Chronicles of a Single Mom #17 – My Child the Teacher

Standard

Anyone who’s had the opportunity of parenthood in some way or another will tell you that it’s a learning experience.
Unlike schools and universities, however, there’s no manual and the life-long experiment that you signed up for doesn’t always go as planned. As a matter fact, 99 percent of the time it ends up the polar opposite than what you expected.
Fortunately, there are moments where little Crayola and Play-Doh covered nuggets are dropped in your path and they’re not as painful as stepping on a Lego at 1 a.m. in the morning.
I had one of those moments Saturday.
After coming back home from doing some work-related things, I’m surprised with the following scene. Picture it: There’s a beach towel in my hallway complete with an open umbrella, two twinning baby dolls and a beach bag. Throw in a 9-year-old girl with a sunhat, shades, scarf, sandals and a sundress.
Yep.
So here’s the story: Apparently she was sick of the weather created by Hurricane Matthew so she decided to go to the beach. (I didn’t’ ask which one.) Instead of dealing with the all-day rain, flash flood warnings and brief power outage she decided she’d create the situation she wanted to be in.
After giving it some thought, the lesson she was teaching hit me. Who knows if it was meant for me specifically but here’s what I took from it.
We, as adults, are often placed in situations that we don’t necessarily want to be in but how often do we actually try to change our outlook? Do we wallow in our displeasure and unhappiness or do we take what we’re given and go to the beach? I don’t mean that we have to go on a physical trip but do we set up our metaphoric Tiki Bar and enjoy things in spite of whatever’s going on?
I’m guilty of letting some circumstances overpower my positive mindset but I’m deciding to not let that happen again. I won’t be spreading any towels out in the hallway but I’ll try and imagine a brighter outcome for anything that comes my way.
Who knew that the person I was tasked with teaching about life would turn right around and do the same thing for me?
Scary, right?
I do agree with her on one thing.
There’s nothing like a sunny getaway in the midst of a storm.
Especially when it promises fruity drinks and a beautiful view.
I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #16 – My Political Princess

Standard

At some point the spirit of past feminists and political activists have taken over my 9-year-old’s body. She’s always felt some type of way about politics (blame her reporter mommy) but it seems to have come out even more so this presidential election.
Admittedly, my 9-year-old probably knows more about this upcoming presidential election, or the election process itself, than most adults my age. She’s often watched election outcomes, goes to the polling booth with me and has even watched her fair share of inaugurations.
However, this year something is different.
She seems to have channeled the spirits of Shirley Chisholm, Fannie Lou Hamer, Yuri Kochiyama and Septima Clark, using the experience and knowledge of all four to educate herself and others on the political candidates and their platforms with a little help from Zendaya and the Future President’s project.
I mean the girl is serious!!!
She even asked to go to kidsvoteforpresident.com so she could research the presidential candidates. She knows everything down to their grandchildren’s names and will gladly share this information with you. She pays attention to the Super PAC commercials that run every few minutes, knowing of course that they’re paid advertisements, but she also knows to look up the information to distinguish if it is indeed factual.
It’s nothing to catch her watching a debate, town hall or cable news network to try and catch up with someone on the campaign trail.
Of course she has determined who’d she like to see as the next president but I’ve also shared with her that it’s essentially every American citizen’s right to vote for whom they believe would do the best job running the country.
She’s cool with the whole process except for one thing.
As she was telling me who she’d vote for during KidsVote, I let her know that right now her vote would not be counted in the presidential election so stumping for a particular candidate in her group of friends would not benefit either party.
Why did I do that?!?!
Her immediate response was “What do you mean my vote doesn’t count?” The face she made was what you’d get if you’d told her that Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny (Yes! They’re still real at my house!) was not real all at one time and in that order. For a minute I thought she’d cry or have the fleeting thought of slapping me for merely uttering those words.
After getting over her initial disgust, she politely informed me that things change and while she would vote for the candidate that she’d decided to go with, however, at some point someone needs to look at the voting laws that are in place.
“Why is that?” I asked her. Her response, which scared me a little, was that it was unfair for “politicians to make decisions for children without asking for their input. Yes, some people will come up with silly things like ice cream for lunch and unicorns on the playground but in order to have a successful world for us you have to ask us what makes us successful.”
As I’m picking my jaw off the floor, she crawls off my bed and heads out of my bedroom door. Before walking out, she throws back “that’s why when I’m President we’ll have a kid’s roundtable” and heads back to whatever episode that’s on Disney.
I don’t know whether to be extremely proud or extremely troubled for my fellow American citizens.
Just know that I did try early on to veto the ice-cream-for-any-meal-bill that may be introduced into law in 2041 from your Princess President.
Did I mention she’s heading to the state capitol on a field trip in November? I’m debating whether or not she needs to go with her very own special chaperone.
I’d hate for her to interrupt a session asking common sense questions. After all, she is my child.
I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #15 – Dear New Teacher

