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No matter how far along I get in life, I'll always refer to myself as "That chick that grew up poor in the drug-filled streets of Port Arthur, Texas." Always a bad ass!

Right now, I'm going through a top-down transformation. I'm starting with my hair - taking it from processed to natural; and so far I'm loving it. Get updates on my process on newtonatural.com.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting My Child to Act as Smart as She Is

So, I've gotten feedback from a co-worker having a similar problem, which caused me to give the issue of Being Smart But Not Acting Smart some more thought. At the time I began blogging about my daughter's piss poor attitude and good grades, I was more than a little annoyed with this chick {still am}, and could not see the larger view of what's going on here.

Here. I'll internalize a bit.

When I was 3, I learned how to read. When I was 5, I began writing books about what my life would be like. When I was 8, I entered into a talented and gifted program that I participated in until I graduated from high school. Of course, I almost did not graduate because I skipped so much school that they wanted to hold me back due to excessive absences.

My Mom was furious when she realized what I'd done. "What the hell?!!" she asked; or let's be honest, screamed.

Here's the real: I was smart. Way too smart. But girls, especially Black girls, are not supposed to be smart. So, until I decided to suppress my thoughts and my little proper speech, it was really hard to fit in.

I worked so hard at trying to fit in. I just took on the full armor of ignorance: smart ass mouth, know-it-all attitude, rebellious as hell.

I gained some instant popularity by pretending to be dumb. And I was actually really good at that, too. And got more praise from my peers for it. They loved to see me get into trouble, skip school, and miss out on opportunities. I had to become an adult to realize why. This is just too big for a child to fathom.

Kids that don't have it going on want to believe that you suck too, so they can believe they have a chance in life. They won't try to improve, but if they see you decline, they will feel like they have.

Let's bring it home now. How do you help your child get it?

-- You love her. Those kids that are encouraging her to be dumb don't.

-- Getting good grades is easy for her because she's smart. Not everyone else has that knack for learning.

-- Being smart, over the long-term, will help her get further in life than the bad attitude.

-- And, dammit, if she does not pull it together, you're going to put a size 7.5 Adidas in her rear because you know what the deal is and you will not stand by and allow this bull to fly.

Well, contrary to all indications of my potty mouth, I have to turn to prayer. I don't really know what else to do, but I've learned that prayer fixes all things. I've learned that me and God is greater than the world. I'm not a child psychologist or a family counselor so I'm not going to give it to you like that. Pray. Logging off because I'm going to get a little knee time in myself.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good Grades, Bad Attitude

What do you do with the child that gets great grades but has a piss poor attitude? The child whose attitude is so jacked up, you can even justify rewarding the effort she put into earning grades. This is insane!

All week, I've been asking my daughter to see her report card. The boys received their report card on Friday of last week, so I KNEW Erica would be volunteering hers up some time soon.

I asked her Monday. Nope. I asked her Tuesday. Nope. Today, my boyfriend mentioned grades, and it occurred to me. I still have not seen this kids report card.

I asked, ", where is your report card?" She sighed, reached into her robe pocket, and handed me the piece of paper.

I asked, "Why did you not tell me you got your report card today. I've been waiting to see it. "

She looked me dead in the eye, sighed and said, "You asked me all week. I was waiting for you to ask me again today."

My response was, "Oh, OK. How about you bring me your phone and cable box, and go to bed at 9:30 for a couple of weeks? Maybe that will help you with that attitude."

I looked at her report card, and the grades are good. I just hate that I could not even celebrate her accomplishment. She took that away from me because she's just always trying to upset me. Why? Why? I love this child that looks JUST like me. . So, why the attitude?

Monday, January 11, 2010

What if I had had my Dad in my Life as a Child?

I attended my Dad Joe's funeral Friday, and I'm here to tell the story. Instead of telling the story of how my half-brother tried to make me feel insignificant - even during my Dad's funeral ceremony - I'll tell the story of how the relationship that wasn't was, and how I think it's made an amazing difference in my life.

