Why “13 Reasons Why Not” isn’t THAT Bad

I was skeptical at first. Really skeptical. And not because of all the controversial talk about how the series glamorizes teen suicide. I wasn’t worried about that – mainly because after doing my own reading on the internet, most articles who claimed professional psychiatrist stated this show could spur real life copy-cats, no where did they even give any reference of credibility of such professionals or case studies. Once again, alternate facts looms over us again.

And of the few supposed copy-cats that surfaced on the news after the series aired, there was no direct cause-and-effect relationship tied to show and real suicide victim. And the fact is – leaving a suicide note is not a new thing. Of course, with modern-day technology, letters are, I suppose, old school. Video and/or audio recording is probably more realistic these days.

The show, 13 Reasons Why, was not a great show and had mediocre acting (though I will say the main actor, Dylan Minnette, who’s character, Clay – who we watch as he unravels the mysteries from each tape – was my favorite). It captivated my attention enough to get me to watch all 13 episodes. Yet, 1/3rd into the show, I really was just wanting to get to the end so I could find out what lead to her suicide (the tapes gradually explained how they were all connected – but there appeared to be this looming doom which broke her soul at the very end).

Why I continued to watch the show was basically because of this:

While the suicide was a main focal point of the show, the issues that surrounded it was what people should be talking about: drugs, alcohol abuse, bullying and rape.

Especially the last two – bullying and rape (or assault of any kind).

So while the masses are upset with the show, fearing teens will be easily swayed to end their lives in a dramatic, revenge-like “trend”, I ask this… Would our teens feel a need to even consider suicide if they did not have to go to an institution day in and day out, facing such risks? When they go home, with social media being such a huge part of their lives, can they even escape it when they are not at school?

What are we as parents, the community and the school doing to prevent this warped, criminal behavior from happening? I say this because before this show even existed, this sad reality has happened before. The one I can’t get out my mind was the teen girl who was gang-raped by four of her classmates. The rapists took photos during the act and the photos went viral. Shortly after, she was bullied. Like 13 Reasons Why, she was called a slut and her reputation from good, sweet girl, flipped 180. Just like that. This poor teen suicide victim not only endured a horrible and criminal act, but then went through significantly, cruel bullying.

So for all the parents out there, outraged by this show, I ask this – what are WE doing to try and prevent this from happening in real life? If the issues on the show were not a real concern in our society, would there even BE such a show? Did we shape our culture/society to basically, give birth to the plot line of 13 Reasons Why?

I’m a bit dumbfounded why everyone seems to be pointing fingers at the show, stating it is too dangerous for teens to watch and lacks any accountability of the message. Yet what about the discussions this show has cultivated? Are we going to continue and point fingers at a fictional show (or novel which it was based off of) and ignore the fact that we have the power to make a change in society? What about the good that has come from all this controversy? What about the teens who created a project called “13 Reasons Why Not?”

People are also upset about this fictional teen leaving tapes – as if she was being selfish.

She was in pain. People who commit suicide are not thinking logically. They are not behaving normally. To blame the victim (for victimizing others in the aftermath) is a moot point. However, let me ask this – what if those tapes stop these people from making the same mistake to others? What if it is enough to bring charges down on the rapist(s)? What if it saves another life?

Honestly, before I watched the show I did not have a strong opinion of all the controversy surrounding the topic of 13 Reasons Why because it sounded like a pretty bad show. I don’t mean bad in that the subject was a horrible subject. I mean… it just sounded like a really bad show!

And, while it was not as bad as I imagined it to be, yeah, it was still bad.

I am not too swayed with this fear of teens glamorizing suicide. If they were in a suicidal state to begin with, the problem was there way before even watching this TV series.

The topics, however, were important to me. As a parent of a teen who has started discussing this show with friends (even though she has not seen it yet – she told me she is not interested at this point), I wanted to be prepared. I wanted to know what exactly happens so when she has questions or want to talk about it, I am hopefully, more ready than not.

Perhaps this show sort of sucked – but the topics are very real. We must stop the ignorance and get to the root of this problem. Increasing teen suicide rates are NOT due to this show. And we need to do something about it.

“Well… the truth is… actually… I’m in love.”

You know that scene from Love Actually? The one where the stepfather is trying to now be THE parent after the son’s mother dies?

And then the next scene we see these together, they have the following dialogue:

DANIEL: We can definitely crack this. Remember, I was a kid once, too. So, come on, it’s someone at school. Right?

SAM: Yup.

DANIEL: And what does she/he, feel about you?

SAM: SHE doesn’t even know my name. And even if she did, she’d despise me. She’s the coolest girl in school and everyone worships her because she’s heaven.

DANIEL: Good. Good. Well, basically…you’re fucked, aren’t you?

