Friday, November 7, 2014

Why Customers Cannot Always Be Right

   What happened to 'The customer is always right?' I had a customer ask me this recently after I was unable to comply with his request. The problem was, however, that he wanted an item that had gone up in price to be charged at the price is was last week, when it was on sale. I had to respectfully decline doing that, then I had to call a supervisor on his insistence, and then after the supervisor had left - after again declining his request - I was treated to a lecture about how I should be able to change the price on a product without needing supervisor permission, which slowly downgraded to just plain out-and-out insults.
   Personally, I can see the reason why cashiers cannot just change prices on merchandise. The store - any store - has to make a profit. They have to make enough money to buy more merchandise, pay employees, pay for things like building rent (or purchase) electricity, advertising, and a whole slew of other things, which include covering the cost of the item being purchased itself. And if cashiers could just change the prices of things of their own free will, well, I'm sorry, but I've worked with the public enough to know that there would be plenty of people abusing that - cashiers and customers alike. Cashiers would be making things as cheap as possible for friends and family, and customers would be demanding 2 cent products, or even free. I'm sorry, but if you don't think that is true, then you have NOT worked in retail. And as much as you may hate the fact, the company you are buying from does need to make a profit to keep on running a business. They can't if all their employees and customers and running amok with the prices - rules are often made for a reason.
   Then there can be the heaps of abuse that can be smothered on the people who work in places such as mine. I've had a woman tell me, "Shouldn't you let a teenager do this job?" Seriously? My company has a policy that cashiers need to be eighteen or older to run the register. Or they used to; it's been seven years since I started working there, and I don't tend to run around asking people their ages. When I was hired on at my company, however, they required cashiers to be eighteen or older and to have a high school diploma or a GED.
   But even if that were not the case, if you are going up to someone - anyone - and saying garbage like this, then you are wrong; customer or not. It is never okay to be an asshole and this type of comment is assholery at it's finest. Not that anyone needs to know my business, but this job is how I support myself and my daughter, and no, I am not ashamed of this. I refuse to be ashamed. But whether you think I should be or not, you still have no right to come up to a stranger and start trying to force your life views on said person. No one likes that, not even the people who do it.
    Common decency and commonsense need to be the keys to dealing with everything, and this does not change when you go into your local grocery store. Just because you are the customer, that does not give you the inherent right to become a giant ass-hat. Asking us to do things that are against company policy can get us fired, and that makes you wrong. No cliche saying changes this. You are wrong. Also, being a jerk is not a right either. Everyone deserves common courtesy. And saying that 'I chose to become a cashier' also does not justify being an asshole to me while I am working. It's not okay.
   The point of the matter is just this: no matter what we do, we are all people, and we deserve respect. Everything would go a lot more smoothly if all of us remember this fact. And you can't be right when you are doing things that will get other people into trouble (like getting them fired) or being rude, at least, you can't when you're coming through my line. Which may be one of the reasons that my store doesn't hire teenagers to run the registers; an adult with life and work experience can be much harder to push around then a kid who's working their first job and has only high school experience.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

