Category Archives: Tween Parenting

Sophomore Band Parenting

So I have long struggled with band related social isolation. Ugh, it feels awful. I get lonely, resentful and I feel like I have to try so hard to find someone to hang with during band events.

Well, it’s band season again, and I have had a whole year to allow my resentment to fester.

During my therapy session this week, I openly admitted that I hate band season.

Like, HATE IT!

The meetings, the call times, the competitions, the early practices, the late practices, the disrespectful bleachers, the scratchy “spirit wear,” the fundraising, the lessons, the funky t-shirts and the copious amounts of turf all over the house.

I hate it, except for the fact that my beautiful Hope LOVES band season.

She loves it so deeply. She works so hard; practices, sets her alarm clock, posts practices on the family calendar. She’s so proud of being a part of something so meaningful. Band is her tribe.

And I LOVE that.

So nearly daily, I post band memes to her FB page. I found a local embroiderer so that her new position could be added to her band jacket. I listen to her band-related highs and lows with some level of interest and excitement.

But I do hate band. The whole band parent’s organization is overwhelming. I’m not a joiner, and I hate fundraising. It’s just the me and Hope, and while I might volunteer at a few events, I just see a lot of her events as opportunities for much needed respite.

So, last night I head to the first home game to support my daughter. I forgot my bleacher seat (ouch!). I was prepared to sit alone and feel like an outcast. And not only was I prepared, but I honestly didn’t care.

I got my McDonald’s bag and sashayed up to the bleachers and a kid’s mom (Jen, from the middle school band tribe) jokes did a I bring enough for the section. I said you can have a fry; she laughed and we joked the entire game. It was a genuinely, enjoyable experience complete with a tentative plan to get together with the kids for an activity. At one point she said, “I just love your daughter, Hope. She’s such a delight and always has a sunny disposition! She’s just great to be around.”

“Thanks. Yeah, she is great,” I replied, while my heart sang. Hope really is increasingly delightful to be around.

It seems that being a sophomore band parent is better than being a freshmen band parent.

Ha. Figures.

I still hate band, but last night may have softened my heart a bit.

Band is the thing my daughter adores, and I adore her so I’ll suffer through whatever is necessary in hopes of keeping that smile on her face and those drumsticks in her hands.

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“Edutainment Weekend”

Over the course of her 13 years, Hope has missed an astounding amount of school.  It shocks  me sometimes how bright she must be to muddle through her courses and do very well in most subjects.  Sometimes the academic gaps are revealed and they are huge and she internalizes her poor performance as being “dumb.”  Really, she just missed entire units of material at a time.

And so it was when she arrived a year ago this week, shortly before the start of Black History Month, when she floored me by not knowing who Frederick Douglass was.

Lawd!!!  Mess!  Remember that time she revoked my Black Card?  Yeah, I totally snatched hers!

So, I began, with lots of starts, fits setbacks and spring forwards, trying to teach Hope a respectable amount of Black history.  I mean, really everyone should know this stuff, not just Black and brown folks, but I guess I feel an enhanced responsibility as the mom of a Black child to be sure she has the Black foundations.  I’ll also admit that I feel even more self-applied pressure because of the type of work I do.

So, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day, I dubbed this weekend, “Educatainment Weekend.”

We scooted on over to the movie theater on Friday to see Selma.

What a lovely movie.  Don’t get your knickers in a bunch over all the hulabaloo about LBJ being mischaracterized as a foe of the Civil Rights movement.  Rather, spend sometime watching and appreciating that there is truth in different vantage points of our history, depending on the roles played in that history.  Selma was a good movie.  It helps that David Oyelowo looks kind of like my boo, Elihu, and well, Common is walking around the set looking all fine too.

Selma was definitely a great way to kick off a learning weekend. Hope has asked to go to Selma to walk across the bridge.  Yes, we will be doing that!  I’ve done it and it’s a powerful exercise.

Saturday we peeped Spike Lee’s 4 Little Girls on Amazon Prime.

So, Selma starts off with the Birmingham, AL bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in which four young girls were killed. Well, as you can imagine that triggered a lot of questions about what happened in Birmingham, so as a way of avoiding being peppered with more questions than I could answer, we screened Spike’s documentary on the girls and the bombing.

Why did I think that would end the questions?  #dumbmommoment

So many questions about justice for the girls despite Robert Chambliss’s conviction in 1977. So many questions about the Civil Rights movement. So many questions about have far have we come or haven’t.  So many questions about everything.

And then Hope fell silent.  The gravity of trying to understand racism, power, privilege and social messiness was exhausting.  I know it was exhausting for me.

Sunday we were supposed to screen Malcolm X, but didn’t.

