A justifiable fear?

Something strange happened about a week ago. My son and I were watching my daughter play soccer and my son decided that he would wrap our little blanket around his shoulders and walk around saying he was Batman.  At the end of practice, some of the children on my daughter’s team came over and asked him what he was doing.  Of course, he informed them all that he was Batman.  The children laughed and then started to point out why he really was not Batman.  One kid asked him where his bat mobile was and another told him that his cape needed to be black, which were all very great observations, but the moment I heard, “you can’t be Batman because you don’t have a black cape” I got very scared.  My heart started beating fast and I was literally frightened that one of the children would tell him that he couldn’t be Batman because he was not White.

It seems quite silly because children at this age don’t typically think or talk that way, but that has not been the case here.  I have never felt so Black in my life.  It is constantly at the back of my mind that someone is going to not only highlight my children’s race, but put them down for who they are.  This fear does not come from out of the sky.  I previously wrote about an incident at my daughter’s school where she was excluded because of her skin color and the outcome of that was more positive than negative.  Unfortunately, another incident happened a few weeks ago where one of my daughter’s classmates told her that she was pretty, but would be prettier if she was White.  I don’t believe the school handled it properly as I was never called and my daughter had to sit in the class with this on her heart for the rest of the school day.  The little girl was removed from the classroom, but no conference with the parents and no real apology from the parents or child like in the previous incident.  In fact, I was told to find some compassion in my heart for this child because her parents are not all that good, but I can’t…at least not yet.

The thing about this that people don’t quite understand is that the little girl who did this was in trouble for the day, while my daughter will live with these incidents for the rest of her life.  She will never forget these things and I struggle every morning with sending her back to school.  If a teacher or a school system was negligent in preventing the physical safety of a child, any parent would either pull their child out of the school or call the administration to the carpet for their practices; the same does not happen when a child is hurt emotionally.  In fact, I believe if this was a physical altercation then I would have been called, the parents would have been brought in for a conference, and someone besides her teacher who wasn’t even there to witness the incident would not have to bear the brunt of trying to explain and makes sense of it all.

I thought of pulling her out and just homeschooling, but my husband told me that would inadvertently show her that something is wrong with her and that she did something wrong. She says that she knows that girl’s words were not true, but it still hurts.  I think those words hurt so much that she wouldn’t have told the substitute teacher or me had it not been for two of her classmates seeing what happened and making a point of telling.  It makes me wonder what is she internalizing.  What is happening on the playground that she isn’t telling us?  How does she feel being the minority and then having it pointed out in a nasty way. It also makes me fearful of what else is to come.  When my son wants to play super heros, is someone going to exclude him because he’s Black.  When my daughter goes to make a friend at the park and isn’t received well, is she going to go to a place that automatically feels the rejection has to do with the color of her skin.

I still believe that the good outweighs the bad, but I am genuinely afraid for them.

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A moment to reflect

I received a text this evening that made me reflect on this thing called motherhood.  It was from my husband’s sister (he really doesn’t have any sisters, but she is family) and it was just a very short sentence, but it reminded me of what we both went through to get our children here.

We basically have the same story.  We were both told that we either couldn’t have children or would have to do fertility treatments to have them.  We both decided to go on ahead and take the Clomid. We both got pregnant.  She had her baby.  I lost my mine at 14 weeks.  That was one of the hardest losses I have dealt with to date.  I still think of that baby and when my husband’s sister puts up a picture of her first child, I think of the little girl I lost.  I’m no longer angry about it, but I think of her.  I did have my daughter almost a year later and my husband’s sister had another child quickly after our first.  I think our children are months apart.  When I got pregnant with my son, I didn’t expect my husband to tell me his sister was also pregnant, but yet again we were having babies at the same time.

The road to motherhood for us both was not easy.  I think the hard road makes you appreciate it so much more. I remember thinking after I got pregnant with the Clomid that it was easy and simply biology.  I was already planning what daycare center the baby would attend, how much vacation I would actually take, and what formula would be best.  After I lost her, my thought process changed completely.  There was a hollowness that I felt after the miscarriage that I never thought would be filled and the gift of motherhood became so much more than simple biology.  I realized that life could grow inside of me and I owed this life, if I was privileged enough to carry one, so much more than what I had been planning.  I learned to appreciate being a mother.

Truthfully, I am not the mother who wakes up every morning happy to fulfill my children’s every need because sometimes I just want a few seconds to myself. I am, however, the mother who looks at her children in disbelief sometimes because it is truly a miracle that they are here.  They are a manifestation of the love my husband and I share and I think that is freaking awesome.  When I met them, I felt like I already knew them.  They are incredible souls and I am blessed to be their mother.

