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Posts Tagged ‘Teenagers’

Some Free Range Zen

June 3, 2011 3 comments

OK, so if this is your first time here, some quick background info: I live in an inner city neighborhood and am a free range mom of three. My son will be 15 at the end of the month, my elder daughter 12 in August, and my younger daughter is 8.5. All three use the city’s public transit system to varying degrees. My oldest is perfectly capable of planning a route to anywhere he wants to go (volunteer work downtown or a sporting goods store in the neighboring suburb) by using the transit book, my middle child travels mostly direct routes with the occasional transfer on familiar routes in our neighborhood, and my youngest is always accompanied by at least one of the older two. We’ve talked about the difference between making conversation and fishing for information and what they should and should not divulge. We’ve discussed the unlikely possibility of abduction or assault, what they should do if they are threatened and what they can do to prevent being targeted in the first place. They stay home alone regularly while I run errands in our neighborhood on weekends and occasionally while I’m at work, which is only 10-15 minutes away. One of my next door neighbors is retired as is the couple across the street, and there is a police substation less than a quarter of a mile away, should an emergency arise that needs addressed faster then I could get home. They know where the power breaker is, how to shut off the water supply to each toilet as well as the main water supply to the house. They know that unless I have told them I’m expecting someone to drop by, they are not even to approach the door if someone knocks and I am not home. We’ve discussed what to do or not do if there was an attempted burglary.

So this is my little free range success story. Short version: My three kids were home alone, making ramen (on the stove *gasp*) when someone came to the door. I had actually stepped away from my desk to speak to a coworker and missed two calls and a text from my son that someone was at the door and wouldn’t leave. When that someone entered the back yard, my son called my direct number at work but I didn’t quite make it back to my desk before it went to voicemail, but seeing the missed calls on my phone, figured it had been the kids and called right back.

“Mom, why haven’t you been answering your phone? This guy just stole my bike.”

So it takes me a second to gather that this is actually still in progress and the guy is still in view of the house. I figured was a good time to take my lunch break, told my son to hang up, call 9-1-1 and that I was on my way. I got home 15 minutes later, and as I approached the turn onto our street, the burglar was being apprehended around the corner from home and my kids were in driveway giving a police report to another officer. They’d already given a detailed scenario as well as descriptions of the stolen bike, what the guy was wearing, and his general physical features. The officer asked about how old the guy looked, and Tyler said, “eh… 35 to 45 years old. Halle chimed in, “I’d say he was in his late thirties.” Daija was pouting because they made her hide in the closet and she didn’t get to see him at all. Both girls were green with envy as Tyler left with the officer taking the report to ID the suspect and the property. When they returned, the officer explained our options, and I was proud again that Tyler indicated a desire to aid in prosecution.

When one of the officers that apprehended the burglar returned Tyler’s bike (and an empty propane tank… don’t know why he didn’t take the nearly full one from the grill?) a half hour after that, he asked me to tell my son (the spokesperson at the old age of 14) how proud he was of him, and all of them, and what a great job I’d done preparing them to handle an emergency.

I basked in the knowledge that my kids stayed calm and handled the kind of worse case scenario most parents cite as justification for helicopter parenting, then went back inside to share his praise (as well as one or two things to do better if we ever find ourselves in that situation again).

As I headed back to work, they had already resumed their lunches and promised me they were going to make sure to clean up the kitchen & dining room as soon as they were done (oh, they lie so earnestly…). Just before I shoved it into my purse, I looked down at the police report information the officer gave me before he left…

The suspect will be 37 in a couple months.

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Gratitude Sunday

October 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Today’s grats will be short and sweet… I’m driving Daija up to visit Biker Dad today & have some last minute packing and hair to do so we can get this show on the road.

