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How does race affect you? Monday March 24, 2008

Posted by gingerbreadman in My Darling Dears.
I grew up in the 70’s, in a small town in Southern Kentucky.  A small, racist town.  A small, racist town where every May right before high school graduation there would be a big racial fight between the blacks and whites out in the stadium parking lot; the participants using fists, baseball bats, broken bottles, chains and sometimes knives on each other.  It happened every year, like clockwork.  The tensions of the school year would just build and build, all that hatred for each other locked up in one building for nine months, and BOOM!!! out it would come in violence and blood just as predictably as the daffodils and tulips coming out of the earth when the Spring Sun finally comes out and stays.
This is where and how I grew up.  Learning about racial hatred.  Learning about it from my town, from the news, and from my Daddy’s family, where the prejudice ran deep and the ‘N’ word flowed easily from all my relatives lips.  All my relatives but my Momma.  She was born and raised in Chicago, only moved down South her senior year in high school to meet and marry my Dad.  She had very different views and racial relations and had no problem with airing them in front of her ignorant in-laws.
I remember one Sunday in particular, for it was the day I chose to be an open-minded, loving person rather than a close-minded bigot.  There aren’t many occasions when you really *know* you’ve found your moment, but this was one of those apocryphal times for me.  I was sitting up on Grandmother’s chest freezer watching the ladies clean up dinner (lunch for you Northerners) and they were all talking about interracial dating.  Of course they were all heatedly against it, and my strange Mother said she didn’t see anything wrong with it, a person was a person, plain and simple.  One of my aunts…my *favorite* aunt, asked her how she’d feel having a "N word" kissing her baby girl.  I sat in silence, thinking about the boys in my 3rd grade class, wondering how I’d feel if one of the black boys were to approach me and realized I wouldn’t feel any differently about it than I would if it were one of the white ones:  namely, disgusted…I hated boys.  My Mom said plainly and loudly, for the entire house to hear, "It wouldn’t matter at all, except that he treated her well and she liked him.  Color doesn’t matter.  Behavior matters."
I was seven years old that day.  I never forgot that exchange between my Mother and my beloved family I spent every Sunday and holiday with.  I chose who I was that day.
It never really came up though, until my Junior year of high school.  I was dating a guy who’d already graduated, and a dance was coming up I really wanted to attend.  He couldn’t take me since he had to work, but his friend Mark was off, so he told me to go with Mark.  Mark was ridiculously handsome, very popular and one of the nicest guys I knew:  he was also biracial; his mother white, his father black.  I knew the ramifications of choosing to take a ‘black’ guy to the dance with me:  I’d be called a "N word" lover, castigated by lots of my so-called friends and absolutely cast out of some of my social groups.  Ta hell with them, I thought…and went to the dance with Mark, and had a great time.  I did indeed get called names, Mark offered to take me home early to save me from harassment and I refused, there were people who used to talk to me every day that thereafter hissed things about me behind my back, and I realized something profound–it didn’t matter to me nearly as much as the fact that I’d done what my values told me were right.
My Dad’s family are still a group of racist asses.  My children are open, loving individuals who count amongst their good friends gays, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Indians, Native-Americans…the list goes on.  Because I sent all the girls to Head Start, the first people my kids ever brought home for a sleepover, each and every one, was an African-American friend, since they weren’t in a predominantly white classroom, it truly was a mixed classroom.
This is heavy on my mind right now for a number of reasons.  Because there’s so much talk of race in the news with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, because my husband Mike is Hispanic, which makes my daughter a chicana, because Jess is engaged to a Native-American, because Becca is dating an African-American now.  When news of who Becca’s beau is hits the family circuit, the roof is going to go up so high, the space shuttles are going to be jealous of it’s distance possibilities.  My brother found out accidentally and had the nerve to tell me he "didn’t like it"…like it was any business of his!
We went to my cousin’s yesterday for Easter lunch and an egg hunt.  I was a little concernerd, it’d been a while since I’d been around these people and I knew they were all prejudice and was honestly hoping that the years and the times had settled it down some.  So not so.  I heard my cousin’s husband remark during a basketball game that at least a white guy had gotten in the 3 pointer.  One of my uncle’s was asking me about the town we live in, and I described it as I always do-like Mayberry RFD on valium.  One of my other cousin’s husband’s asked me if it had the same values as Mayberry, and I scornfully replied "Yes, I’m afraid so.  There are only 6 black families and the only two Hispanics are Mike and Laura."  The jerk grinned and asked me how far away it was and nudged my cousin and asked her how soon she could be packed.  I shook my head, told him I found him sad and hollered at everyone that we were leaving.
When I told my Mom about Becca’s boyfriend…a great guy who makes her happy, who is made happy by Becca…Mom said that she believed people were souls, and that souls don’t have colours, or races, or creeds.  That people are simply shells that hold inside the essence of a person’s being, and THAT is what matters.  How that person speaks, and behaves, and how they evolve over time, not what colour they are, or how they practice their faith or sexuality.
This is the woman who hurt me so many years ago, but this is the woman I learned to love and forgive.  She made it easy, because she evolved too.  This is the woman who taught a seven year old how to believe and be an open, loving person.  And I’ve sent that message down to six more people.
Now I wonder if I’m going to lose any blog buddies over this…

