Tag Archives: Parenting Tweens

Say Their Names

The slogan and hashtag #BlackLivesMatter shouldn’t just evoke images of Black men being cut down by police. Black women have been lost as well.

And if the death and publicizing of Black men dying so often doesn’t incite wholesale change, then the absence of coverage of Black women dying in similar circumstances should scare the pants off of all of us and compel our activism.

Last week, Sandra Bland was found dead in a Texas jail cell. The jail folks said she committed suicide after a minor traffic stop for failure to signal during a lane change went really, really wrong, resulting in her arrest. She was in town preparing for a new job at Prairie View A&M University.

Kindra Chapman, just 18, was also found dead in an Alabama jail cell last week. Again, suicide was supposedly the cause of death.

The takeaway? None of us, male or female, is safe.

I read about Ms. Bland, her activism, her voice, her work as an educator. I wondered what she would have been doing in her new job at Prairie View. I wondered if we had mutual colleagues, and if they could tell me more about her. I wondered how many degrees of separation existed between us; it all felt so much more deeply personal.

I read about Ms. Chapman and how an alleged robbery landed her in that cell. I wondered at 18 what promise her life might’ve held. I wondered if she was really so lost that she could’ve taken her own life, that night, in that cell?

I wondered what really happened to both Sandra and Kindra. #saytheirnames

The cynic in me, who’s watched in horror for years now, the unfolding assault on Black lives, finds it hard all so very hard to believe. If our men can just be shot down or their backs and necks broken, then surely my sisters’ untimely deaths can be masked as suicide just as easily. And apparent suicides, for lives that seemingly matter even less than their male counterparts, rarely make news in a patriarchal society.

This time, I didn’t even talk to Hope about the death of Sandra or Kindra. I’m partly ashamed of that because I always kick it to Hope straight, and I desperately try to keep her informed about the world in which we live. But we were on an idyllic vacation, and it felt so very far away from this reality. For once I wanted to protect the privileged bubble that we enjoyed…the bubble that went to the beach, that enjoyed ice cream while watching the cute boy with the pretty eyes render Hope speechless every day, the bubble that, if only for a few days, was a different reality for us. I rationalized that, sadly, there would be time for us to talk about it when we got home.

And as the investigations begin in earnest, there is plenty of time for Hope and me to discuss the loss of more Black lives.

At what point do I get to stop having these conversations with my daughter?

At what point do I get to leave my home and not wonder how to survive if I get pulled over?

At what point do naysayers stop telling people of color to simply “obey”?

At what point will I ever feel like I can trust the people who are supposed to be sworn to protect all of us?

At what point do we stop seeing hashtags like #IfIdieinpolicecustody, which is by far one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.

I. Am. Scared.

How many names will I have to write about this stuff? How deeply will this repeated exposure to trauma affect brown and black folk? It is mentally, physically, emotionally and socially exhausting.

I’m glad that South Carolina took down the stupid confederate flag, but I’d rather the assault on Black lives cease. #priorities

So, I pray that we learn the truth about what happened to Sandra and Kindra, but in the meantime, don’t forget them or the numerous women of color who have also lost their lives at the hands of police.

Say their names and don’t forget them.


Thoughts on Charleston

I am really tired of writing about the challenges of feeling unsafe walking around in Black skin, raising a Black child.

I am tired of feeling like it is open season on Black lives.

I am tired of being fearful of watching the news, choosing to binge watch Hulu or Netflix because the reality of living in this skin means that it is more likely than not the news will relay a story of the death of a brother or sister…at the hands of someone White…because that’s what makes national news these days.

Oh sure, yeah, I hear the rumbling excuses used to distract us from living under the threat of social terrorism—“What about Black on Black crime?”

What about it?

I am tired of hearing about why we can’t get serious gun control in the US.

I am tired of seeing, reading, hearing about how White mass killers are “loners with emotional problems” who write racist manifestos, tell friends and family that they want to start a racial war, and are gifted a gun by parents.

I am shocked that this young killer was taken alive, given a bullet-proof vest and humanely taken into custody. That alone seems to be a privilege not afforded to Black folk who are walking down the street.

I fear that a time will come when my economic and educational privilege will be shown, in dramatic and terrifying fashion, not to trump the disadvantage of my skin color.

I am angered by the unmitigated gall of South Carolina to fly what I believe to be the treasonous flag of the Confederacy;  the Confederacy lost. We’re supposed to be a union.

I grieve for the dead:

Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Rev. Sharonda Singleton
Myra Thompson
Tywanza Sanders
Ethel Lee Lance
Cynthia Hurd
Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr.
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Susie Jackson

I am so weary of this general subject matter. I feel compelled to write about it too often.

