It’s time to say NO to school uniform and YES to children’s body autonomy

It’s 102 years since Ireland proclaimed equality for all its citizens, isn’t it time we extended that equality to children, the most discriminated against people in the world.

According to the Irish constitution, “you have the right not to have your body, or personhood interfered with” and as a country who wants to become the best country in the world to be a child, shouldn’t we finally include children as full members of society?

Most children in the world and Ireland still don’t have bodily autonomy.

Imagine if you didn’t have a say over when what or how your body was used. This includes hairstyle, clothing, piercings, tattoos, everything.

Imagine if it was up to someone else when and how your hair was cut. Imagine if you weren’t allowed to choose your own clothing, clothes that you’re comfortable in, imagine having to wear clothes to fit in with policy rather than the comfort of your own skin.

How would you feel? How would you react?

This is the reality for many children, and certainly for every child and young person attending a uniform school in Ireland. It’s more about control, discipline and power over than equality, fairness and responsibility. The school uniform is also a British invention.

Children are violated on a daily basis without anyone taking notice, not even children as they have become accustomed to the unethical infringement of their bodies.

Adults have undeserved control over young people’s bodies and choices. Children’s body autonomy must be respected. How do we think young people are going to learn to say no when it really matters if we don’t allow them to say no to a school uniform, to strict dress codes that entirely erases learning about who you are.

Enforced control over children’s bodies is not protective, in fact, it’s counterproductive as it pushes children into a peer culture of having to rebel against adults instead of keeping the necessary attachment to parents.

A parent shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with their children’s bodies and should only be allowed to agree to it in a medical emergency; this includes piercing of children’s ears and forcing children to kiss relatives and friends.

In a country that still allows parents to hit children, what voice do we imagine we have given to young people? When you hit a child, you’re telling the child their body is not their own. When you force children to wear a uniform, you are telling children their bodies are not their own. A child needs to know that their body belongs to them. Having the power to make decisions about the body is also a part of a child’s self-esteem.

Bodily autonomy builds strong people, not strict discipline and dress codes.

 

 

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I wish no one had to come out

I wish no one had to come out; I wish being gay or bi or trans or whatever was as normal as falling in love with the opposite sex is. I’ve been called gay since I started school, and not as a positive, but it’s not considered a crime, not like calling someone out on their religion. But who you are is not a belief, it’s not a phase, it’s for life, but when not considered natural how can I ever become who I really am without a fight for survival? I don’t know if I’m gay, I haven’t fallen in love yet, and apparently, this is not normal either. I’m different. I’m sensitive, and as a boy, I’m totally unsupported by the school, by society, I don’t follow societal norms for a boy, and therefore I’m outcast. I wished we talked about sex openly and naturally. Everything is natural. But I don’t feel natural; I feel like there’s something wrong with me. Adults are wrong; children can feel suicidal, being a child is not always a magical time.

My son was 10 when he said this, he is 15 now and still questioning because sometimes life for children is not as magical as adults pretend.

What is literature and what is journalism?

Are literature and journalism at opposite ends, never to be united?

Literature is any type of written work, but specifically books and other printed work. Literature can be further classified in fiction or non-fiction, prose and poetry and also length: the novel, novella, short story, drama and also historical periods and genre. Literature uses words to paint pictures, imagination to create worlds, situations and characters that are fictitious but still relatable to real life. Literature emerged four thousand years ago and has shaped the lives of most humans on Earth since. Our sense of history would be unimaginable without literature.

When oral storytelling evolved into literature, the birth of the alphabet in the Middle East and Greece, papermaking in China, bookmaking and eventually print in East Asia and later Europe revolutionised the world; literature has shaped our history more than anything else. Writing was invented at least twice, in Mesopotamia and later in the Americas. The Chinese invented print, but Gutenberg’s reinvention of print revolutionised it.

The history of literature starts with scribes who mastered the early writing systems and therefore controlled the foundational texts they were in charge of writing down. The charismatic teachers, such as Socrates and Jesus, comes next and they challenged the foundational texts and the influence of priests and scribes and their followers, in turn, developed new styles of writing and wrote what they heard and thought of what they heard. Then comes the individual authors who first imitated older texts but the more daring ones such as Cervantes in Spain and Lady Murasaki in Japan soon created a new type of literature, the novel.

Finally, the use of paper and reinvention of print created mass production of literature and therefore mass literacy, and this was when newspapers and journalism emerged. Our world is shaped by literature, but now in the era of the internet, it’s through emails and e-readers, blogs and social media, changing how literature is read, written and distributed

Journalism is another form of communication and concerns the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information on real-life events and happenings.

Journalism isn’t as recent as one might think. The earliest journalistic reference comes from Rome circa 59 B.C. when daily news was carved on stone or metal objects and displayed in public places. China also recorded events to keep government officials informed of what was going on during the Tang dynasty, from 618 A.D. to 907 A.D.

The first resemblance of a regular newspaper can be traced to Germany in 1609, and the first newspaper published in the English language was the Weekly Newes from 1622. The Daily Courant from 1702, was the first public daily newspaper.

