Tag Archives: parenting

NO

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My eighteen-year-old son went running the other night. As a white mom with a white son, my only concern was that he should wear something reflective so cars could see him. It did not cross my mind for even one second to talk to him about what to do if the police stopped to question him. I would never in a million years think I needed to tell him never to put his hands near his pockets.

 

But this is a conversation black moms are having with their sons every day. And I am so fucking sorry about that. THIS is why we need to stand and say #blacklivesmatter.

 

I support police officers. I truly am thankful that some people have chosen an occupation where they risk their lives to keep people safe.

 

I also believe that whenever people are in a position of power over other people, whether it’s physical, spiritual, financial, political or any other, there is the possibility for that power to be misused. And when that happens it is our job as human beings to stand up and say NO.

 

When SOME priests sexually abuse children we say NO.

When SOME teachers use physical punishment against children with disabilities we say NO.

And when SOME police officers consistently target people of color with the use of excessive force we say NO.

 

Most importantly we stand with the people who are being targeted. We tell them, “We see you and we see what is happening.” We stand together and we say NO. Over and over we say it.

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Graduation

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When I was pregnant with you
I couldn’t wait for you to be born
Because I was so excited to meet my baby boy

When you were born and I held you
You looked at me with those big eyes
And then peed all over
I smiled and said, “Hey Kid, nice to meet you. I’m your mom.”

Hey Kid, I remember you in your baby seat and our cat Ellie
Doing some silly thing
You looked over at me and we smiled at each other
Sharing our first joke

Hey Kid, we spent many hours exploring the world together
I got to see through your eyes as we fought dragons with sticks
And collected beautiful rocks and looked for crawfish in the pond
Coming home muddy and tired and so happy

Hey Kid, I comforted you when you were sick, or sad, or hurt
A snuggle and a Band-aid
Band-aids were magic
Able to heal any broken heart

Hey Kid, today I watch you walk across the stage, ready to leap into your next adventure
I am so proud of you and excited to see where you will go
But I am the one who today
May need a magic Band-aid and a snuggle

An open apology letter to parents from a special education teacher

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Dear Parents,

We all start our careers somewhere and unfortunately have a lot of on the job learning to do. I know when I first started out as a special education teacher I made mistakes, and I still do. As a mom of a 13-year-old who is currently struggling in school, I also have the perspective of a parent who has to be a strong advocate for her son. And guess what, it’s freakin’ hard. After being a special education teacher for almost 20 years, I understand that advocating for my own child is very different from advocating for my students. There are so many feelings involved including fear, sadness, anger, love and frustration. With this perspective in mind I would like to offer the following apologies to all of the parents I have worked with:

  1. I am sorry if I ever made you feel judged.
  2. I am sorry if I didn’t have the confidence to admit when I didn’t know something.
  3. I am sorry if I ever called you “mom” or “dad” at a meeting instead of using your name.
  4. I am sorry if I didn’t focus on your child’s strengths.
  5. I’m sorry if I didn’t also let you know the struggles though because you deserve to have all of the information and not be blindsided at a meeting.
  6. I am sorry if I didn’t fully believe you were the expert on your child.
  7. I am sorry if I wasn’t brave enough to argue against rules and decisions that were not in the best interest of your child.
  8. I am sorry if I didn’t make sure to show that I truly liked your child.
  9. I am sorry if I didn’t make sure you knew I was on your side.
  10. I am sorry if I did not make communication and teamwork a top priority.

Sincerely,

Teacher, mom and oh-so-human being

My Village People

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I love the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In my experience this is so true. And my village has changed over the years as my children have grown. When they were little, my village consisted of that guy I stalked when I saw him out my window taking a walk in the rain with a little baby in a front carrier and umbrella over their head. Feeling lonely and trapped in my house with my own newborn, I grabbed my umbrella and baby and followed this guy to his house, knocked on his door and introduced myself, “Hi, I’m Trista. I noticed we have babies about the same age.” What I really meant was, “I’m so lonely and need some new parent friends!”

 

My parents have always been an important part of my village. At around the same time I was stalking strangers with babies, I was having a little meltdown one evening. My stepmom called to see how I was doing and I burst into tears, “Not very well.” She and my dad came over, STAT, with mashed potatoes that we ate right out of the pot.