Being the Hardass Thursday January 10, 2008

Posted by gingerbreadman in My Darling Dears.
I remember being a teenager in love.  I do.  It was a heady, insane, exhilerating, "we’ll be together forever even if we are only in the 9th grade and have no clue about the realities of life" time, each and every instance I fell madly in love.  It still is, as often as I fall in love.
But there’s a line.  That "nothing in the world matters but my boyfriend;  not my friends I don’t talk to anymore, or my family who only get in the way of my having enough time for my boyfriend, or something as simple as getting out of the house because you don’t want to leave the computer and phone.  And Emmy has crossed it, so many times. 
All we’ve heard now for 7 months is "Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy".  I swear, I even dream about the kid.  When the twins turned 14 in September, they gained the privilege of ‘group dating’, or being with a boyfriend chaperoned in our house.  So Jeremy is now here every two weeks, more if she can find a way to talk us into it.  All the kids get one hour on the computer daily to talk to their friends, but Emmy decided that wasn’t enough, so she started sneaking on whenever our backs were turned, and then spending another two or more hours on the phone with her "Best Friend, Boyfriend, Everything"  "Jeremy is my LIFE."
Then Jeremy’s Momma told her she could move in with them any time she wanted.  Now, how much of this is Southern Momma charm and how much of it is "I have no damn clue what teenagers are like and what a STUPID DAMN thing that was to say, I don’t know.  What I do know is that Emmy has brought up "just moving out of here" 86 times since good old Judy opened her mouth…like that’s even an option for the child.  After all, Judy doesn’t monitor her kids every move, she doesn’t keep them on a timetable for computer and phone use (gosh, I wonder why two of her kids have been to jail, all of them but Jeremy and the nine year old smoke in the house even at the age of 16 and her middle daughter has already been pregnant twice?  Not to mention the deplorable grades all the kids have…)  But, Emmy would be free to worship Jeremy 24/7 there, so why wouldn’t we go along with it…we don’t support her relationship enough  *WAHHHHHHH*
We’ve been living with this attitude for months.  If we tell her we’re tired of hearing about Jeremy, we don’t care about her.  If we expect her to do something with the family and she can be talking to him on the phone or PC then we’re trying to keep her from him.  Anyone who says anything less than complimentary about the boy is her worst enemy.
It all came to a head Saturday when she sat up late talking to Libby about how unsupported she is, and how she hates Katie’s guts because K doesn’t let her talk about Jeremy all day and night to her.  How against her all her friends have become, especially KatieTwo, who was her best friend until last week when she said something negative about The Paragon.
Unfortunately, Katie and Emmy’s room share a wall, and Katie heard all of it.  I couldn’t figure out why KatieBug, usually so laid back went ballistic on Emmy when they got up in the morning.  It was pulling teeth to find out from her what she’d heard.  I couldn’t believe it.  Claiming to hate her sister, her twin because Katie was tired of listening to "Jeremy is perfect" constantly???
That was it.  Emmy’s been grounded from everything for 3 weeks.  Two weeks so she can spend some time with her family again, wean herself away from thinking she has to be attached at the hip or ear to Jeremy all day and night, and to remind her there are other things in the world besides that boy.  Then she got another week (I warned her, twice) because she wouldn’t stop arguing.
She got one more week last night at 11:47 pm when we caught her with her cell phone I’d confiscated from her…not because she had it, but because she lied straight in my face about whether she knew where it was.  She’d accidentally hit the redial button and it called Mike’s phone…LOL.
I’m so worn out from this kid drama.  THIS is the child who is going to kick my ass all the way through her teen years.  The blessing is, she reminds me now of what angels Jess and Beck were compared to this girl, and lordy, but don’t she make Katie look good!
Always a blessing. 

