Tag Archives: Adoptive Tween Parenting

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.


Three Weeks Post-Placement

It’s Friday and things are better.  Today is the second snow day this week and I’m wondering will the kids get any summer break around these parts.

Hope was delighted by the snow day; she’s a hard core nester/homebody.  She never got dressed, never bathed (I let it go for yesterday), and just was happy as a clam.

I was still sick with a racking cough.  I still have the racking cough, actually; I imagine it will be with me for a week or so.  I was kind of miserable.  I gave her lots of tablet time, made her practice her sax (Hey, it actually sounds like music now!) and lay in bed.  I fretted bit about how the house felt filthy to me, how I just wanted to sleep unencumbered and how I needed to go dig the car out so that it wasn’t so bad when the second storm hit later in the day.

I started to think about what I’m learning during this process.  I have been blogging more about my emotions in the moment and straying from the learning part.  It’s just been so overwhelming. So here goes my current list of observations and learned gems.

  • I know we’re improving even if it feels like walking across hot coals in hell.  She comes to me, she wants to be with me, and she gets frustrated when I say no but she is increasingly less likely to push me on things.  She’s never again asked to be taken back to WA.
  • There is a difference in when she decides to be straight up oppositional and when she is just being a typical annoying teen.  My dissertation research is, in part, about how personal values shape viewpoints on a particular issue.  There is a personal value called “face” that really is much like the desire to protect and preserve our public identities.  Anything that threatens what Hope perceives to be as personal identity space she digs in and digs in hard.  So teacher notes invade a space in which she is constructing her public persona.  School incidents are particularly threatening to how she sees herself and she will go down swinging to preserve her “face.”

Typical annoying teen stuff, she’s more likely to come to me later and tell me that her feelings were hurt by something I said or did—like when I told her “Fine, don’t wear your coat in 22 degree weather when you have a sinus infection.  Catch pneumonia <shrug>.”  Later she politely told me that hurt her feelings because she could die from pneumonia and surely I didn’t want her to die.  (I reminded her, no I didn’t want her to die, which is why I insisted on the damn coat #girlbye!)  Glad this dissertation is worth something more to me.

  • There so many things, like boundaries, that she wasn’t taught and must learn.  My biggest peeve is her traipsing into my room.  Yesterday she got into my bed.  Yeah, yeah, snuggling and all that, whatever.  I am desperate for some sanctuary and personal space, and my bedroom is IT.  I still tiptoe into my parents’ room back home.  Bedrooms are sacred space for me.  And despite several polite conversations, she just traipses in whenever she gets ready.  She’s walked in on me in my bathroom, getting dressed, you name it.  Drives me nuts and when I say something it’s all, “You don’t want me in your room,” with lots of attitude.  Yeah, you’re right, I don’t.  There I admit it.  It’s the only safe space I have.

While doing a puzzle in the living room yesterday during the storm, I also realized that she didn’t really know how to work on a puzzle with someone else.  She sucks up the table space by leaning all the way over such that her hands hang over my side of the table and will actually pick up pieces I am working on.  I had to take several breaks because it was almost invasive in a way that ruined the experience for me.  Yesterday was not the day to teach more about personal space, but clearly that’s something I need to work on with her.

  • There is a kindness of spirit in her.  She has made me tea every day that I’ve been sick.  She knows her skills of caring for me are limited so she focuses on what she can do.  At her core, she is such a sweetie.
  • A trip to the veterinarian determined that The Furry One is in the very early stages of kidney failure.  At 14 and 3 months, it is a normal sign of old age.  Given his overall health though, the vet confirmed that yeah, the rug pee fiasco of last week was indeed an declaration of war.  He’s actually engaging Hope more appropriately this week.  Had he been sicker I would’ve asked the vet to duct tape and paperclip this dog together, I’m way to unstable to lose The Furry One right now.  That would send me right on over the edge.
  • The weather is effing up my best efforts to get us on a consistent schedule.  I mean really, I can’t win for losing!  Two days off this week.  No band practice.  I’m increasingly behind at work.  It’s all a mess, I tell you.  And I know that the scheduling thing is going to be the way to glory for us.  I really need to have a talk with Mother Nature.
  • Prayer works.  Hope and I pray together twice a day.  She is responsible for one of the prayers.  I notice how her prayers have changed over the weeks.  The things she prays about are changing, she prays for our family.  She prays for The Furry One even though he peed on her rug.  She prays that she’ll have a better day at school.  I can’t honestly say that I’m deep in meditation when she’s praying because I’m trying to tune into what she’s saying and maybe not saying.  But her prayers are changing and I’m encouraged by that.
  • Hope is finally getting the concept of salvation.  She told me early on that she had been saved twice but it didn’t work; it didn’t “take” because she is so bad.  Lots of distilled theological conversations up in Casa de ABM.   She’s now talking about baptism and salvation and such.  She had a mini-meltdown this week when contemplating a lost family member and whether they were in heaven or hell; she didn’t know if they were saved.  It was a heartbreaking moment, but it revealed a few things to me:  She’s thinking about our talks, she’s applying those discussions, and she’s still grappling with grief.  I was sad for her, but I was also happy to know that I’m getting through that tough candy shell of hers.
  • She enjoys a little decadence, like we all do.  She gets excited to try new things, do things with me that foster families had previously promised but didn’t do and is thoughtful about each experience as it bonds us.  I’m the one who’s following through, who’s showing her something more.  She appreciates that.  One night a week is pizza night; during previous weeks we got take out.  This week I needed a fabric napkin experience as a Maslow’s Hierarchy element in my life (I loathe fast food) so I decided we would go out to eat.  She was almost overwhelmed by the local restaurant; she relished having a small appetizer and dessert.  She was tickled by the whole experience.  I was getting terribly ill during the dinner but I found such pleasure in watching her take it all in.
  • I had no idea 12 year old asked so many why questions.  Oh. My. God.  Why?  Why?  Why?  Why to random stuff that I’ve never heard about that happened when she was 8?  Why to random stuff that happened last week?  Why to something that happened on a random show she watched but I didn’t?  I thought in going with an older kid, I would bypass a lot of the “why” stuff.  No, not really.  I can see how stunted in some areas she maybe.  She wasn’t in environments when she could ask why; she is now.  I can see that I’ve created a safe space for her to do that.  I’m increasingly comfortable with say, “Sweetie, I don’t know.  Can we Google it?”  By the 18th time I try to recite that without sounding annoyed and exasperated.

