My Bad Kid

imageMy mom always said no kids are bad. She hated when adults referred to kids as such. As a child I heard other kids being called bad and it seemed appropriate to me. The kids did bad things and they got in trouble. “They may do bad things but they are not bad,” my mom would say.

As a teacher I watched kids do bad things. I tried to figure out a pattern to their behaviors and what triggered them. “They aren’t bad,” I would tell myself. I knew these children were just trying to get something or avoid something and it was my job to anticipate this and extinguish the behavior. I had a gift for dealing with these bad kids. Sometimes those kids would be transferred to my class as a last resort before expulsion. I loved the bad kids because they had a spirit inside of them that taught me things about myself.

Now that bad kid is my very own. He lives in my house and I’m the parent that has to show up at school when he pushes another kid to the ground. It’s a very uncomfortable place for my former self that many children nicknamed “Miss Cutthroat”. I know there’s a reason for his behavior, but I don’t want to be that parent that’s always making excuses for their child. I also don’t want to be quick to react and punish my child for something that he cannot control.

The truth is I want to be able to control him. I want to give an order and have him quickly comply. My child should have excellent behavior and do what he is told. I cannot be the push over parent that everyone talks about when I leave. So, when we’re out my anxiety is heightened and I’m sure he feels the pressure to be perfect. This almost always ends in us leaving an event or family gathering early. Or just not going at all so I can avoid the embarrassment.

But my bad child has taught me a lot about myself. He’s taught me that I need to pay more attention to my own triggers to avoid triggering his. I’ve learned that I taught him to avoid things.

“Don’t do that or we are going to leave!” “We are going home if you don’t listen!”

In my words I have modeled that his behavior can determine what we do and don’t do. Also, when I force myself to go to a social gathering that I’d rather miss, I use his behavior as an excuse to leave. He knows this without me ever whispering it in his ear.

My child is bad. He is really bad at communicating what he needs. He can’t tell me “I don’t feel well” or “It’s too loud and I would like to leave.” Instead, he throws things. He breaks things. He goes like the Duracell bunny until I get the message that he wants to go home where he’s more comfortable.

Sometimes, I skip these occasions altogether and I get labeled a bad friend or relative. Other times I go because it’s a decent day or I want him to have more exposure to uncomfortable situations.

This holiday season everyone is gathering to celebrate. Take this time to be kind to yourself and your loved ones. Be understanding of the declined invitations or early departures. Everyone does bad things and everyone has bad days.

 

 

 

Know Your Worth

It’s been a minute. Sometimes I forget that I have a blog until I start talking about it. Anyways, here’s a little rambling before I fall asleep. 

So many times we tell young girls or our friends they shouldn’t settle.

 “Don’t just take anything.” 

“Make him earn it.”

“Wait for the man that is going to really treat you right.”

“You deserve to be happy.”

Although this is great advice we give ,it has so many underlying messages. It implies that as women we have to wait until a man comes along to give us happiness. It teaches us that women must be lonely and hold out for Mr. Right.   

Meanwhile Mr. Right is enjoying life. He’s hanging out with his boys, gaining experiences, exploring and learning from relationships. He’s not sitting at home reading dating tips from Steve Harvey. 

The message I would give my daughter (if I had one) is know your worth. Know what you are worth with a man. Know what you are worth without one. Don’t depend on him to complete you. Complete yourself. Have fun. Understand what you want. Learn about what you don’t want. Nothing in life is permanent or promised, not even life itself. Live and enjoy living. 


 

Craving

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Today I was told I needed to write a post about how to help schools in our community. I haven’t felt much like writing lately so I was not looking forward to sitting at my laptop.But reluctantly, I opened it up and logged onto WordPress. The first thing on my feed was a writing prompt from The Daily Post. Craving.

For the past month, I have craved nothing but changed in our community and country. The city of Baton Rouge grew popular because of tragedies that left children without fathers. These tragedies highlighted an issue of a city that is divided. As a former teacher and school counselor, I have seen this issue play out in our schools for almost ten years.

Many people could argue there has not been a problem in our city or that every child has access to the same education. To make that statement means you do not understand that children learn more in a school than what is taught to them from a textbook. For some black children, the only white people they will ever come across in their lifetime are people of authority. For some white children, the only black people they will encounter are people who are provide service to their family. This really still happens in our country.

After the killing of Alton Sterling, my cousin went to a panel discussion and she could not believe how many black men there were wearing a suit. She has a college degree and has been many places, but that has not been something she experienced in her lifetime. My point is simply that children take in everything happening around them. And children are excellent teachers. Anyone can teach a child and any child has something to give in return.

