Holiday dismay; parallel universes; different outcomes. 

When you see all the families who benefit from your husbands child support getting whatever they want and the kids at your house don’t get anything. Have to eat noodles & corn three times in a week. Not even have a Christmas tree. 

It really makes you rethink the system. 

Really makes you question if it was just set up for men to fail as fathers and providers for their own household; and to punish them for having multiple children with multiple women even though a woman can have two, three or four father’s for her kids,  get child support from all of them and no one has a problem with that. 

This is the system. Welcome to Massachusetts. 

What I wish I had said to the cashier that corrected me in front of my kid.

So much is happening this time of the year; it’s the “Holidays” you would think that people would be much nicer in the sake of the “Christmas spirit” but this is the time the worst in people comes out and basically a ton of it has to do with shopping or you see it most when you’re out shopping. Or in parking lots.

Since I have a total of 11 kids, 6 of whom are still living at home and under 16; my shopping basically consists of grocery shopping. Food shopping. Although it would be fun; I’m not really set up financially to be out there extravagantly shopping for home holiday decor or “Early Christmas shopping.”

My main goal is to feed the troops at home daily and make sure they have snacks for school, and something healthy to keep their bellies full at night.

In this particular day I was out with my youngest (7) and my oldest daughter (19). It was a school day but my son cried wolf and although I knew he was perfectly fine physically I assumed that since he went as far as saying he had pink eye, stomach cramps, eye twitching every two hours and word recognition/short term memory loss…

He needed a break for the day.

I had to get a couple things so after going to Whole Foods I wanted to stop at Trader Joe’s to buy popcorn seeds (organic and cheaper) and some soy creamer.

If you are a parent and you shop at Trader Joe’s you already know who Mooshele is.

If not: she’s a stuffed cow that the employees hide in different spots around the store and if your kid finds her they can tell a cashier and get a lollipop in return. If they don’t find Mooshele they can still get a lollipop and usually the cashier will point to where she is, give a lollipop and offer my kids stickers as well.

I have been going to Trader Joe’s for years probably at least once every two weeks for the past five or six years. I’ve never had an issue with anything or a problem until this day. I actually think back now and most Trader Joe’s employees seem to love their jobs and are always friendly, smiley and helpful. Even when I brought someone with me who literally had a mental breakdown outside the store and sat right in front leaning against the window causing a huge scene for two hours; they made her tea and gave her water and tried to help;(that’s a completely different story though.)

So I’m grabbing my popcorn seeds and soy creamer, I  sample some Wassail; which was yummy. Pick up some rice crackers, and ask my kid if he found Mooshele; he says no. Daughter says I see her and points up. Kid says, “haha that’s the lobster.” It’s a black and white lobster they probably put to throw kids off, clearly this kid is skilled in his Mooshele finding. We all laugh. I say I gotta get out of here it’s getting late let’s go.I pay for my groceries and my daughter grabs some stickers from the roll.

I don’t get a bag for my items; cause yes I am that person. I try to save trees or use minimal bags whenever possible.

As we’re heading towards the exit and my kid says, “mom can you just ask for a lollipop”

Shit parent fail totally forgot. I rush back over to the first register I see, it’s a middle-aged white lady with salt & pepper hair and I say, “Hi, hey can I just have a lollipop he couldn’t find Mooshele and I’m in a rush”

“Do you want to say please in front him?” she says to me while side glancing at my kid.  

I’m caught off guard, “what? oh yes you want me to say please; PLEASE can I have a lollipop??”

She gives me one.

I’m literally caught completely off guard. I walk out, my daughter is like what happened? I tell her the cashier just corrected me in front of your brother. We talk for a minute about how fucked up that is then she says I should complain. I was going to let it go; but I knew I would be thinking about it all day if I didn’t do or say something;

So I do. I go back in and ask for the manager and tell her. She apologizes that I “felt offended” so I tell her, look I’m just here to shop and buy some food not to get a life’s lesson from a cashier, she says she agrees; she’s sorry. (Aka ok I’ll do nothing but thanks for your concerns.)

Ugh. I leave annoyed because I wasn’t being rude when I asked for the stupid lollipop; I was a mom in a rush. And complaining to the manager because someone asks you to say please sounds sort of rude at first thought. sot I’m actually annoyed at this point because I feel like I should have said something rude to the cashier or at least let her know that she had no right to put her impeccable manners on me and my kid.

