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And check out my joint blog with the love of my life and writing partner Dmytry Karpov: Kimberly ♥ Dmytry

Then his blog: Dmytry Karpov



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Education or Stress: What is school doing to my daughter?

I’m not a teacher and I don’t work for the school district or government or anything. I’m also not a psychiatrist.

I do, however, have multiple college degrees and studied behavioral science and Psychology in undergrad and grad programs. I am also a hypnotherapist. So…

Here’s the problem I’m having. My 8-year-old daughter, who is in 2nd grade, is having panic attacks.

Not just the normal “I don’t want to go to school, I’d rather play” moments. But full on shaking, pain, shortness of breath.

Panic attacks.

Ever since she switched from a Waldorf School (very nature focused, organic, peaceful curriculum with gnomes and fairies) to the standard California school system, she has been getting stomach aches. A LOT of stomach aches.

I’ve had her checked by doctors. There’s nothing medically wrong with her.  

She is stressed.

It has escalated into the full-fledged terror inducing anxiety attacks that leave her clinging to me like a scared kitten. She doesn’t want to go to school. Doesn’t want to sleep without me. Doesn’t even want to sit in the back seat of the car because she can’t touch me.

Part of it is the pressure of the public school system. All my kids test well above average for their age. But my oldest is a country girl at heart. She’s happiest with animals and nature. An environmentalist and artist. She doesn’t like to be rushed. And these days it’s all about the timed tests.

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

She feels like a failure when she doesn’t finish the math quizzes in time. She knows the answers, but half her page gets marked in red because she took too long.

This is just one example. With the push for “No Child Left Behind” and the move to force kids into certain levels on standardized testing, schools and teachers are under pressure to perform. And we all know which direction that pressure rolls…

I hate this. I wish I could still afford the private Waldorf schools. Or homeschool. I wish my little girl was happier and more at peace. I wish I knew what to do.

Now in fairness to the school system, there have been a lot of other stresses over the last few years. Moving to a new state, a divorce that has left her and her sisters with less time with their father and a few school changes.

I know none of this has been easy. It’s been hell for me too. So much stress. We had to sell most of what we owned to survive when my ex didn’t pay child support. We moved several times before I found work and a place I could afford. If I’m struggling with my own panic, certainly an 8-year-old with no control over her life would be in a panic too.

But we are stable now.
And we have been for a bit. I’ve got great work and am doing well financially and professionally. We have a nice home in a nice area. They go to a great school with great teachers.

And she is getting worse.

I’m meeting with her teacher, the principal and the school counselor today to figure out how best to support her. I know I can’t change the entire public school system. (Can I?) But I need to do something to help my little girl. I can’t stand to see her so miserable.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

I Don't Do Black Friday.


And I HATE Shopping.


So have fun trampling all over each other in the name of commercialism.


I'll just be here reading a book and drinking hot cocoa while daydreaming about my boyfriend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are You Happy?

What's with the cherries?

There’s this book out that’s really quite interesting. It’s all about how we don’t really know what makes us happy. We can’t even use past experience to predict what will make us happy, apparently. According to the studies and all that.

So I’m wondering, as we all gather together for Thanksgiving here in the US, what are we happy for? And do we really get any happiness out of this holiday?

I mean really, most people spend obligatory time with family they’d rather not be around, stuffing their faces with food it took the woman all day to cook, (not me, other women, if you let me in the kitchen I’ll likely burn it down…besides I KNOW cooking DOES NOT bring me happiness, so there’s that) just so everyone can bitch about everyone else when it’s all over.

Can you believe she had the nerve to bring HIM to the dinner?

Wow, she thought that pumpkin pie was the best? Oh dear, that’s bad.

When is he going to tell them he’s gay already? How can they not know?

And so it goes.

OK, maybe your family doesn’t sound like that. And hey, I’m not saying mine does. Nooo, we’re like something out of the Brady Bunch. We sing and dance and solve problems using team work and non-violent communication. Right…

So will I be happy this week as I gather with family?

I don’t know.

I’ll get to see my brother and sister. I’ll get to meet a brother I’ve never met before. (Long story, for another post perhaps.) I’ll get to play with my nephew.

And I’ll have to spend time with people I don’t know. I’ll have to endure a long drive with 4 kids and my parents. I’ll have to say no to anything with wheat, yeast or eggs in it because of stupid food allergies. (Take a moment to contemplate that and you’ll see the real tragedy there.) And I won’t be with the man I love.

I'm allergic to MOST of this
As much as I love biscuits and pumpkin pie, it’s the last one I’m most heartbroken about. I’ll miss Dmytry. Even though he’s a million miles away, I’ll miss having computer and easy phone access to him.

And I swear, this better be the LAST holiday I ever have to spend without him.

So screw the research in that book. I know what makes me happy. He does. Living with and loving him and my kids. That makes me happy. Oh, and writing. I dig that too. (And in case you’re a random agent or publisher or magazine editor, I write a lot and would love to buy you coffee. Call me…)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. Hope you find that elusive happiness we all talk about and dream about.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

To Post or Not To Post: The Verdict Is In


I am Ninja Stealthy
Turns out, I’m scary good at staying hidden. I’m not easy to find, even if you know some stuff about me and are a pro at locating people online.

