Tag Archives: Allison

Grandma Lee’s Funeral

Dress covered in wrinkles and iron juice, I try to seem as put-together as my cousin.

Dress covered in wrinkles and iron juice, I try to seem as put-together as my cousin.

My weekend might have been worse than yours. We flew to Athens, Georgia, for my grandmother’s funeral. Reed calls me the velcro member of “The Family” (the core family: my two sisters and our parents). I am the detachable/re-attachable obligation.

24 hours until the funeral:
Reed, Luc, and I arrive at Bob Hope International Airport relaxed, ready for caffeine, and determined to make the best of a funeral weekend. Michael, our Southwest ticketing agent, cringes as he breaks the news that we are at the wrong airport. Our flight will leave from LAX as scheduled, and we would need teleportation to board on time.

22 hours until the funeral:
The Great Wrong Airport Debacle of 2015 resolved (thank you, Southwest!!), we scuttle through security where I nervously present an expired driver’s license and my antique passport. A text from my sister pings that we should not stop by our parents’ house (both of my sisters are staying there) when we get to town because Mom is stressed. I figure she must only want family around her at a time like this. Oh wait. I am family.

11 hours until the funeral:
We hobble into the Holiday Inn of Athens, Georgia, at 1am. Luc is asleep. I am 18% alive. The empty bottle of saline surprises Reed anew, and he makes his monthly dash to a 24 hour drugstore.

4 hours until the funeral:
A text from my sister pings that we should not go to our parents’ house today before the funeral because Mom is overwhelmed. I figure she must want family around her at a time like this. Oh wait…

3 hours until the funeral:
A text from my sister pings that we should absolutely be on time for the funeral. The Family will arrive promptly at noon, and I’d better be there waiting. Or else. I silently question 5 hours of flying, 4 hours of laying over, and 3 hours of driving for this.

1 hour until the funeral:
The hotel iron is a union member who already worked 40 hours this week. My dress, covered in wrinkles and large ovals of iron juice, has reached a new level of suitcase chic.

11:15 AM:
We arrive at the church and debate parking in the spaces marked “Funeral.” My husband insists we can’t park there because “those spaces are for family only.” Really? Really?? Velcro Girl growls.

Noonish:
The Family arrives. Mom moves and speaks with a quiet fluidity. I think she is medicated. We file into a gargantuan sanctuary. Ambitious choice for a 99 year old’s funeral. Surprise baptism! My sister scheduled an adult baptism for herself. Today. An hour before our grandmother’s funeral. The Family is pleased and does not offer an explanation.

12:15 PM:
Miraculously, energetic, excited-to-see-each-other-after-a-whole-year 5 and 7 year-old cousins remain quietly pretend-somber. Sort of. Mom invites everyone to view a short, silent slide show of Grandma Lee through the years. It loops. And loops. For 45 minutes.

Grammy promises her fading grandchildren tiny, mysterious presents if they behave. Desperate parents hiss time-outs, shoot stink-eyes, and issue death threats to bring the impossible to fruition: happy, hungry, bored, quiet, calm children.

Post Funeral:
The service lasted in the neighborhood of 136 child-years. We file into a room with finger sandwiches and cookie platters. Luc takes a finger sandwich for show, and then shovels 80% of the cookies onto his plate. I pretend not to notice because, frankly, he deserves them.

Eventually we are dismissed and return to the hotel for food and swimming. A stressful, mandatory, The Family style dinner closes the day.

24 Hours Post Funeral:
Reed packed with an air of time abundance. We arrive at our gate hungry and just in time to board. Hopefully trail mix will satiate us for the next 5 hours. “Attention please: we have a passenger on board with a peanut allergy. No peanuts or peanut products will be permitted today. Thank you!” We survive on millions of pretzelito packs and thimbles of orange juice.

Was my weekend worse than yours?

Everything Bagel Life

Raisins ruin Everything bagels.

Raisins ruin Everything bagels.

I want an Everything bagel life. When onions, sesame seeds, salt, poppy seeds, and garlic each add their unique contributions, the result is an extraordinary bagel. The world is a richer place because of that collaboration.

