He Won’t Be Re-elected

The best thing about our nighttime routine is the private, last minute conversations I have with my soon-to-be 7-year-old Princess. I know, I know, part of it is her stalling and trying to delay the inevitable. But I must admit, as long as I continue to get the skinny on all that happened that day in class, at recess and all points in between…. I’ll take it.

My other truth is that, sometimes, I envy my husband’s quick retreat to his recliner downstairs. You see he puts our 4-year-old pint size super hero son to bed and I usually hear him exit about 5 minutes after lights out. In five minutes our daughter hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface on her day.

But here’s the thing, our conversations…I mean her conversations are priceless. Don’t believe me? Read for yourself:

ME: “Mommy is it true that teachers don’t make much money?”

“Yes, ME it’s true. I hope that will change one day. They deserve much more.”

ME: “Well when I get big, I’m going to change that.”

“Awesome. ME I think that’s a great goal.”

ME: “I changed my mind, I want to change it now. What can I do?”

“I don’t know ME, maybe you can write the Governor(NC) a letter about how you feel.”

ME: “Governor, who’s the Governor?”

“His name is Pat McCory.”

ME: “Pat who?”

“Pat McCory.”

ME: “He sounds mean.”

“Well some people think so.”

ME: “He sounds like he’s related to Dumb Donald (Trump that is. By the way, I do not approve of the nickname she’s given him).” She then pauses for a moment.

“In that case momma, I’m gonna write him two letters. One for more money for teachers and one to tell him he won’t be re-elected. He don’t need to be Governor if a kid has to tell him to give teachers more money.”

At this point I choose not to respond, which is how we end just about every night; with her having the last word. I silently chuckle and I think to myself, Ummm, ME, can you send the letter about giving the teachers a raise first? I’m Just Saying. Plus technically I’m sure he considers their additional $750 a year a grand gesture. It’s simply not enough Governor McCory, just ask my second grader. #watchoutPat #MEforGovernor

Fact check: Examining raises for North Carolina teachers

 

MeandMinime

KidsVote

 

Vanilla or Chocolate: Not Bad, Not Better; Just Different

When I was a child my birthday parties always ended with a cake and a clear gallon bucket of ice cream. The bucket always had three flavors in it, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. The premise was that you could enjoy whichever flavor you preferred. The ice cream always started out nice and neat, but you could never have a whole scoop of one without remnants of the other flavors on it and by the end it seemed like all three flavors were completely mixed up.

It’s amazing what you can learn from a bucket of ice cream.

My 6-year-old daughter Morgan recently co-authored a book that educates and excites young people with her dad and my husband. Daddy’s Little Princess is a one of kind book that introduces real Princesses and Queens of color from around the world on an elementary level. If you ask Morgan as one reporter did, why she wrote the book she will say “My daddy always calls me Princess, but I didn’t think I could be a Princess because I didn’t see any that looked like me. I thought only “vanilla” or white people could be Princesses. When I found out that anyone could be a Princess, I wanted to let other little girls know that too.”

Awe, sounds sweet to many, but clearly a few were bothered by her “Vanilla” label and took to the comment section of her news story to say so. Which brings me to the reason for this blog post. One comment in particular said that the label “vanilla” or white people is early indoctrination. I’m guessing he meant it to be a disparaging comment, but I actually completely agree. You see the Latin word for “teach”, doctrina is the root of indoctrinate. As parents it’s our responsibility to indoctrinate or teach.

I’ve had this blog since my daughter was an infant and rarely do I give parenting advice. I wholeheartedly believe that parenting is the toughest job you can NEVER prepare for. You can read books, you can read journals, you can ask other parents what to do, but in the end we are all just trying to do the best we can. However, there are a few things we just should not and cannot do and one of those is to shy away or ignore important questions from our children.

As a Communication professional (I have a few degrees that say so) let me just say there will never be a colorblind society. If you have the gift of sight, you see color. That’s why toddlers touch each others skin and hair. Our goal should not be to be colorblind. Our goal should be to treat each other the SAME regardless of our differences. Acknowledging differences is not the problem. The problem is treating people different because of them. Yes, our skin is different, not bad, not better; just different. Yes, our hair is different, not bad, not better; just different. Yes, some children are handi-capable, not bad, not better; just different.

So when our very bright 2-year-old was in pre-k and really began to notice these differences we did what parents should do; we talked about them and since words like African American, Caucasian and Asian were a little difficult for her to grasp, words like vanilla and chocolate were easier for her to understand. The concept that vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream were different, but both delicious was easier for her to understand. It’s like that gallon of ice cream. But when we as adults shy away from having conversations with our children because it makes US feel uncomfortable, we are leaving our children to figure out something extremely complex on their own. That’s not fair and that’s not good parenting and when they don’t get it right we have civil discourse and racial prejudice.

