House Guest

My husband is a former elementary school teacher and has dedicated his life to uplifting children. My mom always shared a couch, a meal and or advice with teenagers down on their luck, on the outs with their parents or in need of shelter. We didn’t have much, but what we had we gladly shared.

So it comes as no surprise that our guest room now has an occupant. He’s 17-years-old and called us from a public library asking for somewhere to stay. Without hesitation, the 90-minute drive seemed a minute inconvenience. It was his second call for a ride and place to stay within 30 days.

Stories vary on his situation and at the end of the day mean little to my bottom line. He’s a young man and he needs somewhere to stay, somewhere to eat and somewhere he feels safe. I’m good with that.

As the weeks roll by without a request from his mom to at least speak to him my feelings are starting to get the best of me. Like one of my new favorite shows, What Would You Do, I find myself trying to put on another pair of shoes. No matter how I try I cannot imagine a scenario that would lead me to disconnect from my children.

Now, despite our willingness to put our money where our mouth is, the decision to bring someone in our home to co-exist with our children was not an easy one. We prayed, we talked and then we strategized. I must say that having a 20-year-old brother I helped raised has its benefits. So agenda item one was to establish rules and of course consequences.

I believe the definition of teenager should read “DRAMA.” In between curfews, phone use and chores, you have hormones to contend with.  So he can only use the computer in the kitchen, there is no privacy here. I can go in any room I choose and search anything at this address. He has a curfew and he has to check in periodically, just because. He can use the house phone, but I don’t want these little hot females calling my house and the list goes on.

In addition to our family contract, I had to ask permission from the princess in the house. I mean a new long-term house guest means she has to share her bathroom, her milk and her juice. Although she contests that her bathroom is yuck and smells like a boy, she is okay with sharing her living space, but made it perfectly clear that her juice is off limits. But this means rules for her too. So far the biggest adjustment has been knocking on a closed door and waiting for a response. A lesson that was long overdue anyway.

Now having a teenage boy around is an adjustment for us all, I found myself a little overwhelmed in the men’s toiletry section in Wal Mart the other day. I mean who knew there were so many different body washes for them and I personally think they all smell the same. And I am still trying to figure out my new grocery list, which consists of way more milk and loaves of bread than I am used to buying at one time. But in the grand scheme of things it hasn’t been all that bad. There’s someone else to feed and walk the dog, bring groceries in the house and take out the trash.

I’m not sure how long he’ll be here, but I am glad we are in a position to prove that the art of helping others is not lost. And who knows maybe in time my daughter will even learn to share her juice.

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Medication Nation

My maternal grandmother was one of my best friends. I remember a lot about her, how she smiled, her favorite sayings and all of her advice, both good and bad. But I also remember the plastic grocery bag full of prescription meds she carried with her everywhere she went. We carried it fishing, to the bean field and definitely to doctor appointments. It was on one of those visits I decided that I absolutely hated medication.

My husband hasn’t had the same experience, but has the same disdain for meds. In fact, I find myself trying to coerce him to take antibiotics when necessary. Those baby germs can be deadly. So when our infant son was diagnosed with SVT (a Supraventricular tachycardia) few months back and doctors urged long term medication, we were in sync; absolutely, positively not.

SVT is described as any rapid heart rhythm and the most common preventative medicine is Digoxin. We were asked to begin a twice a day dose that would most likely continue until our son was 3 or 4-years-old. So my husband asked all the appropriate questions including information on studies of long-term effects of this drug on children. We were told, few studies existed and none were on long-term effects, but “it’s completely safe.”

After our own research and consultations with doctor friends and parents we decided against the medication regimen. Especially since our baby was diagnosed with Pneumonia the next day, treated and recovered. Yesterday was his 6-week follow up with the pediatric cardiologist and we were amazed how many times we were asked to explain our decision not to use the medication. In fact, it was the first question they asked despite his positive health report. Test after test and everything checked out. God is good and prayer works.

So if my son is fine, why do you keep asking me about giving him medication? The best I can come up with is it’s the society we live in. We are a medication nation. In fact the Wall Street Journal reports that 25% of children under the age of 18 in the United States are on prescription medications. We medicate everybody for everything from blood pressure to behavior and people think it’s okay. Now, I am not blaming doctors and won’t begin to get into any of the prescription drug company debates, because I’m not sure who or what to blame.

One of my doctor friends once shared that most patients expect to receive a prescription in exchange for their co-pay. In other words, adults don’t want to hear ride the cold out or use diet and exercise to control your high blood pressure; they want the quick easy solution. Pill popping is acceptable and prescriptions are readily accessible. Think about it, there’s a drug store on every corner.

As for me I’d rather hit up the local natural food store and farmer’s market for solutions to ailments than to fill every prescription I’m given.  So, no the Taylor children are not accustomed to taking medications and I plan to keep it that way.

Pageantry or Buffoonery

New rule, according to the Associated Press The Miss Universe Pageant will now allow transgender women to participate in the beauty contest.

