parenting

My Dad

This was originally published over at Medium.com, but I wanted to share it here too. 

My dad is the cool dad.

The one that all my friends tell me they wish they had.

My dad is the brave dad.

The one that baits the hook and handles all the scary jobs, like catching spiders.

My dad is the protector dad.

The one I can always call, no matter the time of day or where he may be.

My dad is the strong dad.

He stands up to the bullies, even when they try to knock him down.

My dad is the example of who I want to be when I grow up.

My dad is weakening,

the strength he once had no longer what it used to be.

My dad is a body being ravaged by an invader,

being overtaken, cell by cell.

Now it’s my turn to be the cool one, put on the brave face, be his protector, and his strength.

Now it’s my turn to be there whenever and wherever he needs me.

Because this is the example he has set for me, and I am, after all, my father’s daughter.

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What Will You Do?

I’m sitting here this morning, my heart pounding in my chest, my brain spinning uncontrollably, trying to find words, having a difficult time putting it all in an order that makes sense to my brain and my soul.

I am trying to find a way to calm my daughter’s anxiety. I am trying to answer her questions.

How do I explain to her that people now feel they have been given permission to judge her based on the color of her skin?

That they can openly harass and deny services to her family members because of who they chose to love?

How do I try to calm her fears that old white men are going to tell her what she can and can’t do with her body?

Please, someone, offer me the words to explain this to her, because right now, I have none.

 

Parenting A Tween

As a parent there is a lot to consider these days: education, diet & exercise, extra circular activities, general household rules… you get the idea. As a parent of a tween (soon to be teen) there seems to be a whole other dimension added to that I now get to experience. Fortunately (or maybe not) I remember my middle school years. I count myself lucky to still be in contact with my best friend from all those years ago too. (She knows where all the skeletons are buried)

I asked the question on facebook and got a variety of responses, and will ask it here too, because I enjoy the conversations it can generate and learning others views helps to expand mine.

Do you google or facebook/twitter search the boyfriends or girlfriends of your kids?

Growing up in the day before all this technology my parents knew the neighbors, they knew the kids I hung out with, they knew the principal at my school (at least through middle school anyway). They knew the pharmacist at the shop down the street, they knew neighbors on other streets that recognized me when I was out running around with my friends. It wasn’t easy to get away with things then. Don’t get me wrong, I did get away with some stuff and I did get caught doing other things I shouldn’t have. I expect this of kids of any generation. But because of the availability of information and the willingness of so many to share information with seemingly complete strangers in some regards, where do you draw the line? How much information is too much? When is it not enough?

Parent or not share your thoughts in the comments below.

Bee-lated Valentines

Valentines day is not a big deal around our house. So when I was out of town this year, it wasn’t as though the world would come to an end. But I had to share this, bee-lated as it may be, because of the emotion and heart and soul that was put into it this year.

Amy handmade 2 cards, one for Dean and one for me. Here is what she wrote. And if you are prone to tears at Hallmark commercials, have tissues on hand.

First Dean’s card.

To – Daddy Love/From Amy Didn’t think I’d forget did ya?

Game: Figure out the list!

Awesome. Funny. Smart. Loving. Cool. Caring. Kind. Fun. Nice. Can’t figure it out? Well it’s about all the adjectives that describe you.

There once was a man named Dean. He loved a woman named Michelle and got married and they adopted a so awesomely cool it’s unbelievable daughter. They named her Amy. Amy grew up to think her dad was cool but that grew up to an awesomely nice dude. The End.

Next Michelle’s card.

Happy Beeeelated Valentines Day! (with a bee drawn here too)

To: Michelle Elizabeth Becker (AKA Mom) From: Amy

Didn’t think I’d forget did ya?

Love and hugs to the best mom in the world. I love seeing you everyday! (Except when you’re mad 😦 ) Love you bunches. Amy

Rainbows (drawn) Unicorns (drawn) and Socks (drawn with a hole)

I can’t tell you how much these cards meant to me. Especially after being gone for 10 days away from the two I love most. The work she put into them, the drawings and the sentiment, touched my heart to the very depths. She is one amazing kid.

Push Here

At what point do you actually make your child do something? Even though they say they don’t want to do it. This was the question I had been struggling with for a few weeks. Now I know the answer. At least for this particular situation.

One of the reasons for our move was to have more creative outlets and opportunities for Amy (and us as well). Last night she had the first of one such opportunity. She went to her first acting class. She didn’t know she was going until dinner time. We had intentionally not told her, knowing we would get a negative reaction, which in turn would lead to a sour attitude, and well you parents know how that turns out.

Rewind a few months, I had seen a flyer hanging up at the storage facility we rented for a kids drama school that meets here in Redmond, not to far from where we are living. I mentioned that this might be something fun for her to try since she has such a flair for the dramatic – making up plays and scenes on a whim, and being over the top in her reactions some times too. The idea was met with the typical reaction, “no” and “I don’t want to”. So the subject was dropped.

