Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My AFC Essay @ Natural Parents Network

Here's the link to my Natural Parents Network essay regarding our family's Artificial Food Coloring Awakening. Please read, comment and share if you're willing. Thanks for the support.  http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/artificial-food-coloring-awakening/


Monday, June 25, 2012

Imperfect Mommy

I’m not proud of it but I’ve:

  1. Ordered delivery meals six out of seven nights.
  2. Allowed our kid to watch television or play on the computer so that I could work.
  3. Pretended to be asleep.
  4. Hidden [from my boys] in the bathroom.
  5. Eaten junk food after sending our kid to school with a healthy lunch and snacks.
  6. Put a just worn outfit back in the closet because it wasn’t really dirty.
  7. Forgotten to brush my teeth.
  8. Skipped sections of the story that I was reading aloud.
  9. Left my child in a diaper so long that the weight of his mess pushed the absorbent crystals out through the lining and onto the floor.
  10. Asked God to remove the demon from my colicky child.
  11. Kept for myself socks that my mother sent my husband or son.
  12. Covered the urine soaked toddler's bed with a towel to avoid a middle of the night sheet change.
  13. Saved a ripe diaper for my husband to change.
  14. Licked my finger and cleaned a face.
  15. Bribed a child so that I could have peace.
  16. Borrowed money from our kid's piggy bank.
  17. Been short with my son when I was angry with my husband.
  18. Been short with my husband when I was angry with my son.
  19. Been short with my husband and son just because.
  20. Forgotten to pass along email messages and polite sentiments.
  21. Slept in the toddler’s bed to escape the crowded big bed.
  22. Fallen out of the kid's twin bed.
  23. Forgotten my age and wobbled off of a skateboard.
  24. Delayed flushing to avoid waking people.
  25. Slept clutching a generously shared stuffed animal.  
  26. Pretended not to understand a game so that I wouldn't have to play it.
  27. Not seeked during Hide And Seek.
  28. Switched from a blow dry to a wash and set so that I can have more time out of the house.
  29. Told my child that the open arcade was closed.
  30. Invented a nocturnal house monster that eats candy, throws away treasurers and otherwise acts against sleeping children.
  31. Declined social invitations that I never discussed with the family.
  32. Used the stroller longer than necessary because it was easier than walking with Little Mister 12-Inch Long Legs.
  33. Felt satisfied when Ms. Perpetually Perky confessed ordinary motherhood - marriage disappointments.
  34. Chugged wine out of the bottle.
  35. Donated toys and books without notifying the owner.  
  36. Attended church for the childcare.
  37. Napped at the movies.
  38. Paid a sitter to take our kid to an activity so that I wouldn't have to deal with the other parents.
  39. Fallen asleep in living room pillow - blanket fort.
  40. Delighted in torturing / embarrassing my child.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Learning As A Side Affect

It's finally here, the last day of school - Juneteenth for children! Just a few more hours and we’ll have a change of scenery, a new routine, and a break from the usual. I’ll be able to spend time with loved ones I miss seeing because I had school commitments, childcare issues and other things that dominate my time. It’s summer and I can go out with my friends without worrying about ruining our family’s routine. Summer is more than warm weather and al fresco dining. It’s when we engage in family activities and projects that we couldn't fit into our September – June schedule. Summer rocks!

I’m happy to report that our family received a fitting end to the school year. Our kid learned something beyond computation and spelling. He proved that if we remain open to learning, lessons come from everywhere.

Earlier this week a high school member of the school track team surprised our little guy and presented him with a certificate. The award is for being the only third grader (and youngest team member) to complete the season. What makes this especially memorable is that the young students idolize the older ones. Being on a school-wide team with high schoolers is analgonus to weekend ballers working out with The Dream Team.

The beauty is that the award is for perseverance not achievement. He was acknowledged for commitment and hard work. A key life lesson when most things come easy for you. Even sweeter is that the award is unexpected. He stuck with the team because he was committed not because he wanted to earn a certificate.

The other unintentional lesson was self-taught. Our scholar earned a perfect attendance certificate. The school does not bestow these. The classroom teacher made it because it’s a big deal. This accomplishment isn’t usually on the radar of asthma – allergy kids, hence he didn't begin the year with that goal. A few months ago we realized that it was within reach after noting that he had neither absences nor tardies on his second trimester report card. 

