So I’m still a Primary teacher. Nobody’s fired me yet. I have the eight-year-olds this year. It is a bit of an adjustment after teaching the ten-year-olds. Most of my teaching experience is in junior Primary, but that’s not saying a lot. I was never any good at teaching junior Primary (although I like being around junior Primary-age children). My husband and I taught the ten-year-olds for a whole year, and I’m afraid it made me a bit soft. All the kids could read, and their silliness was tempered by their need to appear cool. Also, you could say stuff like, “Listen up, jerks,” without crushing their tender little spirits. Eight-year-olds are different. They’re only a little less silly than six-year-olds. They also only read a little bit better than six-year-olds. So reading from the scriptures is more challenging for them. I mean, it was clearly torture for the ten-year-olds, but ten is a good age to start boring kids to death, I think. Just a little bit, so they have a solid foundation for being bored in Sunday School later on. But I feel bad doing that to eight-year-olds. They’re still so cute. [Read more…]
Last night my husband and I met with our bishop and the Young Women president to discuss some problems that our fourteen-year-old daughter is having at church, specifically in Young Women. Our daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome as well as some mental health issues that the AS exacerbates. We’ve lived in this ward since our daughter was five years old, and the patience that people have had with her, as well as the genuine care and concern, has been remarkable to me. If people have had unkind feelings or uncharitable opinions about any of my children, they’ve been considerate and careful enough to keep them to themselves, or at least away from me. I am grateful for people’s tireless efforts to make my daughter who hates church feel welcome at church, even when it hasn’t worked. This goes for the youth as well as the adults (which is double, maybe triply, remarkable).
When I was a more anonymous blogger, I felt free to write more candidly about her problems–or rather, the problems that I had with her. Now that I’m not as anonymous as I’d prefer, I’m trying harder to respect her privacy. I suppose if I were trying super-hard, I wouldn’t be writing this post at all, but in my defense, my daughter is a pretty open book. She has a hard time keeping secrets herself; I will just have to keep some on her behalf. So I will break the first rule of good writing and won’t be specific, but suffice it to say that in our meeting last night we concluded that our daughter won’t attend her third-hour class on Sunday, at least not for a while. This was not the “solution” the bishop or YW president wanted or suggested; it was offered by us and reluctantly accepted by them, with the understanding that it is intended to be temporary–but who knows how long it will last. What are we going to do with her in the meantime? Well, a couple different ideas were floated, but in the near future probably either her father or I will just sit with her that third hour. Or possibly walk around. (Or both.) We’ll see. [Read more…]
(Don’t worry, they’re benign.)
My husband and I have been team-teaching Primary for a little over a year now. My husband has teaching Primary for the last…maybe five years. He’s a veteran–and an excellent Primary teacher. He used to teach with another gentleman, but then our ward split and he lost his teaching partner. Our ward is still enormous and can afford to call priesthood-holders to the Primary, but for some reason they thought it might be cute if they called me to teach with him. Or, you know, they felt “inspired” to do it or something. At any rate, I was not excited to accept the calling. In fact, when the bishopric counselor extended the call and asked me, “So how do you like that idea?” I said, “Actually, I don’t like it at all.” It was the thing I feared most (aside from being called as a Cub Scout den or Activity Days leader): having to serve directly with my husband in a calling that he was clearly better qualified to fulfill and magnify. That would cover just about every calling in the church, I think, since none of them yet require tap dancing. My husband and I are not competitive with each other. I mean, I’m not competitive with anyone, but I’m certainly not competitive with my husband, who is more talented and better liked than I am in just about every respect. No offense to him, but it’s hard enough living with him. I don’t really need to work with him too.
