Let’s Talk About Race (Conversations with a 9 Year Old)

My step kid and her pal were playing Guess Who recently and they asked me to watch them play.  The game is actually called Who’s Left but it’s a knockoff version because kids are destroyers who lose and ruin everything so why pay full price for the original branding. While observing and timing how fast a winner would be declared (my assigned task), I noticed that they would each take a turn to say ” Is it…?” and point to a piece of paper they had off to the side.   Initially, I thought, “hmm they really have a special bond that they don’t even need to finish their thoughts, the other just knows!” Once the game was over, I asked what they were pointing to and what it meant.  They both looked at each other and hesitated, smiling sheepishly.  My step kids pal said, “Okay, we can probably tell her.” My response was, “YOU BETTER TELL ME.”

Nothing like a little fear and a stern tone to force your kids to tell you secrets. Parent of the year, I know.

So they both told me, with nervous giggles, that when they pointed to the white piece of paper they were inquiring if the person was white.  If they pointed to the paper with the brown marker on it, they were asking if the person was brown.  They did it this way because they weren’t sure if it was racist to ask if the person was white or brown.

Yikes.

Not sure if you’ve ever played Guess Who (Who’s Left), but in case you haven’t, the purpose of the game is to ask the other player questions about their character’s physical attributes in order to determine who they’ve chosen.  You want to do this before the other player in order to win the game. If you can figure out what color your opponent’s character is you can eliminate half of them immediately. More than half really, because there are more white characters than brown.  It just makes good sense to ask the color question straight off the bat, right!

So, here I was, unfortunately, tasked with explaining what is racist and what is not in 2017 to two girls who are nine and ten.  Trying to explain that they could ask these questions in this game but in real life, maybe not so much.  In my fumbling approach to explain the extremely sensitive racial dynamics that exist in the world, I realized that I don’t know how to do that.  It’s one thing to discuss race with adults who have some semblance of this knowledge but it’s a whole other ballgame to have this discussion with kids.

I was feeling seriously unprepared. Had life taught me nothing? I should be reading more than memes.

I try to think of how things will make me feel as a black woman and how things made me feel as a kid and go from there. Is that right? Is that wrong? I dunno.  I think I’m not hyper-sensitive but I’m sensitive enough? (I’m oversensitive and I know it.)

I think I’m politically correct and try to keep up with the ever-changing pc climate.   I tried to say that identifying someone by race isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s not the way most people want to be identified. And if you are identifying someone’s race because you’re saying you don’t like them BECAUSE of that racial identity then it’s definitely wrong and we need to talk about that.  As an afterthought, I tried to explain that there is a difference between saying someone is brown vs someone is Black or African-Canadian or Brown or Indian or White or Caucasian and that someone might be offended to hear one or the other.  And then I was exhausted and confused because I didn’t know what was right or wrong anymore so I said to hold on so we could ask her Dad.  He laughed at me and said that everyone is offended by everything nowadays and it probably would be considered racist by someone that they asked that.

It’s moments like this I wish I still drank.

Not to be outdone by herself, my step kid decided to quiz me again.  She was telling me about a YouTube video she was watching and she was trying to determine whether it was a real video or if what they were doing was pretend. She came to the conclusion that the video wasn’t “real” and the people were acting because the video that followed showed a crazy clown.  She then asked me if what she was going to say was racist.

Lord, help me.  Too many life questions in too short a time.  I didn’t even have time to google a book that I could refer to, place it in my amazon cart, and leave it there for 2 months while I search for better deals because I’m cheap as hell.

In the video about the crazy clown (a prank video in which they are purposefully trying to scare their friends), the clown was a brown person.  She looked me dead in my eyes and slowly said that she knew it was fake because crazy clowns are always white.

I couldn’t contain myself and I laughed my butt off so hard.  I said, look I don’t know if that’s considered racist but it sure is funny! And again, I deferred to Dad.  That’s my go-to. And when things happen on days where she will be going to her Mom’s, I defer to her.  Step-parenting is hard as hell, so I take the small allowances I can get.

I know that the tests have only just begun and I really need to start the research and development phase of parenting so I can be prepared for the next round of quizzes.  I also need to train my brain to crave a nice jog instead of a can of frosting in these pressure moments but let’s take it one step at a time.

If you have any recommendations of good books to read on how to talk to your kids about sensitive subjects or any pearls of wisdom that work from your experience, drop me a line!

xx Raschael

 

 

Can’t win ’em all

A few months ago, my son started being afraid of his dark bedroom at bedtime. Despite numerous blankies, teddies, nightlights, and reassurances, he’s still scared.  All of those airplanes, buses, ice cream trucks and firetrucks he loves so much are starting to come to haunt him in his dreams … way to turn a love into a fear, brain!  So I tried to explain that what he’s seeing are shadows in the room and the things in his dreams being made up by his imagination and they aren’t real.  I was pretty proud of myself until he started telling us that he’s afraid of his “magimation” (imagination).

