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Archive for the ‘Meanderings’ Category

Three months since a blog post? Wow, well, that sounds about right. I spent most of March, April, and May dealing with debilitating nausea, and most of June recovering. I am expecting my third baby. With each, the “morning” sickness has been awful, and different from each pregnancy but debilitating in its own way. This time around I lost 8 pounds and just went through the motions to feed the other kids and get my oldest to and from school.

I haven’t been writing much, professionally or otherwise, but this morning I had a nice little ole’ convo with my newly-turned six-year-old that was worth sharing.

When her sister sleeps late and it’s just us two in the morning– she really loves that. Those mornings and bedtime are when she asks all the questions that childhood provides. Last night she wanted me to explain electricity. This morning she wanted me to explain Disney’s awful version of Pocohantus.

It was on TV the other day— not really a movie I would choose for her to watch. But she has watched more and more stuff as she gets older and I’ve been sick. However, now that she’s seen parts of it, no WAY am I letting Disney educate her on American Indian history. She also wanted to know why I could say that Pocohantus was a real princess while Cinderella was not, and we had a nice little discussion on movie making and where the stories come from.

The discussion on Pocohantus and her real story led us to talk about culture, and what culture meant. I tried to call the white settlers European mostly, and designate people by their cultural groups, not racial classifications, but she’s no idiot. She asked about American Indian language, and we talked about how there are many, many, many American Indian languages. She asked if I came over to North Carolina on the European’s ships. Hah. I told her that in my great-great grandparents there were Cherokee Indians as well as Scottish people from Europe.

She didn’t quite understand that at first, but when I explained to her how she is partly made from her dad, who is Persian, and partly made from me, she started to get it. I want her to have a broad, and correct, view of cultural diversity.

So then of course we had to discuss what her Persian/Southern American culture was. And we talked about her grandparents to help her see that. She didn’t take any Southern from that, but she very much identified with the Persian side…. mostly deciding that Persian culture means she likes tea and shiny gold things. Hah. I think most Iranians will think that it funny.

From correcting bad history lessons on TV to her identifying her love of shiny jewelry with her ‘culture’. And then she asked to watch cartoons.

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I was at the Asian store we frequent the other day and, as anyone with kids can well imagine, the girls saw something they wanted. The cool thing about our kids is that they get jazzed about seaweed and such at stores like that, but this time it was essentially a toy. There were packs of two plastic piggy banks. Each pack had a pink and an orange, or a green and an orange and the girls both wanted pink. Naturally, due to being brainwashed by mass marketing, they both wanted pink. Ada may have wanted orange, but Azita wanted pink.

At first I tried to help them compromise, about the colors, but I wouldn’t bend on getting two packs– I do NOT need four piggy banks forgotten about after the day is done, sitting in the corner of their room. But Azita did have a piggy bank she had received for her birthday that Ada had broken, and it seemed fair to let her replace that now as it has been months since I told her we’d keep an eye out for a new one. I’m generally against cheap plastic junk, but Ada won’t be able to break this one.

Azita was hugging my leg and crying a bit because Ada wanted the pink one. I decided, and I could have not done this either on a certain principle, to ask the owner if I could put two pink ones in a pack. He’s known Azita since she was pint-sized, and I felt like this was an acceptable time to ask this under this circumstance. He told me okay, but he wanted to talk to her about it. He told her she was the big sister, and needs to look out for her baby sister always, and asked her why she wasn’t willing to share the pink and orange one.

Azita didn’t answer him really. I told him that she impresses me a good bit of the time, and he agreed, that she is impresses him too. That was nice of him to say.

So while Azita had been crying on me, he looked at me and said “Hey, this is no big thing okay? Don’t worry about it.”

I immediately caught his meaning. All I answered was, “I in general try to understand what she’s feeling,” but we understood each other.

I’m willing to bet he’s seen more than enough young children get yelled at or worse for wanting something at his store. I admit it’s frustrating when your child makes a huge deal out of something that seems minor to you. But if I try to look at her point of view– Ada broke her piggy bank. She found a cheap one months later I was willing to buy. Ada then saw that one and, being 2, insists that she get to keep in the pink one and hold it. Azita knows that Ada often gets her way, and that we often expect Azita to be the more mature one, sacrificing her needs for her sister’s.

This was a time I felt it was reasonable to make sure Azita knows I put her first sometimes too. True, it’s a plastic piece of junk, but I also don’t buy her something each time she asks.

