Spare the Rod…At Least In Public?

I can recall several times when seemingly poor parenting skills caused an irate mother to openly and loudly scold her child in a public place. There was the blonde, middle-aged woman in Wal-Mart in Texas who was accosted by store security after her episode. Then there was the young, African-American mother in Maryland in the shoe store whose language made me, a grown woman, blush. Oh and I dare not forget the mother of three little girls who caused a riot in my favorite North Carolina Target store when an onlooker reprimanded her for her exaggerated instruction.

Seemingly poor parenting.

I cannot recall ever having such episodes. I remember chastising my God-son for stealing a band-aid around age four or for speaking disrespectfully to me around age six but even that was discreet and contained. I cannot recall a time when I jumped outside of my introverted self to discipline my sons in an extroverted manner and chance public scrutiny.

That is until yesterday when I became a victim of seemingly poor parenting.

My sons and I, along with my mother, were enjoying one of our favorite pastimes and strolling through the flea market aisles. I was gawking over Nehi peach sodas (which are not on my current diet but reminded me of my childhood days in Tuskegee, Alabama) as my mother reminisced over the “penny candy” section (which coincidentally no longer cost a penny). My sons were joking and laughing as tweens do when I noticed the younger holding what appeared to be a bag of candy under his shirt.

In a speed that would shame light, my arm reached across the row of peanut butter bars and chick o sticks and pulled him into me by the collar of his shirt as he held up his hands in defense and to show me that no crime had been committed. Fear held my voice hostage as I thought of young black boys shot and killed out of mere suspicion. Fear paralyzed my legs as I remembered young black boys murdered for walking down streets and whistling…or not. Fear held my hands hostage as I remembered young black boys whose hands were bound by silver bracelets and whose minds remain in iron shackles.

I choked the life out of his threads as my voice escaped and fear unleashed itself.

I became a seemingly poor parent, yelling at my child in front of strangers. Strangers who would have thought I was a poor parent if I had yelled or if he had stolen. Strangers who would have whispered about my lack of ability to control my children or control myself. Either way, I am a seemingly poor parent. Stares scorched my back as my mother and first-born stood by watching and fearing; my mother for my truth, my son for his brother.

When my voice escaped, unrecognizable and shaking, I reminded my son about Trayvon Martin, Emmit Till and Brian Banks and how close he is to becoming a statistic, a case, a victim, a point of reference every time he seemingly does something wrong.

Seemingly poor parenting became a fight for survival and I care not what anyone else thought in that moment, only that my son understood the severity of his actions and the sincerity in mine.

Tonight I’ll pray an extra long prayer for the mothers and fathers fighting to save their sons even through seemingly poor parenting and I’ll reward myself with a few extra mary janes because I refuse to let myself or my sons become a statistic, a case, a victim or a point of reference no matter how hard I have to fight or how crazy I appear to be. I am not a seemingly good mother…

I am.

 

 

 

Cup A Joe

Photo by JElite Photography

I’ve waited months to write this article. Since the conception of this space to share my expertise on my own ideas, I have prepared for this post. I always imagined calling it Happy Mother’s Day, but it is not Mother’s Day. It is Father’s Day and I have but one thing to say to that…

I am not a father!

I appreciate the text messages, telephone calls, Facebook tags and the like wishing me well over the years with “for the single moms holding it down and playing both roles, Happy Daddy’s Day.” I understand the thought behind your sentiment but there is a fallacy in your expression…

I ain’t no damn daddy!

I am a mother. I am a woman. I am a lady (why can’t you say that without a Shanaynay accent). My sons have a father. I do not now, nor have I ever been a father and unfortunately for the two little boys under my care, as great as I am, I cannot fake that. I know what it means to nurture a living being in my womb. I know what it sounds like to hear that first cry. I know how it feels to nourish an infant with my bosom (and FYI, no matter what they say about how good it is for the baby-it hurts like hell).