So this is what I should have said to her and I wish I would have said;

  1. It’s very privileged attitude to look at me and brown skinned baby and think that you a cashier; have to school me on teaching him his manners; Thank you though!! Because this one moment that a Trader Joe’s cashier demanded his mother to say “please” WILL have a lasting effect on his life and maybe he won’t end up a criminal because someone in his life was smart enough to show him to say please. You’re a true hero. Please sign this sticker so I can attribute his lifetime achievements to you when he’s grown.
  2. It must feel amazing to be in a position of power over lollipops.
  3. Actually no if I wanted to say please I would have.
  4. Do your job and just PLEASE give me a fucking lollipop.
  5. Are you an English teacher? Are you trying to teach me something here?
  6. Who are you? My grandmother?
  7. Is the store policy on obtaining a lollipop outlined and can you show me where it specifically requires that I or my children say please before getting one.
  8. No lady I don’t say please because I refuse to teach my kids manners. Surprised? Obviously not.
  9. You don’t know me…. Nobody puts baby in the corner 
  10. And the more serious; The truth is you have no right to put your personal values or morals on me or my family let alone by correcting me in front of my child.
  11. You don’t know me or my parenting style, while you are free to say what you like to your family and loved ones. When attempting to correct me you are overstepping a boundary. A boundary that I have taught my children to understand and I really don’t have time for this conversation with you. Or to educate you. I want a lollipop so I can shut my kid up.

That’s what I should have said. Anyone would suffice. 

So in reflection  I say this to you; Do not let people tell you how to act! You are a grown-up. Which to my understanding means that you get to pick and choose your words and do and say what you want. I’m so sick of people crossing boundaries that really are not their business. I don’t even think it is acceptable for someone else in a position of power to force my kids to say please, to use the word please as a way to control someone is a boundary violation. I would like a lollipop and I’m good enough to get one whether or not I say the magic fucking word.

Someone may disagree but my explanation is this; if you force a kid to say please it means nothing. If you remind a child, “don’t forget to say please or thank you” or “ don’t forget to use your manners!” They are the ones choosing to say it. They are the ones meaning it. They are making a choice from within to use manners which essentially is their choice.

From my experience children will usually choose to be polite and actually understand the true meaning of manners better when they aren’t forced to say stuff they don’t mean constantly just because someone else wants them too.

So eventually they will become a grown-up.

One who gets to make their own choice to ask for a lollipop while using her manners – or not.

Sorting out & folding the dirty laundry, the too small clothes & the people who won’t help.

This post will be brief. A mixture of emotions have come out this week with the recent decision of my country to elect a sexist, racist bigot, a joke of a man, a TV personality as the next president, the rep for us all. Bravo Americans; how proud. 

Needless to say I’m not happy. I’m hurt, angry, disgusted and sickened but it all. 

I’m confused and frustrated. 

As many people have recently; My immediate family has shown their true colors surrounding this situation; and their lack of compassion, understanding or willingness to consider anything that I say to be something legitimately valid and more than an attack against their own person; alongside their stance that they either #1 don’t want to get involved, or #2 just don’t care or #3 trump supporter, has brought me to somewhere that is not my happy place. 

Childhood trauma has returned. 

Regardless I am committing myself to remaining supportive to those more heavily affected by this than I could ever be as a white woman. My own children, my husband; most of my community is directly affected by the racists that are no longer comfortable only behind closed doors.

People that are empowered by our new president elect to speak their minds and say or do awful things; because they can. People that look like me. 

We could argue about this until the end of the universe but the only truth is this; 

If you are not fighting against oppression than you are supporting the oppressor.

No excuses.

 Would you stand there watching and letting a teen-ager punch a three year old in the face while you idly sat back not wanting to get involved? 

Probably. 

Or would you speak up, stop the abuser from throwing punches and advocate for the child who could not defending their self?  Hug the child and comfort them; let them know that you believe they were hurt, and it was wrong, that you do everything you can to protect them? 

That’s different than this.

 I can hear you saying it. And is it really though? 

Standing idle while witnessing any situation of injustice is something that shows the victim you are on the other side.

Watching a crime being committed makes you an accomplice. 

Sitting in the living room watching me sort through and fold an enormous pile of laundry all alone shows me you do not actually have my back. 

So out they go…..with the dirty laundry and the too small clothes that just won’t fit my kids right anymore.  

The people who are not interested in joining me to fold and sort; who make the choice to sit by me watching me do it or choose to criticize me for not having it done already; for having too many clothes; for the mess the laundry makes……can hit me up when they are ready to be a contributing member of this household, this community, this country, this world.

 Until then… 

Peace out yo.✌🏾✌️

big family and underwear in your pocket

Having a big family means…… SUNDAY (today) is daylight savings time which only adds to the exhaustion. I love farmers but Damn… as soon as we get adjusted… it gets switched.

It means pulling a clean pair of underwear out of your pocket at 9:00pm only to remember you put it in there a few hours ago folding laundry.

It means realizing you are out of foil only after making 10 sausage-egg “Mcmuffins” from scratch on a Sunday night – for the morning.

It means realizing that you haven’t had a glass of red wine all week but you need one; and it’s too late on a Sunday night to get one.

It means laundry. And an exciting feeling when you realize that you have completed all but one load of laundry and if you just had the energy you could finish it all by Monday morning.

It means tripping and almost breaking your already broken ankle on a sneaker then turning around and seeing 10 sneaker/boots on the floor next to the EMPTY shoe basket.

It means thinking that a hot shower would be amazing while the hubby and big kids watch Walking Dead; only to see a huge pile of dishes in the sink smiling at you.

It means being asked to rub a rotator cuff and make a lunch (during a commercial break) while you were sneaking away to try to write this.

It means not having enough time, enough sleep, enough money; and always having enough love to go around. Even if you are mad at your entire family, I am sure every big family has a pet or two to cuddle. Or at least a fish to talk too.

 

Being a step mom is buns. 

I thought about preposing this post with some corny cheesy loving thing saying disclaimer this post is not mean that I don’t love my stepkids but you know what f*** that I shouldn’t have to explain my love for those children anymore than I have to explain my love for my own.
Sometimes being a stepmom is buns. 

Buns is the saying the kids are using these days, and something that really sucks; it’s caca buns.

 This week I really feel like being a stepmom is completely caca buns. I’m not talking about the weekend stepmom where the kids come over disrupt your life they’re super bratty disrespectful rude to you tell you their mom hates you and then they go home on Sunday at 2 o’clock p.m stepmom. 

I’m talking about the dad works 10-plus hour days, the kids go to their mom’s house for 24 hours a week; that’s one night Saturday to Sunday. stepmom.

I’m talking about the Stepmom that IS the mom. the primary caregiver. the one that wakes up with the kids in the morning washes their clothes, feeds them their meals teaches them life lessons the one that goes to their parent  teacher conferences ( shit that reminds me I have one today at 3 o’clock) and prepares all forms, doctors appointments, dentist appointments, sports. the one who nurses them back to health when they’re sick ; the one that does every single thing she does with her own children but on a day-to-day basis with her step-children too.

I will put in a disclaimer for this one that I’m Not discounting The Weekend Stepmom whatsoever because I’m also one of those and I understand that struggle as well. In general I would say that that struggle is worse than the day to day stepmom struggle. Not this week though.

Well this week right here has just been a week of hell a week of arguments with my husband about parenting differences a week of my step kids getting in trouble at school; at home. a week of me getting phone calls from the school about my stepson  being disrespectful and rude to a teacher  and angry text messages from an angry mother complaining that my step daughter has been teasing her child and hurting her feelings.

A week of finding out from another parent that my step daughter has been planning a birthday party, has already invited kids from her school and then went back un inviting her daughter rudely all with her mother’s backing, help and lying. A party we knew nothing about a party that she’s been hiding from us and lying about. 

Even though we already have spoken to her about this type of thing multiple times and made it clear that any playdates at mom’s house need to go through dad first. She doesn’t give a f*** she doesn’t care; she said “I want to have a party at moms and I knew you wouldn’t let me.” She does not have a moral fiber in her body when it comes to getting what she wants she feels entitled, and has no problem stating it. 

A week of Lies. A week of questioning whether or not this is something that I really want to do with my life. Do I really want all this extra stress. 

The best part is somehow I end up being the evil stepmother regardless of anything. In my husband’s eyes  and then again in my step kids eyes.

It really doesn’t matter that I devote every minute of my time trying to give his children something that their own mother could never give them trying to teach them morals and guide them and give them knowledge on how to be a kind and caring human. It means nothing. 

That I am taking away time that I could be spending with my own children and devoting it on his children that needed something more in their lives. My kids had a mom they’ve always had me. these kids didn’t. These kids didn’t have anything until they had me; they were in a foster home about to get put up for adoption their mom was on heroin and their father my husband; was in jail for non-payment of Child Support. I said we have to get them; they need us. 

There’s not a lot of women that wake up one day and say all I want to raise three other children as my own. One of them’s not even biologically my husband’s child so  actually he’s a step- step kid that we have full custody of, that I raise as a sibling right alongside the rest of them.