When I told Brother J that I’d need to think about this new calling, he said he understood my reluctance. But he was mistaken; he thought I just didn’t want to serve in Primary. Actually, I like Primary. I think it’s one of the better places to spend your time on Sunday. [Read more…]
When I was in Young Women, we had an annual activity which I absolutely despised, which was the box social. Each young woman would make a dinner for two and put it in a box and decorate the box, and then all the young men would bid on the different box and the highest bidder would get to eat the dinner in the box with the young woman who had prepared it. (This was all done with fake money so no one would be reminded of anything unsavory, like prostitution. Not that a box social is anything like prostitution, because it isn’t. I’m just saying, everything was on the up and up.) I refused to participate in this activity for the following reasons (in order of importance):
1. I was no fun.
2. I thought it was unfair that the young women always had to cook for the young men. Yes, the young men were in charge of bringing dessert, but big whoop-de-do. Which do you think is easier to prepare, a portable and palatable dinner or a portable and palatable dessert? I’ll give you a hint: Oreos come in a bag. [Read more…]
[Yeah, I know, this Mormon Moment crap is getting old, but the election is just around the corner and our fifteen minutes are almost up. I have to cram in all the Mitt Romney posts I can over the next few weeks.]
The other day I was in a restaurant and a boisterous group walked in and immediately started talking politics. Two things: 1) Why do people feel the need to do this in public? and 2) Can’t they do it some time when I’m not trying to eat? But back to my anecdote. Somebody said they’d seen a bumper sticker that said something to the effect of “I’d rather vote for the MORMON than the MORON”–which under ordinary circumstances would, of course, be hilarious. Unfortunately, under these particular circumstances, “Mormon” was spelled incorrectly. Which kind of makes you wonder how they even thought of that joke in the first place. It is a puzzlement. [Read more…]
My fourteen-year-old daughter just learned to ride a bike. She never learned when she was younger because for a long time we lived in apartments and there was no place to keep a bike (or a tricycle) and no place to ride it either, really. By the time we got around to getting our kids bikes, she was too tall to ride the ones that came with training wheels, and being somewhat uncoordinated (she comes by this trait honestly, i.e. genetically) she found trying to learn pedaling and balancing at the same time too frustrating–not to mention painful–and she quit. She made some other half-hearted attempts to learn over the years, but unfortunately it never became any less frustrating (or painful) and finally she just became resigned to never learning.
Of course it’s kind of embarrassing to be fourteen and not know how to ride a bike. Plus, she has been wanting to get more exercise. So this summer she asked if I would help her practice. She couldn’t get started by herself, so I had to hold the bike steady for her while she got her balance. This is a lot harder to do with a fourteen-year-old than a six-year-old. Or a nine-year-old. But I was motivated, so I made it work. Once she got some momentum, I’d tell her I was letting go. Then I’d actually let go. [Read more…]
The other day I overheard a conversation between my six-year-old daughter and my mother-in-law. They had been talking about how her older brother would become a deacon later this year. My daughter said enthusiastically, “When I turn twelve, I’m going to pass the sacrament too!”
You should understand that one of this child’s favorite Sunday rituals has been taking the sacrament tray from the administering deacon and distributing it to the rest of the family; when she returns the tray to the deacon and sits back down, she has a big smile on her face and it’s clear that she feels she’s done something very grown-up and important. The written word is an imperfect medium; you’ll just have to trust me when I say it’s pretty freaking adorable. (Imagine your own kid and then multiply it by ten. That’s how cute my kid is.)
So imagine her disappointment when her grandmother informed her that passing the sacrament is a job only for boys. Crestfallen, and with that childish sense of entitlement, my daughter asked, “But what do I get when I turn twelve?” [Read more…]
Over the four years I’ve been blogging at BCC I have written dozens of unfinished (and therefore unpublished) posts about gender issues in Mormonism. I’ve found it very frustrating that I can’t finish them. Yeah, there’s a lot I don’t finish, but blog posts that I can’t finish are especially depressing. Because let’s face it, how “finished” does a blog post need to be, really? Well, at some point I figured out the problem: I can’t finish because there’s simply too much to say. And on a subject like gender or gender inequity, which so many people have such strong feelings about, leaving something out means providing a big elephant in the room for your readers to start a threadjack with in the comments section. (I find that last independent clause extremely problematic, but this is only a blog post, after all; I’ll fix that sentence when someone pays me to do it.)
