Tuesday, February 28, 2006
If you are new to the horror that has been my sleeping pattern for the last,
oh I don't know - Did I mention 8 YEARS!, then look here and here:
For a week last month she faked me out. She slept all night in her own bed. No complaints, no fussing. Out cold. It was bizarre. You know, bizarre in the way that makes you want to poke the sleeping baby to make sure it is still alive? I didn;t mention it to anyone. I mean, I am too jaded to believe that this pattern would sustain itself beyond this heaven sent week.
But last night? She unveiled the coup de grace of her master plan. Last night she had the "non descript belly pain".
I think the TV sleep timer had just gone off in my room. This would be the universal signal that I must be asleep, so any serious attempts to infiltrate my bed can be safely launched.
The whimpering started first. When I didn't wake to that, the sharp yelps of pain joined into the chorus of noise. I called out, "Emily are you Ok?" and with the speed of Apollo Ohno, she vaulted into my bed.
Em: "My belly hurts."
Me:(Still mostly asleep) hummm? Your belly? Do you feel like you have to throw up?
I am now fully awake and sitting up. I have moved from out cold to high puke alert in less than 60 seconds. I do not want her to puke in my bed. The mess alone, not to mention the lingering waft of vomit will really put a damper on my den of comfort. I may have actually been half way out of my bed and moving her in the general direction of the bathroom.
Em: No, I don't have to throw up.
Me: Do you have to poop?
Moms are the hardy souls who will always inquire regarding pooping. I followed this up with:
Me: Did you poop at all today?
Which may be one of the lines I once swore that I would never ask my own child. My mother was a pediatric nurse and my bowel movements were of prime interest. Hey, at least I didn't ask color and/or consistancy...Yet.
Em: OWWWWWW! ( grabbing side dramatically)
Me: Show me where it hurts.
The lights are on in the bedroom.I am now in prime Mommy/Child Care professional assessor mode. I am looking at the color of skin, I am taking temp readings with my bare hands, I am looking for rashes or other indicators of avian flu or ebola. I am pressing into the indicated spot to feel for bulges, lumps of any other certain signs of ...something.
Em: Mommy, don't. That hurts.
Me: Can you try to go potty honey? Just try? That may help you feel better.
The damn toilet. I know it isn't a cure all, but there is some thing ingrained in me which HAS to suggest the toilet to her. No fever, no lip quiver indicating certain vomiting will commence, no rash, no lump or other alien distended space in her stomach.
My mind does the logical thing. It leaps to her Appendix Bursting. Yes, that must be it. Here she is, about to die and I am asking her to poop.
It is time to wake the Daddy.
Now, those of you who are Moms - back me up here. I try not to involve my husband in these types of situations. He lends a certain unneccesary hysteria to the whole process. I then have to fight the urge to pop him in the nose for saying things like "IS THAT BLOOD!" with my urge to comfort my sick child and assure her she isn't bleeding to death.
Me: Terrance? TERRANCE. Terrance, come here.
I assume that I have a special voice which indicates "Get your ass here right now", cause he appeared nearly immediately.
Me: Her Belly hurts.
Terrance: What? Is she going to throw up?
Again with the puking. We have been burned more than once, you can tell. Emily is rolling around holding her belly and whimpering
Me: No, she is really acting like it hurts. I don't know what it is.
Terrance: Do you think we need to?
Me: I don't know - what do you think?
Terrance: Well, the co pay is 50 bucks, so if it's gas
Ah yes, Thank you HMO America for popping into our discussion. The emergency room visit co-pay is 50 bucks, so to drive an hour to the hospital and then be told it's nothing AND pay 50 bucks seems a slap in the parenting face.
Me: Maybe we should wait a little bit and see if it eases.
Emily moans and rolls very dramatically.
Me: Ok. Let's go to the emergency room.
Terrance: I'll take her - you stay here.
As if, buddy. I have enough issues as a Mother without that tidbit of guilt. So off we go, into the 20 below night, headed the 20 miles to the hospital. Predictably, ten minutes before we make it to the hospital she announces from the back:
Em: "Hey! I feel fine!"
So we turn around and drive back home, where Emily crawls into bed with me and sleeps peacefully all night.
She Wins!! Again!!
Monday, February 27, 2006
I appreciate good dental hygiene. I really do. I started my child with regular cleanings at age 3, and I myself trot in faithfully for my twice a year cleanings. I even floss almost every day.
I do not believe, however, that you are a mother. If you were, the red plaque seeking tablets which you dispensed with such reckless abandon, would be more carefully controlled.
I give you exhibit A:
Mmmm, Yes. There's more:
And for the finish:
Yes, Unknown Dental professional, I feel that there is no one in Your home who will spit red stuff all around your sink and then wipe the same red stuff on your Egyptian cotton towels. I bet your porcelain is clean, and your towels are white. Mine are, as you can see, brown. That is the only practical color of towel in a house with a small child.
And before I bid you adieu, my self esteem would like to thank you for the screaming and pointing that announced "YOU HAVE PLAQUE!!!! EWWWWWWWWWW!!!" during my reading aloud of the "Silver Chair".
May I suggest for your next lesson - brushing without drooling all over yourself.
BUT - Here is where is gets less shitty.
My T-shirt is up!
Kristen has graciously consented to host my shirt on her MotherDuds site.
All proceeds go to charity, and what a statement!
Kristen is also open to hosting other's shirts, if any of you have some cool designs and want to contribute. I love the idea of a cool blog t-shirt site, with lots of different choices. It appeals to the Socialist in me.
P.S. I was forbidden to go to the Car Ice Races yesterday. I am quite sad.
Friday, February 24, 2006
I like to call it "Thinning the Herd"
Yep, you read it right. They RACE cars on ICE on a LAKE!