My biological  kids know that I will smack them on their ass if I’ve done every other thing possible and it just isn’t working and that’s enough right there to prevent me from ever having to do it; I think I spanked my 15 year old one time in his entire life and that was enough for him.

Now the catch here is that suddenly my husband is anti spanking and doesn’t believe in spanking his kids these three kids at least. 

He had no problems telling me to spank OUR oldest son  multiple times  throughout the years, oldest son who is now 21. 

I’m not talking about beating a child, or multiple spankings used as a form of consistent punishment; I’m not talking about straight up ass whoopings like I used to get. Im not even talking about using spankings I’m talking about the knowledge that the underlying consequence could lead to a smack on your ass. Just the knowledge itself . 

A check; a reminder that you have an obligation to behave in a certain way as a member of this family. And I’m saying as a last resort, for kids who consistently demonstrated that they just have no fucks to give. 

Example; stepson 1 & 2 sitting on couch, youngest brother jumping around acting like a hyper frog. Stepson 1 (almost 13) kicks youngest brother (7), I asked him why he did it, told him that it’s not ok to kick youngest brother like that. Turn to walk into kitchen stepson 2 (9) drop kicks youngest brother 3 feet across the room and hurts him badly. 

Legitimately 1 second after I just said this is not ok. I think that warrants a spanking. That’s a wtf are you doing moment. 

If you look at the children and my household we will see a complete discrepancy in behavior.If you came to my house, when my oldest two 21 & 19 are home you would hear them saying “mom you never let us get away with that” and “Mom I can’t believe they act like that” “Mom why don’t you do something; you guys don’t do anything”

My hands are tied; I must have done something right to have raised my children up into adulthood. I must have not been so mean or evil because they still come around every chance they get. 

To be really honestly this week has shown me that they’re right. There’s absolutely no consequence for anything with my step-children. They pit their mom against us and they believe that they can get away with anything they want because why?

 They’re completely spoiled for those 24 hours a week that they go to their moms house and they use that time as their Guiding Light for life it seems like. She teaches them that it’s ok to lie to us and hide stuff from us and they fall right into it; all my hard work wasted.

So what the f*** am I supposed to do keep on raising these kids fighting with my husband fighting a battle that I can never win because I’m just a step mom? 

Say f*** it and literally walk out of this house like I did the other night taking my 3  kids. I said “fine if that’s the way you want to raise your kids I’m leaving” 

Took my kids and left for about 30 minutes I felt completely free  and happy until I realized I didn’t really have anywhere to go with 3 kids at 9 o’clock on a school night, and my 15 year old was having wifi withdrawals so I eventually came back home. 

I just really didn’t feel like home though; I slept with my kids on the floor and my daughter’s room and I just felt like a refugee in my own house. I bet that’s a common feeling for a lot of stepmoms. 

 And then the next day is when I got the text messages from the pissed off mother about my stepdaughter. It’s like the good Lord was testing me and my relationship with my husband to have to talk once again about parenting issues regarding my step kids.

And then the birthday party came up. Just keeps getting better and better. 

Yesterday a friend asked me how do you know when it’s meant to be with someone.

I told her that I believe it’s just a constant working situation. You have to keep working at stuff if you want it to work and you have to weigh the pros and cons of your life to see what really grabs your heart. 

It’s not about the true love like I actually used to think. It’s not about the hot passionate sex (although without that you will never survive) or about the marriage being the final resting point in a relationship showing how much someone really loves you. 

It’s a struggle it’s a battle it’s a constant job to be married it’s a constant job to work on your life together; and adding children I to the mix magnifies it all. Adding 11 children like we have shines the bright light right in your eyes.

As I was telling her, ” you have to make a list of your pros and cons and see what you really want your life to be” I was thinking secretly in my head about my life how many times have I made that list about what I wanted in life? How my Cons right now, this week seem to outweigh my Pros.

Then I thought about how many times have I sat here and imagined being an  old grandparent and my husband sitting by my side in this house we are building together for our family; and about all our kids coming back to their childhood home for holidays and being able to spoil my grandkids because I never had the opportunity to spoil my own kids.

 And it makes me think that that’s what it’s about, the future; their future.

All these texts and phone calls and stresses… I’m not going to remember that when I’m old and gray with my grandbabies in my lap.

 I’m going to remember the good times and I’m going to look at my kids all of my kids and be happy that I was a part of their lives be happy that I was able to raise them and teach them what I could. 

But it really makes me question if it has to be so stressful for the process to get to that point in life. 