That was fun! Wednesday December 26, 2007

Posted by gingerbreadman in My Darling Dears.
Is there some law that states that if you have more than two children in a family that at least ONE of them will become ill during the Christmas celebrations?  I think there must be; it happens every single time to us.  This year it was the La-less.  She came down with a croupy cough two days before Christmas Eve, ran a fever, prostrated herself upon me every moment and demanded hot cloths on her throat and all the cuddling I could give.  We feared for our holiday, mostly because she is cranky by nature, but when she is sick – oh boy, can it get ugly up in here.
Christmas Eve Day dawned bright and beautiful here and our Miracle Baby woke up in a good mood and seemingly much improved.  Hooray, we all thought!  It will be pleasant and light here in our world.  Heh.
We went to my parent’s for the big Family Christmas Eve celebration.  This tradition is really more revered than the Opening of the Gifts at home on Christmas morn…we all love Nana and Popa and all the family so much, and being together for the holidays is always special and joyful.  So much to eat, to talk about, Santa Sightings to report to my youngest nephews and now Laura – and of course the enormous job of opening presents to and from so many people. 
Too bad Laura wanted turkey-fish and Nana was serving ham.  Too bad Nana had no pepperonis, Laura’s gracious concession to the lack of her turkeyfish.  Really bad when La took the lack of Laura-food as a personal insult and decided ballistic was a good emotion to display as her gift to all of us.  It was louder than anyone wanted to deal with…and of course with her fit-throwing, Laura threw herself into more coughing spasms and pronounced herself "sick in my throat" again.
Somehow we managed to have a great time in spite of the little elf who would ruin Christmas.  We even decided just to find ourselves amused with her and launched a series of "Remember when…. acted a fool?"s.  We had a beautiful time together, my brothers, my sis-in-laws, my nephews, my parents, my family.  It is always such a GIFT to me when I get to be with everyone.
Christmas morning starts early at our place…around 5:30, because Becca has to travel back to her home and celebrate with the other side of her family too.  Guess who wouldn’t get up to see what Santa brought her, to open all the presents she’d been counting every day to get into:  Yep, the Alien.  It was 10:40 before she got up, and then she really couldn’t have cared less about her gifts.
But oh, the girls were SO happy with everything.  Mike was thrilled with all his tools and NFL apparel, and the gifts to me from the girls were all family oriented, so I was of course a bucket of tears of happiness by the end of the unwrapping. 
We ate sausage balls and eggs, snacked on treats, lazed around all day taking turns taking naps so someone could watch La.  We played Clue, watched A Christmas Story, sang carols and generally just spent the day and night enjoying each other’s company.  Eventually even Laura mellowed out and we had peace on earth.  We’re having fun playing with her Leapster and Easel and Chalkboard and butcher paper, reading her books and rearranging her animals. 
It was a special, wonderful, magical twenty-four hours of family and sharing.  The best gift was having so much family around for such a long time.  And taking that 3 hour nap Christmas afternoon…that was great too.
OH!  I have to tell you about this…it was such a special and loving thing to do:  Katie had worked on a PowerPoint presentation for me since September…chronicalling *yeah, I know I spelled that wrong, so what?* all of the lead-ups to Christmas, complete with photos and quotes from everyone.  She knows how much it bugs me to forget so much of Christmas each year, so she made this for me so I wouldn’t forget Christmas 2007 and all the laughter and joy and insanity that went with it.  Is that not the sweetest thing, the greatest kid, or what?

KILL the BOY! Thursday December 20, 2007

Posted by gingerbreadman in My Darling Dears.
Well, I’m eating my words lately.  Remember "Tell your kids everything about sex, share and they’ll share back, that’s how to have a healthy relationship and safe kids" me?  Yeah, I’m gettin’ over that and moving on towards "KILL THE BOY and LOCK HER UP!"
In my head, anyway.  Out loud, to Emily, I’m open, listening, encouraging and comforting.  Let me tell you, Ladies and Gentlemen – now I know what hell is:  listening to your 14 year old daughter talk about "tingles down below" and assuring her it is normal.
 Jeremy and Emmy have been ‘going steady’ for almost six months now.  It took them three months to kiss (thank you school and your PDA rules!) and then they were both too innocent and new to this whole physical thing to go any further.  I liked that, just fine.  Talking about how the idea of tongues interlocking was gross to her was bliss – I even foolishly smiled and told her she’d change her mind once they tried it.  And gosh, I was right!
Emmy has always been very shy and reticent about the idea of sex.  She clung to the notion that she’d never feel interested  in ‘those feelings’ no matter how many times I told her the right boy and hormones would change her mind.  That was a month ago!  Why do I have to be right so often?
I’ve always told all the girls everything about sex they wanted to know, needed to know, I could think of to tell them.  Jess and Becca were equipped with all the info I could think of to share, I was ever-encouraging and reassuring that they could come to me with any and every feeling they had, but Jess was more a "Do it and then talk about it" girl, and Becca…well, to say she’s private about her ‘personal’ life is akin to saying Santa Claus is nice to good girls and boys.
So here I am in uncharted territory – dealing with a child who wants to know everything about ‘those tingles’ and how they make her feel guilty, counselling Jeremy through Emmy because he is as uncertain about all these new feelings as she is and trying not to have a nervous breakdown.  I don’t get the play-by-play afterwards, I get it before – "Mommy, I feel guilty because when we kiss, I want to do more."  "Mommy, sometimes I want him to put his hand there, even though we don’t and I’d freak out if he did." 
Basically, "Mommy, am I normal?  Is it okay to feel this way?"
Here’s where it gets hard, folks.  Telling her it IS okay to feel that way, to have those feelings, to feel tingly and achy while at the same time trying to slow it all down and give her the necessary tools to put on the brakes, too.
Heh, I’m trying for World Peace, too.
I walk such a fine line, between wanting to reassure her that humans are wired to derive pleasure from intimacy while cautioning her on how important it is to remember how young she is, how unsure the future is, how imperative it is to protect not only her body but her emotions from going places she can’t come back from, might not want to go when she isn’t in his arms.  It’s so easy to get carried away in the moment, impossible to take back actions…how once you’ve gone to one level it’s that much easier to get to the next one without even realizing it. 
Teaching our children it is normal and right to have those feelings and thrills while cautioning them not to act on them – what a scary thing it is.  Making them understand you really, truly can’t go back to holding hands is tougher than you realize when you take into account that not only are you trying to get them to wait as long as possible to plunge into the world of sex, but you’re holding how your kid might feel about themselves and their bodies for the rest of their lives too. 
For now, Emily is steadfast in her determination to go to her marriage bed a virgin.  But a month ago, the idea of second base made her shudder, too, and in that "If he tries that he’ll draw back a nub!" shudder, not the one she’s looking at now.  It’s funny how you want more than anything for your kids to talk to you about their feelings, and then when they do, most of you wants to go screaming into a room and lock the door…
Right after you lock up the kids and KILL the BOY, of course.
I write all this out, sharing my angst and Emmy’s feelings because I know so many of the rest of you have teens and are feeling my pain.  Someone’s gotta be going through this besides just me, right?

