Sunday, August 22, 2010

Emily's Dress

My daughter Olivia has been invited to her first birthday party.  A birthday party where you go and there are games, and cake, and ice cream and other children...but mom drops you off for two hours.  Oh, I hope she will do it.  Depending on the day she wavers on whether she will go to the party without me.  I want her to go, I want her to enjoy friends and cake.  And, then I think...she's not quite 5 yet...what's the harm if I stay just one more time?  Olivia is my home girl.  She loves her room her dog, and her sister.  She has a little piece of velcro that seems to stick to the cul-de-sac.  She shows no sign of wanderlust. 

I asked her yesterday if she would like a special dress to give to Emily, the birthday girl.  She seemed very excited.  So, I spent a couple of hours making this dress for the darling and ever so feminine Emily.  Only, Liv doesn't seem too impressed.  Now she wants to present Emily with a baseball bat.  (Which I don't think Emily would really appreciate...the ever so feminine Emily.)  I made the dress, and Liv will have to arrive with it in hand, full of birthday wishes. 

Oh, I hope she decides she can muster all that is brave to attend the party because you know...preschool starts in a few weeks.  And they don't let mom stay at preschool, even if she does arrive with party dresses.  

Friday, August 20, 2010

And Then There Were 2

Middle of August to the beginning of September is an odd time for us.  Ava has gone back to school and by the the copious amounts of homework she's bringing home I'd say they are officially in full swing over there across the street in 3rd grade. 

Liv's preschool doesn't start until labor day. Odd, when you have 2 kids and the puggle home running crazy, fighting, making up and generally causing havoc at all odd hours of the day and night for a few months and then are down one.  We miss her.  The house is 80 percent more quiet even though we are only missing one during school hours.  Go figure.  

Liv is of course my home girl so she is slowly settling into day time with out sister, learning to re-connect with all those toys in her room that have been ignored all summer.  Chloe, my pug faced pooch is off.  I can't move anywhere in the house where she doesn't immediately hop up and follow me.  It's as if she senses we are in routine transition and she wants to be a part of whatever it is we settle into, eventually, maybe.  Bizarre to have a 24lb dog sit in the chair with you everywhere you go. 
So, a routine is out there for us.  I know it is.  It has to be.  I'm committing to about seven art/craft shows coming up this fall.  Routine, yes please let there be one soon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Dorky White Kid Conversation Update

Just for the record, I don't call the little boy who spewed racial remarks to my 8 year old The Dorky White Kid when in company with my girls. He is only that in my mind, and ok, the blog too. 

The other night we sat down to dinner and I asked the girls if they remembered the incident at the pool.   Foolish question, you big dorky white mom.  Of course they remembered and they immediately had opinions on the subject. Shock of all shocks that Ava had an opinion.   I explained that I was feeling like perhaps I didn't handle the situation very well since I didn't ask Ava if she wanted me to pursue an apology or communicate that what the little boy said was hurtful.  I told them that I was worried that by glossing over the situation by saying I was sorry that happened but, GO PLAY in the pool and move on I was negating the fact that they had just experienced a significant racial slur.  I told them that I wondered how it might feel if you have to go through life sometimes experiencing racism and you are simply taught to constantly turn the other cheek and act like it didn't negatively affect you.  Would that eventually make you feel sad inside?  Would it make you feel like you weren't in control? Would it make you feel eventually like you had no voice?

Ava thought about it for a minute and simply stated,  "Mom, I would have liked an apology."   Pretty clear right?  I told her that if anything like that ever happens again I will turn to them and ask what they would like me to do. Which might involve asking the other child for an apology and it might include informing their parent that we experienced hurtful racial language at the hand of their child. Ava said she was happy with this decision to handle things differently in the future.