This could have gone the total other way, if I had been in a different mood, or if the owner acted differently. I have my ideals of how children should be shown how to stay calm, not be materialistic, etc. etc. I have my ideals of how they should be treated and taught to handle their emotions and not yelled at for them.

And when their behavior really gets to me and I don’t handle it right, it is often because of one or two things:

1 – I am irritable/tired/headachy and etc. myself

2 – I am in public

How often to parents react a certain way because others are around and they are second guessing their reactions, feeling the judgments of others? This man actually does a service to kids by trying to help a parent feel relaxed about their child’s display of emotions.

Something similar happened at the Farmer’s Market once, when Azita was just three. She was getting upset about something– wanting to buy something or leaving– I can’t remember. And I sat down at her level and looked in her eyes and tried harder to explain why I was making the decision I was. A farmer told me “You are a good mother.” He didn’t say anything else. But it was that same feeling— that he was expecting me to start snapping at her and throw her in the car. And yes, I’ve done that too.

On occasion (thankfully not too often) Azita will really get upset about something, inconsolably upset, and I have no choice but to simply remove her from the situation. What’s funny is when she is at her worst, sometimes I’m at my best and *am* able to stay calm and leave with her… but not always.
I have felt myself recently losing my temper with her, or at least getting close, at a Baha’i Virtues Class I take the girls to. I will have to make a post on some of the quotes that guide the Baha’i viewpoint on parenting and educating children, and you’d see that that is one very safe place where I can let Azita be who she is and try to help her with whatever it is that I’m not happy about or she’s not happy about.

So I think back—what makes me uptight in that situation? Is it because it’s a situation in which I feel insecure and wonder about the judgments of the other parents? It shouldn’t be, but that’s a very likely possibility. Being aware of why you handle something with your children the way you do is important, I think.

Public parenting. Do what you feel is right. Don’t worry about what someone else might be thinking. Are their feelings more important than your child’s? I’ve felt the stares on my back when Azita is going nuts over something that seems unimportant. It’s more important to me that she remembers I tried to honor her feelings, that she knows her feelings are okay, and that she doesn’t bottle them up in the future, when I need to know how she feels to help her through the next stage of development.

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Where is the fine line drawn between allowing your kids to unabashedly share their feelings with you and demanding they communicate respectfully?

I have always found that I want to treat Azita and Ada how I prefer to be treated. You’d think this is a pretty simple statement that sounds reasonable enough that most would agree with it.

But it’s got some complex implications, especially when you are frustrated with a child that is not in the mood to agree with you or ‘respect your authority’.

I get annoyed when the need to leave somewhere, eat what I chose to make for dinner or clean up a mess is met with resistance at best or a screaming tantrum at worst, just like any parent. And I lose my temper plenty.

I also have this ideal though, of treating a kid how I would have wanted to have been treated. I feel like some parents go so far as to make it seem as if the child’s feelings aren’t valid.

For instance, leaving a fun place like the park or playdate or grandma’s house is not always easy. Some children have a harder time with transitions than others, also. But how would an adult feel if someone suddenly came up to them and forced them to leave what they were doing, no matter what it was, with no say-so in the process? My kids do pretty good with warnings, although I was afraid their sense of time was getting skewed with the amount of “It’s about time to leave, five more minutes” warnings there were. So I started setting the alarm on my cell phone and always tell them how long will pass before it goes off. That helps alot.

But what about the times it doesn’t help? What about when I still have a yelling, disappointed, “world-is-going-to-end” 4 year old? I just tell her that I’ve given her warnings and I’m going to have to pick her up. She can scream if she wants. It seems like screaming, which a child does when they are too upset to voice their emotions, can really provoke anger and annoyance in me. But I’ve found that when I don’t make a big deal about it, it ends much quicker. We get in the car, I tell her I’m sorry she’s diasppointed, but it’s just time to go.

Another thing I can’t jive with is the “don’t talk back to me” thing. You know what…. my kids *do* have the right to talk back to me. I *will* validate their feelings and emotions, even if I don’t agree with them.

This shouldn’t be misinterpreted. My kids are not screaming little terrors that get everything they want whenever they want. Anyone who knows us personally, I would hope agrees with that statement!

I validate their feelings but I teach them about how to express themselves and how to be polite. Azita knows that she has to talk to us if she wants something.

The older the kids get, the more challenging this becomes.

You take your children from babies who can only cry to verbally tell you something is wrong, to a walking, talking five-yaer-old yelling back at you “I don’t want to talk to you right now! No, you’re not sorry!”