I am scared for Hope. I don’t want to keep explaining this ish to her. There is no explanation. None. I feel a sense of anguish after this massacre in Mother Emanuel. It is shameful. It is horrendous. I don’t know how the families can offer forgiveness. I am clearly not as far in my faith as they are, because I can’t offer that at all.

I am not even sure I can write anything else…the grief, sorrow and anger are just too much. I’ll just end with what my dear friend Mimi said on one of our early Add Water and Stir podcasts: “We’re trying to raise kids here!”


Filling Holes

Today I went up for prayer at the altar during church. Nearly every week I do, and someone prays a prayer that gives me hope. Today I asked for prayer as a single mom struggling to figure out the coming weeks’ schedules in the absence of support I thought I would have when I started this journey. This weekend I found myself stressing about a major scheduling snafu that’s coming up in the next few weeks. I know I can get it covered but will that coverage be what’s best for Hope? Also, this is just the first business trip of the fall. I’m overwhelmed, and recent appeals for help were declined. I’m sad and, well, a bit scared about how things will come together.

I didn’t share the whole drama with the person at the altar, but my prayer partner prayed that our holes be filled and that our needs be met. Somehow it will be ok. This feels like another huge test of faith and frankly, I’m angry that the tests just don’t ever seem to let up. Still I was hopeful after this prayer.

Sundays are so difficult around here though that by sundown Hope and I are experiencing the routine meltdown that stresses me out and makes me wonder how I managed to have much hope that day in the first place. This Sunday was no different.

As I sit, sip a rosé and eat left over chocolate frosting from the freezer, I wonder how much of our Sunday meltdown routine do I trigger? I know I get cranky. Is it because she utterly refuses to do anything asked that frustrates me so or is it just me picking at insignificant things? Is it because she’s freaking out about the start of a new week? I imagine it’s all of it. I try to just let some things go; I even practice letting go in my head. I’m getting better at it, but in the moment it’s just…every button that can be pushed does get pushed.

Hope and I tried to have a game night tonight; we were both really trying to have fun, and we were both utterly miserable. We eventually just gave up; we don’t know who won the Game of Life tonight. I suppose there is much hope in us just trying to play right?

I don’t know how many of our emotional, spiritual and/or support holes got filled today; it feels like whatever was poured in, spilled right out. Anyway, here’s a couple of lessons from the week before I totally get chocolate wasted and switch from wine to rum because tomorrow is a holiday.

___________________

Teenagers have messy rooms. I know, I know, this should not be a real lesson.   Listen, I’m not a neat freak. I’m not. On the last Add Water and Stir podcast I talked about the state of my house during my home study, weeks before I defended my dissertation proposal—it was a semi-messy pile of papers that I took care to square up the corners and put in 18,000 pretty cardboard boxes from Ikea. Our home looks lived in.

Well, everything but her room looks lived in. Her room looks like a cyclone hit it, and this is causing me so much dissonance about the state of my house. It’s stressing me out. I thought I was a packrat, but I hold no candle to my little hoarder. I understand why she does it, but I also recognize that part of this is just run of the mill teen-esque laziness. That ish is driving me crazy. At least I don’t let her eat any wet or moist foods in her room—dry goods only so maybe there’s a chance for that sty after all.

Parents have meltdowns too. Also not news, but I’m trying to figure out how to be more gentle with myself and my own expectations of me, of Hope, of our relationship. My sense is that some of my emotional upheaval is rooted in an expectation misalignment. Did I harbor some deep seated notions that post-finalization, post-13th birthday that Hope would somehow get her ish together? I don’t know. Maybe. If I did/do, then no wonder I’m pissed all the time and why she continues to speak so poorly about herself when I’m pissy.

Goodness we need a schedule and we need it stat.

I really worry about money. We are in good shape, but I feel like I’m hemorrhaging cash these days. Home repairs, back to school shopping, hypnotist visits and co-pays…it just doesn’t end. Tuesday I’ve got a handy man coming to fix stuff in the house. We will have lots of things fixed but is it all worth the few hundred dollars for someone else to fix this stuff? Yeah, it is, but I still fret. I don’t understand how folks in this area finance more than one kid—I just don’t. I would lose my mind.

I bought myself a pair of shoes recently. I really need some new things for work, but I sense that I will wait until things are nearly threadbare before I do any substantive shopping.

I’m currently over saying everything is mine. I know this is temporary. I can feel the Selfish ABM lurking underneath the surface; even though she has regular respite. Life is just getting on my nerves right now, and I find myself fanaticizing about an alternative version of my life. Oh well. I’m still here. But my compelling need to hide cereal and be crazy seems to have passed. This is a good thing I guess. Bring on the start of school. T-minus 2 days.

