Under-expected Achievement – One year Teaching K-12, and Counting!

Thankful for my social media network, my anniversary teaching K-12 in my public school district would have passed me by! Without my social network, I would most likely have made no fussy attention to my anniversary. After all, I have worked in other places without ever being vigilant or celebrated an anniversary.

Thankfully, my LinkedIn network sent me congratulatory messages. Initially, I assumed the congrats were for my seven-year and counting, crippling social philanthropy. Not until I logged into my LinkedIn profile, and realized that March 2015 is when I started working.

Even after finding out the cause of the hullaballoo about my anniversary from among my social network, I did not get too excited; I wonder why? Well, “It is just teaching,” I said to myself.

“Plus, it is not a job I set out going to school for. Nor does it pay me any living wage to excite me,” my next thoughts.

But congrats messages continued trickling in, prompting me to reflect on this achievement. Perhaps the fact that other people are celebrating me more than I was, should have signaled to me, why I should treasure this achievement? After all, I am enjoying teaching K-12! True, I never set out to be a K-12 teacher, do not have an Education degree or full teaching license.

I am a Substitute Teacher [not yet permanently] employed with the public school system. I am one of the many teachers, recruited to fill-in, per need, for any homeroom teacher, or academic/professional school activity. I am one of the many convenient hires, increasingly a feature of the public school system, as in many other employment establishments, when the government does not want to offer a living wage to all its employability people. Like corporates, government is now seeking cheap available labor to do its difficult, dirty and dangerous jobs, without much financial responsibility or optimal workers welfare/compensation/protection.

That teaching is a difficult job is indisputable. It is also technically dirty and dangerous; those whom the teacher tries to protect might get one dirty. Indeed, working with children is not for the faint-hearted; they are as adorable as they are challenging. I often say, a teacher carries the entire world on his/her shoulders —of students, their parents, school administration, school supervisors, lawmakers, school budget dispensers, and the entire public, all invested in school output, more than input.

I confess that I had under-expected my achievement teaching K-12. Indeed, it is a big feat! This, from a girl who had sworn never to teach “little kids,” preferring instead, to stick to college and graduate-level students, “more mature and manageable,” or so I had convinced myself. Venturing into teaching K-12 was a path of transition back into the world of work, and because of my changed resume, which now primarily reads, “A Mother.”

I decided to venture into teaching K-12, to gain a deeper practical insight into the school curriculum and school system at the lower levels/early stages of formal education. Particularly because I did not obtain my earlier education in here in the United States, my new country of belonging. The educator in me is always curious about systems of learning I am not familiar with. I would like to be a great help to my child, an elementary schooler, as well as my new-found love for working with children, especially since becoming a parent.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not new to teaching young learners. As one of the last-born children in my family, I grew up with plenty of nieces and nephews, whom I played with, helped take care of, and equipped them with the “Children’s experience.” I enjoy hanging out with children, keeping them occupied, learning through giggling.

I enjoy the innocence of kids. I enjoy learning through them. I enjoy utilizing the lessons I learn from my child into my classrooms. Yes, Minecraft is an acceptable citation, when explaining logical, technical activities, or very brevity and resilience like the “Enderman.” So, are Dinosaurs perfect for illustrating how old one’s grandparent might be. And when you need to encourage young learners to “try something it might tastes or turn out good,” or that, “when you wait, you can play, sing or imagine anything,” Daniel Tiger is a perfect to quote.

So, to all those, like me, who venture into teaching, go out there, and courageously engage with young learners. They have so much to teach us, about ourselves, about our abilities, and about our own parenting. I am so glad that, I also get a chance to teach in Special Needs classrooms, engaging with autistic children, emotional support, gifted, learning, and reading support, life skills, partial hospitalization, and early intervention. I am grateful for the opportunity and a challenge, that came to me as an under-expected achievement!

Aluta Continua!

Advertisements

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

Happy Thanksgiving America and the World! Wherever you are!

I have not witness a very warm Thanksgiving Day in a long while! It was 55F degrees mid-afternoon today, and I was out in my bikers! And the sun was out, no wind; beautiful! Perfect day for a run, jog, anything outdoors! weather thanksgiving_Fotor

I couple of days back, Child Of Mine (COM) suggested that on Thanksgiving Day, we write down all the things were are thankful for. I readily agreed, and promised to obliged when the day comes – today, Thursday, November 26, 2015.
On his part, he had had an entire day of Thanksgiving celebration – making applesauce and crafts and tasting apple butter at school, and exploring Thanksgiving at home at school.

This Thanksgiving morning, I waited for him to wake up, served him breakfast, brushed our teeth, then we sat down to compile out lists.