Does it really have to be a miserable battle with arguments or is there another way is there something that I’m just missing is there something that we’re missing? 

And then I think well if I died next week would I be happy with my life the way it ended? Would someone at my funeral say that I was a great stepmom and mom, that I devoted everything to my children? Is that what they would say, because right now it feels like this life is a joke; it’s kicking my ass. 

One thing I realized while writing this is that I am missing the very thing I am trying so hard to give all these kids. Guidance; a loving mother, grandparents or any kind of elders willing to share their experiences & knowledge with me….. I do not have any of that! 

I don’t have the family structure in my life that I want for my kids, and that right there is enough to tell me that I need to keep going. 

Keep trying. Keep working at this thing called life and not give up so quickly; someday all our kids will reflect on their lives and I want that to be a happy reflection. They will learn about love and marriage from the example we provide; spankings or not. Someday they may be stepparents their selves; not the most attractive job on the planet, definitely buns; but something I’m not giving up on just yet. 

When someone you love says Black Lives DON’T Matter. 

Dear Nephew,

Where do I start? When you were born it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

To see you put in your mom’s arms, your baby blue eyes and your healthy cry; after everything we went through the year before with your sister dying and all of the sadness…you were a miracle baby.

You always gave me trouble from the very start, you decided to be born 3 weeks early on MY due date! So while your mom gave birth I squatted by her side 9+ months pregnant supporting her through every single breath.

I love you.

There is nothing that can ever change that fact; I love you, I have and will love you.

I can’t support something that happened today, and I’m writing this letter to explain to you from one white person to another why something that happened today was very, very wrong.

As white people we are born privileged. That means in short: we don’t have to apologize for who we are, we have to worry about what we say or do. We are privileged because our skin is white.

It might sound silly, so let me explain.. What does that even really mean to be privileged?

It means that when we go in a store we aren’t followed around, when we go somewhere people don’t question our motives or intentions. When we move into a new neighborhood nobody cares. We can do anything we want without anyone assuming that we are bad people, gang members or drug addicts. We can easily get jobs and are accepted into all environments. All because we have white skin.

Does that sound fair? Not really. Does it sound fair to you that your cousin, who grew in my belly while you grew in your mom’s; we ate the same food, watched the same shows on TV, even went to the same doctors and gave birth 8 days apart at the same hospital and your cousin still is considered less than you to society because he is half Puerto Rican which makes him a person of color? That he is more likely to get killed by police or end up in jail.

It seems crazy to think that his entire life he will be questioned for who he is; and you will not. Only because he is not white, and you are.

When you think of or hear someone saying Black Lives Matter it makes you mad, it makes you angry, maybe it even hurts your feelings.

Why? Does it make you feel like someone is saying that your life doesn’t matter? I promise you that that is not what it means.

I want to explain this to you because I care about you. And because I honestly do not think that anyone has truthfully explained to you what Black Lives Matter means. Or is about.

You have the choice to make your own decisions after reading this, and as your aunt; a white person and a mother of black children I feel like it would be wrong of me to you and your cousins not to explain it to you. You can take me seriously or you can dismiss my words, the choice is yours.

I honestly hope that you will read this to the end without judgements and believe me that I am trying to share my knowledge with you, I have never lied to you, and I would not start now. After reading this you can form your own opinions.

Black Lives Matter DOES NOT mean that white lives do not matter. That is not what the point is. The point is to draw attention to the unfair treatment of Black people and people of color; anyone who is not privileged.

If someone wears pink to support Breast Cancer; does that mean that they don’t think Brain Cancer matters? No. It means that they are showing support for Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer awareness.

If someone believes that “Save the Bees” is important, and fights for the Bees, does that mean they are against endangered elephants and want them all to die? No.

It’s the same thing with the Black Lives Matter campaign.  

Wearing a Black Lives Matter button, like your cousin was today, was her way of supporting people of color, including herself!

It was her shout out….. saying, “I support you.” I think you matter. I matter.


Think about all the times someone has shown support for you, at a football game, or baseball game; or when you played the drums, or graduated from 6th or 8th grade.

Did that support mean that they wanted everyone else to fail? No. It meant they wanted YOU TO SUCCEED.


Now think about those times that people have put you down just for being yourself, or have told you that you suck and booed when you wished they would have cheered. That is how you made your cousins feel today.


Sometimes we don’t understand, and that is why we say or do certain things. That is why I am telling you this; I don’t know if you really understood what you were saying tonight or if you really understood the way you were deeply hurting your family; and how your words were in fact very privileged and racist.


