Tag Archives: children

The Boy With The Teardrop Tattoo

Image credit: tatoodesigns.com

Image credit: tatoodesigns.com

Do you remember when the quickest way your mother could bring you down when you were busy singing the latest pop song was to ask whether you knew your schoolwork?

And if you didn’t quit the singing, the dancing or whatever she considered to be inappropriate behaviour quickly enough, you’d be asked to recite your 9 times table or some innocuous fact from last week’s homework that you didn’t think she remembered – just so that you could prove it to her.

Back then, parents were quick to nip in the bud, whatever they considered to be troubling issues or unsuitable conduct.

These days I wonder if some parents are paying any attention.

Take tattoos for instance.

I’ve been on my soapbox with this before. I’m not a big fan of them even on people who have been around the block more than a few times, have all their wits about them and have clearly thought the whole thing through.

Not that tattoos are a sign of deviant behaviour or proof that your child is on her way to hell, but when I hear that a teenager who is still in school is showing off her tattoo on Facebook, I realize that times certainly have changed.

The parent who was telling the story wondered what kind of relationship this daughter had with her mother where something like that was acceptable in her house, but maybe that’s because it was perfectly acceptable in her house. Not all parents see things the same way.

Truth be told, there probably are a lot of these expressions hiding underneath the collars and cuffs of more school uniforms than we think. So now we know where all the money from those chores is being spent.

But there are some kids who are obviously running the show where they live.

My husband told me that last week he saw a boy riding a bike. He was surprised not by the wheelies he was executing, but by the fact that plain as day, were two teardrops tattooed on the teenager’s face.

Now I don’t know if these tears were designed to be an everlasting reminder from his mother of the butt-whipping he got when he had put a tattoo somewhere else. Or if like the basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire, they were placed there to show that he’s always crying inside.

Maybe his tattooed tears represent the number of people that he’s killed so he’s silently telling us to stay away before he’s forced to add another tear. Maybe he wants to erase the stigma associated with that particular tattoo. Maybe he thought it just looked nice.

I’m not sure his mom is any the wiser either, because this school-aged boy has been missing quite a few lessons – and not just the type that we get in class, either.


“School Call In”

Quite a few months ago, my daughter asked me if there was such a thing as a parenting class. I told her that there wasn’t and that as parents, we learn as we go along. My son laughed. I’m not sure if the funny part was because he thought it was a ridiculous question or whether he felt that I was falling down on the job.

Since then, however, it’s come to my attention that such a thing does exist and in areas where it doesn’t, people are thinking that maybe it should.

A few years ago I was a member of a woman’s networking group that hosted a series of forums designed to help parents deal with the many issues they face as their children grew and matured. The title of this post is taken from the name of the series that was presented by the group.

From helping children with schoolwork, to understanding the transition from primary school to secondary school, to coming to grips with our children’s sexuality, to matters of discipline (to spank or not to spank), it was dealt with. By having teachers, psychologists, nurses and counselors as facilitators, the parents were “schooled” in what to expect and what to do when it happened.

Back then, I was only a mother of a two-year old, and when I realized the many issues that some of the parents of older children were facing, I prayed that his early childhood years would pass slo-o-owly.

My mind was drawn to my daughter’s question because of the recent incident in the US where a mother left her two young children unattended in a car while she attended a job interview. It would be heartless of me to say that she really left the kids home alone, because the woman and her children are in fact homeless and actually live in the car.

The woman was arrested, and then the firestorm of comments began, with people questioning what support she had or could access, and whether she was in a catch 22 kind of situation in wanting to take care of her kids but not being able to take care of her kids.

One article discussing the case referenced British Prime Minister David Cameron’s 2012 Can Parent Initiative, which provided vouchers to help pay for parenting classes offering advice on nutrition, behaviour and development.

By saying that it was “ludicrous” that we are expected to train for hours to learn to drive a car or to use a computer, he was probably mirroring my daughter’s incredulity because even she realizes that parenting should be more than the crash course that it is.