Here is his list:
Thanksgiving Day_Fotor_Collage

Thankful for:

  1. Food (Me: makes sense, since we are talking after breakfast 🙂)
  2. Oxygen
  3. Water
  4. Shelter
  5. Blood – without blood we cannot live
  6. Heart – I would not be alive, if I did not have a hear
  7. My brain —it is the control system. It controls every part of my body.
  8. Bones —Bones connect the body together.
  9. Muscles —If I knew how to fight but did not have muscles, I would not be much stronger.

[Mental note to self: Uhm! Everything seems to be about him. Oh well! Just be happy he is compiling a list!]

I started my list

  1. COM —Because he has helped me understand life better. Plus, he allows me push him out of his comfort zone, ‘experiment’ on him and co-op him into my adventurous life. At his age, he is already Scouting for Food as a Cub Scout, caring for therapy dogs with Paws and Pages and donating to Toys for Totsscouting and community service_Collage
  2. My mother – She brought me into this world, and is always there for me, even when I am sad and do not feel like talking. She surprises me.
  3. For the gift of life —It is full of challenges, but it makes me stronger and optimistic.
  4. All the friends and family who give me laughter, shelter, surprises, reassurance and social support.
  5. Challenges – that teach me a lot about myself and my potentialities
  6. For the United States – it gave me Biko, my adult life, exposure to a larger world or learning and education, connectivity of humanity, and retracing my blackness through my ancestors who were shipped off as slaves many years ago.
  7. Uganda – my birthplace that nurtured me from childhood. The most fun, free and safest place I have ever lived.
  8. Social networks – the Cub Scout, Paws n Pages, where I meet new friends, learn about opportunities to participate in community activities, and my son gets to learn about life and serve his community at a young age.
  9. Running and exercise – center me….and lift me up….
  10. Single parenting – I am stronger than I give myself credit. I fall, crumble and bounce back. I can risk it all…and start building it anew. I can give no matter whether I get the same. Single parenting makes it easier to make decisions, spontaneous actions and planning, and allows me to ‘dictate’ child’s diet and menu most of the time. IMG_2936

I think COM noticed that I was giving credit to people, while he did not. So, he added his #10

  1. My teachers that help me learn.

Still, no mention of me, anywhere!  But I am straight —-No! I am not….but hey

It is Thanksgiving Day! Not Mourning and Pouting Day.

We have watched the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, which is always a pleasure….We Skyped internationally; we are making business connections; we are blogging, and COM is writing down all the books he has read this month. He has already surpassed his set monthly goal of 30 to 53 books! And he still has four more days before the end of month —whoopee-do!

IMG_3049I am making a very veggie Thanksgiving lunch of Eggplant aka aubergine, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and asparagus [didn’t I tell you, there is joy in single parenting!]. And we are watching the National Dog Show!

Happy Turkey, Tofurky, Cranberry sauce [we might just have some cranberry jelly], the pies and all. We will have Sparkling Cider, our special treat!

Whatever you do! Wherever you are! Whatever you eat! Be Thankful!

An article in Chicago Tribune profiles former Stanford Dean Lythcott-Haims, among other writers like Jessica Lahey (“The Gift of Failure”) and Jennifer Senior (“All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood”), speaking to “Helicopter Parents” to Let It Go! Let the children be, children! Have a life of your own! You can also call them “Socca moms” or Drill Surgeons, they are in the face of their children, and anyone involved with their children.

Lythcott-Halms cites statistics on the rise of depression and other mental and emotional health problems among the nation’s young people, as justification that, perhaps Helicopter Parents are doing more harm than good, by micromanaging their children’s lives, trying to churn them into super-high achievers. Points to the growing concern that many young people are “adultscents” stuck in “waithood”!

I wrote recently about Parenting on a Shoe-String of Hope, that, regardless of how much we invest into our kids, there is no guarantee that they will turn out with the discipline, commitment, self-drive, kindness and love, we so strive to impart in them and desire! Parenting is not a game, yet it is a “Hit and Miss”!

Now, we have more parents, parent psychologists and scholars sharing their experiences and views on how we, as a society of parents, are fairing in grooming our children, the critical thinkers, national builders and leaders of after years. Or could it be “now years,” since children no longer waiting till adulthood to woo their societies as inventors, leaders, scholars, business gurus, artists, and employers.

At least children are gaining some recognition, that they are not just diaper-clad, video game, Minecrafters, demanding their “me-time” and “me-decide,” while expecting for papa and mama to make their bed, provide a food and monthly allowances, after-college rent, and plane tickets to global vacation destinations! Perhaps, here, we could boast that our “Helicopter parenting” has paid off, or are the ‘mature’ ones not products of helicopter parenting?

