The Harsh Reality For One Teen

 

IMG_2084An upright small black suitcase on wheels stands on the curb. Next to it are two large and nearly filled plastic bags with orange shoe boxes inside.  Easily identifiable is the Nike brand logo. A tethered book bag and a few other loose items perched on the blacktop.

Young, athletic looking, lean, and flawless nearly onyx colored skin, Jay moves from the rays of Georgia’s blazing summer’s heat and into the shade under a large crape myrtle.

He’s been sitting curbside for a few hours. Jokingly my daughter says, invite him in to stay over, but that’s not an option.  Seriously my cup runneth over with a house of five multi-generational people, but still, my heart is never full.

I saw Jay at the end of my five-mile morning walk.  After showering, polishing my toenails, moisturizing my locs, and snacking, he still lingered in the parking lot in front of the community clubhouse.

Now my heart softens for him. Without even talking to Jay, I figured out what most likely happened.  He had “the look.”

The look of a bewildered teen who thought he knew but begins to realize he isn’t nearly as smart as he thought.

The look of a dejected youth attempting to pilot unknown territory.

The look of a juvenile who is facing the harsh reality of his consequences.

The look of an astonished adolescent who can’t believe his parents put him out.

The look of fear and not knowing what to do next.

Since the temperature was well over 90 degrees outside, I decided to offer him a bottle of cold water.  Hubby walked over with me. I told Jay that I noticed he’d been sitting in front of the clubhouse for a few hours and asked if he wanted the water.

Graciously he thanked me and accepted the water. After a few minutes, hubby left us, and we talked. He was comfortable talking to me. I asked, “So, what’s the story? Why are you out here?”

The day before was Jay’s 19th birthday. To protect his privacy, I call him Jay. He decided to stay out all night. It seems, Jay’s decision was the final straw for his parents. This morning, when he arrived home, as expected, all hell broke loose.

“He wants to see me fail,” is what, Jay said. The 19-year-old lives at home with his mom, dad, and younger sibling. He says his dad could have waited until Thursday to kick him out, but he did it today. Thursday is payday. Thursday would have been more convenient. Jay is learning that bad things typically occur at the most inconvenient time. I also sensed the tension was between Jay and his father.  All of Jay’s comments were preferenced by “he.”  No comments referenced his mother.

There are no perfect words but having been on both sides of the fence, I understood.  I listened to Jay’s story and gave him my perspective.

I told him that without ever meeting or talking to his parents, I suspected the situation was a culmination of events. He shrugged his head in agreement, smiled just enough to show his pretty white teeth, and began to tell me more.

I tried to encourage him, as well as, give him realistic advice and without a preachy tone.  I told him my story of being kicked out of my mom’s house many years ago. To provide him with hope, I explained that my mother now lives with me.  The look on his face was priceless!  I also wanted him to know that his situation is temporary and that it is possible for him to improve his relationship with his parents.

I suggested that when he speaks to his parents, that he show up humble. Apologize with sincerity.  Avoid making excuses. Own his choices and mistakes. Only listen and don’t talk back. His body language and the slight shake of head told me that he wasn’t ready for that type of conversation. I hope he gets there…sooner than later.

He planned to stay the night at a hotel and would figure things out later. I hope that 24 hours later, his perspective changes. I told Jay I would pray for him and his family; he gave me a fist pump and thanked me.

Jay’s story isn’t unique. His situation is a reminder of the ongoing impediments we face raising children. But also the challenges and pressures teens face.  No two stories are the same, but every family faces some challenges.

