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winners and losers


My twins turned 7 and the consequences were immediate: they are no longer allowed to bring stuffed animals to their father's house.

"It's really annoying," said Jack*.

Quinn was dejected and tearful as I buckled him in the car to go to his dad's without Monkey.

It's not like I always agreed with my ex in the best of times, but I question the purpose of this.  Objects like security blankets and stuffed animals are called  'transitional objects' and offer comfort and consistency, especially in new environments  (or, say, situations where they're shuttling from one home to another).  Children outgrow them and leave them behind.  Why can't that process be allowed to happen naturally, according to the child's unique evolution?  

It's no secret -- since he has been profiled in everything from the New Yorker to Wired -- that my ex grew up in a male-dominated family in a male-dominated culture (South Africa) and works in male-dominated industries. He lives in a highly competitive world  ("people play dirty," he told me once, "because they think they're going to die") and he's done very well in it.

But I don't want to see any child shoehorned into a definition of masculinity that forbids him to flourish as himself.  It's why, when I saw my ex give a little speech that went along the lines of, "Quinn, in this world you can be a winner or a loser.  Do you want to be a winner or a loser?" I lifted my hands and gave his new wife a WTF? expression. 

Life is not a zero-sum game, even if business often is.  I want my boys to maintain strong boundaries, yes, and be savvy, and not be ruthlessly taken advantage of, but at the same time to come at the world through service and soul.  Elevate yourself by elevating others.  Add value to the pie and make it bigger.  Learn that failure doesn't make you a loser but is part of the learning process (and people who fear failure hold themselves back from their own potential, since growth demands errors and mistakes).  Stuff like that. We live in new, interconnected times; we are wired into each other like never before; the division of public and private is transforming into something much more transparent. Acts of aggression that cause hurt, anger and resentment can come back to bite you in the ass. It's better to seduce instead of conquer. 

I do not think this is naive, or a sign that I am weak.  I have a fire in me and can take it to the mat when I have to. 


* I'm using pseudonyms, obviously
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Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
galdrin
Apr. 20th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
If I can't bring my stuffed animal ... I don't want to go.
tracyworld
Apr. 20th, 2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
I'm really sorry to read this. I hope you take it to the mat.
suricattus
Apr. 20th, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, FFS. The Boy is ten, and one of the few things he takes with him from Mom to Dad is the currently-beloved plushie. Also, whatever book he's reading at the moment. These are the things that make a home, far more than clothing or toothbrushes.

planner2015
Apr. 20th, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
Wow. Evidence that some people are short-sighted by their desire to clone themselves.

My son is 16, and a man's man to be. The other day we played a game in the car on the way home. The prompt: If you knew our house was going to burn down, and all of our family and pets were already outside and safe, what is one thing you would want to get from the house?

His quick answer: Blankie and Mow-Mow. (The special blanket and stuffed cat from his childhood.)

It took him a while to come up with anything else.
tezmilleroz
Apr. 21st, 2011 01:42 am (UTC)
Do they have different stuffed animals at their dad's place? Or nothing?
moschus
Apr. 21st, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
Nothing.
queenceleste
Apr. 21st, 2011 06:24 am (UTC)
The idea of a 7 year old crying because his comforting toys are suddenly verboten at daddy's house is really troubling. And dare I say that some adult "winners" actually fall into a far different category in some crucial areas.
recalcitrant
Apr. 22nd, 2011 11:57 pm (UTC)
I agree, also the more he wants to make them forbidden, the more upset and stubborn your kids will get. What a fucking arsehole. I realise he doesn't know differently and was raised in a different way, but it's 2011, there is no excuse. He's not very empathetic or emotionally attached to his own sons to see it's upsetting them.
moschus
Apr. 29th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU for your gift -- I was surprised and touched and it's perfect, I love it.

Can you email me your contact info? soulful@me.com
queenceleste
May. 4th, 2011 08:15 am (UTC)
I'm so happy you liked it. I sent an email which I hope you received--I have Hotmail, so it can be iffy and land in junk mail from time to time.
thinkpoz
Apr. 22nd, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)
Winners and Losers
Hi,

Just stumbled onto to your postings. I enjoyed your remarks above and in particular the two lines: "Add value to the pie and make it bigger. Learn that failure doesn't make you a loser but is part of the learning process (and people who fear failure hold themselves back from their own potential, since growth demands errors and mistakes)". Nice clarity.

With twin boys, you must be busy!
stellasmom-ronda.blogspot.com
Apr. 23rd, 2011 04:46 am (UTC)
#@$&%*%! That is all I have to say.
XOXO
Margaret Ntifo
Apr. 23rd, 2011 06:54 am (UTC)
What would happen?
I am just wondering... What would happen if you were (under the guise of protecting the boys emotional growth) to put your foot down and insist that such acts of dominance cannot happen where your boys are concerned? If this is clearly upsetting the boys why must he be allowed to lay down such 'laws'.

Seems a good subject for debate among adults, but for a 7 year old it must be extremely traumatic (notwithstanding the changes they have experienced in the past few years). Someone must be able to protect them from the big bad wolf!
maria hasbarger
Apr. 22nd, 2014 08:53 am (UTC)
i will help you
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Archita Lefebvre
Jul. 24th, 2014 09:24 pm (UTC)
Amazed by the contrast of Elon Musk's brainpower and the lack of knowledge in childupbringing or...
If all you wrote is true,
I am surprised by the contrast of Elon Musk's brainpower and his lack of knowledge in psychology or even emotional intelligence.

Perhaps this reflects how he is focused in his work and expertise.

I am no expert on any subject, but I thought after looking at his interview videos that his body language were sincere and not aloof unlike Larry Page.

I was curious about how you handled yourself with him in your relationship, because of his brainpower and focus.

I imagine that I would feel incompetent in my current state and past to share and understand his vision although I will try hard if I happen to be in a close relationship with someone like that. At the same time, I assume his lack of instinct/vision/sensitivity in other areas such as the arts, so would feel not understood by him if I work in a different area from him especially when he's so busy and focused in his work.

I also imagine for such a big figure I would try not to be in a personal relationship for wanting to be independent and not be swept off in his name as a celebrity's someone.

Do you think such men should only work for humanity having only work work balance? But everyone has a wanting to be loved or don't they?
moschus
Jul. 24th, 2014 09:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Amazed by the contrast of Elon Musk's brainpower and the lack of knowledge in childupbringing or
I never had any issues with his brainpower or his focus or his work schedule.

I think "such men" should treat their wives with kindness, warmth, love + respect, otherwise it is better to know + admire them from a distance. Lack of empathy in a partner is a difficult thing to live with, and frankly I don't recommend it.

Edited at 2014-07-24 09:49 pm (UTC)
moschus
Jul. 24th, 2014 10:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Amazed by the contrast of Elon Musk's brainpower and the lack of knowledge in childupbringing or
Just to add: if we could go back in time I'm sure there are things we would both do quite differently. We met young, grew up into adulthood together, and had a lot to learn. (Still do.)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

I'm the author of three published novels: the dark fantasies BLOODANGEL and LORD OF BONES (Roc/Penguin) and the YA supernatural thriller UNINVITED (MTV/Simon&Schuster). I also have stories in the MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE 2 and ZOMBIES: ENCOUNTERS WITH THE HUNGRY DEAD. I'm working on a psychological thriller called THE DECADENTS. I am divorced, with sons, and live in Bel Air.

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