But, are we “Helicopter Parenting” out of unfounded paranoia, or are we justified?
Fear of the “known unknown” — rapists, kidnappers, murderers, has driven us to safeguard our children much more. I would argue that they rise of the known-unknowns could be an outcrop of the diminishing family size, progressively excluding aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and grandparents [referred to in Western Culture as “Extended Family”], and collapsing into a nuclear family of mom, dad, plus one or two children. Additionally family is increasingly “private and estranged from community relationships and neighborhood watch.

Back in the days, a child belonged to the community, which kept a watchful eye, disciplined, freely interacted and played with one another. Today, our children need [in]formal permission, an invitation and scheduled playdate with the neighbor’s child. We are scared of our neighbor(s), do not always know our neighbor, and have replaced innocent trust with restraint. The neighbor [though not all neighbors] is no longer looking out to protect but harm our children and restrict our children’s play.

Ironically, the “fear of thy neighbor,” has undermined our much celebrated “neighborhood watch,” diminished social responsibility to protect our kids, instead churning out more predators with harmful and malicious intent and practices in our neighborhoods. We as neighbors are distancing ourselves further away from each another, with a diminishing obligation to commit and love one other.

Nothing speaks to the shrinking “modern family” size, values and protection than the ‘disappearance’ of blood relatives in raising our children. Not even the unconditional support of family in raising our children, can be taken for granted anymore! Grandparents and younger siblings are no longer “automatic babysitters” for our children; they have lives to live! Growing up, I babysat my nieces and nephews, supported my older siblings households without question, protest or bitterness.

Today, the true meaning of family is not a social network you can take for granted, or a social guarantor of love and support, unconditionally. Family is now a site of wary, each on collision course of survival for the fittest. Parents are struggling to stay afloat on their own, as the main guardians of their children, sometimes separately.

The expectation that every parent contributes to parenting, regardless and with no emphasis on how much overt love was expressed toward the children. Now, the phenomenon of absentee father is a huge blight on parenting, and the survival and proper functioning of families, The absentee father is not only non-custodial, but also pops in and out of his child’s life at own convenience, or lives-in with both child and child’s mother, but is more focused on his own life than family welfare.

Thus, the rise of the “Helicopter Parent(s),” not primarily to outpace others children in a survival for the fittest, but also to compensate for the burden and responsibility of raising children as single parent and/or without the additional support of relatives and society. Helicopter parents are as much concerned about the future success of our children and ability to stay afloat in a cut-throat world.

Yet, we are constant bombarded with parenting practices, suggestive but guilt-tripping us, national laws and policies to adhere to, ‘concerned neighbors’ and ‘social watchers’ quick to condemn our parenting skills, and tell on us to the authorities, because in their view, we are not good parents.

Parenting on a Shoe-String of Hope!

Parenting is not for the faint-hearted! Bet you have heard that plenty of times …!

If you have not experienced parenting as yet, I am not trying to dissuade you. But, you heard me! Buckle up! It is going down.

Before I became a parent, I thought parents were such selfish friends, “All they cared for, talked about and had eyes on were their children!” 

Then I became a parent! In my early years as a parent, I scoffed at anyone who said, “I do not want to be a parent.” Or “I did not have parental instincts.”  “Nobody is born with parental instincts,” I thought. But we all try to do the “natural thing”.

Now I am silently terrified for them. Everytime someone tells me, they are joining the “Club of Parents,” I quietly mourn for them, “They are digging their own graves,” so I think. What the hell are they getting themselves into?

It is a hard knock life to be a parent! Definitely tougher for single parents, but not suggesting that two parents living together, and sharing responsibility, have it any easier. It is not a game, yet it is a “hit and miss”. COM on Community Service

Parenting is the toughest job in the world, one which you can never take a break or run away from. Not saying, that nobody takes a break or runs away forever. But I trust runway parents are haunted by the indifference toward their children.

Even parents taking a break, not indefinitely, but for a minute to rejuvenate, recoup or pay attention to one’s other life demands, beat themselves up for “taking time away from their children.”

Little wonder, parents have delegate their job to others, since time immemorial. From the royals taking on slaves and servants to care for their infants, families hiring nannies, as live-ins or 24-hour daycare establishments, or utilizing the help of family and friends as babysitters.

Some of the controversial parenting stories I have heard involved white women in America and white and Afrikaans women in South Africa using black nursing mothers to breastfeed their children because “they did not want their breasts to sag.”

There is a more controversial case of Amanda America Dickson, born of a non-consenting a slave woman to a white planter in Georgia. According to the story, the white planter went against the prevailing racial climate to force a black woman to have a child for him, desperate for a family of his own.

But the biological mother was never allowed ownership of her daughter. She was raised primarily by the white father and his mother [the paternal grandmother], nor mother-daughter bonding, to avoid societal alienation and protect the, “Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege: Amanda America Dickson, 1849-1893,” according to Kent Leslie named.

