It’s Time To Let Donald Trump Be The Poster Boy For Rape Culture

“I’ve gotta use some tic tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Donald Trump says….“And when you’re a star they let you do it,”…“Grab them by the p***y,” Donald Trump says. “You can do anything.”

Like so many of us, Donald Trump’s statement made my stomach churn. It made my mouth drop open – not in surprise that he said it (because women hear this all the time) but in shock that he got caught.

Getting caught just isn’t a thing that happens to men like him.

It’s time to let Donald Trump be the poster boy for rape culture.

Last year in my 8th-grade classroom, though, I caught one. He was one of those quiet-yet-aggressive boys. He wanted everyone to think it was someone else’s fault. He wanted to blame other people for his actions and used his juvenile logic to excuse any poor choice in behavior as being because the other person ‘didn’t like him’.

The problem is, when he grabbed a girl’s p***y right in front of me, he got caught. And boy, did he choose the wrong person to get caught by.

I yelled – and everyone got quiet. Shaking, I  sent him outside. I couldn’t look at him. My head flashed back to all sorts of times when boys/men have grabbed/yelled/fondled/brushed against/pushed/rubbed/ground themselves against me or other women.

I thought I was going to get sick. And then it got worse.

The girl – the victim – seemed oblivious. She told me it was nothing, that it was OK. That he was a friend.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing come out of this 13-year-old girl’s mouth. She was condoning rape culture before she even knew what it meant. She thought it was acceptable to be grabbed in the ass, to have her pussy reached for and owned by another 13-year-old boy.

I went ‘all mamawolfe’, as my students have tagged me, and told her why it was #notokay. How what he did was a sexual act of violence, even if he AND she claim it was nothing. I told her about how she owns her body, and no one EVER has the right to touch/grab/fondle her without her explicit consent.

I was trembling, and I was scared.

I think I scared her, too.

I could see other students straining to hear our conversation, despite my attempts at privacy. That’s not easy in a classroom full of kids. In all honesty, I wanted to stop everything and have this discussion straight up with my 8th graders. I wanted to call it out, to shout out that ‘grabbing ass’ is not EVER OK. I wanted to teach them right then that all people deserve to have personal space around their body until they INVITE someone in.

But you see, I’m just a teacher – not a parent. And yes, this was most definitely a teachable moment. And yes, my female student got my message. How could she not – just looking at the tears in my eyes, and hearing the tone of my voice, and seeing the shake of my hands, she got it.

And the boy – the perpetrator? He got it, too. He got told about sexual harassment. He got a call to his mother. He got to ‘apologize’, and then he got to come back to school just like every other day.

I wonder, though, if he’s watching the news now. I wonder if he sees how just because he’s a man he cannot and should not grab anyone’s pussy, EVER.

I wonder if he gets that he’s part of rape culture in America.

And the girl? I got to contact her mom and tell her exactly what happened and what I said to her daughter. It made me nervous, to be sure. Exposing this disgusting yet all-too-real aspect of femininity doesn’t feel like my job as a middle school teacher. But when this happens right in front of me, I realize it’s precisely my job.

It’s time to stop hiding behind ‘it’s OK:. It’s time to let Donald Trump be the poster boy for rape culture, misogyny, body shaming, and derogatory language about women.

Let’s find a silver lining around all this shameful behavior. Let’s use this as a chance to teach our children – to REMIND our children that this isn’t just a women’s issue – that this is a HUMAN issue. Let’s let this painful political season end on a note of hope – that somehow, this nasty and vile and disgusting little secret that all women have been hiding is real, and it needs to stop.

It’s happened to me more times than I can remember.

It’s happened to my friends, my sisters, and probably even my mother and grandmothers. Just look at how many women are feeling empowered to share their story now.

I hope it hasn’t happened to my 20-year-old daughter.

I fear it has.

Girls, you are not damaged. You are not to blame. You are strong and beautiful and real and smart and you need to know this is not okay. This is not how you should be treated, and don’t ever settle for someone who makes you feel like a victim. This is not locker room talk, it is not office talk, and it is not acceptable. Real men don’t grab p***y because they can.

Real men make you feel loved.

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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A Letter To Parents Leaving Their Kids At College

Utah hikingDear moms and dads,

People ask me what it’s like to leave your baby at college; they say they can’t imagine the time when their now-little child will leave them. In the middle of naps and Cheerio snacks and sippy cups, they can’t envision ever having their child not hanging all over them. As they pass through elementary school, the thought of not walking their child to school every day sends them into panic mode. And junior high? Well, most are OK with not having a ‘do-over’ on that one. But then high school comes, and proms and games and dating and driving and suddenly you have one year to plan college and then, graduation.