Malcom X is featured briefly in Selma, and that cameo did what?  Yep, raised questions…so many questions.  So, I decided we would watch Spike’s Malcolm X on Sunday afternoon. That is one long movie.  I made sure we had snacks, and that my red solo cup was clean, but Hope took 8+ hours to do her laundry–seriously, I have NO EARTHLY idea WTH she was doing in there.

Yappy and I took a nap, and when we came to, it was dusk and I love me some Malcolm X, but that dang movie is too dang long to start at dusk.  So we’ll have to catch Denzel some other time.

Monday we hit the US Holocaust Museum and the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial in DC.

So I want to mention here that I have a Jewish surname; actually both of my parents have Jewish surnames.  It’s provided a very thin, but interesting layer to my identity as on numerous occasions folks have been shocked by me when I show up in person.  On paper, for some reason, people often see the name and make assumptions about color, ethnicity, religion, you name it.

One time about 10 years ago, I had just finished giving a lecture and the first person who got the mic to ask me a question actually commented that he was shocked I was Black especially given my talent for data crunching.  Sigh…It’s interesting to find yourself mistaken for another marginalized group with a history of being subjected to genocide.

There’s a part of my heart deeply affected by this. I haven’t bothered to mention that the surname I’ve passed on to Hope has this unique history for me.  Jeesch we’re dealing with enough, amiright?

So, anyway Hope did a project on Anne Frank last fall and wanted to go to the Holocaust Museum.  I have only been once since it opened because despite being a beautiful museum; it’s also heartbreaking and  emotionally draining. Midway through I just wanted to find a bench and lay down with a blankie.#cryingandthumbsucking

It was especially difficult this time because I still see the rise of awful people in this world doing awful things to people just because they are different or because they just think they are different.  I spent some time trying to get Hope to make some of these connections, pulling threads of the discourse we have over our dinner table and tying it to elements of Hitler’s rise.  She didn’t get it, but one day she will, and it will scare her like it did me.

She didn’t get that I was emotionally tapped out about midway through and just turned on the teen attitude.

After the museum, we hiked about a mile through the Tidal Basin to the memorial.  I love the MLK memorial and MLK Day is a great day to go.  So many families there; so many people wanting to take pictures of famous quotes. So peaceful, so happy, so unified, so beautiful.  After the emotional upheaval of the museum, I was getting my entire life at the Memorial.

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In true teen fashion, Hope was unimpressed.  After a couple of snaps, “How long are we staying here?”

 

MLK_optDammit!

We stopped and got street hot dogs and pretzels before heading back home.

Edutainment Weekend was a success.  Oh, Hope also participated in a youth Town Hall Meeting on #BlackLivesMatter this weekend.  She got great reviews!  No, I didn’t attend–the event gave me like a rare 6 hours of free teencare on a Saturday; so I made sure that #mylifemattered over a much overdue brunch with a girlfriend. #sangrias #realtalk

Hope retains experiences like they are carved on tablets–um, the old school kind not this new, fandangled…nevermind.  I know that she will remember each of these things and she will reference them.  When she’s older she will make connections; she will pull the threads all the way through; she will remember our conversations; she will have many questions answered. She will have gaps filled.

Next month is Black History Month so I’ve got to get my little Edutainment plan together for the month.  We’ve got a lot of good ground to cover.  I haven’t even really got to the badass women of the movement!


Mountains and Parking Lots

I have this saying, “I only die on mountains; I don’t die in parking lots.”  Makes sense right?  Don’t sweat the small stuff; save all the energy for the serious ish. And for the better part of the last year with Hope I managed to stay the course and only trudge up mountains (or at least some big hills).  I would occasionally get mildly injured from bouncing off of a parked car (figuratively of course), only to be righted and find my way to the mountainous battlefield.

Then I read this stupid-tail parenting book.  Seriously, that is the last dumb-arse parenting book I will be reading in a good long while.  I think I’ll stick to advice from parenting blogs and Marvel comic antagonists.  I probably should also pray to the Holy Homeboy more too.  Sigh.

The gist of the book was that most power struggles stemmed from parents’ personal anxiety, and that yielding on those parking lot issues reduced the anxiety and helped kids learn personal responsibility.  Yeah, ok.

So, I hear that for a lot of parents the filthy teen room is a parking lot issue.  Just close the door, they say.  It’s their personal space, they say.  Not worth fighting over, they say; spend that capital somewhere else.

Ok, Mr. Dumbarse BookMan, I must be really anxious over this room thing.  I need to let this go.  So, I tried it.  I tried to let it go.  Yielded.  Oh I yielded the hell out of letting my angst of Hope’s room filth go.

And each week, I got more anxious, not less because the room got worse.  It got smelly.  The trash was strewn around.  I think I might have started hyperventilating whenever I crossed the room’s threshold, which consequently became infrequent. #ilikebreathing

I’m not a neat freak, but seeing things I worked hard to provide, seeing my home of 14 years treated so poorly, just…tore me up inside and outside.  This was not a parking lot.