The only thing more frustrating than not being able to finish a blog post is publishing a blog post and watching everyone else have a conversation about something you didn’t bother to address in the original post because you didn’t want to bite off more than you could chew. #firstworldproblems
But heck, I’ve got nothing better to do, and if you’re here reading this, you probably have nothing better to do either. So let’s do this thing. I’m going to start publishing these unfinished posts about gender issues in Mormonism, and I’ve decided the best place to start is my least favorite threadjack-meat of all time: the Men-Priesthood:: Women: Motherhood analogy. I kid myself that by getting it out of the way first thing, I’ll never have to discuss it again. [Read more…]
Once a group of us ladies were playing the game “Two Truths and a Lie,” and one woman told the following truth: “I got maternity clothes for my nineteenth birthday.” Someone asked, “Why on earth would someone give you maternity clothes for your nineteenth birthday?” Her matter-of-fact response: “Because I was pregnant!” (But she was married at 18, so it was okay.)
Married at 18, wearing maternity clothes at 19…and I’m a Mormon!
It didn’t used to be uncommon in the Western world for people to marry at 18, 20 or 22, but in this day and age, with more people going to college and (quite sensibly) postponing families of their own until after they’ve finished their educations and at least started their careers, marrying so young seems sort of horrifying. Within Mormon culture, of course, marrying young is still expected and encouraged. It is the subject of this recent article in The Universe, “Leaving with a diploma but not a spouse.” [Read more…]
Last month I was visiting my father’s ward and happened to notice a blurb in the ward bulletin about the upcoming Relief Society birthday. It gave a (very) brief history of Relief Society’s origins followed by an invitation for the ladies in the ward to attend a “Hats Off to Relief Society!” tea in honor of the organization’s anniversary. (By coincidence, my own ward was planning a hat-themed tea party for the Relief Society’s birthday. Or maybe it wasn’t a coincidence. Maybe there’s a church-wide conspiracy to get Mormon women to wear more hats. I had intended to do more research on the subject, but the project has since fallen by the wayside, I’m afraid. Anyway.)
The reason I found this blurb noteworthy was that the heading for it read “Separate But Not Equal.” What was the author trying to say? It’s like they had just enough knowledge of history to know that they didn’t want to compare the formation of Relief Society to Plessy v. Ferguson, but couldn’t quite bring themselves to let go of the segregation theme. (That would have made for an interesting tea party, wouldn’t it? Probably better that they went with the hat thing.)
Anyway, it was a head shaker. Part of me was tempted to imagine the bulletin being written by some subversive person wanting to draw attention to the gender inequality in Mormonism, but I know that it was probably just somebody not really thinking about what they were doing. Now I’m using it as a mildly amusing anecdote to introduce a not-particularly-coherent post about Relief Society. [Read more…]
Note and/or WARNING: The following post is a response–or not really a response, but a sister post, if you will, to this piece at Feminist Mormon Housewives. If you are uncomfortable reading about anything having to do with menstruation, I suggest you cast your eyes round about for a more genteel blog today.
Last year my oldest child had her first opportunity to do proxy baptisms for the dead at the temple. A bit of background: my daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome. Church is difficult for her for a variety of reasons, but she is particularly concerned with (and fixated on) gender issues. She was anxious about going to the temple for the first time, not really knowing what to expect (and not being totally down with this church thing in the first place). Her Young Women leaders asked me to come along for this trip to help her feel more comfortable and show her the ropes. (Not that I would have any clue about “the ropes,” as I hadn’t done proxy baptisms myself in about 14 years and never at this temple–but it’s the thought that counts.)