Thursday, February 23, 2006
It isn’t as if I didn’t love my child. She was so well planned that I know the evening of the conception. Through my temperature chart I can tell you the day she implanted and the first day the pregnancy test came back as positive. As the only child of two eldest children, she has been anything but ignored.
It happened not long after she was born. I was just so tired. The physical exhaustion of laboring is something that took me aback. I understood that this was to be hard work, but I was wiped out. I felt as if I could have slept for days. There was no rest for the weary as they handed her to me over and over to nurse. I would ask for her to be taken to the nursery. An hour later I would be woken to be told, “She’s inconsolable – we think she is hungry”. Terrance was there off and on, but as most new fathers he assumed that we were all set. He felt free to leave for a majority of the day.
While it sounds as if this is an indictment of Terrance, let me be clear. It is not. The jumble that is the first year of parenting is one that I now compassionately watch others struggle through. There is simply no way to prepare anyone for the entry of this “Quantity X” into a relationship. My expectations of his behavior were never spoken out loud – except as accusations long after the fact. I was angry at his failure to help me. I was angry at his lack of skill with her. I was angry that his life hadn’t seemed to change very much. There he sat – the same- watching me be sucked dry. Doing nothing. Telling me how tired he was.
I hated him.
I hid it all well for a long time. I would cry, but only at night when he was asleep. I would nurse Emily on the couch and then lay her down next to me and cry holding my head in my hands. This whole thing had been a terrible idea. My terrible idea.
Occasionally, I think that he got glimpses of what was happening. One night I announced that if I didn’t get four hours of uninterrupted sleep I was killing every fucking person in this house – starting with him. The force of my fury drove him backward, out of the bedroom. He had Emily in his arms, and huddled protectively around her. I had my four hours of sleep, but it changed nothing.
I began to daydream about hurting her. It shames and horrifies me mightily to even write these words down. My betrayal to my daughter seems complete in that sentence. I would catch myself thinking that I could drop her in the lake and no one would know for at least a few hours. I could smother her and drown out the incessant screaming. In Montreal that July, I thought how I could drop her from the balcony on our hotel and it could seem like an accident.
I know now that this is stage 2 of a bad postpartum depression. I never acted on any of these impulses. I retained a quiet, still voice in my head that told me that these things were wrong. I would be caught. I would go to jail. I never crossed the line into psychosis, but I was skimming the edge, my fingers trailing through the tar.
When Emily was weaned at 18 months, I had expected to be relieved. That is when it got worse. I suspect that the flood of hormones in my body from nursing was keeping me afloat.
My behavior became more erratic, and I carefully hid it from my husband and co-workers. By the time she was 2, I was no longer able to hide what was happening to me. People began to notice. The staff at the child care began to notice. I was flat, disaffected. I began to fear talking with people and my first panic attacks began. During one, I crawled under my desk at work, to hide from the teaching staff. Of course, if anyone had walked into my office, they would have seen me through the 4-inch gap between the floor and the desk. I admit I was crazy, but obviously not a mastermind. I laugh at that image now – me weighing about 200 pounds cramming myself under my desk to hide.
I do recall the day I called for a therapist. I started to cry on the phone with behavioral health (who you call to get the first authorizations for my HMO). I kept repeating, “I don’t know what is wrong, but something is very, very wrong with me” and then sobbing uncontrollably. Emily was three and a half years old at this point. I couldn’t remember ever feeling good. I couldn't ever remember liking my child.
At the first sessions, I would cry and cry. My therapist would ask me to do concrete tasks like “write down the roles in your life”. I would write down my work roles. I never listed mother. When she would prompt me, I would hastily scribble it at the bottom of the list feeling guilty for having forgotten about it.
As the drugs filtered into my brain and my chemistry came back into balance, I mourned the lost years of my daughter’s infancy. She had never known a rational, even keel mom. One who didn’t flip out, yelling, crying and screaming at nothing in particular. I mourned my feelings of professional competency. I mourned the life I had envisioned for my family and myself. I mourned my vision of my perfect child.
Children are all forgiving. That is an amazing gift. As I returned to Emily, she accepted my presence with joy. After I had grieved for all I hadn’t done, I was able to begin to live in the present. She is my one and only child. I do my best everyday to give her an authentic mother, who is playful and funny and more than a little goofy. I want to arm her with the knowledge that I will always protect her, even as it hurts me to see her experience pain and disappointment. I want her to know that it is all right to be unsure and vulnerable and crazy. We have a long line of crazy in my family. She comes by it honestly.
So go ahead. Call me a Mommy or even a “MommyBlogger”. I worked damn hard to get here.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Sadly, I am not even sure what to say. But, yep. I really did look alot like that.
Here are some additional random things - just so you get your money for stopping by:
1. Working all day without reading other peoples blogs makes for a long ass day. (Fuck the apostrophes)
2. I often find myself transfixed by the TV Guide channel - the one where the choices scroll by with the wierd Muzac? It's on right now and has been for that last 45 mintues. I can't look away.
3. My boobs are KILLING Me. I assume, with this sign and the monster breakout that is occuring on my face that my period is right around the corner...or not. Damn PCOS!
4. I finished reading "Outlander" last night. I cried most of the way through the damn book. Why did no one warn me I would CRY???? I bought the next two on my way home from work tonight.
5. I am planning on running away and becoming a professional curler. I'm not kidding. I adore that sport.
6. I spent three hours waxing Terrance's dreadlocks last night. My fingers are now sore because of it. My fingernails gave up the ghost about hour 1.45. I was unaware when I took the marriage vows that his hair care would become some integral part of my life.
7. I have just about had it up to HERE with February. Move the fuck on.
8. HAH If you have read this and not yet participated , you are so Tagged Mo-FO's!! 80's alterego?
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
or my alternate title...
"I always feel like Somebody's Watchin' Me"
Pssst. Internet. I think they're onto me at work. I got a little "hint" from a friend whose (Please note,possessive used correctly) spouse is one of the top dogs at IT for our company.
