Fear has become my constant companion these past months, sowing seeds of doubt, confusion, and discouragement that have taken root deep down inside of me where my essence and passions are conceived. It has choked my creativity, inhibiting my freedom … Continue reading
First, some snaps from Alex’s post bath photo-shoot…
And secondly, I’m pretty sure my heart grew 2-3 sizes thanks to all the love pouring in it while these moments were captured. Which, if you ask me, is just the kind of expansion my mama heart needed seeing as though a new resident is moving in…
Looks like I’ll be having more than just turkey for Thanksgiving this year, y’all
My big boy is going to be SIX y’all. SIX. I can’t….I just….HE’S A MAN CHILD.
You can read last year’s birthday post here: http://butterfly-confessions.com/2012/02/22/he-fixes-me/
Friday afternoon I noticed my phone light up with a number calling that I didn’t recognize. “Hello?” “Yes, I’m calling for A’Driane Dudley, uh this is….” Oh. It was the owner of the condo we applied to rent for the … Continue reading
From the weather, to the squeals of laughter erupting from the boys as they ran from Bertski, to the time spent outdoors, we had a beautiful weekend.
We woke up way earlier than normal for us on a Saturday and went hiking through Historic Rittenhouse & Wissahickon Creek, one of Bertski’s favorite places in Philly.
We rounded out the day with a little retail therapy at (where else?) Target and finished the night off with a Pocoyo marathon for the boys and a date night for us, complete with take out from Carrabas. NOM. (I don’t have any pictures because I practically inhaled my food before I could snap any food porn for ya)
We started off Father’s Day letting Berski sleep in…because honestly he’s usually the one who gets up with the boys on the weekends and feeds them breakfast while I continue to slobber all over my pillow. But this morning I put my big girl panties on, stumbled my way into the boys room armed with milk and cereal, locked myself in and proceeded to engross myself in the nuanced life of Curious George.
Once Bertski woke up, we headed out for another hike, this time at the infamous Valley Forge Historic National Park in Valley Forge, PA.
This place? GORGEOUS y’all. It was once the headquarters for George Washington and the Revolutionary Army, and served as the location for some of the Revolution’s most epic battles.
Today, it’s sprawling landscape serves as a place for bikers, hikers, and any other “ers” to enjoy and take advantage of. Lush vegetation, sky high trees, deeply wooded areas, and beautifully mysterious trails and pathways accentuate the historical feel of the park. Scattered throughout are various log cabins and buildings that once housed farmers & troops. As we hiked our way through, I could envision British and Rebel soldiers marching toward each other over its rolling hills, as canons fired rounds and each side’s Calvary lead the charge to battle. I told Bertski how humbled and somber I felt thinking of those who met their fate at the end of a bayonet or canon blast (shudder)…our nation’s very first veterans, if I’m not mistaken. (If I am, correct me you history buffs)
It was a gorgeous day, the boys loved exploring and chasing each other, I snapped a slew of pictures, everyone worked up a good sweat and a serious craving for some Mexican Post-our favorite place in Philly for Mexican food and Grand Marnier Margaritas.
Coming home consisted of the three males in the house chasing each other, rough housing, and tearing through the apartment-all in their underwear (and diaper) and I snuggled in for a good read, feeling grateful for the noise.
I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend or for a more fulfilling way for Bertski to spend his Father’s Day. I really hope we have more like this as we venture through the summer.
As I was sitting down at my kitchen table to do some journaling and write my posts for this week, an article in my Twitter stream grabbed my attention. As I read it, a flurry of words rushed to my lips in response, and I knew I had to push aside my original post for today to share my thoughts on this.