A curious fact is that Post och Inrikes Tidningar, founded as Ordinari Post Tijdender,  a Swedish government publication is the world’s oldest currently published newspaper in the world, but now only online since 2007.

Print and broadcast journalism were traditionally the way that we consumed news, but the internet is revolutionising how information is presented. Media has a huge responsibility, possibly bigger than governments as media influence how we view the world more than government policies can. Good journalists have excellent critical thinking, writing, research and communication skills.

In the beginning, journalists just like printers started out as apprentices, and it wasn’t recognised as an area of academic study until 1879.

At one stage, journalists were seen as people who avoided real work. They gained recognition when they organised themselves

Any journalistic piece of writing should be informative, honest, and unbiased. It should be based on truth, facts, current events, and knowledge.

A journalist disseminates and covers everything we know and don’t know and are trained to high standard and quality. In our age of citizen journalism, there are many people committing acts of journalism without the unbiased view of a journalist, unless of course, the journalist wants to give one side more scope biasedly, they are trained to do so too.

A journalist asks five important questions, who, what, where, when and why and in answering these questions they find sources on both sides of a story or should.

Journalism is the writing on news-related subjects, but the term news has more than one meaning. There is hard news, celebrity news, breaking news.

Journalism is writing that isn’t yours, you’re the medium of information nothing else. A journalist has to use concise words and also regularly update oneself on trends, issues and news.

Literature takes the truth and makes it into art and lets us see and envision another perspective while journalism allows us to see the truth behind what we think we know. A writer will rewrite a story forever in some cases while a journalist will leave a story without heat within a couple of days.

Journalism is literature in a hurry, but literature can take more liberties than journalism. The language of a journalist has to be understood by a wide variety of readers while a writer can use specific prose to engage a select readership.

 

Pippi is a girl, not a boy

I love Astrid Lindgren, and especially Pippi. When I did a reading in my children’s school (a few years ago now)  they thought Pippi was a boy because of her boldness. Growing up with Pippi saved my life. Thank you, Astrid Lindgren for always championing children, for creating children heroes in your books and for spreading the recipe of a happy childhood around the world: love, love and more love.

Pippi’s sense of humour is one of her strengths.
(Excerpt:

“Are you the girl who’s moved into Villekulla Cottage?” asked one of the policemen.
“Not me!”said Pippi. I’m her very small aunt who lives on the third floor at the other end of the town.” She only said this because she wanted to have a bit of fun with the policemen. But they didn’t think it was the least bit funny. They told her not to try to be so clever. And then they explained that kind people in the town had arranged for her to be placed in a Children’s Home.
“I’m already in a Children’s Home,” said Pippi.
“What’s that? Is it already arranged?” asked the policemen. “Which Children’s Home is that?”
“This one,” said Pippi proudly. “I’m a child, and this is my home. There aren’t any grown-ups living here, so I think that makes it a Children’s Home.”)

Letter to younger selves

When you were seven and started school and ran home on the first day because you had to start competing against your classmates, I wish I could have come to you and tell you that you’ll be fine. You don’t have to take the same path through life like everyone else, you will learn everything you’re curious about, only you will learn it differently, and that’s ok. Compete only with yourself as that’s the only competition you can win. Tina, you’re highly sensitive, but you won’t realise until your son is also diagnosed with this giftedness.

When you were nine, and I didn’t want to live I wish I could have come to you and tell you that you will find joy, you will find love, and you will find more than one reason to continue to live. You are not of this planet, but you live here now, you chose to come here, no one forced you. Yes, you have to live under the illusion of free will while here, but you came here out of your own free will. You and your mum conspired to your beautiful birth here or as you insist on calling it, impact or landing.

When you were ten and ready to burst your pent-up anger on your mother for letting your father go, I wish I could have come to you and tell you; it’s not your mother’s fault, it’s his choice. She is saving you from hating your father by letting you think it’s all her fault. Your mother is saving the love you have for your father for when he is no longer here, and you can’t substitute love for hate. Your mother is love. Love her.

When you were sixteen and desperately in love with two at the same time, and having to choose only one, I wish I could have come to you and tell you to choose both, because love is limitless. Love doesn’t follow cultural rules; love is a force you can’t force so go ahead and love as many as you love. Eventually, the world will love the way you love.

When you were nineteen and suicidal again, I wish I could have come to you and say, it’s true, you are a mother now. What you have written is true, not fiction. You have written them into existence; this is your way of saving your life. Your children picked you for a reason, Tina, they want you to live, and you do too. Go ahead, read what you wrote again. What you have written is not a letter of goodbye, it’s a letter of hang on, wait for us, we’ll be coming soon.

