Pamela Llano Zesty Mom
My Beloved and I have 6 children between us~ 4 girls and 2 boys: 5 of the 6 are of teen / young adult age~ old enough to wander and explore to varying degrees on their own, which they should be able to safely do.
But, we all know that in the real world, sometimes things aren’t as safe as we would hope for them to be.
Ten days ago, a young mother in a town near me went missing. It was broad daylight and it is assumed she had gone on her usual run while her young children were in daycare.
It was not in a ghetto or a scary place in any sense of the word. At least not to me. My Boy Child has a good friend who lives right down the street in a very nice home. I would have been more concerned about a mountain lion than a person, and that didn’t seem all that likely either.
She should have been safe to do that.
The woman is named Sherri Papini and when she didn’t pick up her children from daycare or come home that evening, her husband tracked her phone and found it near a trail she ran on. Her headphones were found nearby.
She was not.
I’m praying for her (because that’s all I can do) while my heart breaks for her family and friends, and most of all, her children.
I’m also sharing her picture and story in the hopes that maybe someone somewhere has seen something, and can help.
I’m also looking at our girls, and the girls around us, and wishing I didn’t feel fear.
All of our girls are beautiful, and as the older ones maneuvered their way through adolescence, I would sometimes worry about the cat calls, the entitlements that creepy men seem to think are ok to take with pretty young girls.
Thankfully, of the 3 of our girls who are old enough to roam, 2 are quite naturally talented with having “I will cut you” looks on their faces.
Some call this “resting B- face.” I call it very handy in many venues.
I don’t have any training in psychology beyond a few college classes, but in my life experience, if you look like you will punch someone in the throat or rip their face off, they are less likely to bother you, and if they do, it stops more quickly when you look capable of inflicting discomfort.
The other one of our girls has a much sweeter and less intimidating face by nature. While I support all of them having pepper spray and being aware when they travel, I feel like the other 2 could, and would shoot daggers out of their eyes and melt an annoying persons face with their glare before the offender had a chance to get within a 10 foot radius. But this one…. She’s more inclined to smile pleasantly, or my fear is that she would just be in her own world and not even notice creepers.
Last weekend, she went to a rap concert. One of her relatives was concerned that she would not be safe~perhaps because of the venue or the other attendees or perhaps because she and her friend looked super cute and this relative knows there are a lot of pigs in the world who think it’s ok to say or do offensive things to pretty young girls.
Anyhoo, as she was preparing to leave and lacing up her big clunky heeled boots, I was giving my usual “make good choices” suggestion. A younger sibling mentioned the safety concerns of the relative, and sweet faced girl says, “Pshhh...whatever…. I could just stomp them with these boots!”
She stood up tall and strutted towards the door and at that moment, she looked like she could and would stomp if need be.
I smiled, thought, “That’s my girl”, and sighed with relief.
I’ve never been more proud.
I already know that it’s a little disconcerting to feel happy that a kid could kick butt. But then again, a lot of things are disconcerting, like the fact that women, and in this case girls, are by nature vulnerable when they go out, but it is the world that we live in.
And that aspect of it sucks.
Of course we will most certainly do everything we can to teach our boys, and all the boys we around, to respect women, and expect that from them. But they aren’t the ones I am worried about.
In the same way we can and do teach our kids about honesty, we also still lock our car because not everyone is learning these lessons.
Each of us has the responsibility to raise the young people in our care to the best of our ability, and yes, that will slowly move the culture forward in better ways, but the reality is that there are still complete nutjobs out there.
No matter how much we try to impart the concept of respect, it would be foolish not to realize that there are freaking scary people in the world. While living in fear isn’t healthy, we do need to be aware of that.
So, with mixed feelings, and even though I don’t want to condone or encourage violence, I still sigh with relief when my sweet faced bonus child realizes she could kick an offender.
And I encourage all of us to be careful, and keep our eyes open and because relying on the rest of the world being safe seems way too risky for me.
Please also have a look at the flyer for the missing mom, Sherri Papini, and keep your eyes open. Her family is missing her terribly.
PS~ Just to clarify, I’m only happy that the kids can defend themselves. They know that stomping with boots is only for protection and never unprovoked.