  • Tyler goes back to school this week. That boy has eaten the better part of four loaves of bread and a jar of peanut butter this week.
  • The girls have fall break this week. It will be nice not to worry about hair or be rushing a little girl who had time for lip gloss but forgot to brush her teeth until it was time to leave. *SMH*
  • Speaking of Biker Dad, I am also very thankful for him and my Aunt Laura. It’s been a joy having them in my life this past year.
  • I must also give thanks to my Aunt Joyce, who has also been a joy to me. She never stopped hoping we’d be reunited and never stopped looking for me. Had it not been for her hope and faith, we all would be missing so much.

 

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“We Need to Talk”

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

A couple weeks ago I was listening to Moms: ‘We Need To Talk’ on NPR‘s Tell Me More.  and was really struck by these statements by Dani Tucker, one of the moms who previewed the documentary.

I mean, we already talk because the bottom line is if you don’t talk to them, Lil Wayne‘s going to talk to them. So, I mean, really.Somebody’s going to talk them – I love New York – somebody’s going to talk to them. So the point is, who’s going to talk and what’s going to be said? And I like what he did because what was said needed to be said. It was from personal experience. I’m anxious for part two, okay? There’s nothing like being able to share with your daughter what you went through, you understand? Because she’s looking – my daughter’s looking at me. You know, she may like Michelle Obama, she may like her grandmother, but she’s looking at me.

Let that last sentence marinate… I mean, really, really marinate. When our daughters are looking at us, what are we showing them? Regardless of what we tell them, what do they see? Read more…

Saturday Share from Cyndi’s Google Reader

September 18, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Cathleen Falsani: Anam Cara: Praying for Our Kids and Their ‘Soul Friends’ via Religion on HuffingtonPost.com by Cathleen Falsani on 9/13/10

An Anam Cara is someone with whom you share your deepest loves, fears, dreams, doubts, joys and sorrows. That soul friend will know him and love him for exactly who he is. He or she is a friend who will uplift him, reflect God’s love for him, and draw him toward his Creator, not away or astray. 

I prayed that, in the words of William Shakespeare, my son would take his soul friends into his heart and “grapple them to [his] soul with hoops of steel.” 

Cathleen Falsani is journalist, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, including the memoir Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace, and the forthcoming The Thread: Faith, Friendship and Facebook. 

 Sounds From Mexico’s Bicentennial via NPR Programs: Tell Me More on 9/16/10 

Alfonso Andre, drummer for the Mexican band Jaugares, talks about the band’s remake of the song La Martiniana for a new album that commemorates the Mexican Bicentennial. Andre also talks about his conflicted feelings about celebrating Mexico’s history. 

What is the purpose of (sex) education via Adolescent Sexuality by Dr. Karen Rayne on 9/15/10 

A good sex education might delay sexual activity.  In fact, a good sex education will ideally delay sexual activity.  But that’s not the main purpose of good sex education.  The main purpose of sex education is to support lifelong healthy sexuality.  We must take the long view here.  Sex education should not be designed to keep a student from having sex in high school – that is far too short sighted. 

Sex education must be designed to address individuals across their lifespans – to give them tools, skills, knowledge, and strength to understand their bodies, to be both introspective and appropriately communicative about their own desires, respectful about other people’s desires, and both safer and reverent about the entire process. 

White Feminists and Me: a Fable of Solidarity via Womanist Musings by Renee on 9/14/10 

I’m a 23 year old Sinhalese woman in Minnesota by way of Dubai by way of Sri Lanka. I am a Womanist, and part of my womanism is figuring out how to be in solidarity with my transnational sisters worldwide. I’m a daughter, a sister, a partner and a writer. I’m a brown girl who knows Shakespeare by heart and devours anything Toni Morrison. I believe in radical, revolutionary 

A Bleak Picture For Young Black Male Students via NPR Programs: Talk of the Nation on 9/13/10 

A report from the Massachusetts-based Schott Foundation paints a bleak picture of how young black men fare in school: fewer than half graduate from high school. And in some states, like New York, the graduation rate is as low as one in four. The foundation’s John Jackson and David Sciarra of the Education Law Center discuss what’s needed to improve educational attainment among African American children. 

