Princess ME turns 3

Birthday celebrations and there importance differ from family to family. I have a friend who has three children and she says it’s important that her children know that the world doesn’t stop because it’s your birthday. “People still have to go to work,” she said. True, I guess. But to me your birthday is the only day that’s all about you. I prayed hard for my babies and the day they were born was more than just another day, it was God’s miracles revealing themselves in a very big way in my life.

So yes, my daughter’s birthday is a production. Planning begins around Thanksgiving and consists of a team of family and friends that help decide the theme, the food and the invites. We usually have a few conference calls, a gang of emails and countless text messages in preparation. Now the older she gets the more work this seems to become. I mean she is full of her OWN ideas. She has her own friends that she wants to invite and had the nerve to call her caterer/sudo auntie and tell her what she wanted on the menu. She even went so far as to have special gift requests for certain family members. She wanted her twin God-brothers to get her a bank. She wanted her first cousins to get her an umbrella. She wanted one of Jack and Jill friends to get a big red ball and she wanted every guest to leave with a fish. She is very decisive.

Luckily, she was cool with our Wonder Pets theme. We reserved a traveling petting zoo complete with pony rides and personalized carriage. Her daddy worked hard to finish her invitations including a picture of her on a pony by the March 1st deadline. And then life happened. Baby G fell ill and we lost at least a week of our lives. I knew I was off my game when the text messages asking for the invitations starting to arrive. Damn, damn, damn….I forgot to mail the invitations. Then the Princess decides she wants to celebrate all week. She wanted something special with her dance class friends on Wednesday. Cupcakes with her class on Friday and of course the main event on Saturday. So, three parties in one week. Then there was the rain forecast. Sixty percent showers does not set well with an outside petting zoo party.

“God please don’t let it rain on my birthday, Amen.” That was her prayer every night for a week. Plan B consisted of the garage, a tent and complete chaos in the house. Everything seemed to be in order and then I call the petting zoo on Saturday morning to make sure they have directions. During that call I am informed that the owner is ill and they will not be able to do the party. WHAT, it’s 9 a.m., the party is at 1 p.m. and we have at least 25 toddlers that plan to attend and they are expecting animals. Where is my St. John Wort cause it’s clearly too early to drink. Thank God for the world wide web, I must have called a dozen petting zoos and pony people looking for some animals on short notice.

Finally, a woman in New Bern agreed to bring not one, but two ponies. I’ll take it.

I decided to break the news to baby girl when she woke up and she was a little disappointed because she “wanted lots of animals.” But as we suspected she totally forgot about the lack of a duck pond when she got to ride Maxine. In fact, my new challenge became getting her off the horse long enough to let some of her guests ride. I am so glad they had two.

But somewhere in the midst of running around like a Hebrew slave trying to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves, I thought about quitting. No more, no more big birthdays for a while, no more handmade invitations, no more conference calls and caterers and popcorn machines. Don’t judge me, I know she’s three.

That night after all the camaraderie and we’re tucking in the Princess she says the following prayer: “Thank you God for my birthday and for not letting it rain. Thank you for all my friends and all my presents and for my mommy and daddy. Amen.”

And it’s at that moment that I start planning next year’s extravaganza. Happy Birthday Princess, you are worthy.

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Fear

My natural demeanor is one of little fear. Not that I don’t experience it, but my mind doesn’t get stuck there. The Taurus in me, says the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach will go away with a proper plan of attack. But having children places a mountain of fear for me that’s much more complicated. It’s the unknown, the fact that no matter the plan, there’s an awful lot you can’t control with your children; when they are sick, when they misbehave or when the world simply mistreats them.

On February 26, 2012, 17 year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as he walked to a family member’s home from a convenience store where he had just bought some candy. Each day more and more details about this case and the man that took his life, George Zimmerman is revealed. But the more I hear, the more petrified I become.

I am not related to Trayvon. I don’t live in Florida and I don’t know exactly what happened that night. But I do have a son. A little boy that I think is precious. A child that I believe has the world at his feet, endless possibilities and an agenda to change the world.

At just 7-months I am in awe of the simplest of his accomplishments. He can stand by himself for a whopping 5 seconds. He can wave his hand to say hello. He can even pick up a cheerio, switch hands and place it in his mouth without dropping it. I tell you the boy’s a genius.

But it’s not just what he can physically do, but it’s his power. He can make the world stop by flashing his dimples. He can make stress disappear with a hearty laugh. He can make me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world with a single glance. I tell you the boy’s a magician.

In all that he is and all I know he will be, I fear for him. I don’t trust the world we live in. I fear people will hate him for his strength, his intelligence, for his being. I fear something so futile as a black stereotype can keep him from his greatness. I fear the closer he gets to receiving his God given inheritance people will judge him. They will tell him black boys don’t like to read. They will tell him black boys don’t go to college. They will tell him he’s not attractive. They will tell him he’s not worthy and when he uses his all the gifts me and his daddy have placed in his tool box to fend off the hype, they will try to find another way to dim his light.