Honestly, you really shouldn’t think about leaving your kid at college. Enjoy every moment of these 18 years. Moving your baby away from home sucks.

That may be too harsh. I know several parents who say, “I can’t wait to get them out of the house. They’re driving me crazy. They eat too much. They’re lazy and messy and rude and they are READY TO GO.”

And I would agree with that, to a certain extent. But isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work?

Believe me – when you’ve loaded the car and driven to the place they’ll spend the next four years, you might have second thoughts.

No hotel room has ever felt so empty as when I went back to spend the night, knowing she was in her dorm and I wouldn’t see her again for months.

And no drive home was ever so long when I thought about 10 hours in the car, alone, driving 650 miles away from my first born.

And no Friday night was ever so nerve wracking knowing it was the first weekend she would go out and come home on her own, and I would have no clue where she’d been, who she was with, or even if she made it home at all.

In those moments, moms and dads, you might regret having wished so strongly that they would close their bedroom door and leave.

The first year my daughter left for college I admittedly was a wreck. Life had added to the tumult of her leaving home that August with having to care for my son and his seriously broken leg, and a kitchen that flooded not once-but twice.

I guess I should thank the Universe, actually; in some ways it helped get my mind off the empty space in my heart.

I went online for words of advice, to friends who’d been through this before, to my sister and my mom and anyone who could possibly toss me a nugget of wisdom about how to think about her going away. After all this, I realized that there are two ways to think about your child leaving for college:

First: You conjure up the last 18 years of parenting. If you’ve done a decent job, you likely knew your child’s friends and most of their teachers. You knew their coaches and the people they babysat for. You knew their homework assignments, when they had tests and what their grades were. You knew when they left the house in the morning, when they returned for lunch (the tell tale dishes in the sink?) and when they got home from school. You watched their practices and their games, saw them get ready for dances and dates and races. You knew where they were every single night.

And then one day, you carry their suitcase and duffel bags and skis and gear and boxes and boxes of stuff into a room, give them a hug and then you’re gone. Poof. You hope for a text or Snapchat, and head home. Alone.

Or: You think about the last 18 years of parenting, and all the life lessons you’ve taught them. You think back to the friends they’ve made and the relationships they’ve learned to negotiate, and are confident they’ve learned empathy and kindness. You remember the successes and defeats of their sports activities, and know they’ve learned how to persevere. You remember all the nights of studying and the work ethic they’ve developed. You think about how they learned to manage their schedules, use a calendar and get to and from work/school/practice safely and on time. You visualize teaching them to clean the kitchen, use the washer and change their sheets. You’re confident they’ve learned self-care, self-respect and perseverance.

So then on that day, when you’re wondering how in the world can you leave your child so far from home, you have a choice. You can think about this rite of passage and worry about them. You can think about their transition away from home and worry about yourself. You can cry and hug and smile and grit your teeth and walk away knowing you’ll have all these emotions churning inside you until you see them again – Thanksgiving if you’re lucky. You can take comfort in all that you’ve taught them and all that they’ve become. And you’ll likely be like me, and many others, who when they come back home and walk in the house, feel something missing. You’ll gingerly open their bedroom door and see an unmade bed, some discarded bottles of nail polish and lotion, a few dirty towels on the floor and a leftover framed photos of high school friends, and you’ll grab a tissue to wipe the tears that start rolling down your face.

Leaving your child the first time is excruciating. Leaving them the second time isn’t any easier, just different.

So moms and dads, I leave you with one idea that I hope makes this transition easier: remember that this is what life is all about. This is what you’ve prepared them for, even when you didn’t know you were doing it. This is the moment to celebrate and witness the ecstasy of the first part of your parenting job well done. This is the extraordinary in the ordinary right before your eyes. And sooner or later, they’ll be checking back with you for advice. So hang in there. It gets better.

Love,

Mamawolfe

A Letter To Parents Leaving Their Kids At College

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Please, Don’t Go Outside

“…the border between the Inside and the Outside wasn’t as impermeable as she liked to believe,

and he knew that sooner or later, the Outside would want in.”

~from If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie

Today I planted tulips and pansies Outside, yanking out the weeds and cutting back debris I’d left since August. It was wet and grey and the grass came out in clumps, snuff-colored soil and worms clinging to the roots. This is optimistic, I think, planning for the spring. Thinking someday it will be pink and purple and white and alive. It’s green and lush right now, but nothing is really growing. It’s a ruse, a fake, it’s just a cover crop.

Sirens pierce through the bird song. I quickly inventory, wondering if you’re Outside. Are they screaming in your direction? They cannot be, they will not be, they are NOT coming for you.