Middle Schools Are Disciplining Kids by Throwing Them Away via Colorlines by Michelle Chen on 9/14/10 

Middle Schools Are Disciplining Kids by Throwing Them Away

Talk all you want about improving our nation’s schools, but the fact is, students can’t close the “achievement gap” when they’re not allowed into the classroom. Yet school suspension rates are climbing and potentially stifling educational opportunity for disadvantaged middle-schoolers, according to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center

 

Activists have long warned of the school-to-prison pipeline–sort of the opposite of the honors track, steering poor kids of color into troubled adolescence and eventually the criminal justice system. The SPLC explains, “Disciplinary tactics that respond to typical adolescent behavior by removing students from school do not better prepare students for adulthood. Instead, they increase their risk of educational failure and dropout.” 

Conflating “Ethnic” and “Curvy” via Sociological Images by gwen on 9/15/10 

We’ve noted the fetishization of Black women’s butts before, and the conflation of non-White and curvy (also here). Yes, some non-White women have large butts and cleavage. So do lots of White women. And lots of women in all groups don’t have either, or have just one or the other, or have them but don’t still somehow manage to be very thin and toned overall. But having this body type is, in this case and many others, so identified as “ethnic” that White women who have boobs and hips become examples of “ethnic” beauty, not simply a version of female beauty. Notice that Scarlett Johansson’s body isn’t described as having “European curves” or, I don’t know, “British-American curves” or whatever her ethnic background might be in the way that Jennifer Lopez’s curves are perceived as an ethnic marker. It’s a great example of selective perception: women of all racial/ethnic backgrounds share body shapes, but certain physical features, such as hips, are seen as a group characteristic only for some women. 

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages

‘Values Voter Summit’ Will Likely Be Missing Jewish Voters: Conservative Conference Coincides With Yom Kippur via Religion on HuffingtonPost.com by Amanda Terkel on 9/15/10 

Yet it’s unlikely observant Jews will be able to attend the event, since it’s being held on Yom Kippur — the holiest Jewish holiday — which begins at sundown on Friday, Sept. 17 and ends at sundown on Saturday, Sept. 18 — right when the majority of the action at the conference is happening (including the Israel panel). In 2009, the Values Voter Summit took place during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. “Does the FRC think Jews don’t have values?” wondered Salon’s Washington Correspondent Mike Madden last year. “Or was this just the only fall weekend they could get into the Omni Shoreham hotel?” 

Anti-Defamation League spokesman Todd Gutnick said his organization didn’t see much of a problem with the conflict in timing. “Since these are all Christian groups involved, Jews wouldn’t be attending anyway,” he told the Huffington Post. Some conservative groups, however, are trying to make inroads with the Jewish community, recognizing that although some on the right consistently accuse progressives of being anti-Israel or even “anti-Jew”, Jews still overwhelmingly vote Democratic. On Monday, FreedomWorks, which helps organize many of the Tea Party gatherings around the country, told reporters that it was launching “a new initiative to reach out to racial, ethnic and religious minorities” — beginning with Jews, to coincide with the High Holidays. 

The Huffington Post contacted FRC Action for comment but did not receive a response. 

This Week in Blackness: White People and Black People Are So Different via Womanist Musings by Renee on 9/17/10 

Elon James has come up with a new This Week in Blackness, and of course I absolutely had to share it with you.  This week, Elon talked about the fact that Blacks and Whites experience the same event differently because of racism.   Whiteness has been taught to ignore this because it has been normalized therefore; it is quite easy to believe in a universal perspective.  There is a large difference 

Angela Himsel: Excuse Me, Are You…? via Religion on HuffingtonPost.com by Angela Himsel on 9/17/10 

On Yom Kippur, when I stand in synagogue for hours and recite the prayers, striking my fist against my chest to atone for my sins, and as I become more and more tired with the lack of food, water and more importantly, caffeine, it’s then that I feel a kind of certainty that God sees and loves each one of us in all of our totality, even the parts that we hide from one another and from ourselves. Wherever we are, whoever we’re with, God recognizes us and never needs to ask, on Yom Kippur or any other day, “Excuse me, are you Angela?” 