So, here it was New Year’s Day.  I realized that I could not deny any longer that Hope’s room was one of my mountains.

I typically spend New Year’s Day cleaning.  I never noticed before today how important tidying and freshening for the new year was to me.  Oh, it’s important.  So, knowing that one of my spaces was in disarray sent me into a not-a-slow-boil to the point where I became unhinged with Hope during an epic fight last evening.

Completely unhinged.

I have laryngitis today; it doesn’t even hurt because I just tore into my vocal cords to shreds yelling and pitching an unholy fit. #conniption

Yeah.  Completely. Unhinged.

Had to call my agency’s support line to get myself together.  I lost all my parenting swagger during the last month or two.  Tapped slam out. Mrs. P talked me off the ledge and helped me developed a plan for getting through this foolishness and for getting my swagger back.

Today I had someone take Hope out for several hours.  I got that room cleaned up.  I purged stuff and I removed other stuff to create a library/check out system.  I got some storage hacks and put on some new bedding (after discovering the existing bedding had been damaged by spilled nail polish).

I purged in my room.  I got rid of a lot of stuff.  Most to trash and some will head to the Goodwill tomorrow.

And finally, I was able to breathe.

I braced myself for Hope’s reaction.  A lot of stuff was gone.  A lot of stuff wasn’t visible because it was properly stored.  Eventually we talked it out.  I apologized for not realizing that her room was a mountain for me.  I explained my basic expectations, how she could access some things and how she could keep up with things.  We hugged it out.

And all was good.

That is until I left the rhind on her ham and brie sandwich, and a new round of bougie girl pouting started.  #spoiled #bougie #privilege #girlbye

Whatever chica.  You ain’t even know about brie before you moved here. smh


Negative Energy

Can I just say that I cannot wait until school starts? I might do cartwheels to the bus stop. This month has emotionally exhausted me. We need routine, and we need it bad.

The last month has been filled with a lot of bickering. Admittedly my patience in the midst of loss has been absurdly short. I was already tender and ouchie. Add to that Hope’s anxiety about returning to a school she says she hated and all sorts of adolescent drama and you’ve got a powder keg house. We can go from 0 to 60 faster than a sports car. It’s not been pretty. We really should be calling the fire house regularly because we can burn this joint down.

I hate admitting it because it makes me feel like a bad parent and certainly not a therapeutic parent. I’m kinda filled with shame at how just downright furious I feel 80% of the time.

During this period, I’ve noticed Hope absorbing and reflecting lots of negative energy.

evil-queen-mirror-o

Her self-esteem is already low, so whenever there are moments of angst, conflict, correction or whatever she sucks all that up and spits it out either with venom at me or with self-loathing. There is never a moment of bright, airy light. It’s always so negative. And whether it’s venom directed at me or her own self-loathing it sucks for both of us. It’s. Just. Awful.

I do a lot of affirmations with her. I work hard to shine some light and positivity on her—“Hope you’re smart, you’re funny, you’re lovely, you can do this….” It’s almost always deflected.

There are moments when she swings to the other end of the continuum. It’s during these moments that she can’t take correction because she is absolutely, unequivocally correct in all things. The need to be the “right” one is so strong that her very identity is wrapped in that rightness. When presented with evidence to the contrary there’s just rage. She rages a lot. The world isn’t really as she knows it; it’s dynamic and what was right yesterday may not be right tomorrow. That upsets her greatly.

I don’t deal with that well. Oh, I get the underlying need to be right; I have issues with wanting/needing to be right. But my identity isn’t defined by it. I see how this negatively impacts her ability to learn; she’s right and you are wrong so you couldn’t possibly teach her anything.

I am really worried about how she will do school this year. During the last couple of weeks I’ve been giving her worksheets for her weaker subjects so that she can get some practice. I’m heartbroken to find how far behind she is on foundational concepts she should’ve learned in 3rd or 4th grade. She missed so much school over the years, moved around so much that she was never even exposed to the material, much less learned it. And yet those few academic compliments she’s received from caring teachers on her journey are clung to with vice grips.

Trying to help her wrestle with academic shortcomings is hard. At the end of the day, Dr. ABM is just another dumb parent who has no effing idea what she’s talking about, according to Hope. The ego check isn’t the thing for me; the fact that she shuts herself off for growth and learning is the thing. Being smart is her shining beacon in an otherwise dark, dank self-worth. Anything that she might interpret as questioning her all-knowingness is to be crushed.

I worry about school this year. And I’m not sure what to do.

phoebe-sad-o

And everything else is out of whack too. It’s hard being 13, man! It’s hard being the mom of a 13 year old, man! It’s just hard around these parts.