 

 

I’m that mum

I wrote this when my children were small, they are teens now, so should read I was that mum, but on the other hand, I’m still that mum.
I’m that mum who gets up with her children at six and sometimes even five in the morning, because I’m a morning person, and we set the table and have a breakfast party.
I’m that mum who never tells them to go to bed early because they have to get up early. Instead, we go to bed when we’re tired which is usually earlier than most as we’re morning people.
I’m that mum who loves to do stuff with my children, to be the kind of mum I always wished to be, silly and rebellious and spending time because I want not because it’s my duty.
I’m a mum who doesn’t unschool but wish I could. Instead, I give them the freedom to question everything they’re taught in school; we discuss everything and more.
I’m that mum who makes sure home is a safe, relaxed, happy, inspiring place where they like to spend time and hang out on their own or with friends.
I’m that mum show all my emotions, no pretence. I am who I am; queer and polyamorous and they know, but most people don’t.
I’m that mum who worries but always, always let them follow their desires, their hearts, their interests and believe them to be smarter and more in tune with themselves than I am. They know themselves better than I do.
I’m that mum who tells my children the truth, the whole truth and then let them make up their own mind.
I’m that mum who loves quiet and solitude, I’m an ambivert, so I let my children find their desire for noise by themselves or with someone else.
I’m that mum who never brings them to the playground because adults aren’t allowed to play, and I hate small talking with other parents about how good or bold the children are.
I’m that mum who will try new stuff with my children as they encourage me to let go of my fears.
I’m that mum who doesn’t wear makeup and let my hair go grey but try my best to keep in shape and eat healthily.
I’m that mum who explores my own interests as well as encouraging theirs.
I’m that mum who cooks healthy food with the option of mixing according to different taste.
I’m that mum who speaks up for my children when they can’t speak up for themselves.
I’m that mum who at every birthday indulge their birth stories, each year remembering more and more details, hoping to reach all the way back to source eventually.
I’m that mum who practises authentic parenting without knowing that’s what I was doing; I’m a loving parent that’s it.
I’m that mum who gives my children money to give to homeless people to encourage the empathy that they feel when they see someone suffering.
I’m that mum I wished for when I was a child.
I’m not that mum who believes I’m the most important parent, I think the dad is equally essential, but it’s not my role to play.

 

Communication is everything in all relationships not only open polyamorous relationships

We have all fallen into the trap of romantic love. Romantic love is an addiction, and when the magic is gone, we fall out of love.  In monogamous relationships, cheating is universally forbidden but also universally practised which proves that most people don’t practice open communication.

Open communication is vital in all relationships, but especially in open relationships, but it’s difficult, and it takes time especially since most of us have been conditioned to believe in one person for life or at least one person at a time.  When we dare to open up, to be truly honest, we stand a chance of experiencing true love.

I’m convinced monogamy and marriage were invented to control women, there is nothing romantic in being owned by another because that’s what happens in monogamous relationships, we start to behave as if we own the other person. We accuse them of hurting us when it’s actually us hurting ourselves because we refuse to speak honestly with ourselves even as we demand honesty from our partner.  Jealousy doesn’t disappear because you open up, but you learn to deal with jealousy differently, by exploring it before moving beyond it so you can actually love more and feel compersion, joy for your partners love explorations.  Most of us minimise and deny who we are and what we feel because we are trapped in a romantic view of relationships.

We all want honesty, but we find it hard, to be honest with ourselves. A lot of us stay in mediocre and not so great relationships because we have gotten used to them, we don’t want to be alone, we think we’re still in love, but we might be more in need.

In an open relationship, everything is revealed, it’s gut-wrenching in the beginning because even open-minded people have cultural conditioning to scrape off, it’s years of guck and of having listened to something else’s idea of how to love.

So are there are rules for open communication, yes but you get to decide what they are together

We can all transform the way we talk to each other. We can say difficult things with love.

It starts with honesty; if you can’t be honest, you can’t communicate.

Don’t initiate deep conversations at inappropriate times. Deep honesty is challenging, and you will need time to go through the different stages of a deep heart conversation.

Deep heart conversations rarely go smoothly and hardly ever go as planned. Be flexible when you’re talking with your partner. The more attached you are to how the conversation should play out, the more disappointed you’ll be by how it does.

Move with the dialogue, bend with it, be in the moment. There is more than words at play when you talk on this level. Energy underlies everything being said. Use your intuition to tune into it.

Nobody communicates perfectly. It’s important to be patient with your partner as they express themselves with everything they are feeling, they might not know how they feel until they say it so don’t plan your responses. Listen. Stay silent. Don’t accuse or shout.

It’s impossible to communicate with love and clarity when you’re filled with judgment. When we talk from the heart, we invite our loved ones to reveal themselves in a more vulnerable and authentic way.

Remember, if what you’re saying isn’t true, then nothing real is being shared. Speak your truth with clarity, love and gentleness.

When you communicate your truth from a place of love, you’re always reinforcing the strength of your connection with your partner, no matter the response. You have to be honest.

Love is a force we can’t force. Falling in love with many is a gift, not a curse.  Relationships based on curiosity, respect, and a mutual desire to hang in whatever way suits all involved is so much more loving than relationships based on rules, expectations, sacrifice and compromises.  Of course, open relationships are not for everyone, but it is a valid option.

Being polyamorous doesn’t mean sleeping around, but it does mean it’s allowed and that to me is the difference between true love and romantic love.