Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
You think that by the third child I would have learned the lesson of being careful what I say in front of the children? Not so much.
Maite was about 3 years old and we were driving back from the store when a car cut me off on the road. I yelled "Hey idiot, thanks a lot!" Two seconds later Maite asks me "mom, how do you know her?" I responded –How do I know who? Your friend. What friend? That girl. Which girl? Idiot.
Ooooh, that girl. (think quick Maria) I have known her for a while mija. When do you see her? (think quicker Maria)—Umm, I usually just see her when I am driving on the street.
To this she responded "oh."
My daughter Maia entered a writing competition put on by the City of Los Angeles. It was part of African-American History and the theme was "From Civil Wars to Civil Rights" and the students from middle school and high school could write poetry, essays that should be one page long. I convinced her to enter it and interview her nina (godmother) Karen. Her nina grew up on the east coast and has some amazing stories which should be a book. Maia kept asking if we had heard anything yet and yesterday I told her that she probably didn't win because we had not heard anything from them via phone or email. (wow that sounds really cold in writing…I was really careful choosing my words mi gente, I swear)
I told her I was proud of her and the mere fact that she went for it, she was a winner. The experience was great and in doing this, she learned some new things about her nina Karen. Though winning is great, the experience is far much more. I told her to continue to learn, write and enter as many contests as she wants and each would hold a different lesson. Her response? "yeah mom…it was cool learning something new about nina…but it would have been cool to win." Maybe next time? Absolutely!
So as the proud mother hen…here is her story to share:
It was a hot summer's morning. Birds were chirping, the sun was shining and it was a special day for one particular little girl. Her name was Karen Lee. Karen lived in New Jersey with her mother. Karen had long brown hair, a perfectly curved smile and beautiful brown eyes. She was nine and it was about the time with ever so much racism. Karen never really knew about racism or the problems in the south. On that particular morning, Karen's aunt Helen was taking her to her grandparents house in North Carolina for their 50th wedding anniversary.
On that morning, Karen wore her best dress. It was blue with a white lace at the bottom. Karen was helping her mother prepare a shoe box with tender and juicy fried chicken, scrumptious macaroni salad and sweet lemonade. A couple of minutes later, Karen's aunt was at the door saying it was time to go. As they entered Virginia they noticed a billboard that said "You are now entering Klan country" and with it was a picture of a Klan member dressed in white who was holding a black man tied to a noose. Everyone in the car was silent. Karen could feel that the atmosphere in the car was very awkward. She had no idea what the Klan was but by the way everyone was silent, she could tell it was something wrong. The rest of the drive was in total silence.
As they pulled up to the house, there was a warm breeze, the air smelled of tobacco. Her grandparents were farmers and they farmed tobacco, peanuts and cotton. This was different from New Jersey. As Karen stepped into the house, she desperately needed to use the restroom. She told her grandmother and she gave Karen a lantern and pointed to an outhouse . In the outhouse it smelled of boiled eggs and it was dark. Once again Karen thought that this was different from New Jersey. What else was different?
Two days later Karen and her aunt Helen drove into a part of town call Rocky Mountain, North Carolina. Karen's mother had given her fifty dollars to buy the grandparents a gift. As Karen was walking down the street she saw a beautiful magenta stained scale that she wanted to buy. As she walked towards the store she felt her aunt was holding her back. She had seen a sign that Karen did not. It was a sign that said "No coloreds allowed." The owner of the store came out and said in a raspy and grumpy voice, "What do you want!" Aunt Helen explained that Karen wanted to buy the scale and his response was "I don't serve Ni***** here in the front but you can come to the back where no one can see." Aunt Helen immediately refused. As they walked away, Karen had to use the restroom. She saw that there was a restroom for "whites" and a restroom for "Ni*****" As they went inside, there was a pungent odor and there was no toilet paper. That day, Karen learned that she was very lucky to have a clean bathroom and plumbing back in New Jersey and that her home and her neighborhood seemed safer than North Carolina.
Karen Lee is now an adult and she is my "nina," my godmother. She shared a piece of her history which is a piece of African American history with me. History are stories that share so that we can learn lessons from and learn where people come from. I am ever so lucky that she shared a piece of her history with me. I learned that it is wrong to treat others differently because of their color. We all breathe, we all live and we all have a voice.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
She'll never die in her bed
Friday, March 11, 2011
As a mother of two girls and one boy, I am trying very hard to raise confident, secure children. Why you ask? That's why, in the words of Gael. But seriously, in a world where our girls are blasted with what the latest Disney and Nick Jr. stars are wearing, dating, going and using how do we keep our children balanced? To remind them that actions towards others are important and compassion is key. We want to assure them that happiness comes from inside and not the latest smart phones.
I take a deep breath and think about my answers when my 6th grade daughter asks me "Mom, does this outfit look ok? Does it match? Do I look fat?" I answer the question with a question. How do you think it looks? How do you feel when you wear it? In return I get a smile with a nod of approval and then move on to the topic of breakfast.
Well parents, we are not alone. The Junior League of Pasadena is putting on a conference for middle school girls (grades 6-8) on March 26, 2011. The event will take place at Westridge School in Pasadena from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Keynote speaker is Katherine Schwarzenegger, author of "Rock What You've Got." There will be workshops on body image, defense and personal safety. For more information go to www.myjlp.com
This is a never ending topic and I have only scratched the surface. More to come....
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I still had to get up in the morning to make breakfast and lunch for my daughters, get them ready to school and watch two 3 year olds. After picking up the girls from school I realized this illness was my kryptonite and I was out for the count. I put down my mom cape called my sister and asked her to come home quickly from work and watch the kids because I was curled up in the corner of the living room like Gollum/Sneigel with no precious in sight.
This mom may not have the "easy" button but I do have familia you can count on in time of crisis. My sister came early this morning took the girls to school so I could sleep in. I am still coughing up pieces of lung but felt better to sing her praises. I love my "seester".
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
How it was used: