Friday, October 30, 2009

Helping at Home

Whenever married women get together there is inevitably a conversation about household chores. I've talked about Domestic Sexy in past posts and highlighted a few amazing days with due credit given. At some point one of the women in my clique will say something that is the equivalent to "it isn't worth the effort." I always state that after 14 years of marriage, the partnership should indeed, be a partnership. It might not be done like you would like it done, but get over it. I say this often. I'm going to stop.

See, we haven't had matching socks in months. It started one season when I went on strike and I didn't care what happened. I literally only searched for my clean clothes and I have plenty of hosiery options that I can rely on most days. One of the kids asked about socks early in the school year and I promptly directed them to their own drawer. They replied, "we don't have socks." I know there are socks and plenty of them. And then....I started the investigation.

For my entire strike the socks were conveniently placed in unmatched batches at the bottom of a variety of baskets, with no regard to size, owner or style. Within a few weeks the socks had no mates and the mess was expanding. On one particular morning, the sock hunt led to the photo above, where well meaning children were trying to identify the things that belonged to them. I have now made up in my mind, there is no equity in helping at home. Three months later and the socks have still never been the same. They went away for a few days in August and their grandmother simply purchased new socks. She will be saddened to know that they too have gone into the group wash, non sort, non match, non put away experience. This is so not domestic sexy. This is so why married women suggest that their spouse need not help at home.

I think its a plot of intentional proportions when a degreed male can not accomplish laundry success. I'm the one with about 10 dozen miss matched socks all over my house, too. This would be a non-issue, but its Winter. Funds are low. The work load is high. And the socks are all over because I was convinced that my hiatus would mandate more help. Not so much.

In Search of Game

My little people are far more athletic than I have ever been. I love that about them. They are not moved by the fact that every tae kwon do, gymnastics, volleyball, swimming or sports experience is filled with many lessons we can't quite relate to. But, I've got one son who loves basketball. I mean, he practices outside in shooting hoops in my neighbors rim, for as long as you will allow. It isn't our natural thing.

We are amazing at teaching story problems, fractions, vocabulary words, writing prompts - and he's got the grades to prove it. After a long and drawn out teasing his straight A grade card was neither that exciting or that hot of a topic - he just does what he does without much fanfare. I attended one of his few basketball games last week and that experience was not the same. I tell you, check out moms action stop. Do you see that form. Concentration. Focus. And do you see that it looks like he's running a sprint and not playing ball. How much of having game is nature? How much is nurture?

Our kids have inherited a tendency to do better at solo activities while they struggle with team experiences. This child, however, tends to do well at both. In the heart of Indiana where basketball is beloved by all, I can't help wish that my father was more invested in teaching and training. My father was the coach of all coaches when it came to basketball. He taught inner city hoops with flare and substance, did much better than he did in parenting. There are students that still credit him for their growth and development. No comment there. Just wondering though, can you teach a Suburban Black kid with little basketball instinct to play ball.

At a dinner party recently I had friends suggest to us, "you need to enroll him in Black Ball." Really. I don't care if its politically incorrect, they cautioned me about the "recreational league" that I enrolled him in. I indicated it was just about the basics, no stress, no future Lebron aspirations. And they uniformly responded, you better get him in Black Ball soon.

At the ripe old age of 7 I'm starting to sense he's behind the curve. I laughed on Sunday because I was sure he was close to a foul everytime he tried to snatch the ball from his opponent. When I looked at the pics that make a moms heart smile, I couldn't help but land on this one. I started thinking, what are we running to and what are we running from. We're happy to be in the Suburbs, but I miss some of the things the kids would naturally learn from the neighborhood I grew up in. Down the street he could have learned to play ball nearly free of charge, extra bandaids and some non-Walmart tennis shoes, and he'd be set. It wouldn't have been a big deal that he didn't have his own basketball court - few kids did. The only guy that I knew with his own court, couldn't play and tried harder to makeout near the swings than shoot hoops. I digress.

In search of game really speaks to the double lives children of color lead. I'm not even going to write about the Suburban clubs that spend more time eliminating potential young ladies than creating a place to nurture them and expose them to peers who share their experiences. I'm not quite over it, but I'm getting there. Living in the suburbs has brought better schools, better property values and more diverse issues. I need a second job to teach my boys how to have game, while I'm teaching them to navigate this game that we chose.

Watch out world. The best scientist that can ball is coming your way soon. He's not in search of much but his personal success, and he's well on his way.

