How to Protest with Young Kids without Losing your Mind

Given our current political landscape, the perception of protests seems to be changing, at least for those of us on the left. Prior to Election Day 2016, if I’d said I wanted to bring my young kids—two and four—to a protest, the snide comments and sideways glances would have been loud and abundant. But things can change drastically in a couple of months, and today the attitude on protesting with kids seems remarkably different.

That doesn’t make it easy. Taking my two kids to normal places, like the grocery store or to daycare, involves a level of patience I very rarely manage to achieve. Don’t even talk to me about going out to eat, where I spend most of my time fishing things off of the floor. I’d rather light my money on fire, so how could it be possible to handle kids during such an emotional event like a protest? In the past three weeks, I’ve been to three separate–and different–events. Here are my suggestions to help you voice your opinion without going completely mental.

A Kindergarten Teacher Responds to the Protest Against Betsy Devos

Today, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited a public school in Washington, D.C., where she was met by protestors who didn’t want her to enter the school.

As a public school educator, I have been asked my thoughts on this situation. I have to say, this is a bit of a conundrum. On one hand, I completely understand why public school teachers don’t believe that this woman will bring anything positive into their school. She has proven on many occasions that she isn’t interested in public education, and she has only been our Secretary of Education for three days.

On the other hand, how could she learn anything about public schools if she is not welcomed into one? She did not attend or teach at a public school, nor did she send any of her children there, so what does she really know about them? One of the reasons I am so proud to be a public school teacher is that we welcome all people.

What I would like to see is more effort on her part to understand what public schools are, and why we’re necessary. Who the teachers are, who the students are, what we do and what we stand for. Here is what Betsy DeVos needs to understand before she enters a public school.

Thank a Teacher—They’re Probably Doing Much More Than You Think.

When I was a kid, I always got bored when I went shopping with my mom. Let me explain: She was a teacher. For most people that might not clarify much, but if you know a teacher, or are related to one, it probably makes sense. We always had to check the clearance racks—especially the crayons, scissors, and glue—and she was a fanatic about picking up cut-rate winter gloves and hats and coats.

At first, I just though my mom really liked deals—and that was half-true, as she predated the Extreme Couponing show by a generation—but I eventually realized that I never saw any of those items again. When we were unpacking the bags and putting things away, there was always a pile that we couldn’t touch, “because it was for school”—she was giving them away to her students.

My mother taught in the same district I attended, so I had a pretty good idea of the “clients,” her term for the students in the area. They looked—and look—well, like America. White, brown, black, most with English as a first language, but with a smattering of Spanish, Somali, Hmong and a host of other languages. The real common denominator was financial: to them, the “First Grade Supplies List” wasn’t just an exciting waypoint in their child’s life, but also an embarrassment and a financial imposition.

My mother retired a couple of years ago, after teaching first grade for more than 30 years. But when it comes to this vocational generosity, she’s hardly alone. My family has been teaching for four generations—my great grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse in North Dakota—and I know quite a few teachers in classrooms today (my sister and sister-in-law among them), so this selflessness isn’t an exception, it’s the rule.

Despite what you’ve heard about teac

A Kindergarten Teacher Responds to the Confirmation of Betsy Devos as Education Secretary

I am a kindergarten teacher. I am blessed to have a job that I love. Each morning, I am greeted by five-year-olds who teach me as many important lessons as I teach them. They teach me to remember the joy in the little things: using markers to color a picture, reading a word that yesterday they could not, singing a song about numbers. My students inspire me each and every day.

Today, I don’t feel joyful. I don’t feel inspired. Today, I feel angry. I feel disgusted. I feel confused.

But I also feel proud.

I am proud that half of the United States senators made the right choice today. Fifty senators realized that Betsy DeVos, the nominee for Secretary of Education, was not the right choice.

I am proud of the millions of Americans who have reached out to their senators and shared their views on Betsy DeVos. According to the National Education Association, “the three days ending last week resulted in the most calls into the Capitol switchboard in history.”

In history! I am so proud of all of the people who are standing up and saying that they need to be heard, on this issue and many others facing our country right now.

The other emotions I am feeling—anger, disgust, confusion—those are reserved for the other 50 senators.

The senators who had voicemail boxes filled with calls urging them to vote no.

The senators who had been elected to represent their constituents, and then chose to vote for Betsy DeVos anyway.