Amanda never knew that the woman who lived as a house-slave [put more crudely, called “house-nigger] in her father’s house was in fact her biological mother, until her father and grandmother declined the marriage proposal of her white suitor. They were afraid that a “Black” [literally] family secret would run out of the bag, and ruin their social standing in antebellum Georgia.

I offer these examples to illustrate the complicatedness of parenting, amidst life’s uncertainties, insecurities, under-appreciation, limited resources and social pressures. Yet the toughest job must continue; for many people, on a “Shoe-String of Hope”.

When the resources at your disposal – social, monetary or emotional – are limited, you still have to keep hoping that life will smile on you. A friend told me soon after I became a mother, “Children bring blessings.” Thankfully, I experience that phrase everyday of my life as a parent, doing double shift solo – momma and popsy.

Whenever I am in doubt, whether I will afford a smile, a new pair of shoes, after-school activities, or pick child up from the school bus in time, the stars align brightly for me! There is an excess penny in the bank to pay for Tang-Soo-Do, my neighbor is home to help pick up child till I get back home or child wakes up with a wide smile and big dreams, turning my gray into blue.

Whenever, I self-doubt whether the future will bring appreciation, winning, greatness, excellence, I am take comfort in knowing that I give a lot of myself to embrace the challenge of parenting. No, parenting was not my first calling; in fact, never my calling. Still, I have given a lot of me to ensure that COM has a semblance of normality growing up.

That perhaps, by putting him over and above my interests, I can lessen the potential undesirable effects of being raised by a single mother. Perhaps he will ‘escape’ the pigeon hole into which the world has pre-cast him, from childhood. Perhaps, he will be one step ahead, of his pack, and strive to be the best. The physical visibility of mother’s love, and her presence, will warm him to the beauty, kindness and goodness of life, amidst life’s strife, human suffering, and struggles.

Yet, the gambling continues! As parents, we have no guarantee that all the investment we invest in our children will pay off. Whether they will turn out to be disciplined, committed, self-driven, kind and loving.

Are we parenting too much that, they will not be able to go it alone? Or they will give up on the values and skills we pushed onto them to achieve, in the name of preparing them to be the best and conquer the world?

Are we breeding “adultscents”, stuck in perpetual “waithood”, too afraid of failure, that they will resist taking bold steps of responsibility, in case they turn out like their parents? We have been there; running away from the “mishaps of our parents and older siblings,” ending up right in the same shit-hole. Not to say every does….Obama seems to be doing great…though we cannot deny the vicious cycle that grips plenty of others.  For now, we shall keep battle the best we can….Parenting on a Shoe-String of Hope!

Life is Not All About Work…..

Suddenly, a wave of sadness engulfed me….for a moment, as I sat down in the Library with Child of Mine [who by now you know I refer to simply as, COM], pondering over “The Absurdity of my Life”. Well, perhaps it is not all absurd, thus the quotations. I have COM to keep me moving, thinking, believing, and brightening up my days. I have no more tears; they dried out since taking on COM. Now I cry dead tears, mourn internally, all the while, wearing a smile around him. How can I allow him to see me break down? I need to keep his hopes up. OR so, I tell myself.

Ok, I take that back; in fact I have tears, but not for my absurdity. I cry about anything related to him. For instance, I cry when I think of him returning to school, I cry when I put him on the bus on the first day of school, and on some mornings. Sometimes I cry when I wake up before him, and have to leave him to go out for a run. I cry, at the thought of him growing up and going off to college. I cry thinking about whether I am a good mother to him, and if I will raise him to be an astute guy.

Today was one of those days. The heatwave got to us, bringing a rush of responses in my head, in case one asked about me. “Well, my life isn’t worth sharing. The absurdity does not make sense. Yes, I have this and that experience.…plenty to talk about. I have a recollection of plenty of exciting words, with thoughts, energies…powerful additions to life, society and to the human experience. But it is also in a web, a sea of complicatedness. I will spare you the details, but I imagined myself responding to anyone who cared to ask about me.

Then I remembered the words a corporate mogul on a TV show I watched, “Life is Not all About Work”. Totally stolen from my thoughts!

By work, he meant, the hustle and bustle, the paper-chase, growing corporate bodies, stocks, and financial superstardom.

Life is also about the paying deeper attention to our relationships, smelling a rose, listening to “the dull and ignorant,” and taking inspiration from other people’s miseries.

