1st Grade Boys and the Colors They Choose

We HAD two umbrellas. We did. One basic black one and one pink princess one. Somehow over the summer one broke and we were down to one. The Pink Princess one. Now, umbrellas are one of those things I never think about buying until we’re actually walking to school in the rain.

So over these last few weeks of rain my 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter have had to share the one lone umbrella, the princess one.  Obviously my son is taller and is the one stuck carrying it to cover both of their heads. This didn’t seem as much of a problem for them and the walk is not really that far (it takes longer to drive around to the front of the school and park).

But then something happened that broke my heart. Kids laughed at my son. They cracked jokes about his pink princess umbrella and how pink wasn’t for boys.

Now this isn’t the first time he’s gotten a little grief over the color pink. For Christmas he got a DSi, which turned out to be pink (which was beyond my control) but that’s not something that’s brought to school and when he’s been asked why his DSi is pink by friends he shrugs and says that he doesn’t care. And he doesn’t. My son is aware enough to know he’s lucky to have one and the color really doesn’t matter.

But this, the pink umbrella was different. THIS was standing beneath a glob of pink princess in front of his first grade class with all his first grade friends. I made a point of telling him to give his sister back her umbrella so that all the other kids would be clear that it was not his.

I then resisted the urge to call them all mean little punks and break all their fancier umbrellas.

That afternoon when my son got home he asked why boys couldn’t like all colors. All colors are beautiful he pondered, why couldn’t he like them all? My husband, God Bless Him, told him real men could like whatever colors they want. He asked why the boys at school don’t like girl AND boy colors. We told them it was their loss.

The next morning, having not gotten around to purchasing a second umbrella yet, we headed for school in the rain. Only this time as we came around the corner toward his classroom he handed his sister the umbrella and pulled his hood around his face. He stood in the rain, not wanting to be under the pink umbrella and waited for his classroom door to open.

As he turned around and gave me a kiss goodbye he asked me if I was going to be getting him a new umbrella today. I told him I would.

After both kids were safely at school I ran to the dollar store and picked up a few black and blue umbrellas.

Then I cursed society for making the color pink a crime for first grade boys.

Pictures

Most of you on Facebook may have noticed the retro thing going on with people’s profile pictures. Well considering how many dozens photo albums and picture boxes I have stocked full of millions of pictures, I thought it would be fun to pull out some old pictures, scan them and then tag all my old school friends. But instead I ended up spending an entire evening pouring through every single photo album and photo box I own.

I have pictures that of course begin with me as a baby, my childhood, teen years and into the years my husband and I were dating, our wedding and of course there were tons of both pregnancies and the kids all the way through now. My mind is kind of racing full of all the memories. It’s so weird to look back and see how much I’ve grown and changed. And even weirder to see how much the kids have grown and changed. I swear it was just yesterday that they were born. Then again I would’ve sworn that it was only yesterday that I got married or graduated high school…

There were so many pictures that just took me back. Friends and family that have long since passed away, friends that are still in my life today. So many people and so many memories.

Nothing puts your life into a sharper focus then looking back over your life in pictures. It reminds you of where you come from and who you are. It also reminded me of just how fast my babies are growing and that I should take time to slow down and smell the roses with them more often.

My dad took this picture when I was in elementary school. He told me to picture the woman I’d be when I was 30 and to say hi to that woman. And now here I am, 32, looking at that same picture, saying hi back to that girl I once was.

I never did scan any pictures and upload them to Facebook. Maybe tomorrow…

Religion and Parenting: Fail

The other day my 6 year old gets home from school and sits down to have a little snack. After a few minutes he jumps up and walks over to my desk. “Mom,” he starts, “What’s Jewish? Are we Jewish? What’s Hanukkah? Can we celebrate it?”

It was the equivalent of a parental drive-by shooting, questions flying at me like bullets. I was left frozen like a deer in the headlights as he stared up at me patiently waiting for answers.

“No honey, we’re not Jewish.” He looked at me a little puzzled then said, “Well, why not? What’s being Jewish mean?”

Instantly I pictured myself accepting the award for worst parent.

I couldn’t answer him. My first instinct was equating it with us being Irish or Native American. But I know that’s not right. Then I thought well it’s not just a nationality. Then I grasped at what I thought was a good enough answer.

“Well, it’s a religion. Kind of like Christians or Catholics. But they celebrate Hanukkah instead of Christmas.”

“Oh. Well what’s religion? Do we have one?” he asked.