Last weekend with five days left in the school year Mr. Third Grader caught the cooties. Armed with vitamins and liquids he refused to be sidelined. Despite mid-night asthma episodes, every morning he negotiated that he’d go to school and be marked present even if the nurse had to call me to pick him up. My phone never rang. His eyes were on a prize and he would not give in to pesky body irritants.

As we enter the overly anticipated summer break I hope to build upon these lessons and to carry them into the next academic year.

Life is about perseverance, commitment, hard work and never giving up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thank You Note Revolution

During this time of year when people give and receive, wedding, graduation, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts in addition to birthday, shower and other occasion gifts we hear, “The art of thank you notes has died.” Forget about the art I’d just like people to write thank you notes. Today begins the Thank You Note Revolution (TYNR).

TYNRs goal is to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to formally acknowledge kind acts and gifts. Will you join the TYNR? Come on. It’s easy. Just be an example. Write a thank you note. Mailing one is as good as paying it forward in the TYNR world.

I was raised with British West Indian sensibilities. At four years old I could cut a pea with a knife and fork. As I aged and became more relaxed so did my adherence to proper etiquette. However, I never sacrificed thank you notes. Admittedly often I take too long to send a proper thank you but that’s fine because I subscribe to the Better Late Than Never Rule. See how I’m making it work for me? This doesn’t apply only to me. A standard refrain in our home is, “If you don’t have time to write a thank you then perhaps so-n-so doesn’t have time to do nice things for you.”  

Today there are many thank you options email, text, phone, in-person, and handwritten. The sentiment stands. You must recognize and appreciate kindness. Email, text and in-person are good for passing acknowledgments such as thanking someone for watching your child, party attendance follow up or participation in a business meeting. However, if you are emailing, please send individual messages rather than mass emailing a group.

Thank you notes may be sent at any time for any reason. Job interviews require personalized, professional thank you letters. Every tangible gift deserves a hand written thank-you note.  Why? People like being appreciated. It makes them feel good.  What an easy way to create good will. When in doubt please know that it’s never wrong to send someone a note of appreciation.

Tradition dictates that a proper thank you correspondence has the below six elements. Don’t feel bound by this. Let your personality guide your expression. It’s simple. The note is exclusively about thanking somebody for something specific. Resist the temptation to pollute it with other chatter.

Thank You Note Elements
1. Greeting
2. Expression of gratitude
3. Discuss use of the gift or how the kindness helped you
4. Pleasantry about your relationship with the giver.
5. Reiterate appreciation
6. Closing

That’s it clear and can be. Welcome to the TYNR where the motto is Stationery is a Great Gift.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Oppy Fada’s Dey Ole Mon

When I was in sixth grade my father worked overseas while my mother and I stayed in The States. Boyfriend bracelets were in vogue. Strings tied around the wrist that girls wore until a boyfriend cut them off. I kept that nasty, color drained, germ infested thing on my wrist for months until my father returned on home leave. Sure I had crushes and even sneaked a kiss but there was only one person who could cut that bracelet, my true love – Daddy.

I was blessed with a wonderfully, imperfect, charming father. He was smart, fun and just irresponsible enough to be interesting.  Daddy loved me so deeply and completely that there was no room inside me for negative self-imaging or loathing. How could there be if from day one I knew that at least one person on this planet was convinced that I was the most precious thing ever created.

Let’s not get into how old I was when I realized that the man was a mere mortal. The news ticked me off. It took a while for us to build a revised relationship. Luckily we did before he died. Some days I miss my father more than I can stand. When things aren’t the way I know they’re supposed to be I crave to hear Jamaican him say, “Dat’s bool shite. F dem. Keep your foot up their arse. You’re doing the right ting, Baby!” On those occasions I sojourn into the living room and have a heart-to-heart with his portrait. After I give him a piece of my mind for dying we get down to business.

I delight in seeing Daddy in my son. There’s a physical resemblance but more remarkable is the common high intellect, irreverence for authority, self-assurance and bits of irresponsibility. Grandfather and grandson used to have curious, meandering telephone conversations, which only they could follow. It sounded as if they were having two completely different conversations but in the end they heard one another and were happy. It was male bonding in its purest form.