Life is Not All About Work reaffirms to me that, perhaps I am doing the right thing, spending plenty of time with COM, chaperoning him to Day Camp and Overnight Weekend Camping, entertaining his young buddies and relatives with, impromptu “picnic at the park”, summer birthdays in the park, swimming at the pool, or offering myself to babysit and take care not just COM but the same number of children like my mother had. Either because their parents are not available, need an extra hand, or they are dealing with ill loved ones.  FotorCreated SUmmer 2015

In all these challenges, engagements and sacrifices, I draw plenty of lessons, and comfort in a seemingly bleak tomorrow. I am also re-learning to rely on my biggest assets, my strengths, stamina, optimism, creativity, social upbringing, mental forage, hunger for learning, reading and sharing, intellectualism, networking skills, love for the outdoors, adventure and the sprit of giving.

I take time to recall plenty of lessons my mother instilled in me, directly or by default. Among which are:

  • Better to keep your mouth shut. No one will blame you for thoughts unsaid.

– Those obsessed with respect, overwhelm them.

– One without shame is a fool. [She attributed this to my grandmother]

– In another person’s house, your choice is to slave. 

Obviously, there are better English phrases/proverbs with similar meaning to mine above. However, I prefer to present mine in a literal interpretation of my mother’s words. For instance the last one could be rephrased as, “A beggar has no choice” or “Silence is Golden” or “Respect Thy Master”…She is a great inspiration to what I do, what I pay attention to and my commitments.

I am grateful that I am spending time with my son, and providing him plenty of opportunities beyond what money can facilitate. As the summer draws to a close, I reflect to all the accomplishments we have made together or with family and friends. With a very humble budget, but a big heart and strong drive. At the start of his First Grade year, one of his “Resolutions” from a class exercise read, “I wish to go on vacation this year.” I am grateful that I was able to make that happen for him.

On his last day of school, I got him off the bus and onto the bus to New York City, and train to Legoland Discovery Center. We spent our first weekend in New York State, between Westchester County and Brooklyn, NYC. Phenomenon experience, plenty of excitement in one weekend!

At Legoland, we built bridges and apartment blocks, built and raced cars, flew on a jet. He spent plenty of time in a bouncy house, while I spent some “Me” time reading and fb’king. We spent quality time hopping from
store to store, including playing with electronics, in ‘his favorite store of all time,’ the Apple Store, while I charged my phone.

The weekend came to an end with a trip to visit cousins in Brooklyn, went to Brooklyn Bridge, Park, walked on top of rocks, eat free food, and enjoyed a free Skloosh. Moreover, COM had a chance of going on a whirlwind through NYC subway, from Port Authority to Time Square to Penn Station. He quickly learned that, “NYkers are not friendly to others. They do not say hello.” COM is smart!

Out of New York, went off to Palmyra, PA, Lancaster County, to visit my family, since my mom was visiting us here from down south (Georgia).  Exciting, quality and fun family time: Hershey Chocolate World and Harrisburg, PA State Capitol, and ran through the corn fields of Lancaster County. Back to the Poconos, and before long, another road trip to Accokeek, MD, on July 4th Weekend, for a cousin’s birthday. I, got to ‘sneak away’ to meet old friends in Wash/DC.


While it has been a period of pre-longed sickness in the family, it became an opportunity to shine through, unexpectedly. I have stepped up to support the family, torn apart, depressed and absorbed in caring for the sick. Turning lemons into lemonades, by practicing my momma adorned skills of patience, humanity and caring for others. Kids have especially been central to my heart and hands, as well as the entire household.

Impromptu picnic in the park, just because we had salad, watermelon, pitta bread to make pizza. Watched the kids play in the park, and made sure they funNED out together, as cousins get to do all summer long at grandma’s house. More fun picnic in the yard, swimming at the pool, playing board games, putting on “The Big Game”, painting girls’ nails and playing games boy play, Hello  Wii U!

Summer bebe means summer birthdays in the park, our an annual fete, with plenty of friends and family. The Ninja within us came out! And if you are a wonderful, sociable, kind and humble child like mine, you get more birthday party invites, with free pass into Crayola Factory! More adventures, more friends, and more exciting moments.

In other news, Scouting just got more fun, with a week-long Day Camp at Camp Minsi, where we got to try out new stuff for the first time: archery, slingshot, building pirate’s treasure chest and telescope, playing cannon balls with marbles, sail-a-ho, making square knot, treasure hunting and fishing, and swimming in the lake (COM has swam in pools, oceans and seas before).

Oh yeah! Even got a chance to “raise the colors” (National Flag); how cool is that! Then weekend overnight camping at Knoebels Camping Ground, with Saturday spent jumping on and off rides at Knoebels Amusement Resort, with new-found friends.

We participated in the Summer Reading Program at our local youth library, and read our way to the “Wall of Fame”, scooped plenty of badges and gifts for 1,000+ reading minutes. Very little of ‘Paws n Pages’, since one of the lovely therapy dogs COM reads to got put down [shhh], and another underwent an operation that puts him out for recovery for a while.