As a little girl, I fantasized ALL the time about how amazing it would be to have my Dad in my life. A couple of my friends had Dad's, and I just could not understand why I did not. I've accepted God's divine plan at this point, but on my bad days, it's still hard to accept what I lacked as a child.

-- I wanted to give my Dad all the crappy cards we were forced to create in elementary school to celebrate Father's Day.
-- I wanted to eat with my Dad at the Girl Scout's Father/Daughter luncheons.
-- I wanted my Dad's honorable name to display on my report card in that blank "Parent" field just below my Momma's.
-- I wanted my Dad to scare all the boys that gathered the nerve up to come to our house. I mean, my Mom did it, but it just wasn't the same.
-- I wanted my Dad to teach me guy stuff: fishing, boxing, killing bugs. Shit, scratching, I don't care!
-- At every parent-teacher conference, when the subject came up, I would've been happy as heck if my Dad would've been able to chime in when the snotty teacher asked my Momma if "a man was in the home."

Honestly, I just wanted some normalcy; not normal to my neighborhood or my little impoverished city where about 80% of the households were led by women (with no men), but normal to TV: Cosby Show, Leave it to Beaver, Family Ties, A.L.F., well damn, even The Simpsons.

So, I've come to grip with my childhood. I'm 34 and a Christian, so I've let go of the unfairness of not having my Dad in my life.

Besides, since the age of 18, my Dad has been amazing. He truly became my best friend.

-- My Dad knew that I got off at 5pm to go home, he'd call me 4 or 5 times a week and talk to me until I got home.
-- I almost dropped out of college, but my Dad came through with tuition to keep me in.
-- My Dad was amazing with my boisterous, hyper, always sports-minded sons - keeping them distracted for my entire trip to Texas by playing, football, catch, and "boy games" with them.
-- I could count on my Dad for giving me an honest insight on what made men tick. . He was an old Baptist minister, but he did not pull any punches. He always called a spade a spade.
-- When my Mom passed away, my Dad was my rock. I'm not touchy-feely, but I happen to know that if he did not hold me so tight during the entire ordeal, I would've fallen apart and just faded away. .
-- My Dad said he was sorry. He said he was sorry for hurting me. And that heartfelt apology, along with my faith in God, made the sting of him making me feel invisible as a child wear away.

The relationship with my dad that I was able to build over the last 15.5 years has taught me that God works in his own time. He truly is right on time, even if while you are going through it feels like you will not make it through. My Dad showed up in my life when I needed a Dad in my life; even though at the time I thought I was grown and did not realize it. He STILL helped me to grow into the woman I am today: strong, affectionate, forgiving, confident, humble. These are the attributes he brought to the table.. and I was able to absorb from the warmth he gave off.

It's not that my Momma did not do a kick-ass job raising 6 kids. She did. But after existing as a child the way that I did, my focus is on making sure I am not an obstacle to relationship between my children and their father.

I can't force it, but I'll never stand in the way. I won't be the cause of my child one day asking the question I can't help but to ask myself, "What if I had had my Dad in my Life as a Child?"

I'll do my part. The rest is up to Dude.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

From Teenage Mother to Parenting a Teenager - Ooooh, Scary

Occasionally, me and my Mom would get into a disagreement that would make my mom so fed up that she would force a conclusion to the discussion by saying, "Wait 'till you have your own kids. You'll see."

As a kid, I felt like just getting that statement out of her meant that I had won the argument. Whatever she was saying that I did not agree with would be heard no more because I had forced a conclusion to the discussion. . But then there's the element of Kharma.

When I was 17, my mom's warning rang in my ears when my doctor told me I was pregnant with a baby girl. It was a very fleeting moment because I was too immature at the time to even recognize the song that began to play in the background as this story began. I was elated!