Alien landed 4 years ago Monday December 17, 2007

Posted by gingerbreadman in My Darling Dears.
Four years ago, there was peace in our household, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.    I foolishly thought two well-behaved older teens, a twin set of 10 year-olds and an 8 year old was a big, chaotic family.  I imagined the worst was already happening and one more little baby wouldn’t make a big difference in our lives…how much crazier could it GET, after all?
I didn’t realize that it all depends on the baby, though you’d think I’d have known after having FIVE already.
So Laura Grace came into our lives, our family on Dec. 17th, four years ago.  Five weeks early, she started out with a bang and a roar – almost six lbs of red, raw energy topped with the longest, blackest hair you’d ever seen on a baby.  She never had that newborn squall that characterizes the just-born, oh no, not this child.  She came equipped with a pterodactyl piercing screech right from the get-go; she wanted what she wanted, when she wanted it and she wanted it yesterday, dadgumit!  Her first nicknames were Babyluv (from her Daddy, who didn’t know any better, poor man) and Pterodactyl.  The latter was much more attuned to her personality.
From the beginning our little raptor was formidable.  She took her milk in like she was starving every time, did her patented screech if she wasn’t held enough (like that was going to happen with all her sisters around?) and could not abide being in anything but clean diapers.  "Change me NOW!" was her cry, before she was even finished going. 
As she grew, we realized we had a powerhouse on our hands.  She more than surpassed all the milestones for her ages, went after everything she wanted and did with a ferocity that was almost frightening sometimes.  She became furious when she couldn’t reach that ball she was crawling for, the sister who wouldn’t pick her up, Daddy putting her down before she was ready to stop snuggling.  Stubborn?  I didn’t know what stubborn was before I met this child.  Just goes to show what two absolute muleheads with strong wills create when they mesh DNA.
Laura has the ‘youngest child’ syndrome.  She demands being the center of attention, the comic genius, the ultimate actress and performer.  We’ve spoiled her dreadfully, Daddy, Mommy and the slaves she calls her sisters.  There is no more adored child in the universe than the La.
She got the nickname ‘La-La’ once she discovered music.  She sang before she talked, danced in everyone’s lap, rocked and rolled to the ever-present music in our house.  She could do the Cha-Cha Slide at age two, was crunking to Will Smith and 50 Cent and banging her head to Metallica and Guns N Roses.  She’d dance in swirling ballerina moves to country, sit quietly and listen to classical, one small hand keeping time with the notes.  She sings in her sleep.  Now that she’s seen the movie August Rush, she conducts as music plays as well, and I’d swear she does it in time.
Laura has grown from a rapacious little pterodactyl into a bondafide Diva Extraordinaire in her four years here on Earth.  From a shy baby who wouldn’t allow herself to be touched by anyone except the people in her household she has slowly evolved into a toddler who greets strangers in stores with a brave "Hello Lady/Man/Grandma, I’m Laura and this is my Mom".  She’s gone from crawling up walls to running pell-mell around the place, creating havoc everywhere she goes. 
She’s a sprite, a fairy, an Alien in the world she was dropped off in.  She’s endearing, playful, rowdy, cheerful, bossy, stubborn, fiesty, funny as heck and the best thing that ever happened to our family, regardless of all her insane personality traits.  From her obsession with my mole that transfered to an obsession with my scar to her demands that we all kowtow to her every whim and shock and dismay when we don’t, she’s pure delight.  There hasn’t been a day since she came that everyone in this family hasn’t had a big laugh over La-la’s antics.  She’s our delight, our reminder that no matter how tough we are, how smart we think we are, how cute we are told we are, there’s always the La coming along to burst our bubble and remind us who the Queen in the family is.
I can’t believe she’s four now.  I don’t remember life without her, what we did when it was just the five girls and me and ‘Daddy’.  It seemed like such a quiet time back then-peaceful, ordered.  The week before Christmas Eve four years ago taught us all what we’d been missing-the Grace and Presence of a bonafide Alien.  As the Borg are famous for saying, "Resistance is Futile".
No kidding.  And no one wants to resist.  Our Laura Grace has opened everyone in this family up to the possibilities of wild, imaginative insanity, and just how much of a joy it is to plunge head-first into it.
We love you, Laura Lala.  Thanks for dropping into our family and assimilating us into your world.
Conquering the waterbday twoBeccas photography  WOWDeep thinkingTree Climber

