Those Evil Laws

Being the parent of a Black child means I have to talk to her about some things more intentionally & earlier than I did with my big kids. With Ponyboy & Jasmine, I didn’t have to teach them about racism, about our country’s ugly history, about Native American genocide, about segregation before it came up in school.

(actually, i DID have to, i just didn’t know it)

For Martin Luther King Day, Addis’ Kindergarten teacher read the class a book about MLK. When I picked her up that day, the teacher grabbed me & told me that Addis was the only student who knew who he was & what he did, & she shared what she knew (beaming with pride). Of course, she is the only non-blonde child in the class.

(maybe i’m exaggerating here, there may be a few non-blondes. but you know, alll those white kids look the same)

It started almost TWO YEARS ago when she was racially attacked (https://peanutbutterinjerasandwiches.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/my-kids-not-racist/) I realized that I needed to teach her about racism so that she knew it when she saw it. So that people couldn’t use words against her, so that she would really know what was going on when ugly people belittled her…I already *knew* this, I just didn’t know that I’d have to start it so early in her life. I didn’t know people were racist against beautiful 3 yr old girls.

So I had to teach her about our ugly past (and present). We started way back in the Old Testament, with the Egyptians enslaving the Hebrews. We talked about The institution of African Slavery in the Americas. The American Civil War took place because enough people found slavery abhorrent & wanted it to end.  We talked about how there are still slaves everywhere in the world today.

MLKrally

We talk about how it is of utmost importance to speak up when someone is being held down. That may mean a child is being bullied at school. It may be a friend saying ugly things trying to be funny. It might be discriminatory laws. We talk about Malala Yousafzai, how she was shot in the head (along with 3 other girls) and how that didn’t stop her from doing what she knew was right to do & now she is changing the world. A teenage girl.

darrienhuntprotest

I can make a difference. You can make a difference. She can make a difference. She WILL make a difference.

Are Hearts Made to be Broken?

How old were you when you first had your heart broken?

How old do you expect your little girl to be when She first has Her heart broken?

One thing about parenting that I don’t especially like is when at 5ish they start having experiences in the world beyond My influence. The go to school. They get dropped off at activities. They go on playdates without Mom. And they hear stuff. They might *gasp* hear a “bad word”. Some evil negligent parent might feed them a GMO laden Pop Tart. They might watch a scary movie. And You won’t know. Ack, scary stuff I tell you!

It’s also at this age that their friend relationships move out of mom’s control. They are learning how to possibly interact with a bossy friend. Or a friend who “flat leaves” them for someone better. How to be diplomatic. How to judge a situation they maybe should leave.

Sigh. It happened. I didn’t see it coming. She had her little love-filled heart torn out of her chest & stomped on. And in front of another soul-mate-ish friend. And their (interloping, other) BFF.

The good thing is the Heart Breaker didn’t do it maliciously. I’m pretty sure she meant no ill will at all. I suspect that she doesn’t even know what my daughter was so upset (SO UPSET) about. She was happy to appease Addis & carry on the friendship.

But I feel like a line has been crossed. Now when she hears a story (or sees it in a movie) about a Friend Gone Bad, she Knows. She gets it. She feels the tragedy. She knows that someone she loved openly can crush her in an instant without a second thought. I wish she didn’t have to live in That World for a little bit longer!
A&Tiana14

2013

At the beginning of 2013, I said “here’s hoping THIS year doesn’t suck”.

And, in comparison, it didn’t.

But, lemme tell ya, I’d define this year as “Loss”.

My Mom died early in 2011. A year and a half later my Dad died. (both of these deaths occurred unexpectedly after a brief illness.) Yes, there were people who reached out to me. People that checked up on me. And I appreciate them for doing so.

But I have been heartbroken by my oldest daughter leaving. I want her here. I want our family together. I want her to take my son with her when she does an errand, or goes with a friend for a late-night ice cream. I want her to make his first girlfriend feel comfortable at our home. I want my little daughter to cuddle in bed with her, to eat “sister soup” for breakfast, to paint nails with. I want her to be there when my little one comes home from school to show off her art work. I don’t want her having a serious boyfriend that I might not ever meet. I don’t want her squeezing in a skype call if she can when she’s having Christmas with some family I don’t know.

Add to that having a close meaningful friendship fall apart. This is a friend who we used to have holidays with, who we’ve vacationed with, and we were each other’s “go to” person when we’d have a crisis. Although we are both making overtures of friendship to each other, we’ll never be the friends we used to be. And now that I have a young child again, that friend isn’t available for me to drop my little one off for an hour while I run out to do some chore. I can’t send her over there to show off her newly pierced ears. She won’t be on Addis’ “emergency contact” form when she goes to Kindergarten next year.

 

Feeling lonely and heartbroken.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say….

This is a contribution by Jasmine. She had an assignment to write an essay on a phrase that has had some meaning in her life.

So this morning, I finished writing a paper for my English class about why it’s okay to be mean. By request, here it is.

We have all experienced that moment squirming in our seat, biting our tongue, that odd chuckle that escapes our lips as we died inside trying not to laugh at the extremely funny but rude comment that has built up inside of us. We must contain ourselves. The phrase we have heard a hundred times from our parents, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rings in our ears. Yet, we have also found ourselves at times blurt out the inappropriate comment and suffocated laughing at our own joke. We had no remorse; it had to be done. 


