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The ALA has published their annual list of most challenged books for this year.

Sadly for me, Tango Makes Three still tops the list. We bough this book a few years ago on the strength of it’s being listed here, and it’s been a bedtime favorite ever since.

Somebody write a compelling, cute, offensive to closed-minded bigots children’s book again, please?

Via the inestimable Ms. R, from whom I get much of my wacky parenting news: this story from the NYT tells about foreign parents losing their American-born children when they’re arrested for immigration violations.

Much of the article focuses on a woman who was arrested when her son was 6 months old. During her incarceration by the feds awaiting deportation, a state judge gave her now-two-year-old child away for adoption.

The article subtly displays the inherent racism and class prejudice of the case: a poor Latina woman gets inadequate legal representation and resources, and her child is adopted out to an upper-middle-class American family. The judge who gave her child away says, ““Her lifestyle, that of smuggling herself into the country illegally and committing crimes in this country, is not a lifestyle that can provide stability for a child.”

The message: being American is better than anything else, and to truly be American you must perform middle-class values.

It might be argued that the judge is right; the adopting couple can offer this little boy a “better” life than his biological mother. To believe that, you have to buy into the notion that middle-class is “better” than poor and a life here is “better” than a life in Guatemala. Ms. Bail, the boys mother, clearly does not. “My parents were poor, and they never gave me to anyone,” Ms. Bail recalled. “I was not going to give my son to anyone either.”

Of course the things the judge wants for Ms. Bail’s son – stability, an education, a “good” home – are the things I want for my kids. In a perfect all children would be awarded an equal measure of love, education, and a happy home life. Quite possibly this judge’s decision gives the kid a statistically higher chance at getting the things many people want: a long healthy life, a college education, safety from violence and crime, etc.

I don’t think it’s right though, for the judge to simply reassign the kid to a “better” family. Bail is not accused of doing anything wrong as a mother; she’s accused of being in this country illegally, where she was working at a factory. One might even imagine that she risked her own life and left her home to come here and work in the hope of giving her own children a better future. It’s shocking to me that her parental rights were even on the table as a possible loss in these circumstances. We don’t normally empower our legal officials to go around scooping up children who are in adequate-but-poor homes and farming them out to richer families. This woman is being victimized because she’s not an American citizen.

Of course, the tragedy has already occurred. The kid is living now with his adoptive parents, the only family he’s ever known. It really would be wrong to wrench him from that home to deport him alongside his mother to a country who’s language he does not speak with a woman he does not know to parent him.

I’d like to hope the attention this case has gotten will spark some reform within the immigration system, to prevent future incidents. But I don’t imagine it will. It’s just another friendly reminder from the press that racism and classism are alive and well within our borders.

Last night, I went out with my best friend. We strolled around Davis Sq. and I bought a few stocking stuffers and brainstormed about holiday gifts. I very much wanted to give something memorable and lasting, but not physical. Something that could strengthen us as a couple, but that’s not just about food and sex.

Finally, I hit upon The Perfect Gift. loves live music, and he thrives on social justice activism. I’d find a Thing related to activist music, and take him to it. Maybe a concert, maybe an open jam session. Something. Something where he could enjoy the event itself and also make connections with activists and musicians, to start rebuilding his own social sphere around the things he loves.

So this morning I sent an e-mail to a friend who I thought might know what I was looking for. Sure enough, the Thing exists. A network of activist musicians. And they had a big concert. Tonight.

Thank you, Universe, for answering my wish. I just got home, and am waiting for , who took the T (not as fast as my mad biking skilz). The concert was great, but not as great as just being with him. It feels like it’s been months since I even saw this man, despite the fact that we share a house and a bed.

A house and bed we are not sharing with our beautiful children tonight. I am probably a bad mama for sending two sickish, cranky kids off to Nana’s house for the weekend. I definitely get no daughter points for not telling my mom the girls had been sick before she picked them up. But I’m not sorry. I will be a better mother, daughter and all-around fabulous human being tomorrow for having had twelve uninterrupted hours to be myself and enjoy my partner.

A few months ago I took

For a long while now I’ve been trying to get my head around the issue of children and freedom. Today a number of pieces fell together for me after I read this:

“Children’s lives have been evolving in a way that mirrors the lives of criminals in prison. They too have a roof over their heads, regular meals and entertainment provided for them, but they are not free to go out. Enforced detention and restrictions on how they spend their time are intended to seriously diminish the quality of their lives. But children are not criminals…”

Indeed they are not. This issue of how closely one supervises one’s children is so sticky and insidious. I feel like it’s the place where I most risk social censure, even among otherwise like-minded parents, and where I have to work the hardest to give my kids what they need – the freedom to explore, to experiment, to just do kid things.

It astonishes me how often people see my baby trying something out and stop her, often with a stern look at me, like I should have been there first to prevent her from tasting dirt or climbing a few stairs or whatever she is about. wins points for seeing her do something dangerous and standing *near* her to catch her if she falls, which she did not, but it’s rare to get that reaction.

I remember a rich, happy childhood of largely unsupervised play. When I was about Rio’s age I would leave my house in the morning, go out into the desert to play, and return home when I got hungry. My mother rarely knew exactly where I was or what I was doing, but she trusted me not to chase snakes or fall from trees or whatever other dangers I could have gotten into in the rural foothills outside Tucson.

It’s a lot harder to have that trust in an urban environment where there’s traffic and “strangers” and pollution, but I still hope for Rio to grow up with a sense of wild freedom. I think mine has occassionally gotten me into trouble but mostly served me well.

It really seems to me that the decrease in children’s freedom, the fact that I can’t just turn Rio loose on the street with her bicycle the way my sister was turned loose as a kindergartner without fear that someone will call the cops on me, this is not isolated to children. It’s part of the same erosion of freedom that means no more loose dogs running free in our neighborhoods, and barely any cats. It’s the same erosion of freedom that is costing us our civil liberties at the government level and has us all acclimated to being videotaped in any business we walk into.

We need our freedom, people. We need freedom to break the rules, no matter how old or young we are. I think the more we are trained to surveil and supervise those in our own charge, whether they be children or students or employees, the more we accept surveillance of our activities by those who we see as bigger than ourselves.

I just read this decent, basic article about being a poly mom. Very mainstream. I commented on it, which is the first time I’ve commented on a mainstream blog.

Here’s the text of my comment:
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Garden Gnome!, originally uploaded by MzMuze.

As a follow-up to my earlier post about food and sustainability, this week became all about a garden.

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A little bird told me…

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