So at the temple they herded all the youth into that little room where they tell you all about what you’re going to be doing. I still had to change into my white clothes, but I realized I had to tell my daughter something first, so I went into the little room and the older gentleman addressing the youth then turned to me and asked, “Sister, are you here to ask The Question?” [Read more…]
When Mitt Romney is selected as the Republican nominee and is eventually elected President of the United States, what should his first words be? [Read more…]
Many of you have probably seen this video, “Worth Waiting For,” which has been making its rounds on the interwebs. If you don’t feel like watching it, I’ll summarize it for you. An adult gives a child a chocolate chip and tells the child they can eat it whenever they want, but if they don’t eat it, then after five minutes they can have what’s inside this attractively wrapped gift box. The kids wait and wait and sigh and wait and it’s so hard, but after five minutes they get to unwrap the gift, and inside is this delicious cupcake. Whoa–that’s way better than a measly chocolate chip. Aren’t they so glad they waited? Of course they are. Then the video tells us that Heavenly Father wants you to wait until you’re married…”to use your procreative powers.” (It’s okay to giggle at that. We’re not at church. Also, it sounds pretty silly.) If you wait, He will bless you “with something so much greater than a cupcake.” Oh heck, just watch the video. The kids are really cute. [Read more…]
My husband and I teach the CTR 6 class. Actually, Brother J has been teaching Primary for the last four years, so he’s an expert. But our ward split and the other gentleman who team-taught with him went to the new ward, and so a few weeks ago they called me to be his new teaching partner. I’ve served the majority of my adult years in Primary, starting when I was 18; I’ve been a Primary pianist and a Primary chorister, but I’ve only served as an actual in-the-trenches Primary teacher once, and that was thirteen years ago and only for a few months before they had to release me. If you must know, I had a nervous breakdown. I blame the five-year-olds. But that’s another story. [Read more…]
Historically, I have not been a Mitt Romney supporter. I’m not anti-Romney. He just doesn’t float my boat. (Or should I say he doesn’t punch my ballot? Or pull my lever? Or hang my chad? Or maybe I should give up on the voting metaphors before someone accuses me of unduly influencing the search term stats.) My opinion of Mitt Romney is that he’s…fine. You know, he’ll do. In a pinch. I’m a pretty conservative voter (as opposed to a pretty, conservative voter) and I’d rather have a principled conservative who gets “the vision thing” than a competent technocrat. Not that there’s anything wrong with competent technocrats (except, of course, when there is), and not that Mitt Romney doesn’t have conservative principles (I’m just not sure what they are). Also, it’s always nice when your leader has some charisma (even just a little.) But hey, no one’s perfect. [Read more…]
“…but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” (Alma 40:23)
Years ago I was talking with a friend after church about the resurrection. Not in any deep, meaningful way, of course. She just mentioned the scripture that says “even a hair of the head shall not be lost,” and she said that she hoped it only applied to the hair on top of one’s head and not to any other random hair that one might not want to have restored. She didn’t expound further and neither shall I; suffice it to say that I share her hope. But that’s not primarily what this post is about. [Read more…]
This morning a fellow BCC perma brought this Meridian article to my attention: “Discussing Pornography with Your Future Son-in-Law” by Geoff Steurer, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founding director of a treatment program for those impacted by pornography and sexual addiction. With those credentials, one might imagine that Brother Steurer would know what he was talking about. However, without even looking at the article, my visceral response was, “Ew! Ew ew ew ew ew ew EW!”
Last Thursday I got back from a month-long-yet-whirlwind family vacation in which we visited many parts of the United States that we’d never visited before and from which I am still recuperating. (But since this week is cub scout day camp, the recovery promises to be slow.) Among our many destinations were some incidental-yet-convenient trips to church historical sites–because as long as you’re in the neighborhood, why not?