How do you handle issues of safety and children who are old enough to roam? I'd love your thoughts...
I have voted in every election since I was eighteen years old.
Every single election.
Big national ones, little local ones, they all felt like an important way to use my voice, and I’m definitely a believer in that. (Even if it is much to the dismay of the people who have to listen to me~ha!)
If I were going to be out of town traveling, I’d mail in my ballot ahead of time because I believe so much in the process of a government by the people and for the people.
How many people in the world don’t even have the option? I don't even know, but I do know that I’ve always been proud to use mine.
But this year, I’m not feeling the pride.
I’m feeling embarrassed and depressed and baffled.
I know I’m not alone in this, and I don’t think I’m just cynical and getting old either.
This year, I’ve felt a little bit of throw up in the back of my throat every time I think about the election, and full on nausea if I think too long on the possible results.
This year, a whole crop of young people that I know have just aged into their voting rights, and this ugly election is what they have to face.
Sorry kids. For real...
Much to their credit, most of the kids I know are voting anyway. Most of them are interested in the whole political process, and some are rather passionate about it (which I love) They may be disgruntled, but are probably less skeptical than I am, which is a good thing.
I’m fearing revolution and apocalypse or at the very least, not being able to travel internationally. They’re just like “WTH? Uhhh...This kinda sucks…Sheesh. Thanks a lot guys..”
My apology for the situation they have inherited is genuine.
Anyhoo, none of us like the situation, but we’re all trying to bloom where we’re planted.
So, even though I’m vexed and heavy hearted and perhaps even a bit woebegone, I still believe that despite this dark and ugly place, people need to try to use whatever power they have... even if it doesn’t feel like a lot.
Alice Walker was right when she said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
Imagine if no one had stayed to fight at Hogwarts? If they’d all just gone home and said “Well, there’s no point in this. It’s too big and we’ve already lost. Let’s just go eat chips and complain on the couch..”
What would have happened then?
Well, the book and the series would have had a stupid ending, and we all would have been woefully disappointed, but thankfully JK Rowling created characters with heart, even in hard times.
So, sorry kids, this election sucks. Thanks for showing up anyway.
And sorry world. America really is a nice place, and most of us are actually kind people. We’re all baffled and sick at what’s happening here too. And we’re trying to figure out how to make it better.
Fingers crossed, prayers in the air. The election is almost over.
If you can vote, please do.
And let's all do whatever we can so the aftermath brings healing.
As I stare down at my feet clad in a pair of Ursula socks, slightly guilt ridden over recent incidents, I ponder how exactly it is that one becomes "the villain."
There are a lot of ways, I suppose, but part of me has to believe that a fair amount of the time, the bad guy didn’t really start out that way.
A friend gave me the socks I'm wearing when she divided up a collection of villain inspired stockings with witches and evil stepmothers amongst her most seemingly fitting friends. While none of us is actually evil, all of us can pull off a wicked cackle~ and perhaps more importantly, we all give the impression of frightening ferocity when we need to.
Like the other villain sock owners, I’ve personally been considered the bad guy, or bad girl as the case may be, enough times in my life to realize that you really don’t even really have to actually be that bad at all to get the name.
The people who think I’m bad have clearly never run with any actual bad girls. Although, I suppose that could be a matter of opinion.
I’ve also been called scary and mean, which is probably more accurate, as I suppose I can be both on occasion (generally when provoked!!)
But that still brings me back to the question of what makes a person be considered a bad guy in the first place?
Sometimes, it’s just that they have an opinion and they express it and people don’t like that~ which isn't really fair.
Or they have boundaries that other people don’t think are valid and don’t want to honor. Again, not all that fair.
A lot of times, they get labeled because they flipped out for some reason or another, the scale of which frightened everyone within a 12 mile radius.
Clearly, explosions are not the healthiest or most pleasant way to deal with things, but the thing is, people don’t explode over small isolated events (even if it sometimes seems like they do.)
People flip because of the build up of unresolved frustrations~ sometimes because they have stifled what they need to say, feel or do about something, and sometimes because they’ve unsuccessfully tried to express themselves so many times, and they still aren’t being heard or helped.
If it seems out of the blue, my guess is that other people weren’t paying attention to the bazillion and five hundred clues that led up to it.