This week we’ve navigated revealing more abuse that wasn’t in any of the disclosure documents, dumb adolescent ish, shopping for a birthday card for her bio-grandmother when all the granny cards are all lovely dovey and well, it ain’t that kinda party around here. Schedule changes, foot dragging, temper tantrums (mine and hers) and just dark, icky messiness that has made the house feel so negative that once a day I have to step out on the balcony just to step into the light.

I feel like I’m shadow boxing some kind of fighter that is straight kicking my ass. I’m almost on the defensive as soon as I get up in the morning. I try not to raise my voice. I try to just be quiet sometimes to just avoid escalating things. How we practice civility during the day would be very upsetting to the Nobel Committee because there are no peace prizes in the making around these parts.

I feel like I’m suffocating from the negative energy. It’s just negative energy in negative space.

I’m ready for school to start next week.

This post has been added to the Adoption Social’s #WASO link up.


Messy Life

I’ve been trying to get back into writing now for more than a week. I haven’t struggled to write like this in a while. It certainly isn’t because I haven’t had things to write about; I guess I have just been so blue and overwhelmed that I could only manage to start and stop and start over again. I’m also in the midst of a huge writing period at work and that’s exhausting me in ways I knew it would but still find surprising. I’ve been dog paddling the last week or two. It didn’t feel like I was making progress; in fact it felt like Hope and I were sinking a bit. My “lesson” posts really do help me to gain some perspective at times; so I know it’s important for me to do them.

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Raising a teenager is messy. I often get a sympathetic pat on the back when folks hear that I adopted a tween, now teenager. I usually just smile and nod. It’s weeks like this when I get a clue about the downright foolishness that folks mean. Teenagers do dumb ish. It really is astounding. They do dumb crap even when they know you’re looking, watching and monitoring. I remember some of the dumb crap I did back in the day, but fortunately my adolescent years were rather low tech, so there was really but so much I could get into. Today, these kids just don’t even realize that all this technology leaves breadcrumbs right to their foolishness.

Your parent-snoop game must be strong. Yeah, I low jack errrthang. And even the things that I haven’t figured out how to low jack, Hope thinks I have and usually that’s enough of a deterrent. And then I just go back and just peruse and read every keystroke or finger swipe. I’m sure there will come a time when I really do have to give Hope some privacy, but she keeps demonstrating that she can’t handle privacy, so she has little. Teenagers do dumb ish. Sigh.

Grief is also messy. I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I received The Furry One’s ashes this weekend, and I sobbed. I still sleep with one of his toys (it’s been laundered). And TV shows with puppies make me cry.

But my crankiness is subsiding. I finally broke down and stopped hiding a box of cereal that I didn’t want to share, just bought some more cereal and decided to be grateful Hope wants to eat crunchy raisin bran rather than Lucky Charms. Yes, I’m still being a bit petty. I can’t help it. #dontjudgme

There is a lot of anger in grief. I get why kids of trauma rage so much. I never noticed how much anger resided in grief. I just never realized it until this last week.

I realize it now.

You’re apt to say things you don’t mean. You’re less likely to be gracious. You actually don’t want to be gracious at all. You just feel like you can’t find your way out of the dark maze.

It’s messy. But I’m starting to push through to the light again. Realizing I hadn’t had respite in a while and getting a couple of free evenings has helped immensely.

Nearly 8 months in and the transition is still hard. Hope still hates new experiences; they scare her. She would never say that; she can be prideful. Not as many things are new, but lots of things still are. We haven’t been together a full year. We went to a new place for a fancy brunch today; she shut down. Our brunch companion remarked, “I see dollar signs just flying away” because the brunch was pretty expensive. Yeah, well, given that we didn’t use the Six Flag tickets from last week, and I shelled out a few hundred for hypnotherapy this week, this pricey brunch was just a drop for what was a financial hemorrhage of a week. It was a new experience and she was overwhelmed. The fact that she accidentally revealed some dumb ish she did during the week didn’t help matters.

Trust is so hard to build and so easy to lose. This isn’t new, but we’re dealing with hard trust issues around these parts these days. I don’t trust her right now, and she doesn’t trust me. We were doing so well and we will recover, but right now, neither of us seems to be budging an inch. It’s interesting; the trust breeches on her part are typical dumb, teen stuff; the trust breeches on my part are that I don’t give her a pass because, well, she thinks she deserves one. #girlbye We’ve got some backtracking to do around here. Loving her through things helps; when I withdraw she sinks; but this teen thing is a beast yo. There’s lots of reprogramming, trust building, attachment building…it’s just a lot going on.

It’s getting harder to quantify what issues are just teen stuff and what issues are adoption/trauma stuff. This makes life interesting, but I’m glad we’re in this space. I can’t always tell the difference which means we’ve hit a better blend ratio. I used to be able to say things like 60/40 trauma stuff. Now I’m not as sure. That’s kinda cool.