It’s a fine line between teaching them how to respectfully communicate, and yet letting them know that their feelings and emotions are okay.

I think my attitude and philosophy about this works pretty well. We still have times where we are all stressed, snapping at each other and are not living up to my ideals.

But you know what? I actually don’t sweat it. People make mistakes all the time, and another thing I have to teach my kids is forgiving us and each other when we make mistakes.

I ended the blog post there this morning but didn’t get a chance to publish it.

It’s interesting, reading it now, because just today we ran into a situation where an adult was too upset to acknowledge Azita’s apology after a conflict with her son.

He was wearing a baseball cap. Azita ran up and took it off his head. I didn’t see it. I don’t know how rough it was. Then she apparently said that he smells like ‘dog poo’. I’ve never, ever heard her say this, and she says she didn’t (I think she was copying something she heard a few minutes before and thought it was funny. I’m really not sweating it. Kids say things).

But that, combined with the hat thing, and this mom got really upset. I don’t know why she didn’t tell me what was happening. She ran up and grabbed her child and moved him to a different area. I asked if Azita had done something and she recounted the scenario.

I talked to Azita about it and told her that she made this lady very upset and that she should apologize. (Her son is just two and didn’t seem fazed by any of it). At first I thought she didn’t hear her. But then it became evident she was ignoring Azita on purpose, and saying some pretty passive-agressive things to her son, quite obviously within my hearing.

I tried not to let it ruin my day, but honestly, it almost did. This is a mom I’ve known for about a year and talked on the phone with. When we left, about an hour later, I told her to apologize again because the lady was obviously quite upset. She now responded to her and talked to her about it.

Oh well. I mean, I understand being upset and not ready to talk about it. I guess this was the case. And I remember when Azita was little, feeling pretty “Mama Bear”ish when it seemed an older child was about to run all over her. I don’t think Azita deserved that, to be honest, and I thought about telling the mom that Azita deserved the chance to apologize, seeing as there was absolutely NO malice behind her actions.

But I’m not good at confrontation, and the mom spoke to Azita when we left. Not to me though. She didn’t seem to look me in the eye.

This is part of the reason I want our kids to openly communicate with us, even when it isn’t pretty and they are over-reacting.

I’m teaching them to live in a world full of people that aren’t always good at communicating themselves. I’m teaching them to live, not to behave.

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I spend alot of time internally rolling my eyes or cringing about a comment my mother in law makes. Just the usual stuff— comments about the house and how clean it is, the children and what I should or shouldn’t do, et cetera. But I have to say, I am one lucky daughter-in-law.

Sometimes there are comments that just make her a gem to have in our lives. And those are the ones we are supposed to pay attention to anyway, right? Look at the ten good qualities in your neighbor and forget the one bad? And look at the one good one and forget the ten bad, is how the saying goes. I think I’ve come to believe that that adage can be talking about the same person, just on a different day. We all have good and bad days. And the good days really are the ones worth mentioning.

All these warm and fuzzy feelings came about last night. We were at my in-laws after going grocery shopping. Payman took the kids outside like a nice husband after I told them he would when they begged me. And so my mother-in-law asked me to sit down and have a cup of tea, which is a Persian way of saying “hey, I like your company.”

I can’t remember how or what we were talking about, but somewhere in the conversation it turned to being grateful for what we have. She talked about how horrible things come out of painful situations. At first we were talking about the persecution of the Baha’is. Were it not for the persecution of the Baha’is, my husband’s family would have never left Iran, and I would not have met Payman or have Azita or Ada.

But what made me just love our talk was the next thing she said.

Without slavery, as horrible and disgusting as it was, our country would not be the same. She said that Americans forget what we have. She said that we forget that we are lucky to be in a country that is racially diverse.

“One of the best things in the world is to be in a mixed family. One of the most beautiful things is to be in a marriage with two different cultures and people forgot to be grateful for that in this country.”

What a beautiful thing to say. It’s a beautiful thing in general, and even more so to your daughter-in-law who is of a different race and culture.

I know that my parents are proud to have Payman as their son-in-law and my in-laws are proud to have me too. And I know that if my husband was any other race, American or not, my parents would feel the same way. And that is something to be grateful for.

If you are a person that believes deeply that prejudice and racism hurts our inner selves, that it is against how a higher power would have us act, that it brings us down to being less noble than we are, as humans, it can be easy to become discouraged.