Apparently, random last name changes and frequent moves, while simultaneously failing to properly register to vote or drive, allows for a lot of privacy. Who knew? I should start my own Writer Protection Program.

Now the story as to why I do all this is more convoluted and has absolutely nothing to do with trying to keep off the radar. That was just a happy side-effect.

When I posted last week about using my kids’ names and pics in blogging, I already felt pretty confident in my verdict. I would use them. Maybe not constantly, as they are not the primary focus of my blogs, but yeah, I’d use them when the post called for it. What’s the harm?

Turns out, people who know more about this stuff than me know what harm there is.

Now maybe I’m being paranoid. Maybe they are. Maybe the whole world is mad. Whatever. I’m a mom first, and my kids’ safety takes priority. Yes, they are ridiculously cute. Yes, I want to show them off. No, I do not want weirdoes to fixate on them. I may be hard to find, but still.

Right now, I’m not totally famous. (I know, it’s a shock to me too each morning when I wake up from my Twilight meets Harry Potter dreams, but it’s true. I’m not.) But let’s just add a ‘yet’ there for fun, shall we? Because, who knows? I mean, I am a writer. And if you’re reading this, then you hopefully don’t think I suck. I’ve got books that are almost ready for the light of day.

See? Mommy first!
And, I’m a big picture kind of girl. Always have been. Now, J.K.Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, they hit the spotlight immediately, it was not a building up process. They did not blog their way to fans and fame. So their lives (and children) weren’t spread all over the internet when they hit stardom.

Mine would be. If I posted as planned. Then what? My few hundred or few thousand blog hits and followers could skyrocket. And my little girls would get more attention. And the creeps would come crawling out of their hidey holes.

No. That’s not going to work for me. Not at all.

So here’s the deal.

·         You can be found by a non-privatized URL. (They can see your name, address, email and phone number just with one click, for free. Seriously, I saw mine. But the number and address and name were all wrong, ‘cuz I’m sneaky like that!) So, pay the nine bucks or whatever and privatize.

·         Keep your Facebook stuff private for just close friends and family. Or delete the kids’ names and pics. Think about it, with a name, a picture and a way to find your address, predators can become “friends” with your kids in no time. They can even look at your Facebook family tree and say “Hi , I’m a friend of your Aunt . How are you? Want some candy and a puppy?”

·         Don’t use your real birth date, age and current location online. (Apparently, you can be found easily this way. Also, if they know your age and birth month, they can get the year and search you out. Unless you’re sneaky like me. But very few are. I’m thinking of offering a free consultation to the FBI.) This is my favorite, because I just became a 23 year old woman living in the South of France. Cool eh? Easiest move of my life.

This is not where  I live
·         Be careful not to mention specific locations of where you going on a daily basis. If I live in New York, and don’t want you to know it, but I’m always references the New York Public Library, well, that might be a giveaway, don’t you think?

·         Watch your online activity. Google yourself once a week and scrub any info that points a big red finger to where you live. (Like commenting on too many local blogs.)

·         Keep an unlisted phone number and put your utilities in a different name if possible. (I know, we’re starting to sound nuts here, but this is just for extreme measures if you’re like, Stephen King or something. Though, he’s so scary I doubt he gets many stalkers.)

And finally *drum roll please* don’t use your kids real names and pics in your blogs.

Life Is A Play
There, I said it. Happy? My kids are all picking “stage names” to be used by Dmytry and I when we blog about them. I will no longer use their pictures and am in the process of changing my Facebook setting and removing things. (It’s also good to note that if you have an open FB page, you can privatize an album and only make it available to certain friends, which is what I’m doing with our kids’ pictures.)

Is this too extreme? Maybe. I had to look at my life, my priorities and where I see my career headed. Also, I’m raising kids with a man who will also be famous someday. Two famous writers in one house? That’s a lot of attention. We need to keep our kids safe. So, we will take most of these measures.

Thank you to all who have shed light on this subject and given me advice. It was well-received and appreciated.

Tell me what you think. Am I going over board? What has been your experience with this?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Post or Not to Post: Children’s Faces in Private Places

Love Blog

Dmytry Karpov and I just launched our brand new blog together,Kimberly ♥ Dmytry: Breaking the Mold in Life and Love.”

We are so giddy with excitement over it, it’s kind of embarrassing. Except we’re so happy in love that we can’t be bothered with being embarrassed.

Up until now, any blogging I’ve done has been about my own journey spiritually (the early days of my journal-blogging months), or, lately, writing about different subjects and issues that spark a rise in me.


But now, this blog with Dmytry will be more family focused. On us as a couple (the unique experiences of a dramatic age-difference, living with and loving my writing partner, etc.) and us as parents.

I have three little girls: 8, 6 and 4.

They will feature in our work from time to time.

In the past I have used their pictures in my blogs, and even included my oldest daughters name, as the blog was dedicated to her and her commitment to the environment in “The Chicken Nuggets Must Live!”

But I didn’t give it too much thought.

Until Now.

So my question to you is this. To post or not to post?

Do you use your children’s names and pictures in your blogs? Why or why not?

I know some awesome bloggers with decent followings who routinely feature beautiful photos of their children and include names.