Reflecting on Jay’s situation, my thoughts are:

  • Kindness is free and so is caring, we must practice as often as possible.
  • When we become so immersed in our own lives, we often fail to notice the people, places, and objects around us. We miss seeing the sad colleague, the depressed child, the ill parent, or someone else who is down and out.
  • We must consciously see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. When we fully engage all five senses, we are cognizant of our surroundings and are more inclined to notice unusual circumstances.
  • To judge others is often instinctive.  However, when we see a situation that is seemingly odd, instead of judging the person or thinking of oneself, offer a listening ear, a kind gesture, or at least acknowledge the persons struggle.  I am not naive and understand the concern for safety. I remember a story from my amazing and generous bestie.  While driving alone on the busy Garden State Parkway, she noticed a car with a woman, whom she did not know, in distress on the shoulder of the road. Many cars passed the lady, but my friend empathized with the stranger and stopped to help her. 🙂

A few days have passed since I met Jay. I haven’t seen him and hope and pray that his situation has improved.

I share this story to emphasize what conscious living looks like but also to encourage you to stay present.  It takes work.

There was a time in my life when I would not have noticed Jay.  Even worse I am ashamed to say; there was a period in my life when I would have seen Jay and jumped to all kinds of false and unfavorable conclusions about him. Lack of exposure, fear, and an idiosyncratic attitude can hold you hostage to impaired thinking.

The current climate in this country of divisiveness, name calling, hatred, and lack of acceptance of people who are different or have opposing views, is disturbing. That’s why it is critical that we live moment-to-moment (mindfully) and engage in kindness and compassionate toward one another.  We cannot achieve complete wellness without consideration for others.

Love and kindness are never wasted.
They always make a difference.
They bless the one who receives them,
and they bless you, the giver.

-Barbara De Angelis

Thanks for visiting! 🙂

 

 

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Without Judgment Clarity Exists

There is eternal power and influence in motherhood.

-Julie B. Beck

Seeing the first image of our baby inside of our womb, the excitement of feeling the first kick inside our swollen bellies, the forever waited sound of the first breathe and cry at birth—all produces a plethora of emotions and fairytale like dreams.

Instant tears of joy and feelings of entitlement for our baby boy or baby girl—They will have our best and they will be the best at whatever they set out to do in life. We will always be there for them.

What is missing from the arrival of our bundle of joy is, a book of wisdom. Although you can find just about any book on any topic of how to do anything online and in stores, no single approach to parenting is a guarantee.

Every child and every mother is unique. We become mothers with an abundance of love and only our bag of history, experiences, and knowledge—the good and the bad.

Just as our moms raised us the best they could, we follow pursuit and plan to do the same, but better (or so we think).

It has taken me many years to step away from the idealism of how my mom should have raised me versus how I was raised.

Burying the judging gavel, allows me to see with clarity.

I see myself in her, which took over 25 years to happen.

I am an extension of my mother and I represent book two of Lena.

That little seed of kindness inside of her has blossomed within me and for that I am grateful.

That mighty strength of hers, which moves the heavens and the earth, has not fully matured within in me; I yearn for it, but patiently wait, as the growth is ongoing.

We are fiery women. Like an out of control woods fire, Mom’s flame skips around readily. I have the flame too, but work hard to suppress it. Occasionally the beast escapes. When the fire kindles, I am Lena’s lookalike.

Mother’s love for fashion and style (when she was younger) was evident in her old pics– Hmm… I got that from her too!  Lol!

She loves to win…so do I. 🙂

While I may not like or agree with everything about the process of how I have become the woman I am today,

I very much like who I am and give homage, praise and thanks to my mother for creating me.

To all the moms, mother’s-to-be, fill in moms, Nanas, mom-moms and everything else, Happy Mother’s Day and thank you for all that you do!!! 🙂

Motherhood quotes that make me smile: 🙂 

“A mother is a mother from the moment her baby is first placed in her arms until eternity. It didn’t matter if her child were three, thirteen, or thirty.”
Sarah Strohmeyer, Kindred Spirits

“…moms, even good ones, sometimes lose it a little so as not to lose it all.”
Susan Squire

“A mother who would stop at nothing for her child is dangerous woman when crossed.”
Solange nicole

“I cannot admit this out loud. In the first place, we are expected to be supermoms these days, instead of admitting that we have flaws. It is tempting to believe that all mothers wake up feeling fresh every morning, never raise their voices, only cook with organic food, and are equally at ease with the CEO and the PTA.”
Jodi Picoult, House Rules

“Half the time your kids end up hating you for at least 5 of their teenage years[.] And don’t ever expect anything so mundane as a thank you”
Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm 


How Do You Ask Someone Out?