I took the time to write this because you are only 15 and I do not know if your intentions were to be racist, or sound racist; but I am telling you that they were.


I want you to know that your words hurt your cousin today.

That she is mad and hurt and wants nothing to do with you ever again now because of the words that you said. That is strong feelings, she is severely hurt. And she is only 12.

I want you to know that ALL the people who are not white in your family were and are hurt by your words and that I your white aunt am hurt too.

What does this all mean? I wanted to share this knowledge with you, these words. Now that I have told you another point of view, you are the only one who can decide what it means to you, not me or anyone else.

As white people, part of our privilege is that we get to choose to be supportive to people of color; Or choose not be supportive.

There is no in between. I personally hope you choose to be supportive and join in the fight against racism from this point on. It’s your choice though.

Love,

Auntie

Easy Black Bean Quinoa Chili (Crock-Pot)

Quinoa. The name itself scares people away. If you don’t know how to say it it’s Keen-Wa.

Quinoa is as easy to make as basic white rice. 1 cup Quinoa, 2 Cups water; boil, cover, simmer for 20 minutes. Voilà. 

More about that later…. This recipe is basic but is punched with excellent flavors, proteins & vitamins. It is also strictly vegan.

Ingredients

  • 4 Cans black beans
  • 2 cans crushed or chopped tomatoes
  • 5-6 potatoes
  • 1/2 bag of baby carrots
  • Olive oil
  • Chili powder
  • Cilantro
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Sea Salt
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

Get out your crock pot and let the fun begin!!

Add chopped potatoes and oil:

Next to add canned tomatoes:

Strain rinse and add canned black beans:

Add salt chili powder, paprika and cilantro ( I estimate that I use about 1/4 cup salt 3/4 Cup, chili powder 1/4 cup cilantro & 3 tablespoons paprika)

Cut up and add baby carrots:

Stir with wooden spoon:

Cover with lid; cook on high. 

 

Meanwhile in a saucepan prepare your Quinoa: rinse 1 cup quinoa, then add 2 cups of water,bring to a boil on high:

When it starts to boil add chili powder cilantro and cumin. Stir & cover turn down to low to simmer for 20 minutes:

After 20 minutes remove lid and your quinoa should look like this:

Fluff as you would do rice, and take off burner:

Check your chili turn down to low and stir; at this point your kitchen should be smelling amazing! 

Take a test of your chili see if it needs any more salt or spices. Cover and cook for approximately 1. 5 to 2 hours.

 I personally keep it cooking on low all day until I’m ready to serve dinner!

Continue cooking until potatoes are soft; chili is hot and ready. Next add quinoa to chili in crock pot, stir and you are ready to serve! 

Garnish with your favorite toppings such as vegan sour cream, vegan cheese, lettuce & avocados. Shown here with tofutti Better than sour cream…

Serve alongside with Tortilla chips and Voilà you have an amazing Fast and Easy Black Bean Quinoa Chili! 

The perfect meal for a cold fall or winter day! 

SPECIAL NOTE to PARENTS & CHEF: parents/chef: don’t make an announcement that there’s quinoa in this chili if you want your family to eat it!

 Just make it serve; and they will eat it!! I can almost guarantee that if you say that you’re making quinoa chili they will say they don’t like it and they will have a harder time trying it than if you just make it slap some sour cream on there and give it to them!

Reading while white; yep I said it… 

My daughter is joining a book club at school for a new book and the permission slip stated:

“The book received star reviews from the School Library Journal & Booklist but has received”Not Recommended” rating from Reading While White and American Indians in Childrens Literature. What’s the deal?.” 

At first I was thinking wtf… 

What.is.Reading.While. White. 

Sounds pretty damn racist to me. So of course I googled it. 

http://readingwhilewhite.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html?m=1

americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com

Turns out readingwhilewhite is a group of librarians that are working on confronting racism and promoting awareness & cultural diversity in children’s books.

Much better than my first thoughts and much love to the librarians for doing  this. It’s going to be a tool that I access as I continue this journey of parenting..

This is a moment that reminds me that regardless of how much I am doing on a day to day basis that there is always more to do. 

Like; wtf ARE my kids reading?? How am I a white woman raising children in today’s world making sure that the books they read are promoting social justice & progress that they are not blatantly racist books; that the messages in the books they are reading are sound and safe!!??  

Have I been doing that already?

Plus how DO I do that and  laundry, work, feed them, clean the house, plan playdates, sign permission slips, help with homework, enrichment activities, sports, potlucks, take a shower, find socks, backpacks, water bottles, individual attention, bonding,  attend to my husbands needs ( my needs..?) and yea make sure they wash their hands……you get it, you already know. It’s a lot being a parent.