Like mothers, fathers have a special place in our lives. Both are essential and can be filled by proxies. The important thing is that everyone has a male role model who adores him or her as only a man can. One of the most important things fathers do is to help children appreciate mothers. Without my husband assuring our son that I’m supposed to be a pain the little boy probably would have taken me out years ago.

I’m doubly blessed because I get to witness my son with his father. My husband is smitten with that child. The beauty of their mutual admiration society is overwhelming (and disgusting). Every child should belong to a man who knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that (s)he is the most marvelous being ever birthed. The priceless gem that this cultivates deep within us is where we retreat when the world is too much. It recharges and pushes us forward. Without this guiding gem children of all ages are forever wandering in search of The One. Girls often exhibit this by repeatedly making poor mate choices. Boys do it by being said poor choices. It doesn’t take much to steer one in the right direction; just a gem of a man who’ll tell you the truth, the way you need to hear it, punctuated with everlasting love.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Whose Work Is It?

As another school year ends it’s time to reflect upon subjects mastered and progress made. For me one issue doesn’t change throughout the year. How much homework help should parents provide? Do the teachers want parents to correct errors? Provide instruction? Or just to ensure that work is completed?

My husband and I have never done our son’s homework. Although classroom bulletin boards prove that all families do not agree with this approach. I can’t be the only person who notices. Surely the faculty knows that little Suzie isn’t capable of astrophysics. I hear that these days teachers are afraid to discourage parents from spoiling the “I did it all by myself!” experience for their students. The climate is such that teachers are seen as nannies and not as educational professionals who are in charge of their domain. But that’s another blog post.

Back to the homework question, we don’t abandon our kid. We’re available to guide but do not give answers. The rule is that he must try to solve a problem a few times before asking for help. If he really can’t grasp a concept, he writes the teacher a note soliciting a tutorial. We quiz and provide test review but he has to do the work.

Long-term projects are not a family affair. We listen to project ideas and buy material but our days of making dioramas, puppets and poster boards are long over. Since when did school projects have to be union certified? What’s wrong with dried glue globs and crooked scissor cuts? There’s a quiet, size appropriate work environment in our home, equipped with all of the elementary school desk requisites. Isn’t that enough?

I delude myself by saying that because of our method eventually our son will be more work independent than some of his peers. The goal is for him to reap the satisfaction of knowing how to navigate academics. However, there are college co-eds who “consult” parents about their papers and get over with good grades. Producing a better student isn’t why we continue torturing (his word) our kid. I’ve come to realize that the self-reliance lesson is enough. It’s like doing the right thing in any part of life. There may be no earthly reward but it sure feels good.

Monday, June 11, 2012

You Sleep In That?!

While channel surfing I stumbled upon a pajama (PJ) style makeover show. The premise was that a male stylist viewed women’s pajama choices, critiqued them and dressed the women in his idea of more appropriate ensembles. Every outfit that he picked consisted of flowing robes and spaghetti strap tops. OK Let’s be real. This is not practical. Most women cook at least one meal while donning PJs. The flowing robes are fire hazards in the kitchen. Spaghetti straps = cold lady. Why can’t women cover their chests and shoulders and still look cute?

PJs should be wash and wear not dry clean only nor iron when necessary. Women do not want to have to think about them. We put them on when it’s time to escape the pressures of style. PJs are a functional item. Men aren’t obligated to strut the house in G-strings. Why should women? Many things are accomplished while wearing bed garments. Meals are prepared. Sick children are comforted. Paperwork is tackled. Those of us with home offices often work all day in our PJs before we hit the showers. Our night gear should neither twist nor ride up. Yes. Attractive pajamas are essential to positive self-esteem but so are comfy outfits that hide stains and allow us to be ourselves.

Mr. Stylist, the reason your model subjects appeared in cotton t-shirts and pants is because those pieces work. We can’t live in plunging necklines. Nothing should fall out when we lean over to pick up the newspaper. Think about it. Pajamas should be easy to maneuver during 3:00 am powder room visits. Please honor your mother, aunts, sisters, and daughters. Create ensembles that fit into our lives rather than those that feed your fantasies? For most of us fancy lingerie is for special occasions not everyday. Unless you desire it so much that you’re willing to do the cooking, comforting, paperwork etc. so that we can sit still and look pretty in the lingerie?