So, it’s Friday, one of the days when I can be a bit more reflective.  Hope is still snoozing and I’ve tidied the house, taken out the trash, opened a window and let some cool air in to air out the sickie germs, and written this here post.  If I hurry, I probably can get to the grocery store to pick up a few things and GASP—get some Starbucks and some Valentine’s chocolates that I don’t have to share!!!  OMG, OMG so exciting!!

OMG—Hallelujah!  Peace out!


Shoe Drop – The Sequel

Well, we managed to make it one whole week in school before I started getting the emails about behavioral problems.  Five notes in two days.

Yeah, the last few days have been tough.  Wednesdays are usually our turn around day; things improve so I’m optimistic about today.  By Friday we’re great and then it starts all over again on Mondays.  It’s an awful cycle.  And even though I can tell it’s a cycle, it’s just relentless and the severity is always surprising and I’m getting so freaked out about Monday’s that there’s a cloud over the weekend for me.

The teachers asked me how they can help Hope.

I gave what I believe to be what I would do—try to be gracious but consistent and please be patient with us.

Yeah, the truth of the matter is I have no effing idea what they should do.  I’m barely holding it together around here.

I sat her down and gently talked to her.  She was shocked that teachers would just email me.  Naw girl, no one is checking for your little “note sent home but never really gets here” game.  No boo, teachers just email the parents now.   Her defensive shields went up slowly, but when they were up, they were really up.  You see, Hope never does anything wrong.  She is always the victim.  How dare they send me emails full of lies about her!

This oppositional defiance thing is so dang serious.  And it’s so exhausting, especially when the denials and lies fly in the face of obvious fact and reason.  There’s nothing reasonable about oppositional defiance.

This week I had to start doing some consequences; she seems stunned.  I actually am stunned.  I’m always feeling stunned.

<whisper> I kinda hate my life right now.

<whispers even more softly> I feel awful and guilty that I hate my life right now.

Amongst the rudeness, the belligerence, the lies and the shutdowns, the clinginess and everything else I can’t be bothered to list here, I’m really feeling like a failure. I know I’m not, but it sure feels sucky. I never imagined that I would fly in with a cape and save Hope; I thought I had realistic expectations, but it’s just really hard.  I cannot remember the last time when I felt so emotionally stretched.  I feel awful that I can’t muster the umph to comfort her for every little thing.  I wonder when she pushed a boundary by showing me a “funny” video laced with F-bombs, was my reaction ok? Does she think I’m mad and frustrated all the time?  I’m usually frustrated and I try not to show it, but more than mad, I’m usually aghast by just how crazy this life is at the moment.

I’m really sick with a sinus infection this morning.  So she started complaining about her ailments to see if she can one up me and if I would let her stay home with me.  She didn’t have a fever, but I did this morning.  So her little narrow butt was dispatched to the bus stop, but not before we had to have another head butt about the need for her to wear a real coat in 22 degree weather with snow storm expected to start later today.  #icant

Nothing about any of this even feels rational.  I just feel like I’m riding the same roller coaster day after day, walking on egg shells, trying to keep things moving.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry…I loathe too much clutter when I’m sick.  I like things tidy when I’m sick.  I needed her to go to school so I could have time to wipe down things with my Clorox wipes, change my sheets, make some chili and homemade bread and nurse myself and my mind.  I’m praying that the storm is delayed so that she stays after for her band practice so that I can relish two additional hours of peacefulness.  The storm means all kinds of bonding time tomorrow…Sigh.  I’m planning to run and get a couple of puzzles.

I’m hoping this Wednesday turnaround gives me the emotional break I need through the end of the week.


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