 This. Shit. Is. A. Lot. Of.Work. 

Ad to that being socially conscious about the books my children are reading to prevent incorrect information being absorbed into their expanding minds? Sounds like a lot of work… I want to do it though; I owe it to my children! 

So how do I remind myself to check in about the messages and level of racism in their daily reading? They all at read daily at home; they all read at school as well. 

This is a HUGE chore. (Multitask much?) And I believe that it’s an important role that I need to learn to incorporate into our day to day lives. 

We already have discussions about books, and characters in their books regularly. They love telling me about characters or new books they are reading.

This is more than that though, it’s deeper than just a quick check in. 

For example the book club book in question is “Ghosts” by Raina Telegmeier. It speaks on The Day of The Dead; a Mexican Holiday. 

First thought; cool it’s important for my kids to learn about all cultures and we’re not Mexican so I really haven’t spent much time learning or teaching about this holiday or about Mexican culture in general. 

No sorry,  Taco Tuesday does not count; neither does Cinco de Mayo; do your kids know the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo? Mine do, they also know that as US Citizens we appropriate it so we can drink tequila and eat Mexican food. 

Back to topic…

After reading the reviews online; specifically to the depiction of the traditions surrounding Day of The Dead……it just seems like a conversation has to be had alongside reading the book to explain the realities of the holiday versus the fictional explanations in the book to the children reading it. 

Whew. One book (that I haven’t even read yet, I must ad) and already I need to do research on the The Day of the Dead and make a little presentation for her book club to discount the false depiction of the holiday, that is IF I give a crap. 

Which I do; now that I’m aware because like all things if my kids are going to learn something I want them to learn the real authentic version; not the white institutionalized racist version. 

But how can I possibly keep up with everything; realistically I can’t.

Six kids in school still, and all the different stories and books they read. The different authors and different plot lines; who knows what they are being exposed to? 

 Something that may not seem racist in the slightest could  actually be cultural appropriation in the worst way. 

Here’s what I have established to guide myself through this; again this is a work in progress and I do not expect to 100% be able to do research and rewire every single thing that’s misrepresented in every single book for my children.  That’s just crazy. 

I do believe that when I see them reading something that I KNOW is unjust or an incorrect representation of any culture, person, lifestyle or historical event that I need to do something to repair that. I’m not trying to be a miracle worker; just doing the best I can. 

Feel free to use my little handy 1-6 checklist below!

  1. Check in about books; have them write down the titles especially ones the school requires ( just because the school prescribed it; doesn’t mean it’s good medicine!) 
  2. Take time to search book on Reading While White or American Indians in Childrens Literature to see if it has any reviews or recommendation’s. I’m sure there are many other book lists and websites that have the same ideology and philosophies in regards to children’s books and fighting racism. 
  3. If so, have conversation with kids about the reviews.
  4. Remind kids consistently to let me know if anything seems off in their reading (definitely have come to me when the n-word was in a book multiple times)
  5. Read some of their books in spare time 😂(OK this is shooting for the stars but in my nonexistent spare time I will try!)
  6. Remind myself of steps 1-5!

This is a constant work in progress and it is so important to discuss these things and become aware of what our children are absorbing through their literacy.

 Often we get so happy that our children are finally reading that we say fuck it at least they’re reading!; I am so guilty of owning Super Diaper Babies books which personally I would rather use as toilet paper than let the kids read; and guess what? 

I let them read them because at least they were reading and literacy was my goal at the time..not the best philosophy now that I’m thinking about it, but it worked for some of my kids others and never got into them thank God.

It’s not only quantity it’s quality.

 Jesus being a parent is hard shit. And being conscious is even harder. Being socially aware and attempting to be a white person in today’s society that isn’t racist and that is fighting against racism in all areas is even harder and every single second of the hardness is worth it; because if you don’t take the steps against racism then you are part of the problem!

When I picked up that permission slip this morning to sign it I never even considered that it would come to me writing a blog post about all of this! 

I just figured I would sign it and she’d be reading at the library one day a week for the next month and it would be cool; because I love book clubs and I love reading, and I really want to foster that love of reading for my children as well. 

I am thankful because now I’m more aware and I hope that this helps someone else become more aware as well. 