Friday, June 8, 2012


  1. We don't play with our penis at the dinner table.
  2. Cover that. I've seen enough of your butt and penis to last a lifetime.
  3. Stop flinging boogers.
  4. What is that on my wall?
  5. I want world peace. [In response to whining]
  6. Do you know how many children would love to have your blessings?
  7. Wash your face with water and soap.
  8. You smell like the outdoors.
  9. Don't just run the water. Get in and wash your body.
  10. Who forgot to flush the toilet?
  11. Did you wipe, flush and wash?
  12. We don't ride vehicles in the house.
  13. Hang up your coat.
  14. Be gentle.  
  15. No roughhousing.
  16. Don't stack a big thing on top of a tower of small things.
  17. Did you hear me? If your ears are broken I can take you to the doctor.
  18. Use your eyes [when you speak directly to someone].
  19. What do you say? [When a please or thank you is required]
  20. Not so loud. I’m right next to you.
  21. Shh. My ears work just fine.
  22. I know the background noise is loud but I can hear you. Please use your indoor voice.
  23. Careful. [An autopilot sentence that I say without thinking]
  24. Careful. You are sharing the sidewalk.
  25. I spent time ironing that.
  26. I just cleaned that.
  27. Why are there socks under my dining table?
  28. I was talking.
  29. Excuse you.
  30. Walk!
  31. What’s in your mouth?
  32. Are those my socks?
  33. It’s MY iPad.
  34. I have my own bag to carry.
  35. It’s not my job to entertain you.
  36. You’re not buying anything today.
  37. Spreading the food around on your plate doesn't fool me.
  38. This is not a treat day.
  39. This is not a restaurant. Eat what’s on your plate.
  40. No dirty hands on my face.
  41. I don’t like to be licked.
  42. Because I’m an adult; we are not equals.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shake Up This Rut

Three weeks remain in the school year and I can’t wait for it to be over. The commute route, weekly schedule, search for new snack and lunch foods, it’s all too much of a good thing. I can’t stand volunteering for one more school initiative nor attending another celebration, demonstration or theatrical performance.

A change is coming and her name is Summer. Summer 2012, I long for you to enter our lives. Shake up this rut. Make us interesting. Fill the days with leisure pursuits. I still will work, clean and cook but the commute and schedule will change. The days will be longer. Friends will visit. We’ll have time for family fun. We can eat outside. There will be less laundry because clothes are lighter. Summer you will be everything that we desire – for 10 beautiful weeks. Then our affair will lose its luster.

Near the end of August Summer and I will have a falling out. She will have over stayed her welcome. I will crave the monotonous routine of the school year. That’s when I will longingly stroke the boy’s back-to-school supplies and fondly remember PTA members who I hid from in June. The only thing I like better than the beginning of summer is the first day of school. Neither arrives soon enough.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Super Try Hard Mommy

I have a super power. I don’t leap buildings in a single bound. I can’t fly nor read minds. I do become invisible. It’s kind of cool. The problem is that my son controls the power. He makes me disappear. There's a pattern. I can be seen when meals need to be cooked and at cash registers. I'm invisible when it's time to leave a play date or to turn off the computer.  

It'd be awesome if this super power were self-controlled. I would disappear when freshly watered houseplants are upended two seconds before we're heading out of the door. I'd vanish just before someone requests that I lead a volunteer activity. I'd really like to be unseen on our son’s first date with his future life partner. I’d whisper etiquette into his ear and snap pictures with a super hero camera.

I wonder how far he will take this super power? Will I be tangible mater when he leaves to pick up his prom date? I hope so. I’m planning to follow in a van filled with my girlfriends sipping champagne, wearing slippers and curlers. 

The last laugh is mine. Junior doesn't have 100% control of the power. I've witnessed him unsuccessfully trying to vaporize me. Usually when I forget to fade into the background around his friends or am about to issue a public admonition. Perhaps my real super power is finding humorous inspiration in how hard parents try?