Family, Journey to Mommyhood, Life Coach

What I Know About Parenting

Having nieces and nephews run around our home is not a common occurrence. Two live in another state, one is away at college, and yet another–well this “Neni” just can’t quite schedule her into my über busy planner. I have a better chance of seeing a Blood Moon than baby sitting anyone’s kid at any given time.

So my “experience” in parenting is snatched from an article read here and there, several college level courses in human behavior/development, meaningful work as a social worker with preschoolers and adolescence, impromptu baby sitting requests, taking a child during Sunday service for a few minutes, and watching life long friends raise their children from infancy to adulthood. I’ve managed to throw that all in a bag and come up with a few things I know to work.

Turn Off The TV
My niece walked in on me watching Supernatural the other day. Anyone whose watched this show knows it is not Blues Clues or whatever that doctor girl’s name is. I had to find Andy Griffith as my extra station each time she decided to walk back in the room. That would get old real quick if she actually lived with me. Age appropriate television watching is hard to find these days. Time their tv watching carefully and keep it to a minimum. You want to raise kids that use their own imagination and not rely on other’s.

Take Them Outside
Keep your little one’s activity level going throughout the day. Kite flying, beach-going, martial arts, ballet, tree climbing, whatever it is, keep their healthy bodies going. Obesity is no longer just an old man’s problem.

Teachable Moments
Use every waking moment as your classroom time. From practicing math when you bake cookies to problem solving during a sibling spat, turn it all into a lesson. I took along my 7 year old niece on a clothes shopping expedition. Between comparing and contrasting utensils in the kitchen aisle and stressing the difference between “matching and complementing”, that little girl is well on her way to becoming a domesticated diva.

Every Kid Is Special
So your five year old just scored a 24 on the ACT and is headed to Stanford.
That’s all fine and dandy. Just tame that parent tongue and watch what you say about other parent’s little geniuses. Having them eat cereal on their own and clean up after them self is not cause to break out the marching band. They are expected to increase in levels of responsibility. Worse thing you can do is raise a self-centered brat. He or she won’t have too many play dates. Jumping up and down alone in a bounce house is not cute.

Don’t Hover, Don’t Snow Plow
Helicopters are really noisy and no one wants to stand near one for too long. Helicopter parents are no different. Let your child fall and scrape their knee. Unless they are hemophiliacs, it’s okay if they bleed out a bit. They won’t be a child for too long and no one wants to see you at the job interview giving the evil eye when they turn your baby away. Pushing your child to do what they really don’t want to do will only breed resentment. Little Johnny came to you and said that football wasn’t for him. Respect his wishes and find something else to get him active in.

So no, I’m not the poster mom of the year much less the poster mom to be. But it’s oh so much fun to sit in the best seat in the house and see parents do their best (and sometimes not so best) at the most important job in the world.

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Love Them Privately: Modern Day Jim Crow

Came home to some disturbing news last night about a certain basketball executive putting half of his body parts in his mouth. I have to admit, I don’t want to hear his voice as he says the words that stab corners of my heart. I don’t want to hear the phrases that scale back my own skin and reveal the immediate response of revolt I still have towards ignorance and bigotry.

As my husband rattled off the transcript that’s been read around the world by now, this particular one stood out: “I want you to love them (Blacks) privately. My heart missed a beat and I honestly wanted to cry. I still want to cry now even as I lay here typing away. I want to cry because the pessimist in me was quietly retreating, hoping, praying that people like THIS man, who works, mingles, and hell even manages people of other races were receding into the darkness. That their sting would not reach yet another generation and that the only wall left to bring down were the ones we built ourself.

Well I guess not. Racism as they say, is alive and well in America. Jim Crow may go by another name but he’s still funneling black boys from third grade to prison at a fast clip. He’s allowed perversions of all kinds to come through our tv screens opening doors to STI’s, HIV/AIDS, debasing Black women and criminalizing Black men. He’s even having us think that a dark skinned woman named “beautiful” in 2014 means we have arrived as a nation. As if to say this should cancel out the “mammy” image and you should take this and be happy.

I cry because my bi-racial niece and nephew will always get the strange looks as their dark skinned father and white mother walk behind them. I cry because my handsome 22 year old brother-in-law who was raised with all the privileges we didn’t, will still draw attention from the purse clasping women who won’t take the time to find out that he’s a double major graduating college this Spring. I cry because my mother doesn’t like my waist length natural locks because she was programmed to think that “Black” hair isn’t meant to grow that long and beautiful. I cry because I will still have to talk to my students about skin color and race and discrimination.

There are many out there like this gentleman who as he says is part of a “culture”. They work alongside us, we bump shopping carts in the grocery store, they hire us to work for them. Get the image of the Aryan blonde out of your head. Racism was never about color, but about a state of mind. The only color it is is UGLY.

My tears have dried up now. I will
not be picketing or sitting at lunch counters today. Fighting racism means using tactics that measure stealth, wisdom, and purpose. Stealth to dodge the attacks, wisdom to recognize this is truly a fallen society, and purpose to continue living out the example that bigotry will not be the beginning and end of our lives.

Family, Life Coach

Grad Parents: Living A Graduated Life

When your child crosses that stage to get his/her high school diploma, you are graduating too. You may not be wearing the cap and gown but Lord knows you should be the one accepting that scroll instead of them!

