My children don’t see color

The statement “My children don’t see color.”, as it has come to my attention, isn’t necessarily the right thing for a white person to say. Yet, I’ve said it. And here’s why I will continue to say it…

You know as well as I do that you literally see and hear things and that your brain processes the information, including differences.  So technically most of us “see” color or other differences from ourselves.  But when you see something or someone and your brain processes and forms an opinion based only on what you literally see before you, you are being presumptuous. And when your presumptions are based on false ideas formed in the absence of good reasoning, you are seeing with prejudice.  

We all know there is a difference in teaching. There is “teaching by telling” and “teaching by showing”. The first is usless when it comes to matters that are subjective. Telling my children to not be prejudice, racist, homophobic, etc. is useless. There is too much negative, outside subjectivity.  And unless you make them live in a bubble with no outside world contact, ideas you rather they didn’t hear about will make their way into their heads. Ideas you might want to prepare them to defend against. 

Drug and alcohol use, sexual activity, work ethic, bullying, prejudice, etc…..I want my kids to be able to stand firm in doing the right thing because it is engrained in them. I want them to be able to stand up for someone else or help those in need without any type of judgement.  If you help someone and have to mention their skin color, disability, economic situation, etc. or feel more proud that you helped someone for any of those reasons….you are prejudice. It’s just that simple. 

I am far from perfect. But my children are being shown to love. They are being shown to take care of others. They are being shown compassion. They are being shown right from wrong. So when I say “my kids don’t see color” I mean they see without prejudice. They also don’t “see” wheelchairs, prostetic limbs, hairloss, sign language etc. and form a negative opinion. 

They may be curious, but I’m trying to teach them how to approach differences they don’t understand. Sometimes it is as simple as introducing yourself and talking to someone. Or asking a parent to explain the best approach to their child. The main thing I am trying to instill in them is to make no judgements about anyone until they have interacted with them on a regular basis. Form no opinions based on rumors, outside influences like social media or the news, or other people’s opinions. 

They are learning that not everyone can just get up and go to school and not feel like everyone is looking at them or judging them. They are at an age where they can being to process and understand what injustice means. As their mother it is my job to help them process injustice they have encountered  and how to handle it.

 Don’t deny it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t be passive. 

The statement “My kids don’t see color”, at least in reference to my kids, doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to learn history….all of it. It doesn’t mean they think everyone lives like they do and are as privileged as they are. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t learning about what’s wrong in this world and their role in changing things for the better. But I have never once heard them refer to anyone as a color, disability, or difference.

One time at a festival a young girl who was deaf, blind, and used a wheelchair, had a malfunction of her chair brakes. The chair rolled backwards down a slight hill and hit a curb. She fell out of the chair backwards and luckily land in the grass unharmed. But she was understandably shaken.

As I saw her starting to roll backwards I ran towards her in what felt like molasses. I couldn’t get there fast enough! And you know who was on my heals? My 5 year old daughter. I was actually shocked. She had been getting on my nerves by being a whiny butt just a few minutes beforehand. So much so that we were in the process of leaving the festival. Ha!

But there she was. A completely different child. Asking what she could do to help. She was the only child at that festival who approached the young girl without any hesitation. Yes, she was technically with me, but she wasn’t scared of a child who was different from her.  She showed no hesitation to help a scared little girl because that’s all she saw. 

As the girl’s mother checked her for injuries, she explained to Elle that her daughter was deaf so she wouldn’t respond to the words of comfort Elle was saying. Elle immediately asked what she needed to do to comfort her. Whhhat??? I just looked at my daughter like “Who are you and what did you do with Elle?”. The mother told Elle her daughter uses touch to understand things and having something in her hands would help calm her down. So as we are sitting in the grass, Elle hands the girl a wand with a fuzzy ball and streamers on the top of it that she had won in a contest…..without any prompting from me. It immediately began to calm the girl down. 

My children see human beings. They see a chance to learn about and embrace differences. I feel confident that I have set an open line of communication with them to where they feel comfortble asking me about things they have been told or have seen. They are learning to form ideas and opinions of people based on their own experiences with them. They are also learning that people have different experiences and that they should strive for other people’s experiences with them to be positive ones.

The best way to help them is to demonstrate “loving your neighbor as you love yourself.” It’s that simple. 

 

Parent failure

Parenting is hard a hell. And it is nothing like I thought it would be. I grew up with a mother who watched what we ate because she knew it had a HUGE impact on how we felt and acted. And that was back in the mid-70s until, at least, the early 90s. Back when kids weren’t “diagnosed” with anything except being an asshole.
When I had kids I fully believed I could be like my mother. A parent who makes meals and has plenty of food in the pantry. A parent who is cautious about what their kids are consuming. A parent who has breakfast, lunch, and dinner already made. 

But HELL no. I’m no where near being anything like my mother. I failed that years ago. 

People will say that it’s my work schedule and just how times have changed. But I know deep down it is because I gave up. I quit doing what I know is best for my kids because it is just easier. I’m gone 24 hours at a time and my ideas about food and how they influence behavior are stupid. And that’s just that. It was a constant battle and I gave up. 

Like I usually do, I made some dinner tonight. They have snacked all day because that is how we do it. But dinner is usually a meat and some vegetables. I fix it, they eat it. Just not together at a table. Tonight I got it started and what did they do? They at dinner with their little neighborhood buddy while they were next door. 

As much as I wanted certain things, they just haven’t been established and probably never will be. It’s impossible when there are two opposing forces in a home along with everything else that life throws your way.

I realize my kids will survive. I understand that they won’t be totally warped by the lack of a solid routine and dinner at the table. But damn it would be nice. 