The article, which you can read here, articulates a lot of my feelings regarding the Creflo Dollar child abuse case. For those unaware, mega church pastor Creflo Dollar was arrested last week after an altercation with his 15 year old daughter. From all of the reports I’ve read, a few things appear to be consistent
- His daughter wanted to go to a party and Dollar said no
- An argument ensued and escalated
- A physical altercation took place; In his statement to police, Dollar claims he grabbed his daughter by the shoulders when she became disrespectful, wrestled her to the ground, and spanked her. Both the daughter involved in the altercation and his older, 19 year old daughter who witnessed the altercation claim Dollar grabbed, choked, and hit the 15 year old.
- The daughter who witnessed the fight initially gave contradicting stories to police, with her written statement differing from what she verbally told police. When confronted on the discrepancies, she rewrote her statement, saying that her parents being with her at the time caused her to give a statement corroborating Dollar’s claims about the incident.
Now….there’s a lot that bothers me about this, and let me start by making one thing perfectly clear: this is NOT a smear campaign against Creflo Dollar, I am not “hating” on him because of who he is, or attempting to vilify him in any way. I personally could care less about the man or what he preaches. I don’t listen to his messages, buy his books, or ascribe to his particular brand of gospel. But what I DO care about is the fact that a grown man is justifying whatever his behavior was that night because his daughter was being “disrespectful.”
This is where the article I read this afternoon comes in. (Again, you should read it here) It pretty much summed up what bothers me about this case: in Black Culture there is a prevailing and acceptable perspective that letting loose on your child when they disrespect you is ok, and that getting a back hand to the face or some other form of physical force is the same as disciplining your children.
In our culture, disrespect is just not tolerated. At all. No back talking, sass, attitude, lip smacking, none, zilch, nada. We’re brought up in a culture that says if you even THINK about pursing your lips to say something out of line to your parents or an elder, you’re catching a world of heat. And that heat will land anywhere from your behind to your face, depending on how close within reach you are to the one you’ve offended. Slaps & smacks to the face are common, as are spankings or “gettin beat,” as we call them.
For me, growing up, I learned early on if I even looked like I had something negative to say, there would be hell to pay. My father was one of those people who took spanking to the extreme. He didn’t just swat me on the behind when I told a lie or looked like I was rolling my eyes (which I never dreamed of doing I was so petrified of him) or didn’t do something to his liking. He literally did whatever he could to beat the life out of me. And his punishments? Forget it. Textbook child abuser, that was my father.
But aside from being out of his mind, that’s how my father was raised. He was raised getting beat for whatever he did wrong or for being disrespectful. He grew up “old school” as the older folk call it. He lived under that whole “spare the rod, spoil the child,” mentality that older generations of (black) parents took as license to discipline their children however they saw fit, even if it meant excessive physical force.
Even when I moved in with my mother and step-father, I wasn’t abused but spankings with a belt did happen as did a back hand or two if any disrespect was given or even perceived.
So it’s no surprise that when I became a parent, I thought discipline equaled physical force…after all, that’s what my background and culture had taught me. Brennan didn’t really go through the Terrible Two phase, but when he did have a meltdown or tantrum, I spanked him. Not more than a swat on his behind but I spanked him nonetheless. I remember my parents telling me that I needed to “keep a firm hand” on him and make sure he knew I was the parent, and that there would be consequences for getting out of line…consequences that involved physical contact. I even remember being told to spank him if that’s what was needed to get him potty trained.
So I did. I spanked him from time to time when he was acting up, but every time I did, I just didn’t feel right. All it seemed to do was make him scared of me, which I hated. And it didn’t seem to correct anything. So I had a very honest talk with myself and decide that while I wanted to establish healthy boundaries and rules for him to abide by, I didn’t necessarily want to make physical contact a part of my discipline strategy. The same goes for Alex. As he’s entered toddlerhood and is proving to give Terrible Two’s a new meaning, both myself and his father have had to find creative ways to discipline him and not let him “rule” us without spanking him.
I regret spanking my children because I know that coming from my background it’s just not a good idea. I’m adamantly against perpetuating the cycle of abuse in my family, and for me, that means I have to go against my cultural norm and choose to discipline my children in other ways. And while I’m finding that it doesn’t work for me, I’m not judging those parents who feel it does. I’m not the one to question how you choose to discipline your child….