So yes, both my daughter and my 4-year-old son have been “indoctrinated.” We acknowledge differences, we share information and treat everyone the same. One of my favorite parts of my daughter’s Barnes and Noble book signing was seeing all her friends, vanilla, chocolate or butter pecan all come out to support her and to learn about Princesses they had not heard of before. She was genuinely happy to see them and they were genuinely happy to support her. So, it may be easier to get caught up on the label than to deal with the reality that yes we have differences and they are not bad, not better; just different.

Visit http://www.taylormadenc.com to learn more about her book Daddy’s Little Princess

 

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

Last year was tough for me. I was full of anxiety just thinking about transitioning our then 5-year-old daughter from a small close-knit private pre-school to public school. I researched every school, the district policy, interviewed teachers and administrator friends for advice. We teetered with the idea of homeschooling, bought curriculums and even made our spare bedroom a sudo-classroom. And I definitely prayed a lot. We finally decided to give public school a try. I figured, what’s the worse that can happen? We could be unhappy, pull her out and try something different.

After her initial assessment and being in Kindergarten for two days, the group consensus was to move her up to First Grade. With this change came even more apprehension. She was transitioning to public school, larger classes and she’s small in stature. Was this the right decision? Was she mature enough to handle it and if she wasn’t would her self-esteem survive putting her back? So back in my prayer closet I went.

We were assured by her school’s administration that she’d be fine and had a great First Grade teacher and we would very soon agree. Her teacher wasn’t much taller than my daughter, she was petite, smiled a lot and kept in constant contact with me about Morgan’s progress. She was young, full of energy and seemed to be a real go getter; you know the type that looks forward to challenges. In fact, she was a marathon runner and to me that spoke volumes about her personality. Marathon runners are in for the long haul, run through cramps, rain, extreme temperatures etc… She was just what the doctor ordered, in this case what we needed.

Morgan didn’t just exist in First Grade, she excelled both academically and socially. She also fell in love with her teacher and truthfully so did I. Right before Christmas break I told her, I really think she should consider teaching Second Grade. I know, I know totally selfish move. Of course she laughed and said it was a little early to sweat Second Grade, plus she said “Morgan will be fine.” Yes, Morgan will be fine, but what about me? I guess, back to the prayer closet I go.

As the end of the school year fast approaches, Morgan has talked about leaving her teacher every day. Today, my baby cried because it was her favorite teacher’s last day in the classroom. She’s transitioning to another career. I am happy for her, I really am, as I believe whole heartedly in re-inventing yourself. The reality is sometimes you really don’t know how much a person that you may not even know that well means to you until it’s time to say goodbye.

Morgan wasn’t the only one sad today. I understand the Blessing in having a God-fearing, talented teacher dedicated to giving her all. I am eternally grateful for the memories she’s created for my daughter and the foundation she has helped to build. So before I go back in prayer closet for an equally awesome Second Grade teacher, I say thank you, thank you , thank you Kate Faulkner and may you continue to leap into your greatness.MEandMs.F

Winning

Winning

 

 

I’ve always been pretty competitive. I mean who doesn’t like to win. The older I’ve gotten or I guess I should say the more mature; winning has taken a back seat and most times I just want to finish what I’ve started. I wouldn’t say this out loud, but my 5 year-old daughter is a lot like me. She likes to win. I mean she really likes to win, if you want her to do something, make it a competition and she’s guaranteed to put forth an effort. Problem is, she can’t stand to lose. I mean she despises it. So we work hard with her on explaining sportsmanship and the idea that winning isn’t necessarily everything.

And for the record, no I’m not the parent who loses all the time to make her feel better. If she wants to beat me, she better be prepared to “earn” it. The reality is the world does not guarantee you a win, it says you can play, but to win you’ve got to put in some hard work and dedication. But when my daughter loses she pouts, she repeatedly says “I didn’t win.” Losing creates the feeling of disappointment and no one wants to feel disappointed. But what if we always thought we won? What if, even as adults we always thought we won, even if we didn’t?

My 2-year-old son is amazing. Every morning when I free him from his car seat to go into daycare, he challenges me to a race to the door. I must admit I started this competition out of desperation. He was moving entirely too slow one day, but I didn’t know it would become a part of our daily routine. Now he always lines up at the same crack in the sidewalk and looks at me and proudly announces “on the mark, get set, go.” Then he jogs, a little quicker than a walk but definitely not a full on run. He never leaves me behind when I’m in heels and a short skirt. He never falls. He never rushes when I pass him. He finds his own pace and he jogs. And when he arrives at the door, he always says the exact same thing “I win.”