Well, if you’re my thirteen-year-old, the reason not is that church historical sites are boring and why would you want to visit someplace boring unless you were some kind of religious fanatic, which she is not. My oldest child has a lot of angst about being Mormon in the first place, and every time you remind her that she is one–by making her go to church on Sunday or read scriptures or have family prayer–you risk bringing on another existential crisis. Which wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so much whining and yelling involved. I mean, I’m all for whining and yelling when there’s a need…unless you’re someone else who’s whining and yelling at me. That’s just irritating. But such is the sweetness of Mormon life as performed by the J family. [Read more…]
So I understand we have a problem retaining our young adults, who tend to go inactive once they leave the youth program and transition to being adults in the church. The good news is that I don’t think we are any worse off than typical Christian churches; for all I know, we could be better off. (Somebody who has read a study should tell me.) The bad news is that I’m not sure there’s much we can really do about this problem. I’ve observed a lot of conversations about this issue, and of all the explanations that are given for why our young adults stop going to church, the one that seems to get mentioned least often is the one that is the obvious, most-likely culprit: young adults, at least the ones who are not living at home and don’t have parents to force them to go to church, would much rather sleep in and do whatever the heck they want on Sunday than go to church. I mean, who wouldn’t? Have you ever skipped church before? It’s kind of awesome. It’s like having another Saturday, one even freer of obligation. (I have noticed that Sunday is the one day of the week my non-church-going friends and acquaintances always have available. Always.) [Read more…]
Brother J: So, how was your special Mother’s Day Relief Society?
Sister J: It was good.
Brother J: What did you talk about?
Sister J: Loving ourselves.
Brother J: Is that allowed now?
Sister J: Yes. But only for the sisters. [Read more…]
My son Scott was baptized on Saturday. A year ago I did not expect this to happen. Scott has autism, and although he has many good skills–mowing the lawn, making French toast, playing Joe Danger–his ability to understand abstract concepts and motivations is limited. At eight years old he still does not ask “Why?” questions, and he can’t answer them, either. He communicates mostly in rote phrases, which don’t necessarily indicate anything substantive about what he is trying to express. They are just the phrases he knows. You can usually tell by his tone of voice whether or not he means them literally or whether he is frustrated (about what is not always clear) or just feels like making conversation, and these are the words that are easiest for him to access. When he was seven, I thought that unless he made a huge developmental leap, there was no way we were going to have him baptized the next year. What would be the point? Even if he understood what he was doing, how would we know that? He wouldn’t be able to tell us. [Read more…]
Because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to look up my ancestors on the new Family Search and see if I had any Irish in me. Apparently, my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was Irish. I mean, it appears to be reasonably well-documented that he was born there. So there it is, proof that I am, what, one one-hundred-twenty-eighth Irish? I still don’t feel very connected to Ireland. But at least now I know. [Read more…]
I would like to say a few words on behalf of obligation. And guilt. Two great tastes that taste great together.
Last month a member of our ward passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly. She was a pillar of the community; her husband had been bishop when the ward was first formed, she had later served as the Relief Society president, and they were currently working as Primary teachers. Everyone knew her. Everyone loved her. The loss is still fresh, and the ward is still mourning.
On that first Sunday, when they asked for volunteers to bring the family meals, help with the funeral service and offer other support, the list of those who signed up filled two pages. It was a testament to how beloved this woman was and how much service she had given over the years to so many people. It was heart-warming, but at the same time, it made me think about other people in the ward–people I probably haven’t even met yet, and may never–who go largely unnoticed most of the time but whose needs are just as genuine. People don’t line up to bring those folks casseroles. They’re the type for whom the Compassionate Service Leader has to scour the ward list to find someone willing and able to lend a hand. [Read more…]