Off and Running Toward My Own Identity [Racialigious] via Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture on 9/7/10 

by Guest Contributor Collier Meyerson, originally published at Be’Chol Lashon 

Collier, thinking At 13 years old, in the planning stages of my Bat Mitzvah, my Hebrew School teacher called a meeting at his home to discuss details. He opened his door to see me, my father who is an Ashkenazi Jew and my black mother. Upon seeing my family, without asking, he regrettably informed us that the synagogue, would not allow me to perform the right of passage in their temple because my mother wasn’t a Jew. My wily mother, coyly and smarmily responded “oh, but her mother is Jewish.” 

Yes, it turns out my biological mother is a white Ashkenazi Jew. 

And with these words, my Hebrew school teacher, as though I was caught in the Woody Allen version of my own life as a film, threw his hands into the air and exclaimed “it’s Bashert [it’s destiny] then! You’ll have your Bat Mitzvah in the Temple!” In that moment I felt a definitive rage. I wanted desperately to be a part of the Upper West Side’s most exclusive and popular clique, Judaism, but felt what would prove to be an indelible stake in this idea of blackness, something pitted against Jewishness. And so there it was, in the home of my Hebrew School teacher that the two were separated, like oil and water. 

I was Black and Jewish but I couldn’t be both, I couldn’t be a Black Jew. 

Preparing My Kids To Be Able To Run Through Walls via Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture on 9/7/10 

by Guest Contributor Paula, originally published at Heart, Mind, and Seoul 

I think about the walls that threatened to thwart my growth when I was younger and how completely ill-prepared I was to handle them. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I realize that perhaps I’ve been far too generous in assessing how well equipped I was to deal with the very real walls of racism, prejudice and discrimination throughout my life. I have no doubt that my parents love and concern imparted upon me the knowledge that they were always there for me – and yes, that is huge in it’s own right – but as an Asian girl/adolescent/young adult, I recognize now just how unprepared I was in terms of not having the right language or effective strategies to be my own best advocate in my racially isolated world. 

 

Bloggers Unite – International Literacy Day: Reducing Illiteracy in the Prison Population Benefits ALL of Us! via THE INTERSECTION | MADNESS & REALITY by Joanna on 9/8/10 

PhotobucketAn estimated 20 percent of the adult population in the US is functionally illiterate. That figure SKYROCKETS to over 60 percent when you examine the literacy rates of the inmate population in jails and prisons across the country. And even more appalling is the fact that over 85 percent of juvenile offenders have literacy issues.

Considering that illiteracy commonly leads to lengthy and repeated bouts of unemployment (over 75 percent of unemployed adults have some problems with reading and writing) the low rate of literacy among the inmate population is a recipe for explosive recidivism rates. After all, if an ex-prisoner is unable to find or keep a job due to literacy issues, where else can he turn but back to the behaviors that landed him in jail in the first place?

Although a lot of people take the “lock them up and throw away the key” attitude toward prisoners, and would rather REDUCE the services available to prisoners, there is PROOF that literacy programs in prison CAN and DO help reduce the rates of recidivism, and can lead to an overall reduction in incarceration rates. 

 Us (Moms) vs. Them (Teens) via I am the Glue by Laura on 9/11/10 

This will be an 18 year round/fight.
Keep it clean…your language…your room…etc.
At the end of the match, the winner will be decided by who is left standing, or not in jail, or rehab.
I am taking bets now.
I got some insider information…shhh…this is on the down low.
Us moms are the best bet because we have been there and done that.
Got a teenager to show for it. 