Standard

A letter to my kid’s new teacher:

Dear New Teacher,

Welcome back to a school year that is destined to be filled with fun, appreciation and an overall awesome time.

Okay. Maybe I’m just describing the first day back to school for me after I dropped my fourth-grader off. I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that my fourth-grader will talk at times she isn’t supposed to, that the social lives of fourth-graders may derail your lessons plans and that it may get even harder for you to motivate yourself to get to school in the mornings than it is for me to get her there.

With all that in mind, know early on that I appreciate you taking on the not-so-quiet storm that is my child for a few hours.

I appreciate you not taking it out on the kids that you don’t get paid for the many roles you may play during the school year, including mediator, secret keeper, counselor, superhero and, at times, the villain.

I hope that you’re just as invested in my child’s future as I am. I’ve got to tell you; the price is pretty high after all this time. I do hear the future payouts are worth it, though.

It is my goal to help you as much as I can. While I may not be able (or want) to commit to every field trip, I’m sure we can work something out when it comes to snacks, Kleenex and class parties. Maybe a couple dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts in exchange for skipping my name on the chaperone list a time or two. Or a nice Christmas gift for booking the free field trip instead of the $24 option.

Just something to think about.

For what it’s worth, I look forward to picking my kid up in the future and hearing about the awesome day she had and the many new things she learned. I look forward to hanging new art work around the house, posting academic achievement awards and covering up the calorie chart on the refrigerator with exemplary grades from tests and class assignments.

Most of all, I look forward to getting work done without being called every five minutes. Being able to accomplish more than half of my to-do list both effectively and efficiently.

I even look forward to taking some much-needed down time.

Or maybe even a nap.

Either way, I already appreciate all that you’ll do.

Thanks.

I’m Just Saying.

Finding myself… again

Standard

Every few months I get this feeling of restlessness.
I feel as if I’ve fallen down on the job. The never-ending job of mom, journalist, sister, friend, daughter, professional, citizen and woman.
What qualification chart or performance review am I holding to feel that way? None, yet the feeling remains.
Whatever that reason is, it causes me to stop and take stock in all aspects of my life at that moment. Sometimes that’s a good thing (and a morale booster) and at times it causes me to face some ugly truths.
I’m sure that I’m not the only person who’s found themselves feeling this way. There are too many people getting paid off of self-help books for me to be the lone wolf in that forest.
As I get older, I’ve come to appreciate that period of time. I don’t feel worthless. I don’t feel as if I’m not useful.
Oddly, this time motivates me. It’s a challenge to be a better me. Or to at least try to be the best at whatever I happen to tackle that day.
That could be taking on two stories for publication and posting a blog or deciding to wrestle three loads of laundry, while making sure dinner’s cooked before the 6 p.m. PTA meeting.
It’s a push to pour my heart, soul and sometimes anger into whatever I’m doing.
Ultimately, it’s a sign of growth.
It shows me that I’m no longer content with being content. It shows the need for evolution. It shows the need to challenge myself mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally on a quarterly basis.
It shows that I still have the urge to learn, teach, explore and care about others.
Finally, it shows that this is not the end for me. Far from it, if I say so myself. I still have somewhere to go, something important to do, and someone important to say it to – whether they want to hear it or not.
My only problem is which challenge I’ll tackle first.
It wouldn’t be right to expend all of this awesomeness all at one time.
It just wouldn’t.
I have to learn to space the greatness out.
I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #14: Shhh! She’ll hear us eating!