 

At 6:15 in this morning, as I’m whizzing around the kitchen, I found myself trying to answer my son’s question:

“Mom, how do you ask someone out?”

No doubt, his question caught me off guard.   At soon-to-be 11, it still seems kinda early for a dating question.

“Someone?”  Oookaaay.    I ask if he has someone particular in mind.  He hesitates.  I casually remind him that we talk about everything—no secrets—no subject is off-limits.

“Well, there is this girl…”   He tells me her name.  I know who she is.

So back to the question, “How do you ask someone out?”  Heck, I’ve been out of the dating scene for many years!  Am I “qualified” to respond?  LOL!  Sure I am.  I am his mom.  I am going to teach him the right way to approach young women.

I glance over at my son.  The Cheerios in his bowl are floating around, guided by his spoon.  He is patiently waiting for my answer.

The words roll off my tongue something like this:

Well… before you ask her out, you need to make sure that you share similar values.  If she likes you, she’s probably going to be nice to you.  But watch carefully how she treats others.   Observe her to make sure that she is respectful, courteous, and a genuinely nice girl.

“She can’t smoke!!  I don’t want to go out with a girl who smokes!”  He declares.

I say, “Yeees!  Good!”  She ought to be a good student too.  You know, she cannot use drugs, must go to school, work hard, earn good grades, and stay out of trouble.

I’m thinking, “What did I miss?”  Virginity?  LOL!  Too soon for that!  I think I’ve covered the basics… for now.

Once you decide that she’s of good character and you’ve gotten to know her over time, and through daily conversation, and… you suspect the feelings are mutual, then you pop the question “Would you be my girlfriend?” or “Do you want to go out?”

So there is a possibility, that I may sound corny or hokey, but that’s how I put it out there to medium (He prefers “medium” over “little” man).  Anyway, I believe in plain old fashion straightforwardness and honesty, with no games.

For the fellas who are reading this, what do you think?  Please?  Give me a male’s perspective?  I can’t wait to hear hubby’s response.

I tried to get a clear definition of what “going out” meant to my son.   I don’t assume current day jargon and phrases to mean what they did years ago.  That’s an age revealing statement right?  But it’s true. “Going out” meant the same as it still does to me, asking her to be his girlfriend.

When I asked him more about her, my heart melted when he said,

“She’s kind.”

Do you hear me, “SHE’S KIND!”

I’m raising a gentleman.  I love, love, love, his ability to recognize and appreciate compassion in someone.   Anyway, it turns out that the little lady is a classmate and is hospitalized.

I asked Medium man if he wanted to visit her in the hospital.  He does.  So we will find out if her parents are okay with a visit from a potential boyfriend.

Parental obligations kept me from CrossFit today, so I look forward to tomorrow’s class. I missed working out today.

Sweet Dreams!


I Don’t Like Doing This on Sunday

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November 17, 2012, marks the beginning of my son’s loc journey. I am amazed by how quickly his hair is growing and at how beautiful his hair looks. The above picture is his locs immediately after a shampoo AND after professional maintenance.

Although football season has ended, basketball season is in effect. Work, laundry, cooking, and cleaning leaves little time for salon visits. So when KinHairitage Salon offered me a Sunday appointment for his hair, I jumped at the opportunity.

My son, on the other hand, did not appreciate leaving Nickelodeon, the comfort of his bed, and his Sony PS3 game. “Mom, I don’t like doing this on Sunday!” “This” being getting his hair styled on Sunday. His appointment wasn’t until 11 a.m., so I thought that I was doing good. Apparently not. Anyway, Sunday worked best this week, so it is what it is.