After all the griping my Mom did at me to go to school, to work hard, to show her respect, to LISTEN, I would show her! I would be an awesome (teenage) mother. I would never fuss. I would give my daughter all the space she needed. I would treat her like a princess. I would be her very best friend in the whole wide world.

Now, fast forward SIXTEEN years later to today. I find myself raising a kid that looks and acts JUST LIKE ME. I'm not old enough to have forgotten what I was going through at her age, but she won't believe me when I tell her that because as far as she's concerned, I'm old. . I have no clue what's going on because I was NEVER a teenager.

  • [INSERT DAUGHTER'S NAME HERE], your bedtime is 10 pm, why are you up at midnight? RESPONSE: Mommy, you probably don't get this, but young people don't get sleepy at 10 pm. That's for old people!
  • [INSERT DAUGHTER'S NAME HERE], your hair is beautiful. I do not want you to die your hair black. RESPONSE: Why are you trying to control me? I'm not like everyone else, Mommy. I want to be my own person.
  • [INSERT DAUGHTER'S NAME HERE], if I don't know this friend, I do not feel comfortable allowing you to go over to their house or even having them spend the night in my home. RESPONSE: Mommy, you can't know ALL my friends. I have hundreds of friends.
  • [INSERT DAUGHTER'S NAME HERE], I have no problem with you traveling. Just give me time to coordinate my schedule, so I can enjoy that time with you. RESPONSE: Mom, I don't need you crowding my space every time I step out of the house. I got this!
  • [INSERT DAUGHTER'S NAME HERE], I promise that you will NOT die if you do not have those new jeans. RESPONSE: Mommy, you just don't understand!
Needless to say, my Mom's prediction was absolutely true. Sh e probably could not have predicted that my turmoil would be the result of becoming a teenage parent, but damn, did she have to be so right about everything else?

God, I wish I could apologize to her now for being a huge PIA, to tell her that I know now that she did understand, and to thank her for showing me true stick-with-it-ness in taking care of a rebellious teen because ALL of that knowledge is really handy right about now. It keeps this "old" mom sane; and reminds her that at some point, even if I'm not here to see it, there's an end to this sort of grief.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The New Years Resolutions that Will Not Be

What a weird beginning to 2010. I'm so blah. . not feeling like I've shed the grief of 2009 and accepted all the new opportunities that are awaiting in 2010. Right now, I'm really just fakin' it 'til I make it.

As I always do, I started my list of New Years Resolutions. I do not remember anymore what #1 was, but #2 was to spend more time with my Dad. "More Time" as opposed to seeing him twice a year despite his constant pleas for more time. Arrrrrrrrgh. .

Joseph James Johnson, my Dad, passed away at 10 am on January 31, 2009 of prostate cancer. I was not there. I was at home planning for a party. I now hurt, and I carry a lot of regret with me in 2010. I know I will forget this mistake, but I will not forget the lesson, "Don't put off to tomorrow. . " I'm 34, but still learning the same damn lesson.. "

I remember which New Years resolution pertained to my Dad because that's as far as I got on the list. At the time I started, it was really important to record my list. I wanted to commit to the entire list, so I started it as a blog posting. Then, something happened. Maybe a child whined, or a friend text messaged, or the phone rang. I don't really know, but some distraction took me away from the list of New Year To Dos, and I never picked it back up.

And that's the way my life as gone so many times I could not count the instances to save my life. I've made a realization that I have to do something; something life-changing and long overdue. Then, I've gotten distracted by the details of life itself.

Well, what I won't do is to ever pen/type/speak another list of New Years resolutions. What I will do is to live/love/laugh for today. I will say "I love you" to the people I love with every opportunity. I will spend more time with the people I love and less with those that I'm iffy about. I will cherish the gifts that God has given me if only as a way to give him additional praise. I will not procrastinate. I will do more for others, even if it's an inconvenience to me. These are not New Years Resolutions, you see. These statements are now parts of my life's mission.

I will do better.