Ooooops.

Recently, we’ve been dealing with a doo-doo in the underwear issue.  Basically, my kid is constipated and has been skid marking his undies. (Yes, we went to the doctor, thanks for asking! We also feed him lots of fiber-rich foods and water, thanks for suggesting!) This morning, me being sick of poop stains and just generally tired, I had my son sit on the toilet with the iPad so he would actually stay there instead of hopping off after 1 minute.

Brilliant, I know. It totally worked, he sat there for 20 minutes and finally had a poo! It’s the little things that make my day.  As a token of my gratitude, I gave him potty candies aka fruit snacks.  Instead of the usual 1 candy, I gave him the entire package of about 8 candies. He was beside himself with joy.  While sitting at the table savoring his well-earned reward of fruit snacks and looking out the window at the grey gloomy sky, he declared “today is a beautiful day”.  My child, that he is. Candy makes the day seem bright.

To my future son who might be reading this, I’m sorry for airing out your dirty laundry (pun intended) and I hope this doesn’t affect your chances to become PM.

It’s Friday and I could use a laugh, we all could! Please share some cute/funny things your kids said or did this week or some personal parenting wins!

Happy Weekend!

xx

There’s a Baby in the House

I had my baby. A baby girl. The newest member of my gang is the chillest and the illest.  I know you’re thinking it, she’s sleeping well, thank you for asking!

I want to do a really thoughtful post on my birth but this baby is a month old so that means I’m sleep deprived and a hot mess. I’m going to get some sleep (ha-ha-ha) and then get writing.

In the meantime, here are my truths so far about life with the new addition.

Note – I didn’t proofread this and I’m not going to because aint nobody got time for that.

1.Having 2 little kids is a shit show.

When my son was born 3 years ago, my step-daughter was 5. She was relatively self-sufficient so spending days with her and my son weren’t insanely demanding. Also, most months that I was on maternity leave were school months so she wasn’t home in the mornings (kindergarten was half day).

  1. Being home with a 3-year-old and  3 week old has me running around like a crazy person. I generally have on boob hanging out to feed baby girl while trying to tend to the boy. Again, the oldest is in school most days but when she is here she’s doing her own thing with her friends, being helpful with her brother, or looking terrified to see aforementioned boob dangling free. I love having my kids home with me, don’t get me wrong.  The toddler keeps me busy. But the show I am hosting is wild and crazy.

2. My self-worth as a mother is inherently tied to my child’s weight.

Everyone asks how much my baby weighs. I dunno if you know this but your child weighs x amount at birth and then can lose up to 10% of their weight shortly after. I didn’t know this. Or, I’d forgotten. Both are possible. Either way, when I went to my first appointment with the pediatrician and found out my daughter lost weight, I panicked. MY EYES WELLED UP WITH TEARS. Because what is wrong with me that I can’t make my kid fat and roly-poly with the milk from body?! WHO AM I AS A MOTHER! The nurse could clearly see the panic in my eyes and the wild train of thought behind them and calmly told me to simmer down.

If you’re concerned and curious, she’s gained all the weight back and then some. At my most recent appointment, the nurse looked impressed. I’ll pick up my mom of the year award any day now.

3. All the shit you hear like “sleep when the baby sleeps” only applies if you have one kid.

Unless I want to let my toddler roam freely while my baby sleeps, that ain’t happening. Double nap times are a rarity that you should not take for granted.   If my spells actually worked, the blue moon is in sight, and both kids are actually sleeping at the same time, you best believe I am not wasting that precious time I have alone on sleep. Oh no. I am watching Netflix, folding laundry, or having a shower. Or maybe, eating cookies.

4. I’m all about Law & Order now, so don’t come to my house without checking in first.

My survival rule is structure. I have designated times for eating and sleep. With my son, I was pretty flexible.   Eat between a general range of times, same for naps. Whatever! I’m an easy-going mom!

NOT ANYMORE. Yes all caps. I mean it.

I need to be organized so I don’t lose my marbles.  I’ve lost most of them but the few I have left, I intend to retain. So don’t show up at my house 10 minutes before nap time/quiet time expecting to hang with my kids because you will not be happy. Nobody. Will be happy.

5. I really love being a Mom.

It’s hard. It’s so fucking haaaaaard.  Everything you do is wrong by someone’s account, you can’t win.  The internet is a blessing and a curse. I don’t have a lot of close friends in Edmonton and I’m a pretty anti-social person so I don’t see the ones I have here a lot.  The internet helps me stay connected to my village, I’m so grateful for that. But man. There are a ton of parenting sites with conflicting ideology’s on how to parent your child and they’re all more than happy to tell you how you’re doing it WRONG.  I try to take it all with a grain of salt.