Enjoy the day!


Do not enter unless you are brown

When it comes to educating children, I am a firm believer that the opportunity to learn takes place more often in the absence of a formal curriculum.

It is the everyday life experiences that present these opportunities for parents to teach children good values and to develop them to become moral, socially conscious and responsible adults.

My husband and I are open-minded and enjoy relationships with a diverse and unique group of friends.  Race and ethnicity is never a criterion for friendships.

So imagine our surprise when one of two signs on our son’s door read, “Do not enter unless you are Tailor! or brown and knock!”

Unbeknownst to us, before leaving for school, he’d taped the signs on his bedroom door.  No one else in the house has a do not enter signs on their door.

We were okay with the first sign, but it was the second sign we took issue with. Not wanting to jump to conclusions, we decided to get clarification from him after school.

When I asked our son about the sign referring to “brown” people, he did not speak.  I made sure to ask in a non-confrontational or threatening way because I really wanted to determine exactly what he was thinking when he wrote the sign.  The moment I questioned him, I think he sensed something wasn’t right about his actions.

I reassured him that it was okay to speak his mind.  So he did.

“Mom, I’ve only had brown people in my room.  I’ve never had anyone white in my room.”

That was a wow for me!  I thought about it and told him that wasn’t true and reminded him of another friend that visits occasionally.  He said, “Oh yeah!  I forgot about him.”  Our conversation continued as I questioned him about how he’d feel if he went to a friend’s house and the friend had a sign posted on their door that stated, “Do not enter unless you are white.”  He commented that he would be angry.  I asked why and said that it wouldn’t be nice or fair.  I talked to him about the importance of treating people the way that he wants others to treat him.

The conversation continued into a talk about treating everyone the same, regardless of their skin color, religion, etc…

My son’s intentions were not malice in writing the sign.  It was an innocent act based on his perceptions and realities that occur on a daily basis around him.  With the exception of the summer and holidays, most of the school aged visitors to his room, look like him; they are brown and are usually family members.

When situations like this occur, it is critical that we avoid laughing it off with the notion that kids will be kids.  It’s vital that we teach our children a better way to think and to view others.  Ignoring these types of incidents gradually and informally teach our children to develop racists and bigotry attitudes toward others.  It may seem cute when they are young (which I don’t think it is), but when we’re confronted by adults with negative, discriminatory, and racists attitudes most are appalled and highly offended.

It’s scary with our kids, because when they’re younger, we control their environment and what they are exposed to.  However, once they reach high school and sometimes before, their friends often have a greater influence over them their own parents the peer pressure can be intense.  Once can deny this if they want, but it is true.

How do we counteract this tragic trend?  I say by talking to our children every day and trying not to judge or react to their shocking comments, questions or opinions.  That’s not always easy, but if we stay conscious of this fact, it can help.

Our son knows that both mom and dad question him every single day about school.  Sometimes his response is, “fine.”  But he can expect us to probe more into his day.  In turn, he asks about our work day.  I try to remember what I expect of him and give details about my day… even when I really want to say, “Fine.”

My last thought on this post is that his action is another excellent reminder that the unspoken, our actions, are even more powerful than what we say… Stay conscious!

Related reads

http://loveisntenough.com/

http://teens.lovetoknow.com/Facts_on_Peer_Pressure

http://life.familyeducation.com/diversity/parenting/34461.html


Random momology

This post is in good spirits; no complaints here!  I felt the need to share some of my random thoughts today.

Every single week I go about the business of being super mom.  No, I’m not trying in any way shape or form trying to be super mom, nor do I even like the term.   Apparently, it just comes off that way… or at least that’s what I suspect my family might be thinking.  Shame on them!  Maybe shame on me too!  Lol!