Single parenting is hard. I thought things would be a bit different with the availability of different kinds of support. Those support structures aren’t there so I’m having to artificially create them. It’s tough, but I’m managing. It is hard to not have a partner who can tag me out so I can just take some time. It’s hard. I’m doing it, but it’s hard. I’m grateful for other kinds of resources that I’m learning to use and learning to leverage.

Hypnotism can work. We’ve had one visit so far to tackle the bug phobia. OMG—saw bugs and she didn’t windmill and freak out. We have another visit for fine tuning in a few weeks. The relief already experienced is earth shattering. Yay!

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That’s it. This is the last week before school and I’m counting down the days until we can get back to a routine. I’ve got a ton of work to do, but will be taking a few days off to celebrate the end of summer this week. Hopefully fun times ahead.


The Grownup Toddler

Warning, this post is a whiny, epic vent. I’m ok with that. I’ve had a good stretch recently. That said, I also know it’s pretty pathetic. It is what it is. #shrug

I am selfish. Yeah, I can admit it. Don’t let all this adoption stuff about opening my home and heart fool you. I. am. Selfish. And I’m really struggling with both the selfishness and the guilt I’m saddling myself with for being so damn selfish. Despite the fact that I love my kid and my new life with her, I desperately miss my old, single, no kid having life. I have no regrets, but the truth of the matter is that today I’m not feeling it.

There I said it or typed it.

As Hope and I continue to settle into our life together, I can’t help but wrestle with the things I don’t want to share with her. I am actually hoarding parts of my life.

There are certain foods that I hide from her. I’ll even admit to just never saying that they are in the house—probably because I stash them under the seat of my car. I bought my favorite gourmet popcorn today. I’m leaving it at the office because I don’t want to have to share it. I would share it if I took it home. There’s a part of me that would be happy to share it. But I’m equally satiated just leaving it on my desk in my office so I don’t have to share it. I also hate sharing my gum with her. I order a very specific type of gum in bulk from Amazon with regular frequency (don’t judge me, it’s my thing!). I don’t like other gums. I don’t ask to bum other gum off of folks. I get my gum in large quantities so I always have my favorite stress manager. I just want to take my Extra Sugar-Free Bubble Gum and shove it in my mouth. My mouth. I buy Hope her own gum, but she wants my gum. Why the heck does she have to have *my* gum?

I do not want to share my gum. Yes, I am selfish and I am petty.

I am glad she thinks my homemade cookies are too sweet; I do not have to share them with her and I can enjoy them late at night with wine—not good for my waistline, but whatever.

I find myself struggling to share space sometimes. I want to watch something only for adults on the big TV during hours other than 11pm-5:30am. Of course Hope always wants to watch her shows on the big TV. This morning, she stood so close to me while I was buzzing around the kitchen that I wondered whether we were sharing shoes and underwear, I just had to stop and say get out of my way. The kitchen is mine.

I want to have Lucky Charms for dinner, with a rum and coke, and a giant piece of chocolate cake for dessert. But I can’t. I can’t because to do so would require me to snarf/imbibe all of it on a stool in my walk in closet, in the dark. Hiding. The side eye that Hope would serve me for my dinner of choice would shame me into eating broccoli without any seasoning at all…probably for a week.

I long to be selfish with my time again.  No, I don’t want to watch another Bruno Mars concert clip on YouTube. I don’t want to do hair—not even my own—I can probably stretch my afro puff another day. I don’t feel like walking The Furry One, especially since right now I have to carry him because he’s so wobbly. I just want to sit and watch this Redbox movie without one single question being asked about why Noah is building this dang ark again and why didn’t all the animals kill each other in the boat. I do not want to rouse myself early to do parent ish in the morning—the routine paperwork is alarming. And despite my exuberant extroverted-ness, I do not want to talk before 7am. Ok, sometimes before 8am. Please stop talking to me.

I also do not want to share my stuff. “What’s that?” Hope asks. “Nothing,” I reply. It’s my new headphones, or a glass of koolaid (ok, that’s a lie, it’s really a shiraz), or a piece of chocolate that I surreptitiously snuck into the house or my new eye shadow or a new hair product that I’m trying out or a book I got from the library when we went yesterday—you got your own books, go on, go on sit down somewhere. Stopppppppppp [insert excessive whining here]!

I feel like a toddler who is walking around touching stuff going, “Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine.” I know it’s wrong. I feel really guilty about it all. But I’d really like to not find smudge marks on the mirror, see the laundry sorted, and have her volunteer to make Velveeta shells and cheese for dinner, even though I think it tastes like plastic…Yeah, not going to happen.

I am acutely aware that Hope has done not one thing wrong. Nothing at all. She’s just fine and acting age appropriate and everything. I really am the toddler in this relationship. Sigh.

