This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Friday, January 28, 2011

I LOVE You! Chocolate is My Favorite!

I am a white, Southern, Christian, woman who was raised in the great State of Alabama.  Because of this, people already assume that I am at least a little racist, so I try to be conscientious of how I act and what I say so that it cannot be misconstrued as anything prejudiced.  I have also raised my kids not to see skin color any differently than they would see hair color or eye color. 

When William (my oldest) had his first real friendship with a person of color he was almost 3.  He was telling me about 2 friends in his preschool class, both named Anthony.  I said "Does it confuse you that they have the same name?" And he thought about it and said "No, because one of the Anthonys is colored like your coffee and the other one is like your Coke." I was glad that he had not even known that they were Hispanic and Black, but I decided that maybe I should teach him those terms in the future to avoid confusion. 

Bella, my second oldest, is my drama queen.  She is all about glitz, glamour, and fashion.  She is my husband (who is Puerto Rican) made over in female form -- olive complexion, big brown eyes, the whole thing.  The first time she saw a little Black girl with all of the beautiful braids, she wanted the same -- I think that she was about 3, maybe a little closer to 4.  I tried to explain that her hair wouldn't do that, and her over-intelligent response was "Yes it will.  You said that all people are the same and I want my hair like that."  I had to think about this.  She was right, of course.  I HAD told them that all people were the same.  So how do I explain that we are all different but the same to a kid? I told her that it doesn't mean that all of us are just alike -- some are tall and some are short, some have brown hair and some are blondes, etc, and HER hair, which was like MY hair, just wouldn't do that. 

Now Jackson, the 2 year old, SEES the differences in color, but it doesn't bother him. (I am intentionally skipping Lorelei for a reason for now).  William's best friend is a very sweet Black kid from around the corner named Ben.  Whenever Jackson sees other Black people from a distance, he AUTOMATICALLY thinks that they are Ben.  Today while we were waiting in the carpool line, he saw 2 black teenage girls walking across the school lawn and he starts pointing towards them and saying "Mama!  I see girl-Bens!"  Although there is nothing wrong with that, in fact it is kind of cute, it made me realize that had the car windows been down and they had heard him, (or worse, MIS-heard him), it could prove embarrassing.  I made a mental note to discuss with my husband how to best discuss racial difference with our kids.  But leave it to Lorelei to not wait for me to have a plan. 

William went home from school with Ben today, and I took the other 3 with me to do a little shopping -- the Daddy/Daughter Dance is next weekend and the girls needed jewlery, tights, etc, and Jackson needed shoes.  I told them that if they behaved, we could go eat at IHOP (knowing full well that regardless of their behavior we were eating out somewhere because I had not prepared anything for dinner).  So, they were good and we went to IHOP and were seated by a nice looking young Black man who started to take our order by asking what we'd like to drink.  I ordered Coke and coffee (my usual) and the kids wanted milk.  Then Lorelei said that she wanted chocolate milk and then they all wanted chocolate milk.  So Lorelei looks at our waiter, who is patiently waiting for her to finish talking, and says "We LOVE chocolate milk!  Our Grandma makes us chocolate milk and it is sooooo chocolatey!  JUST LIKE YOU!"  The poor guy who had been listening and nodding along as she went on and on looked like someone had just smacked him.  He looked at me and all I could say was "I'm so sorry.  She really doesn't mean anything by it.  She's 4 and has no filter."  Meanwhile, Lorelei is still talking.  She asks him "Do you taste like chocolate?  I think I want to lick you."  I want to crawl under the table.  Bella decides to take over "Lorelei!  Don't be rude!  He's not chocolate, he's just Black, and you cannot lick him."  I am contemplating just excusing ourselves from the table and leaving.  Jackson looks up at the waiter and blurts out "I love you!!  Chocolate is my favorite!! Can I lick you too??!"  Crap.  So I am now waiting for management to ask us to leave and I can feel the heat radiating from my face and I know that I am beet red with embarassment so I just put my head in my hands and start to apologize again.  But before I can even say a word, our great waiter starts laughing.  I look up and I find that he is laughing at ME!  He says, "I've never had a customer say that they love me.  Or ask if they could lick me.  Kids are so honest."  I smiled, still embarrased, and answered "Yeah.  Honest and loud.  That is my kids."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Don't Ever Agree To Be The Room Mom. EVER.