If you are craving change and you do not know what you can do I have compiled a list of things anyone can do below.

  1. Help walk children to their classroom on the first day of school
  2. Make copies for a teacher
  3. Pick a classroom and bring cupcakes for birthdays every month
  4. Eat lunch with a class
  5. Help monitor children at recess
  6. Volunteer at a school fair
  7. Ask an administrator how you can be helpful

Here is how you can talk to a school principal: Hi I am _________. I want to give my time to your school. What is something that your school can use me for?

I would like to add that in an effort to help, people have great ideas. However, sometimes the idea you may have may not be the thing that school or community needs the most. For example, when children are going back to school there are tons of back to school drives happening all over the city. These things are awesome because these children need the supplies. But the issue that is happening in our city is not just because children have a lack of resources. So, when you are “giving back” remember there is something you should also take away from the experience. A baggie of goodies does not solve the world’s problems.

 

Thoughts?


Tonight as I was putting my son to bed I began to think about his future. I told him he was an amazing boy who would grow up to be an amazing man. His eyes closed and I felt him fall into a deep sleep. 

I’m not sure if he even heard me or would care if he did. Today he cared about Spider-Man shoes and YouTube videos and Family Feud. Last week he cared about Angry Birds and playing “Getchu, Getchu, Getchu” with his grandpa. His imagination has always been wild, his own and ever changing. That’s what I love so much about him. 

It has been so wonderful to watch him grow. I know most parents would be able to relate. But why do we put so much pressure on our kids to stop growing? From a young age we encourage them to talk about what they want to be when they grow up. We teach them about marriage and children and staying married. We try to shield them from change and mistakes. Do we really want to teach them that you can only choose one career or one way to live your life? Does success only equate to picking a career and spending your life climbing the corporate ladder?

I have no idea what my son will choose to be in life. I just hope he chooses to be happy and helps others do the same. 

How can we encourage our children to grow far beyond childhood? 

Are you judging or being judgmental? 

I’m such a worrier. Oh and a hoverer. My parenting style is helicopter without a pilot. I don’t want to be this way. In fact, I hate it, but having a child with autism means I don’t get to turn off the chopper. 

I want to be the parent who can sit down at a birthday party and chat about good preschools, but the reality is that I can’t. At any moment my child can have his hand in the birthday cake or letting the air out of the bouncy house. Or even worse-another parent can try to discipline him and he will lose his shit because a stranger entered his space. 

I envy the other parents who can relax a little bit because their kids understand social norms and actually want to play with the other kids. Going out in public is hardly enjoyable for me most of the time. I’m always trying to find the balance between allowing my son to be himself and not letting him disturb other people. 

Because of my experiences as a mother, I am never shocked about crazy stories in the media. Not to mention I barely have time to watch the news or read a complete article.  When I heard about the little boy who fell into the gorilla pit, I didn’t even read the details of the story. I was happy to know he was okay. I was sad for the gorilla. And I moved on with my day. 

The next day I came across all of the articles about the mothers lack of parenting and what should have been done to save the gorilla. These thoughts had never crossed my mind. I never even considered whose fault it was that the little boy fell in. My mind concluded that kid plus public place equals shit happens. 

You know what that is called? Minding your business. Not judging or make conclusions about people you don’t know or a situation you were not a part of. I suggest more people do it because no two situations are the same. 

Regardless of how that boy got in there, something had to be done to save him because that was the right thing to do. And the people who had to make that decision in the crisis did the best they could. They’re the professionals and that is their job. They were not responsible for judging that mother and asking her why she wasn’t watching him better before they made the decision to save him. 

You know what else? Whether that mother was hovering or enjoying a good conversation at the time that it happened, she probably feels terrible. She will probably never forget that moment when she took her child to the zoo and ended up almost losing him. So everyone can save their judgments because she’s already judging herself. Just like every other mom. Every other day. 

To See a Man about a Dog

As a young, curious child I would catch my parents going out of the door and ask where they were going. “To see a man about a dog,” my father would reply. This never cured my curiosity, but certainly cured me from asking this question. I wondered why he was always seeing this man about a dog when he never came back home with one. 

However, now that we are all out of the house with families of our own, he has gotten a dog. This dog is probably one of the craziest dogs I’ve ever seen but this is quite fitting considering who is owner is. So of course when my dad got sick a couple weeks ago we all decided no one was going to be taking care of Kujo. We called animal control to come get the dog out of the house. Needless to say my dad has been very concerned about his bestie. He has mentioned to everyone that he needs to return home from take care of his dog despite his inability to take care of himself right now. 


