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Monday, July 29th, 2013
I was having one of those moments where my mind became a runaway train. I went down the “what if” road. I won’t even start elaborating on my deepest darkest fears when it comes to my kids, but suffice it to say, if I let my brain take over, it plays out nearly every bad scenario imaginable.
I think it stems from the fact Fia is starting a new pre-school in the fall. It’s a Montessori that I’ve heard nothing but good and great things about. However, it is a bigger school and unlike the intimate setting she has now, I am having irrational thoughts about her getting lost. Or stolen.
Granted the whole place is gated and as of this writing, they have never “lost” a kid. Plus, Fia is an uber rule-follower. When they line up after playground time (within the confines of the locked metal fence), the teachers do a head count. Then they walk–still surrounded by the fence–to their classroom. It’s about 10 steps. Within those 10 steps they are never outside the fence. I observed all this first hand. But you know what it’s like when you are in “what-if” territory. You can easily imagine your child suddenly falling into the hidden tunnel underneath the sandbox that takes them to the outside world and into enemy territory. Kind of like the Gaza Strip smuggling tunnels.
When I brought myself back from the brink of madness, I realized I do actually have a legitimate question. When do you teach your kid about “Stranger Danger?”
She is going to be 3 1/2 when she starts. Her world is still a very safe place. I don’t want to put unnecessary fears in her, as she does tend to be a bit obsessive (big surprise). But I also don’t want her to be naive and unaware. So before I lose any more mind space over this, or decide to umm, home school her (no), can someone give me some advice?
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Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, believes that children do see skin color and that it’s up to parents to teach them it doesn’t matter.
I don’t generally get worked up over things I read on Facebook but earlier this month a friend posted something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.
My friend was with her girls at the playground. A little girl with blonde hair approached her and asked if she was the girls’ mom or their babysitter. When my friend told the little girl that she was their mother the little girl said: “Well they look different than you. You know, their skin is darker and yours is like mine.”
My friend looks similar to me. She’s a taller-than-average white girl with shoulder-length brown hair and fair skin. Her daughters are both blessed with beautiful dark brown hair and skin that’s a creamy shade of caramel. What I would give for skin like that. Those lucky little ladies got it from their father whose family comes from Ecuador (though he’s pretty light himself).
One of the cool things about my friend is that she doesn’t have thin skin, fair though it may be. But something about her encounter with the little girl left her feeling sad. After explaining the scenario on Facebook she wrote: “I can only say that for various reasons, I don’t think that what happened this afternoon was a clear cut case of either curiosity or prejudice.”
Most of the people who commented on my friend’s post saw the exchange as a “teachable moment.” But one woman had this to say:
“[Y]ou taught that little bigot about life. What difference does skin color make…. Most young children do not see skin color unless some adult brought it to there [sic] attention.”
I wasn’t at the playground that day so I can’t speak to the girl’s tone or demeanor but to call a little girl a bigot? Wow. That’s harsh. And to say that children do not see skin color is simply wrong. They just don’t form judgments about people based on skin color. They can’t, because they have no framework in which to do so.
That’s where parents come in. It’s up to us to teach our children that color is, quite literally, only skin deep. It’s up to us to teach them that people come in all colors, shapes and sizes but that skin color and physical characteristics do not define a person. It’s up to us to teach our children that while every person is unique, we are all equal.
Children learn and form assumptions about the world based on what they observe. They just haven’t developed a brain-to-mouth filter that keeps them from asking blunt questions.
In the case of the little girl at the playground, it seems to me that she did the best thing she could have done. She noticed a difference in skin color between my friend and her daughters and asked about it. She made a blunt comment about the difference but her comment, at least as I read it, was free of judgment.
What do you think?
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assumption, black, curiosity, dark, different, equal, fair, feeling, judgment, light, mom, mother, playground, prejudice, sad, skin, skin color, skin deep, teach, white | Categories:
Cynthia's Guest Blog, Mom Situations, Must Read
Monday, February 20th, 2012
Fia has been unusually fussy since her fever last week. Maybe she is still fighting a little something. Or maybe it’s just the whole transition with new baby coinciding with terrible two’s. At any rate, Phil and I find that if we take her off on her own to do something she seems to get less fussy and more focused on having fun–a welcome relief to all of us.
