Apples, Peaches and Watermelon

This is my first semester teaching at a local community college and so far, so good. I have a good mix of students, but I absolutely have a special place in my heart for my older non-traditional students. It was an older male students that asked me to participate in a faculty focus group to help him with a marketing project. My participation would require a return trip to campus during a scheduled mommy day, but he assured me I would be in and out within 30 minutes. The objective of the focus group was to collect information regarding possible restaurants for a vacant lot located across the street from the campus.

On the day of the focus group, I realize that since this is normally a mommy day, I have not secured childcare. Without much thought, I decide to bring my toddler with me. When I pick her up from school, I tell her we are eating out for lunch and then going back to mommy’s school for a meeting. “What kind of meeting?” she asked. “Well, it’s a focus group so it’s a short meeting to talk about a possible new restaurant,” I explain. I further explain that right now it’s a vacant lot and we will be asked questions about what type of restaurant should be built there.

Okay, so I am assuming that by me using the word “we” in the description, she assumed she was not just observing, but a member of the focus group. She is silent for a minute on the car ride and then says “I have an idea. How about they have a restaurant with lots of fruit and vegetables? It can have apples and peaches and watermelon,” she says. I tell her I think that is a fabulous idea and “we” will share that when we arrive.

We are the first of faculty to arrive and she politely asks for a name-tag like mine. My student obliges and provides me a blank name-tag and escorts us to our seats. She recently learned to write her name so I ask her if she wants to write it or does she want me to. She insists that I write Morgan Elizabeth Taylor on her tag. When I apply it to her shirt, she notices that mine is on the opposite side and asks me to fix it so we match. Apparently with her, it’s the little things.

Minutes after we arrive other faculty members start to fill the room and she greets each one as if she is conducting the focus group. All of my colleagues are pleasant and indulge her with basic toddler conversation asking her name, where she is from, if she has brothers or sisters and the list goes on. She answers each question and looks to me for confirmation on just about each one. Please keep in mine, I have NEVER met these people before and not one of them remotely looks like us.

We end up with about 8 adults waiting for the students to begin and then she takes the floor. Yes, by she, I mean Morgan. She stands in the middle of our makeshift semi-circle and says “I have an idea” and she has our full attention. “I think the restaurant should be healthy. It should have lots of fruits and vegetables, like apples, peaches and watermelon.” She was polite, she was sincere and she wasn’t the least bit nervous addressing a handful of college faculty members.

One woman says “I love your idea Morgan” and others agree.

I have no idea what else she was going to say so I was relieved when one of the students said we were getting ready to get started. I beacon Morgan to take her seat beside me and another colleague says, “Well, we are all done. Morgan has figured the whole thing out and we agree.” We start to laugh and redirect our attention to the front.

As my student promised there is a series of short multiple choice questions about preferred cuisine, theme and price for a potential restaurant. And to my surprise, the consensus is that it is time for an upscale, health conscious restaurant complete with fresh vegetables and fruit like apples and peaches and watermelon.

So the question remains, did eight college-educated educators just allow a 3-year-old to sway us to vote for a healthy restaurant or would we have come to the same consensus without her?

 

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He Called Me Stupid!

For whatever reason my daughter has been talking in complete sentences since she was about 18 months old. Now please understand that while I am not exaggerating, I also understand this to be an anomaly. My very handsome 15 month-old son can understand more words than he can say. He has at least a dozen words under his belt though and some of his favorites include yes, daddy and juice, but its obvious the boy can’t talk yet.

That’s why it always amazes me that his sister seems to be able to interpret what he says on command. It’s kind of funny because I do recognize they have a very close relationship and you have to at least ask yourself, does she really know what he’s saying. I mean they are good for pushing one another and hugging one another all in one felt swoop. I have never seen anything like it, they will fight over a toy and kiss each other on the cheek before I can correct the behavior.

Since our daughter’s vocabulary is off the charts, it is important to have a list of words she is not allowed to say. Usually, anything negative like ugly or stupid is off limits. She is not allowed to use it at any time with anyone. It still amazes me how often you seem to hear these words in music, on television and in general adult conversation that goes unnoticed until you tell a 3-year-old she can’t use them and she will point it out to you 1,000 times a day. “OOOH, mommy, they said ugly,” she says. In fact, I really think it’s her way of getting away with saying taboo words on a sly.

Most of their fussing takes place when I am in the kitchen washing dinner dishes and preparing for bedtime snacks. No matter how many duplicate toys we have, they still seem to fight over the same ones. I’m almost numb to the bickering unless I hear hardcore screaming or a big thump followed by crying. Usually, if I miss the whole encounter I will ask Morgan what happened. “Mommy, how come you always ask me what happens,” she says. “I ask you what happened because you can verbally tell mommy the story,” I reply.

