The conversation

 

I was making my morning coffee. I walked up to my husband and asked if he had read the news. He said yes and he was thinking about what to do. Neither of us had to inquire with the other about what part of the news we were referring to. We both had the same look. The look of parents who are scared. There has been too many reports of dead black men. We are both paying attention and we are both scared. We are both looking for solutions.

As a parent, if you knew that your child was walking into a life threatening situation what would you do? The answer is obvious…you would stop them, by force if necessary. You would talk to them, yelling if necessary “ No you are not going to jump in front of that train!”  What if the danger is walking outside of the house? What happens when you realize that the authority figures, the people with guns that everyone respects, will not hesitate to kill your kid? They will kill him even though he is a has a GPA of 3.98. They will kill him even though he has never committed any crimes. They will kill him even if he doesn’t resist in any way. And when you are mourning the death of your child they will start lying about what happened. They will say that he resisted arrest. They will say that he was endangering their lives, and unless there is solid proof to the contrary, everyone will believe them. Hopefully a cell phone recording is somewhere because if it isn’t then it will be my dead son, your dead son, versus the respected authority figure. My husband and I sat in the kitchen looking at each other and this is the picture that we are looking at.

 

My husband is a planner. He is thinking of all of the options. How do we keep our son alive? His solution: We will contribute to a police fund, get a sticker and put it on our kid’s car. We support the police. My son is not a criminal, in fact, he likes and supports the police. I love it! This way if the police pull him over they realize that he is on their side. We also come up with a plan to talk to him about what to do if the police pull him over. I find a great video and now we feel more equipped to deal with the problem. We realize that these steps may not be enough to save his life, but they are steps in the right direction. We are both relieved. We are sad. We are angry. This is not ok.

A disclaimer

I don’t know how my mother did it, but she did, All I can think is that she must be some kind of miracle worker because I grew up in  a color blind world. I had friends of every color, race, nationality. I had Asian, hispanic, Mexican, caucasian, and black friends. We had sleepovers, I was surrounded by friends and families of friends and not once did anyone mention the color of my skin. No one asked my about my hair. I never heard  racial slurs.  There was no racist jokes, not at home and not when I visited others. Nothing. How did she do it? As an adult looking back on my childhood I suspect that my mother had many private battles, with teachers, schools, and religious organizations, but she kept it all well hidden from us. I am sure that she thought she was protecting us from the evils of this world, but in hindsight I think I needed some perspective.

 

When  I was in my mid twenties and I met my future husband the fact that he was caucasian and the issues that might come up with that never crossed my mind. Not even once. The fact that we would be raising my black son with a white father never even occurred to me. We were a family, we loved each other end of story. My husband and I talked about race issues occasionally, but at the time I was firmly of the opinion that race issues were a thing of the past. The only people using the race card were con artists who understood the value of drama. Then one day my husband got a job that moved us from the utopia of Austin, Texas and into the suburbs of Chicago.

Talk about a cold shower.

 

For the first time in my life I experienced racism, and it was ugly. The most memorable moments in the experience include the day when my daughter declared she would not go to the store with me anymore because the people were always mean when she was with me, but nice to her whenever she went to the store with her dad. There was also the  Fourth of July parade where the parade participants would throw out candy to all of the kids near us, then look at me and pass over my kids. No candy near us. First I thought I must be imagining the slight, but my husband noticed it too. Eventually we decided that the only way to make sure that my kids would get the experience of everyone else was for me to step away from them enough so that the parade participants would not realize that I was part of the family. It worked. We were thouroglhly disgusted and that is when we decided that we would never raise our family anywhere near the suburbs of Chicago.

There were other similar experiences. I had people run from me in parking lots, refuse to serve me in restaurants. I even had a doctor refuse to treat me in a medical emergency. The entire experience was an awakening. Racial tensions are still alive and well in the good ol USA, you just have to know where to look.

We solved the problem by moving. No way were we  going to allow any of our kids to grow up in an environment where race shaped so many aspects of their life. No way!

So color me surprised when our next two moves, one to California, and one back to Texas did not solve the problem. Is Houston and Austin the only safe havens in the country? I don’t think so. I think the transition happened when I left shelter and moved into the real world. Though I will admit that we have a far better time in big Texas cities than we have in any other part of the country.

When we lived in Chicago I started writing about my experiences and how they shaped me. Then one day a good friend of mine said that I was racist. I was taken aback. She said that I spent some huge portion of my writing focusing on my experiences of oppression. Those incidences were few, but when it happened I spent tons of time writing and talking about it. I immediately stopped writing. I wondered if I was using the race card, if somehow I was contributing to the problem.  Maybe I am, but I don’t think that the problem will go away unless we keep talking about it. We cannot tolerate it, and the only way to make this violence, this unrelenting division, this societal cancer go into remission is to talk about it.

 

Let me be clear. The problem is getting better, but it isn’t resolved and pretending that it is does not help anyone. I don’t want to live in a society where I have to fear for the lives of my sons because the police may shoot them. I have 4 black sons and I refuse to spend the rest of my life hoping that they are ok and doing nothing to make sure that we, all of us, contribute to finding solutions to this seemingly unsurmountable disparity that exists between us.