I have asked myself many times over the last few months how any person could listen to her views, listen to her confirmation hearings, learn about her plagiarism on the Senate questionnaire, and still think she would be a good choice to lead the Department of Educatio

A Second Invite to Rep. Erik Paulsen

Dear Rep. Paulsen,

I haven’t gotten an RSVP from you on my last invitation. Maybe the email, fax, and tweet I sent were misplaced. That’s okay; I’ve got a concrete invite for you this time.

On Sunday at 2:30 PM, I’m hosting a Women’s March Huddle at the Coon Rapids Civic Center. Originally, I was going to do this in my home, but the 14 spots I originally opened filled up in less than 12 hours, so I added six more. By the time I woke up this morning, all 20 spots were filled in fewer than 24 hours from the creation of the event, and I had emails asking to be waitlisted, so we decided to move it to a building that can hold 35.

Do you know that 100,000 women, men and children marched in St. Paul the day after inauguration day? I was one of them, along with my daughter and sister. 100,000 people, Rep. Paulsen. In DC, it was over half a million. I’m not surprised that I got 20 strangers to agree to come into my 800 square foot basement in less than 24 hours. But maybe you are.

Rep. Paulsen, I’m extending an invite to you. I’d like you to join us. Maybe the invite to meet with my family wasn’t impactful enough, but 20 of your constituents, in a small government building, would make a great impact. It’ll be crowded, but we will make room for you and your wife and daughters. We would love the opportunity to discuss all of the reasons the Women’s March resonates with us and ask you to consider our viewpoint the next time you’re voting on something that directly affects us.

The Women’s March team has recommended discussion topics for the huddle, as a way to keep us focused and on track. I am holding time for you. For 15 minutes at the end of our huddle, we would like to tell you why this matters to us and have an opportunity to persuade you to consider voting a different direction on matters of women’s rights. I understand you have obligations. I understa

4 Reasons I Want My Daughter to Know How to Wrestle, Use Wrist Locks and Know How to Dodge a Punch

My daughter has a one-in-three chance of being a victim of sexual assault at some point in her life. As a father, I can look at this number in one of two ways; I can sit and wonder what my daughter will do when she goes off by herself without me to protect her. Or, I can prepare her to surprise any would-be attacker with a swift kick to the junk, shattering their elbow with an arm bar, and then applying a rear-naked choke that renders them unconscious. I’ll take option number two, please.

It’s All About That Base, That Wrestling Base
I have a wrestling background, first and foremost; I’ve been involved for 30 years, both a competitor and a coach. My father is a Hall of Fame coach in Minnesota, and a former NCAA Division I wrestler and active in the sport for nearly 50 years. To say I am biased about the benefits of wrestling would be an understatement. It would also be an understatement to say that my daughter will be involved in wrestling in her life.

Wrestling provides the basics of self-defense: You learn how to fight one-on-one, gain body awareness (for yourself and your opponent), and you develop an ability to explosively react that remains ingrained into you long after you are done wrestling competitively. I still get my legs back and sprawl if someone ducks down suddenly when they are near me. That’s the kind of muscle memory I want my daughter to have—an instantaneous reaction. After all, few would-be attackers are expecting a woman to adopt a wrestling stance and hit a double-leg takedown on him straight onto the sidewalk and knowing how to maintain control of the situation after the initial takedown.

Finish Him!
Knowing how to wrestle isn’t enough, however, as it doesn’t really teach you how to hurt someone. That’s why chokes and holds that can break bones are necessary. That’s why I recommend doubling down on that self-defense training and getting your daughter involved in jiu-jitsu, because it’s not enough to have your little girl be able to take down a grown man, you want her to be able to give that jack-wagon who tried to assault her have a permanent limp. For that, nothing’s better than jiu-jitsu.

Have you ever seen a jiu-jitsu competition? If not go watch one now and you will see why every single woman in the United States should be taking classes on this martial arts discipline. Every match is a controlled brawl. Each person is trying to gain a better position, looking for ankle, knee, wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck, or chokehold to gain the submission. It’s a beautiful thing to watch because of how much skill and control and explosiveness are needed.

Jiu-jitsu takes the fight-with-rules area that wrestling occupies, and throws the rules out. You are working on how to avoid chokes and submission holds, gaining a dominant position while preventing your opponent from getting the same advantage, and working to put in your own chokes and locks. In this respect, jiu-jitsu is more akin to what a fight fo