So I got called lazy by a total stranger today and it took everything I had NOT to totally go off on her Martha Stewart little butt.  Maybe I should fill in the whole story:
Back in October, I got a rather frantic call from the "Head Room Mom" at my kid's school.  She needed someone to step up and be the room mom for my son's 3rd grade class.  She had already called me the month before and I had politely refused -- I had offered to help in any way that I could but I have 4 kids, and RUNNING a class party is hard enough without having to keep up with the 2 and 4 year old that I would have in tow at all times.  This time, after about a 2 hour conversation, she had convinced me that it was "super-easy" and that "everything is practically done for you" since there are only 2 parties allowed in the class each year, so I reluctantly accepted and waited for my folder to arrive with all of the information.  I never got a folder. 
I had kind of forgotten about it, what with trying to raise 4 kids and having a husband who is working 2nd shift...oh, and having my gall bladder removed in the beginning of December, which left me throwing up for 6 days after surgery.  So after my surgery when I finally start feeling somewhat human again, I remember that "Crap, I have to plan the 'Holiday Party' for William's class" and realize that I never got the stupid folder with all of the "super-easy" info and stuff that is "already done for me" in it.  Now, in hind-sight, I probably should have called the school and found out who the "Head Room Mom" was again (since I couldn't even remember her name), and tried to get her phone number so that I could have called her and asked her whatever happened to the magic folder.  But I didn't.  I thought "Hey, I have a degree in English, its a letter saying 'There's a party.  Send Chips,' so how hard can it be?"  So I took a whole five or six minutes to whip out a letter that said basically that and to ask the parents to send in a wrapped ornament to do an ornament exchange ($5 limit).  I hopped in the car and took it to the school office and left it to be copied and given to the teacher to pass out on a Tuesday afternoon before the party 9 days later on the following Thursday.  The office staff said that they would run the copies as soon as it was approved and that they would call me if there was a problem.  I never got a call. But Friday night, I got an email from that Head Room Mom letting me know that the letter had not gone out.  The office staff had given it to the Assistant Principle, who had given it to the Principle, who had contacted the PTA President, who had called the Head Room Mom -- this process apparently took 3 days.  The problem was that it wasn't the "pre-approved" letter that was supposed to come in the fabled "So-Easy-A-Caveman-Can-Do-It Room Mom Folder" that I never got.  I was not allowed to tell the parents to send a $5 ornament -- I was supposed to say "new or gently used" in case some of the parents didn't have the money for such things.  I thought that was ridiculous since I sure wasn't asking for "new or gently" used paper plates, napkins, chips or drinks. I was pissed.  So by the time I found out about it, it was too late to send any letter out, and I got to do the entire party by myself.  We had snacks, candy, and a goodie bag to take home and the entire party cost me over $100.  We did not have a craft or a game.  I was the only parent who showed up even though the teacher had sent home a note the day before the party inviting everyone to attend.  The kids had a great time and there was almost no left over food.  I thought that I pretty much rocked.
Well, the only other party allowed during the school year is Valentine's Day.  (First of all, I find this 2 party rule completely asinine.  There should be AT LEAST 5 parties a year for elementary school -- Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, and End of Year.)  So it is time to once again to plan for the party.  After talking it over with William's teacher, we decided to bend the rules a little and ask a few parents to contribute money to buy pizza.  I finally got the Golden Folder and was shocked by how little it actually contained.  There are 21 kids in my son's class and only 6 parents had provided emails or phone numbers and I was one of those.  So I sent an email to the 5 remaining parents asking them to send in $5 each as their contribution to the party to cover the cost of the pizzas.  One email came back as undeliverable, and the same person's phone number was no longer valid.  I got 2 responses of "What a great idea" and then....then I got the phone call from Mrs. Polly Perfect.
She introduced herself as "so-and-so's Mom" and then proceeded to go on a self-praising tangent about how she was the room mom for her youngest daughter's class and what a great job she had done and how she would be happy to share some of her tips and advice with me.  Now, those of you who know me, know that I was mildly amused by this at this point, and I tried to indulge her fantasy that things are always sunshine and rainbows where our kids are concerned for just a little while longer.  She then asked me what kind of game and craft I was planning for the Valentine's Day party and there was an audible gasp when I told her that we weren't planning on having one.  I explained that the teacher and I had discussed it and that we had decided that it would be easier to just get the pizzas, drinks, chips and maybe some cupcakes and let the kids socialize for the 45 minutes allotted for the party.  Her response?  Well she said "I just don't think that it is fair to the kids to deprive them of these fun activities when they only get 2 parties a year just because you are too lazy to organize them. I was really pretty upset that there was no craft for the party at Christmas. I was sure that so-and-so would be bringing home an ornament or something that they had made in class. I had my younger child's class make ornaments as part of their party and they absolutely loved it and had a great time."  Through gritted teeth, I explained what had happened with the Holiday party -- that I had done the entire thing by myself with 2 kids in tow 2 1/2 weeks after surgery and that it cost me over $100 to do so.  Her response to that was that it could have been done cheaper -- she had done her younger child's party all by herself "as a gift to the parents in the class" and only spent about $60 WITH a craft and a game.  With white knuckles in a death grip on the phone to control my annoyance at Little Miss Perfect, I told her that the teacher doesn't want a game.  She doesn't want a craft.  She wants pizza and snacks.  Period.  She went on to pontificate about how our children deserve more from us than 45 minutes of eating junk food and that they should be allowed to make memories during these parties.  I was obviously dealing with Rainbow Brite.  Her kids must be perfect angels who burp sunshine and poop Skittles.  I mean, I don't know about any of you, but I really do not remember ONE holiday party that I had in elementary school.  I do not remember the food, or what we did, or how many games and crafts we had -- nothing.  I remember that we had parties and they were fun and relaxed and no one was trying to make sure that we finished our craft before we got to eat, or finished eating so that we could play some stupid game. 
I finally had to cut into this woman's delusion by telling her that I had to respect what the teacher wanted and that was food and nothing else.  I thanked her for her time and (ahem) "advice" and asked again if she would be willing to send in the $5 for the pizza.  She said that she would but that she wanted to make sure that the kids had a "good" goodie-bag to take home from the party this time and so she would be doing those as well.  Ignoring the obvious dig at the goodie-bags I had provided for the Christmas party, I told her that would be wonderful, relieved that I could check that off of my list.  She told me that she would love to meet me in person and would do her best to finish up her younger child's party so that she could get to the classroom and meet me on Valentine's Day. She will surely come floating in on a cloud of pixie dust with forest animals in her wake, birds singing around her head, flowers will litter her path and the room will get brighter by her mere presence.   I. Can't. Wait.