In athletics, we added a new sport, Soccer, and successfully completed the YMCA Summer Soccer Camp with friends and new friends. Learning never stops! And Yes! We are now blue belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, going onto Red stripe, and before long, We will be Red belt. What a year!

No, we are not financially wealthy; we are simply committed to engaging, achieving and growing. Hopefully, COM will continue with some or all of these activities for many more years into the future. Hopefully, it will influence his commitments in life, and future life trajectory.

Throughout these experiences, I am learning and recalling many lessons, and gaining more appreciation for Small is Beautiful!

Never Say Never, also continuously reverberates in my ears, especially now that I am a mother. Eight years ago, I would never have imagined myself hanging out, or letting COM hang with gun-wielding folks.

But Time is Of The Essence! I attribute this kind of growth to becoming a mother. Though, thanks in part to Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, where I learned about the “Role of Force [in International Relations]”.

Whereas I still do not subscribe to the notion that force justifies the use guns, at Fletcher I gained a renewed familiarity with those who take to guns to resolve disagreements. I still do not understand why, a five-year old kid gets a BB gun as a birthday gift from the parents.

Still, I am no longer locking myself away from opposites, nor jettisoning those friendship away from COM, as long as it is clearly understand, “We do not entertain guns as toys or seek to gain expertise in shooting with a gun. Archery or Sling Shots, we shall try. Fotorcollage Summer 20152

Most importantly, I am learning to appreciate every slow-down in professional advancement as opportunities for grow in other areas, such as health, fitness and wellness. I wake up very early in the morning to work-out and keep myself in good mental and physical health. No wonder, my child thinks I am a “runner by profession”.

My runs are my avenues for releasing unwanted toxins, creating new ideas and running away from sadness. On one of my morning runs, a thought came to my mind, Never think of your challenges or life choices as a failure, but life’s lessons and trajectories. Otherwise, you will spend your life, comparing yourself to others, and growing bitterness. You will also lose sight of the important achievements and milestones you make, when making hard choices and while making life adjustments.

Of puppy crushes and hard-on – Let’s Talk About “S” Bebe

Parents, guardians and educators of young minds, let’s imagine this happened to any of you. I will not disclose my sources…but as a mother of a seven-year old, it gives me cause to worry.

Here we go…retold in [first person]

“I am wounded. Terribly wounded!!

I just had a talk with a six-year old about sex, crushes and hard-ons. Can you believe it? No! I cannot. I am crying, internally. My tear glands are not doing me a favor; I want to sob.
M. I still have butterflies about Leigh [Not real name].” [Followed by shy giggles.
“How do you feel when you have butterflies about her?” I asked
“When I think about her, my pee pee gets hard. Right now, my pee pee is hard”

That’s the moment I panicked, and realized that I need help. 
“Well, I am not a man, and I do not know what to do when your pee pee gets hard,” I responded to him. I am going to ask a friend, who is a man and a teacher for advice on what to do.”

Hitherto, I was playing it cool and silly. In fact, I might have stirred him up on his ’silly’ infatuation, and resultant “hard-on”. For one, he’s had a ‘girlfriend’ since pre-K, that he dropped for a new one in Kindergarten, I bet there’s gonna be one from 1st Grade. 2) I imagined, his ‘love story’ was similar to mine back when I was five.

When I was in Kindergarten, I got myself duped by a grown man that he was going to marry me. The next day, I came home from school, took a shower, packed all my bags and waited outside our family home for Mr. Y to pick me up and take me off to his home, our new marital home [Never mind that he was probably over twenty years of age]. Not only didn’t he show up that day, it took a while before he showed up again on our block.  So, I had to face repeated humiliation from my bigger brother and sister, mocking me for dropping out of school in Kindergarten, and going off to get married. I bet Mr. Y did not even give [the marriage] a second thought, because it was joke to him. He probably forgot his “proposal” as soon as he’d stepped away from our neighborhood.

Interestingly, I grew up without a love for men or marriage, not because Mr. Y stood me up. My own family drama speaks volumes about this. But that is a story to be told and re-told many times elsewhere. 

Anyway, this time I freaked out, and wrote to a friend, who is both male and a teacher. A bonus, he is an American, with a multi-cultural background, who has lived and taught in several countries outside the United States. I feel he would be best positioned to give a male opinion, but also with a cultural context to it. I do not have personal experience of little male boys  talking about “crushes and hard-ons” to their parents.