My grandmother used to say the same thing, almost. I recall many memories sitting in the tall wooden chairs of her old-fashioned kitchen listening to the room echo with laughter, at one’s expense of course. You occasionally hear a new comer, who has not yet learned the ways of our sarcasm, complain of the pain this joke has impaled into their feelings. Then, the wise words of my grandmother can be heard, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Unless it is REALLY funny.” Then the laughter will once again break out at this wisdom.


Although it might seem rude and as though we have no self-control, there is something we call all learn from these words. Living here, in the small town, I have noticed that anything that could in any way offend anyone is off limits. People just will not say it. There is always more than one view point and often, for good intent, people will look only at the view of those it could possibly offend. My grandmother’s words have impacted me, I have the ability to laugh at myself and find the humor in things rather than the harsh rude view that many around me see. Please, do not think that my family and I look for opportunities to say something mean. The rule is to not say anything mean, unless it is REALLY funny. My family might have a mean sense of humor and sarcasm, but I would rather live in a house filled of impolite laughter than a home filled with political correctness where I would have to think twice about every word that comes out of my mouth

Hugs Mom  (I did have Jasmine’s permission to share this)

(In fact, I told her when she wrote it, that I was putting it on my blog. She has since asked a few time if I shared it yet.)

Acorn Flowers

There had been a bad storm, there were lots of branches down and tree debris. On our lawn were 2 tiny baby squirrels. Baby squirrels are so cute! One was dead. The live one was actively squirming towards us. At first, I cautioned my kids (then about 3 & 7) from touching it. That didn’t last long!

3/29/08 Her eyes are getting close to opening....

3/29/08 Her eyes are getting close to opening. She’s getting very active and making adorable “squirrel talk”. She weighs 112 grams now. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This little squirrel was so cold, I was pretty sure that if we didn’t do something to warm her up, she too would die. She was trying to burrow into our armpits, or other warm places.

 

After christening her Acorn Flowers, we set up a nest for her in a little dog carrier. I headed up to the pet store & bought some kitten formula and a tiny little bottle. For about 3 weeks we nursed Acorn around the clock.

 

Then came the day we were driving to NY from our home in MD. We decided we had to take Acorn with us, as she was still getting formula a few times a day! A few hours into the drive on I95 Acorn chewed her way out of the carrier! She was running (jumping, flying!) freely around the car.

 

The first few days in NY Acorn stayed close by. By the time we were leaving, we hadn’t seen her for a few days. We were sad! As we were packing up, there was a squirrel sighting!! Daddy tried to grab her, but as she grew she had gotten less friendly. Yup, she bit him. I got some peanut butter, smeared it on a long stick & offered it to her. In about a minute Acorn was sitting on my arm enjoying some Skippy.

An Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis...

An Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in St James’s Park, London, England. Français : Ecureuil gris (Sciurus carolinensis) dans la parc Saint James, à Londres. Português: Um esquilo pertencente à espécie Sciurus carolinensis, no St James’s Park em Londres, Inglaterra. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After returning home, Acorn decided to make her way on her own. Mostly. For a month or so, if you stood at my front door, you were likely to be ambushed by a hungry squirrel running up & down you, looking for peanut butter. It totally freaked out the little neighbor kids!

 

On a side note, there is a hysterical squirrel story in the book No Biking in the House Without a Helmet, by Melissa Fay Greene. I highly recommend it.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9972050-no-biking-in-the-house-without-a-helmet

But Where did the Bear GO?

I took Addis to see the Pixar movie Brave. We were lucky enough to have Ponyboy go with us too. The movie was better than I had been expecting, & Addis was enthralled by it. That is, up until the end.

In books & movies, I like the plot to be plausible. I think Addis does too.

If you haven’t seen the movie, & plan to, be aware I’m about to spoil the ending!

The mother turns into a bear. A very big, and at times ferocious, bear. Addis kept whispering “who is dat bear??”, like she needed it confirmed again and again that the bear was the mom.

At the very end, the princess is hugging the bear & crying…and…the bear turns back into the mother!!

Yeah…Addis didn’t buy it.

“Where dat bear go?”

I explained it to her, that the magic turned the bear back into the mother.

“No! she was holding dat bear. An the bear was GONE. Where dat bear GO?”

I explained it again. I told her to ask Ponyboy.

“Addis, mommy’s right. If you don’t like it, maybe you should write a letter to the editor.”

The whole way home we are listening to these complaints. Finally, at home, she says “When are we going to send dat letter?”

“Huh?”

“Dat letter! We gonna send a letter to the lady dat sold us popcorn!!”

View From the Carseat

Recently Addis has been asking to use my phone camera. As I was going through the dozens of pics of a shoe on my camera, I found it harder & harder to delete them. It is cute to see her view of the world! Here are a few:

Is this pic of the water or the friend? I’m not quite sure, but this pic is #4 of a series of 18.

This might have been a good shot…we’ll never know. My guess is she was holding the phone backwards!

Another friendThere are also at least 4 dozen pics in the series we’ll call “Addis’ legs/feet while buckled up”.MommyI suspect I will be adding more of her pics in the future. Geesh, everything this girl does makes me smile!