___________________

So, I’m out. Stay tuned for an announcement about a special episode of Add Water this week. We’re going to dig into important stuff around race and adoption this week.


Learning to Say Yes (Sometimes)

So, my local county is not particularly friendly to those of us who are creating families across state lines.  We could not register for school yesterday because, despite my legwork, we hit a major roadblock yesterday.  Apparently when a child from outside of the Commonwealth is placed in my county, the county wants a blood oath that if this adoption thing doesn’t work out that I will reimburse the county for her public school education.

Yeah.  I call bull-hitsay.

So offended.

Had I lived in a car or been otherwise undocumented, we might’ve had an easier path.

But no.  I live in one of the most affluent counties in the country, and they have no desire to support adoptive families without nickel and diming us about public school tuition until finalization.   My county supervisor will be hearing from me and it won’t be pretty.

The good news is that we are registering this afternoon and Hope is going to school tomorrow.

Hang on; I need a moment of delicious silence to contemplate this.

Ahhhhh.

With the few hours of school related respite I’m counting on, I’m also going to try to wrap my head around learning to say yes to Hope on some things.

Helping her learn expectations for our home has actually gone reasonably well, but while we were unpacking her boxes that arrived and discussing the purchase of some new shoes for an upcoming event she shut me down before I could reply to a request for a shoe with a low heel.  I hadn’t even had the chance to hesitate, but I suppose my brow must’ve furrowed in a way that suggested I was going to say no eventually.  #nonverbalfail

“You never let me do anything!”

Now this, of course, is not true and was likely an incredibly normal outburst for a tween.  But it led to 45 minutes of sulking followed by a hidden controlled cry for me.  I have had to say no to a number of things but I usually give choices to redirect a no to a “here are your options.”  Sometimes I need to just say yes, especially to the small stuff. Truth be told, I immediately thought a cute tiny wedge or kitten heel would look great on her and suit our purposes, but I never got a chance to say anything.

So this got me to thinking, how can I create some scenarios in which I say yes, if for no other reason than to reinforce that I can say yes, as much as I say no.

So, today we’ll look at some shoes on Zappo’s, and eventually I will say yes to a pair.

I will say yes to ice cream today after school registration.

I will say yes to Wii gaming.  (I will later nurse the bruises that all those arms and legs banging into me because she can barely control her body.  Turns out Wii is a contact sport.)

I will say yes to a trip to the trampoline park this weekend.

My girl just needs to hear yes a few times.


Shoe Drop

Awww yeah, the glass slipper dropped today.

It’s been an edgy day in the ABM household.  It hasn’t been horrible, but the glimpses of drama are starting to emerge.

Image

The Furry One is beside himself with Hope in the house.  He’s fretful, clingy and begging for attention.  Hope is also clingy and begging for attention.   The combination after about 8 hours has left me loathing clinging for the day and begging for quiet and solitude…and a dose of my anti-anxiety meds.

She caught several attitudes today when I replied no to a request or just asked her to wait.  She nearly had a meltdown when a neighbor stopped by to do me a quick favor.  Disruptive, huffy, and just downright rude.

After finishing up our board game this evening, she caught a serious attitude when trying to add up her winnings.  I suspected that she had some problems with the math, so I suggested that we get some paper and a pen to help with some of the math and I also offered to help.  Full on attitudinal meltdown.  We took a 10 minute time out.  Came back after the time out for more attitude complete with a “You don’t need to keep me, just send me back to Washington.”  Yeah, zero to 60; we are there fast.  I suspect I’ll be hearing that refrain a lot in the next few months.  Sigh.  Awesome. #notreally

I replied, “Nope, you’re not going back unless we go to visit.  We’re stuck with each other, and I’m excited about that, and I love you.”

We just finished a follow up 20 minute time out, and now she’s talking to a friend.  And yes, I’m listening because she talks so dang loud and on speaker.  She’s talking to some little dude that she has a crush on and apparently had an AMAZING dream about last night.  And OMG, she just told him she liked him because he’s cute (#liveblogging!).  Thank you Jesus for the 3,000 miles between them (#jesusbeafence).

Gotta admire her hutzpah, though.  How many chicks do you know are willing to just call up a dude at 12 (or 30) and tell him they like him and why.  And now she’s all giggly again, and I have to go so I can hear her debrief version (which no doubt will vary from what I heard with my own two ears), and then we need to watch Big Bang Theory in my bedroom.

Meltdown over.

There is a lot of attitude living in the ABM house these days.  Good Lord, be a fence against the drama.  And since I’m praying, I need every boy at her new school to look like a medieval gargoyle.

Amen.


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