When the Cat’s Away…. Sunday December 16, 2007

Posted by gingerbreadman in My Darling Dears.
Woe betide the parent who leaves the children alone in the house around Christmastime! 
Becca came home for one of her none-too-often visits yesterday, arriving just about an hour before Mike and I were scheduled to hit the Big City for some Christmas shopping at the mall and then attend Mike’s work party/buffet.  I hated not getting to see much of her, but her work schedule is wacky, and she needs at least one of her days off per week to do errands and just rest in the other town she calls home with her grandparents.  But, we’d planned this night off to shop for a long while, and it couldn’t be helped.
It was nice to know we’d have a responsible adult with a car there at home with the kids while we were gone though – no more worrying about having to drive like mad-demons on PCP back to the house if something were to happen.  We knew Becca took charge of the kids well and I’d find my home straightened, chores done and Baby fast asleep when we crept back in late.
Ha Ha.  It is to laugh. 
In the inimitable way our family does everything…the girls made Holiday Cookies. 
REady to go inProud bakersProud bakers
Trouble StartsFoul Ball!Twin bond at workSisterly bonds
The Evil TwinLook what Libby taught La!Monkey See, Monkey DoFlour Fight!
My poor doggie!
My poor dogJack's BackLa likes Glaze!Instigator!Katie...Messy??? They got a little loopy.
Laura in a beardI'm so glad I wasn't home to see thisGee, I’m so sorry I didn’t come home to see this face!
CookiesMore CookiesStop with the cookies!We're gettin' FAT!  We’re getting FAT this week!  And I haven’t even started on the FUDGE yet.
Needless to say, when I trooped in around eleven last night, I didn’t find a clean kitchen, chores done and I was greeted by two very sugared-up Klingons.  Laura and Jack had been into the sprinkles.  We also found out that while Jack loves breads of any kind…he does NOT lick flour off the floor.
And poor Becca…she was passed out on the couch.
Wanna cookie?

22 years now Wednesday December 5, 2007

Posted by gingerbreadman in My Darling Dears.
This is the year, the day I’ve been a Mom longer than I’ve been anything else in my life.  My oldest daughter, Jessica, my Bright and Shining, turns twenty-two today.  It’s funny, it seems like so long ago in some ways, and I feel like I’m still learning to be her Mommy in others.
From the moment I first learned I was carrying her, the first time I heard her heartbeat, the first furtive movements she made inside me I could feel, I wondered and worried what kind of Momma I’d be.  If I could handle the years ahead, grasp the importance of realizing that from my pregnancy until the day I died I’d in some way be influencing how my child grew, learned, took life on…how she saw the world and how she let the world see her.  Having Jess was the turning point in my life-the positive pregnancy test turned me from the party girl to an abstainer, from a devil-may-care to a watcher, from a self-interested twenty year old into a Mother. 
She was over 3 weeks late, and her coming out party was induced (something that ended up happening with every single one of my kids, that trend-setting kid!), long, tough.  It’s true, you work for those things most worth having.  She was advanced from the beginning and hasn’t stopped that momentum for a moment.  Jess did everything early, did everything well, exceeded every expectation I ever had for her from infancy up to today.  She truly is the Bright and Shining Daughter.
My Jess the rebel, who went to school with her socks mismatched, her striped and polka-dotted clashing clothes and her hair in disarray because she liked it like that, has turned into a fashion plate today.  We all call her for help when we’re trying to figure out what to wear, what’s in, what looks good on us and what doesn’t.  That woman never, ever looks bad, damnit.  I have no idea where she picked up this particular part of her personality, it sure didn’t come from my side, and her Dad is even worse than I am.  Like most else, I suspect she found her flair from books and magazines.
She’s still the most well-read of our bunch, I may read more often, she reads substance.  She’s addicted to John Irving books, Harry Potter, any feminist writer she can get her hands on, political thrillers and psychology.  My baby girl, my oldest, the one who gave me the title of Mom, has managed to figure out a way to stay sane, funny, strong and charming as hell while still being a stubborn, hard-core feminist hot-head who can cook like a champion chef. 
For four years now she’s been making it completely on her own.  Working long hours, going to college full-time, in her own apartment in another city from either her Dad or me.  She calls all the time, keeping me up to date on all her crazy comings and goings, her stellar grades, being promoted yet again at her job, the hilarious things she’s up to in her personal life…when are you taking me to that Drag Show again, Jess?  I can’t believe how well she’s turned out, in spite of me most of the time.  Her childhood wasn’t fairy-tale-like, everyone knows she and Becca bore most of the housekeeping chores and helping with the little kids while I worked and went to college, Jessica never let it get in the way of loving me or the sisters she was made to help raise.  Both Jess and Becca kept us afloat during those long years, I couldn’t have done it without them.
There’s so much I couldn’t have done without Jessica.  Gotten through my aneurysm experience, gotten through the nasty divorce with my abusive X, dealt with so many of the issues of finding out I’m crazy and dealing with it, just having my friend, my daughter to talk to when things seemed tough.  Jessica is the one who came and stayed with the family when I cracked up a few months ago…giving up work time and her life at her home to take care of mine.  She and Becca have done that more than once to get me through my crises.
I’ve been blessed to be a Momma for 22 years now.  People ask me all the time what I was thinking having SIX kids.  It’s really simple…when you have a First Child like Jessica, why would you stop?  My Bright and Shining Beloved Oldest is all anyone, everyone would want in a daughter, a child, a friend.  She’s made me better than I ever thought I could be, taught me more than all the teachers I’ve ever met, given me more than I can ever say or repay.  I’m who I am today because of this day 22 years ago…the good parts, anyway.  The bad parts she hasn’t straightened out of me yet.  But don’t worry, she’s going to be a psychiatrist…she’ll get me squared away one day.
Happy Birthday Jessica.  I love you.