And I know some awesome bloggers who don’t.

I know people who feel it’s risky and invites predatory type people into their lives.

And I know people who don’t agree. Who feel the demographic doesn’t really give rise to this problem.

Also, for those who do use them, do you worry about negative affects?

For those who don’t, what’s the worst that would happen? Is it a real life concern? That a predator will stalk you in the flesh? Is it a virtual concern? That they will use these innocent pictures for not so innocent intentions?

I guess I don’t understand the dilemma. I’m inclined to go the way of those who use pictures and names. I don’t see the harm. It’s unlikely anyone seeing that picture will be able track me down where I live, even if they should feel so inclined. And really, would they?

Maybe I’m not being as cautious as I should. I don’t know. That’s why I’m opening it up for discussion. A lot has been posted on other blogs about this, but I’m still undecided.


What’s your take on the subject? To post or not to post, that is the question.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Power of the Tweeple!

Yesterday I saw a tweet in passing that changed my whole day.

It linked the phone number to Amazon.com so that we might call to get a pedophile's book taken off the shelves. Wait...WHAT?

I linked to the site and was horrified at what I read. "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Romance," was being sold as an e-book on Kindle through Amazon. I shuddered at the thought that my beloved Kindle could download something so obscene.

I made it my personal campaign to get this book off the shelves. I tweeted and FB'd and Blogged. <== Click here if want to read the blog from yesterday that explains more on the book and the outrage I (and many) felt.

I was not alone in this. 

Through various means, the story got out. Enough people sent enough tweets and blogs and whatevers to get Amazon to listen. I tried calling them and couldn't get through. I did, however, get through to an agent at FBI headquarters and filed a formal complaint against Amazon, and this man, for this book.

As of this morning, the book has been taken off, and our efforts to do so have received intentional attention. The BBC this morning reported on the controversy surrounding Amazon's choice to sell this book. (and subsequently profit from any sales...just consider that for a moment...profiting on sales of a book designed to teach pedophiles how to engage with children in a way that will lighten their sentence if convicted. WHAT?)

This has truly shown me what can be accomplished when people speak out. And the impact the social media has. The change it can create.

But not everyone is happy with this.

I blocked two people from my Twitter site because they would not stop harassing me about either:

A: My contribution to the destruction of the 1st Amendment and all civil liberties ever known. This person used sarcasm to make his point. It's just SOOO fun to have a friendly debate with someone dripping in disdain, don't you think?
or B: This book is just a distraction from real evil and by getting one book pulled from the shelves we are not really making a difference. How does this stop all violence everywhere? *HUH?* Why do we only care about white girls? *WTF?* and on it went.

I do not believe Free Speech is the trump-all card of cards. There are limits. As one person commented on yesterdays blog, you can't yell FIRE! in a crowded theater. It's illegal. When free speech endangers the lives of others, it's no longer protected. This book endangers the lives of children.


I have not, nor will I, read the book.

But here's a really interesting article from MSNBC.com They read the book for the purposes of research and thorough reporting. I won't rehash their comments, but it's worth reading. And worth noting that contrary to rumors floating around, this is not some innocent self-help guide for the nice pedophile who just wants to love children in a platonic sort of way. No. It is Not.

It also brings up another sad point. The attention generated from this outrage led to the sale of many more books. Until yesterday, only 1 person had allegedly purchased it.

I can only hope that many of those sales were people like MSNBC trying to do research. I don't know. I hate to think that my small part in this campaign led to more money and attention for this sick man and his horrid book.

But what is the alternative? Do we say nothing for fear of drawing more attention to this? Children go on Amazon everyday to buy books. I don't want MY children seeing a book like this online and thinking it's ok. Do you?

I'm glad it's off the site. But Amazon still has a lot to answer for. As my friend Liza Kane wrote in a blog letter to them yesterday, this is not the first questionable choice they've made. And it's not even clear yet who removed it, Amazon or the publisher.

Amazon won't publish porn, which is legal, but will profit off the sales of this? As of now, my boycott stands. And my Kindle is still in retirement.

BRING IT

What are your thoughts? Have we crossed the line into book burning? Are there certain lines that are just off-limits? Does freedom of speech trump all? Have we done more harm than good by bringing attention to this book? How do we fight that which threatens to destroy our children and society? I want to hear from all of you. Bring on the debate!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Pedophile's Guide to...WTF?

OK. I'm a HUGE fan of the 1st Amendment and Free speech and all that. Seriously. I'm a writer. Just try to shut me up.

BUT...There are LINES people. Lines that DO NOT get crossed. I tripped over a huge line today when a fellow Tweeter alerted me to Amazon.com 's sale of the most hideous book I've seen to date.

The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure by Phillip R Greaves 2nd (Kindle Edition - Oct. 28, 2010) - Kindle eBook

A Product Description as written by the author:

"This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter sentences should they ever be caught."

REALLY? Like, SERIOUSLY? Are we really allowing this to pass for free speech?

Amazon has defended its right to sell this book: 

"Let me assure you that Amazon.com does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts; we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions."

"Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable."

This does not take into account a few things:

1: The right of a private company to choose what to sell.
2. The right of anyone to ban the sale or promotion of literature that actively promotes illegal activity. 

The Definition of Pedophilia

: sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object

And According to Wikipedia:

As a medical diagnosis, pedophilia (or paedophilia) is typically defined as a psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents (persons age 16 and older) characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children (generally age 13 years or younger, though onset of puberty may vary). The child must be at least five years younger in the case of adolescent pedophiles.[1][2][3][4] The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) defines pedophilia as a "disorder of adult personality and behaviour" in which there is a sexual preference for children of prepubertal or early pubertal age.[5] The term has a range of definitions as found in psychiatry, psychology, the vernacular, and law enforcement.

Now that we're clear on this, how many feel a How-To-Guide is good for society or our children?

Does Free Speech trump all? 

Does the slippery slope argument give a get-out-of-jail-free card to all disturbed persons who want to promote this kind of sickness?

I had some strange Tweet exchanges on Twitter that ran into this problem. Things such as "We only care about white kids..." and "But let's not be naive and ban a pedophilia book when the US condones/loves *many* other forms of violence. It's inconsistent, logically."

HUH?  Yes. You're right. We shouldn't fight one kind of evil because other forms of evil exist. Perfectly logical. Ummm? Not.

Here's the deal.

Have sex with whomever you want. However you want. Write about awesome gay, lesbian, bi and hetero love affairs. Celebrate that however you'd like. Embrace age differences and non-traditional relationships. I would even debate various state laws about the age of consent, as it's legal in some areas for 16 yr olds to consent to their sexual partner and not legal until 18 in others. There are shades of gray there somewhere. I don't know the answer to this.

Sex can be a violation if an older man or woman manipulates or forces a younger partner. If a person in power uses that to gain sexual access to someone. Or if a teenage boy rapes a girl, woman or grandmother. These things happens. The victims and perpetrators of sex crimes come in a whole assortment of ages and, well, I guess just the two genders. But you get my point.

HOWEVER

Prepubescent children are off-limits. Period. End of Story. No negotiating that line. At ALL! And that is the definition of a pedophile. I haven't read the book. And I'm not putting money in this man's pocket to do so. But the title and description say it all.

Meet Nook
I am boycotting Amazon.com until they remove this from their site. BarnesandNoble.com will get my business. My Kindle will be laid to rest as I save for a Nook. I have also called the FBI at 202-324-3000 and they led me to a site IC3.gov to file a formal complaint. Which I did. I hope you will take action.

Blog, Tweet and FB this and other blogs like it. File a complaint. Complain to Amazon. Boycott them. Alone my voice is nothing. Together, we can make change.

I am linking like minded blogs to mine. If you have written a blog about this and would like to be added as a link, please email me at kimberly.kinrade at gmail dot com.

Thank you!

UPDATES 

My Follow-Up Post "The Power of The Tweeple"


BLOGS TO READ 



"The Pedophile's Guide To Shutting The Hell Up!" friend and awesome writer Tom of The Curse of Future Tom


Amazon is Right: A post from the awesome TellingDad
"Update: What now?
- I’m now told that Amazon hasn’t officially removed it from sale…only pulled it for a re-review. If they allow this to be sold then I’m done with them and any subsidiary, sponsor, or co-marketing partner. What kind of person would be able to review that book and approve it? They have the right to reject products. They are a corporation, not the sponsors of our Constitution. We’ll see if they side with children or profits soon enough."

Awesome blogger with regular updates on this issue


Hold Amazon Accountable for Pedophile Guide by Brandon Layng
A thought provoking look at the legal and moral implications in the Free Speech debate.

Amazon-What are you thinking?

A video challenge to boycott Amazon

Parents vs. Pedophiles

Dear Amazon...

MORE ON AMAZON

An AP Article on the outrage

Monday, November 8, 2010

Love, Sex and the Question of Age PART 3: Kids


What SHE SAYS:

There is a progression to life that we humans like to see followed. Man and woman meet. They fall in love. They get married. They have kids. They live happily ever after in wedded bliss, with a house, a few cars and a few maxed out credit cards. Oh wait, I think we deviated from Disney there. Sorry.

The point is, when you don’t follow this progression, people get concerned. Then worried. Then downright panicked. They’ve been dating for years, when ARE they going to get married? They’ve been married for years, when ARE they going to have children?

So when a younger man dates and commits to an older woman, questions arise. Dmytry and I addressed some of those in the first two posts of this series. But there is now the question of children.

He doesn’t have any biological children. I have three little girls. Will I want to have more children with him? Is it fair to deprive him of this opportunity to reproduce his own genetic material in such a wonderful way?

First of all, I’m in my early 30s. My children are still very young. While I am perfectly content with the kids I have, If Dmytry wanted a child that badly, I would be happy to experience that with the man I love.

However…

I can’t have any more children. I had an abdominal hysterectomy after my third child, for health reasons. Unless my uterus spontaneously regenerates, we will not be making baby Dmytrys anytime soon.

He knew going into this that he would be daddy to three amazing little girls, but they would never share his DNA. Is a younger man able to make that kind of choice without fear of regret? I don’t know. Are any of us ever able to make choices without that fear? Many couples struggle with infertility and don’t have the choice beforehand, nor do they have the built-in family we have.

I don’t know if he’ll regret his choice in 20 years. What I know is this…he has many years of fatherhood ahead of him. My girls love him and want a daddy that lives with them and loves them. I trust Dmytry with this responsibility because I know he will be an amazing and much needed influence in their lives.

They need him. Just as much as I need him.

Also, having three kids is a great natural form of birth control against the need for more screaming little ones.

And…we are writers. I know this sounds like a non-sequitur, but hear me out. The creative process is a birthing process. An idea builds inside us, gestating until it can survive on its own. We give it birth and set it free into the world, carrying a piece of our soul as it goes. Isn’t this really at the core of our desire to have a baby that’s genetically linked to us? That sense of sending into the world some part of ourselves that will live on?

Well, we have that in our work. And Dmytry is the best damn writer I know and will be giving birth to serious brilliance over the years. His work will live on. And through it all, he will have a full family life with all the joys and perils of fatherhood. Is this really such a sacrifice? Let’s let him decide.

I’ve asked him to comment on his feelings about stepping into the role of father for three children that are not his by birth, and how he feels about not being able to have one of his own. We each wrote our own response at the same time, without knowledge of what the other would say. Here is his reponse:

What HE SAYS:

On this Issue of Child-rearing:



Raising Angels

Parenting. The word makes me shiver and beam at the same time. I mean, it involves raising children with care and watching them grow with pride. (Ah, such lovely images.)

But...it involves raising children with care and watching them grow with pride.

And if I fail, I will never forgive myself.

You see, fatherhood had always been a fleeting thought in my mind. Sure, I wanted kids. And I was going to have them some time in the future. The far off future.

So, I didn't think much about parenting. Wasn’t burdened by that fear of such enormous responsibility and the consequences of failure. Life was good.

Then I fell in love with a woman who has three daughters, and that little thing that was so far away hit me straight in the face.

I’m going to be a dad. Soon! I don’t even get the standard 9 months to prepare myself.

Can I handle the pressures of raising three kids? Of being a role model? Of providing for them? Can I do all of this at an age when most are still growing up themselves, without children of their own?

Answer: I have to.

Not only for Kimberly, but for myself. I have to prove to myself that I can handle raising kids. That I can confront my fears.

And though I have only recently, due to my young age, found independence from my family, I feel like I can keep one together. And, honestly, I miss being part of one. A close one. One that eats dinner together and watches movies before going to bed. One that you can come home to everyday of the week.

So, am I worried about being a daddy to three little girls? Yes.

Do I want to be a daddy to three little girls? Yes.

And I will do anything to make sure I raise them properly. I will endure any stress, pain, and subsequent headaches in order to raise them properly.

But yes, I'm scared. I mean, what does properly mean anyways? Kimberly has informed me they didn’t come with an instructional guide.

But whatever. I’m committed to this. To them. And I will not let them down. Of that I am sure.

On the Issue of Biology:


Giving Birth to Creation

There is something special and unique about having your own biological child. It means a piece of you is going out into the world, continuing your legacy.

I can't have that with Kimberly.

Or can I...

Sure, there will be no physical part of myself going out into the world through our little girls. But what about the psychological? The emotional? The Spiritual?

My girls will carry the morals that I teach them, the knowledge that I share, and the emotions that they feel for me. Is that any less important than the physical?

No. It's even more important.

Almost any man can be a biological father. Few can be a real father, truly treating their kids as part of themselves.

That's what I'm going to do. And I can't wait to do it.

I feel blessed that Kimberly's daughters, including being adorable and brilliant, share a common interest with me: writing.

When I heard that they scribble down stories and discuss characters my heart melted and my jaw dropped. (There might have even been drool.)

My brother and I have never shared interests with our father, and I could see how a part of him was always saddened by this. Not disappointed. But sad.

And I wondered: when I had my own kids, would they enjoy writing? Beacuse really, that's my biggest passion in life. That’s where most of my knowledge resides.

And I must admit that if my kids hated writing or, god forbid, even reading, I'd be sad. I’d still love them and raise them to be strong in their own talents, but I would worry they would feel the same disconnect to me that I have always felt with my father. The same disconnect I know Kimberly often feels with her parents.

But Kimberly's children love writing and reading. They are bright and creative. And I'm happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love them and raise them as my own regardless of their artistic and creative inclinations. But isn’t a big part of wanting your own child motivated by that desire to see a part of yourself in them?

I see that in our girls. And I’m more confident now, knowing that I can relate to them. I can give them something even their own biological father can’t. A love and understanding of what makes them tick, or how they think and the kind of temperament they have. They need creativity, play, flexible structures that allow them to think outside the normal boundaries. I get that. I relate to that. So I can more fully appreciate and relate to them.

So, is it better to have a biological child and risk different interests, or to adopt another one who shares your passion?

I don't know.

But I do know that I love Kimberly's daughters. They are everything I could ever want or need. And I'm hoping that, one day, I can be that to them as well.

That I can be their father.

AND…Back to Kimberly:

Dmytry’s love of and passion for my children is overwhelming to me. I love him all the more for it. I had long since given up on believing a man like him even existed. A man who understands me so completely and loves me uncondtionallly. A man who shares my worldview, passions and interests. A man to whom I am sexually attracted and by whom I am creatively inspired. A man I love in return in all these ways and more. And a man who loves my girls just as much, and is willing to step up and be a true father to them.