Oh. My. God. I am soooooo flunking the parenting & religion thing.

But I don’t blame myself. They DID NOT have this chapter in Mr. Spock’s baby book. I’m sure of it.

In my defense, my kids know EXACTLY who Mother Nature is and never go to bed without saying goodnight to Luna (the moon). Do I get spirituality points for that at least?

So how do YOU handle these questions?

Your Parenting Style and How You’re Doing it Wrong

You're Doing It Wrong.Some of you may have already read the recent article in Time Magazine regarding “Helicopter Parenting” and the many blog posts and articles that have since been written in support and to dispute the piece. Well I couldn’t help myself and had to chime in with my own question regarding the many different types of parenting that are constantly being praised and disputed these days, which is what about just plain old parenting?

Does everything we do, as parents have to have a label? It seems that as parents we can’t catch a break. No matter what we do we’re faced with someone telling us why we are wrong for doing it.

Helicopter/Overparenting

Take the whole “Helicopter Parenting” thing. So what if we hover more than previous generations? We are the same 30-year-old kids raised in the first generation of  “stranger danger.” We had key words and watched some of the most high profile kidnappings in America unfold right in front of us on television. Michaela Garrett, Adam Walsh, Amber Swartz, Ilene Misheloff (I’ll take extra overprotective credit for THREE of those high profile cases being near my own community and around my own age). Of course we are careful about where our kids go and what they do.

I’m not going to apologize for being overprotective in this world. According to the World Health Organization Global cancer rates will increase by 50% by 2020. So YES, of course I’m going to be aware of what kind of chemicals are in products I’m buying and feeding my kids on. And YES I’m going to be uptight about car seats and BPA plastic filled bottles.

But is there a line? Articles like the one in Time got me thinking. OF COURSE there is a line between being protective and being extreme (doing your kids homework and stalking their coaches). I try to avoid judging other people’s parenting choices. It’s important to me that all moms, especially new moms, feel strong and secure in the choices they make that make sense for their family.

Fads in Parenting

Now I of course don’t condone moms wrapping their kids in bubble wrap and keeping them safely protected until after college graduation (though I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the idea hadn’t crossed my mind) but I urge moms to trust their instincts and ignore the fads in parenting choices.

Don’t skip out on Vaccines just because you heard someone say those vaccines are going to give your child autism. Read up first. Read about the increase in childhood diseases, read about the research that has debunked the autism studies and decide THAT WAY.  Don’t decide to breastfeed or not to breastfeed based on what all your girlfriends from high school did with their kids. Make that decision based on what works for you and your baby. And unless the advice is coming from someone who actually sleeps in your house every night, ignore anyone who tells you where you and your kids should be sleeping. It’s your house, your bed, and your sleep.

And to mom’s who judge, shut up. Just because a mom chooses not to fill every waking moment with extra curricular activities doesn’t make her less of a mom than you. And hey homebody moms, just because a mom DOES take part in every volunteer event and extracurricular team sport in your city doesn’t make her an overbearing judgmental mom. So bite your lip.

Stop judging ladies and please stop making your parenting decisions based on what’s cool at the time. My God, we are the generation of feathered hair and acid wash jeans. We put Vanilla Ice at the top of the charts for God’s sake. We cannot be trusted as a group when it comes to what’s in and what’s not. So decide for yourself. Skip the biased blogs and websites, read a few medical journals. And I don’t know… ask your pediatrician maybe…

We will all have bad days as moms. We will all momentarily lose our child in a crowd and have an instant of dread. We will all yell at our child over something stupid once in a while. We all make wrong choices. So, don’t judge. Just do the best you can. And don’t be ashamed when you grab your older child’s hand in a crowd. Forgive yourself when you lose it and offer your child an extra mile of patience next time. And when you make a bad choice, learn from it and move on.

What kind of parenting style do I follow in my house? The Best–I-Can Parenting. And that’s all there really is.

Father/Son & Mother/Daughter Day at the Harvey House

Allen and Patrick spent the day learning and exploring the airport while Cheyanne went for a trip to the African American Arts & Culture Complex in San Francisco. It was a big day for all of us, but the kids can’t stop talking about their big days and are asking when we’re going to flip flop and do a Mother/Son & Father/Daughter day.

It’s days like this that I just love that we live where we live and feel confident that as parents, we’re truly giving our kids memories that will last a lifetime. *Sigh*

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Cheyanne and SF District Attorney, Kamala Harris
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Patrick the Pilot