The other night, right on cue an argument ensued over a toy. All I hear is “No, Baby G, it’s mine, I had it first,” Morgan whines followed by a series of inaudible baby sounds. Keep in mind there is only a 4-pound difference between them, so she can’t beat him physically. I can tell he is upset and I know a physical struggle is underway. I rinse my dish and dry my hands first, because I have yet to hear the emergency. I approach the den and Morgan meets me at the door crying “Mommy, he called me stupid.”

So, this is one of those moments when I seriously want to laugh, but I know she is really distraught and to laugh would be insensitive. “Morgan are you sure he called you that,” I ask. “Yes, mommy, I am sure, he called me stupid, so he needs to go to time out.” I look at Baby G as stern as I can and remind him that “stupid” is not a nice word and we do not say that word and if he says it again he’s going to be in big trouble. My son then looks at me and smiles and for the first time I actually think to myself, even if he couldn’t verbally say it, that joker probably really did THINK it and she knew it. So how am I suppose to reprimand a thought? And how in the world has he figured out how to hurt her feelings with words when he can’t even talk? So sticks and stones may break her bones, but her brother’s mumbles are what really hurt her.

 

God Sent Godparents

I can’t believe we are so old that we have found ourselves making preparations to attend our 20th high school reunion. My husband was first up this past weekend and our attendance was not an option, but childcare was another story. When we just had Morgan, we had a handful of people that could keep her for us overnight, but two babies changes things. There are very few people that can and are willing to take two babies. Now don’t get me wrong, both of us are blessed to have our parents close and that really comes in handy. Ain’t nothing like grandparent. But we are especially blessed because we also have chosen the most awesome Godparents in the world.

When we were pregnant with our firstborn we spent what seemed like months pondering Godparents. First we had to decide if we wanted traditional Godparents, or if our choices would be in title only?

The Encyclopedia Britannica describes a Godparent as “a person or persons that make a profession of faith for the child being baptized and assume an obligation to serve as proxies for the parents if they are either unable or neglect to provide for the religious training of a child.”

Well, I guess we settled on somewhere in between. We wanted them to be an extension of our family. We wanted our children to feel comfortable with them. They had to have similar values and philosophies on child-rearing.  We didn’t want to be a burden and we preferred a married a couple. We talked about it, prayed about it and made a multitude of lists to determine a good fit and then we had to hope they agreed.

We decided on Lamont and Shelby. Lamont is my husband’s first cousin and his wife Shelby was an awesome supporter throughout my infertility journey. She is more than a cousin-in-law, she is a soror and a dear friend. The two of them were high school sweethearts and have been married for 16 years. They have a set of six-year-old twin boys, so they are being hazed just like us. They live about 2-hours away and we absolutely love their company. We were grateful they agreed with Morgan and we were hesitant to ask them for Baby G; Godparents for TWO babies. What nerve, right, well we asked and they agreed.

Morgan calls their boys her brothers. She has spent weeks at a time during the summer at their home and is just as comfortable there as she is at our house. She loves them and they love her.

A few weeks ago, Morgan reminded me that she had not seen her God-brothers in awhile and she was SURE they missed her. So my husband’s class reunion provided us a great opportunity for them to reconnect. It was the first time they have had both babies overnight and it was confirmation that we made a great choice.

When we arrived, as always they met us in the driveway to help us unload. They had purchased a crib for baby G to use when at their home and they had gone to the grocery store to get all their favorite fruits and organic milk. The boys pulled out their sleeping bags and left a special place for Morgan’s right in between them on their floor and the list goes on and on.

I left their home on Sunday grateful. I am grateful they love our children as they love their own. I am grateful they open their homes and their hearts whenever we need them. I am grateful so very grateful that they said “yes” when we asked them to be the Godparents of our children, clearly they are Godsends.

 

A Slave for my Children

I can honestly say that as Chocolate as I am I have never had a complex about my complexion; at least not consciously. But there are certain things I avoid to duck additional ridicule, like Vaseline or being ashy and yes, there are certain situations I avoid in hopes of setting up the inevitable black jokes. For example, I never auditioned for a part in Porgy and Bess in high school on purpose and I try not to recite lines from the Colored Purple and the list goes on. But I did volunteer to be a mother and I am learning that me being ridiculed is a small price to pay for their happiness and personal growth.

Last Sunday was Morgan’s first filming day as an extra on the set of the movie Box Brown. Box Brown is the story of a slave that mailed himself in a box to freedom. Morgan doesn’t have a speaking role but she is pretty psyched about being “in the t.v.” in any respect. My husband and I am thrilled at exposing her to the idea of realizing her dreams and having an opportunity to act out such an important part of American History.