Haunted Trail: Part 1

I am beyond excited about Halloween! For whatever reason this time of year has always been my favorite. I think it’s just October in general. But Halloween is just FUN!! 

I am the PTA Treasurer at my kid’s school. Have been for 4 years now. And every year we have a Fall Festival as a fundraiser. It’s been a tradition at this school for years.

Until a couple of years ago, we didn’t realize there was a hidden jewel literally in our school’s back yard. An outdoor learning center in the woods! It was put in 20+ years ago and had become over grown. We (the PTA) paired up with the local Master Gardeners and made it great again.

It is an awesome area for the kids to learn about nature and to get out of the classroom to explore. It is also open to the local community after school hours and during the summer to come and enjoy the various trails that wind up the hill and through the woods.

The thing I’m most excited about is the fact that it is a PERFECT place for a haunted trail. We have had one the past two years and this year I have volunteered to take over that project. I am going to try my best to put together an awesome one for the students, families, faculty, and local community to enjoy.

My first objective was to get ideas…. Pinterest overload! I am a major DIYer and found so many great ideas. BUT thanks to Vyvanse and Wellbutrin, I am was able to just pick a few managable projects that I can accomplish way before the last minute.

The outdoor learning area has two huge asphalt areas that are divided by a trail head. Then there are several trails that wind up and round in basically a loop right back to the asphalted areas. My plan is to have several “themes” on the asphalt and on a short loop around one of the trails. BUT that’s the idea in my head. I will have to go map it out and narrow things down…or maybe expand. We will see!

So far I’ve broken the trail down into these following themes:

  • The Witch’s Lair
  • The Ghost Trail
  • Clown Town
  • The Valley of the Dolls

My second objective is to collect all my supplies.  I have a budget of $200. Some from the PTA. Some from my pocket as a donation. Facebook is a great place to get some help. I’ve rounded up some good FREE stuff to borrow or keep to use.

I also hit up Craigslist and found some huge, FREE tubes I just couldn’t pass up! I fortunately have an awesome brother who picked them up for me. 

These are going to be tunnels for the kids to crawl through.

These tubes are about 20 inches in diameter and 4 feet long. My plan is to put them together, paint the outside, and put something on the inside to creep out the kiddos if they choose to crawl through! I I’ll keep you updated on the finished product.

Yesterday hit the jackpot at a couple of local thrift stores and stocked up on some creepy-ass dolls. Some of these things I don’t even have to “creepify”. It’s crazy!

The kids and I put the dolls on daddy’s side of the bed. He wasn’t amused.

So now I’m off to collect even more creepy things and to work on some easy and fun DIY projects that are kid friendly…which means I get to use my kids are free labor. 

Haunted Trail: Part 2, coming very soon! 

Coming out of a vacation coma

Lord help me. My vacation is almost over. 

No alarm clock has been set. 

No iternary has been followed.

No meetings attended.

No deaths. No fires. No destruction.

I have had a few conversations about work during the past week. “Blood pressure goes up” kind of conversations. Makes me dread going back. How is that possible in a career I love?  I have a love/hate relationship with it, I guess.

In my strive to reach my 25 years and not walk out the door early, I’ve decided to add more training and classes outside our department to give me a new perspective. Nothing tells you that you really do have it made quite like meeting other firefighters who don’t have it made. 

I’m also getting involved in a couple of things that might help me share some of me experiences with others, especially women and young girls. The first thing is this blog, because, well, I want all of you to know my business and how big of a mess I can be. I’m not perfect but I’ve been fairly successful in my life. A level of success that I am happy with. And if I can share something that another person can relate to and help them in any way, then “telling all” is worth it. 

The second thing…The Mayor’s Council for Women.

Whhhhat?????? The??????? Whhhhat?????

 I can hear some of you now.  “Do you even like the mayor?” “You aren’t classy enough.” “You’re too much of a smartass.”  “You have tattoos.” “You dress like a man for work. Do you even have any dressy clothes?” “Um…..you use bad words.”

I can hear you because these are all the things I’ve told myself for years as excuses to not even get involved in anything like this. I’m stepping waaaaayyy out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone is Incident Command of hellacious problems, not surrounding myself with women on a mission. I picture women way more sophisticated than me when I think of this group because I’m a little rough. But I’m going to give it a try, because that’s something I like to do….push my comfort zone.

So first of all, let’s make one thing clear…. it isn’t about the mayor. I have no ulterior motive. Not sucking up for a higher position. Not interested in political gain. 

I’ve researched the Council’s  mission. I’ve looked at their sub-committees and their goals. I even met with their Chairwoman. Maybe it’s normal for them to answer you application right away and want to meet immediately. I don’t know. But that’s what happened. And I must say, she’s a hoot! So much more like me than I imagined. She didn’t bat an eye at the fact that I had on no make-up, had some bed-head going on, and I was dressed in my work shorts and a t-shirt. 

It’s not about anything other than trying to make a difference. Trying to help someone move from one point to the other when they are hesitant. To let them know that you don’t have to be the smartest, strongest, richest, prettiest, luckiest….you just have to have some grit. You have to be able to pick yourself up when you hit the ground.  And you have to be willing to fall in the first place.

The best thing my Master’s degree in counseling gave me was self-awareness.  I have probably more of that than I need…. $30,000 worth. Ha! I believe that self-awareness is so incredibly important. Knowing strengths, weaknesses, level of tolerance, needs, and wants are the key to getting where you want to go.

I hope to be able to use some of the skills I’ve learned over the years of building my own self-awareness to help other women build theirs and gain that freedom. Because that’s self-awareness  is….freedom.

 Self-awareness can lead to self-confidence and self-control, both of which are powerful things for a woman. 

So we will see what happens. I’ll keep you posted!