What. Are you serious? Does this bother anyone else? Okay, maybe I’m a little sensitive. I was a pageant girl and while I was never in the Miss Universe Pageant I was in and won enough pageants to believe in them. I clearly remember the notoriety, scholarships and public speaking skills that I honed as a pageant contestant. .

For the record I had no intention on my princess following this aspect of my past, but I certainly would not have knocked it. I would have said, go forth and prosper. Be you and be fabulous, but not now.

For those unfamiliar with this situation, the Miss Universe organization decided to allow Jenna Talackova to compete for Canada’s spot in the Miss Universe pageant this year. Talackova was born a male and underwent a sex change operation four years ago and is drop dead gorgeous.

I guess this is a good time for my disclaimer that while I don’t personally know anyone that has had the surgery, it ain’t my business and I ain’t one to judge. But beauty pageants are about judging. In addition to poise, attitude and diction there are points associated with physical appearance and measurements. I have a hard time thinking it fair that my daughter would have to compete with someone that has gone under the knife to achieve constructive genitalia.

So what’s the difference between breast augmentation and a sex change operation? Truthfully, I’m not sure I agree with breast augmentation being acceptable either, but then I think about mastectomies and deformed breast that might get my vote. But I can’t so-sign on a sex change operation allowing you to compete for Miss Universe.

Yes, everyone should be allowed to compete, but why not have a transgender beauty pageant? Oh yeah that’s right they have those already. And before anyone asks me how would I feel about an all black pageant, I was a runner-up in the Miss Black World Pageant in the late 90s.

And what about the authenticity of pageants? For years I defended them. “They are about more than just pretty faces,” I would say. “They are about character and intelligence and confidence.” But I find this new rule hard to defend and unworthy of my fortitude.

So where’s the line in the sand. Will we have all co-ed teams in high school and college? Will men sue to play in the WNBA or vice versa? Will Mr. Universe and Mr. Wonderful have to include transgender males?  Will we have to allow steroid use again to be accepting of entries from transgender contestants?

There is a place in this world for everyone and I am fully aware that society is changing right in front of my eyes. Hell, there are a slew of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender beauty pageants that wouldn’t mind Miss Jenna competing for whatever title she wishes. Now I am left wishing that the title of Miss Universe does not become one of my daughter’s dreams.

Kids Place Live

Up down

Up down

Up down

Up down yeah

Cause it will get hard

Remember life’s like a jump rope

This has become my mantra for this week. These are the lyrics that jump around in my head all day, feel free to click the link at the bottom of the post to have a listen. And no, this song is not by Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida or Drake. These are lyrics by Blue October. Now where would a chocolate mother hear this type of song? I’ll tell you where; Kids Place Live, Sirius Satellite Radio channel 78. That’s right, my children have even influenced my music selections and to be honest I even catch myself listening when they are not around.

Pre-children you would’ve found the latest R&B artist in my CD player, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott and India Arie were on serious rotation. I was never into hardcore rap, but I did tune in to the hottest stations to at least keep up with the latest jams. Wow, do they even call them jams any more? Probably not. My husband gave up on music lyrics years ago. His first transition was to Gospel Rap and now he’s a bonafide talk radio junky. I’m still not ready for that although I must say Rev. Al Sharpton, Warren Ballentine and GW on the Hill do a great job of putting the kids to sleep when daddy’s driving.

Music is not only good for the soul, but it’s a pretty good reflection of where we are in life. What’s important to us, what we value and as we evolve, so does our choice of music. In high school, I was a B-52s, Love Shack type of girl. But my life was different and so was the era. I wasn’t “privy” to BET, it wasn’t offered as a television option where I grew up. So I listened to what my friends listened to. From Bon Jovi and Guns n Roses to Billy Ocean and Wham, I knew the lyrics or at least I thought I did.

But no matter the genre, I was always attracted to positive lyrics and upbeat tempos. I played the flute and later the tenor saxophone. I was in Marching Band, Jazz Band and Orchestra and I loved it all.

I’m not saying my children have to play instruments like me and their daddy did, but I would like them to learn to appreciate all that music has to offer.

Don’t matter where you come from
Don’t even matter what you are
A dog, a pig, a cow, a goat
Had ’em all in here (we had ’em all in here)

No, that’s not an oldie but goodie, that’s Princess and the Frog, Mama Odie and that too is a Kids Place Live special. I believe what you listen to, penetrates your soul.  So yes, I like listening to positive music, and I like knowing what my children find entertaining. I personally don’t think it’s cute for toddlers to know all the words to negative songs and can’t spell their name or count to ten.

Having said that, I do not believe that gangsta rap is responsible for youngsters committing crimes. Just as I don’t believe heavy metal music is responsible for young atheists. But I do believe that negative thoughts and images are perpetuated through the things we hear and see. So yes, my car is locked on a Kids Place Live and my television has two stations, Nick Jr. and CNN. The later is for me, how else would I know what’s going on outside of pre-school.

Jump Rope