Monday, April 23, 2018

This Deliberate Parenting Thing!!! Part 2

Here's the concluding part, as promised. If you missed part one, you can catch up here.

So, Friday. Target. Restroom. Periods. Bleeding. Eggs. Sperm... Pretty straightforward conversation, until Alexis blew me away with her next words.

Alexis: "So you don't bleed when you're pregnant? Being pregnant sounds better than having periods. I can't wait to be pregnant!"
In My Mind (IMM): "Wait, what?!! Slow your roll, child!"
In Real Life (IRL): "You can wait. First you get your period. This year, or next year. Nobody knows when exactly. Pregnancy is still far far away."
Alexis: "Yeah. That's true. I have to go to college, get a job, then get married. That's still a long time."
IRL: "Yeah. That's the right order"

That wasn't so bad...
So, we leave the restroom, ready to explore Target. STOP. Is that a 50% off sticker? On KY Jelly? I' never seen KY Jelly on sale before, nor have I ever seen this particular one before. KY Touch? ooooohhh??? Interesting... I pick it up and I'm liking the description.

Alexis: "What is KY Jelly?"
IMM: "None of your business, child!"
Wrong answer, Gbemi. Honest, age appropriate answers.
IRL: "Its a personal lubricant."
Alexis: "What's a personal lubricant?"
IRL: Errrmmm
Alexis: "I know you'll tell me to google it. We'll google it later. What's a tampon?"
She grabbed a box that caught her eyes.
IRL: "That's what we use to catch all the blood from periods."
Alexis: "Like a band aid?"
IRL: Sort of...
IMM: HELP!!!!!! I don't know the answers!!!

We moved on, looked at some clothes, tried on some sandals and ended up looking at dolls. She does this thing where she acts like she's reviewing toys for an audience. She's a natural. She really wants her own YouTube channel, but I'm not ready. I'm not sure I want to let her get caught up with views/subscribers/comments yet. I made a video. Maybe I'll post it on my YouTube channel. Or not. I don't know.

Next we looked at books. I picked this one out
Seems like teen/tween level reading. I'll read it first and decide if she's ready.
So we're still looking at books and she squeezes her face.
"What's up?" I ask.
"I just saw something that made me mad."
"Mad? What did you see?"
She points to a book with the picture of the president.
"Why did it make you mad?"
"My friend told me he said nasty things about black people."
IMM: Who sent this friend oooooooo?
IRL: Nasty things?"
I ask her, as I wonder which of the many "nasty things" she had heard and how I to respond.
"It's a bad word. I'm not allowed to say it."
I tell her it's okay and she says "He called us sh*tholes"

Once again, I am not ready. I'm mad that all my attempts to shield my children from the goings on have been unsuccessful. Now I'm left questioning my ostrich-in-the-sand approach. Ugh!!!

IMM: Quit centering yourself, Gbemi! Focus!

I was going to start explaining to her that he was referring to third world countries, and not her personally, but I was not sure how to define a third world country to a seven year old.
So I switched back to active listening mode.

IRL: "sh*tholes? He said that? How does that make you feel?"
Alexis: Mad. I already told you.
IRL: "How do you think a person who says hurtful things to others feel about themselves"?
Alexis: "They feel good, because they are better than the people they are saying nasty things about."

That was not the answer I was hoping for. *facepalm*

IRL: "Do you think that a person who tries to hurt others is really happy? Or are they sad, so they end up spreading the sadness inside?"
Alexis: "The president can't be sad! He has everything!! How can you live in the White House and be sad?"
IMM: If only you knew, child. If only...
IRL: "Well, sometimes people have a lot of things but they are sad inside"
Alexis: "Hmmmmmm..."
IMM: She's not buying it. HELP!!
IRL: "I kind of feel sorry for him. He is rich, but inside, he's hurting"
Alexis: "Me too. I feel sorry for him. He's a sad president."

That was how Friday went.
This ongoing conversation is nowhere near over. And I am not ready.
I won't always know what to say, and I am learning that that's okay.
I'm committed to listening actively and responding honestly.
It's a lot easier to be dismissive. To pretend that I know everything. To say "because I said so."
But my goal is to do better. I won't always get it right, but by God, I will try.

I would really like to hear about some of your conversations with children. And if you're thinking about trying this responding honestly thing, let me know how it goes.

This Deliberate Parenting Thing!!! Part 1


I had had a really stressful day. I'm still working on Hurricane Harvey recovery and even though it's been eight months, many survivors are still not back in their homes. In my work as a Disability Integration Advisor, I see to it that survivors with access and functional needs, particularly those with disabilities, do not fall through the cracks. It's more challenging than the work I did as a Disaster Case Manager, which I talked about here, and I have had to learn a lot in a short period. It's great that I am a subject matter expert now, and working for a government agency has been interesting. The best thing, though, is that I get to go home everyday. Working away from home was hard, not just on me, but all of us.

As you can imagine, the kids love having me back home. It's interesting though, how being away changed the vibe at home. They are more independent and don't seem to need me so much, which is both awesome and not so awesome. Daddy developed a more efficient morning routine. Also, they don't come to me first like they used to, which... I was going to talk about Friday, not about how I it feels to know I am not indispensable.

So, Friday.

I got home from work at 7:30, and only then did I remember that Alexis had a Girls Scout meeting at 6:30.
In My Mind (IMM) "Ugh! why do I let down this child so much?!"
In Real Life (IRL): "Alexis!! Put your shoes on! Let's go!"

We raced to the meeting location, but there was no one there.
IMM: "When am I going to get my life?"
IRL: "Sorry Alexis, today wasn't a meeting day."
"It's okay mommy" She hugged me and I felt better.
"Lets go check out this new Target that just opened." I said. Thinking about how to make it a good day in spite of my gaffe. So we went in, holding hands and laughing. Turned out to be a really interesting evening.

You see, I'm doing this thing where I'm responding to the natural curiosity of my children with honest age appropriate answers. That may sound simple, but it's hard. The honesty part, mostly. It means I have to say "I don't know" instead of pretending. Also, I can't say "because I said so".

It's hard because it forces me to think about my answers. It forces me to admit that I might be wrong. It's humbling.

It's also tricky, seeing as "because I said so" is actually an appropriate answer. Who has time to explain everything? But the thing is, they are not toddlers anymore. Nathan just turned ten and he appears to have skipped late childhood and gone straight to early adolescence. Puberty is here. And looming for Alexis. They have questions and I want to be able to answer them honestly. David has soooooo many questions, it's unbelievable. But he has learned how to use google and now, he's showing me up. I was talking about him the other day on Twitter. Look, I have my own personal walking and talking encyclopedia. YAY!!!

Yeah, so they're growing and changing and so is how I parent.

I have realized that "The Talk" is no longer a one time conversation. It's an ongoing one. One that requires a proactive approach. Everything that happens is a learning opportunity and I hope I can max as many as possible.

It's hard, but I'm doing it. Because I am trying to parent deliberately.

So, Friday. Target.
First we went to the restroom, which led to a conversation about periods.
Her face when I told her about bleeding for 3 to 5 days was epic 😂😂😂 We talked about eggs and sperm and what happens when eggs don't get fertilized. Pretty simple, yeah? So I thought until she said something that blew me away.

This post is getting long. And I'm sleepy.
Let's make it 2 parts. I promise to finish it tomorrow.

PS. Why did I stop blogging???  This is fun.
Well.... Technically, I didn't stop. twitter is a micro-blogging site after all.
That's where all my blog posts are. Follow me @gbemisoke