There are men twice his age who would not want to take on that challenge.

So you tell me. Have we really missed out on anything? No. We haven’t. We’ve been blessed with more than anyone I know. And for that I will be forever grateful and in awe.


What’s next with Kimberly and Dmytry:

We’ve been blown away by the love, support, comments and stories we’ve received over the last several days. What started last week as a “hmmm…maybe we should blog about this whole age difference thing…” has become so much more. One post became two, became three…and now…

It is becoming a whole blog of its own. That’s right folks, we are starting a blog devoted exclusively to our life together. Each week we will write anywhere from one to three posts together, dealing with issues ranging from age, to children, to sex (in a PG style so we don’t have to reset our settings…), to our work as writing partners.

We’d love for you to join us on this journey. This isn’t going to be a blog about older women dating younger men. It's going to be about us as a couple and how we live, laugh and love our way through life together.

We hope our journey will inspire you on yours. That the lessons we learn will add value to your life, and that we can engage in a dialogue with you as we explore what it means to really love.

But we need a name! So we’re taking suggestions. A blog name and URL name (if different.) Keeping in mind that we are both published writers looking to land book deals (meaning our names will be, hopefully someday, well-known). We’re looking at variations of our names (Kimberly Kinrade and Dmytry Karpov) or some other thing entirely. Post your ideas here or contact us directly at KimberlyandDmytry@gmail.com.

And thanks for reading. We love you all!

Love,

Kimberly and Dmytry

Friday, November 5, 2010

Love, Sex and the Question of Age PART 2

Society Values What???

There’s a lot of criticism out there for those who follow their heart rather than societal views of how and who you should love. If you don’t “match” your partner closely in race, status, intelligence or beauty, you invite critique.

Nowhere is this truer than with the issue of age (though from what I’ve heard, race could be a close second.) It seems odd to me that in certain situations we feel it’s permissible, even morally imperative, to shove our two cents down the throats of those who engage in relationships or behaviors we don’t understand.  We are mighty selective about what we choose to chime in on as well. We will ignore domestic abuse, child abuse, elderly abuse, the homeless, the poor, the injured…but put a 19 year old man in the arms of a 40 year old woman and all hell breaks loose.

Am I the only one struck by the insanity of this? And those who cite the desire to protect the sanctity of love and marriage should really take a good hard look at the statistics. Is it really the mismatched couples of the world leading high divorce rates? No. It’s not. Nor is it the homosexuals. Or the mixed-race couples. Come on people. Get some sense on this please.

People of like age, mind and social status marry and divorce all the time. They grow apart, cheat, lose interest, learn to hate each other etc. They fail to find common bonds, mismanage child rearing or money management, argue over movies and hate each other’s friends and parents. These joys of couplehood are not the exclusive domain of one group. It’s life. I had many of these experiences with every man of “appropriate age” I dated.

So let’s take a look at some of the most common arguments people use to naysay the Older Woman/Younger Man romance. (To be clear here, I’m not referring to specific ages or even decades. Older can mean early 30s if her partner is in their 20s. Whatever age gap between the man and woman that results in any kind of social stigma.)

As promised, my boyfriend Dmytry has compiled some rebuttals to counter all of this prejudicial nonsense.

What HE SAYS

16 year age gap
*A younger man can never hope to match the maturity level of an older woman.

Not true. Everyone develops differently and this issue can occur in close-age relationships as well. Compatibility and the ability to maintain a relationship depend on how well a couple's outlooks coincide and what they require from each other.

Does a mature woman require more than a younger one? Maybe. But many seek such things as a stable family, income, and place to live, including younger woman. The younger man--any man--if to satisfy these needs, must be able to understand them and to cope with the duties of attaining and maintaining them. This requires a specific kind of maturity and responsibility and is something that men can learn at any age. Some may attain it young, others never. Age is not the meter by which this kind of maturity is measured. Instead one must look at education, raising, and innate personality when determining a man's ability to act responsibly and handle pressure.

Also, varying maturity levels are not an issue in themselves. An older woman may use her maturity in beneficial ways, possibly compensating for any lack that the younger man might posses, solving a variety of relationship problems. But of course, a relationship should not be one sided, so the man must be able to meet the woman's needs, often generated by her own maturity, in order to keep their life together balanced.

I'll admit, Kimberly has been through a lot more than me. She's been through a lot more than anyone I know. But this hasn't made me feel inadequate or incapable. I treasure her experiences and learn from them whenever possible. Honestly, I learn from everyone I know. 

*A younger man can’t hope to handle family responsibilities such as children and home life that the older woman may require.

Yes, raising children: something a young man is often said to be incapable of doing. However, children require different forms of attention and care, and some of these can be easily addressed by a younger man. First, a younger man can provide for the kids as any man capable of working. He can also watch them and keep them safe. Secondly, a young man can imbue children with the morals and knowledge they need. His only lack may arise in, once again, dealing with the responsibility and stress of raising children. Some men will be able to cope at a young age, others may not, and others may struggle. However, the more mature woman can always use her experience to help her partner handle problems.