A Magnetix Lesson in HealthCare Failure

Parents beware. My youngest child swallowed a small magnetix ball and a bit of a panic began. He actually told of his digestive experience relatively quickly - but the passing of the evidence, very very slow. In between our notification and the passing of the time, 3 Emergency Room Visits, 1 Allergic Reaction, several glasses of prune juice, hours of internet investigation, the search and destroy mission for every Magnetix we owned and those purchased for future gifts - and walla, its over.

Not so quick - you want to know how much it cost right? Two working people with health care. A childhood accident that went really really wrong. Well, last time I opened the bill, about $3,000 was still owed AFTER the insurance paid their "portion" of the bill. Then the beauty of health care reform has been the umpteen messages I receive in my inbox, encouraging me to send $5, $10 or more dollars to help pass the health care reform. You gotta be kidding me right. How about I pay the hospital in installments until he's in college. How about I pay my past due bills with those dollars. How about I'm really cynical that health care reform may mean something for someone, but if its like finance reform, economic reform, homeowner reform, education reform, job reform, the fight against drugs, and any of the other reforms that are never quite intended for middle America - I'll take a pass.

With that $5 d$%^ dollars, maybe I'll start a Christmas lay-a-way for all of the toys we are going to have to replace. Or, I'll start the long payment plan for the healthcare costs that aren't changing for us with whatever so-called-reform is popular today.

Black People Don't Float

In the world of the random, I had a swim coach tell me that Black people don't float the same as White people. It was very early in the morning, I had not eaten my energy bar, and I wasn't in the mood to defend my entire race. Not today. I made a mental note for self and opted to really not focus on what appeared to be a slight trip down the lane of crazy.

Later, when I was caffeinated and more alert, I learned about a few statistics that address the reason why more Black people don't swim. Most of the information related to parental habits, access to pools, family patterns, soci0economic factors, etc. Not one article had anything of merit or relevance about black folks and the ability to float. I did stumble across a variety of hateful and racists comments about the inferiority of Black people, but I had too much productive work to do for that day. And so, I shared this little comment with the woman who taught my dear little ones how to swim. After she rolled her eyes and let out a big sigh, she effectively said, tell them to swim harder and faster and to enjoy each day they are in the pool - that's crazy.

If there is anyone who would be able to attest to the float factor, it would be the woman who has taught my heavy non-graceful behind how to swim the length of the pool. If I didn't have to go to the deep side, I could probably swim 100 yards with some amount of competence. Reality is, it was just good to have someone who didn't share background, race, ethnicity, wealth, upbringing or anything else - simply dismiss this silly comment, after her 40+ years of teaching this craft.

The Josh Project is just one of the amazing discoveries I encountered as I was shaking off the potential offense. A phenomenal mother in Toledo, Ohio started this organization after her son lost his life to a drowning accident. Minorities make up a disproportionate number of drowning victims each year, and we should do something about it. I grew up in a middle class household, with tremendous values, and learning to swim was not a priority. The group lessons at the Y failed in many many ways, but that was me. Once I had the benefit of a personal coach - float. swim. enjoy.

Kids who complete the Josh Project lessons can earn a t-shirt and a tremendous lesson. Conquering your fears, whether in the water or in life, can happen if you simply put your mind to it. Problem is, your mind may be willing, but circumstances might not. Seek out opportunities to conquer those things that seem a lifetime away and spend little time debating the crazy. Black people can float. Maybe more importantly, all people can be taught to do things once out of reach, by ignoring at first glance, those that are simply out of touch.

Breathe and blow. Breathe and blow.


I listened to a story recently about the Famesque - folks that were famous for no good reason. The article was slanted mostly toward white magazine icons and some harsh criticism about their talent or lack of. I haven't done a good job of getting the idea out of my head, even though I have more important things to do. So is the problem the Famesque, or those of us who pay them any attention at all.

I actually have a small amount of sympathy for them. They are subjected to incredible amounts of scrutiny, don't get paid what real starlets get paid, and they are hounded by the paparazzi - not to mention the bloggers pen. I'm not sure we devote our time to the true stories at hand. Folks we elect, folks we pay lots of money who don't do their jobs, folks that are supposed to be doing one thing - but are clearly doing another... but hollywood folks. Who cares. I mean really, since I don't watch Gossip Girls, didn't see Transformers in the theater, can't name whoever is on the cover of most magazines when I'm at the check out - that makes me like, normal. I'm certain that many of my peers would respond in EXACTLY the same way.

So maybe along with the Famesque, we should fault the Stupesque for all the energy we direct at them anyway. I'm just saying.