Turn Off the News

I told my daughters last night, “Do not watch the news.”

One of my 16-year olds asked, “Why? Did Donald Trump say something heinous about women?”

“Yes.” She had either seen the news or had seen similar comments from Donald Trump.

This morning, I clarified. “I did not want you to see the news because I do not want you to think all men are like that.”

I know men — with husbands, brothers, students, old boyfriends and lovers, coworkers, pastors, etc., I refuse to accept this is the norm — that ‘boys will be boys.’

I do not believe that men talk about abusing women or see us solely as sex objects.

I cannot believe that men talk like this in the locker room or the boardroom.
Even though this man is running for president and the leader of a political party, I do not believe that he represents me or the American people.

This morning, I followed up on the conversation with my daughters.
“He talked as if consent does not matter,” I said. “Do you know what consent is?”
“Yes, it must be verbal.”
“And if a person can’t give a verbal consent then there can be no consent,” one of my girls said.
Thank you!

We have to look out for each other. I feel empathy for the actress that the men on the tape were talking about. As women, we have no idea what men were saying before we enter the room. I hope to God that when a woman appears, the men were discussing the Cubs versus Giants game or anything that is their own truth. And not the size or shape of our bodies or how they can exploit or abuse us. This is all so reprehensible.

The men were talking about women as if they were things.
Hey, you foul-mouthed men, we are complicated, creative, intelligent people! We make contributions to our families, workplaces, society. We are not toys for you and your buddies to grope. Blech. I cannot believe I have to say this. It is 2016.
People must decide if this man jibes with their own vision for leadership.

But as a mother and teacher, I would not let my children nor my students — nor my friends or family — talk like this or act like this.

I believe  our leaders should  help us lift one another up. We ought not put one other down. I have yet to hear any single way that this Republican candidate has lifted anyone but himself up.

People are richer for helping one another, for serving one another, for speaking highly of one another, for making the world a little better. I am trying to live this. I am trying to be a role model of kindness and compassion.

I have to turn the news off. I have to show my daughters and my son ways to make a positive difference — doing good, being good.

PS My friend Joanna got me in to see Samantha Bee on Wednesday night. She is so good. So while it’s true, I turned off the news, I turned on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.


International Exchange

My girls from Botswana were so beautiful and so full of joy. The first of my 7 Rules of Living is Pile on the People.

Hosting two 17-year old girls from Southern Africa stay for a week brought us so much laughter. Hosting international students, in our case, amazing musicians, was meaningful on so many levels. We learned about their country, culture, school, and families. We learned about ourselves.

I fancy myself as someone who makes international friends easily. And when I was a kid, I dreamed of having a big, multi-racial, multi-ethnic family. It just feels so right to get to know and love people from other countries.

Growing up in suburban Chicago, we hosted Claudio, (I think he was from Brazil), for a couple of weeks. The Coudal kids (and mom) loved him like crazy. It’s amazing how quickly you can fall in love with people.

“Your kids are so great,” Lolo told me when we were all out to brunch yesterday. Yes, yes, I agree.

But she also said, as my kids were teasing me about my how bad my cooking is, “Girls, you are so mean to your mother. And your mother is so nice.” That made me feel good and bad. Good because, hey, she noticed how exceedingly nice I am, but bad, because my girls do put me down (as only teens and preteens can do). Do my kids tease me too much?

It’s a generational thing, I think — parents today, tolerate our children’s gentle jibing. We are not perfect and we know it and accept it. But throughout the day, I mulled this over. On the sidewalk, I bumped into my neighbor and confided my worry in him. He reported that his daughter puts her mother down too.

I have to think about this a little bit longer. I’ve already called a family meeting for tonite. On the agenda?

1. The kids were great international hosts. Let’s do it again!

2. Respect your mother.

3. Pile on the people!