As someone from a different generation, I am quite slow to catch up with this seemingly “hyper-sexual” generation. Young minds of today know a lot about sex than I knew at their age, and perform more sex than I did back in the days. Thanks to the abundant ‘open’ and [il]liberal media, which is exposing to children as young as three to daily love stories – watch Madagascar, The Lion King, Lego Movie, Incredibles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Frozen, you name it! There’s a love story with someone getting married, heartbroken or kissing, followed by eewws and eewws, from the young watchers.

I know a thing or two about what goes on in the Elementary School System, where kids express or act out their crushes with classmates, or tell their friends, who often tease them about who they have a crush on. Unbeknownst to me, the teasing can grow into infatuation and feelings of love and desires for kissing their crush!

As I waited for “expert advice” from my friend, I decided to engage my six-year old into a “Let’s Talk About Sex, bebe”

Mom: “Do you know what sex is?”
6-yr-old: “Yes. When people lie on top of each other.”
Me ; [oh oh TMI -internal panic]. “Where did you see that?”
6-yr: “On TV, one of the shows. Even Simba had Nala [in The Lion King.] They loved each other and made a baby.”
Me. “Uhm! But the people you saw on TV were not young, right? They are adults who are married or living together?”
6-yr: “Yes. But some kids also talk about sex [coyly answered]. Even my classmates.”

Overwhelmed, I could not run away from the talk anymore. I had to break the ‘innocence’ to protect the ‘innocence’. Does that even make sense?

I told him it is normal for pees pees of young boys to young boys to get hard. I let him know that, it is ok to have feelings for girls. It means we appreciate others.
I asked, “Does she feel the same about you? Does she want to be your boyfriend?”
“She did not say that to me,” he responded

I told him, “It is important to be careful because if the girls does not feel the same, she could tell her mother and her mother may not like it. Then she would tell the teacher, and you might get in trouble. I might also get in trouble for exposing you to movies or TV that have sex.”

I went on, “Plus, you are still too young to focus too much on sex and loving a girl. You have many years to go. You should wait until you are an adult, then you can get married and have a wife and then you can start engaging in sex. It is a huge responsibility for a six-year old like you.”

Yes, I mentioned that some young boys have sex with girls, get them pregnant and then have to take are of them. So, they drop out of school to start working for their family. Sometimes it does not work out, and if they cannot afford to take care of their family, they could be sent to jail. 

At that moment, I realized that he was scared. “I won’t talk about sex anymore,” he told me.
“It is ok to tell me how you feel,” I said. In fact I am glad that you told me, that means you trust me. But don’t think about sex too much. You are still young.” 
Another thought occurred to me, to ask him how he feels about each of the girls who were in his Kindergarten class. 

Ki- I don’t really like her because she cares a lot about fashion, make up, and sometimes she is mean. She also likes to sit next to K all the time
Vi – She gets in trouble so much. Other people, Q, A and E say mean things to her like, she has sludge on her hands (the things you have in the nose) 
Bri and Eli- They have too much braids! 
H – She’s kind of shy, like Jac
Ab – Her eyes look big when she has glasses on
Gr – She’s kind of weird. Sometimes, with her right eye, she’s looking left, and with her left eye she’s looking right
Ch – She’s mean. Remember when you were teaching in my class, and she was being mean to some people!
Ln – Too much K! She always wants to sit next to K. I sit with all my best friends, A, J, V, E, But she wants to sit only next to K.
K – She’s a good person, she’s good in school, beautiful, stylish and nice 

Then, I suggested that we check the internet for guidance, “What to do when your six-year old has crush?”

We read all info together. Most of the information we found reiterated what I had told him: that all young boys experience erections; they also get infatuated with girls. But I also learned that it is important not to make your child feel guilty about their feelings, and not make them feel it is wrong to share how they feel with you.  It was good for him to hear a written opinion from the authority even kids like him know, “Google”.
http://www.steadyhealth.com/topics/erections-in-young-boys-is-it-normal

Moreover, my “expert teacher/guidance counselor” wrote back to reassure me that the body is taking charge, and he has no way of controlling it. He told me it is good to let him know that it is natural for an erection to happen when he gets the butterflies, but he should keep his private part private. Like me, my “Expert teacher” agrees it is great my six-year old trusts me enough to confide in me.” 

There you have it! How I dread this story happening to me, with my seven-year old! That one day, he will come to me, crying about his crushes, at this tender age. I would want to tell him, you still have all the way to college before you start worrying about girls. You should wait until you get married.

Interestingly, last weekend, COM asked me, “how does one pick the girl they wish to marry. How do they decide on the one?” I had to tell him about meeting somebody, getting to know them, their family and friends, and treating them nice. Then you can ask the person, if they will marry you?

“Then, how do you meet the people who you went to Elementary school with, when you are grown?”