One last question… Why is the School librarian choosing to use it for the book club if the American Indians in Childrens Literature & Reading while white – both organizations set up to promote fighting racism in lit “Don’t recommend” it….that question is still not clear to me…

an apology is worth more than a million

Rarely does my husband apologize when we get into arguments. He just ignores the fact that we got into an argument then I give up and move on. So today when we got into it; I was planning to pack my bags – we don’t just disagree. We fight dirty. Oh so dirty and horribly and the absolutely wrong way.

We fight and my temper is off the charts and he follows my lead (doubt he would agree; even with that) Anyway we fight unfairly and the complete opposite of what ANY marriage counselor would recommend (even a bad one) (even one that kicks us out of marriage counseling)

So to get to the point I was completely SHOCKED today when I picked my phone up off of the floor, after our heated arguement me leaving, leaving my phone home being gone for 2 hours ….. coming back and then still contemplating packing my shit then moving to another country or world altogether….  and saw that he had text me.

“You’re right I was out of line talking to you like that”

“I’m sorry”

Pause.

Heavens opening up…………………………………..

AHHHHHHHHH

Apology accepted.

I was NOT expecting that and was already half way to India with a notebook pen and a backpack on a dirty train in my mind.

Now with him apologizing nothing I had thought in the past couple hours mattered.

I felt a thousand times better and I accepted his apology.

This should be a lesson to anyone that has a hard time saying sorry when you know you did something wrong; just say it. It works. People CAN forgive. They WILL forgive. All it takes is to be true to your lover and yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the hair is gone…

Being a writer is hard when you are super busy with your family and little thoughts pop into you head, you have to try to jot things down while driving, in the school, brushing your teeth – basically anytime and then if you are lucky at some point in your life you will find said jots and actually make something out of them.

My most reason thought written on the back of an envelope, “so you feel like you made a difference in the world because you gave a homeless bum a dollar”

Random? Maybe. Relevant? Sure.

Today another thought popped into my head after finally finishing a two day process of cutting my son’s curls that he’s been growing for a year and a half. This one I couldn’t jot – I had to open and write; so here I am.

My son has been trying to get me to cut his hair for awhile now, I told him that it’s his hair so he can if he wants but that I love it and everybody loves it, and that I wanted him to be really positive because it’s a huge transition from a mountain of  dreading curls to bald especially in the start of fall in New England. And I have been bartering with him – if you keep it in a bun for a week and you still want to cut it you can. If you really really want it cut then tell me on Sunday etc.., he did. He did not fall for any of my stalling or bartering, or guilting, “I love your curls! I don’t want you to cut them”

It all held him off for a couple months, but the eventual result was in the morning before school he said, “mom I NEED you to cut my hair right now.” So I did.

It took two days to get it all finished because at first he wanted a Mullet style – or West coast style or whatever you want to call it, but then the next day (today) he wanted it bald on top and long in the back – then after seeing it he just wanted it all off.

I cut it all of this morning, even the 10+ inch braid that I tried to convince him to keep as a rat tail, “MOM you said it’s my hair and I can cut it how I want!” He tells me and he knows he is right. SO I cut the last braid and hold back my sadness that my curly haired boy now looks like a sexy little guy. He’s 7.

Yep. Seven.

This got me thinking about knowing yourself and your needs and what you really want despite what anyone (including your mother) has to say about it and it makes me feel so .proud and super happy that I am raising kids that know what their needs are and that I am the kind of parent that allows for that space and growth and individuality.

My childhood was very different. My hair was not allowed to be cut. I wasn’t even allowed to have bangs, I did eventually cut them myself and my father was pissed. I wonder why though. I really sense that it was only a control mechanism which he used as part of many others to keep my sister and I under lockdown from any free will; everything was his way or nothing.

My only reasoning for not wanting my kiddo to chop his locks was that they were gorgeous and I thought that he may regret it after and it takes a long time to grow back. We’ve already had one child who went from super long hair to almost pixie and immediately hated it because the kids at school would not stop commenting on it; it looked great but she couldn’t enjoy it after that.

Why keep a kid from styling their hair a certain way? I can understand some extremes but my father allowed nothing except my natural grown hair – straight long and boring. For me it became a habit that now I am afraid to do anything exciting or drastic my hair is literally the same as it was then. My sister went the opposite route and has done any and everything you can imagine – bald, dread, green hair, mohawk, everything.

It just gets me thinking that children are rarely viewed as competent and actually they can and should be allowed to make these types of decisions because 1. it will grow back and 2. it’s their hair and they are going to always have it. Who gives a shit? Really.

That’s what I had brewing in my mind this morning. Now to brew a cup of coffee and get this laundry switched.

Ciao!