What I Did On My Summer Vacation…or Why Water Communion Makes Me Uncomfortable via East Of Midnight by Kim on 9/14/10 

Can anybody explain Water Communion to me in a way that doesn’t make it seem like it’s a glorified Show-and-Tell and another example of how classist UUism can be?  

Michael Zimmerman, Ph.D.: Overturning the Texas School Board Madness? It’s Possible via Religion on HuffingtonPost.com by Michael Zimmerman, Ph.D. on 9/14/10 

Voters in Texas’s 5th District have the opportunity to put an end to the embarrassing and anti-intellectual actions that have diminished education across the state, and that’s an opportunity that will likely impact text book choices around the rest of the United States. I, for one, hope that they opt to do just that by replacing Ken Mercer’s madness with Rebecca Bell-Metereau’s thoughtfulness. 

Charges That a Civil Rights Hero Was an FBI Spy Shouldn’t Shock Us via Colorlines by Barbara Ransby on 9/17/10 

Charges That a Civil Rights Hero Was an FBI Spy Shouldn't Shock Us These stories remind us not only that our government has routinely violated the basic civil liberties of so many black activists over several generations, but it reminds us of the complexities and limitations of presumed racial loyalty. The Black Press was given access to movement events and meetings in the 1960s that white reporters were not. Why? It was assumed that a level of racial solidarity and loyalty existed. Maybe that was true. But maybe it wasn’t. We continue to project false expectations onto politicians and self-appointed race leaders because of phenotype rather than politics, ideas and other more tangible markers of “loyalty” to oppressed people. Everyone who looks like “us” is not a friend, and everyone who looks different is not automatically the enemy. This is a simple lesson that some of us still have to learn. 

Promise of a better life leads to the nightmare of sexual slavery – CNN via articles.cnn.com on 9/18/10

Many people associate prostitution with women walking the streets in shady areas and being picked up by johns. But Claudia says the prostitution ring for which she was forced to work had a long list of clients who knew the price they had to pay, who to call and where to go. It’s a well-organized and lucrative underground industry. Luis CdeBaca monitors human trafficking at the U.S. State Department. He says there are no reliable figures on the scale of the problem, but forced prostitution from Mexico and Central America is a big part of it.

The sexualization of multiracial youth

September 1, 2010 6 comments

 

As we move out of the early years, through the middle years, into the teen and young adult years, I wonder how the objectification I wrote about years ago will impact my children. As they move from hearing stereotypes like “Mixed kids/babies are SOOO cute!” (I’m sorry, but they’re not all cute) to “Mixed guys/girls are so HOT” (or exotic or striking), I wonder how to prepare them for the harsh reality of interracial dating, which will be much different for them than it was for me. I think it’s obvious in  “Post Racial America” how deeply stereotypes are imbedded in our subconscious; when you couple that with a pop culture that objectifies women in general, particularly women of color, and romanticizes abusive relationships (from cliques to intimate partner abuse to domestic violence), I find myself worrying more about teen dating violence than teen pregnancy.  

As our children grow older, and going beyond the social interactions of elementary school, what do relationships look like from junior high through adulthood, if our children don’t feel comfortable setting boundaries?

 Thinking specifically about my children’s African ancestry, I’m reminded of an article I read titled Trying to Break A ‘Culture of Silence’ on Rape: Group Part of Movement Tailoring Recovery Efforts to Minority Women where psychologist Carolyn West explains,  

There was that belief that black women were unrapable,” West said. “Legally, it wasn’t a crime to rape black women, literally for hundreds of years.  

Going back to Does Anybody Else Look Like Me?, author Donna Nakazawa writes,  

Biracial girls are often considered beautiful objects of curiosity because of their exotic looks, this attention does not necessarily translate into dating partners.  

Read more…

What? Already? Nuh uh!

August 9, 2010 2 comments

I don’t know that we are ready to go back to school, but as I type here comes the sun to announce that the day is here whether I like it or not.