There’s not a day that I don’t feel at least a little passing fancy of selfishness. I’ve gotten better at admitting it and letting it go and float on by as I choose to sacrifice bits and pieces of my life for Hope. It is worth it, but today I’m not feeling it one bit. I need to be like ComplicatedMelodi and “take to my bed” with my wine and cookies and some fancy cheese and Triscuits. I will spread them on my comforter and scream—Mine! Then I’ll close the door to the world.

Sigh. But I won’t do that. It’s soft taco night, and that is one of Hope’s favorite meals. I won’t disappoint her. So I’ll put my big girl undies on and be a grown up. Sigh.


Today in Images

I simply can’t recount the drama of the day in detail.  It’s just meh…sometimes you just can’t. So, every now and again I try something different.  Here’s today in pictures.

 

Two hours of sleep after the On the Run concert. I’m too old for this mess.

Then I get this phone call…

Then I get this phone call...

cliff 2

hell no 2

When I get to the spot…simmering. I didn’t actually say this, but I thought it. I did give the look though.

And the administrator thinks I’m about to cut up and act a fool because of the events of the morning.  Didn’t know me from a can of paint.

And the administrator thinks I'm about to cut up and act a fool.

No boo, that’s Dr. ABM to you. #respect

No boo, that's Dr. ABM to you.

After the “Dr” thing, all sorts of privilege turned up and solutions magically appeared.

After the Dr thing, all sorts of privilege turned up and solutions magically appeared.

But I was still about to come undone about what happened. It was serious.

But I was still about to come undone about what happened.  It was serious.

It was going to be on like popcorn.

It was on like popcorn.

 

And our ice maiden alter egos made an appearance.

And our ice maiden alter egos made an appearance.

And after the thaw-ie several hours–we had the heart to heart that didn’t involve me wringing her neck.

I used my communication skills and everything.  I also kept my hands firmly at my sides.

And then we had the heart to heart that didn't involve me wringing her neck.

And we hugged it out.

And we hugged it out even though there are consequences in place.

But there are some serious consequences in place.

blackhole

 

And now red wine…and bad TV.

Don’t forget to check out the second episode of Add Water and Stir–this Thursday night, 10pm EDT/9pm CDT! 🙂

addwater3

 


Podcasts and Vacations, Oh My!

Ahhhh, with some distractions in my life (vacation and the emergence of the bio family), I have neglected to blog about the Add Water and Stir podcast!
Yes, Mimi from ComplicatedMelodi and I made like Kool and the Gang and “got down on it” with our inaugural podcast last week. The description? BAM:

This is the inaugural episode of Add Water and Stir, a new podcast devoted to exploring adoption in communities of color.  Hosts AdoptiveBlackMom (ABM) and ComplicatedMelodi (Mimi) share how they came to be adoptive parents, and they delve into how their adoption stories differ from the mainstream adoption conversation.  Show highlights include receiving the child’s disclosure records, “passing” in same race adoptive families and the shade associated with parenting children of trauma.

Mimi says a write purty. She’s very kind.

Anyhoo, if you want to kill some time and check us out over the US holiday week/weekend, you can find us in these streets on YouTube:

On the podcast page:

addwater3

Click me to reach the page!

Or at the actual podcast location for Episode 1.

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In other news…

Hope and I are vacationing in Florida this week, enjoying the joy that is humidity and messy thunderstorms. We visited the Magic Kingdom yesterday which was plagued by a massive deluge as we arrived. After shelling out a couple of hundred bucks to get in, another $20 for obnoxious ponchos I was ready to make the best of the day and make some magic happen.

Hope wanted to wallow in self-pity.

“Woe is me.” “Whenever I want to do something it never works out.” “The world is against me.” “God doesn’t like me.”

Ok, so like Michelle Obama, there’s one thing I don’t do well, and it’s this: wallowing.  No ma’am. I allow moments of wallowing self-pity, but they are moments. I collect myself and move on. Hope LIVES at an emotional address called 1234 Self-Pity Street, The Universe Revolves Around Me, VA; USA. It drives me nuts and is a total buzz killer. #icant I know that so much has happened and not happened in her life that it has created this address for her, but I do not live there.

So, I told her she got one pass for wallowing, but that was it because I know the rain was disappointing.  But wasn’t the end of the world. We were at Disney, dammit. Pretend to be happy, put some positive energy in the universe and live in the moment. #powerofpositivethinking #thesecret

During the next mini storm, Hope went in hard on the wallowing. And I lost my shiz. What I wasn’t fitting to do was listen to misery all day after spending a grip to get here when we could still have a good time. I read her the riot act about killing the vibe, refusing to have fun and getting on an emotional plane back to Self-Pity Street.

I also threatened to leave. Oh, but I did.  I threatened to pull the plug on that giant mouse trap and didn’t blink about it either.