Standard

I CAN’T EAT!!
Seriously.
I’m sure that I can afford to miss a meal or two but first I have to actually have access to said meals. In order for that to happen my 9-year-old has to stop eating up all of the food.
She has become the human Hoover when it comes to my kitchen. I can go looking for something and it’s already gone.
The other day she ate two plates of breakfast. I mean toast, bacon, and grits. (She’s allergic to eggs.)
Count them. Two.
Did I mention that she doesn’t even weigh 60 pounds? Not at all.
However, she eats like she’s twice that size and it goes nowhere.
Truth moment: I would be jealous but the strain it’s putting on my purse is ridiculous.
She’s so bad that the sound and smell of food being cooked brings her into the kitchen to investigate. I don’t care if she’s sleep, playing with her dolls or watching television.
I literally poured myself a bowl of cereal in the laundry room the other morning in an attempt for her not to hear me.
Only to open the door and find her standing in the kitchen, in her pajamas, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
Yep.
It’s that serious.
So I’ve calculated that in 18 days she will be back at school where she can eat breakfast and lunch there. Which gives my purse and my stove a break from overuse.
If not, she’ll be looking for job applications to feed her growing appetite. Or she’ll be eating me out of house and home. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to the latter.
I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #13: Kitchen Wars

Standard

Help!

My child wants to invade my kitchen and I’m not ready.

Long gone are the days where she’d be satisfied to sit on the floor and play with pots and pans.

Long gone are the days where she’d play in her play kitchen and cook an entrée made out of red and yellow Play-Doh.

Long gone are the days where she’d be excited to play with her EZ Bake oven in anticipation of the sweet mini treats that would come out of the opposite end.

With those memories has gone the sense of security I felt allowing her to do these things rather than encroach on my domain.

Anyone who knows a good Southern woman (I say Southern but this could easily be any cook) will tell you that you don’t mess around in her kitchen.

It takes years to get our seasonings and cooking materials in the right place. A place where they’re organized and out of the way yet easily accessible. Easy enough to come in and fix a quick meal or a holiday dinner.

So now that I know I like my seasonings close to the stove, my little roommate would also like to try her hand at this thing called cooking.

Did I mention she’s 9?

She’s ambitious too. She doesn’t want to start off with making a sandwich or simply fixing a bowl of soup. That would be too easy. She’d prefer to fix four course meals for unauthorized (I haven’t approved any of these events) parties, teas and social gatherings. She even wants to plan the menu for Holiday dinners. One catch, she’s never turned on a stove.

Ever.

Lately, she’s begun asking to fix dinner one day of the week. She means business too because she makes out a grocery list from the recipe that she would like to make.

I’m torn between thinking I’m a great mom setting a great example for my kid and showing her a life skill that will come in handy for the rest of her life, or I’m simply enabling her by not allowing her to experiment in the kitchen and become more independent.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I need to call the insurance company to see how much it costs to cover all accidents that may occur during her learning curve.

Might even invite the agent over for soup and sandwiches.

I’m Just Saying.

Chronicles of a Single Mom #12: Summer Drain or Summer Pain?

Standard

It’s that time of the year again.
Teachers across the nation get a much needed break while parents take on the care of their children or ship them off to some camp filled with fun-packed activities.
For the past few years, school systems have harped on the need to make sure your child(ren) were stimulated over the summer break instead of playing video games or watching cartoons all day to prevent what is called Summer Drain.
Summer Drain is described as the loss of information retained during the previous school year during the summer. The thought behind this is that without academic stimulation, students lose the information that they learned the previous school year putting them at a disadvantage for the upcoming school year.
Now as a child of a mother that’s being in the education profession all my life, I never really had that problem. As a matter of fact, I despised the packets of work that showed up shortly after the last day of school.
However, I find that I’m putting my child through the exact same torture. Ironic right? It’s a mutual torture because I have to check said work. It can be quite a summer pain.
Here’s why it may be pain that you can live with. According to the National Summer Learning Association, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading while their higher-income peers make slight gains. In math, there is an overall loss of two months of math skills during the summer months. Those losses add up. By fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students 2 ½ to 3 years behind their peers.
So is it something I can live with?
Yep, for now.
I just keep in mind that it’ll be someone else’s job to check them come August. It keeps me sane.
I’m Just Saying.