Remember those “Good Girls” from post below? Ummm… Thursday November 15, 2007

Posted by gingerbreadman in My Darling Dears.
Guess who got hauled into the Vice-Principal’s  office today to talk to Ms. M. about their allleged
Yes, my sweet twins, Katie, Emmy, and their bestie, ‘the other Katie’.
And yes, they did plot to kill this boy, repeatedly.  With peanut butter.
Because he’s a Nazi.
It’s like this:  James is apparently a rotten apple they’ve had to deal with forever, since this is a tiny little toy town and the kids you meet in kindergarten are the same gang you graduate with, minus the drop outs and the one kid that always dies in the car wreck Senior year.  James was a jerk since he was in Underoos, is a jerk now, and will apparently be a stiff jerk in the grave.  The two Katie’s and Emmy would put up with that with little problem since they have few classes with him at all if it weren’t for English I class, where they are doing a block of study on the Holocaust.
This subject has disturbed the two Katie’s greatly (Emmy is in a different class and is only involved because she’s got her Sis’s back, she loves murder plots and has last class with the two Katie’s and plots with them then on James’ demise), they are sensitive, sweet girls and they’ve taken to reading as much as they can of Holocaust survivors memoirs, books about the subject, anything they can get their hands on.   Katie Two named her new puppy Schindler.  The Katie’s are deep into the courage and sacrifice and torture the Jews and others faced at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust and WWII.
James is fascinated by it all too.  He glories in tellings of the torture, revels in the SS and the atrocities, finds the crematoriums and the gas chambers funny, and when a veteran of WWII came in and brought a German helmet with him, begged to try it on, grinning from ear to ear to have actually had the joy of wearing "real Nazi gear".  What sent the girls over the edge and into homicidal tendencies is James assertion that the babies who were murdered didn’t matter because they would have been too much trouble anyway.
Now, James has a peanut allergy.  So every day, the girls would amuse themselves in English I class, and in their last class, with Emmy and her gleefully dark mind pitching in ideas with ways to off James with peanuts.
Kidnap him and drag him through the peanut butter aisle in Wal-hell, accidentally opening a jar and smearing it on the floor and walking him through it.
Strap him in a chair and shove some peanut butter down his throat.
Open jars near him, since supposedly just the fumes could send him straight to the E.R., but that wasn’t bloodthirsty enough punishment for the Nazi.
Coat a bus with peanut butter and run him over.  This was my personal favorite.  It showed ingenuity and was sure to take care of him.
Katie and Emily came home every day and told me about this stuff.  It was silly fantasy of course – the Katie’s definitely hate that boy, and I really can’t blame them much.  He sounds  horrrendous.  I found the entire thing funny as all get-out to tell the truth, the two Principal List Katie’s and Emmy and their Peanut Butter Murder Plot.
Unfortunately, yesterday was Cooking in last class, and the subject at hand was Peanut Butter cookies.   So, oh, the plots they did roll, and the girls got loud.  Noticed apparently by the teacher, who didn’t take it up with the girls there, oh no.
So today, poor Katie mine was summoned out of 2nd class to come to the Vice’s Office, sat down, and was asked if she was planning to kill James _____ with peanut butter.
I have to wonder how Mrs. M. asked that with a straight face.
Being the girl she is, my poor child said, "Yes, but he’s a Nazi!"
The entire story came out:  how horrid James is, how the two Katie’s know about his peanut allergy and relieve their anger and frustration over his racist and Holocaust-doubting tendencies by dreaming up homicidal fantasies involving peanut butter.  It means nothing, they’ve never so much as brought a little pack of peanuts to school, but it keeps them from punching him in the face when he talks about how much he hates Jews and loves the SS.
Mrs. M. said she knows Katie is an Honors student, and has never been in trouble during her entire school career, and can tell the poor kid is petrified even being in the office at all and wasn’t really planning to hurt someone, BUT, that another student making statements like that would have found a police officer waiting in the office for them.  Talking about killing students, even with peanut butter isn’t a joking matter, even when you’re obviously laughing and joking, nowadays.  My poor baby was scared out of her wits.  Tears flowed.
Emily, of course, when called down, swore James was a friend of hers, she’d never hurt anyone, and was pretty flippant about the entire thing.  She thought it was funny, and is now plotting how to get back at the teacher who turned them in.  *sigh*  That child.  The other Katie didn’t take it too seriously either, since none of them got anything but a talking-to. 
What worries me is that the fun got knocked out of my Light-Bright Girl.  I’m afraid that her giggle time will be over, the mischievousness was scared out of her and she’ll drop being a bit bad for fear of having her sterling record of "Best Girl Ever" stripped away forever more.  She’s already too good to be true, if she gives up that little bit of naughty to keep her Beta membership, ensure that she gets into the best college, blah blah blah, what part of her soul or spirit is she losing in the process?  Or is it just me, reacting to the fact that this Golden Child is so alien to my childhood, that I understand the naughty and so relate to it and thus don’t want her to give it up?
Ah well.  It’s been a banner day.  It isn’t often your children come home from high school and tell you they were yanked out of class, accused of a premeditated murder plot against a classmate, admitted to it and came away without so much as a detention.  I’ve been laughing all evening.
Them’s my girls.