Now if you’ve never been to Disney World, you should know that it’s incredibly hard to stalk off in a huff after threatening to leave when you need to walk a mile to the monorail and then catch a tram to your parking lot. I mean you need a serious, “you pissed me off and we’re leaving” face for at least 40 minutes. But Hope also knows that while I am responsible and serious about money, I don’t fret over money that has already left my wallet, so if we needed to leave after dropping a grip to get up in Disney, then stalk on the monorail and tram I would… with a resting b*tch face I would. And there would be no stopping at any gift shops on the way out. #noearsforyou #herfacetho

Then I made like Elsa and went all Frozen for 30 minutes. I quietly went, with her in tow, to get something to eat, checked the FastPass situation for the cancelled rides, and sat on a bench while I got myself together and gave her time to get herself together to. Then we went on It’s a Small World After All. And all was again right with the world. We had a great time with no more drama. She got her ears and her dog Pluto and had a great, great time.

Negative talk is a big problem for Hope, and one that I’m constantly working on with her. It may sound harsh, but she has a flair for the dramatic so I have to go in hard with her. I’m proud of her for choosing to enjoy Disney.

In Hope’s family news, I checked in with all those family members who contacted her, let them know that their friend requests were denied, messages erased, they’ve been privacy blocked from her page and that they needed to come through me if they want to eventually have contact with Hope. I would determine when and how that would happen. So far the response has been respectful and understanding, but I can’t help not trusting them. We’ll see where things go, and I hope that one day Hope and her family will have a good relationship, but for now I’m going to keep tight reins on this situation.

Well, back to sunning myself with Hope and the friends we’re visiting. Peace out!


Where Are We?

So, Hope loves teenie bopper magazines. LOVES them! Seriously, whenever she finds them in a store, my girl will grab a few and plop down in the middle of the store floor and commence to getting her celebrity news fix. I have to remind her that at 12, perhaps getting comfy in the store like that isn’t really appropriate unless we’re like at Barnes and Noble where there are some couches.

I get it. I went through a phase in the last decade where reading OK!, Life & Style and Star brought me loads of entertainment. I traveled a lot, and airports seemed to get the new rags first and I would load up while on the road and thumb threw them on the plane. It was a guilty pleasure. So, while I’m over it, I get Hope’s desire to see what’s going on with all the young celebs running the streets.

About a month ago, she asked me if she could put the 37,000 posters that come in each of her magazines on the wall. Ok, sure, why not. It’s your room. She was delighted; apparently her foster placements didn’t allow her to put up posters and help make the space hers. Meh, it’s a poster, no biggie, go ‘head girl, get your celebrity scope on.

And then she plastered the wall, nearly ceiling to floor. And I helped. And I was perplexed when I stood back and looked at all the little eyeballs staring back at me.

Posters

There are even more posters that didn’t make the snapshot!

Are there really no brown and black folks doing kiddie pop? Ok there are two brown girls in a couple of random girl groups that I’d never heard of (truth: Other than Bieber, Gomez, Grande and Mahone, I hadn’t heard of any of the kids plastered on the wall). But the lack of visual diversity gracing the wall was (is) jarring to my senses. Yes, yes, I know that Selena and Ariana are Latinas, but a quick glance at the wall doesn’t allow you to really take that tidbit of info in and process it. At least little Ariana drops some Spanglish lyrics in her songs…

There aren’t any 2014 versions of little Tevin Cambell? No B2K? No New Edition? #youhavetocountmeout No BoyzIIMen? #eastcoastswing No Monica? No Brandy? #theboyismine? No Kris Kross #makeyawannajumpjump? No Urshur (Usher—I can’t stand all that extra R in the pronunciation!)?

Has young “urban” pop just fallen off the sceen? Really?

Is Hope just left with White teenie boppers making age appropriate music?

I thought I was only bemoaning the ever declining state of hip hop, what with all the hypersexualized, drug glamorization and poor lyrical prowess out there. Save a few true artists putting in work out there, hip hop just makes me shake my head these days. I cringe sometimes when Hope is reciting some songs and then there’s a 4 to 8 beat pause when she’s skipping over the foul language. #youbettanotsaythatinthishouse

But now, I also see the absence of young teenie boppers of color too.  Does that mean that, well, that’s not the type of music “We” make anymore. We make rap music or when we’re much older, we make R&B music and some of us will make Gospel and some will rock Neo-Soul. But we aren’t really doing youthful, bubblegum pop music? I can’t imagine that there’s a dearth of talented, camera ready brown and black kids out there? So where are we?

Word Up magazine is gone. Right On! magazine is gone. Juicy magazine doesn’t target the tween/teen demographic. Damn, the good mags are gone too. Remember this gem from back in the day?

NewEdition

Back when jheri curls were fly.

 

Sigh.