I am a mother.

Mother & son-ballin' by JElite Photography

I don’t know how to teach sons to grow into men. I cannot fathom the spirit of brotherhood. I have no idea what it means to be the paternal member of the household. I misrepresent concepts like hollerin’ at girls, developing swagga, marking territory, pissing standing up or hocking up phlegm. Sorry to burst your bubbles out there but I have my limitations-fatherhood happens to be one of them.

I know there are many women who profess to be momma and daddy, but I am not disillusioned. I completely comprehend the concept behind the differences behind males and females, and there are significant differences beyond the physical. I get that you are holding things down in the absence of your child’s father, but you are holding it down as a mother, don’t get it twisted. You are a single parent, specifically, of the maternal order. You are not a father, please stop pretending to be both and stop discounting the need for male (real male) role models in the lives of our children.

I’m thankful for what keeps me going, and it’s not just my cup a joe, it’s also my cup a joe. My daddy, Joe, gets that I am a mom, a real mom, a girly mom, a take-a-book-into-a-NBA-game-and-look-up-once-to-ask-did-we-get-a-touchdown-kinda-mom, and he acknowledges that my sons need regular influences, fatherly influences. He steps in without request and handles the paternal roles placing us in an informal co-parenting relationship. 

My dad, always the character...

I love that my sons can call Joe and ask “why does one testicle hang lower than the other?” and sit locked in the bathroom, as if security locks out sound so I cannot hear the answers. I love that they can send him a secret text after one of my “Michelle Obama dinners” that is followed up with a rib dinner delivery as they sit in front of a game or WWE exhibition and pig out on meat with a side of meat and wash that down with a cup of sauce. Sure these are questions I could answer, things I could do, but I am not a father and I just don’t get it.

Tomorrow while I’m boarding an early flight with what is sure to be my second cup a joe in hand, my boys will be basking in the beginning of their ten-day stay with their cup a joe and for that I am happy.

Happy Father’s Day to all the father’s out there…

…and to all the mothers out there holding it down as a single parent, have a great day.

Carpool, Competency Exams and Other Morning Rants

If we are not engaged in a steamy, love affair that commits us to passionate sessions of inexplicable pleasure to which one must follow-up with, the morning after, a text that reads quite simply ‘Damn’-don’t call me prior to 9am. In fact, nor should you text me, email me, tweet me, facebook me or utilize any other source of communication. What do you possibly need to say outside of casual operating hours (9am-9pm). Of course if I started social networking at 7am, by all means, join me; but when I’m rushing to accomplish the morning chores after oversleeping, the last thing I want is an interrupting text.

If by chance I owe the company with which you are gainfully employed money and by luck of the draw my number flashes across your computer screen in the moment that I am lathering, lubricating or having breakfast with my children-understand that I will not be cooperative. You will receive me in all my sarcastic glory; it’s nothing against you, I’m just irritated and late and you are unintentionally getting on my nerves. FYI, we sit down as a family to have dinner; give me your cell number and I will call you back at a time that is most inconvenient for you. Oh and you called me-don’t put me on hold or ask me for my personal information!

Back to morning…

If you have found yourself utilizing my school transportation service, please be ready on time. I shouldn’t have to beep the horn more than once and wake up those who are fortunate enough to sleep in, especially when you know exactly what time this chariot pulls out. Oh, I’m not out there on time you say? Sit on the porch and enjoy the morning dew or engage in a morning meditation. By the way, your kid can fasten his own seatbelt and we don’t need to have a full-blown conversation as if I am not in a hurry to drop off these ‘chillins.  

Alas, we have arrived.

There should be a carpool competency exam. Seriously. How hard is it to pull up to the curb and then pull off? Very, for some. Typically, there are about three people waiting to open car doors and release children parents into seven hours of freedom. On the rare occasion that only one, lonesome school employee is present, parents freak out! What the what? Pull up to the curb and make your kid open his own damn door. You can’t possible expect the poor music teacher to open every door that pulls up, or maybe you do-this we would know if there was a competency exam!