Do you know I check on you every morning, first thing as the coffee brews? Usually your shoulders need covering, and sometimes as I pull the striped duvet over your shoulder, you smile. In that moment, in that smile I see the real you, the child I know will be ready for Outside soon. I pick up a damp towel and a dirty juice glass and click the door shut behind me. Exhale.  You’re Inside, it’s quiet, and we’re safe.

I walk in her room, too. I’m not sure why I do – she’s never there. It’s cold and white and full of a starkness that only happens when someone doesn’t live there anymore. I pull the shades open, sigh and run my hand along her dresser, my fingertips making faint lines in the dust. She’s Outside now, out of my control, where I want her to be and where I want her to leave. But the years are minutes, I scream to the silence.

boy with skateboard

You tell me you want more independence, you want me to trust you. You want to go Outside until after dark. You want to pick up your skateboard and throw your house key in your pocket and skate away with the homemade wax you made in my best stainless steel pan…and I’m supposed to be OK with that. I’m supposed to say yes, go meet your new friends and your new girl and just be careful, I whisper to you as you leave. Be careful, Outside.

This won’t last forever, I remind myself, these moments when life pushes along and I sometimes chase after it. These years that are really moments, these moments that hold my breath and make me pause midway through and wonder if this is the last time…

It’s getting late and I need to think of something to teach tomorrow – Steinbeck, The Pearl, and Kino who thinks all his dreams will come true now that he’s found the Pearl of the World and then the baby dies. He thought he had it all – for a moment. Yes, years are minutes, Kino. Stay Inside.

She calls to tell me she loves her Avalanche class, mentions she’ll be skiing out of bounds this weekend. But don’t worry, Mom, she says. I’m with my group. She’ll click on her skis just like Bryce and Ronnie and please don’t go Outside, I silently scream, please don’t slide down, buried with a smile on your face like they did…

I shower and  slip into my new fleece jammies, soft and fresh from the dryer, and walk down the stairs. You laugh when you see me and tell me that’s a whole lot of leopard. That you read somewhere that women my age shouldn’t be seen Outside in leopard – certainly not head to toe.

But I’m Inside, I reply. I’m safe. No one can see me Inside here.

I hear your key in the door. It’s dusk now, and you’re Inside. Your cheeks are glowing and your eyes sparkle as you explain all about your new tricks, how you’re learning and persistent and you’re better than you were before you broke your leg, better than that August morning I texted you to be safe Outside and you said you would.

But you weren’t.

post_description_If_I_Fall_I_Die_by_Michael_Christie

This post was inspired by the novel If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie,about a boy who’s never been outside, thanks to his mother’s agoraphobia, but ventures outside in order to solve a mystery. Join From Left to Write on January 22nd as we discuss If I Fall, If I Die. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Cusp of Change: Those We Love Most

cusp

“Her life now hovered on the cusp of change…at this precise intersection in time, contemplating both distant memories and the uncertainty of the future, she knew she was standing on the lip between past and future. she had not yet taken a step forward into her new unwritten life.”

Lee Woodruff, Those We Love Most

She stands on the cusp of womanhood, her body and mind blossoming in unison. Only seventeen, the future spills before her with temptation. Choices abound, crashing through her day as she contemplates which class to take, which test to cram for and scrolls through glossy promises of college after college, holding her future in their hands. On her bedroom floor, littered with hastily scribbled to-do lists, fading birthday streamers and balloons nearly deflated, neat piles of laundry await, compromises about what to carry away to six weeks of summer ski camp in one not-so-gigantic bag. I can still see her childhood smiling back at me as she packs.

He bounds into the room, red faced and sweaty, backpack full of treasures discovered in a neighbors’ ‘free’ pile down the street. Deserted childhood bowling trophies, a half-filled helium tank, a roll of unopened masking tape and someone’s discarded Sacramento Rivercats handkerchief now strewn across the baby blue carpet of his bedroom. He is thirteen, teetering between that round-faced little boy I toted on my hip and that suave seventh-grader gently holding hands with his girl after school. He towers above me now. It’s his time to sample life, taking n taste after taste of all the world has before him. One class after another, new sports, new friends. A decision about a ski academy, the move-in date etched in our minds. Moving away before I’m ready. I grin as he gulps down his favorite dinner, and push myself back into his childhood.

I’m riding the line, straddling the fast lane. Since when did the teeter-totter weigh less on my end? Motherhood, once so physically exhausting, has now shifted its pressure. My mind tethers me to the past and drags me into the future. I write, I teach, I parent, I love, forever remembering who I am first and wondering how long that will last. We push ourselves to travel, to meet new people and speak their language. I strain for their hands, hoping to catch a finger before they soar off in another direction.