I think a network proxy log must have shown that I am spending too much work time at "blogs".
So, I still love you all very,very much. But it appears that I must only do my reading and commenting between the hours of 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST. At least until I can figure out how to cover my tracks at work....
So forgive me if I am a little slow in reading and responding. It isn't for lack of wanting...But the damn Iron Maiden will really cramp my style, not to mention my shoe size...
I write you this letter as a heartfelt plea. Do not lure my daughter into your store. Stop putting up window displays which catch her eye. Desist in the use of spangles and dangly things.
I had occasion to look upon your storefront this weekend, while shopping for emergency “no heat” clothes. Let me make this clear, Limited Too, my daughter is a Gymboree and Hannah Andersson girl. Occasionally we see something at Children’s Place, GapKids, or Old navy that appeals to our clothing sense of fun and frivolity.
Please keep your dammed dirty ape hands off of my daughter, Limited Too. My daughter is not a small Paris Hilton wannabe, who routinely wears glitter flip-flops to events. No, Limited Too, my daughter wears Gymboree lines named “Winter Princess” and “Petite Fleur”. She does not wear tank tops with “Too Hot for You” emblazoned across her non existent bosom, or “Sweet” across her bottom.
I know, Limited Too, that she is growing tired of my clothing choices as her Mommy. I saw the way she looked at my suggestions in Gymboree on Saturday. I also saw how her eyes lit up as she spied your bounty of temptation, two stores away.
However, I must insist, Limited Too, You are not to see my daughter. She is only seven and is in no way prepared for the type of relationship you are accustomed to having. Oh, I have seen the store, with it’s racks of makeup and ultra mini skirts. I have seen the thong underwear for girls and the “barely there” bikini’s.
Spare her, Limited Too. She is too young. There are many other little girls whose mothers are perfectly content to let them tart it up, but not me. I will not stand for this, Limited Too.
And you know what, Limited Too? I’m not the only mother who feels this way. I am not above getting a mother gang together and opening a can of unholy whoop ass upon you and your ilk. You will not lead my daughter or her friends into the world of “Wild On Tara Reid”.
You’ve been warned, Limited Too. You’ve been warned. I’ve got my eye on you. And my people have excellent credit, and aren't afraid to use it elsewhere.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
We lost power on Friday afternoon. We held out hope on Friday night that it was coming back on. I think it was due to the mass of flashing lights near the downed power line.
We awoke on Saturday in a 30 degree house. I expelled my husband from the warmth of our family bed to gather information. Of course, we couldn't use the toilet. When the power is out - no pump from the well = no toilet flushing.
Emily grabbed my roll of fat and said "Thanks for keeping me warm with your blubber mama". Try that skinny Uber Moms.
He returned with a cup of coffee, and news.
"Maybe Sunday night", he was told.
We gathered many things into bags, willy nilly. We fled to the warmth of friends who live in a more civilized place.
Here's a tip. Try to speak slowly and clearly to the young woman at Old Navy. The concept that you want to wear the clothes out of the store, but don't want to be arrested for shoplifting will befuddle her. She will need to call for back up. You will need to explain, again, to the young woman at the register. She will look at the tags and then look at you and say "So you have jeans and a shirt?"
You will point to the items and say "Yes, A Shirt ( pointing) and Jeans (pointing)"
This will befuddle her some more, as she looks around for the jeans and shirt.
Now I am off to take the longest, hottest shower ever.
**Actually, I am amending this to say that I am NOW getting into the shower - cause I had to clean the fridge. 36 hours of no power=Smelly fridge.
Friday, February 17, 2006
I just looked down and thought "Jen would appreciate this"
The sick thing?
I have so many more at home that I forget these are here - and bring in new ones everyday.
Yes, I was the Mom of the Biter. That Biter – you know the one who took a chunk out of your child’s face? Then followed that up with the bite on the back the next day? Yep – That was my kid.
What doubled my pleasure, so to speak, was my dual role as point person for the angry parents who wanted me to “do something” about that Biter.
Logically, I could tick off the reasons for Emily’s biting. She was small. At a year old she weighed a whopping 13 pounds so her classmates were behemoths in comparison. She used her teeth when she felt threatened or unsure. She also bit people when she was overcome with love or happiness. Knowing her life long struggle with the modulation of her emotions and her eventual diagnosis of ADD, it doesn’t shock the Me watching seven years later. But try to explain to another’s mother that your child loves her child so much, that she bit them. Not a popular sell.
For Emily, she was also dealing with a significant language delay. Having experienced chronic ear infections from the age of 3 months on, she was a very late talker. She would get frustrated with a friend, and since the word or objection couldn’t be quantified as a word – the teeth were handy and fast.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The day that another child bit Emily, I fought back my urge to punch a 14-month-old child in the face. I also knew that my husband was going to go apeshit when she saw the marks on her cheek. “Who was it, Who was it, Who was it” he grilled me over and over.
“Are you asking me as the mother or as the Director?”, I responded
“The Mother”, he said
“I don’t know, as the mother. Staff doesn’t tell you the name of the biter.”
I braced myself for the follow up.
“Then Director. I am asking you as the Director.” His eyes were widening, mouth tightening.
“As Director, I must tell you that we don’t release the name of the child. It is a matter of program policy and confidentiality. I can assure you, however, that the parents have been notified and are working closely with the staff.”
I took a deep breath. I braced myself, for the gale was a-coming.
“What!!! You will tell me Dawn. You will tell me who bit our child! You will tell me …or I’ll sue you. I’ll sue the Center! This is a matter of health! What if that child has something?” He paused, panting and huffing.
After several more threats to my professional well-being, he desisted. The tables turned soon after. WE became the parents of THE BITER!!!
Her reign was not mercifully brief. She had a long and glorious stint as the top shark in the pond. It persisted through the Two-year-old room, off and on.