Warning: I was talking to the teens! Wednesday November 14, 2007

Posted by gingerbreadman in My Darling Dears.
My Twins
Just looking at them makes me smile.  Different as night and day in so many ways, twins completely in others.  People never gues they’re twins, some even doubt they are sisters, they are such opposites:  Katie the Light, always in blues or pastels, happy colors, Emmy with her dyed black hair and dark clothing.  Katie the studious Beta scholar, more serious, responsible.  Emma Jane the Emo girl, cracking jokes in class, praying for a B in math and being reminded constantly to do a daily chore.
One thing they have in common is friends who have already had sex.  Only one common friend between them, luckily a good girl like they are, but still…fourteen year old girls, freshmen in high school and both my innocent kids have friends, close friends, who have already dived into the world of sex.  Another thing the twins have in common is their anger and worry for their friends, and helplessness to do anything about it.  So they come to me, for answers as to why the girls they knew last year were so virtuous and this year are "acting like sluts", and what they (the twins) should say to them.  Especially since their friends are as lost and confused and scared about it as they are.
There’s E.  who is doing it to keep her boyfriend, basically.  She wasn’t ready, doesn’t like sex with him, but is constantly pressured into it.  She readily admits she feels badly starting at her age, but doesn’t want to lose her boyfriend.  Such a cliche’ and one I’d hoped was going to be dead and buried by this time, this age of Women’s Liberation and Independence.  I guess not.  People who need to feel love will still go to any length to feel it, even hurting themselves, physically and mentally.  At least she assures the girls she is using every protection.
My sweetie B., a favorite friend of Em’s, who I love dearly, does it because she likes it.  Apparently her boyfriend is very skilled, damn him.  B. is also a bit self-destructive, and I’ve been talking to her forever and a day, it feels like, about how she needs to love herself more.  if that ain’t the blind leading the blind, huh?  I’m more fearful for her, because she’s not as cautious…the self-destruction thing, and her boyfriend of course, doesn’t like condoms.  She didn’t want me to find out she was having sex, she was afraid I wouldn’t love her anymore, would just fuss her out and then never speak to her again.  Speaking to her about all this with love and fairness is so hard.  I just want to scream, "Keep your pants on til you’re 25 and don’t drink or use drugs, damnit, child!"
Yeah, cuz that works.
Kids these days need to hear about when in your cycle you can get pregnant, that chlamydia is a sexually transmited infection that is rampant among young adults, that pre-ejaculate can get you knocked up, and so can rubbing uglies without penetration.  Oral sex can give you HIV/AIDS and lots of other STDs. Yes, and to wait.  I tell them that to, of course.  But guess what?  That’s all everyone else tells them.  Some one has to give them the real truth about having sex at their age, because folks, they are doing it.  Even the "good" ones.
So I tell them.  And it somehow, strangely, makes me the coolest Mom in the gang…in fact, I’ve been dubbed the Gangsta Mom.  Good Lord.  When Emmy’s friend realized she was gay, she came to me.  When I found out she was ‘dating’ a girl with 3 other girlfriends, I brought her over here and kicked her ass and then hugged her.  We’ve had some strange talks, C. and I, about her sexuality, but who else is she going to talk to about this?  Her Mother, when she found out, pulled her out of school for a week, had a ten person prayer circle around her from the Church and basically terrorized the girl until she renounced her feelings just to shut Mom up.
It stuns me, the consequences our teens face if they aren’t given the facts, and the chance to talk openly and honestly about their feelings.  Yet parents shut down, shout down or put down their kids every day, because they are afraid of what they might hear.  I for one would much rather be a Mom who has a relationship with my child open enough, good enough that he/she can come to me and say, "Mom, _______ and I are growing closer and more in love, we want to have sex, but I don’t know if I’m ready, and I don’t know how to get protection." than hear "Mom, I’m pregnant." or, heaven forbid, "Mom, I just got back from the clinic and I’ve got______."