 

What am I doing? Am I becoming a social commentator? I dislike most social commentators because I think of them as whiners who spend most of their time blaming the other side. Then the other side gets angry and starts to defend itself, which is a very human thing to do. Unfortunately this sort of quagmire does nothing to help find solutions for the problems. I want solutions! I need solutions for myself and for my kids and my grandkids and their kids. Since this is the goal I am opening up my blog to comments, not to wage war, but to start serious discussion on ways that we can all contribute to finding solutions.

 

Showers and Dinosaurs

You know that scene in Jurassic Park where the kids escape the hungry velociraptor by running into the kitchen and closing the door. Everyone is relieved because we all know that dinosaurs cannot open door and then..the dino opens the door.

 

That happened to me this morning. THe velociraptor’s name is Sol.

 

I really hate taking a shower with Sol. Sol really loves taking showers with me and he recognizes the sound of the shower turning on, so unless he is in the other room I suffer greatly. This morning when I successfully snuck into my room and closed the door I was sure that today was the day that I would get my solo shower. He was busy in the living room playing with his siblings, he didn’t notice me sneaking away. I start the shower and wait for the glass to steam up before I get in, that way even if he comes into the room he can’t see me. I jump into the shower, smiling. I LOVE IT! The shower is super hot just the way I like it and I am alone. I am positively gloating. Then the universe reminds me that gloating is a bad idea. I hear footsteps and freeze. If he can’t see me then I have nothing to worry about. He walks up to the shower stall and stops, he is staring into the shower looking for any sign of life. I hold my breath, keep calm and still, then it happens….the shower door starts to open. NOOOOOOOOOO!

 

I panic and grab the door. Still quiet, but the movement was noticeable. He pulls harder, I hold my ground. This is an intense standoff and I must win. I will have this shower, my moment and I will enjoy it. He abruptly stops pulling and stands there. I keep a death grip on the shower door just in case. I’m still quiet, silently crying because at this point shampoo is in my eyes, but I must remain strong.  Then he starts calling my name. I don’t answer. The dinosaur stalks  away. I take a deep breath to calm myself. Quickly rinse myself and step out of the shower before he has a chance to return.


Not the shower experience that I expected, but at least I’m clean and we both survived.

On writing

I have a very strong desire to write. I have a plan to become a blogging goddess with a book deal that turns into a multimillion dollar movie deal. I am missing a few things:

1. Time. It is 11:30pm. I have been awake since 7am. One baby is awake and nursing as I write this. The todler, who did not nap today, is asleep in bed next to me. I have 2 kids asleep in the next room and my oldest is downstairs on his computer. All of theses individuals need some time from me.  I also like to talk to my husband occasionally. Throw in household chores, 2 dogs, and 2 cats and you can quickly see how I might run out of time for writing.  So yeah…time is a bit of an issue.

2. Plot. I think I have the cutest and smartest group of children that this world has ever seen. My blog is an attempt to prepare the world for the day that they decide to take over, because when they decide to take over there’s nothing stopping the. Unfortunately every mommy blogger in the bolgesphere has the same or the opposite position and they spend tons of time, which they have and I lack, writing about every stage of development and other tidbits from their entertaining lives. I want a different angle…I just haven’t figured out how to write from that angle yet.

3. I’m typing on my phone which is slow and tedious. I’m pretty tired. I forgot 3… I’ll leave the number here in case I remember it later. Here’s a cute baby pic instead…think of it as a placeholder.

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Toddler Tuesday

I have big plans for toddler Tuesdays. I have no time to implement those grand plans so I will console myself by posting pictures of my time thieves. Today we visited the San Antonio Children’s museum, my toddler thought the grocery store was the beat part. He was very careful to select only the best fruits and veggies for his cart, absent from the cart was canned goods(yay for us!), bread, and pasta. They were choices but he declined to spend his imaginary money on them.

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And at the checkout counter.

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Adventure in Costco

It starts with my putting the car in park, looking in the back and realizing that I forgot Hume’s shoes. No problem, I thought, Lilith can carry him. We get out of the car and I give Kyson my Costco card. “This is a big responsibility “ I tell him , “because I can’t get my glasses without this card”. I thought keeping him focused on the card would give him a job for the trip and he would not get bored.  We walk into the store and Lilith puts Hume down, Hume immediately turns around and runs out of the store. I quickly turn around and so does Lilith, we chase Hume out of the store and he runs to the shopping carts. You can’t go to Costco without getting a shopping cart. This makes sense and it will be easier to keep up with him if he is in a basket. I say “Great idea little guy, let’s put you in the basket” . Hume helps us get the basket out of the area, Lilith lifts him to put him into the cart and he starts wailing. “NO! NO BASKET!” Okay…he doesn’t want to ride in the basket, he wants to push the cart. Not a problem, we can still keep up with him if he is pushing it. We turn and walk back into the store and that’s when I realize that Kyson is nowhere to be found. Lilith looks at me and says “Should we go and look for him?” I reply with a no  “he will learn a valuable lesson about paying attention if he wanders around the store for a few minutes thinking that he is lost.” I stand in line to pick up my glasses and quickly realize that Kyson has my Costco card and I cannot get my glasses without it. I stand there, thinking. If I go looking for Kyson I could miss him, better to just stay here and wait until he remembers why we came to Costco and finds the optical department.  A few minutes later Kyson walks around the corner, hands me my Costco card and says, “You guys just disappeared.” I grab the card and say thank you because I figure that’s the safest thing that I can say.