Fast forward to Christmas break and she’s asking us to give her ideas of things to act out. We would throw out an idea – waiting for the bus while listening to crazy music – as an example. And she would create this entire scene around this one idea. These scenes were pretty funny. Other times it would be something completely random that she would come up with, at any given moment. Imagine living with a female Robin Williams (only not as vulgar – remember she is only 10 after all).

Skip ahead to 2 weeks ago, me with nothing to do but rest after my surgery. I looked up the information again on the acting classes to see when the spring session was starting. Much to my surprise it hadn’t started yet and they still had openings in the class. After discussing it with Dean (out of earshot of prying ears) we decided to go ahead and sign her up. Keep in mind, she still has no idea that we are doing any of this. And of course there is that voice inside my head questioning the decision, are you sure this is a good idea? Will it be a waste of money? Will she resist and be a grump every time she has to go for the next twelve weeks?  There was no way of knowing the answers to these questions, all we could do is just proceed and see what happens.

Now here we are at yesterday. Dean makes plans to take her out to dinner. Just the two of them. She wants to go to KFC (which I don’t particularly like), so it works out well. He picks her up after work and they go to dinner. Still she doesn’t know that she’s going to class after this. While at dinner he tells her that she is going and is met with exactly the reaction we expected. But she goes, accepting the fact, grudgingly, that it is only an hour, one day a week.

Which brings us to the present time. She went in to the class with the  hopes that she wouldn’t like it. Much to her (and our) surprise, she did have fun and seems to be looking forward to going again. Her reaction upon first coming out was lukewarm, but by the time she got home and described it to me, she actually had some enthusiasm in her voice. But what really tipped me off that she had fun was one little statement on twitter that she made “Just got back from my first acting class!!!!!!” I think it was the 6 exclamation points that made me realize we had made a good decision.

So yes, sometimes it just takes a little push (and maybe a clandestine decision) to get the momentum going.

When Did We Forget?

I’m not endorsing it, neither am I condemning it, but I simply write this to ask this question. When did we forget that these are actors, playing a role? We must enjoy it, because we pay for it, not only with our money, but with our time and attention. If we think this is a true representation of who they are, then we must be living in more a fantasy world than the role they are portraying.

There has been a lot of backlash about the new Miley Cyrus video. I know this, because I am a parent, and this is one of the artists my child listens to. And as a parent, it is my responsibility to keep up with what is influencing her. I don’t read every magazine she reads, nor do I listen to every song she listens to, but I do monitor the news and other sites that pertain to her generation.

In all honesty, I have not seen the video the entire way through. I have seen enough of it, and I leave it at that. I will not pass a judgment one way or the other. The only reason being, I don’t feel a need to spend the time watching when I could be doing something else. I’m this way with most videos on line. Unless it relates specifically to the task at hand at that moment or is something that really grabs my attention, I’m not going to watch.

But it brings me back to the point, she is an actor, she is being paid to make music and portray a role. She is not being paid to raise our kids, and she certainly should not be held to such a high, unattainable standard, as some may think she should. It is the parents (or other responsible adult in the child’s life) to be the role model, to set the standard of what is right and wrong.  It is also the parents responsibility to talk with their child, to communicate, and to listen. And make informed decisions, not off the cuff, emotional reactions to something, when you don’t have all the facts.

I don’t write this to start any sort of wars, and quite frankly I’ll be surprised if it receives much traffic at all. I simply write it as a reminder to all, including myself, think and have your facts before you judge. Better yet, don’t judge at all. That’s not our calling. But do what is right for you (and yours) and let the rest take care of themselves.

 

Birth Parents

China dollIf you’ve been following this blog for any period of time, you know that I am the mother to a beautiful daughter, adopted from China. She will be 9 in less than a month, and she is starting to ask those “difficult” questions. No, not the birds & bees questions, but the birth parent questions. Being that she is from China, we have no idea of who her birth parents are or where they were even from. If you don’t know, China has a very restrictive one child policy and often times the mothers will travel to other provinces to give birth and abandon their babies in order to not get caught.

As her parents, we do know some information about where she was found and who found her. We know of her time spent in the orphanage, the fact that she had a “foster” family there, she was healthy, happy, and liked to be outside. We have medical information, although it’s in Chinese so unless someone can translate it, I can’t tell what it means.

She asked the other day, did anyone know my mom in China? No honey, no one knew her? Well how did I get to the orphanage? Someone, we don’t know if it was a man or woman, brought you there. Maybe it was my mom or dad? No sweetheart, it’s unlikely that it was either one of them. Someday I will tell you the entire story, but not today. Okay. Is it scary? No, it’s just right now isn’t the time to get into all the details. And she left it at that.

I will tell her the truth when it comes time to answer her questions. I have documentation and photos to show her. But I am also scared. Scared of how she will react to being “abandoned”. Left alone, outside, on a sidewalk, only 4 days old. I’m 42 and the thought of that breaks my heart every time. What would a child think?

So to all the adoptive parents out there – have you had to handle these questions? If so, at what age did you have to deal with them? How did you answer? How much did you answer?