With the changing times, a lot of us are swimming in the deep. When we were growing up, we had fewer temptations than our children now have that can lead them away from the straight and narrow. We can make all the jokes we like about what’s in the water or what’s being put into the food, and we can reminisce every day about the fact that one look, two harsh words and a hand to the bottom was enough to straighten us out, back in the day.

However, we need to find out what works for us and for our children, today.

I don’t want to give the impression that it’s all about discipline for me, because guidance isn’t only about punishment, but would I have appreciated a parenting class when my young ones were younger?

Would I have liked to know that academically, some boys need extra encouragement to read and that finding books about topics that they like is a good place to start?

Or that socially, both boys and girls become interested in their appearances much sooner than we did, and with it comes an awareness of their sexuality?

Or that as a parent I should never make a promise that I can’t deliver on because my children might accuse me of not telling the truth?

Or that I should never announce a trip or an outing until a few minutes before we get ready to leave because doing so is a sure way to eliminate all serenity until we do?

As you can see from these questions, there are some things that the experts could have told me in advance. And then there are other things that I wouldn’t know until I got here.

(Reality) Check Please! – A Movie Review

Image credit: indiewire.com

Image credit: indiewire.com

Where’s Madea when you need her?

I read somewhere that Tyler Perry does not allow his films to be previewed. But for “The Single Moms Club”, it would have been too late anyway.

What he really should have done, as my sister-in-law said, was to confer with mothers like us and obtain the reality check that this film needed. Because the spirit of the no-nonsense cantankerous female character that Perry sometimes plays, was sorely needed here to knock some sense into a few of the characters.

I don’t want to make this a black/white thing here, and I realize that Perry is trying to broaden his audience, but being a single mother of any persuasion is no excuse. That being said, some of the behaviours that some of the children in this movie were allowed to get away with had me saying, “Child, please!”

Which mother do you know – single or not – who’s going to have her child tell her that she (the mother) is ruining her life? When all she’s trying to do is provide those clothes she’s wearing and the food she’s obviously eating. I know a kid needs love and attention too – but that’s beside the point.

I’ve seen kids slam doors on parents before – but only in the movies – because that thought would not have ever crossed my mind when I was younger. Slam whose door? In whose house? Anyway, Perry uses this to demonstrate the child’s frustration, but I waited in vain to see how Nia Long’s character, May, acted the fool on her son’s behind. A sigh of exasperation is all I got.

And when he leaves the babysitter’s house, (as we later learn because he received a phone call from his father), without telling anybody, then comes back home the next day, walking into the house like he’s the one paying the bills, we’re supposed to believe that his mother’s tears aren’t quickly replaced by her resolve to make sure that he didn’t lose the care of his brain ever again.

I don’t know how Tyler Perry’s character (TK), wasn’t seeing a different side of her as he attempted to peel her off her son as he tried to save the boy’s life. But when we see her waiting for the son while he waits for hours for his father to show up only to be disappointed again, and we realize that she does this every time – it’s no wonder he thinks that he can talk to her any way he likes.

Thankfully, Lytia, the character played by Cocoa Brown is a truer representation of the kind of parent who was your mother and not your friend, but as my viewing partner said, her son still had way too much sass for someone whose mother swore that “standing on his neck” was a sure way to bring a disobedient child in line.

The ‘Hillary’ character played by Amy Smart, was a complete waste of time. She was newly divorced, but it didn’t appear to me that she worked anywhere, so even with three children how is it that she was so unaware about the milestones that were taking place in her older daughter’s life? With the way she was going, she was likely to miss her baby’s first words and steps before she realized that the damsel in distress thing is just not going to work when you have some kids to mind.

Terry Crews’ character provided much needed comic relief, but maybe I’m still seeing “White Chicks” in the rearview mirror. He, along with four other guys in the movie ensure that these single moms all get their guys in the end. Although I can already see that some of them ain’t gonna last.

I like the fact that Tyler Perry attempted to get a diverse crew of women for this movie because we don’t all have to be from the same social groups and walks of life to be friends. But I’m not sure what May really wrote about in her book, because the social situations seemed a bit forced to me. But I’m nitpicking.