Raising children, no matter what your age, is always a learning process. Both an older woman and a younger man, if first time parents, start off with the same level of experience in parenting. And people as young as 18 are known to marry and reproduce together quite frequently, bringing children into a family in which neither of them are experienced.

It would seem that if at least one partner is older, that would be an advantage. Also, the younger man brings a playfulness, energy and enthusiasm that children need and older men often lack.

Now, raising kids does feel daunting, but it would feel that way no matter what age I was. Nothing in my life can prepare me for that kind of responsibility nor give me the skills to do it perfectly. But I'm willing to try. I want to try.  Besides, Kimberly knows so much more about kids than me and I will have her support. So, I can't fail. Right? Right, because failure's not an option.

*A younger man isn’t emotionally ready for a mature relationship and will likely be unfaithful with so many wild oats left unsown.

If you believe that, I'm surprised you trust any man, or humanity for that matter. Yes, it's true that once a younger man enters a relationship with an older woman he is, if faithful, deprived of any chance for other sexual and emotional relationships. But so is any other faithful man. Does age have anything to do with keeping it in your pants? Is there some kind of natural progression where a man sleeps with less and less women over time? No. Look at men like Hugh Hefner. Settling down has little to do with age.

But of course, some may argue that limiting a young man in this way is unjust, robbing him of experiences he is morally obligated to obtain. However, the entire purpose of relationships is to fulfill physical, emotional, and even spiritual needs. If an older woman can fulfill these for her younger man, than that is not depriving him of anything except disappointing and heartbreaking experiences. It’s true that these may be valuable experiences for some, but they only provide knowledge on how to best engage in effective relationships, which is not necessary if already engaged in one.

And I am engaged in one. And I don't have some sort of natural urge to be unfaithful. Instead, I have a natural urge to be with Kimberly.

*If the age gap is more than 7-10 years, the generational gap is too extreme. There will not be a basis for common ground and they will soon tire of each other.


I'm not tired. Anyway, though an older woman may have a wider range of experiences to draw from then her younger boyfriend in order to socialize and find commonality, there are still many topics of discussion that both can share. These are often found in things that have stood the test of time, such as classics and traditions. Also, there is always the present--a limitless topic--and the experiences that vary between the couple can provide fresh outlooks on life, allowing both to learn from each other.

Furthermore, not everyone is tied to their specific generational icons. Kimberly, for example, is sadly lacking in proper pop-culture knowledge of the last several generations. We are working on rectifying this. She is, however, brilliantly informed in literature, art, music and culture. This level of genius spans any gaps between us. The rest I can introduce her to.

What SHE Says

I hope you can see from just this brief glance how awesome this man is. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I did not have a normal kid experience, and did not grow up knowing the same kinds of things other people did. I’ve never had common ground with men I dated, who were my age or older. It had nothing to do with age, and everything to do with finding a partner who understands how my crazy brain and heart work. And loves me for all the insanity.

Dmytry and I found that common bond on every level except that silly little number. Now, I’m not trying to negate the value of life lived, or the wisdom accumulated in years. There is something specifically important about passing those markers in life and taking the precious gifts they offer into the next phase. And there have been times where I threw a reference out there that left him with a blank expression. Oh No! What to do? Well, thank god for google.

So really, the only problem in all of this that is not a normal part of any relationship is how others view us.  Except, being writers, we’re kind of morally obligated to defy societal norms anyways, so what the hell! We will live life on our terms, and enjoy success, connection, love, happiness and great sex. Those who don’t like it can crawl back to their own unhappiness. And those who can embrace that which is different, well, we’ll be throwing some kick-ass Halloween parties in the future. You’re all invited. Then, we can all be ANYTHING we want, and no one gives a damn!

See you at the party! Love,

Kimberly and Dmytry



 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Love, Sex and the Question of Age PART 1

"I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself." -- Rita Mae Brown


It's the soul connection that counts
Until recently I never imaged I would ever seriously date a man much younger than myself. I like to think I’m open-minded and mostly unprejudiced, but ageism is one of those things that sinks into us subtly and in unexpected ways, shaping our perception of everything. It permeates so many aspects of life, blanketing nearly ever opinion we form, that we don’t even see its presence. It’s simply everywhere.

When I was 16 and hell-bent on changing the world (and saving it) I had a Bible verse that I carried with me like armor.

“Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” I Timothy 4:12

I’ve long since chosen a different spiritual path, but the message of that verse still resonates with me. That regardless of age, we can be examples to others, embodying the virtues we value.

For much of my life I was the “youngest.” Youngest kid in the class. Youngest girl at the dance. Youngest member of the committee or group. Youngest to start writing professionally.

By the time I was 12, I was spending my school breaks volunteering in Missions in Mexico and New Mexico, helping the poor, reading to kids, cleaning up trash. I worked all year babysitting and cleaning houses to pay for these trips. I wasn’t a normal kid. Didn’t have normal kinds of kid thoughts or experiences.

I grieved for lost souls, cried for those in pain, and buried my head in books. And I wrote. I didn’t know how to really engage in conversation with people my own age. So I talked to adults.

Shifting Roles

Somewhere along the way I stopped being the youngest wonder kid. I’m not a novelty anymore. I’m just me. Damn good at what I do. Sometimes even great. But just living my life.