People have said some pretty despicable things to Payman in both of the jobs he has had in Fayetteville. And I have had my fair share of comments too.

Recently, I ran in to an acquaintance at a store and had a great talk with her. But there was a dark side to that talk, and it involved her comments about other racial groups.

As I processed this, I was talking to Payman about how there have been people close to me in my life, through employment or school or etc, that I at first, could not like because of their prejudice. Then I got to know them and saw how generous they were, how giving to their own families.

It was a paradox for me. How can these people be so wonderful, and yet be so prejudiced? So unloving towards other humans based on the group they belong to?

“I really like this person. She is such a great person, with such a great energy, and then she says something about immigrants that is just so terrible. I don’t understand,” I’d said.

And Payman broke it down for me. “Of course they are lovely people. They are kind, they are generous. To you.”

And that will always be the crux of the issue. We are both white. They feel they can say these things around me and it won’t bother me. I don’t want to hear it. It annoys me. It discourages me because I want everyone I know to be the best version of themself, either because they want to aspire to be who a higher power, God, wants them to be, or just because a human life is worth living being the best you can be.

A very strong part of me wants to disassociate myself with friends and acquaintances that make comments that they see as harmless, but that I know were carried into real, hard life, would hurt my husband or my children. And I know that Payman has sometimes hit his limit and can’t deal with those that have made racist statements towards him openly or about groups of people in general. He gets fed up and doesn’t associate with them and I understand.

Anyway, I’ve begun to ramble. But suffice it to say, last night my mother-in-law made me feel a little better. Why spend our time being negative when you can be positive? Truly, I believe it just shows inner unhappiness.

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Ada is a very orderly child. 

She lines up her crayons and markers.

She takes duplo blocks and books and makes trails around the room, in long lines.

Azita is… not.

Ada likes to wear gloves.  Azita likes to wear mittens.  I don’t think she likes the time it takes to make them comfortable, but Ada, with her little fingers, doesn’t mind and it takes longer.

Ada has always been very independant while awake.  Very happy to play with her sister or by herself.  She seems very thoughtful and gives people lots of eyebrow-furrowed looks.  You have to try to ‘read’ her.

Azita would nap well, on her own, for several hours.  Ada, at times, still wants to be held while sleeping, and she just turned two.  With one, I got free time while they slept, with the other, I got free time while they were awake.  Ada napped in my arms for the first year, at least, and with me close by for the next year.

I didn’t mind indulging those differences though.  It makes them who they are. 

The more I struggled to get Azita to play on her own, the clingier she got.  I had to give her what she needed. 

The more I tried to get Ada to nap without me close, the more she woke up.  I’d even get up with her, deciding just to wake her up because I had things I needed to do, and she’d stay asleep in my arms, even with her sister and the TV and me talking and not trying to keep her asleep.  Or she would wake up and be so cranky I wondered why I ever minded lying down with her.

Azita enjoys art, but with someone doing it with her, me or other kids.  Ada will happily draw for an hour, on anything she can.

Azita didn’t snuggle with Payman much for the first two years of her life.  She was too busy clinging to me.

Ada started crawling over to his side of the bed at night sometime after she turned one.

Azita, as a baby/toddler, would nurse anywhere, anytime, anyhow.

Ada was only interested in nursing at night or naptime, and only in the quiet dark bedroom, not even in the rest of the house.  Azita nursed, cozied up in her sling, while I waited in thelong and noisy registration line at UNC-Pembroke! Then I was there holding a sleepy baby, and someone came and moved me to the front of the line! 

Ada is orderly, thoughtful, trusting, and introspective.  She just expects me to intuitively know when she needs to use the bathroom or wants something she can’t reach.

Azita is loud, throws toys all over the place, and gains her energy from other people.

Introverted and extroverted have to do with where you draw your energy from, from inside or from other people, at least according to Mary Kurcinka in “Raising your spirited child”.

Seems to be true.  Ada draws from within, Azita from others.  That is why Azita can be more draining and jumps on Payman the minute he gets home.

I love the differences between them.  I never knew that would be my favorite part of having two.  I am constantly saying things like “Azita didn’t do this.  Ada does that.”  I’m in danger of comparing them, which you aren’t supposed to do, right?  But I think I’m just observing… not comparing (hopefully) in the way of saying one is better than the other.