I loved how the father did not make any assumption of his step-son’s sexual orientation. Why would he assume Sam is straight when they have never had this talk before?

Let me tell you something, though. Talking to your kid about crushes and boyfriend/girlfriend relationships is not easy. Not easy at all. And it’s not that, I, as a parent, have problems talking to my 13-year old girl about it. It’s the getting her to open up to me part that’s not easy.

She’s at this age where everything is embarrassing. EVERYTHING! And she’s developed this physical tick in response to most of what I say. Some people call it the ‘eye-rolling syndrome.’ I just call it annoying.

The thing is last night, at the pub where we watched the Toronto Raptors kick ass in the NBA playoffs (see? I told you I like basketball more than hockey), I got to talking about what’s going on in her love life.

And I sort of pulled a Liam Neeson-Love Actually thing. I said, “So last year you liked so and so. What about this year? Do you have a crush on a boy… err… or girl?”

“Mom,” and of course she says this while rolling her eyes.

“What?”

“I’m not… you know.”

“What? Gay?”

“Right.” More eye-rolling.

“Okay – well, I didn’t want to assume! There’s nothing wrong if you are you know?”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore…”

I probably screwed up that conversation. In fact, she is probably mortified – and hence will be in debt in the future from all the expensive therapy sessions I will have caused her.

The Art of Staycationing

stay·ca·tion
ˌstāˈkāSHn/
noun; informal
noun: staycation; plural noun: staycations; noun: stay-cation; plural noun: stay-cations
  1. a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

We had gone over and over again how we wanted to spend our family week off during Chaeli’s March Break. Ideas included a Mexican cruise, Disneyland, Portugal, renting a cottage and of course, what we’ve been doing these past two years – skiing in Quebec.

Turned out, what we really need was a staycation. We needed to have no plans. We needed to chill out and have a loose schedule. We needed, also, to do some sorting and chucking. But mainly, we just needed to do a lot of nothing.

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I could start everyday with this avocado toast and scrambled eggs!

Of course, doing a lot of nothing usually amounts to doing something. But without the pressure of ‘having to see this’ and ‘having to do that.’

This past weekend was a bit more work – I spent a lot of my time sorting and chucking a very neglected walk-in closet. It’s nearly done – and I can’t wait. The last time my walk-in closet was this clean and organized, I would find myself sitting on the floor in the middle of it with a glass of wine, marveling at my results.

And you bet I’m going to do it again! Only this time it might be with a cold flute of Prosecco or Sparking Cava. My level of sophistication has elevated throughout the years after all.

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The final beautiful view of a frozen pond mid-point of our hike before we made our way back.

The real staycation day started today. My day played out wonderfully, starting with a 1 hour cardio at the gym while the lazier family members (i.e. everyone but me) slept in. When I came home mid-morning, I made a healthy breakfast for all then we went for an hour winter hike.

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Our reluctant teen who rather have stayed home to spend all day on the PS3

Whenever people hear how often we like to go adventuring outdoors – whether it be hiking, snowshoeing or camping – they share the same sentiment with one another, You guys are setting such an example for your daughter! She is so lucky to live such a rich life!

Not so sure she would agree. I remember in St. Maarten, one of the cruise ports, we explored by feet, sometimes going off the beaten path. She watched in horror as we went further and further away from the port until the vision of the ship became a disappearing small dot in the horizon. The thing is, she is young. But it’s evident Doug and I are more athletic and have more stamina.

I’m sure one day she will look back and really be thankful of what we ‘make’ her do. And even though she’s not as enthusiastic when we’re getting ready for our hike, once she gets going, she does get into her own meditative state. And I can see it relaxing her. Of course, that state seems to disappear as she runs into the door when we arrive back home and before I know it, she’s jibber-jabbing away with one of her friends on Facetime.

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At least our other ‘kid’ is crazy about outdoor adventuring – plus his fur matches the backdrop of the woods

I’m pooped now. The hike took over an hour and after a rest upon returning home (and a nap on the coach), I did some strength training, P90X3 style. My body is feeling it which is why I’m indeed having some Sparking Cave, listening to Sarah McLachlan and was just reading A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding. I’m halfway through and enjoying it very much.

This. This is my ideal way of enjoying a staycation. To work on my body, mind and spirit.

Plus – it will prove for a restful sleep tonight!

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Hobbes the dog will be one pooped dog for sure!

Where I Question My Own Parenting Skills

A few weeks ago, my 13 year old daughter and I were doing something. I can’t even remember what – but we were working together to complete a task. I remember complaining about something not working out exactly the way I imagined it. I looked at her to see how she felt.

She waved her hand in the air and said, “Screw it. It will have to do.”

I paused then, looked at her and asked, “Did you just say… ‘Screw it?'”

“Yeah.”

“Oh. You don’t talk that way at school do you? In front of your teachers?”