Usually I can’t help but laugh because he does this in every competition, especially with his sister. She’ll challenge him to something and she’ll try her best and no matter what place he comes in he always says the same thing “ I win.” The other night my husband challenged them both to a race to the top of the stairs to get ready for bath time.

“On the mark, get set, go,” he announced. They were off to the races and running up one step at a time. When my daughter arrived first, she jumped up and down and shouted, “I won, I won. Brother you lose, I won.” By this point he was climbing the last step and grinning from ear to ear and guess what he said? You guessed it “I didn’t lose sissy, I win. I always win.”

Wow, I couldn’t help but smile. His confidence wasn’t broken, he wasn’t sad. He wasn’t crying and he definitely was not disappointed. In his mind he’s always a winner and God Bless him, because as long as he thinks it….it is so.

 

Winning 2

Sex Tape Trumps Baby

Eva

I pride myself on not watching a whole lot of television and definitely not reality television. To me, it’s always an indication that I have too much time on my hands or I am totally avoiding something I know I need to be doing. With that said, I also pride myself on knowing a little bit about everything, at least enough to engage in conversation at a water cooler.

This week the world is a buzz about the MiMi Faust Sex tape. For those who are unaware, MiMi is a regular on reality show Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. No she’s not a recorded hip hop artist and no she is not an aspiring Hip Hop MC. The father of her toddler daughter is Stevie J, a producer in the industry.

Yes, I know my regular readers, are like is she really talking about a sex tape? Yes and I will tell you why. Eva Jordan, her daughter is around the same age as my 5-year-old daughter and I am horrified that this Chocolate Mother didn’t think about her baby and her legacy or thought so little of it to degrade herself with a sex tape. And to add insult to injury, it’s with a different man, Nikko Smith, who she is not married to.

I am far from a Holy roller and I believe that what two adult people within the confines of their bedroom preferably marriage do, is truly their business. But MiMi was not the victim of a sexual escapade that was mistakenly videotaped and leaked by an ex-lover. This was orchestrated and released by her camp. As I watched the clip, I just kept saying “what about her baby.”

I am legitimately concerned for the welfare of her child and apparently so is Steve J. who is now seeking custody of their daughter. Now, I’m no Stevie J. fan, in fact, I thought his character on the show was despicable. But as a momma I’m having a hard time with this. My daughter idolizes me. She loves her daddy, but she watches and emulates everything I do. She watches me put on make-up, she walks in my shoes, she watches how I interact with people and especially my husband. She asks a ton of questions and she depends on me to teach her how to be. As mothers we have a responsibility beyond our own personal needs and goals. As mothers we don’t get to dwell on the “what about me” or “when do I get to be happy” syndromes. It’s so not about us. And in the words of Eminem “We only get one shot.” I’m really going to need for us to do better.

Oh, and did I mention Ms. Faust is starting a children’s clothing line? Really? What is it going to consist of baby leather strap ups, fishnets and whips and chains? Now for a 40+ single mother, I must admit she looks good, but I couldn’t help but wonder the pain that this 30 seconds, minutes or even days will cause Eva in the long run.

 

Where’s the Sandman?

Sleep

On any given morning around 4 a.m. my eyes open and I know that my long lost friend sleep has abandoned me yet again. I used to lie dormant, praying to go back to sleep, tossing and turning trying to figure out how I was going to function the next day. Some time last year, I embraced these early morning wakeups as a time of peace and stillness. I don’t set my alarm clock but when I wake, I get up. I trek downstairs in the dark, make myself a big cup of hot tea and find something to work on for the next three hours. Since I now get up, I’ve put the anxiety of not sleeping to bed. It just doesn’t bother me. So I fall asleep just fine, just haven’t mastered staying sleep.

My husband is my polar opposite in the sleep department. He has trouble falling asleep. He’s a night owl and usually doesn’t shut his eyes until about 2 a.m. Unbeknown to us and unintentionally, we usually, silently pass each other in the night.

It’s one thing for the of us to walk around sleep deprived, but a few months ago sleep also left my baby girl’s bed. She has never been great at soothing herself to sleep and recently has struggled to stay sleep for more than four hours at a time. So we did what any loving parents would do. We panicked. I made a diary of everything she ate, in hopes of finding the culprit. We continued our nightly routine and incorporated toddler Tai Chi after bath before prayer. We scented her room with lavender oil. We dimmed the lights. We tried melatonin. We even tried letting her sleep with the dog although his snores quickly proved to be too much. I was really starting to stress over it. I was reading everything I could on how to help a toddler sleep. I made an appointment with her pediatrician. We even had a parent teacher conference with her teacher to report her sleep issues and check up on her school “attitude.”