Sometimes, people keep in touch. That is, keep communicating. Sometimes we lose contact. Many people do not marry the people they new from elementary school, but meet people in other places like college, work, gym, community, on the bus or train.”
“Once you are married, I continued, then you can have sex with your partner and have children, if you like.” [I hope against hope that he would not ask me, but why did you and daddy have me without being married…]

Just as I was getting to pat myself on the back, he told me, “Mommy, I know you can be married and still not have sex.”
“Really? Why? I asked.
“Co’s dad and mom do not have sex,” came his response
“How do you know?” I am getting freaked out.
“Co told me!” COM says.

Oh well! It is really about time we have the “BIG TALK”. One of these days, I will sit down COM And tell him, “Let’s Talk About Sex, Bebe”

Motherhood: This Holy Sweet Grail…

Oh! Motherhood!Mommy and cub

A Happy Belated Mother’s Day 2015, everyone!

At least if you claim to be a mother. And to all the baby mommas, momma-daddies, daddy-mommas, grandmas, surrogates, birth mommas, godmothers, and everyone else who shares motherhood! Proud of you!

I had a superfood Mother’s Day!

Child and I started out with a light breakfast. Too light, I cannot exactly remember what we had. I know there was a cereal, somewhere. For breakfast, I probably served eggs and waffle,  maybe? I had tea, most definitely, as a routine!

Yes my friends, I was asked to produce breakfast on Mother’s Day, by ‘the powers that be’!

“Mommy, I have been waiting for breakfast a longtime!”

Excuse Child of Mine (CoM) for not getting the memo, that mothers are “Off Duty” on Mother’s Day. I let him know my expectations for next year; who will assume the traditional role of preparing breakfast for the other on the same. After all, CoM will be a year older and wiser? Uhm, so the world thinks 😉

After breakfast, made and served by my skillful hands, we hangout for a while. Then headed out for our “special Family Day-out”, of playing with pottery and painting at Poke-A-Nose. It was a reserved splash, “Mommy & Me pottery” with Teas and Pastries. But don’t believe the hype about the “Teas & Pastries”! The ‘Colony’ was not left with any “High Tea” or “royal pastries”! So, they ‘faked’ up own version of “Ice Tea and cookies”. Who serves ice tea for pretty occasions, I wondered!

Still, mission accomplished! Then on to lunch at our fav place, of legged, shelled and crabbed things, slithered down the throat with apples and vanilla cream. Memories are what they are made of! I must say, though, that plate was not worth the $$ drained out of my kitty😭😭. Thankfully, CoM’s $5 win from the Earth Day Kids Dash, chipped in for the dessert, and wiped away a few 😭😭! 😀

Still, something about celebrating that golden day -Mother’s Day, sores my heart, each time. On Mother’s Day, I felt as joyous, as I felt sadness. I love the works of my brain and hand, particularly CoM. Yet, I felt a moment of sorrow and loneliness.

Perhaps it is having to repeatedly do things, all by myself and for myself? Perhaps having to be the Center of Attention for CoM? Perhaps it’s the exhaustion from thinking about the responsibilities of parenting? Wondering if you are making the right decisions, right choices, or providing the right guidance? Afraid of whatever details you might be leaving out, for his proper growth? Guilty of not being able to provide as well as you should? Guilty of your life circumstances? Half-full glass?

But then, when he just kisses and hugs me, and says, “I Love You Mommy. You’re the best mommy in the entire galaxy.” I can’t help, but feel overwhelmed with joy, holding back my tears, for that feeling of a job well done!

The start of the week post-Mother’s Day, life was not going trés good, and the week did not start well either. Painful reality of uncertainty about the immediate and future life, physical, emotional and mental displacement, and insecurities, all pilled on me as the day wound down. Not knowing what tomorrow is gonna bring, and how big, good and fast, tomorrow will bring our way.

Thinking about the life we never had. The life we had, the life we have now, and the life we wish to have, becomes overwhelming for me. More so, as a mother raising a child on her own, and striving for the best for her child. Moments can steal all the passion, commitment, courage and determination to succeed, to do the best, and stay on task.

There are trying moments, gut-wrenching, with plenty of self doubt. But they also arouse the most self-reflection, and energetic recollection of oneself. A reminder that, I have been there, done that, and came out strong. A reminder that, I can still dust myself up and try again. A reminder that life never completely gives up on anyone.

For now, I am going to keep working on being the best mother. I am gonna work on celebrating each Mother’s Day with Child. Making motherhood one of the best jobs I have done. I want to enjoy every bit of this journey, while hoping the best to come out.

I will remind myself that, life is not always about bliss. There are low moments, followed by tides. There are moments of joy and moments of cold. As the week progressed, I felt much better…not great…but better. Perhaps that is a score in itself. What remains true is the love I have for CoM, and the joy of the Holy Sweet GrailMotherhood!