The crowning moment in my title as “Mother of the Biter” came after one of Emily’s best beloved friends transitioned into the classroom.
Now, Early Childhood people worth their salt will tell you that groups of children behave in some very predictable ways. In groups of Toddlers, new children are often targeted with a bite. This may come from the last child to transition into the group – or may come from the “Top Toddler” so to speak. I wasn’t kidding when I referred to my groups of Children as “Wolf Packs”. They have very, very similar characteristics.
J was coming into the Ones and Emily was overjoyed. She was her buddy in badass behavior. In fact, this group of Mom’s and I often joked that there must have been a streak of Bad Ass in the water, since we had produced some of the most Bad Ass group of little girls to grace the center in quite a long time.
Day One, Emily greets J and Bites her on the right Cheek. The bite takes up about 70 percent of J’s cheek. It is a nasty thing. Purple and swollen. I want to cry when I see this other child. It is bad. It’s a bite that, as Director, I have to call the Mother about. A mother whom I considered to be a friend. As with my husband, I am going to be questioned. As with my husband, I am going to have to hold the professional line.
This Mother was actually OK. This was her second child, and she was a bit more relaxed when it came to life in the child care center. Her husband, predictably, flipped out. I believe that she later told me that he had wanted to come beat up the Toddler who had bitten his child. I understood.
No, the beauty of my tenuous situation came from another mother in the group. Mother of the child who had bitten my own child, in fact. Having observed J’s bitten face, she approached me in the hall.
Her: “Boy, J has a bad bite!”
Me: “Yeah, It is a big one”
Her: “You know, I’ve been thinking. The parents of that Biter have got to do something about this. I mean, they can’t be very good parents if their child keeps biting, right? What kinds of parents have a child that bites like this?
Me:” I can tell you that the parents are very aware of the situation. They are working closely with the staff and they feel just terrible about the biting.”
Her: “Still, if they were better parents, their child would stop biting.”
At age one, Emily taught me that while she is Of me, she is not me. She has to make her own way, as hard as that is for me to watch and experience. So what kinds of parents have the biter – or the hitter, or the pincher, or the pusher-downer? Ones just like Terrance and I, apparently.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
I mean, seriously, is this the best you got?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
So The Jag is dead. He has mourned for four months. He has been in the house -carless - for four months. I knew that I had to let him make peace with the Jag's passing, as his bond with it is so very, very strong.
Au Revoir, Old Friend. I must say that never "got" the whole thing about your allure. But men drooled as you drove by...
No, No. This is what he "got" for himself for a little gift...
And how mad could I be? He's sending me to BlogHer. It does seem a fair trade.
But I must say, Nicely played Terrance. Butter me up with the tickets - then spring the Mercedes on me. Well done.
Having been inspired by Jenn’s attempt at out thinking her daughter, I would like to share some of Dawn’s top “Don’t’s”, in the realm of parenting.
Yes, Yes, we all know now about the dangers of throwing Bitty Baby shoes in your child’s direction. But these are some lesser know, but equally hazardous moments in my parenting career.
At this point I would specifically like to make a professional disclaimer. As an early childhood guru, many of these things I would have never suggested or done with the children in my care. I mean, I was getting PAID to rear these other children. No, these fuck ups were entirely with my own child.
1. When your child is 3 weeks old and can’t possibly roll over, do not try to simulate your body with pillows next to her on the bed. You will do this in an attempt to move away from her, while she is sleeping so you can – I don’t know – Pee without holding her. Perhaps you will even attempt to seek nourishment. You will be sitting on the couch and hear a distant, but distinct noise. You will be chewing a food item. You will think “Hmm, that is an odd sound”, as you chew quickly. You will hear the sound again and think, “No, really, that IS odd”. You will trip over the coffee table as you realize that this is the muffled sound of you baby – screaming. She is muffled, cause she has rolled, face first into the pillow. Cause 3-week-old babies never roll. But yours does.
2.In an attempt to “teach your child who is boss” you will attempt to Ferber her over the course of the week. You will find that your 11 month old has far more will power than you, as she is perfectly happy to scream bloody murder for six hours, without falling to sleep. She can sleep all day. She has nowhere to go at 7 a.m. But you do, you sorry Mo-fo.
As you walk in to her bedroom at the prescribed increasing 5 minutes intervals, your child will look at you with bottomless hatred and disgust. At 5 a.m. on day 4 of this marathon, you will pick her up and pop a boob in her mouth and fall asleep. Cause this Ferber dude must not have slept in the same house with his kids. And he sucks.
3.Because you are the Director of the child care, your child will become a brutal biter, with many, many victims. These victims’ parents will address you – Director- and say things such as “I don’t know what is wrong with that Biter’s parents. I mean, they must not be doing a very good job at parenting”
4.After watching Marie Osmond give advice on some talk show (cause before she went all crazy, she was an Uber mom), you will think it a good idea to snip the ends off of your child’s binkies. Cause Marie says that the baby will lose the pleasure of sucking the binky when the end is nipped. Your baby is 2 and needs to give up her binky…Right? Everyone says so.
So you do this. You present the modified binky to child, who loses her shit and begins to wail “YUCKY MINE! YUCKY MINE!” as she flops on the floor kicking and screaming. This goes on until your frantic husband finds an unmodified binky and says “What the hell did you do that for?” Your child gives the binky up at 4 when she is damn good and ready thank you very much.
5.When the monsters begin to live in the closet and under the bed, you read a Parents magazine that recommends making “Monster spray” by purchasing a small spray bottle and decorating it with glittery stickers. You will then present it to your fearful child and empower them with the knowledge that they can concur their fears by using this “Monster Spray”. Then your child will be able to come to terms with the monsters ( which are only an manifestation of the child’s growing awareness of the dangers of the world – as they seek more and more autonomy), in a self esteem and empowering sort of way. You will buy this shit hook, line and sinker. You will make the bottle. You will present it to your child.