Lala Loony and SesseeBoos Tuesday October 30, 2007

Posted by gingerbreadman in My Darling Dears.
Tis the day before Halloween, and all through our house, costumes, candy, movies, make-up are cluttered like louse. (What can I say about that rhyme but I’m medicated, sorry.)  You’d think the almost 4 year-old would be bouncing off the walls, dressing in her Ladybug costume 53 times a day, ready to hit the door running and [1] Go out at night when she’s normally not allowed [2] Wander the streets when she usually can’t [3] Bang on people’s doors and talk to strangers [4] Take candy from said strangers which of course no child is EVER supposed to do.
But no.  Today, suddenly, she’s balking.  Because we’ve explained she’ll have to speak to these people.  She’ll have to either use the time-honored phrase "Trick-or-treat" or at least choke out a "Happy Halloween!", which I much prefer, since "Trick-or-Treat" is an empty threat coming from my kids if they want to walk around with two buttocks the rest of their lives. 
Laura doesn’t talk to strangers under pressure.  Now, if I’m in a hurry and we’ve got to be somewhere, or I’ve got to find a bathroom?  She’ll stop every adult and child she sees in a store and on the street with a "Hi Lady/Man!" or stare solemnly at another kid until the kid cries from being looked at too hard.  But ask La to say hi?   It is to laugh.  
Dear Lord, please hear my prayer, You know this child needs socialization badly.   Please, find an opening in this school SOON for her.
Anyway, suddenly Laura has decided she doesn’t wanna go trick-or-treating tomorrow night.  Even if Mommy and Daddy go too.  She doesn’t care about her beautiful Ladybug costume.  She doesn’t care people will put lots of yummy candy in her pretty pink pumpkin.  She does NOT want to talk to these people, so she just ain’t-a-goin’.
She did this last year, and the results were disastrous.  I think this year I’m making her go anyway.  If nothing else, we’ll get a walk out of it, darn it.
Results of last year’s Laura Halloween adventure below….
Happy Halloween to you all!!!
November 1, 2006, when Laura was almost 3….
Laura had looked forward to Hallow’s Eve for weeks now, since she first noticed the costumes and decorations on the store shelves, really.  "Halloween is coming", she sing-songs at each place we stop, every knick-knack, orange and black, sparkly and darkly we see.  She is so enthusiastic you would assume she was amongst the throngs out begging door to door for candy from strangers last night along with the rest of America, but no.  Aliens do not Trick-or-Treat.
They are afraid of SesseeBoos.
‘Sesseeboos’ are Scream mask, Friday the 13th mask, Bloody Face Mask, Scary Face Mask, Chainsaw carrier people, people who carry machetes, axes and knives with red ooze or gore of any kind.  Aliens dressed in baby form apparently are very sensitive to this, since none of my other kids ever had a problem with going out on October 31st and there were many children Laura’s age out Trick-or-Treating who had no problems whatsoever with all the Sesseeboo’s roaming around.  Meanwhile our Alien was on the porch screaming bloody murder *actually, she was screaming "SESSEEBOOS!!  NOOOOOO NOOOOOO SESSEEBOOOS!!!!!!"* and crawling up my chest and over my shoulder to get away from the sight of said personages. 
The poor Sesseeboos, all kindly creatures who were horrified at the idea of frightening the toddler Alien to tears tried to show her they were only nice peoples under the Sesseeboo mask but No, she was having none of it.  She also wasn’t going inside.  She screamed more inside to come outside on the porch.  See, as much as she feared the Sesseeboos, she loved the ‘Halloweens’.
We found out last night Halloween isn’t a holiday.  It is the nicely costumed people who come up and take candy from strangers at night. 
So our Alien was either crying and running down the sidewalk shouting, "Halloween!  Come back Halloween!!!"
Standing on the porch steps jumping and pointing, "Halloween is coming!  Halloween is coming, Mommy!" as more Trick-or-Treaters came towards our house.
Or screaming in fear and terror as she spied a Sesseeboo on the street coming her way and launching herself into my arms.  Made it hard to hand out candy.
I really wish she’d agreed to go begging for candy with the other kids.