I am afraid to raise a black man in this society. Lord, give me strength to prepare him for what he will encounter. Lord, give him strength to endure. Lord, keep him safe and free from harm and grant us your peace and mercy. In Jesus name…

 

Not Blonde

Okay, so I’ve never been a fan of a whole lot of hair color. Not knocking it, just hasn’t been my thing. I tried it once in college and thank God my school colors were blue and orange and it happened to be spirit week because I rocked the later for a minute until I saved enough money to go to a professional salon to get it fixed. Then there was the time in 2002 when I ended up with a pumpkin on my shoulders in the middle of summer. I guess this chocolate complexion just isn’t conducive to hair color, other than jet black. So you can understand my surprise to have a hair color conversation with my 3-year-old. Where does she get this stuff?

We were casually looking through pictures of children and she asked me to stop on one little girl she mistook for one of her favorite classmates. When I explained her mistake she smiled and said, “I like her hair. What color is that? It’s not brown.” Duh, now it’s time for my mistake, because I really didn’t catch on to her enthusiasm. “No, honey, it’s blonde.”

“Blonde,” she says. “I like blonde.” Sure, blonde is cool, I thought, but so is sandy brown or off black, the color of her hair. “I’m going to make my hair blonde when I get big,” she says. Words cannot express my dismay. I mean really, really Morgan, blonde.

Now before all my blonde hair friends get offended, please try to understand that this is comical, but quite serious. See the dilemma is that I want her to accept people for who they are, and judge by the content of their character and not the color of their skin or hair. But that has to begin with self-acceptance. I am determined to raise her to be happy with who she is and what she looks like despite the negative depictions of African American women in this world. I mean, even my First Lady has been demeaned for her booty and her hair.

I can honestly say, I have never cared too much about hair. I don’t like doing it, don’t like getting it done and don’t put too much thought into it. I cannot say the same for my daughter. She calls her auntie and makes her own hair appointments for braids and beads. She reminds me on Sundays it’s time to wash and style and asked for a styling doll for Christmas. Do you know how difficult it was to try to find a styling doll with some color? It’s virtually impossible and the one we ended up with has a slight tan and hair like a traditional Barbie. Apparently, the demand for the tanned one is a lot less too, because it sold for about $20 less than all the others. How come I can’t find one with kinky, curly, black hair? How come I can’t find one that looks like chocolate?

I read in the newspaper a few weeks ago that a local trade school has added natural hair to their repertoire of styling professions. And while at a hair salon last week, my stylist told me to be on the look out for a natural hair salon real soon. This sounds great, maybe I can sign Morgan up for a tour.

If my daughter is dead set to be blonde years from now, I’d be her biggest supporter. Until then, I will sound the alarm everyday on how absolutely beautiful, her slightly kinky, curly, off black hair really is.

Ain’t Nothing Like Hope

Like a lot of families the last month or so has been filled with runny noses, teary eyes sore throats and coughs. After quite a few visits to both the pediatrician’s office for the babies and urgent care for us parents, the causes varied from ear infections, colds and allergies.  So it came to no surprise or alarm when our 7-month-old had a slight fever of 100.8 Sunday before last. However, we did decide to forego his scheduled immunization at his well child visit the next morning as a precaution. As projected his visit earned him a clean bill of health, both physically and developmentally. No fever, no ear infection, no cough. Hallelujah.

Our Wednesday morning routine started about 6:30 a.m. when my husband went to get baby boy. I love that baby, he sleeps all night and isn’t one for a whole bunch of whining unless he’s hungry. But this day would prove to be anything but routine. Upon entering his room my husband found our son’s face full of mucus surrounding his nose and mouth, warm to the touch and struggling to breath. He cleaned him up, took off his pajamas and brought him to me. “Something’s not right,” he said as he regurgitated his findings. We decided to call the pediatrician’s office, which I now have memorized and were greeted with their phone message reminding us there office doesn’t open until 8:30 a.m. Baby G seems so sleepy, he lays on my husbands chest and falls back to sleep and so do we.

By 8 a.m., it’s time to wake the princess for pre-school. I am convinced this is the quickest hour of my day. Wash up, clothes, hair, breakfast, teeth and we are one our way. When I return Baby G is still sleeping, which he sometimes does until his sister returns at noon. I retract my earlier statement because her preschool time is definitely the quickest three hours known to man. After picking her up and watching she and her daddy run down the street trying to get her kite to take flight, it’s time to call the doctor’s office again. My baby, now unable to lift his head is totally lethargic, other than his heavy panting and moving chest he appears almost lifeless.

We pack up and drive the one-mile familiar route to the pediatrician’s office for what we thought would be a “routine” sick child visit. When they call his name, the whole family marches towards the patient rooms and exchange pleasantries with nurses, who have now become familiar faces. And so the “routine” begins, update on symptoms, thermometer and weight check. To no surprise he has a fever. It’s 101.5. Our wait is short and after a brief physical it is determined to try a breathing treatment, run some blood tests and reassess. During the breathing treatment my daughter looks at me and asks “is my brother going to die?” I reassure her that’s not going to happen and will figure out where she even heard about death at a later time. A quick check of his heart rate turns our situation critical.