In preparation for her day, we explored wardrobe options and figured if Baby G joined her we could stand on the sidelines and be proud doting parents with camera phones and video cameras. Upon arrival we sign their talent releases and take them to wardrobe and makeup. When I look down at Morgan, she has tears in her eyes and is holding on to me for dear life.

At this moment I pick her up, hold her tight and remind her that she does not have to do this if she doesn’t want to and that me and daddy will gladly pack up her things and roll out if she just says the word. “No, mommy I want to do it, I’m just a little nervous.” The Production Assistant joins in the conversation and tells her everything will be just fine and she is going to do great. She reminds her there is another little girl out there who is also a little nervous and maybe they can help each other. It was a great speech, but Morgan was not convinced.

Just then the wardrobe lady asks me if my husband and me will be extras as well and I quickly remind them that we are just there to observe.  Morgan interjects, “mommy please, let’s all do it together, please.” To add insult to injury the Production Assistant reminds us how much easier it will be for the children to repeat scenes when their parents join the cast.

With no time to think and a teary-eyed princess looking me in my face and a perfect slave momma dress hanging in the wardrobe lady’s arm, I reluctantly agree. I say to myself, there is no way my husband is going to do it, so I will have to suck it up and make it happen for the babies. I change my clothes and grab my babies and head to the cotton field. On the way I am informed that the purpose of the scene is to portray slaves as they are walking onto the plantation. They have been walking for days. They are dehydrated, hungry and fresh out of chains. I have Baby G in one arm and Morgan by the hand.

Before we join the slave march, another assistant stops me and asks me to remove my diamonds. “If it were gold, that would work, but not diamonds,” he says with a smile. I reluctantly smile back and keep reminding myself that this is for the children and hand a man I do not know my wedding rings, and my earrings. I internally whisper, “This is for the children.”

I dig my bare feet into the sandy dirt and proceed to go where directed and I hear on the walkie-talkie that there is one more slave coming and to wait a minute. I get in position and I look up and I see my husband all decked out looking like Kunta Kinte’s big brother with Jesus sandals on and I can’t help but smile. As he joins the slave march he looks at me, grabs Baby G and says, “Man as Black as I am, I know I am going to get joked for this.”

There is little I can say to console him, because I know he’s right. So we look at each other with babies in tow and say out loud, “The things we do for our children.”

So yes, the entire Taylor Family will be in the opening scene of Box Brown during the slave march and I am telling you all right now…”Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Got an App for That?

In our family, my husband is the techie. He owns everything Apple, researches latest gadgets, has bought endless stuff with his Best Buy rewards points and has a wish list on ThinkGeek.com as long as his arm. Needless to say when he brought my shiny new iPhone 5 home last week one of his first question was “which Apps do you want.” Now I have to explain that we are polar opposites with this kind of stuff. If I could get away with a flip phone that just answers and makes calls, I would. So my response to his question about Apps was the same its been for the last two iPhones I had….no thanks.

I mean there are few that grab my attention, like the keyring one and the coupon one. Anything that can help cut down on coupon clipping or the amount of junk in my purse, is a winner. But you won’t find screen after screen full of Apps on my phone that is unless they came up with some special mommy Apps.

So here’s a free list of mommy ideas for App developers. Wouldn’t it be cool if we had an App that could tell you if your child was really sick or the mysterious stomachache was a cry for attention? How about an App to tell you if they remembered to flush, wipe their butt and wash their hands after using the bathroom? Or how about an App to automatically mute senseless whining or one that would zap them every time they started to back talk? How about an App to tell you what “really” happened in school that day? Or an App that would tell you when their new favorite food has changed before you stock up on the old one?

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s some cool stuff out there right now, iGameMom.com is an excellent website and blog about educational child Apps and it’s always nice to have one or two entertainment devices to keep them occupied in a waiting room.

But what about an App to tell you how long they will nap that day or if they had enough to eat? How about an App to tell you when to change out the bath toys before they fill with yucky black stuff that floats in the water?

Oh and I didn’t forget my parents of older babies. How about an App to tell you if they are lying about the teacher not giving homework?  Or and App to help you teach them to drive without freaking out, since you remember how awful they steered their big wheels. Oh, I got it how about an App to constantly remind them of your words of wisdom before they made major decisions? Or an App to zap them when they do a mediocre job completing their chores? Can you think of any others?

I’m thinking our moms out there can come up with some great App ideas to help with the awesome job of parenting. So if Apple wants to make Apps we can’t live without, why don’t they come talk to some mothers?