You Don't Stop Being You After Becoming A Parent

   I've heard a lot of people say that they've changed a lot after becoming parents, and that's a great thing. You should constantly be changing because you are growing as an individual, so I'm not saying that parenthood doesn't change you, because parenthood should change you. But that being said, parents still need to have some of their old interests; parents still need to have interests outside of the home.
   I had someone tell me once that when they became a parent, the things that mattered to them didn't matter anymore; they weren't worried about old friends or old interests, and just focused on the hubby and the baby. To me, that is a recipe for disaster. I know that I am not a professional psychiatrist here, but as a professional parent, parenting can drive you bat-shit crazy, and you are going to need a break from your inner parenting world. Also, this seems kind of sad to me. Sometimes friends to drop out of your life; you outgrow them, or move, or whatever, but to purposely decide that because you have a kid, you have no room for friends - that seems a bit crazy to me.
   You are going to need someone to talk to one day. Someone adult. One day you are going to need to talk to someone about something other than what page they want to color next or what sound does a dog make, and you are going to get to the point where if you hear the hot potato song or the fruit salad song just one more time, you are going to rip your ears off and flush them down the toilet. In other words, you are going to need an adult, and to further clarify, you may not want that adult to be the old hubby, you make want to hear some good old fashioned girl talk (or guy talk); who's getting married from the old group, who's having a baby, who was arrested, who's dating: just good old fashioned girl talk (aka gossip).
   As for interests, well, mine have expanded. I'm interested in more things than I was before the birth of my lonely only, but I still have old interests as well. I didn't stop gaming because 'I'm too old for it.' I don't go as hardcore as I used to, and sit down and play for ten hours straight, but I still game. Why shouldn't I? My interests, your interests - they don't make you less of a person. I still travel; I still want to travel. I have to save up forever before I can afford to, and yes, once I had a kid, Disneyland made an appearance on my travel list, but I still went to Yellowstone. I think being able to share that trip with my daughter enhanced the experience, something I bring up because we've all heard the joke about "If you want to travel, don't have kids unless your idea of traveling is Disney." Not true. People travel with kids all the time, and watching my daughter's face fill with excitement when she saw Old Faithful erupt for the first time enhanced my own excitement. When she was around two, we went to Victoria, Canada, and having her with me did not detract from wandering around that pretty little town and seeing the shops and sights; I still had enormous fun and so did she, and I love, love, LOVE taking a Ferry, which was something that we did to get to Victoria. Turns out my daughter loves ferries too.
  The truth is, having a parent who is interested in other things besides parenting, and having that parent be willing to share those interests, only enhances that child's life. It doesn't have to be travel, or gaming. Sports, computers, fishing, church activities, travel, reading, socializing with friends, whatever they may be, those interests could become fun family outings. And even if they end up being interests that none of your family shares, well, you are still a complex person with multiple needs, and that's not a selfish thing to set aside some time just for you. I'm not saying ignore your family forever, but your family can give you an hour or two here and there. It's not wrong unless you decide you are going to take that hour right when little Suzy falls off her bike and breaks her face and needs medical attention immediately. Discounting disaster though, little Suzy can go enjoy some of her personal interests while you partake in yours. It won't kill her and it's not neglect.
   So I guess what I am saying is that while you should always grow and change as a person; don't let parenting be the excuse to kill off the person you are now. Of course you could work on bad habits, but just because you give up Bender Friday, that doesn't mean that you have to give up Football Sunday. Your kid won't thank you for it in the long run, and also, you need to be a fully functioning person for the day that your kiddo is ready to venture into the great big world on her/his own. You don't want to be the psycho mom who follows your kid to college or tries to become the third person in their marriage. Not good. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Rant? About Technology

   I'm not a technologically gifted person; if you've been reading along, that much should be clear. That being said, for someone who is so challenged when it comes to all things computer, I sure get in a rage when things don't work right. Just now, I tried to log into one of my accounts online so that I could pay the bill. But for some reason, I'm getting a message saying that my account is unavailable, along with a 1-800 number. Instead of calling the 1-800 number, like a rational person, I try to log in three more times. When I am still unable to log into my account, I scream at the computer, "Fine! I didn't want to pay that damned bill anyway!" Because that's the rational, adult thing to do in this scenario. Call the 1-800 number? I don't want to talk to some dumb-ass service rep who doesn't speak my language and knows about as much regarding this issue as I do. I want my effing account to pull up so I can pay the bill, by myself, in the dark, like the antisocial little troll that I am.
    And that's the thing about technology, about computers and the internet: everybody has to utilize it. One reason I don't want to call that 1-800 number is that they charge a fee to pay by phone, whereas you can pay online for free. I don't even know how to mail in a payment; everything is 'paperless', so that's out too. No snail mail for me. Things ain't what they used to be. My daughter came home from school the other day complaining that they were supposed to be using their smartphones in class to get online and do research. My daughter, folks, is probably one of the few twelve years old girls to NOT have a cell phone of any kind, much less a smart one. What are all these kids doing running around with shitting-ass Iphones anyway? (And yes, I am aware of how much I just aged myself.) But the thing is, we don't have the money for that shit. I mean, you are likely aware of what the monthly bill is on a smartphone. I don't even have one; so far as I am concerned, my daughter's school is going to get a boot up the ass if having a smartphone is now required just to do classwork. That's too far, and this is a public school and I work in a grocery store, for crying out loud. This isn't rich-people school, this is poor-folk school.
   I'm not anti-technology. I suppose I can come across that way, but I'm really not. I think it's a great thing that the school teaches kids to do things like make Powerpoints and use Microsoft Office, and all those things that will help them in college, but they also need to keep in mind that not all these kids have access to some of these resources. I sent my daughter to school the other day with a good, old-fashioned research tool the other day - a book. This way, if the class does smart-phone research yet again, she can participate in some manner at least. Because frankly, even if money were not an issue, I'm not sure that I'm sold on a twelve year old's need to have the latest Iphone.
   And as for the bill collectors - well, they can just kiss my ass. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How To Get A Kid To Read