We’ve become accustomed to the social commentary in Perry movies, and this one was no exception. From welfare mothers to the drug culture to crime to workaholic mothers to irresponsible parenting to wanting more for your children than you had for yourself – it ran the gamut.

Hillary’s daughter tells her own mother that she doesn’t really know her and decides that it was time that they introduced themselves. And Lytia’s son tells her that she should trust that later in life he will remember what she will probably be telling him for years to come. Which is all that I can hope for my children too.

Some have complained that Perry tends to hit you over the head with his messages, so this time, a little child will lead you to them.

We celebrate Valentine’s Day – Now and then

For quite a few years now, my husband and I have not visited a restaurant on Valentine’s night for the obligatory dinner, because frankly, we can cook a cheaper meal at home.

I’m a girl who loves to dress up and go out, and staying in does mean that dishes have to be done after we eat, but where’s the fun in sitting down in a too-tight dress and looking around at all the other people who en masse decided to take somebody else’s word, that it was the second best night of the year to go out to dinner.

If I’m to be completely honest, though, our tradition came into being by accident. Valentine’s Day invariably fell during the week, and our babysitters just weren’t making themselves available, so although my sister-in-law once took her daughter along in her car seat to a romantic dinner with her husband, we decided to stay home and make our own fun (and food) instead.

My husband cooks quite well, so with a menu of food items that we have only once in a while, some soft music, a few glasses of wine, an early bedtime for the little one, we were set. When the second child came along, we just decided to make it a family affair, with the baby in her car seat and the four year old with his own place setting.

I guess as the years pass, you become a bit more practical and you make adjustments where necessary. I’m not saying that romance goes out the window, but I have to get up to go to work the next day.

But lest you think that I don’t appreciate a romantic gesture, there’s one that my husband made one Valentine’s Day BC (before children), that I won’t ever forget.

Saying that he had a surprise for me, he asked me to stay in the bedroom until he was ready. I was aware, since he wasn’t in the house that the surprise was happening outside, but I was pretty sure that it wasn’t a new car.

Finally he was ready. When he came back inside, I was surprised to see that he was sweating bullets – and having long since proposed, I didn’t know what all that perspiration meant. I wasn’t pregnant, was I?

Across the road from our house was an empty lot. And there on the grass were about forty small paper bags lit with votive candles that had been placed in a heart formation. I took his word for it, because it was probably more obvious when viewed from the air. My first thought was “what a beautiful thing to do”. My second was, “Lord that was a ton of work – no wonder he was sweating”.

Since those were the days when we paid to eat dinner on Valentine’s Day, we got ready to go. But since we didn’t want the neighbours to think that we were irresponsible – or worse, engaging in the dark arts – we made sure to blow out the candles before we left.

Good Guys Finish First or “What did you just say to me”?

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl again this year – not even the half-time show (sorry Bruno Mars), so I also didn’t see the commercials that air whenever there’s a break from the action. But as usual, the commercials that stood out because they were funny, touching or smart were highlighted the day after.

I happened to see the makers of two commercials – ordinary people whom we later learned have a desire to be in the entertainment business – who got a foot in the door when Doritos continued their commercial-making contest which promises the winner and the runner-up one million dollars and five hundred thousand dollars respectively. And of course, visibility beyond their wildest dreams.

As I’m sure we’ve all seen by now, the winning ad showed a boy fooling off an adult with a time machine that looks like it was built from the box that your refrigerator comes in. We think he’s just playing along until the jig is up and we realize that adult really wasn’t acting the fool – he was one.

But I loved it. That kid obviously picked the right back yard to play in.

And then I saw the ad that won second place. The mother arrives home and her arms are full with two bags of groceries. Her two boys are playing in the front yard. She asks whether she can get some help to carry the bags. And one of the boys, busy relaxing on a recliner involved in a video game, says, “I don’t know. Can you?”