The trouble is that once you lose your shizzle, everyone just looks at you all crazy like, and maybe they do some sort of short term compliance in an attempt to calm you down, but they never, ever actually think about what you were freaking out about, let alone consider the validity in your stance.
No. They just act like you’re nuts and that they need to momentarily patronize your overly emotional wacko-ness so you shut up and they can go back to life as usual.
My question is, why the heck do we have to get to the point of no return before people listen?
A good friend was just telling me about a woman who is known for just saying no.
No excuses, no explanations. If she doesn’t want to do something, she just says no.
Can you even imagine?
Apparently, and as I would expect, this dumbfounds people. I, personally, am fascinated by this concept~ I mean, I suppose we’ve all seen the memes telling us that “No is a complete sentence” but who actually stops there at just plain no?
And do people actually listen? To just one word???
My tendency has been more to explain things in not just one or two, but 75 ways or so. My point is that I want people to understand my reasoning, and I don’t want to be an a-hole who is just saying no to be mean.
But maybe I should, because really, I think many people could care less about all of my explanations. In fact, I suspect a good number of them may actually have a strong dislike of hearing me drone on. (and on and on and onnnnnn)
So, as much as I’m trying to be helpful, it’s possible I’m not helping at all and no one is actually feeling any better or caring, let alone understanding my point.
Sometimes, you try really, really hard to nicely tell people no. I’ve actually tried saying things like: “Hey, this situation isn’t working for me. Continuing this way is not an option, and it needs to change.”
But then……... it doesn’t.
So, you mention it again. “This is still bothering me, and I’m not OK accepting it.”
They say they hear you, and there might even be a micro movement in the direction you hope for (yes, yes, I know to celebrate these….I do!) But months later, you are still 99.9% in the exact same situation.
I realize that in all honesty, I probably never have actually JUST said no and stopped there. I have however tried things similar the above versions of no (which I thought were pretty freaking good….at least as good as I could muster from all the dang communication books I’ve tried reading) but it came along with a good deal of “blah, blah, blah, blah” until I eventually am exhausted from trying to get my point across with soooooo little progress.
Or, even worse….I have tried to hold my tongue and work around my frustrations in a feeble attempt to care for people because I know my words are not always gentle enough for fragile people and situations. Ugggh. It’s awful.
I’m really rather tired of both of these methods, because they clearly don’t work and more than anything, I’m tired of the unhealthy pent up frustration that eventually leads to an explosion~ after which I still feel awful~ sometimes more than before.
One thing I really hate in situations like this, is that the person who flips, whether it was me or someone else, gets painted as the bad guy.... and the people who wouldn’t listen to twelve million requests for help / change / whatever don’t seem to make connection to their actions (or lack of) and the resulting flip out.
Sheesh. I mean, how about a little self reflection, folks?
When my Boy Child was a little thing of 3 or 4, he would sometimes attack. As in launch his body onto another, fists and feet pummelling and jaw open for a bite. It’s not easy to be the mother in this case, even if it was not unprovoked nor without warning~ it was generally a case of another child pestering him, sometimes physically poking or pinching and after repeated warnings and requests to stop, he would eventually turn into Hulk mode and whoop them.
Sometimes, the mother of the pestering child would get all judgey, which was really annoying because my kid had tried to use his words, and while I don’t think attacking was the right thing to do, I always wished they would consider sharing the concept of consequences with their kid. Because it’s not like the attack was out of the friggen blue.
Perhaps the nut did not fall from the tree, which brings me back to me and my coming to terms with the fact that sometimes, no matter how much I try to explain it away, I am just going to be considered the bad guy.
And that’s OK, because in life, the reality is that sometimes when you mess with the bull, you get the horns.
And while I don’t like it, I’m learning to be ok with it, because really, I’d rather speak my truth and be unpopular than carry the burden of pretending to be ok when I’m not.
This post doesn’t really have a resolution, other than acceptance.
So, while I’m trying to learn to just say no without explanations and to make boundaries that are firm yet somehow friendly at the same time and all that non violent communication style stuff, I’ll also pull up my villain socks, and practice my evil cackle just in case I need it.
How about you? What do you think about being the bad guy?
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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