We hover on the cusp of change, dipping our toes into the unknown waters and in that precise moment, contemplate our next step. We ride the ebb and flow of life, sometimes skittering to the safety of shore, occasionally squeezing our eyes shut and diving into the wave. The future lies before us like a foggy horizon, and we, cautiously, carefully, often blindly, scan the horizon, searching for the lighthouse.

This post was inspired by the novel Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff. Every family has its secrets and deceptions, but they come to surface a tragic accident changes the family dynamic forever.. Join From Left to Write on June 6 as we discuss Those We Love Most. You can also enter to win a live video chat with Lee Woodruff! As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Use this link to enter to win a live video chat with author Lee Woodruff.

 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Snow and Sickness and Those Horrible Mommy Moments of Panic

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I was sick for most of the winter vacation.  Really sick.  Runny, sneezy, want-to-claw-out-my–itchy-eyes sick.  For days.  This is NOT how I wanted to spend my vacation.  I imagined a long, restful break full of cooking, baking, laughing, skiing, long walks in the snow, dinner with friends, games by the fire…not exactly what I got.  Instead, I was on the couch, tissue close at hand, too tired and grumpy and feeling sorry for myself to be pleasant company for anyone besides my family.  They had no choice.  It was everything I could do to not invite the whole Tahoe basin to my pity party.

Why is it that teachers always get sick on their vacations?  Not fair.  Who was the little creep who infected me with this?

The other bummer about being sick, besides thinking about all those sick days you’re NOT using, is that when you’re a mom, no one takes care of you – and you still have to take care of them.

Actually, now that my kids are teens it’s much easier.  Those baby years were rough-I guess I do have it easier now. I don’t have to change diapers, rock them to sleep or read Curious George for the millionth time.  But they still needed to be fed, and in the snow, grocery shopping is a huge ordeal.  I wasn’t up for that at all.  No endless circling the parking lot for a space, slogging into the store, pushing the shopping cart through the snow (that’s a fun one – have you tried it?) or heaving over-packed grocery bags through the four feet of snow to our door.  So, I did what any mom would do: I sent my son to the store.  On foot.

Ok, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  There is a mom-n-pop type store just down the snowy icy, street.  He can’t drive, but he can walk.

I slapped $20 in his hand, gave him a strict lecture about walking on the highway versus the road (I told him to choose the road-he’s quick, but jumping out of the path of a sliding car is not worth it), and sent him off.  It was daylight.  It was just down the street.  It was just for some eggs.

I watched him walk away, headphones over his ears, smile on his face.  Happy to be helping mama, or happy to be out of the house?

30 minutes later and it was getting dark.  No sign of teenager, eggs, or anything else that would alleviate my anxiety.  I was ready to call out the patrol. But, I was sick, on the couch, and in my bathrobe.  I had to fight my natural urge to hurl myself through snow banks to go find him. My baby was out in the snow.  In the dark.  Sensing my impending eruption, my husband volunteered.

As he geared up, amazing thoughts flashed through my mind.  Images of my son taking a detour, going to the highway for a shortcut, bounding through snow banks.  I imagined the sirens racing down the highway on the way to pick him up, the phone call, the hospital…I was way gone into future-trip land.

Just when I felt I was about to burst, something dark caught my eye.  There he was.  I spied him out the window, sauntering down the street, carton of eggs in hand, and headphones on ears.  He wore a huge smile on his face.

I exhaled all my anxiety, and tried to use the next sixty seconds figuring out how to handle myself. I couldn’t yell. I wanted to scream and release all my rage and fury about what he’d put me through.

Angrymamawolfe.

I fought the urge to run out into the snow and throttle him.  I figured the best bet was to play it cool, act as if I wasn’t worried.

Coolmamawolfe.

He walked through the door, stomping the snow from his boots. “Mom, I spent some time down at the lake. It was amazing.  The sky was so beautiful.  I took pictures.”

Amazedmamawolfe.

My heart melted along with the clumps of snow on the hardwood floors.  What a fool I am.  What a silly, foolish worrywart.  What a paranoid, over-protective parent.

I wanted to give him a lecture on the dangers of wearing headphones, but his sheer joy took it out of me.

“You’d be so proud of me, mom.  I checked the expiration dates.  One carton expired tomorrow, so I didn’t buy it.”  I could feel him growing up as he spoke.

You’re right, Cam, I thought as I hugged him close. You have no idea how proud.

Through Cameron’s eyes:

12 12 Tahoe and Mammoth 045
the sky was truly amazing, wasn’t it?
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I see why he wanted to get closer…
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that’s a little too close, Cam
12 12 Tahoe and Mammoth 051
OK, so there was a bit of goofing around…

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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