Until something like what happened with the Dollar family takes place. As I read numerous responses & comments from his supporters and those who claim you have to “do what you need to do to keep your kids in line,” I can’t help but wonder how healthy it is for parents and their children to think that physical force is an appropriate way to deal with someone who’s disrespected you. And even if you do think spanking is appropriate, is it at 15? I don’t know if he choked or punched his daughter as it’s being claimed, but he openly admits that things “escalated” and that he wrestled her to the ground and spanked her. Is wrestling your children to the ground because they are upset you won’t let them attend a party the best way to handle “disrespect?” Is that really teaching them how to respect anyone, especially those in authority?
Somewhere along the line, we’ve started to equate force with discipline and fostering respect. I think that too many of us as parents (especially black parents) forget that in order to get respect you have to give it, and that our children model what we do, whether or not we’re willing to admit it.
How we treat our children impacts not only how they treat others, but how they will treat their children when they become parents as well…This incident with Mr. Dollar leaves me wondering how this will affect how his daughter treats her own son or daughter when faced with the difficult aspects of parenting.
I think it’s time to start sending a different kind of message….do you?
You can read more about the alleged incident here, and listen to Mr. Dollar’s statements regarding the case below…
- Creflo Dollar and When A Child-Whoopin Doesn’t Work (clutchmagonline.com)
- Creflo Dollar Makes Statement on Arrest (theroot.com)
- Mega-church pastor Creflo Dollar says arrest unwarranted (bizjournals.com)
- Police report: Creflo Dollar choked daughter (thegrio.com)
You’ve seen it before…
You’re in the mall, at a restaurant, in line at Target, at the grocery store, shopping or eating in peace when all of a sudden it sounds like an animal is being slaughtered. Ear piecing screams shatter the peaceful atmosphere as everyone stops wherever they’re at to ascertain the location of the disturbance. As the commotion gets louder, your eyes scan the area around you back & forth, you step out of the aisle, perhaps try to peer over at the next register, and then you zero in on a painful sight.
There’s no animal being sacrificed, no demon being exorcised…it’s just some kid going bat s*it crazy on their poor parent. Embarrassed and red in the face, the parent tries to calm their little terror down by employing all the SWAT team & verbal judo tactics they learned in those parenting books. This only seems to fan the flames of the meltdown as the child resorts to more animistic sounds and flailing about on the floor, face purple from the rage boiling over inside of them.
At this point I’ve only ever seen one of two things happen: either the parent scoops up the kid and flees the store while being pummeled by tiny fists of fury, crushed & mortified, OR the meltdown and failed attempts to squash it tip the parent over the edge of their sanity and they resort to either screaming right back at the child, or lowering their voice to just above a whisper and starting to issue threats that range from bodily harm to being left at the store.
I’ve witnessed this countless times. Before I had children, I used to be one of those people who just stare in disapproval, shaking their heads and whispering to the person next to them how THEY would handle the situation. Yea. I’m ashamed to say I was one of those people. The ones who just stare & cast judgement like they’ve got some kind of f*cking degree in child rearing that you, the one who pushed the little barbarian out, don’t. ”Oh I wouldn’t have that. Nope. My child would know better than to embarrass me like that, shoooooot.” (Insert finger snapping & neck rolling here, if you’d like.) ” I wish they would. I’d snatch them up in a heartbeat! There’s no way I’d let my child get that out of control.” (Yea, I was pretty stupid before I had kids, but in my defense I was young and childless-my middle name was Naive.)
Once I had Brennan though, my attitude changed of course. It went from thinking I knew how my child wouldn’t act, to asking God to get us in and out of public places without incident. For the most part, God heard my supplications & was merciful. Brennan was the model toddler. No public scream fests, I never had to exorcise any demons at Target, and thankfully, any tantrums he did have were easily subdued.