Your child will react by shrieking, “The monsters are going to eat me!” (or a reasonable facsimile with the binky in her mouth) and screaming as she runs in circles. She will then attach herself to your body and attempt to climb up onto your head as she continues to scream about the monsters.
You have unwittingly acknowledged and confirmed the existence of the monsters, that you had heretofore staunchly refused to agree were real. You will have to show your child that you are throwing away the “Monster Spray” so the “monsters” won’t go all postal when they find out she has acquired such a tool.
Thanks Parents magazine. A real life saver there.
Ah, yes. Don’t do these things. If you do, your child will still be sleeping with you at age 7. Learn from my mistakes, people. Do not listen to child development experts like me! Throw away those magazines. You’ll find your way, I promise.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Even though he makes fun of me for having cyber friends, he is sending me to BlogHer.
***Oh, and I let Emily do my makeup again last night, but I looked like a coked out Goth. She used silver eyeshadow as blush and glitter liberally. I will try to get a picture someday when I am through spackling silver glitter from my pores.***
And then, I took my prescription grade cocaine, and THEN I popped a few Xanax and Then the lithium, to take the edge off...
Monday, February 13, 2006
Em: “Mama, you are looking so beautiful. You don’t even look like a Mama. You look like a……..Teenager!”
I think that was a compliment – or was I just told that I look like a Mom?
Two side notes:
Apparently I don’t wear enough makeup, as my child’s technique runs to the “Late 19th century bordello mistress” style. I looked like I was having a hot flash due to the amount of blush on my cheeks.
I really need to go over what and where lipstick is intended with Emily. Her idea of “where” the lipstick belongs is woefully off. I looked like “Collette Reardon”.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
We were in town, and had dropped off the demonseed, I mean Emily, at her grandmother's house. We then fled to the veritable safety of a coffee house and drank latte whilst reading old copies of the "New Yorker". I think I actually felt my boobs return to their pre-child perkiness while engaged in this adult behavior.
It seemed safe enough to go on up to the Inn. After all, my friend of 14 years was meeting me there. She even got married there! Now, aside from the time Terrance forgot to open the chimney on the fireplace in our "fireplace suite" and the fire alarm went off ( and no one came to check us, cause they were all drunk), we have always had a wonderful time at this Inn. This was no exception.
However, you know you have changed age demographics when these dudes come to hit on your girlfriend ( Hey There Patrick from New Jersey. Didn't think I was serious about the putting your picture on my blog...)
And even though you didn't BELIEVE that my friend here wasn't sleeping with the Dude in the band - you did plop your ass at our table and failed to even offer to buy us drinks. Then, you called in "Scott" here as your wing man. Which, at this juncture, I should mention that you had best be mighty glad I was about 5 glasses of Merlot into the evening, cause I might have been a lot more offended...
When it became clear that Neither of us was going to sleep with either of you - and when my large black husband came from the lounge and said "Everything all right here?" You both left.
That is when we started taking pictures of the Band...( who are friends of Cindy ( pictured above) Bill played at her wedding when he was in a band called "Murphy's Law)
And a very grand time was had by all. Or at least me and Cindy. So about 3 glasses of wine past what should have been my limit, I took this photo...
Which somewhat accurately depicts how the world appeared to me at that time. Terrance appeared and peeled me out of my seat. He was also quite tolerant as I made him pull over every 10 minutes upon my threat that "I need to Throw up". At one point, a hitch hiker approached him, expressing concern regarding my state of ill health. The hitch hiker even offered to get "help". Perhaps it was the stream of what looked to be blood flowing from my mouth. Alas, it was only Merlot.
Upon arriving at my mother's house, I promptly got the spins. Nothing like being 35 and having the spins at your Mother's house. I also re-acquainted myself with the toilet her house in a manner which I had not anticipated. And fell asleep in the shower. And woke up when the hot water ran out.
Hey TB, still want to room with me at BlogHer?
But here is where Karma kicks it up a notch. I got up, feeling slightly cruddy but surprisingly good - I mean considering the puke fest of the night before. We say our goodbyes and leave. We plan on stopping at Sugar and Spice for some pancakes. Ummmmmm Pancakes.
So we go on in, and I order a big old stack of cakes to soak up the leftover alcohol in my belly.
Emily turns and says "Is it hot in here?"
Then, "My belly doesn't feel so good"
And I reach out, just in time to have her vomit repeatedly in my hands. My cupped together hands, which make a perfect child vomitoriom. I then have to walk through the restaurant , holding a cup of vomit in my hands, trying not to seem completely grossed out and sickened; Saying soothing things like "No problem honey, let's get you cleaned up - Do you need some water to rinse out your mouth?"
So Thanks, Karma. Thanks for reminding me that you will send the flu to my child on the morning of my first hangover in some time. Lesson Learned. Loud and Clear.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Therefore, many of my play recollections reside in the context of where we were living at the time. I have very distinct memories of the layouts of every house we occupied, as well as the outdoor areas. I have far less vivid memories of actual people and scenarios. My “stuff” was my security, more trustworthy than any place or neighbor. For just as we could receive orders to move, so could all my playmates and their families.
For my childhood years of age five through seven, we did live in the same place – Jacksonville, North Carolina. Many of my most vivid memories are from this span of time from 1975 to early 1977.
Military housing was generally built upon the concept of the Square. Square blocks of housing, all attached three to a row, with front doors looking out onto the streets and back porches facing one another in a square. In the middle of the back yard square was some type of metal apparatus – monkey bars, teeter tooters, or slides. Therefore, if you were dissatisfied with your own back yard equipment, you only had to go one housing square over to see what others may have.
