Faith, Family, Journey to Mommyhood, Uncategorized

Daredevil Mommies

I’m a scary cat by nature. I don’t swim. I don’t bungee jump. I don’t do anything that takes me off the ground and places me outside of my element. I wonder had I been given half the chance and opportunities whether my predisposition for all things safe and secure would have been different. My mom was a scary cat. God bless my risk taking dad. Had he pushed just a little bit more, maybe my brother and I would have been a bit more risk takers ourselves. 

Children take their cues from their parents and especially their moms. If that child looks back and sees a petrified look on mommy’s face, there is no convincing them to move forward. I was watching a Ted Talk the other day about a man who goes on adventures around the world. Of the 80 people who went on his last trip, 65 were ages 9-13. Gulp! What mother in their right mind would send their child out to dive in caves?! What mother would allow her child to go swimming with sharks?! Mine wouldn’t even let me go to sleepovers! 

Being that mother who encourages an adventurous spirit can’t be easy for those who grew up sheltered or underprivileged. But ut is necessary for your child’s well being. Here are some reasons why. 

Your child will dream big. They won’t get stuck in the muck of what others think about them because you have already made them a believer in their own capabilities. Any child that can do back flips on a beam is ready for greatness. 

Your child will have faith. It goes without saying that “Kingdom Children” children of believers of Christ’s teachings, lead a more purpose driven life. Compound that with exposure to climbing trees, non-traditional sports, or trips to off the beaten path locales, and you have a child who dares to believe beyond what their eyes can see and what others would like for them to believe. 

Your child will make a great human being. He or she will see beyond the mundane and strive for excellence in all aspects of their lives. Exposure to the outdoors yields respect for the environment. Exposure to different cultures and backgrounds builds empathy. Exposure to higher order thinking builds intelligence. 

Your child will not suffer fools gladly. I always admire children who can advocate for themselves-appropriately that is. Let’s be honest who among us doesn’t enjoy a rousing discussion with a nine year old. Children whose “bull crap” alert stays on high lead safer lives. Stranger Danger is only the half! 

This self-professed scary cat has dreams of raising a child that will do all the things I couldn’t or wouldn’t do. I guess I gotta start by learning how to swim. Yikes! 

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.

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!

Current Events, Family, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized

Little Black Boys

I have always been a sucker for little black boys with beautiful eyes and gorgeous smiles. Something they all seem to have at that age. When they grow up to be handsome young men I am thankful to say I knew them when.

Not all of our little black boys are making it into full manhood safely these days. Of the many that came through my doors in my years as a school social worker, I can count on only a few set of hands how many made it to post secondary education. College education for me isn’t the litmus test but it represents a safe haven and a sifter for the many black men who have managed to beat the odds that are stacked against them. College is that holding place where I would know that both learning would take place and that for a moment in time, our black males can be held safe.

I spent half my time jamming common sense and wisdom down my youngest brother in law’s throat during his adolescence years. Angry the day he came home wearing a long baggy white shirt instead of the uniformed ones that were waiting freshly pressed in the closet. You look like a thug crossing that bridge to school on Miami Beach I said. Me and his brother, my husband, would have knock down drag out debates on how to best reinforce pro social behaviors. Society won’t be too friendly to him and we have to prepare him now I said.

He spent most of his days rubbing elbows with children of TV executives and diplomats and most of his nights on the football field. We kept him too busy and too tired to care about much of what was taking place on the block. Yet on that winter break when he was home from college and tied up with other friends, detained by police down the street, we would remind him that you can’t take everybody where you’re going. When a friend of his, another college student, would witness a childhood friend shot and killed right next to him, we remind him yet again, you need new friends.

No child should have to be told that they have to forsake their childhood friends. No child should have to be told to stay away from their running buddy, the friends who they rode bikes with and enjoyed living out their youth with. Yet it’s become our reality.

I worry about my brother in law sometimes. I worry that he is losing his core identify as he slowly loses friends. They aren’t all dying but they are dying little deaths in the form of drug abuse, a life of violence, and social immobility. Relationships he formed are slowly losing their depths as his quest for personal achievements and dare I say survival takes precedence.

Our roots are what keep us grounded and as more of our young black boys’ blood seep through these concrete streets, those who are left behind begin to stand alone.