This morning I took her to a playground with a friend. She was playing well within my sight on a little foot bridge–those kind that sway when you run across it. There were two older boys–probably 6 years old–playing on it as well. Whenever older kids are around I like to pay extra attention so she doesn’t get hurt. The one boy was straddling the foot bridge, the other was beckoning Fia to walk underneath the straddling boy. She sat on her butt and scooted under him. She was laughing and so were they. She typically loves older kids.
By now I was right there with them, watching. The boy sitting next to her started to push on her chest. She tried to get up and he was holding her down. I immediately went into mama bear mode, telling him to stop it and grabbing Fia in my arms. You ready for this? He says, “We were trying to kill her!” I almost simultaneously slapped him and threw up. Who the f-ck says that? I know, it’s maybe the old adage “boys being boys.” I don’t give a sh-t. You don’t say that kind of stuff.
I looked at him (of course his parents are nowhere around) and said, “Listen: you don’t say that to anyone. And you don’t hold a child down either. Ever.” Then marched off.
I know, it’s just verbiage on his part. But it really threw me. Fia just looked bewildered. My friend told me to figure out which set of parents had these kids and tell them. And being a direct person who doesn’t shy away from confrontation, I should have. But by then Fia was in meltdown mode again (I don’t think because of that) and I was tending to her and just felt really weary by the whole thing.
My friend Cassandra wrote about a parent who does the “RIE” method–and about what complete b.s. it is. I don’t know if these kids were raised to “do and say whatever they want and work it out on their own” or if their parents would have been equally aghast. I should have said something.
About 20 minutes later, I looked across the playground and saw the two boys plus another one. They were rough housing and the mom of the third boy walked over and told them to stop it. They clearly all knew each other.
That’s where my story basically ends. Fia continued to fuss, I brought her home and she’s napping now. And I continue to stew. Is this just part of parenthood or was this scenario a bit of an extreme? Let me know your thoughts.
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Wednesday, September 14th, 2011
Peepers is the yellow one on right
Fia nearly killed Peepers and I nearly had a heart attack. If your child kills an animal, aren’t their chances of becoming a serial killer heightened?
The hair-raising incident happened on a recent visit to my Aunt Nancy, who lives on the bayou about an hour north of New Orleans. She and my uncle live in a spectacular setting where jasmine grows like weeds, and crawfish populate the waters (sans oil) with abundance. I woke up to hummingbirds fluttering about and Fia squawking for Peepers.
Peepers and Peg are a pair of lovebirds. Both are boys, so I guess they’re gay. They’ve been partners for 15 years now. Peg only has one leg, thus his name. Peepers has scrunched up feet from a stroke, which means he needs to land on flat surfaces. He can’t curl his toes around a perch. Both survived Hurricane Katrina. Peepers also survived a near fatal beheading when caught up in a ceiling fan a few years back. But he almost didn’t survive Fia.
For background, Fi has chased after pigeons on the playground before, but her obsession with Peepers was unlike anything I’d seen. Nancy lets them fly about the house a couple times a day. Peepers will land right on your shoulder, or your head, and loves to have his belly rubbed. No joke.
The first—and only–time he landed on her arm, Fi squealed with delight. But before I could even say, “gentle,” she grabbed his head in her fist and took off running across the room, screaming with glee. All I could see were his legs poking out of her hand.
I gasped in horror, lunged for her fist and quickly pried it open. Peepers is yellow, but at that moment I swear he was blue. He took off in flight and Fia, thinking this is the most fun she’s ever had, ran after him again. Her fingers were covered in feathers. She tried to eat one.
“Um, this isn’t such a good idea,” I yelled across the room, cornering Fia from Peeps. “Fia, stop!” I screamed.