Cardiac Arrhythmia has our son’s heart beating a whopping 255 beats per minute; normal range is 140-160. We are ushered to the trauma room and told that doctors will have to perform a procedure to simulate a drowning in hopes of reducing his rate heart. As they describe to us in seconds what the procedure entails I doubt either of our hearts beat; but they definitely sunk. Within seconds what appears to be a 10-pound bag of ice with water is placed over our infant son’s face as he lay flat kicking for his life. They say it’s for about 20 seconds, but it felt like a lifetime. My son, my baby is laying on a table with three adults holding him down trying to drown him. He panics, he kicks and waves his arms and for the first time all day, I hear him crying. And I cry. I’m scared my son will die. I’m mad I can’t stop this. I’m concerned my daughter is watching. I’m in denial because we were just flying kites. And then my son’s body stops moving and I can’t move either. I’ve never been so helpless in all my life. They remove the bag, dry his face and hand me my son.

He’s a little upset, but happy to see us. Within minutes he shoots a short smile and while doctors scramble to get us admitted to the local hospital for further tests; he’s hungry. My tears have stopped, my heart is once again beating. I look to the right and my 6-foot, strong, broad shouldered husband begins to cry. He realizes we could have lost of our son, his heir. He’s silent, but the tears keep rolling. I understand.

After a battery of tests, our son is diagnosed with SVT (Supraventricular tachycardia) a general term that refers to any rapid heart rhythm originating above the ventricular tissue. A diagnosis I am still very uncomfortable with. Neither of us are convinced this is the root of issue and are convinced a virus of some sort is to blame.

Within an hour of being discharged our son begins to pant yet again and spikes a fever. OMG, I can’t go through this again. At this moment as many the last few days we are reminded how awesome it is to know God. My brother-in-law, also a Pastor has come to visit his nephew and holds him as we feed him ice chips and reduce his fever. His heart slows down and we already know here comes another sleepless night. My husband is in full fix it mode. Straight to Lowes, air filters in every room, kick out the dog and a new humidifier.

We beat down our pediatrician’s door the next a.m. and they ask for an X-Ray of our son’s chest. It reveals pneumonia is his left lung and my husband and I am relieved. Yes, relieved, pneumonia is treatable. Pneumonia, we’ve heard of. We can beat pneumonia. We are sent home with a nebulizer to use every four hours, more amoxicillin and a whole lot of hope.

Let me get my Bible

Every day the good Lord allows me to be woken up by one of my children I begin with a small prayer to be kind, enjoy the ride and be patient. It always starts out great, lots of hugs and kisses, snuggling and singing. But usually by the end of the day, after dinner has been served my patience starts wearing a little thin. How many times to do I have to repeat myself? How many times do I have to ask a toddler to listen? How many times can I be pooped on, peed on, spit up on without snapping back?

So the other day I must have asked Morgan to do something or other fifty times too many and I found my voice getting higher and higher. Oh my gosh, am I going to be one of those mommies that go around yelling all the time? I refuse.  In an effort to keep my sanity and not put her over my knee, I humbly ask her to sit on my lap so we can talk. “Morgan lately, I feel like you don’t listen to me when I am speaking to you and it makes me really upset. I don’t like to raise my voice and I don’t want to be a mommy who yells all the time. I really need you to listen to me, okay?” She apologetically says she is sorry and I am hopeful that she will at least try.

Within five minutes, we are at it again. “Morgan please be quiet, your brother is not feeling well and trying to sleep.” Two minutes pass and I find myself totally irritated. “Morgan REALLY, I am so going to pop your butt if I have to talk to you again. This is ridiculous.” And then she says it.

“Let me get my bible.” So I immediately look to my husband because I really can’t believe that an almost 3-year-old is pulling out scripture to prove her point with her momma. My husband hides his laughter behind a sheet of paper he is working on as she proudly trots her 24 pound butt to the end of the sofa to get her child bible her uncle and auntie gave her for Christmas in 2010. She gets the mini child version with a man with a staff and a lamb on the front and holds in one hand and waves it in my face and says “The bible says….the bible says…the bible says to BE NICE mommy.”

Are you serious right now. I am telling you people, I can’t make this stuff up. So I say “no, the bible says to honor thy mother and father. That’s what the bible says.” She indignantly replies “No, no, it says to be nice, so you can’t pop my butt, because the bible says to be nice.”

So, I know all the textbooks say not to break character when disciplining but they obviously did not have one of THESE type children. At this point, I am cracking up. This little girl is trying to talk me down from whopping her butt by using her children’s bible.

Not to be upstaged by her, I end the conversation by reminding her that the bible also says to honor thy mother and father. Truthfully, I am not sure she bought it, but the laughter she caused did provide her a reprieve until bedtime on the pop on the butt.

I honestly don’t think I have EVER pulled out the bible to prove a point, but I do know enough of it to have caught a few versus.

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

So despite our occasional Sunday sleep-ins, I went to bed that night a little more confident in the fact that obviously we are doing something right. I think.