Well Lord. Look at trouble. Had I done that then, I wouldn’t be writing this now. And even though I will admit to being a more lenient parent than the ones I grew up with, even I know that such a response would mean that somebody had better start running – away from home. If, my mother went into the house without saying anything to me, I know that she’d be coming back out with something else that would have me speaking in tongues.

However, the minute that the mother tries a quick bribe by letting him know that a taste of Doritos is off the table, the little ingrate finds his feet and is running towards the vehicle to claim the bag.

But the smaller boy, dressed as a cowboy decides that this impolite behaviour on the part of his older brother cannot go unchecked. So he calls his dog, mounts him and lassoes the bag of chips right out of his hands, ties the brother up and eats the damn chips himself. Because rudeness should get you nowhere in this life.

And for that alone, the mother who designed this commercial should have won first place.

The Tooth Fairy is Broke

I think it’s time that my son knew the truth. I’m sure he suspects it, and since I’m going to reveal the hard fact that even the tooth fairy has some financial constraints, maybe I should just go further and tell him that she really doesn’t exist.

If you read my blog, you know that I’ve written about this topic before. Thankfully, the teeth for both of my kids have been leaving their mouths less often, so I have actually been able to save some money. But two weeks ago, my son lost another tooth. It stayed on the dresser for days – ignored by its former owner and ignored by its new one – that is, until he decided that he needed a sizeable deposit to his piggy bank account for a potential purchase.

So last night, his sister (bless her heart), reminded him about putting the tooth under the pillow, and even though he had already retired for the night, he leapt out of bed to get it. I’ll admit. I said to myself that I would find some money to put under there, but being out of practice, I completely forgot.

When he awoke this morning to the same old tooth and no money, he remarked that the tooth fairy had not visited. I almost slapped my head at my forgetfulness. What I did instead was inform him that the tooth fairy was probably broke – just like the rest of us.

I didn’t see what he did with the unclaimed tooth. But I’m thinking that this is the perfect time to tell him, as we say locally, “how barley grow”. That there really is no tooth fairy, because who has five dollars to give away in exchange for one tooth out of somebody’s mouth? And I’ll broaden the discussion and ask whether he thinks that it’s even a fair exchange.

Given the fact that (unlike his sister), he’s realized that not all people who marry have children, and he’s querying exactly how both he and his sister got into my belly in the first place, I dare say that pretty soon, the tooth fairy isn’t the only thing with wings that we’ll be having a conversation about.

Art Has a Shelf Life

My daughter has been getting her writing on. And not just any writing – but writing in cursive (or as we say locally), “in join-up”. Being in grade two, she’s not being taught yet, but since her brother doesn’t write any other way now, she figured she’d follow suit. But I digress.

The point is that she has been busy writing these letters professing her love and appreciation for me. Which is really sweet. She also presented me with a picture of our house along with that of the neighbour’s, a family portrait (her version), a bee family and several cartoon characters. So I am faced with the dilemma of what to do with all these creations.

If you know me, you will know that I’m not a fan of clutter (anymore). Not since I moved a few years ago. I have provided the kids with a bulletin board which holds favourite pictures, school notices and favoured art pieces, but we long ago ran out of space. It’s not just drawers and cupboards that have to be cleared once in a while. In this house, art also has a shelf life.

I remember when my son was in kindergarten and he came home with his first colouring project – the letter A. He wasn’t anywhere inside the lines, but he wasn’t the only one who was pleased with his attempt. As a result, that letter A was stuck to the side of the refrigerator for about a year. My daughter’s first colouring project also had pride of place – in her bedroom. It wasn’t that I was any less proud, it was just that it was a new fridge.

Once, after having sifted through the craft and art projects and putting a few in the garbage bin in the bedroom, my daughter presented me with one of the items that she had salvaged from the bin. Needless to say, she was mortified that I would discard of it in such a manner. Needless to say, I feigned ignorance.

So while I’m happy to keep the appreciation letter, I’ll dispose of the other drawings deep in the garbage bin in the kitchen. And just for added insurance – I’ll do it tonight, after she’s fallen asleep.