Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

One little victory at a time

"The measure of the moment
In a difference of degree
Just one little victory
A spirit breaking free."
--Neil Peart

Progress is incremental, made up of a series of failures to little victories, revisions and hourly referendums. But it's the daily white noise of everyday life that keeps the progress veiled until something pulls it back.

Like speech clarity, dexterity and peeing in the potty.

These little victories are highly visible connections on the toddler evolutionary lattice. Beatrice has had a slight speech delay and although we're still evaluating it, she seems to be a better visual learner, which in turn affects her dexterous learning. Her therapy and exercises to date have paid off however and she is catching up. Plus the preschool she attends is amazing -- she loves her friends and teachers and the interaction has been invaluable. Of course the Mama is the most patient teacher of all.

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Hey, Bea can walk a balance beam, spoon yogurt into her mouth (and all over her face), sew yarn into a paper mitten and work an iPad better than most adults.

I have trouble putting on slip-on shoes. Jeez.

Just this morning she named all the animals on the animal show we watched together and what they were doing. Come to think of it, so did Bryce. Kind of.

"That's a duck swimming," said Bea.

"Dok!" cried Bryce.

Then without my knowledge, Bryce typed in a secret code on my Macbook:

,.;' ppp


Translation: Just one little victory, a spirit breaking free.


Right on, Baby. Except when you eat Play-Doh rather than play with it. Oh, and even though it's funny, Bryce also warned to be careful when teaching her older sister to say funky chicken.

(Queue the recent Modern Family episode.)

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Please educate your little boys (and girls) for the better today

I went along with it. At first I said no, but he convinced me otherwise. He said it was a game she'd want to play, that she would think it was fun. That girls liked to play these games.

I was six. He was seven or eight, a neighborhood kid, a friend of sorts, one who led and I was a follower. She was only four and still in diapers, or some early iteration of pull-ups (the year was 1971).

I felt uncomfortable. It was late August making everything hot and sweaty. I knew it was wrong, but I remember not knowing what to do about it other than go along.

We didn't touch her or hurt her. The other boy, my sort-of friend, told her to pull her diaper down. She looked scared. I looked away. She pulled it down, he laughed and I stared.

My mom had watched the whole thing from our dining room window and immediately came outside, made us apologize to the little girl. My friend fled, the girl ran away crying (I don't remember if she talked with the parents of the girl or not, but nothing ever came of it).

She then took me inside and began to explain to me the differences between boys and girls, what a vagina was and what a penis was and why it was so wrong to do what we did. And why when I was older, I needed to respect women and never force anything upon them, never hurt them or belittle them in any way.

This coming from a woman who experience years and years of physical and emotional abuse, of which I had witnessed, who desperately wanted to instill in her son the self-awareness of knowing the difference between mutually respectful personal responsibility and the utter human failure of perpetrating intimate partner violence and blaming the victims of abuse.

Young men and boys need this education today more than ever. According to a recent article I read in Ebony online titled Stop Telling Women How to Not Get Raped:

"Telling women that they can behave in a certain way to avoid rape creates a false sense of security and it isn’t the most effective way to lower the horrible statistics which show that 1 in 5 women will become victims of a completed or attempted rape in their lifetime.  The numbers for African American women are even higher at nearly 1 in 4."

For those of us who have little girls, please educate your little boys (and girls) for the better today.

Because we grow up and innocence is so fragile and fleeting.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Queue the blues harp, Bea

"Get Daddy!"

"Get Mommy!"

So it begins. Evening playtime with the B-hive is sacred, regardless of how tired we are or how busy we've been.

And we've been busy; even the Mama is taking on some new work projects beyond the woefully underpaid child-raising. (I have put in a good word for her, though.)

Being busy for me means more time away from home, and 2012 is shaping up to be just that.

Considering we're still 6 million jobs in the hole, we're very thankful we can provide for our family. Amen, pass the work please.

Seeing and talking with my girls and the Mama on Skype or FaceTime video calls is great when traveling for business, but it's not the same as running around the house rough housing with the girls and the girls giggling and chasing each other as well (which they're doing more of now).

Rounding out the day bonding in B-hive honey love makes the time away worth it, although there's a point when the wayward silence of a hotel room breeds more loneliness than I can bear.

*sigh*

Queue the blues harp, Bea.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Of giving and loss

It's enlightening when you're three-year-old is such a sweet giver. Sure, she melts downs when she can't watch Wonder PetsThe Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore or the Yo Gabba Gabba Christmas special -- two weeks after Christmas (please, I can't watch it anymore, help me, it's already January 8).

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But from Christmas Day with Nonna to the week after when my unwell folks (Nana and Papa) actually made it here for a few days, Bea reveled in us opening our gifts, some of which she picked out herself, like my Santa Raider ornament and Bryce's toy cars, and like the earrings I had specially made for Mama titled "working them angels" after Mama and the B-hive via the artisan Katy Bransfield at Between Sun & Moon.

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And just this last week when Bryce was having a nuclear meltdown during dinner, with both me and the Mama throwing our arms up in surrender, Bea did her best to make her little sister smile and laugh. It didn't quite work, but she tried, the misdirection helped, and we thanked her for that.

Bea's still got some work to do in other areas, but mercy she's fast becoming a smart little girl (again, only three, right?). In fact, nothing tops defining the ultimate toddler giver as what happened one night during the holidays. We had put Beatrice to bed (Bryce was already asleep), and about 10 minutes after that Bea called for Daddy.

I went up and said, "What's the matter, sweetie?"

"Take this," she said, reaching out her hand.

"Take what?"

"Take this."

She pushed her hand into mine.

"Is that a booger, Bea?" I asked.

"Yes," she answered, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She smiled then laughed.

"Thank you, sweetie." Thank you. Really.

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From sweet giver to learner of loss -- that's been a fascinating window on what it means to have to say goodbye to those we love. For Beatrice, that means our nanny/babysitter Elyse after two and half years and Nana and Papa after a few days of visiting over the holidays.

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Elyse leaving was the biggest blow, but the one-two punch of her moving away and then my parents being in and out really took it's toll on Bea. Watching raw grief spill from a toddler who doesn't fully understand what she's feeling, but understands she doesn't want to say goodbye, cry-howling and red-faced, it's bittersweet for adults who have been there more than once, who've experienced it on more levels than wished to remember. We told her she'll see them all again, but it's no consolation in the moment of grief.

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After surviving not quite a Christmas miracle, the lessons of giving and loss have been invaluable, even for an old Daddy who's been there, done that (and will again and again and again).

Happy New Year!

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