This has turned my siblings and I into parent/caretaker mode. These past couple of weeks have been really hard. Not only have I been responsible for my usual adulting, but also having to watch my father in this state has been rough. And it seemed like the clouds opened up and poured down a whole bunch of other grown up problems all at the same damn time. 

Overwhelmed would be an understatement to how I’ve been feeling. So I’ve basically just been floating through the days and watching the problems flood around me. I was so exhausted that when Eli wanted to play dog I didn’t even object. He got in the dog kennel and made me lock him inside. Then we put the leash around his waist and let him run all around. When he would stop, I’d pet him and say, “Good boy!”  I thought wow this is bad parenting, but this is good exercise and it’s funny as hell. We both got a good nights sleep. 

This morning after I dropped him off at school I really wanted to go back home and take a nap. Then all of this adult stuff got in my way. Jack called from the hospital and he said he really wanted someone to get his dog from the kennel so that he wouldn’t be put to sleep. So he gives me the following instructions:

  1. Go to his friend’s house across the street from the cemetery. 
  2. Ask him to take Kujo in until he comes home. 
  3. If he’s not home leave a message on his chalkboard and tell him to call you ASAP. 
  4. Go to the shelter and pay $300 to save the dog. 
  5. Get a muzzle and bring the dog to the chalkboard house across the street from the cemetery. 

Great. Just. Great. 

I contemplated if I was actually going to do any of that stuff or just lie and say I did. Then I kept imagining all the future conversations I would have to have with him if I didn’t try to save Ole Rabies mouth. 

I drove to the cemetery and saw the chalkboard house to the left of me. I was convinced I was as crazy as Kujo and Jack at this point yet I parked my car and got out. I rang the doorbell and waited. There was no answer. I picked up the jumbo pink chalk and started to write “Call Cutno” and my number. Then the door opened. 

Ten minutes later I could not believe this man was actually going to let Kujo come to his house. (But then again he lives across the street from the cemetery). I drove home and felt relieved. The feeling shocked me. I didn’t give one crap about that dog (sorry dog lovers) but I at least wanted to show my dad that we tried to save him and I knew he would be happy. 

For the first time in a few weeks I started to feel better. I felt like I could possibly cross some other things off of my to-do list. I felt a little lighter. Seeing a man about a dog was just what I needed today. 

Hello, scale 

  
As a doula I am all babies and pregnancy and birth. I’m constantly reading something about breastfeeding or parenting styles. When I get on social media most of my timeline is the same. I see so many images of women during and after pregnancy. 

I’ve written about the “snap back” before. But lately it’s really been on my mind. One moment I’ll see a woman flaunting her pregnant belly or crying after just giving birth. Then I’ll see an image of a celebrity who is flaunting her unmarked flat tummy or her waist trainer. 

I think back to my own pregnancy. My memory tells me it wasn’t pretty. Or rather I wasn’t pretty. I start to wonder why I felt this way. Was it the changes to my body that were unfamiliar? I quickly gained a lot of weight and ended up on bedrest. I was told to eat more and move less. Umm what?!?!? Needless to say I struggled between feeling like I needed to do this for my baby and I wanting to preserve the version of me that I liked more. 

But honestly before I got pregnant I remember weighing 126 pounds and feeling like I needed an intervention or to be hospitalized like I was on an episode of “My 600 Pound Life.”  So when I found myself weighing 190 pounds postpartum I just about lost it. I obsessed over working out, personal trainers, boot camps. I was determined to get the weight off. Then I hit a plateau. 135 pounds. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal but I’m 4′ 11″ and I was still quite chubbier than I was used to. 

Two years of working out and I still had another ten pounds to go that would not come off. So I got pretty pissed off and threw my scale away. I focused on myself, made a lot of selfish decisions and bad ones too. But I felt good. I was happy in my skin because I felt like I was somebody I would like to be friends with. I can even look at pictures of myself when I was pregnant without spending the rest of the day loathing that image. 

  
Yet when I see posts on my timeline of pregnancy photoshoots I still don’t see any that look like me. I see a nicely touched up smooth silhouette of a pregnant woman who is beautiful. I would describe my pregnant self as bumpy, discolored, stretched, flat-bottomed, swollen, and tired. But that was still beautiful because it was the ultimate sacrifice and most unconditional love I’ve ever experienced. It made me a better person. It made me more confident. It made me vulnerable yet strong. 

Most of all it made my experience mine. One that I can learn from. One I can look back on when I’m having not so strong moments. What I learned most from my experience is that I have no control over what happens, but I have control over myself and how it affects me. That means more to me than the numbers on the scale. 

I’ve overdosed on extrovert 

  
 

I knew it was going to be a long day when I was getting ready this morning. 
I showered and got dressed. I put on my earrings and my bracelet. My bracelet felt heavier than usual. 
I packed lunch and slipped on my boots and sweater. Everything felt uncomfortable. Was my sweater too big? How much does this weigh?

As I put my son in his car seat I realized I was extremely tired. It was 8:23 am. It was gonna be a long day. 

As the day progressed I could only think about crawling back into my shell and staying there until further notice. But I knew I couldn’t because I’m a mom and had a whole lot of shit to do before my shell would welcome me again. 

Sometimes I don’t realize I’ve had too much interaction with people and the world outside of me until I need days to recover. When everything around me is too loud, too heavy, too bright, just too much. 

Today, it started with a bracelet. Normally I would have just snatched it off and throw it in my purse. But I didn’t want to take it off and risk losing it or messing it up. So I kept it on. And I made it through the day. 

Sort of. I’m currently laying in my bed, waiting for my child to fall asleep while he smells my belly button. And I haven’t eaten dinner, which will probably consist of Cap’n Crunch berries and a cocktail. 

The Market for Football Players

Disclaimer: This is just a reflection on a chapter in The Blind Side for one of the kids that I tutor. IMG_0061

I have known many boys who dream of going to the NFL. To most African American boys, this seems possible because they see so many men that look like them become successful and sign million dollar contracts. I can understand why they would choose to dream of something that seems within their reach. I would encourage any little boy with this dream to chase it because it is important that children believe they can do anything they want to do. And they can.

In this chapter, I learned a lot about the demand for football players. I learned that any player with talent can earn a lot of money to perform on the football field. But sadly, I learned that it is also important to have a certain body type to play a certain position. It seems unfair that a person can have all the talent in the world, yet because of something they cannot control will never get the opportunity to live their dream. To make matters worse, the trends for what colleges and the NFL are looking for change over time. A guy who is small and fast might not be in demand as a running back at the time when he is trying to make a professional time. But just a couple years later that same guy could be exactly what coaches are looking for.

However, on the positive side, I think of Michael Oher. Although we haven’t learned much about him at this point of the book, I gather he is not a typical football player. Yet, there is something special about him that Tom Lemming sees. I think he is a humble person and an introvert. He is probably the type of person who sees everyone the same. The fact that he didn’t know who Tom Lemming was and didn’t immediately get excited about his offer to play in the All-American game, makes me think he might find importance in many things other than football.

I am interested to see what happens with Oher in the book. I want to find out why he didn’t talk to Lemming and why it was so difficult for Lemming to find out anything about him. If he ends up being a successful NFL player, how did he go unnoticed, especially at his size?!?!!??

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Mothers Anonymous 

  
I’m no stranger to talking about how hard it is to be a mother. It’s a topic every mommy blogger writes about whether it’s in the form of a funny tale about the effed up events of a typical day or just a brutally honest straightforward post. I’ve read some responses to these posts where other women feel like more positivity about motherhood should be shared.

But that’s like expecting to sit down with your girlfriends and have conversations about how awesome your spouses are. Seriously how often do you have a conversation with your BFF and say, “girl, I just love him so much. He is so nice and awesome in bed.” The truth is those conversations are rare because happy, sappy stuff makes people more uncomfortable. Who doesn’t enjoy a good complaint session, though? 

Not to mention that writing about these things can often make you feel better. If I’m having a great day it probably won’t lead to me opening my WordPress app. Well these days I haven’t been able to find much time for writing at all. But if there was another way for women to help each other then maybe when we got together with our girls we could actually enjoy the time talking about positive, happy things. 

A recent conversation with one of my BFF’s had us trying to figure out how to create support groups and sponsors like AA. What if you could go to a meeting where you got to stand and confess about all of the things that made you a terrible mother and there was no judgement? And then when you felt yourself about to go back down that road you could call your sponsor who would come over and give you 5 minutes to pee or shower? I think this could make the world a better place for everyone who has to deal with a crazy lady who hasn’t had enough sleep or time to herself. 

I am Khayriyyah and I am a bad mother sometimes.