“No. Of course not.”

“Okay – be careful who you say it in front of, alright?”

“Yes, mom.”

It’s moments like this when I wonder to myself, My God… am I a horrible parent?

The other day, I was ranting and raving to my husband after discovering Logan, the new Wolverine movie, is rated R. I mean, COME ON! They give us two Wolverine and several X-Men movies of which all have been rated PG. Now, all of the sudden they do THIS to us? Just two days before our plan to do a family outing to the cinemas to go and watch this movie, I learned this. Talk about a total let-down.

“Well, exactly what makes it rated R?” I asked Doug.

“Supposedly,” he explained, ‘it’s really, really violent.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah – like decapitation and stuff.”

“Oh for crying out loud! She’s seen all that stuff before. What else?” I quickly open my IMDB app and check out what other parents are saying. “Look… only a very brief scene of nudity. Some woman flashing her boobs. Not great if it’s very brief, I can live with that. Other than that, there’s 48 uses of profanity… hell, she’s heard all that, too!”

“Well, it’s still restricted.”

“But as parents we’re okay with her going to see it – it’s our decision!”

“They still won’t sell her a ticket.”

“That’s just stupid!”

Of course, at this point, I realize perhaps I’m not the most conventional or conservative mom. In fact, I start to think about the movie Bad Moms and wonder if they want to base a character off of me in the sequel.

In all honesty, I keep myself in check in front of other kids. And when it comes to certain matters I’m actually quite strict. I have, however, noticed I’m far from the type of parents my friends are. There’s maybe only one other that comes close to me but as far as my circle is concerned, I’m SO the ‘bad mom’ of the group. And to be honest, I don’t really care. I came to the conclusion years ago, in order for me to be a happy mom, I had to be myself and do it my way. For the most part, it had to come naturally and not forced. So while I have some friends who didn’t let their 10 year old watch Vampire Diaries or read all of the Twilight series, I totally allowed my daughter to.

Which incidentally worked out for me because I love watching Vampire Diaries and The Originals (oh yeah, she watches that one too).

I wonder, though, where do I get this from? Certainly not from my mom. She tried to convince me, when I turned 19, that I couldn’t legally drink until I was 21.

Course, after having dinner last night with my parents, a definite light bulb appeared shining over my head like a beacon. I was ranting and raving about the whole Login thing to my dad.

“No kidding?” He said – being surprised just as I was. He then looked over at his granddaughter and assured her, “Don’t worry – when it’s available, I’ll buy the Blu-ray for you.”

My dad hadn’t even checked the parent guide online like I did before making such a decision.

Then, flashes of my youth came back to me: my dad catching me swear and calmly telling me not to say such words in public; of him letting me have some beer mixed with ginger ale way before I was a tween; of him letting me watch violent martial arts movie at the age of 8; of him standing outside my bathroom door the first time I had a hangover, asking me if I was okay, knowing I drank too much, but calmly letting me be when I told him I would be fine.

My dad was a strict parent in many ways. But when it came down to it, he also allowed me much freedom to experience life. He did not hold me back from growing up.

So I suppose, without realizing it, my spirit of parenting has stemmed from him. And I’m thankful of that.

Hibernation is for the Bears

One thing Doug has taught me over the many years we’ve been together is to not let winter be an excuse for staying in.

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Snowshoeing through the Rouge

This wasn’t the easiest concept for me to adapt to. Before I met Doug, going out for winter meant I sacrificed warmth by lining up at the nightclubs wearing very little under my coat. That was the extent of what it meant to me to ‘be outdoors’ during the winter months.

Sure, on the occasion, my friends and I would go snowboarding (on the very few occasion). Otherwise, adventuring outdoors in the the winter time really mean running from the car to either a club or a restaurant.

It’s different now. And yes, I will be completely honest – there are times I still rather stay in and remain all cozy while the winter wind howls or the snow fall comes down rapidly. After all, I have fuzzy sucks, my pj’s, an endless amount of hot tea I could make, plus a novel. And I can enjoy all this in front of the bay window at the front of our house while watching the beauty of winter from my safe world inside.

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Hobbes-the-Dog loves the snow – but he often collects snowballs up and down his legs!

I’ve learned, however, the shorter days of winter can deplete me of energy. I’m more likely to suffer from depression during the winter months. Staying indoor, essentially, can actually do worse for my mental health.

So, we try. We try our best to go out as a family, get some fresh air and exercise, and enjoy the beautiful scenery winter has to offer.

It works. I often come back feeling relaxed. And the cool air makes me feel rejuvenated. The silver-lining is we’re hopefully laying a path in shaping Chaeli’s future. She may not appreciate it now but I hope one can she can look back with fond memories of all our adventures and realize, herself, she should not let winter keep her from the great outdoors.