Then I had Alex. I knew within months he was going to be that kid, and I would become that mom… you know the one trying to desperately talk down a two year old who’s losing their s*it because he ran out of milk in his sippy cup? Yea, I knew that was going to be me.
How did I know, you ask? Well, there were clues. As an infant, he cried all. the. time. He despised car rides and never let us get through one without unleashing his wrath. The older he’s gotten, the more independent he’s become. I mean fiercely independent. He has to do things his way, and in his time. You can’t feed him. Changing his diaper is a WWE match punctuated with screams. My boy is so picky he’s gone from eating whole Chic-Fil-A nuggets (no other nuggets will do) to only eating the corners of them. If he’s not happy about something, trust and believe he’s going to vocalize his discontent over it. Change the channel? Tantrum. A commercial comes on? Ear piercing screams. Tell him he has to wait until after dinner for his daily PediaSure hit? You’re getting cussed out in toddler speak. Catch him dancing to the Fresh Beat Band and say “yay! Go Alex!” and he’s prostrate on the floor, hands covering eyes, face distorted in a scowl. Tell him it’s time to go bye bye and take too long to get to the door? Tasmanian devil-sized meltdown.
Screams. Scowls. Body flailing. Fists of fury. Anger. Aggression. He’s full of all of it, and I’m completely lost as to how to handle any of it. Do I fall out on the floor with him? Discipline him? How? Since he turned 2 in April we’ve been treated to shouts of “NOOOO!!!!!” while either hitting one of us, pushing Brennan, or launching something across the room. Sometimes it’s whatever’s next to him or in his hand, others it’s his actual body.
It was manageable when he was 1. It’s become hell now that he’s 2. His father and I have been trying everything to keep from resorting to how our parents dealt with us…you know, with a back hand. These days, if you were to eavesdrop outside our door, you’re sure to hear lots of “NOOOOOOOOO!” “Do you want timeout?!” “NO! NO! (more toddler gibberish) NO!” I’m buying a special “time out chair” next week. We’ll see how effective it is.
Yep. I’ve become that mom who has that kid. Maybe we’ll just become a family of recluses. Stay inside until he’s 10…or 30. Or maybe we’ll be the family the entire store is staring at as we try to navigate the Terrible Two’s without losing our sanity…or going to jail.
Just do me a favor: If you happen to see me fleeing Target with a screaming, purple-faced Alex, be a friend. Chase after me and tell me it’s going to be okay and he’ll grow out of it eventually. Also? Bring Tequila. Patron if you can swing it.
*Note: Alex is an awesome kid. Full of laughter and rambunctious energy. I love him to death, but I had to vent about this Terrible Two nonsense. It’s testing the limits of my sanity*
**This post is part of All Work & No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something’s Secret Mommyhood Confession link up. You can read the rest of these posts, add your own, and more by clicking here**
Confession: I’ve grown to hate political campaigns. I’ve come to despise election year. I loathe the way we do our politics here in the U.S. and what it’s done to our culture.
Because at a time when candidates are supposed to be putting their best feet forward,and encouraging us to think critically about issues, the whole process seems to bring out the worst in both candidates and their supporters.
Things aren’t just divisive. Nowadays they are downright hostile. People can’t agree to disagree anymore, they instead have to load their rhetoric with hate, fear, and truly disgusting insults.
Prejudices about gender and race are alive and well. I find it saddening that in 2012, 48 years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, and the dismantling of segregation and Jim Crow, racism is still a major stumbling block for our society. I find it insulting that women’s rights are still being decided upon by men who think our health and well being isn’t a necessary concern. With social networking and social media making the work a smaller place in terms of communication, it has also paved the way for us to see in black and white what people really think about each other, classes of people, basic human rights, and other key issues….I wish I could say this is a good thing.