While I have difficulty recalling all but two or three names of childhood friends, I distinctly recall moving in “packs” of children. There was always someone around. They may not be your exact age or same gender, but that wasn’t wholly important. If you lived anywhere nearby, you could be part of the gang.
Everyone, even the youngest children, had transportation. If you had a Big Wheel, you could join in. If you had moved to a two wheel bike – even better! We moved, quite literally, in a pack of wheels. I know that at five, I could be gone nearly all day without concern by my mother. My brother, then two, was also often outdoors for a majority of the day. By three, he had graduated to his Big Wheel and was off and running with me on my two-wheeler.
There was an absurdly innocent view of childhood and safety. We felt remarkably safe as we ran around these neighborhoods. There was no hesitation about going into neighbor’s houses. No one warned children to stay away from suspicious adults. Perhaps some of this was my age, but perhaps some of it was truly the environment. The military required you to get along to survive. This extended from the enlisted men to their families. You had to trust your neighbors. We had been trained as children to assume our collective fathers ultimate protection of our country and us. Guards saluted us as we drove on and off the base. You did not get one the base if you were not “one of us”.
The square in which I lived was not truly a square. The backside was an open forest area, as it bordered a road. Therefore, you could run out, past our monkey bars and find a tall pine forest area. Adjoining that forest was a small stream – a culvert really- that had slow moving water.
That was a magical spot. From that culvert dip and woods, you could watch one of the guardhouses that checked people on and off of the bases. There were real Venus flytrap plants that lived in those woods, growing wild in the moist acidic soil. We dragged found objects out there and built clubhouses in the pine needles.
My favorite time was the spring, when the culvert got a little faster and the tadpoles emerged. This was, as I recall, big news, and we looked for the appearance of the tadpoles daily. I hark back to bursting out from the screened in back porch with my washed out mayonnaise jar when the call came that the tadpoles had hatched.
It is the smell I remember first; that warm, muddy, dark sour smell of the culvert. We would take off our shoes, so as not to get them muddy and wet, and lay on the edge of the mud watching the thousands of inky black tadpoles.
Next came the indescribable pleasure of putting your hands in the water to catch the tadpoles. They felt like a million feathery whispers sliding over your skin; each a small black dot of softness. It tickled in a purely sensual way. The brave of us, myself included, would put our feet in the pool and let the tadpoles swim over your feet, landing momentarily on your toes.
Holding tadpoles in your hands is an art. You can neither have too much water or too little. If the water runs out, they will try to flop out of your hand onto the ground and you will most likely have lost it forever. Getting only one in your hand also requires some expertise. This is where the mayonnaise jar became crucial. Aside from doubling as an all purpose lightning bug home, the jar allowed some tadpoles to be taken from the culvert and examined more closely.
We visited the tadpoles daily and for extended times. We spotted the fast developers, seeing who was getting arms and legs first. Then over the weeks, they moved out of the culvert as they left the water. We saw how bigger tadpole/frogs would eat more recent hatchlings if they could catch them. This in no way disturbed us, but seemed to be the perfect order of the world. After all, we saw fathers who never came home, killed while overseas in motorcycle accidents. We saw friend’s mothers with black eyes and heard the adult fighting through the walls at night, if not in our own homes, then those adjoined to ours.
Then, as suddenly as the tadpoles appeared, they disappeared. We resumed play in the culvert – damming up the water, floating boats- as part of the ebb and flow of daily play on the military base. As summer wore on, sprinklers and small swimming pools occupied more of the “pack’s” preoccupation in those days before mass air conditioning. No one was rich enough for air conditioning and the struggle to remain cool was of prime concern. We were a tribe of small brown skinned, sun bleached blonde haired children in the time before sunblock.
We already knew the fleeting quality of life, as all five and six year old children know. It made perfect sense to us.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I then fell asleep in an IMAX movie "South African Safari 3D" which was completely in French. I have established that I am not a French speaker...Correct? Did the "Viger" give it away? Alas. I am not. Yes, I am moving to a town in Canada that speaks French as it's primary language. I plan on using wine to get me through the first year.
We stayed in the Chinese Quarter. Emily and I had our fortunes read by an elderly Chinese man on the sidewalk. She thought that was fabulous. I let him rub my head and ears and chin as part of his reading of my health and fortune. Terrance tried to talk her into getting bubble tea, but she was having none of it after the sight of the formerly live ducks in a window.
But here is THE story of the Montreal trip. If any of you ever meet my husband, you must not tell him that you know this, as he has explicitly forbidden me to blog about it. However, I think that we can all agree that only heightens the deliciousness of the tale.
On Saturday morning, Terrance rose before his wife and daughter. This insures that he gets the shower first. Indeed, this means that he does not have to take part in the bathing and dressing of Emily. I will forgive him for this, as he also decided to go out and fetch his wife coffee. This is a wise man, for he knows that placing a hot cup of coffee in my hand upon my awakening is a good omen. For this, I will forgive the attempted shirking of parental duty.
Terrance showered, dressed and rubbed lotion upon his face. He then departed from the Hotel. He walk about a block and a half to the entrance of the Metro Station, where there was a coffee shop. He noted the many homeless people near the entrance. He noted they did not approach him with requests for change. He assumed it was the "Bad Mamma-Jamma" vibe he was giving off.
He strode to the counter and ordered his coffee's and pastries. He noted that the counter staff gave him odd looks. He discounted this, as it was fairly early in the morning, and perhaps they weren't accustomed to such a well put together black man gracing them with his presence. He paid for his coffee and began to walk back to the Hotel. The homeless folks again left him mysteriously alone.
He re-entered the Hotel and nodded to the concierge. He did the "Wa-sup" head nod. He entered the elevator and looked at himself in the mirrored elevator.
Instead of applying face lotion on his way out the door , he had applied a white clay mud mask. He looked like a man in reverse black face.
I don't think I have laughed so hard, for so long, in my life.