Then Olivia piped up.  In an attempt to tell a story, which doesn't always come easy for her she explained that at a party this summer several kids were playing in a room and a boy asked Ava and Olivia where they got such ugly black straight hair.  Visions of a party we attended this summer where the adults were outside enjoying fireworks and sparkly drinks and the kids were running free in and out of the house came rushing back.  I immediately knew exactly which party she was talking about and which little boy she was remembering.  (Incidently, this little boy was a bit of a handful (that is being tactful) and was causing havoc the entire evening...not necessarily singling out my girls to torture.  If memory serves, he made several kids cry that night.) Still...for 4 year old Olivia to remember that this was said to her 6 weeks ago!  Blew my mind.

When all is said and done the girls said that they were happy we talked about this.  I asked if they would please come to me when they hear these things out in the world.  I want them to share these experiences and not keep them bottled up inside, only wondering what might be wrong with themselves at age 15, or 45, etc...

I've learned a few things from this whole incident.

1.  Racism happens in "good" neighborhoods.  Even where people are highly educated.  Perhaps even more in some instances due to the fact that lots of kids in upper class neighborhoods aren't seeing enough people of color in their daily lives. 
2.  Racism happens amongst children, they are learning it everywhere.
3.  My Chinese born kids are enduring and navigating racism when I am not with them.  They are only 8 and 4 years old.
4.  No matter how close your family is and how much you think you know your kids, and perhaps think they tell you everything.  They don't.   

Oh yeah, we'll be having this conversation about race and hatred a lot in the months and years to come.

* A special thank you to those who commented publicly and privately sharing your very real, and sometimes raw stories of racism and how that shaped you as an adult.   It's made me think.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Give Me The Floaty - You Dorky White Kid

The other day while visiting a friend's pool club Ava and her friend picked up a floating raft that no one was using and started playing with it.  To my knowledge they were playing happily for a while with this raft.

I was not paying too much attention, since they both swim well and instead was concentrating on Olivia's new boo-boo on her chin that had happened about 15 minutes prior.  Yes, Olivia's chin seems to get bumped and bruised each and every week, but that is another story.    

The next thing I know I see Ava's friend hopping out of the pool yelling at me.  "Those 2 boys (she pointed them out) were mean to Ava," while retrieving their raft. Apparently, the mystery was solved, now we knew who the raft actually belonged to.  They called her a Chinese (insert racial slur) while pulling it back from the girls.  Ava pulled herself out of the pool and started crying, "Those 2 mean boys took our raft and called me a Chinese (insert racial slur)."   I was stunned, although probably not justifiably so.  Maybe it is because Ava is now 8 1/2 and more independent, attends school by herself, and goes to play dates by herself but I just don't hear too many racially slanderous comments tossed our way.   I calmed Ava down explaining that what they said was very mean and completely wrong.    Ava's normally tenderhearted and docile friend was hoppin' mad and wanted to kick their little butts.  Her mother 86'd that idea quickly...espousing retaliation probably wouldn't end well.  I told the girls they were to avoid those boys.

Which they did.

And now it is several days later and I think I might have made a mistake.   Yes, I validated her feelings and did not make too big of a public spectacle since it was not OUR pool, we didn't know the boys or the parents.  Although, it certainly would not have been too hard for me to physically track down those boys and confront them about their use of racially offensive language.  I suppose I could have even asked where their parent(s) was sitting and perhaps notified them.

Here Is My Question To You 
and chance to play armchair quarterback.....

When you don't confront children who use racial profanity are you in essence condoning it?

If you do what I did and console your child but choose not to risk a public drama are you showing your child how to "turn the other cheek" modeling composure? (Which admittedly at the time, I thought I was doing.) 

Are you teaching your own children of a different race not to make waves, shake it off, words don't hurt...when perhaps we all know that they can and do hurt. 

Would it have been out of line as a guest at a pool club to track down the offending children and ask for an apology as a teachable moment on the ills of racial slurs? 

If you are parenting a child of a different race, what do you do in these situations? 

Thinking Back 

Perhaps I should have asked Ava if she would have liked me to track the boys down for a talk. Maybe that would have given her more power.  At the very least I suppose I owe her an explanation that this is bothering me and ask now that she has calmed down, if I handled it the way she would have preferred.