And now, Ada is sleeping late.  She’s such a crankopotamus when her sleep gets all disturbed and out of patterns, like it has been with me renovating the bathroom (the reason I haven’t made a blog post in over a month).  Azita could just roll with it.  She could nap from 4:30 to 7:30, severals hours too late, and still wake up and go to bed at about the right time.  Not Ada!

Azita taught me the most about myself emotionally and capacity for my priorities to change.

Ada taught me the most about myself physically and capacity for understanding of what is healthy to change.  The second one sounds less profound, but is actually more work.

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Noble have I created Thee, yet thou has abased Thyself…

My most recent article in the newspaper on Saturday was about a Computing and Learning Center being opened up by Fayetteville State University.  It will have computers for free internet access and also a lab for skills classes and was created by a grant from the federal stimulus money

It will create one full-time job and 3 or 4 part-time jobs.

To me it seemed like a great thing.  I forget that sometimes people have different opinions on those things.  I was reading the comments to the article, and someone said (and honestly, I hate even giving this guy the time of day but I feel compelled to comment):

What a total waste of money. Typical Obama crap.

Have these idiots ever heard of the library? No, its not a place to take a bath in the sink or use the toilet, even though that seems to be the typical use.

I guess no, since books and reading must be beyond the comprehension of the target audience.

I think that someone is entitled to their opinion about the best way to stimulate the economy, the President, what, if any, social programs they believe in, what party they agree with.

But comments like these are only someone disguising their prejudiced opinions behind criticism of how to spend tax money or criticisms the President’s policies.

S/he opens with statements about money and the President, but quickly the true views are exposed.

And people say that racism isn’t a problem anymore.

But that is not true.  This is racism, prejudice, hate and selfishness, plain and simple.

And also wrong.  At the library there won’t be the skills classes that this center is providing.  I feel like many people are so selfish that they are damaging are country– the country they think they’d be protected with their compartmentalized mentalities.

One of the classes that will be taught is the European Computing Driver’s License.  Europe has a standardized course, ensuring that its citizens are educated and able to use technology and able to have a better shot at a job.

What is so wrong in helping people?  Someone like this the demoralizes the “target audience” by insinuating that they  bathe at the library and don’t know how to read.  If that were the case, as he sits back reading comments on his probable home computer, where does the selfishness comes from that keeps any decent human being from wanting to help in that situation?  Because in his mind anyone that hasn’t learned to use a computer or gotten a good job has brought it upon himself.

My husband is from a poor country, Grenada.  I lived there for a year tutoring kids.  Some of the kids I worked with have never used a computer or had the chance to.  And if they’d been able to  make it to an internet cafe, and spend precious money, that isn’t the same as taking a course on Microsoft Office and budgeting and resume writing.

That was a different country, but the principle is the same.

And I can find no logical reason to not think its a good idea to provide a center for people to learn and create skills that will help them, and it will create jobs on top of that.

That’s why I know it comes down to selfishness and racism.  Imagine the difference if Americans saw something like this has building up the citizenry of their country.  If this guy has such disdain for this “target population”, he sure doesn’t want to do anything to help someone be different from his false stereotype of them.

A quote, about true wealth, to balance the unfortunate quote at the beginning:

O SON OF SPIRIT! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.

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I don’t usually stray into stuff this controversial in my happy little blog, but here goes.

Yesterday there was an article in the newspaper about an illegal immigrant who caused an accident while driving drunk and killed a nun.  And the story has been turned into part of the talk about illegal immigration.  There are, admittedly, several issues and troubling things about this story– the tragedy of a person killing another because they were driving drunk, the fact that the guy had had several other arrests for traffic related stuff, two related to drunk driving.  He was set to be deported but had been released while his case was being reviewed. 

These are all issues that need to be addressed.  But then there are all those that are making the comments about the cost of illegal immigrants and how illegal immigrants are committing crimes.  Okay.  Some are.

Yesterday there was also an article about a woman, an American citizen, born and raised here, who killed a few children while she was driving drunk.  And no one is talking about the cost of drunk American citizens living here. 

To me, it’s just another logical fallacy.  What happened to the nun, or anyone, is a tragedy, especially when it’s because someone can’t control their drinking or at least don’t stop themselves from operated a car while in that state.  But fixing our immigration issues, through right or left means, won’t keep tragedies from happening. 

To me, the tragedy is that a drunk man killed another person.  A separate issue is that he had several traffic violations and didn’t get the help or jailtime or whatever could have prevented this.  Him being illegal, because he was brought here as a child, before he even had a choice, doesn’t have anything to do with it.  It’s just a separate part of a bad situation.

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