Ah, I do love that man.
Monday, February 06, 2006
I have some good and funny stories to tell. But They must wait.
I got subpeonaed. Twice!!! By both sides!!! I am a very, very popular gal. Then I drove all the way out to the appointed courtroom and had to sit forever. Then the trial got postponed. Then the Prosecuting gentlemen released me from my subpeona. But guess what? I couldn't leave!! Cause the defendant ( who is doing the oh-so- classic loser move of being her own representation) had also subpeoned me. And she wouldn't release me. So I sat there until the prosecuter practically begged the clerk of the court to force her to release me. He actually has to shame her into letting me leave.
That was the moment I heard this classic line from the defendant...
"well, You know - I have got to be back in ( another state which rhymes with Exes) by Thursday. My plane tickets, you know..."
And the clerk gave her such a look!!! I practically peed my pants. The clerk politely informed her that the State doesn't give a rats ass when she needs to be where.
I wanted to point and yell "In Yo Face Bee-yatch!!". But I also wanted to leave, so I stayed quiet.
Here are two other small tidbits from my day.
Tidbit One: Don't choose to wear the gorgeous but furry Coral Angora Sweater on a court day. You will leave puffs of Angora everywhere. Including your black skirt. Coral Angora shows up well on a black skirt. Really, really well.
Tidbit Two: Don't react when your boss says "I hope you brought another sweater to change into for court. That one shows too much cleavage."
I am a 35 year old woman!! I never show too much cleavage at work! Yes, it was a V neck - but hardly low cut at all. In fact, I looked down and responded "I have alot of other sweaters a lot lower than this". You'd have thought I was tropping around in a crop top with glitter star pasties on my nips! Come to think of it. That's my tomorrow outfit. With matching butterfly g-string that peeks over my low ride blue jeans. And Stripper heels. And changing my name to Kristal.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
We are driving to Montreal this afternoon, so I will be away- sans computer- for several days. Enjoy your weekend! ****
As an Early Childhood educator, I recognized the importance of this work on behalf of the children and families we serve. Without an exploration of our internal bias and recognition of the privileges that come from being white in a white society, how can we hope to welcome all families and children into the classroom? If, as a White college educated woman, I cannot recognize and be aware of the advantage that I am automatically granted as a member of the dominant culture, how can I truly advocate for all families and children? How can these families feel welcomed in a classroom in which I teach?
My mother-in-law in Detroit will often tell me that white people are crazy. I used to assume this was a kind of funny endearment. When I asked my husband about this, his response was “White People are crazy. She means it”. I have come to understand the meaning of this phrase, not as an endearment, but as an extremely serious statement.
I am fortunate. I am the white member of a black family from Detroit. They love me as a member of their family and I am afforded a unique view into a family from a race and culture other than my own. They view my questions and inquiries about these obvious issues with patience and love. The white culture in which I was raised did not openly address these topics and I am asking things to find out. I want to know because they are my family too, and because I am the mother of a bi-racial daughter, who will have to navigate these unsteady racial waters in ways that I never was required to think about.
When my mother in law says this phrase “White people are crazy” this is what she means. White People are the dominant culture in the United States. They are the holders of nearly all the political, social and economic power in our society. They design and control our government, our schools, and our legal system. White people control most of the media outlets – radio, television, and newspaper and book publishers. White people have designed a total system that grants them implicit favors and privileges as they navigate these systems. Yet, they blatantly, as a group, deny this. White people point to a select few of other racial heritage that have been successful as examples of the equality and fair treatment afforded to all Americans. White people will tell you how all of that discrimination “stuff” was in the past, that they had nothing to do with that. Most of the White people who say these things truly believe them. However, for American persons of other non-white heritage, this is a glaring un-truth. To co-opt a phrase from a twelve-step group – The elephant is in the room and only the white people can’t see it.
For my mother in law and husband, the refusal to “see” on the part of white people makes them crazy and untrustworthy. Terrance’s wife, her daughter in law and mother of her granddaughter is one of these white people. I am a white person and admit that I spent most of my life not seeing the elephant.
For my journey into the issues of anti-bias curriculum, the beginning came with my relationship with my husband. While there had been no overt statements of racial or other bias in my family, I was taken aback by the vehemence of my mother’s reaction when I announced my relationship with Terrance. The stream of racist and hateful language that flowed from my mother shocked and horrified me. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that if I was to go out with him that day, I could find another place to live and finance the rest of my college education. The threat was unveiled and clear. Walk away from the black man, or walk away from your comfortable life.
In those moments, I made a decision that would influence the rest of my life. I uncovered my mother as racist. I consciously walked away from the privileges of my white family. This action solidified my emerging sense that issues of race and culture were to be a crucial part of my personal and professional life. However, my liberal education and background was shaken to the core. My white liberal Democratic people were not supposed to react like this when confronted with issues of race. I was ashamed and embarrassed that my family behaved this way.
When I discovered the Anti Bias Curriculum shortly after my graduation from college in 1992, I felt as if it were a professional revelation. This was what I had been looking for! While the topic of “multi-cultural education” was broached during my teacher education at the University of Vermont, it was not a central part of the education of emerging teachers. Preparing white teachers in Vermont did not seem to necessitate the discussion of issues of race and culture in society. We were, on the whole, upper middle class white students, preparing to teach white students.
During this time, I was also falling in love with a man not of my racial heritage. I was experiencing, for the first time, the obviousness of race in an all white environment. Walking into restaurants or stores, I noticed other white people noticing us. My invisibility in my culture, of which I had never been aware, was no longer afforded to me when I walked beside Terrance. I had crossed over a line that I previously did not know existed.