Ugh, parenting with the full metal isn't for weaklings.  But then again, being raised by racial majority folks in their own sandbox, without lots of good experience, well that isn't for weaklings either now is it?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Day of School

Ava started school this week.  No, you don't have to check your calendars for fear you lost the entire month of August.  School starts earlier and earlier here as the years pass.  Next year we expect to have a math test the night before 4th of July.  Here is our obligatory first day of school photo.  It is so hot and humid here that the camera wouldn't even cooperate, the graininess to the photo is the 135% humidity.  My sunglasses were fogged and the camera lens had a hot film permanently affixed as I tried to just get one photo in focus.  This all took place at 7:30am. 

Don't you love the American flag in the background?  Makes it look like a school photo doesn't it.  Remind me to thank the neighbors for that one. 

Down to one Number 2 child you'd think that I would be a hot mess of sewing madness right?  Wrong.  A hot mess, but not of sewing madness.  Unless you count the no less than six hours I have invested in this bag.  It has been completely made and wholly taken apart over and over again.  I'm not exactly sure why I couldn't get this one to come out perfectly.  Ugh, maybe distraction of a 4 year old tossing buttons around the room while I read instructions.  Maybe it is the puggle who is pooping on my floor since she doesn't like how hot it is outside.  In my next life I promise not to spoil my charges so that they retaliate against me when inconvenienced in any way. 

Does it look like a ladybug lives inside?  Would that be bad if it does?  Honestly, that never occurred to me when I suggested my client consider red polka dots with this black and while chenille fabric.  But, when my kids (and do not think it is lost on me that the name of the blog used to be twoladybugs) both screamed "Oh, it's a lady bug bag! Did you make it for us?"  Ummm, no.  It is supposed to be a sophisticated laptop bag for a working mother.  I'll report back on the final verdict. 

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Those Faces

This summer I found the most wonderful photographers here in town, CW Photography.  They agreed to work with me in a trade for photographing the girls in exchange for some dress props and backdrops for their photo shoots.  I'll be their indentured servant for years to come, making little dresses and hair pieces until it adds up to the priceless professional photos.  I'm overwhelmed with how they turned out.  We had a blast working with them one summer day that was about 600 degrees outside and with the threat of severe thunderstorms looming, I didn't know whether we'd get any good shots at all. 

Olivia Xi GeGe Summer 2010

Ava and Olivia

Ava Jing Summer 2010
I was wrong.  The photos are amazing.  It started to poor down rain about 40 minutes into shooting.  You would never know would you?  My little Livi simply couldn't muster a natural smile.  She tried and looked so upset when I kept asking her to just "smile like you always do".  She would grit her teeth and try for my sake.  Chelsea and Wendy got a few great ones anyway practically attempting back flips just to get one little natural smile.  Ava, Miss Ava, she is my natural Miss Photogenic.  You pull out a camera, and she seems to turn on and exude charm, and now I have it on film.  

I've always been so reluctant to be in photos, I usually just grin and bear the clicking always thinking ahead to what I will "look like in that photo".  And, why do I care that much? I fret about hairs out of place, that extra 7 lbs. I was planning on losing which never seems to happen as real life whizzes in front of me. Is the make-up too much?  Is there ever really enough make-up to cover, hide and enhance?   See that necklace, it's borrowed from my next door neighbor.  The night before the shoot I hadn't put one minute of thought into an outfit for myself, spending too much time concentrating on the perfect outfits for the girls.  She saved me by offering those lovely pearls making me feel "somewhat put together".   When all is said and done.  Here we are in the Summer of 2010.  Me and my gals.  Me and my two peanuts that have practically driven me to the brink of exhaustion this summer.  Me and my little ladies that have made me laugh, made me yell, made me appreciate the amazing gift that is being their mom.

Yes, I'm glad we glad we got Chelsea and Wendy to take our pictures.