We all know the truth: nights fighting 101 degree fevers, days spent watching them play sports in 100 degree weather, moments when your own temperature rose at their latest and greatest mistake. And here you are!

Yes mom and dad (or just mom/just dad), you too are commencing on a new life. Just as surely as your “baby” embarks on his new life, it is time for you to start on yours. Yes you will cry, and lying to yourself and others about that won’t make it any better. Yes you will go through withdrawals, as the daily routines are no more. Graduation for them means the beginning and for you the end. Or does it?

With all this new found time you have, it would be robbery to just spend it worrying about a grown child. Yes, they are still your baby but they are your “adult” baby. So set down the excuses and get to living a graduated life.

*Get out there and run! Okay, let’s walk first to avoid the shock. Start being nicer to your physique. Your child is an adult now. Carrying most of those child birth battle scars won’t hold it’s weight much longer. Yes Mama Tiger, you earned those stripes but it doesn’t mean you don’t get to keep them all.

*Meet new people. The soccer mom’s club is no more, wonder what the conversations are going to be like now? There is a whole new world out there with people who talk about other things besides their children. Books, movies, art galleries, food and music fests, traveling, the sky has no limits.

*Pick up a new habit. If procrastination was your thing (and you used your child as a cop out) try to do better. Maybe you are great at putting the needs of others first. A new thought pattern can mean thinking of yourself first. Imagine that!

*Start lobbying your hobby. You were the one who decorated for all the kiddie parties. How’s about you start hosting grown folks events and make some cash over it. Just Barney centerpieces at a retirement please.

*Don’t feel guilty about any of this. Remember when you caught the first Greyhound bus smoking out of town for college? Or the day you said “deuces” and got your own place? Well your kid is about to do that in a few weeks with nary a glance backwards. Once they are off to their new life, the heart strings become longer and longer. They will feel better knowing their parents are off living a fulfilling life.

Have a hard cry. In fact have several of them. Call friends to come hold your hands as you flip through the baby pictures. Once you get to the end of the album close it shut and start making new memories for yourself. Happy Graduation Day mom and dad!

Random Thoughts, Uncategorized

No More Financial Aid And Other Post-College Realities

David McCoullough’s inspiring 2012 “You Are Not Special” commencement speech is the real deal. In pushing his graduates off the proverbial cliff, he reminded them that life would not hand them anything and that “carpeing the heck out of the diem” should not just be a fancy Greek phrase, but a way of life.

With younger family members crossing the stage from college into the real world in a matter if days, I wanted to take a spin at the in your face approach to confronting reality. This “YOLO” generation tends to hide behind Barney and his friends when they don’t want to face the heat of reality. Well head for the big purple dinosaur for this one!

Financial Aid Expires
Grants and scholarships are free. Student loans are not. Hope you enjoy the next six months of freedom cause it’s about to get real. Student loans is like the sun. It will be back tomorrow. Deferment, forbearance is a nice temporary reprieve but interest still accrues.

Get Some New Friends
By now you should have dropped about 75% percent of your pimple-faced high school friends. And soon you should be dropping the rest. Unless you’re all on the same playing field, going in the same direction, the reality is that you will not have much in common with the friend who still wants to ride his bike around the neighborhood or the one who wants to gossip about old frenemies. Cut them loose.

No More Excuses
Your parents and older family members will have no problem watching you drown in quick sand if they placed the warning signs up and you ignored them anyway. Some may want to throw in a rope when you are waste deep and there will be that masochist who will only send in the calvary when it’s just your index finger still above ground. You have got to remember that you are no longer some kid who has to be bailed out every time. Spending a few days in jail WILL build character. If you don’t know-ask. People aren’t mind readers and yours is way too complicated to try and figure out.

Not Everybody Has To Like You
No one will care about your GPA, how many clubs you were in, what sorority you joined, and that you were captain of your basketball team. Many will think you’re an entitled, lazy, millennial brat who is out to get over without working hard for it. You will spend at LEAST the first five years of your career having to prove otherwise. Don’t take it personal. Find a seasoned mentor who will keep it “100” with you. They will help you bring the best you to the game. You will have won some people over with strong work ethics, a team-player approach, and knowledge base. The rest won’t like you still but they will respect you.

You Are Not The First
I know you hear this a lot and you will continue to hear it. Unless you are developing the serum for world peace, cure for AIDS, or have discovered the Fountain of Youth, get in line with the rest of us. There are plenty of hard working, driven individuals of all ages out here and we have all been down this road a time or two. Once you figure this out, try not to make the same mistakes of those that came before. Keep humility closer than your own skin. Arrogance and pride isn’t a good look. God don’t like ugly and he isn’t too fond of pretty either.

It’s Okay To Be Scared
This world is huge and filled with people who may not mean well. There are ugly things lurking in every corner, waiting to pounce. Everything from depression to death will come at you. No where is it written that you have to pretend that all is okay when it really isn’t. Reach out for the help you need. It’s the human thing to do.

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth
The Bible is chock full of wise proverbs. King Solomon learned things the hard way and we have his words and many others in the Bible to keep us on track. Don’t let your Bible app collect internet cobwebs. From how to make friends to who to choose to marry, this life altering resource just never gets old.

So cross that stage with ya bad self! Make us proud to see that our money, energy, time, (and Lawd help us!) patience wasn’t wasted on you. Time to make your mark you college graduate you!