   I'm an avid reader; I know that is kinda like saying the sky is blue, but I have a point with making that my leading sentence. Also, I raised a daughter that is an avid reader. But I don't really think I can take a ton of credit for that, you see, my mother is also an avid reader: I think it's genetic. Regardless, I have been asked for tips from several people about getting kids to read, so I thought I'd say what I think. In saying what I think, however, I need to also explain that what I think did NOT work whatsoever on my niece. She doesn't like to read and none of my tips worked. So take this with a grain of salt. That being said, here is my opinion on the best way to get kids to read.
   1. Read out loud to your kid, and start as soon as possible. I started reading to mine at birth. She didn't get to choose the books at first, because she didn't care and couldn't talk to tell me what she wanted, so her first books consisted of The Lord of The Rings trilogy, but even that got her into  the ritual of reading, and that is so important.
   2. Poems; specifically silly poems like those written by Shel Silverstein. For a kid with a short attention span, poems are shorter than stories and the silly ones about being eating by boa constrictors, picking your nose, and being buried by garbage can catch a young reader's fancy.
   3. Dr. Seuss is your friend. Actually, any books that rhyme and can be read in a rhythm are good. My daughter loved those best when she was still reading books for young children. She wanted them to be read as often as possible, and if you didn't read them in rhythm, she would make you start over and "read the book right".
   4. As your kid gets older, let them choose the books that they read. Don't outlaw things like comic books and manga. They may seem frivolous, but any book reading is building skills such as vocabulary, imagination, critical thinking, comprehension, and so-on. Over time, those skills will translate to other things, such as that science article their teacher wants them to read or that chapter in the history book. The important thing is for them to enjoy reading, so that they will build these skills. So if what they want to read is the newest Spiderman comic, then go for it. If all they want to do is sing a song, find song lyrics online, and print them out so that they can read the lyrics and sing along to their favorite songs. Get creative.
   5. When your child starts reading to you, don't get impatient when they are sounding out words. Let them do that themselves. My daughter got really angry when I would give a word away. I suggest only helping them when they ask for the help. For me, this is good training for school, because whoever their teachers are, they are not going to know if your kid needs help unless they speak up. Patience is really key, not matter how much the kiddos are stumbling with the words, and really, they get so happy when they read you a book all on their own.
   6. Continue reading out loud even when your child is proficient in reading. Reading is good quality time regardless. Also, talk to your kid about books they have read. Read what they read so that you can talk about story plots and discuss characters. These kids are going to have to show that they can analyse text; this is great practice.
   7. Don't use reading as a punishment. They have to read in school; they are required all through elementary to take AR tests on reading. You want to have reading a book to have as many positive connotations as possible. So don't say in frustration, "You're never playing a video game again! All you are going to do is sit in your room and read a book for the next week!" (I say this because I've actually made the mistake of saying this myself.) You don't want reading to feel like a punishment.
   I don't know if this will actually help anyone. Every kid is different and they all learn in different ways. This is what I did though, and maybe one or two of the things I've written will give you ideas or help you out if you are struggling to get a child to read. I hope so, at any rate. And if you are reading this, and you have tips to add, please do so in the comment section! I know a few families who struggle with this, and I'm sure they would love the tips!