The carpool line is not the time to ask your child’s teacher a question about their behavior, performance or the like. I have sat many mornings, witness to a parent-teacher conference with twenty cars in my rear. Come on people, that’s what email addresses and scheduled appointments are for. If I were a teacher, I would live in the principal’s office because I would be going off on crazy parents all day long! Which brings me to another idea, you should have to take a competency exam before you get your ovaries. When a girl is born, they should come in a box attached to the placenta and the hospital should lock them away until she can prove her ability to birth, nurture and rear a child. Save the drama over ‘what about the boys’, this is my tirade and I will rant how I choose.

Once your child has been ejected from your vehicle and your door closed, PULL OFF! Why the heck are you watching Susie walk into the building? It’s May! The school year is almost over, if Susie doesn’t know how to walk in by herself by now-you both need a competency exam. If for some strange reason you need to watch her walk in, be considerate of those who don’t care about whether their kid skips school or not and park your car.

I could go on and on with more morning rants but after carpool, I head to work and seeing as how I enjoy the spoils of my labor and have no secondary means of supporting myself and my sons, I better stop here.

Here’s to competency exams (raises coffee mug) and school buses.

Lost In The Male

The idea of this post came to me while writing this post: It’s not my fault, my professor don’t speak English! For USA Today College, that’s right, I’m published ya’ll. You better subscribe to me now, before I start charging for subscriptions!

I am waiting for a specific piece of mail. It is imperative that I am in receipt of the parcel. I have been told it is in the mail. I have heard this lie twice. My certainty of this untruth is due to my own lies, “The check is in the mail.” “I just sent the invitation off today, it’s in the mail.” “I sent the email hours ago, I must be experiencing technical difficulty.”

Of course these aren’t always lies; sometimes they are actually the truth. Recently, I discovered that I had never sent off a check that I’ve waited months for someone to deposit. I can only imagine her facial expression as I apologized for my oversight (note to self: send off the duplicate check) but it was a genuine mistake.

I have come to realize that just as things often get lost in the mail, they also get lost in the male. Species, that is. Specifically, the younger ones; or maybe not (I just threw that jab in for fun).

Mothers of prepubescent sons often marvel over how concepts, truths, actions get lost in the space between their ears faster than the flash of light. For years I have heard these complaints in amazement at the struggle of others, and thought, that won’t happen to me!

Until it did…

Memory escapes how or when I noticed it, as I am currently suffering from Information Overload Disorder (see previous post here) but somehow it happened that my sons have become members of the typical pre-teen, male species.

It started with small things. I would give a command and before they were two feet away they would ask me to repeat the order. Then it progressed to them fetching the requested item only to return with something completely off base. “Son can you bring my brown jacket off the black chair in my bedroom.” Son returns with the black dress from the floor of the laundry room and a pair of brown shoes. Then it was the empty handed return twenty seconds later because it wasn’t there (I always happen to find said item exactly where I said). Now we have elevated to negating that I ever even asked for something to begin with (and they look at me with squinted eyes will humming the theme to the Twilight Zone).

There are other issues…

Gradually, they started doing little things that weren’t bad but just plain stupid but luckily they were confessing their idiotic behavior in an attempt to maintain my trust. “Mom, I washed the whites with a pen in my pocket.” “Mommy, I accidentally left my [car] window down all night and it rained.” No we have graduated away from telling and I happen upon the evidence of their actions: my favorite sweater poorly hidden in the trash can after being consumed by the dog, my red floor length lamp in twenty pieces under the couch (obviously the victim of a UFC match), and the latest-the cable prongy thingy that was magically sucked into the wall by sheet rock fairies and won’t come back out!

Will my boys always be lost in the male, or is there hope that once they hit puberty, teendom and then adulthood they will return to the pre-senseless senses?