So this past weekend I was visiting my sister, who is a Young Women leader in her ward, and she showed me this skit that they did for their New Beginnings. (I found it via a Google search. Apparently it is from Sugardoodle, but I couldn’t find a writing credit, unfortunately. Heck, I couldn’t find a title.) It is about the Value Heroes–Lady Faith, Diva Divine Nature, Individual Worth Woman (“My worth goes to INFINITY AND BEYOND!”), Queen Knowledge, Captain Choice and Accountability, Good Works the Great, Princess Integrity, and Virtue Girl–who safeguard the young women of Mutualopolis. Sadly, some dastardly villains capture the Value Heroes, leaving the poor young women of Mutualopolis at the mercy of the evil opposites of those values which have always protected them. But happily, the young women turn to the scriptures and realize that the Lord is their strength and if they live the Young Women values, they can be their own superheroes. And so the city of Mutualopolis is saved! (At least the young women are in pretty good shape. It’s an all-female play, you see. Like The Women, only without the adultery.) [Read more…]
A couple years ago I read this Weekly Standard piece by Joe Epstein. The subject is “kindergarchy”: rule by children. Mr. Epstein’s beef is that parents these days (“these days” starting about 30 or 40 years ago) pay too much attention to their kids, which is bad for both kids and parents, and worse for society in general. This isn’t a new idea, of course. Parents have supposedly been spoiling their kids rotten for, well, at least the last 30 or 40 years; the world keeps getting worse, and still we persist in making child-rearing the center of our adult universe. Go figure. [Read more…]
So in October we had a fifth-Sunday combined RS/PH lesson, and the bishop talked to us about pornography. Or rather, about the problem of pornography. (I don’t want to make our fifth-Sunday lessons sound more exciting than they are.) It was depressing to me. Depressing mostly because my son just turned ten, and it really hit home to me that what’s left of his innocence is destined to be taken from him very quickly, and there’s nothing I can do to stop that. We live in a pornified culture. You know, sex is everywhere, everything’s about sex, blah blah, sex sex sex, blah blah. A local frozen yogurt shop used to have this billboard featuring a very attractive set of female breasts clad in a tight sweater, and the slogan was “We’ll fill any cup size.” And, you know, that’s not hardcore or anything, but it’s just…come on. Et tu, yogurt? This is the world we live in. So, yeah, I came home and told my husband (who works in Primary and doesn’t get to attend the combined fifth-Sunday lessons) that he had to have another birds-and-bees-ish talk with the ten-year-old. Then I shook the oogies off, and my work was done. [Read more…]
Back when I was in college, I overheard a classmate talking about how she wanted to buy her boyfriend a cross—as in the kind you wear around your neck—but her boyfriend was very particular about his crosses and would only wear one made of wood, and wooden crosses were hard to come by these days. When he looked at crosses made of gold or silver or other precious materials, he insisted, “God wouldn’t wear something like that.”
To which I responded, even though it was none of my business, “Why would God be wearing a cross necklace in the first place?” [Read more…]
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
My life hasn’t been that hard. I have always had enough to eat and a roof over my head. I live in a free country. I have it better than most people in the world, and certainly better than most people who have lived in this world throughout history. I like to think that I am grateful for these things, and yet, like most people who have lived privileged lives, I’ve come to expect a certain level of ease and comfort. I take difficulty and discomfort like a slap in the face from the universe. What did you do that for, universe? [Read more…]
So last week when Judge Walker issued his decision overturning Prop. 8, one of my friends posted as her status update, “Is polygamy next?” I didn’t know if she was being silly or sincere, but if any of you all are wondering the same thing, let me reassure you: No. Polygamy is not next. That’s just something we conservatives make up to scare people. Ha ha, that was a joke (sort of). You know how I know polygamy isn’t next? Because unlike attitudes toward homosexuals, attitudes toward polygamists haven’t improved much in the last hundred years. Most people have at least one friend or someone in their family who is gay, but not many people know any polygamists. Also, when was the last time you saw a movie or TV show character with a sassy polygamist friend? Never, that’s when. And you’re not likely to start anytime soon. (Not until someone options my screenplay, that is.) [Read more…]
Over the weekend I wrote a post responding to the court decision to overturn Prop. 8. It was very cathartic for me. I took everything that I’d ever thought or tried to write about same-sex marriage and distilled it to its essence, which was 1,841 words–long for a blog post, but most of my blog posts are (too) long, and when you consider the tens of thousands of words I had to work with, I’d call it a pretty awesome distillation. Of course, you will just have to take my word for it because once I had finished writing, I knew that I wouldn’t publish it. [Read more…]