Predictably, Friday nights are dedicated to laundry.  Why?  Because I don’t want to deal with dirty clothes, etc… on my days off.  If I get it done by Friday bedtime (whatever time I collapse), then I’m set until the following week.

My family has the luxury, and that’s exactly what it is… a luxury of having nutritious, delectable, and balanced meals at least five to six days per week.  And… it’s usually on the table by 5ish!   No junk food!   No prefab unidentifiable dish from a box, but real homemade meals.  Did I mention that I work full-time outside of the home?  Just checking—sometimes I have to remind my family of this, fact.

Careful planning enables me to get more, but not everything, done than time really permits.  Sometimes I feel as though I really am squeezing blood from an onion.  Rarely do we run out of necessities such as bread, cereal, etc…   I am however, guilty of forgetting to pay the utility bills.   You know, gas and electric.  The big stuff that are difficult to live without.  I am dead serious.   As the official mail “sorter” if I don’t sort the mail, most of it it doesn’t get sorted, and if it doesn’t get sorted… well, you know the story. The utilities won’t get paid!  It’s absolutely absurd.  Embarrassing, but true.  There have been a few occasions where I happened to stumble on a disconnection notice… not due to lack of funds… but lack of time!  Yeah, I know I’m working on electronic bill pay for everything. I’m not quite comfortable with automatic and electronic deductions from my bank account, but I’m strongly considering the option.

Enough babbling!

Last Sunday, I decided to put ME first!

Normally, it’s the opposite.  I ate first.  No one in my home is interested in eating organic steel cut oats, with blueberries, flax-seed, wheat germ, and bee pollen, so I ate first and worked on breakfast later.  I did everything that I wanted to do first.  I happily and defiantly put everything that needed to be done off.  I even completed a six-mile run through the neighborhood.  I returned home at 5 p.m.   The same time that dinner is usually on the table.  I started dinner around 5:30 p.m.  Everyone was chillin and lying around like they didn’t have a care in the world, so I just took my sweet old-time.  Dinner ended up being served a little after 7 p.m. and while no one complained, they got to the table quicker than usual!  I like!

“Mom, you need 25/8,” were my daughter’s comments to me last night.  Referencing to Mary J. Blige’s new song, she recognizes that I’m a busy working mom.  Sidebar:  not much of an offer to ease the burden, but if you’re living with a young adult, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  (Chuckle)

While Mary needs 25/8 to love her man, I need 25/8  to handle my business.

Since I can’t get 25/8, I’ll simply fine-tune my priorities again.

On Sunday, putting me first and getting through my task list, including working out prevented self –inflicted anxiety and resentment.   Why self-inflicted?  Because I set goals for myself and when I don’t accomplish those goals, I tend to get frustrated. I don’t think anyone in the household consciously cares, they just subconsciously reap the benefits. No judgement; just an oberservation.

To make things easier at home, the past umpteen years, I’ve made major changes to my home/family routine.   Still- old habits die-hard!  Part of my problem, oops!  I mean “challenge” (I prefer to view so-called problems as challenges) is that I am a perfectionist.   I strive for it; I don’t try to be it.  I just want things done right not half-ass.

Delegating is an option, but I still want it done right.  Is that so bad?  Who defines what right is? Me?  Hmm… is that part of the issue?   Just thinking on paper…..

Now then, soon, I will be checking into a plush hotel for a “me” day and I’m going to do whatever I want to do; most likely nothing other than read or write.   In error, I told my hubby my plan, he said, “we” should do that.  “We?”  Who said anything about “we?”  This isn’t a “I’m going to entertain you day!”  It’s an “I’m going to entertain myself day.”  OMG!  Literally ROTFL!  (Rolling on the floor laughing)   Is that hilarious or what?  Of course I love my hubby and enjoy time with him, but sometimes we girls need time alone.  Since my home is always occupied, I will find a vacancy elsewhere.  The change in scenery will be good,  much-needed, and will perfectly recharge my battery.   Oh boy!  I can’t wait! Lol!