But one early morning last week something happened. I got out of bed about 3:58 a.m and by 4:36 a.m. I had already cleaned the kitchen and was about to start writing and I heard a soft voice say “mommy” I replied with a quiet yes and she made her way down the steps in the dark. When she came in the kitchen I am sure she expected me say what I also say “go back to bed, your body needs to rest, lay there quietly and think happy thoughts until you fall back to sleep.”

Instead, I asked her what was wrong. “Mommy I can’t sleep. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t sleep” she said. So I gave her a hug and I told her I understand and that sometimes that happens to me too and I offered her some tea. She smiled and accepted.

As we sat on the couch cuddled up with a warm cup of chamomile, we didn’t talk much, the lights were out and we watched the sunrise through the blinds. I empathized with her struggle and thought about my own. And that’s when she said it. “Momma, this is the best time of my life. I will remember this forever. Just you and me watching the sun come up with a cup of tea.”

I couldn’t help but smile and hug her even tighter. And while my quest to help her get the rest I know she so desperately needs won’t stop I recognize that at 5 years old she cherishes moments with me, even the sleepy ones and for now….that’s enough.

 

 

 

It’s all in a Name

A little over a year ago we bought the children goldfish for their rooms. Morgan chose two, because she was the oldest. She named them Belle and Bo and decorated her fish tank with a rainbow and hot pink stones. As suspected, they didn’t live long because she insisted on feeding them herself. I suspect a little too much feeding contributed to their demise. We had a short Cosby like funeral by the porcelain throne and kept it moving. Garrett chose the smallest of the three fish and wasn’t phased at all by having just one. In fact, I think he preferred it. He chose a Hulk figurine for his tank and to no surprise he named his fish “Hulk”. Now, I must say I have questioned our decision to buy these fish many a days, because it really became just an extra chore for me. Garrett is too young to do anything but admire him and say “that’s my fish” so the feeding and cleaning of the tank was added to my already lengthy mommy list. Some days I remembered him, and some days I didn’t. But Hulk is resilient and never had any issues. That is until last Friday.

It’s rare for me to be the last one out of bed in this house, but I was wiped out and clearly my husband knew it. So I woke to the sound of the children dressing themselves and preparing to wash their faces in their bathroom. Before my feet could touch the floor my husband whispers “R.I.P. F.I.S.H” okay so I must admit it took me a minute to comprehend the spelling game. But around here, that’s how the parents communicate. It’s like our pig Latin. So, I nonchalantly asked what happened. He whispers that Hulk jumped out of his tank and he found him lifeless on the floor of our son’s room when he went to wake him for the day. To protect Garrett from any trauma he did what any parent would do. He took the wet overnight diaper he had removed from our son and scooped up Hulk and put him in the toilet before the children could see. I can’t help but chuckle at his quick thinking and keep to myself that I may have added a little too much water to the tank the night before.

After letting me in on the parent secret for the day, he tries to beat the children in the bathroom to flush Hulk before they can see him. Only thing is HULK is moving ever so gently at the bottom of the toilet bowl. My husband isn’t sure about what he just witnessed and decides I need to come confirm. By this time, the cat is definitely out of the bag or in the case the fish and the children know that the fish is in the toilet. By the time I make it to the bathroom HULK is definitely alive and actually looks quite comfortable. “He’s alive, he’s alive,” Morgan jumps and yells. At this point both adults know we have to try to save this fish or we would clearly miss out on the parent of the year awards and forever be the parents that killed HULK.

I run downstairs to get the net and we find Morgan’s empty tank and fill it halfway with water. When I return both children and daddy are surrounding the toilet watching in amazement as HULK gains more and more strength and settles in to the bottom of the toilet. Both children are cheering and I’m laughing because this is hilarious and all the noise is not helping HULK feel safe enough to move out of the crevice at the bottom of the toilet bowl. In fact, he backs up and we can barely see him.

I then usher the children out of the bathroom and my husband asked us to bring the fish food. Morgan delivers the fish food and waits in the hallway. Daddy sprinkles the fish food in the toilet and within seconds this fish that was once lifeless has been scooped up and put back into his tank that now has a little less water in it than the night before.

The children erupt with cheers for daddy. They are jumping up and down and clapping and yelling that HULK is alive, he’s alive. “You’re the best daddy in the world,” Morgan says. As the best daddy award was being delivered, Hulk was now getting reacquainted with his home. My husband looks at me and says “there is no way he will be alive when they get back from school” and I nod is agreement. We were both wrong. HULK is alive and well, in fact he acts as though the whole incident is behind him and I can’t help but think that he has in fact lived up to his name.

HULK