Hope wants to be a singer. She is talented musically, but singing probably isn’t her strong suit; her strengths lie in percussion. I can see it, but she can’t yet. But she still fancies herself a future singer. I wonder what subtle impact, if any, does not seeing a representation of herself on the wall means. Does that mean she’s not even going to think about singing bubble gum pop? Does it mean she’s not going to be on the Disney channel? Does it mean that she’s going to skip right over and sing hooks on the latest Little Wayne Lollipop song, because well, that’s what brown kids do? Or gasp…just be in the video? (Hey, not bashing the ladies in videos, everyone’s gotta eat, but I’m going to be pretty transparent here and disclose that one of my goals to keep my kid out of clear heels in the club or on the video set, ya feel me? I want something different for her.)

Some folks will think I’m making too much of this. But there’s a huge body of research out there on the impact of not seeing yourself represented in the media. It’s not good. Sure, folks overcome it, but those folks are the exception and not the rule. I’m losing sleep over many other, more important things as Hope continues to get settled with me, but there’s something about this wall of posters that doesn’t really include any images that look like Hope…there’s something about it that bothers me.

She’s young, she’s impressionable. She believes every stinking thing in these tabloids—the good, the bad, the ugly. She’s not particularly discerning. She’s declared on some other things that “we” (Black folk) don’t do stuff because she’s never seen it; so why would she believe brown kids like her are doing bubble pop music if she’s not seeing it?

Am I really just going to have to push more youtube videos to teach her that NSync and Backstreet Boys weren’t the only games in town back in the day? (Side note: if she asks me if the members of New Edition are still alive or have they died from old age one…more…time…)

I just wonder where the brown and black teenie bopper pop stars are.

Sigh.


About Last Night

Last night I just lost it. Last week, our pattern broke and there was no downturn in moods or behaviors. That was super awesome. But this week has been an exercise in challenges day after day, moment after moment. We had a tech blackout for couple of days, there were hours where she was sent to her room. The defiance, the yelling, the anger, the lying…oh the lying. By last night I was over it, so over it. So I went to bed.

After a back and forth related to a couple of what should’ve been minor issues, I just threw up my hands and said something that seems unthinkable. It was a mixture of truth and a lie all rolled into one.

I said, “I don’t care.”

I’m sure in one of the dozens of books I’ve read that I’m not supposed to say that. Ever.  And of course I do care, but I consciously just threw up my hands and told her that I didn’t care how long she stayed up, didn’t care that she wouldn’t do her chores, didn’t care that she found the need to retwist her hair last night inconvenient, I didn’t care that she got nasty with a teacher requiring a phone call from the school and I just didn’t care what she did last night.

I went to my room. Did a couple of work emails, twisted my hair, showered and went to bed at 9pm. Lights out and everything. For a few minutes I lay in the dark thinking, “This is so absurd. I know this is a mistake. I know there must be some other kind of way to deal with all of this.” But I just couldn’t will myself to get up and deal with one more minute of any of it last night.

I woke up a couple of hours later and the house was dark. I thought of all the things in our routine that I do to make sure she is ready for bed. The hair twisting, the water bottle filling, setting the alarm, closing the blinds, making sure the closet door is closed, fluffing her pillow, fluffing her bedding when I tuck her in, kissing her forehead, clicking the light, asking her to tell me “when” as I draw the door closed and putting up the doggie gate so The Furry One doesn’t go wandering.

I didn’t do any of it last night. It bothered me; I’m sure it bothered her. I missed kissing her forehead most of all.

I got the petitions from my attorney yesterday to finalize my adoption yesterday. Coincidence? Probably not. Of course I’ve already signed them; I need to drop them off at FedEx later today. I’m so excited about this next step. I didn’t even hesitate to sign the papers; mailing them seems to be another story. There’s just a lot of emotions and it all boils down to less than 10 sheets of paper and a check to my attorney.

Ten sheets of paper and there’s a 12 year old in my house. That’s so crazy.

Seeing that paperwork just has me…wondering what the hell I’m doing. Oh I’m not backing out; I’m all in, but it’s kind of like buying your first house or car and you love it and it’s so exciting, but you harbor questions about whether you can really handle this even though you’ve run the numbers a million times. Even though you are handling it.  You just wonder what the heck are you doing and how the heck did you end up here.

I’ve read that this emotional hiccup is normal and passes, but ugh. I can see, in the light of day, how my brain and heart just needed to shut down.  For some reason it was just too much.

This morning I had to deal with a scared kid who looked like Don King. I sent Hope to school rocking her first puff today. #irockroughandtuff

Her thoughts?

“I’m going to get picked on today.”

Hey, I did decorate her puff with a lovely flower. But yeah, I’ve got to do hair tonight.

Over breakfast, I prayed for peace over this house and I silently prayed for peace in my heart and patience…dump trucks of patience.


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