forward.   Every newsworthy sound clip from you has shown us that.

We talked about how everyone (yes everyone) makes mistakes.  We also talked about how to use those mistakes as a weapon in taking down your opponents.  We can overcome mistakes but others cannot.  A very important and practical lesson.

We talked about kindness and how it never gets you anywhere.  Bringing others into our circle of light only dims our own light.   Every razor sharp insult and dismissive comment you have made was an example of never sharing anything with others.

We also talked about pressure.  We talked about having enough money so that no one else’s opinion matters at all.   We spoke of opportunities.  When there is a chance to bring down others, to leverage pressure to crush them, we should do it.  Without apology.  And call it being a “straight shooter”.  It’s all in the sell.  We talked about the thrill in seeing people fall.   We talked. And talked. And talked.

Thank you, Donald, for every “talk” I have had (and will have) with my kids.  It’s my job to raise my kids.  Thanks for making that easier.