I’ve watched and read the thoughts of our society on news sites, blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter streams, and what I’ve read has made me fear for the world my two sons will grow up in, especially since they are African American and Latino males. I worry about how they will adjust and assimilate into a culture that appears to hate them….I wonder how they will fare in a culture that speaks so much negativity and seems to be hell bent on restricting their potential and progress just because they aren’t part of the 1%.
As a Christian parent I’m wondering how to teach them to love others in such an environment, especially when Christian culture is just as hateful in our response to those who are “different.”
I wish the climate of our culture didn’t make me so uneasy and fearful, but it at least pushes me to try and raise my boys to be the most loving and responsible people they can be. It urges me to do my best to instill solid values into them and validate who they are. It also pushes me to be a better example for them when it comes to respecting, loving, and treating others they way I want us to be treated.
Do you get worried a out the world your kids will grow up in? How do you channel those fears into constructive parenting and life lessons?
What time is it? (squints in the dark, trying to eyeball the clock) Oh. It’s 5:15 am. (goes to stretch) um OUCH. (heads to bathroom…notices some weird alien like goo in the toilet bowl….frantically runs for the cell phone laying … Continue reading
It’s no secret that I love 2 things: music and dance.
You know this about me, right?
Then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that my children love the exact two things I do.
Oh sure, they love dinosaurs, trucks, Super WHY, Thomas the (Incredibly Annoying) Train, Kung Fu Panda, Team Umizoomi and Dora the (ever questioning) Explorer, among others.
But they are just like their mama in the fact that they can’t resist a good groove and enjoy picking up guitars, drumsticks, and rocking out….or dancing til they’re pausing to catch their breaths. Why is this so awesome to me?
Because a year ago it was really difficult for me to sit down and play with my children and I was clueless as to how to connect with them. Not only was I battling PPD & anxiety that made me terrified of being alone with them and physically incapable of sitting still for very long, I was also struggling because I didn’t know how to play with my boys. You see, my dad didn’t play with me growing up. Aside from a stepbrother, I spent most of my childhood years as an only child and my head either buried in a book, doing homework or chores, or alone in my room. Playing at home was something that just wasn’t done…it almost wasn’t allowed at times.
So here I am, a parent to two boys, and although I’d always envisioned myself as a tomboyish, fun loving mother, one who played with her kids daily, I found it came unnaturally to me. Playtime was a foreign concept. Sure I bought my sons toys and games…but to actually get down on the floor and play with these toys was a struggle for me.
But….Things started to change once I received treatment for my PPD and started peeling back some layers in therapy. Now I can chase them around my apartment roaring like a Tickle Monster, or slap on a clown nose and encourage them to use their imaginations. I’ve learned how to let my inner goofball out and doing so has helped our bond grow stronger.
When I first started trying to have playtime with the boys, sitting down on the floor and just watching them as my therapist suggested was really tough. But once I realized that they liked to dance and play music, it became easier. I’d throw on our Laurie Berkner music, or sit down to watch the Fresh Beat Band, and before I knew it we’d all be grooving, singing, and rocking along, having a blast.
Ahhhh the Fresh Beat Band. They are hands down our favorite. Yes, they even super cede Yo Gabba Gabba these days, probably because they are less LSDish, and their songs are more danceable. I have to admit, I’m secretly addicted to the Fresh Beats…and I’m sorely disappointed that all of their shows in the surrounding area are sold out for their tour this spring. I’d give my left arm for my kids and I to be there, so we could “feel just like a rockstar, hey hey hey!” I just know they’d pick one of us to dance on stage. I just know it. (If you’re wondering if I have their album and know all of their dance moves, the answer is yes…Brennan taught me. )
So that’s why rocking out with my kids and dancing with them is awesome for me and something I don’t take for granted. Our music and dance times are my favorite times of the day.I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Did you find it hard to play with your kids at first? What helped you work through it? Do you have any kid show addictions? Do you have tickets to the Fresh Beat Band’s show in Philly or the surrounding area? (I’ll buy them off of you-I think I want to go more than my kids do. Seriously.)