No more “sleepovers” in the living room or mommies bedroom… the girls barely spent a night in their bedroom all summer.  But last night it was back to business as usual, because school starts today.

It’s Halle’s first day of middle school… and she’ll be reunited with all her besties that have already started middle school… God help the teachers and administration, as they will surely need it with those four jockeying for the “Real Housewives” Tween Drama Queen title.

Daija starts third grade at elementary school by herself this year, but luckily her bestie from volleyball practice has enrolled there and will be riding the same bus. The after school program the kids have always gone to was cut so things will be a little different this year…

Tyler has been back in school for a week… an event that almost created an anxiety attack for me, but that he seems to be taking in stride. He’s been reunited with friends from way back in his days at MLK’s gifted magnate; one of the members from that terror squad is also in the Aerospace magnate. He seems to love his classes, we’re just going through the usual “trying to get back on track” adjustments the new school year always brings. This week I’ll be sending my usual “Hi, I’m Tyler’s mom” email to see how things are going and whether each teacher has his 504, and then providing them with a copy when (as usual) they do not.

LET THE WILD RUMPUS BEGIN!

my tribe

April 28, 2010 4 comments

So I have this new friend… her name is Maisha. She found my blog after I made the following comment on What Tami Said: Relationships 2.0: Are you my real friends or are you just virtual?.

November 5, 2009 7:56 PM
curlykidz said…
Absolutely real! Some of my closest friends are people I met online between 7 & 10 years ago. I live on the same block as one of them now, and one of us does morning carpool & the other afternoon carpool. Another flew from Philly to Phoenix to be with me IN THE DELIVERY ROOM when I gave birth to my youngest… it was the second time we’d ever met “in person”, but we talk almost every single day.

Virtual friendships can be very superficial, but that’s true of “real” friendships as well.

 I suspect the hook for her was Christie’s attendance at Daija’s labor & delivery, since Maisha is/was a childbirth educator before returning to school for her nursing certification (congrats again!). Maisha followed the link to my blog, where she noticed that Daija’s hair texture was very similar to her daughter’s, and gave the Naturally Curly method a try. Not too much later, I added the “contact form” so people could send messages directly to me without me having to publish my email address. Maisha was the first person I got a message from.

Aaah, the cosmic order of the internets.

We exchanged an email or two, but both of us being busy mamas, it didn’t go much further than that. Some weeks or months later, I connected with a member of my church on Facebook, and noticed THEY were friends. I figured this was a pretty good sign that Maisha wasn’t crazy and friended her, and the rest, as they say, is history. We arranged a playdate for the kids a couple months later, and they all got on like a house on fire, but especially our eldest kids, both middle school boys, both biracial, and both with learning differences.

I got a phone call yesterday from Christie… who, of all my “virtual” friends, is the hardest to keep up with. So much so that I answered the phone with,

You NEVER call me. What’s going on?

Thankfully, there was no crisis… it was just a “it’s been too long since we caught up” call. I was telling her about Maisha, seeing as how most of my social calendar revolves around her family anymore, and told her how we were going to be bringing Maisha into “the tribe.” Which was a little ironic, as I reread Tami’s blog this morning…

When I began writing online about the things that are most important to me, I soon found a small group of cyber-friends who inspire me, who write things that seem like they tumbled from my own mind, who share some of my beliefs, opinions and obsessions and challenge others, who crack my shit up on the regular. I found my tribe–folks who speak my language–online.

This entry is in partly background for a couple blogs that are still in draft, and partly a marvel at serendipity. I have some rich and beautiful friendships that have either started online, or that began in person and were able to continue after someone moved away… but the one complaint that these friends and I share is that for most of us, our friendships aren’t really able to include our families. So, this is mostly a big, big thank you to Tami Winfrey… you have no idea what a gift you gave Maisha and I, or what a blessing that gift has been for our children.

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