 

Enough with the race stuff, back to being just a MOM

Two things that don’t mix:  Potty training the boy and My little girl being sick

I’m a bit embarrassed to write that my 3 year-old son is not quite potty trained.  I didn’t think much of it until I moved here to California.  It seems here that the children come out of the womb potty trained.  I mean, the kids are like 12 months old at the park walking to the bathroom by themselves.  They can’t even talk, but their going to the potty.  Of course when I saw this, I made a point to hide my son’s diaper whenever we would go places and then got on the ball with potty training.  His late induction into the potty training game is not totally my fault.  It is delayed for a couple of reasons.  One reason is that I tried a little before he turned 2, but was so traumatized after he picked up his boo boo from the pot and threw it across the room that I had to stop for a bit.  Another reason is because we moved here to California and my husband thought it would unwise for us to potty train him when we were going to spend such long days on the road.  Did I mention we drove from NC to CA in separate cars? It took us 6 days to get here and I think he was right in delaying the potty training. Fast forward to today and now I’ve (not us) got a kid speaking in complete sentences who can’t use the potty.

The first week was HORRIBLE!  He simply didn’t get it and honestly I don’t know what to tell him about his equipment. I’m not a boy and my husband is away.  I didn’t know if he should sit down or stand.  I didn’t know how to explain to him to just let it go.  It was a mess.  He kept peeing on the floor and I thought maybe my whole Zen vibe I was giving him was not enough for him to get the picture, so I started being more firm, like the Russian chick at the park told me.  Yes, I took advice from some random lady at the park, but her son was potty trained.  She told me to get these training pants (not underwear) from the Walmart and follow them up with the old school diaper liners, so like cloth diapers, but training pants. She also told me that when her son had an accident, she just let him sit in his stuff for a while and then he finally got the picture.  Well, the only good advice I got from the Russian lady was the cloth training pants because EVERYTHING else backfired. He didn’t care that he was sitting in his own “stuff”, he just kept right on playing.  He could have cared less about the potty, so finally I woke up one day and made up a character called Mr. Potty.  I can’t believe my life has come to this.  Mr. Potty has a distinct voice and he loves it when you give him something.  There are days I can’t believe this is my life.  Anyway, Mr. Potty was a hit and we have gone 3 whole days without an accident even when we leave the house.  Those cloth training pants were the best thing ever because now he feels when he’s had a bit of an accident and runs to see Mr. Potty.

So life is good, my son is finally going to the potty and now I can be a cool Mom on the playground. Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, just as we get the potty training on the road, my daughter gets sick. GREAT! Potty training and the cold just don’t mix.  My daughter is a diva and my potty voice is just another way I’m giving her brother more attention than her, so she has requested that I make her a sick voice.  I can’t with these two.  I offered to cuddle with her on the couch and even came up with the grand idea to make her chicken soup. Of course, she reminded me that her father makes chicken soup better and while at the store buying the things for the chicken soup, she informed me that she must have potatoes in her soup like her Dad makes it.  I really wanted to tell this child that her daddy wasn’t here, but I bought the potato anyway.  I was so proud of myself.  I’m even going to insert a pic.

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So, the kids ate my soup, but they did not eat it without reminding me that their father makes soup better.  I almost want to scream sometimes, but I love that they love him and that’s the only positive thing I have to write about that.

I guess it didn’t dawn on me that the broth from the soup would have my son on and off the potty the rest of the night.  I usually cut him off around 6 p.m. for this reason. Does anyone else have a son who literally seems to be in deep thought every time they go to use the potty? There is a whole process to him using the potty. Meanwhile, my daughter needs a cuddle and my son is yelling for Mr. Potty to come look at what he’s done.  Oh my, what a night.  I cannot wait until my husband gets home.  By the way, he called in the midst of the madness and quickly got off the phone, but he did send a text about 30 seconds later saying, “I love you!”.  He better!

First Days of School

My daughter has entered the world of Kindergarten and I am not happy about it.  I imagined that this milestone would be a welcoming break for me, but it has not turned out that way.  I just don’t understand the concept of dropping your child off with strangers. Like, I don’t drop anything that I consider valuable off with a stranger, so what’s the deal with school being that way.  I mean, why can’t I do a background, credit, or education check on these people. I totally get why a child would cry on the first day of school because I cried the whole way home after dropping my daughter off.

The first day of school was an orientation day. I learned absolutely nothing on the orientation day.  I kept looking at the door for the other little Black child to join in on the new school year.  After about 20 minutes, I realized that my daughter was the little Black child and I kind of panicked.  I don’t know why I panicked because she has ALWAYS been the only Black child (or Brown as she often reminds me), but I got this pain in my chest and had visions of grabbing her and running out of that classroom saying, “HELL NO, WE WON’T GO”.  I know, I’m being dramatic, but I have no idea what it feels like to be in her shoes and I question our (my husband and I) decision to put her through this lifestyle.  I mean, isn’t it a choice?