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Experience With Co-Sleeping

   Recently, I had a friend who was asking about co-sleeping with her soon-to-be-born child, and if this was a good option or not. Immediately, she was bombarded by opinion after opinion, and many of those opinions where very forcefully expressed. Co-sleeping is, apparently, a hot topic for some mommies, and I remember the most rabid of those opinion-givers kept repeating that 1) the mother would crush or smother her baby in her sleep, and that 2) if the baby survived, she would continue sleeping with her mommy for the rest of her life, because why would she sleep alone if she was not forced to it?
  I was a co-sleeping mommy, so I want to share my experience with this, but before I do that I would like to state that I am not saying that every parent should co-sleep. Like many other things in life, there is no one way to parent; there are so many options and choices out there, and our jobs as parents are to find the best way of parenting for us as unique individuals, and one mother's way of being a mother to her child may be entirely unsuitable for another. In short, just because I successfully co-slept, that does not mean that I am rabidly announcing to the world that all mothers must co-sleep. Co-sleeping will just not be an option for some, and that is fine. 
   That being said, co-sleeping is neither a death sentence nor the death of all the child's independence. I started co-sleeping almost right away; I hadn't planned on co-sleeping but due to circumstance, it happened. And it worked. My daughter slept better, and while I didn't really sleep that well because my daughter often used me as a foot prop or a head rest, I was more at ease having her right there where I could quickly check on her. There are also things that you can buy now that help keep pillows and blankets off of your baby such as attachable bassinets and such, but I have to say, while I often woke with my daughter on top of me, I never woke on top of my daughter. If you sleep heavily, maybe you should factor that into your decision to co-sleep, but I never had an issue with crushing my infant. Never happened; I was always aware of her position.
   The other issue; getting your child to leave the bed, well, that should also be handled parent-by-parent. As a single mom, I let my daughter sleep in the bed with me until she didn't want to anymore. She stopped sleeping with me about the time she started kindergarten. At that time, she started sleeping in her own bed, but still shared a room with me due to the fact that we were living in an extended family home. Now in middle school, she has her own room and sleeps in her own room in her own bed. Obviously, I did not have any problem with her wanting to sleep with me while she was still in high school. I never had to use any force; she decided when she was ready, so the claim that a child will not leave your bed unless you force them I have found to be false. Also, she is not a dependent child; she very strongly asserts her independence, which sometimes does get her into trouble, being as she is a twelve year old girl and I am mom, therefor, I am boss. So the argument that your child will not learn to be independent is also something I have found to be false.
   To add to this, co-sleeping was the reason that one night, I was right there when she started choking, and I feel that my response was much quicker and maybe even saved her life, because if she had been in a different room, I do not know that I would have heard her distress. My daughter has never been a sickly child. She's, to this day, never suffered from an ear infection, and all of her illnesses have been mild, except for two instances. The first one was a bowel issue that took several years to clear up and required constant attention to her diet. The second though, was a really bad respiratory virus that I at first thought was a case of the common cold. But one night I woke up because I heard a strange noise next to my ear; my daughter. It was the smallest of sounds caused by her struggle to get breath. My daughter was choking. I flipped her over and patted her back, trying to dislodge whatever was in her throat, but nothing appeared to be in there. There had been no blanket in her face, but I could see that she was gagging and struggling with something; she was starting to turn purple. Out of shear desperation, I stuck my hand into her mouth, hoping that I could find whatever was in there an pull it out. I pulled out a mucus plug, that once out of her throat, expanded so that it looked to be the same size as her head. I was horrified, and she was truly choking, so she was not coughing or making a sound, because no air was coming in at all. What I had heard was the rustle of the blanket, and I am not sure that a baby monitor would have picked up that sound. I heard it, and I also felt it, and that is why I woke.
   So in conclusion, I think that you need to do whatever is best for you, but if you want to co-sleep, I have found that the arguments against co-sleeping have not had a true foundation. All of the main arguments against co-sleeping that I have heard; the crushing or suffocation of the baby, the lack of independence, and the child never wanting to leave the parent's bed, have not been issues I have dealt with. In fact, this image that I pulled off of the internet actually details what I found to be the true issue:
  This, at least, has been my experience with the issue. I am not a professional, but I do have a happy, healthy, independent twelve year old who has no issues sleeping in her own room in her own bed. There you have it; my side of the story. If you are considering co-sleeping, then I hope this helps.