With time, my assimilation into a dual cultural role became as second nature. I stopped noticing because life consumed my attention. A career, a marriage and then a new baby shifted my focus from issues of race and culture to those of every day life. Occasionally, I would be jolted from complacence into thinking about this uncomfortable topic. From the elderly white woman who approached me with my infant daughter inquiring when I “got” her to the white father who loudly inquired to me why the child care center was closed for Civil Rights Day when there were no black people here; these incidents were always unexpected and left me speechless. I had forgotten that as a white woman, without my husband nearby, I visibly re-integrated back into the dominant white culture. This invisibility seemed a tacit permission, allowing other white people to say things in my presence that they would not dare speak of with my husband at my side.
As an educator, I had done a fair amount of exploration into the topic of Anti-Bias curriculum while teaching in my own classrooms. In pursuing accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, it was a criterion to be integrated into the mission and philosophy of the child care center. As the director of this center, I led the conversations of this topic in order to infuse everything we planned with an awareness of the messages we were sending to all families. As a mother of a bi-racial infant daughter, I became more aware of the urgency of the message of Anti-Bias curriculum on the part of the families we served.
These were not always pleasant conversations with teachers or parents. I was accused of being Anti-Christian, Racist, a promoter of Homosexuality, and even told I was a person looking to psychologically damage young children by removing holidays from our center curriculum. I preserved. My personal agenda to make that child care center a place of welcome and support for all families and children became a consuming work. Those staff that did not agree with my vision of anti-bias curriculum eventually left and I found others who shared a similar vision and were willing to commit to it.
Our NAEYC validation visit was scheduled on Halloween of 1999. The validator remarked that she had never seen such a calm, peaceful child care center on Halloween in her career. There were no costumes or candy. There were no excluded children due to religious beliefs. While not perfection, we were living much closer to the intent of Louise Derman Sparks work in Anti Bias Curriculum. We were not standing on the traditions of “we’ve always done it this way”, but rather examining the motives behind our traditions. We asked, “Is this good for children and families?” and let the answers guide our curriculum and policies.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
I should have noticed the signs that something had occurred. Emily began verbally identifying herself as a “black girl” to her father and myself. She began to express that she wished she were “white and have straight hair like you, Mama”. When talking about a play date at a friends house, Emily told the little girls mother, “But you’ll have a black girl in your house”, looking for a reaction.
Each of these things rippled uncomfortably across my awareness. It was nearly a week later that I finally pieced together the puzzle. As we lay in bed reading together, the light bulb made a blinding flash in my head. “Did someone at school say something to you about being black?” I asked her. I waited for her answer, knowing that with all my professional and personal work, I was woefully unready for her response.
The answer, of course, was yes. Another little girl had told Emily that “She was black and had no friends, but that Alexander is black and he has lots of friends”. Emily took this to mean that it was undesirable to be a black girl and her expressions of desire to be “white like Mom” began.
With all my professional and personal preparation, my first instinct was to wrap her in my arms and cry. However, I didn’t do that. What I did do was call her father into the bedroom and explain the situation so we could have a family conversation about being black, being white and being bi-racial. In order to offer Emily some strategies to handle these situations, we talked at length about truth. Was it true she is black? Yes. Was it true that she has no friends? No. Was it true that Alexander is black? No, he is of South American heritage and has very dark skin, but is not black. Does he also have friends? Yes.
After Emily was settled into bed, Terrance and I talked at length about what to do. Should I speak with the teachers? While Terrance did not think this was necessary, I could not allow this to pass without comment. For Terrance, his reluctance sprang not from a desire to keep this issue quiet, but from the knowledge of the resistance that we would face. He, after all, has dealt with being black in New England for twenty years.
Simultaneously, I could feel my deep gut embarrassment at having to address this issue with these teachers and other parents. Polite white people do not discuss racist remarks. My entire socialization as a liberal White woman demanded that I look away from this incident as distasteful, or simply the words of a child who didn’t know better. As in the other arenas, these were well-educated people whom I liked and respected. How could I walk in and tell these white people that racism is in their midst! Why didn’t they already know it?
I quickly realized that as Emily’s mother and a White person who is committed to the work of Anti-Bias, my socialized embarrassment could not stop me from doing what the situation demanded. For Emily’s sake, I needed to be proactive and address the issue of these remarks to the teachers. I needed Emily to see that her White mother would never be embarrassed to defend and protect her, regardless of my own internal discomfort.
The next morning, I called the teacher aside and explained what I had learned. She was appropriately horrified. What should she do? Should she have a group meeting? Should she call the other child’s parents? Her panic indicated that she too had never thought through having to deal with the issue of racism in this private school setting.
I began to talk with her about what I knew about children and racism. I brought her resources I copied from the book Beyond Heroes and Holiday’s. I asked her to be prepared to support Emily in conversations about race. I explained to her that being black in a White dominant culture was apparent to all the children and it was natural for them to notice and discuss it.
However, it was when I began to talk about the privileges of being white in New Hampshire that I realized that I had never talked to her, or many other white people about this issue. Polite white people don’t point out racism to other polite white people, especially those in the upper middle class. Polite white mothers don’t tell the teacher that the other children are saying hurtful remarks. Polite white mothers don’t notice such things.
I don’t think that the teacher fully understood what I was saying, but she was willing to listen. The Head of School and the teachers met, and planned a course of action to respond to this issue with both the children and families. While not yet fully resolved, I am satisfied with the way the school is beginning their journey.
Some parents are avoiding me now; some are overextending themselves to be friendly. White guilt is a funny thing. One little girl involved in the incident told Emily that if she didn’t stop telling me about the things she was saying, the little girl would get kicked out of school. Emily promptly told me this when I picked her up that afternoon. Working through my discomfort has offered my daughter the strength to actively begin her own journey in the work of anti-bias.
It has become clear to me through this experience and this journey into Anti-Bias curriculum that part of the important work that I am called to do is being that White person who talks about the impolite issues of race and culture. It occurs to me that for some White people that I may be the first White person to call attention to the elephant of racism in the room.