When I met my now-boyfriend, I recognized a similar spirit. We became writing partners immediately. Like it was inevitable and what had taken us so long? His work is brilliant, and that genius resonated deeply with me. I knew his mind and heart before I knew his age. The connection was profound as we finally each found someone who “got us” and our work in a way no one else had. Through our critiques and discussions, we both grew as writers.

With writing, things get personal. We connected emotionally. Spiritually. Deeply. So, I was dismayed and shocked when I learned his age. And how many years spanned the gap between us. That prejudice I so hated when I was in my teens and early 20s came back to haunt me as I saw my life through a different lens.

We were still just friends. Partners in writing. So did it really matter? Could my ego handle the fact that I had met my match creatively and intellectually in someone younger? Yes. I decided it could. He was too extraordinary and too instrumental in my growth as a writer and human to let my stupid pride get in the way.

Obviously, after spending time together, things did not remain in the just friends department. And now we are both faced with spending our lives in a relationship that will always have an element of challenge to it, at least in the view of society. Why is this?

What’s Age Got to Do With It Anyways?

Celebrity couples who defy age difference
Why does that one number change so much? He is the same man he was before I knew his age. That has not changed. Daily he amazes me with his depth of insight, wisdom, intelligence, grace, humor and light. I’ve dated men my age and older, been married, and never have I met anyone who is equal to him. Someone with whom I have so much in common (from the little things of books, music, movies…to the bigger philosophical questions of the heart and spirit.) So why does it matter how old we are?

I have degrees in Communications, English, and Behavioral Science and did post-graduate work in Transpersonal Psychology. I am a Reiki Master, Hypnotherapist and have lived through much darkness and trauma in my life. I give you this brief resume to make the point that I am not oblivious to the workings of the human mind, personality and spirit, and how culture plays its part in that.

While it’s a complicated subject worthy of a dissertation, I will sum up my basic conclusion.

Symmetry is God

We are a culture of sameness when it comes to love and relationships. We want like with like. Age. Societal status. Economic standing. Intelligence. Attractiveness. When we look at a couple, we want to see something that makes sense. Something that matches. (The exception to this being homosexuals. We don’t like THAT much sameness, god no. That’s just wrong.) *really hoping you hear the sarcasm dripping from my voice right now…

So it’s not all that surprising that May-December romances are so controversial and frowned upon. They aren’t the same. That’s wrong. They must die.

I jest, but there’s some truth to the idea that we want dead and gone that which we do not understand.

It's worse also when the woman is older, rather than the man. Because woman mature faster and therefore seem more suited to an older man? No. Not really. More likely because we see age as power, until you get too old, then we take back your power. An older woman dating a younger man seems wrong somehow. We are threatened by any woman who takes control of her life and sexuality and is not seen as dependent on a man. Also, this presupposes a younger man can not care for his partner in the same way an older man might. (More on this in Part 2 tomorrow.) 

People site life experience and maturity level as the real reasons they are opposed to these kinds of unions. Well, that sounds smart, ‘til you really get down to the fact that there are a LOT of men in their 30s, 40s and up who are immature children. (I should know; I’ve dated many of them.) So, obviously blowing out an extra candle on your birthday cake does not make you wise and mature.

We have a very bizarre relationship to age. We ridicule the young for being immature and untested. We brush off the more mature for being outdated and unnecessary. And we create a small window of time in which a person can really feel successful, sexual, happy, and contributing to society. What a waste of so much wisdom, knowledge, enthusiasm, energy, inspiration and life. In many cultures, the oldest member of a tribe assists in the birth of a newborn, because it is believed that both are closer to the true essence of god and life. Not so in our society. The young and old are tolerated members of a society structured to idolize the one phase of life in which we are considered valuable.

Ok, I know I’ve gone off on tangents, and maybe you were expecting a post on how great sex is with a younger man. And yes, there is a truth to that. Why waste such brilliant chemistry of a woman in her prime and a man at his sexual peak? The experience of the woman shaping the enthusiastic stamina of her younger partner. But this is just one aspect to a complex layering of the important dimensions of a great relationship. I’m not talking about the Cougar-syndrome of hunting the youth for sport of sex. I’m talking about real, meaningful, life-long relationships with sex as part of the equation, not the whole.

The Debate

Can an older woman and a younger man have a real intimacy and connection with which to build a life together? Why or why not? What real role does age play? Or is it really more about our perceptions of how a couple “looks” together?

My boyfriend and I are both on a path that could lead to wildly successful careers as authors in the not too distant future. Does this change perception? If we are both rich and famous does that mitigate the unease you feel when you see us holding hands on the street? If I look especially young and he seems especially mature, does that help? If we are both attractive and smart, do we seem a better fit for you? If you believe in souls, does an ‘Old Soul’ with deep wisdom, off-set lack of years in this life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. And thank you to all my Tweeple on Twitter who made time to share their ideas and stories. Love you all! Stay tuned tomorrow for PART 2 as my boyfriend chimes in to address some of the most common arguments for why it would never work and shows logically why it can. And why, he tells me often, it has to for us. When I doubt and worry, his question is simple. “Given who we are together, how can you and I NOT work?” (He’s wicked smart, I wouldn’t argue his points…)