Kyson decides to look at a movie while I get my glasses. Lilith goes with him and Hume follows. Perfect! I can see them watching the movie, but they are not in the way of me getting my glasses. It’s at that precise moment that Hume decides to add a little spice to the morning. He starts to wander away from the other two. I see him leaving and notice that the older kids are busy watching the movie and not watching Hume. I stand up. We make eye contact. He looks at me and makes two small steps away from the other kids. I take a step towards him. It is at this moment that he turns and starts sprinting away. I quickly pick up my speed and hold Sol a bit tighter. I get close enough to talk to Hume and tell him that if he stops running now he will not have to sit in the basket.  He looks at me and starts walking. I suggest that we walk back to the other kids, just as I get close enough to grab his hand he takes off again. Great! Okay so he is sprinting towards a wall of people pushing their shopping carts and I know I am not going to catch him before he makes it to them so I say  “HUME STOP!” He keeps running and starts his ninja basket avoidance maneuvers. I am no ninja so I quickly run into every basket that he dodges. It doesn’t help that Costco is full of angry old people who are giving me dirty looks for having a ninja toddler. Then a miracle happens. A retired ninja grandmother sees Hume coming and uses her cart as a weapon. She quickly blocks the little escape artist. She looks at him, gives him a large smile showing all of her teeth and says “Gotcha!”  I catch up and look at her, she smiles at me and says “You’re gonna need a rope for that one.” I agree, scoop him up and give her a big smile as I walk away and say Thanks. I am now drenched in sweat and carrying two babies back to the optical department because I still have not picked up those glasses. As I get close to the area where Lilith and Kyson are still watching their movie Lilith looks up, sees me and says “How did you get way over there.” I told her that she just missed all of the action and ask her to help me put Hume in the basket, because he IS going in the basket this time whether he likes it or not. We get to the basket, I pass Sol to Lilith and pick Hume up so that I can put him the basket. Hume starts screaming and it’s at this moment that the lady behind the counter informs me that she is ready.  Okay. I do the knee chop on toddler and give her my Costco card because there is no way that I letting this opportunity to get this done pass me by.  The moment that Hume is in the seated position he starts screaming and arching his back to prevent me from fastening the safety belt on the cart. I  hold him down to make sure that he does not jump out of the cart and follow the woman to the area to try on my new glasses. Lillith is walking with us and holding Sol, Hume is screaming in the basket and Kyson is still watching the movie, oblivious to anything that is going on with us. The Costco worker gets my glasses and pulls them out for me…I quickly put them on and say thanks and try to walk away. I don’t care if the glasses fit, I just want to get out of there. She looks at me and says we need to check to see if the glasses fit…FINE! I sit down and it’s in this moment that I hear Lilith say help. Hume has managed to get out of the safety belt and jump out of the basket, onto his sister’s neck. Fortunately she did not drop either baby and I quickly ran to her rescue. I try to  get Hume to let go of his sister’s neck…he refuses and clings for dear life. I struggle mightily and eventually pull him off and check to see if Lilith and Sol are okay. They are. I take Hume, sit down and look at the Costco worker who looks at me and smiles and asks if my glasses fit okay. She then asks if they feel okay around my ears. I say yes, they feel fine can I please go now. She reminds me to always use water when washing my glasses I say thanks “Can I go now. She says yes. Looks at me, looks at the kids and says “Have a great day with the gang.” I smile and walk away, tell Kyson that we are done and sprint to the car as quickly as my little legs can carry me. After everyone is in their car seat, I sit in the driver’s seat for a moment, take a few deep breaths, and laugh. I remember when picking up a pair of glasses was easy.

Yummy Pulled Pork Soup

Caveman pulled pork (So yummy! Best pulled pork that I have ever made)

1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion

2 carrots

2 sticks of celery

2 cloves garlic

1 can tomato sauce

bunch of spinach 

cup of corn

 

After cooking pork refrigerate some portion of it with the juices left over from the CrockPot. (My pork sat in the fridge for three days.)

Saute onion in olive oil (over low heat) until the onion is caramelized. This takes about 20 minutes.

Add carrots and celery to the pot and stir well. Saute for about 5 more minutes. Add garlic, tomato sauce and 3 cups of water.

Simmer for about 20 minutes. 

Add pork and all of the pork juices. Let simmer for another 15 minutes, until everything is warm. Add corn and spinach and serve.

 

Kyson added avocado to his. The rest of us consumed this yummy soup with nothing added. It was delish!