Luckily…this temporary (fingers crossed) lapse is not affecting their schoolwork…

Why I May Never Be Invited To Another Baby Shower

Year round school is a dream come true for a single parent such as myself.

While everyone is writing parenting advice on cardstock decorated with foil embossed booties, everyone tells you the surface stuff. Read with sweet, innocent voice: “Get plenty of rest.” “Let your husband do the housework.” “Take people up on their offer to help.”

Screw that. What we should have been writing on those cards was the true stuff. The stuff no one tells you when you’re glowing, happy, filled with maternal joy and cake for four. Read with hard, militant, voice while using hand expressions: “It is scary as hell the first time you take a crap and yeah you may have to assist your body in the process. Don’t ask-instinct will take over.” “Your nipples will crack and bleed during feeding and those objects of sexual stimulation will be reduced to objects of nutritional satisfaction. There ain’t nothing sexy about smelling like spoiled contaminated milk.” “After the baby comes out you will spin the rest of your life wishing that crying, little brat would crawl back in there and give you a moment of peace.”

Peace. Ahhhhh. Do you know what peace sounds like? It sounds like three weeks of track out while the offspring spring off to the home of the noncustodial parent, at least that’s what it sounds like to the divorcee whose kids attend year round school. It sounds like a book being read without interruption. It sounds like being called ‘Shannon’ instead of ‘Mommy’. Do you know what it looks like? It looks like a clean house. Every shoe is in place, there are no toys in sight, and the one little pile of laundry that has accumulated sits patiently waiting for nothing at all. Do you know what it smells like? It smells like take out from exotic restaurants that don’t list chicken fingers and kids menus are comical. It smells like girly soaps, undiluted by too much cologne in an attempt to hide the signs of prepubescence.

Before year round school I often wished they would crawl back into the womb and give me a moment, a single glimpse of my pre-maternal self.

But Joanie Mitchell said it best. I had an undeniable craving for chicken nuggets today, from Chick-fil-a especially, on kid’s night. In the drive thru, I sat watching kids run wildly, laughing, barefoot. They were taunting the costumed cow and I can only imagine his thoughts inside the fortress that protected their sacred ears from his secular mumbles. My womb ached for my own little torturers watching them. My stomach was playing tricks on me.

There are only three days left in my kidcation and between you and me (assuming they are having too much fun to read my blog tonight), it’s a little too peaceful around here. I keep hearing things in the middle of the night. The sterile environment is freaking me out! And four-day old sushi stinks! If nothing else, they better get home and take out this trash. That’s another thing we should be writing on those cards “If it’s a boy, by the time he’s 8, you’ll never have to take out the trash again. Just remember to bag it up in your bathroom during that time of the month.” Besides, they both crushed my sciatic nerve when I was carrying them, I can only imagine the damage they would do now.

I should probably look into a traditional calendar.

Introduction to Moist Halfrican (Comma Intended)

I don’t really care if I misspell a word in my tweet. Actually, I do. But I don’t need you to point it out with a link to purchase your book on vocabulary rules.

@ker_pow Nope. Just want it to accomodate 60 somethings in taste and class.

@palmerbennett “aCCoMModate” with 2C and 2M (link to book WAS here) ~@MomyWatch

@MomyWatch Thanks for the FREE correction! ~@palmerbennett

I can think of two friends who are loving the idea that I was corrected on my vocabulary knowledge. I am usually the corrector. My feelings were hurt. Correction my ego was.

I’ve had a logos laden week. Ellen Seidman wrote a passionate piece on removing the word ‘retard’ from your personal language on her blog LoveThatMax. My youngest child, in a class discussion on tolerance, was informed that this word is not politically correct. He is public enemy number one against it and ‘midget’ (which was excluded years ago when Little People was a big reality TV hit). Retard(ed) is one of those socially derogatory words that has become socially acceptable to use.