Nancy chimed in, scooping up a now-traumatized lovebird. “If she kills Peepers, she’ll have to kill Peg because they can’t be alone.”
Peg, upon hearing this, began to squawk, realizing his mortality was on the line.
Oh great, so she becomes a serial lovebird killer. Just what I always dreamt of for my daughter.
Luckily no more feathers were shed during our stay. But a lot of tears were. Everyday, after she grew tired of slobbering on Willy the dog, she’d go over to the cage, stand on her tippy toes and shake it—hard. She’d stick her fingers in, trying to extract even a feather. Peg and Peeps would squawk and take cover in their birdhouse. I’d pull Fia away, which would trigger an immediate tantrum. Crying, pointing at the cage, and ending with throwing herself on the ground.
“Poor baby,” I’d say. “I’m so sorry your mama won’t let you squeeze a bird to death.”
Each time we tried to supervise/teach her to hold him gently, I could see her fist tighten around his neck and I had to take him away (which of course meant more tantrums). After several more attempted beheadings we just kept them both in their cage.
I thought I’d come here for tranquility, not baby and bird wrangling.
In the end, we left with both birds still alive, but fewer feathers than before, plus a tormented child and a mama with shot nerves. I don’t think babies and birds are a great combo at this age unless the bird is stuffed.
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animals, birds, lovebird, pigeons, play, playground, travel, travel with baby, vacation | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Pet Tails
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
I was a bit surprised by the firestorm my blog set off. I was pondering it with my girlfriends Tuesday morning at the playground when a very strange thing happened.
A woman I had never seen came running up to us. She was almost in tears.
“Have you seen a blue baby blanket?” she asked frantically. (Her name is Julie.)
We shook our heads no.
“My sitter took it out with my son today and lost it!! It is his special blanket that was made from yarn we got in Australia. I let them take it because his father had to fly to Australia today and my son wanted to hold it. I even told her to be careful with it,” she said, clearly distraught.
My gals and I looked at each other, mouths hanging open.
“You gotta talk to HER!” my friend Stephanie said, pointing at me. It was like the universe sent Julie to me. Divine intervention reinforcing the point of my blog.
She went on to say, “You know the most ridiculous thing about this? I am paying my sitter to watch my son while I go searching for it.” I nodded. Been there too. It’s on my mom-crutch post.
Now before conclusions are drawn, let’s step back and think for a second what this argument is really about.
It’s about what we moms define as important. And what our expectations are. And it’s okay to agree to disagree. But I think it goes deeper than that. There was an underlying tone and theme in many of the comments. It speaks to the judgment we cast on each other, particularly the Stay At Home Moms versus the Working Moms.
And so begins Part 2 and 3 of my Sitter Chronicles.
Let’s first answer the question– how do things get lost? Sometimes it boils down to an accident. A mistake. And in that case, yes, get over it. But a lot of times it’s because tots fling things out of the stroller, or throw something in the playground. I know the few times I have lost stuff it’s due to texting while strolling (not something I’m proud of). Or not paying enough attention to what Fia is doing. I accept that my behavior is unacceptable. And I make a conscious decision to be better. So are sitters beyond reproach on that? I don’t think so. Because at the top of their job list is to pay attention to their biggest responsibility: The Child. Not their phone or their sitter friends. I believe that is exactly how Julie’s baby blanket got lost. And Fia’s things.
Dear lord. Diapers are a shit storm—literally and figuratively. I heard you all loud and clear on not checking the diaper bag: guilty as charged. Last Saturday was the first time it happened. And it bit me—and Fia—in the butt. It won’t happen again.
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accidents, baby blanket, babysitters, diaper bag, diapers, expectations, judgmental, judgmental moms, lose, lost, lost baby blanket, mistakes, mom, moms, playground, professionals, raising a child, responsibility, sahm, sensible, sippy cups, sitter, sitter responsibilities, sitters, stay at home moms, stroller, texting, texting and strolling, toy stroller, wipes, working moms | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read