But I love it.  I love the first “Mommy” of the morning. The endearing and loving feeling attached to that kind of diminishes by the 400th “Mommy” around lunch time but you know how it is. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns.

That’s all I have for now. Someone pooped their pants and another someone is having a super meltdown because he has to wash his hands after going pee and it’s all hands on deck.

Photo cred – Carissa Marie Photography

Hide The Cookies For Yourself

I’m rounding the corner of my pregnancy and nearing the finish line now which has me spending some time reflecting. Thinking particularly of my pregnancy 3 years ago with my son and how differently I see things this go around and how much I’ve gone through these past few years.  It’s been a humbling few years.  Little humans will humble you, regardless of how they came to be in your life.

Now, please know that I do not think I am a parenting expert AT ALL nor am I someone who should dish out advice.  So think of these as few tips that pertain to parenting, just a heads up. Lessons I’ve learned. Because we’re friends. And we’re cool like that.

  • If you take prenatal yoga, you will spend most of the class trying not to fart or pee your pants.  Don’t let that deter you. Do it, it’s great! I didn’t do it with my first pregnancy and I’m so glad I did it this time around.   I’m just letting you know so it won’t be a total surprise when you need to spend a straight hour clenching your ass while it’s up in the air in front of a stranger.
  • Do not judge other parents for petty shit. Because one day your kids will act up and force you to react the same way.  I promise you will. It’s one of the unspoken laws of parenting.  One day you’ll find yourself telling (yelling) your kid to walk from the car to the door barefoot because you’re DONE reminding them to keep their shoes on until they get inside the home and you don’t care that it’s raining and you’ll really eat your judgy judgmental words.
  • You will neglect your pets.  Don’t panic.  It’ll only be a little bit and it won’t be forever. You will figure out a routine so your pets get walked, fed, and loved like they used to.  Your kids will make it up to them by being sticky and delicious and forever accidentally (and purposefully) dropping snacks for them. It evens out.
  • Once your child is aware that their shirts and pants are in the dresser and can reach them, do not bother folding their clothing anymore. Ever. I mean it. You can ball it up and throw them in the dresser because they’re going to do it for you anyway.
  • Depending on the kid, your nursery will start to look like a bare showroom with duct tape on electrical outlets and teeth marks in bed frames.  Or is that just me?  Am I the only one whose kid is part beaver?
  • It’s okay to feed them fast food. Get the McDonalds or the Dairy Queen or the pizza. Save your sanity and feed the children. They’ll survive to tell the tale. And they will, they’ll tell everyone you fed them chicken nuggets and fries.  And when they tell the story, you’re the hero, not the villain.
  • If you feel like you’re struggling and need help, it’s okay to ask for it. I insist, please ask. Demand help. I will be so proud of you. Like first time your kid goes on the potty proud.   If you feel like you have no one to ask, ask me. I’m officially designating myself YOUR person to talk to, should you feel up to it.  We can sit in silence and watch tv, I can hang with your kids while you have a nice hot bath, we can go for a walk or we can cry together.  Whatever you need. Don’t suffer alone.
  • Hide the cookies for yourself. I know we teach our children that sharing is important, and it is. But sometimes, it’s nice to have something just for you. When you finish a bag of frozen vegetables you can hide the cookies in there. And eat them later in the shower when you’re finally alone.

Just kidding.  I don’t eat cookies in the shower anymore.  I’m a mean mom now, I eat them right in front of my kids and tell them life isn’t fair. Part of the many lessons I’m here to teach.

Like I said, I’m no pro.

Drop me a line and tell me more tips and lessons you’ve learned!

 

The Little Zygote That Could

I did it. Well, I don’t know how much of it was necessarily me or just luck.  Maybe it’s fate or simple biology. Who knows, not me.  My body did it.  And I’m thankful.

It held on to a little baby seed. The little zygote that could.

After miscarriages, periods, doubts, fear, and time (seemed like forever – in real life it probably wasn’t), I finally got pregnant. From the second I became pregnant, I knew it. Not in a loving “mama could sense it” way but in a “sick from day one” way.  My body let me in on the secret. A secret to be shared with the porcelain god and anyone within earshot.  I am definitely “lucky” I was unemployed at the time because there wouldn’t have been a chance I could keep it from my coworkers or employer.

It hasn’t been easy so far but I’m not complaining (shut up, Doug).  The sickness was unbearable for the first three months but it’s always sort of a relief to know that the baby is really thriving in there.  I finally stopped acting like the hero I’m not, once I reached month 4 I got a prescription for Diclectin.  I feel mostly like me again! Praise modern medicine!

I’ve been trying to keep my head straight this time around and enjoy all the moments I’m able to, should the present pregnant moment be my last pregnant moment.  I’m not anticipating a disruptive and terrible end. I’m just not wasting my time worrying every single second of every day that something has could go wrong and instead embracing the time that I’m given.

When I was pregnant with my first, I spent every moment in my head. Freaking out. Overthinking everything. (That’s my ‘thing’- did I tell you I’m obsessed a sinkhole will open up under my house? I digress). Did we have enough “stuff”? Did I prepare enough? Am I taking the right vitamins? Am I eating enough “good” food? How can I be a new mom and a stepmom?  My incessant and stressful worrying led me back down the path of depression I’d fought so hard to get out of in my teens and 20s.  I spent the final months leading up to my son’s birth attending mental health counseling and feeling like I was in the dark despite the brightness and blessings of my life around me.  My son’s first year found me struggling through a postpartum depression (PPD) haze, doubting my happiness and indulging in stress.  It took me an additional half year or so to realize I even had PPD and had developed some unhealthy coping skills to manage it (first I was spending money I didn’t have, later I was drinking more wine than I cared to admit).  I’ve made the decision that, with this pregnancy, I’d try to let go of those things I can’t control and embrace the moments along the way.

So, bring on the fun pregnancy photos in the snow. I might even do a maternity shoot this time!  I’ll definitely be writing about my experiences a lot more, even if it’s just for my own eyes.  Every day is not the same and I definitely have to remind myself to chill out and stay present.  For example, I may have freaked out a little bit before my last ultrasound after reading a few stories about children born with 2 heads or imagining there was an alien baby in there.  But I didn’t fall down the spiral. I saw it up ahead and spoke to my partner and the ultrasound technician about my concerns.  That particular spiral is safely in the rearview for now.  The world is safe, there is no Decepticon in my womb.  That would have been cool though, right?

I’ve begun month six and my baby is on track and my health is good – so far, this path is definitely less rocky than the last. I haven’t set up a single thing, purchased anything (we’re hoarders so we do have tons from the other two kids) and have yet to be consistent in taking my vitamins. What I lack in pill form, I make up for in trips to the refrigerator. The bathroom scale can attest to it.

I’m just human.  No path is the same as another, nothing is perfect and no one knows exactly what to do or what they’re doing.  It’s better to accept those imperfections as best you and I can and move forward rather than try to pretend they don’t exist.  Trust me on that one.

Predetermined

Last night, I stole a muffin that was meant for my kids and I ate it. Once they were out of sight, I seized my opportunity and gleefully stuffed the gigantic chocolate chocolate-chip muffin into my mouth while watching a PVR’d episode Big Bang Theory.  No less than 2 hours later,  nausea kicked in. The porcelain god began to play his siren song and I was drawn to the bathroom.  All night long, I suffered. Paid my dues. Karma is a bitch and she got her revenge.  Never again will I steal a muffin given to my kids by their grandfather. Please pay attention to how specific that “never again” was…. I may borrow a muffin from my children in the future, just not in the scenario mentioned above.

There is the possibility that it’s simply the stomach flu and it was a random bug I picked up along the way,  an occupational hazard for being a parent.

I’m too dramatic for a simple bug, so karma it is!

While I lay on the couch, resigned to my fate, I opened up a little package I’ve received in the mail. Three great books with a lovely note that said, “you deserve these. Get reading and writing, make this time count”.

I’m inspired! How thoughtful! So kind!

Just another twist of fate.  While I am in the process of starting my own business and writing with focus and purpose, I get this motivation at my door!

If you haven’t already, please re-read that last bit in a sarcastic tone. Now, you get it.

I sent this package to myself.  Surprise!  I was surprised when it arrived, my memory is terrible and I forgot I ordered it online.

I bought myself a book to improve my writing style, another to try a new author and the third to visit a well-known one.  At the checkout, I added the note because I think I’m hilarious.

I’m a believer of fate but sometimes you gotta make your own destiny, or at least push it in the direction you want.

Am I right? Or am I right?

 

 

Voluntold

She took a deep breath, sensing the shift in the room. Their eyes all darted back and forth, from her, and to each other, eventually resting on the clock. Looking nervous and, seemingly, holding their breath, they looked down at their blank papers and quickly scribbled a name.

A quick glance up at the clock, she knew her time had run out. Rather than have her fate decided for her, she knew it was her moment to make a choice.  When she sat up straight and cleared her throat, a few of them jumped, expecting her to contest.

She told the group, “I’ll do it. I volunteer.”  Sighs of relief immediately echoed through the room, small smiles breaking through.  She thought of her family – her husband and kids… is this the right decision? It was too late now…..

“And we have this years elementary school Parent Advisory Committee president!”, someone gleefully cried out!  They all clapped and she grimaced….

….what did she do….

200w
property of the internet and Katniss