 

I once called my mom in a panic after my 3-year-old son’s penis got stuck in the zipper of his footie pajamas. It was quite traumatic! She sent me flowers after telling the florist the whole story.

 

And the lady across the street who came over to tell me that she noticed my 2 year old, who I thought was napping, making a hole in his upstairs window screen. He later explained that his dinosaur was hungry and liked to eat screens. Well of course!

 

As my boys have grown into teenagers I have an expanded village. My friends and neighbors who give my wayward children rides to school when they miss the bus. The neighbors who have a spare key for when one of us is locked out of our house.

 

My sister-in-law who has raised a teenage son and who I go to with questions like, “Did he ever….? What did you do when…..?”

 

My nephew and his fiancé who take my boys to do all of the stuff I hate doing like going to the state fair and corn mazes. Just think of what my boys would have missed out on with out these two!

 

And so many more, the crossing guard, dojo sensei, aunts, uncles, cousins, coaches, tutors and teachers. I have learned that it’s okay to ask for help, and the occasional pot of mashed potatoes. I am so appreciative for my village people. I couldn’t do this parenting thing alone.

My Fantasy Apartment

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I spent the weekend with girlfriends at a Women’s Adventure Weekend Camp in the Adirondacks. We had a wonderful time sleeping in bunk beds, taking hikes, eating in the mess hall and sitting by the lake chatting. We have made this trip together for about 9 years and it’s always a nice time to catch up on each other’s lives and spend lots of time laughing. This year we all described our individual fantasy apartments. You know, the ones we design in our minds during an especially crazy day with grumpy kids, messy houses, burned dinner etc. It’s interesting to see what we all find the most comforting and relaxing. Here are some of our apartments.

The Sparse Apartment

All white with very little furniture. One book, one plate, one cup, one fork, one spoon and knife. Nothing at all that needs any care or nurturing. No plants or pets. A space for a yoga mat next to a little fountain. No clutter.

The Jungle Apartment

Full of plants and pets. No kitchen. Lots of books.

The Hobbit Hole Apartment

Full of bright colors and cozy furniture. A fireplace and lots of soft blankets. Stacks of books. Dogs to curl up with on the couch. A coffee pot.

What does your fantasy apartment look like?

Back to School Awesomeness

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I bought a carrot cake tonight in anticipatory celebration of my boys completing a successful first week of school. And what exactly constitutes a successful first week of school. Well thanks for asking…

1. They got there every day. 

2. They had clothes on. And as far as I know, even clean socks and underwear. I know! Crazy right?

3. They even ate something before school. And I’m pretty sure they were totally healthy pop-tarts because I bought the ones without the frosting. 

So my point is, we pretty much rocked it out this week. Congrats to all of the other families who were back to school super stars like us!

 

The Throw it at the Ceiling and See if it Sticks Method of Parenting

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Have you ever plucked a strand of spaghetti out of the boiling water and flung it at the ceiling to see if it would stick? I love to do that. And if it sticks then it’s done, or if it falls it’s done or if it sticks and then falls it’s done, or something like that. Well my parenting style is kind of like that. I just keep flinging my parental pearls of wisdom at my children and hope that some of them stick. For example:

1. One day, years ago, while driving my 3 year old to preschool, he suddenly pipes up from his car seat in the back to ask me how water turns to steam. My budding scientist! I start in on a long-winded explanation about molecules getting cold and moving slow and turning to a solid and then heating up and moving faster to form a liquid and heating up a lot and moving fast, turning to steam. I don’t know if this is actually a sound scientific explanation but I figured it was good enough for my 3 year old. Then silence from the back seat; crickets in fact. And then, “Mom, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The spaghetti fell

 

2. My boys are fighting…again. “He said _____! He touched my ______! He looked at my _______!” I talk to them about what being brothers means and how lucky they are to have each other. How they need to treat each other nicely and how we don’t whack each other in this family, for the millionth time!

When they are 12 and 15, my older son has a group of friends over. One of them goes upstairs to play Xbox with my younger son. He comes back down awhile later and says to the big boys laughing, “I made your brother cry.” My older son looks at him briefly and says, “Not cool dude.” He stuck up for his brother, in front of his friends! Yes!

The spaghetti stuck

 

So, I guess I’ll just keep winging all of that stuff out there about kindness, compassion, safe sex, healthy eating, education, responsibility, blah, blah, blah, and just hope that some of it sticks!