I should not have such tunnel vision.  The school is nice. It is a diverse school, but for some reason the diversity does not include people that look like me.  The teacher is firm and very welcoming.  She recognized that my daughter was advanced and on the 2nd day of school we spoke about strategies to help my daughter progress.  She brought up moving her to the 1st grade, something we discussed during the assessment, but I’m not going to push her ahead because I know she is ready academically, but not ready socially.  I was skipped in elementary school and it was quite easy in the classroom, but very hard on the playground and that was a private school.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like at a public school.

So…my daughter has been in school for about a week now and she has not learned a thing. I have not stopped crying and lingering after the classroom door is closed.  I’m having some separation issues and I plan to be in that classroom anytime I can.  In this area, Kindergarten is only for 4 hours and I have basically looked at this school as a way for her to socialize.  We are still working at home on her phonics, reading comprehension, mathematics, science, and I’m thinking of adding some real life art. She catches on to everything quite fast.  I find it kind of fascinating, so we’ve started teaching her about the Presidents. She has already memorized the first 4 Presidents and what they are known for.  I’m proud of her and I feel better knowing that she is quite secure in her ability to do things at school.  I hope that her being secure will allow her to be confident in other areas…like being the only one that looks like her and realizing that her skin color doesn’t matter.  Thankfully, a little girl in her class was just as shy as she was and they have become fast friends.  I have a feeling I am going to be asked for a play date, let’s see how that goes.

An attempt to keep my children occupied

I’ve put myself on a schedule.  I had to do it.  I know it sounds crazy because being at home is supposed to be relaxed, but I don’t thrive in relaxation.  I thrive in structure, which may explain why I thoroughly enjoyed those 8 years I spent in the military.   I also don’t have a husband right now.  My husband is still active duty and set to deploy quite soon, so he is constantly in training.

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I know some may roll their eyes when I write that I function differently without my husband, but it is the truth.  I get that some women do it by themselves everyday, but that is usually not my reality.  My husband is my partner in all of this and without him being here lately, I have felt a bit lost…so, I made this list:

Yes, the list is typed with a specific font, different font sizes, separated by 2 columns with the title in bold.  I know I’m taking this way too seriously, but what is a girl to do? The kids and I needed something to get us in a groove and what better way to get into a routine than writing down (or typing) what you may or may not do during the week.  I don’t expect us to finish one single day following this list, but this is an attempt to keep my children happy and hopefully tired at the end of the day.  How else am I going to do this blog stuff?

This list is pretty tame too.  We aren’t doing anything all that spectacular, but we are keeping the television off until 6 p.m.  because the kids were starting to sing the jingles from commercials and it was getting to be a bit embarrassing.  Plus, this is supposed to be my “job”, so I kind of started looking at this whole stay at-home mom thing from the perspective of: would I pay someone to do what I am doing?  If my answer is no, then I’m not doing something right.  As I type this, we are on our way to Day 4 (Thursday) and this has been the best week since moving here.  The children are happy.  I have had minimal disciplinary issues and I have felt fantastic about playing in the play room with them because I know all my chores can be done while they watch television for an hour. I’m not rushed and I have decided to put my cell phone AWAY.  I had this terrible nightmare one night about my daughter drawing a picture of me with my cell phone in my face while she was playing.  The mommy guilt is real people.  Now, I just need to figure out what to do for the weekends.

What I do…

Along with navigating the strange world of being a stay at-home mother while driving Black, I also enjoy taking care of these children of mine.  I am a bit of an adult, so I had this crazy idea that I should actually do something with them…like teach them things.  It is one part really cool and one part, what the hell was I thinking, but the pay off is AWESOME.  My daughter is quite bright which has nothing to do with me except for that whole DNA thing.  My son is also bright, but I think sometimes we don’t take notice of it because he has a small problem with his speech.  This summer I have learned that my son is on par with his sister and instead of babying him, I’ve pulled him up to the school table to exercise his brain. In a sense, I’ve become a teacher, which is funny because I shudder when people suggest that I become a teacher.  Anyway, I make a point to get the kids brains moving.  I also want them to have the ability to follow directions and sit still, so here are a few pics of our very informal school days:Image

My 5 year-old’s books that I use and work
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My 3 year old’s books and work

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Our science book that I bought for $1.00

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Inside our science book

This is what we do during most of our days.  My daughter is working on addition, subtraction, reading, writing, and some science.  We are so happy that she loves to learn and are at ease that she will not struggle when she starts kindergarten this year.  We know that she will be a confident little girl.  My son is working on his letter/number recognition, writing straight and curvy lines, colors and shapes.  He also participates in the science, but we are just proud that he can sit still and follow directions at 3 years of age. I plan to post what we do during our days.