Ironically, almost immediately after reading Ellen’s post, I heard Tia Mowry’s character on The Game say “social retard” and the logophile in me cringed. I love words. I do not love words that ignite inferiority.

Another word that breeds discrimination is “illegal”. ColorLines’ new campaign to Drop The I-Word is attempting to erase it’s negative context from everyday language. When I was 8, an older kid at school told me I was an illegal alien because I was born in Alaska. I believed her. I hated being an illegal. At some point I came to an understanding that I was not (the alien part is still up for debate). I have used the word many times and I have to admit that hearing it immediately places images of Mexicans crossing the border into my mind.

I signed the pledge to remove illegal from my vocabulary. I’m signing a personal pledge to remove my connotation. I’ve been working a lot on embracing diversity and battling embedded stereotypes that evoke hate. It is a conscious and deliberate effort that takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it. My new image of illegal is of criminal behavior or a forged document-charge it to the recent conversation with a homeowner facing an unlawful foreclosure.

Don’t fret. My lexicon is still balanced as I have added two words to my vocabulary.

Halfrican, while not Webster-worthy, is a new way to define someone who is half black and half white. For example: “I am Halfrican American.” I was introduced to this concept by an article on Robert King and his one man show, for which I desperately want to see (shameless plug). It’s doubtful that the 2020 census will have a racial description for my new word but I like it none the less and if Beyonce’ can get bootylicious in the dictionary, anything is possible.

Then there is moist. Of course moist was already part of my jargon so this is technically a resurrection. Moist is the prodigal son I sent away many years ago, now it has returned. I’m not alone in my past despise of the word, 4,739 people like the page I Hate the Word Moist and they don’t even have a picture! I am reclaiming the word because there is no other way to describe Auntie’s red velvet cake or Patsy’s bread and I’m tired of looking for one.

 So my vocabulary is balanced, all is well in my logos and FYI @momywatch-moMMy is spelled with two M’s.

Cheers Continued…And Why Cold Medicine Sales Skyrocketed

There is something symbolic in watching the rain fall on the first day of a new year. Like a morning shower washes away the debauchery from the night before or a car wash removes evidence of inclement weather, the pounding rain is cleansing the earth of a year passed.

I would love to confess, and engage your jealous streak, that I welcomed the New Year on a yacht off the coast of Miami. After dancing lights died and the sky was returned to black, I boarded a private plane and landed in Los Angeles just in time to toast in the New Year once more. Impossibility aside, I would love to flood your imagination with this tale….but I cannot.

Truthfully, I brought the New Year in as picture perfect as a Picasso, in the arms of my two sons. Adventurously, we made a last minute decision to head downtown amidst hundreds of people intoxicated with the spirit of excitement and well just spirits. We saw very few children and stares from grandmothers questioned my parental capabilities, but none of that mattered.

We ate funnel cakes, drank hot chocolate and tried on tons of illuminated glasses and silly hats. The boys gazed in at news anchor, Tisha Powell as she danced to a song only those in the WTVD 11 station could hear and received a wave from Fred Shropshire as he prepped to go on air. We counted over thirty sparkly gold dresses worn by women in their 20’s who either missed the weather report or ignored it in hope of attracting that one kiss. “You’re going to have pneumonia in the morning” one of my dates shouted from the rickshaw we ran down to avoid walking any further.

When the countdown began my sons wrapped their arms around my waste. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Happy New Year!!

On the ride home, my inquisitive riders questioned why there was an acorn, to which I explained that Raleigh is called the City of Oaks. Then they questioned why the event was called First Night Raleigh when it was actually the last night and the first morning, to which I had nothing. When we all tucked into the community bed about an hour later, they marveled at how I am the best mommy in the world…adding, “but do you think Child Protective Services would get you for that?”

I can’t think of a better way to begin a year….

But since you don’t have to be 20 something to wear a sparkly gold dress, I may just adorn myself in one next year…in Miami.