But sometimes I feel like the raisins. Raisins aren’t invited to the Everything bagel party. Everybody knows that raisins would ruin the Everything bagel.

I found an interesting group created for inclusiveness in literature. It was thrilling to read their mission statement. “We recognize all diverse experiences…” They understood that having more books with a rainbow of characters would benefit everyone! This was the Everything bagel I’d been hoping for! But as I read about various grants and contests, I kept bumping into a familiar exclusion:

“Please note: … Being … a parent of … a diverse person will not qualify an otherwise ineligible applicant.”

It made me feel like a foolish raisin for once again trying to find acceptance in an Everything bagel.

My situation is tricky. I’m white, and so I have all the privilege that goes with being white. Is it because of white privilege that people judge me negatively for adopting a black child? We are routinely stared at, yelled at, scolded, mocked, threatened, harassed, bullied, dismissed, and excluded (see above).

What do I want? I’m not sure. My bio says: “An adoptive mom and former comic strip creator, I want to add to the diversity on the bookshelves by telling silly stories through a family that looks like mine: transracial and full of love.” I want to be a part of desensitizing people from the curiosity of uniqueness, and sensitizing them to a life of collaboration.

But, I keep getting scolded and told to go back to my Raisin bagel. On top of that, the Raisin bagel isn’t too sure about me anymore either. The raisin bagel thinks I wish I’d been born a poppy seed.

It always leaves me wondering, “Am I doing this right?”

Life Questioned: Did You Buy Luc?

When a conversation seems headed toward "orphanage," Luc shuts it down. Firmly.

When a conversation seems headed toward “orphanage,” Luc shuts it down. Firmly.

The other day, Luc and I were hanging out with a 7 year old family friend. Kind of out of the blue, she asked a blunt question. For the rest of the conversation, my only thought was, “Am I doing this right?”

Julie: “Did you have Luc in your tummy, or did you buy him?”

Me: “God brought our family together through adoption. Luc was not in my tummy.”

Luc: “I don’t want to talk about this.”

Me: “Fair enough, Luc. Is it okay if Julie asks me questions with her Mom when you are not around?”

Luc: “Not if she’s gonna come to me afterward with even more questions.”

Me: “OK. Julie, can we promise that I’ll answer your questions, and that you won’t try to talk to Luc about this unless he says it’s okay?”

(Silence.)

Luc: “She’s not promising.”

Me: “Julie, have you ever been through something in your life that was really hard, and you don’t want to talk about it?”

Julie: “Yes.”

Me: “That’s how Luc feels about this subject. Does that make sense?”

Julie: “Yes.”

Me: “So, can you two agree that you won’t ask each other about the hard stuff you’ve been through that you don’t want to talk about?”

Both: “Yes.”

Me: “Thanks, y’all. And by the way, Julie, I want to be clear about one thing that is absolutely true. I love Luc exactly as much as your Mom loves you.”

Julie: “I don’t know about that. My Mom loves me the biggest number.”

Me: “I know! And that’s how much I love Luc, too!”

Then Julie and Luc argued over which amount of love was bigger: infinity or googleplex. But how many zeroes does googleplex have? We would need to google it. “We need to Google googleplex.” Giggles. And we closed the conversation giggling about Googling googleplex.

Daily Dictionary – Aardvark

“an African animal with a long snout and a long sticky tongue that feeds mostly on ants and termites and is active at night” (Merriam-Webster Children’s Dictionary)

Aardvark walkin' to the store to grab a pack of cigarettes.

Aardvark walkin’ to the store to grab a pack of cigarettes.

USE IT IN A SENTENCE!
Snot and ants flew everywhere when the aardvark sneezed.

aardvark-sneeze

Parenting Disapproval: My Son is a Hot Proton

My son has been asking about being baptized at church for a while (Read: many months.) (I’m not stalling, it’s just that schedule issues got in the way). Today was finally the day. We went over to the church office to talk about it with the youth minister. (She is wonderful!!)


Luc’s normal energy level is similar to a proton’s. Depriving him of sleep is like adding heat to the proton. We are on day [I’m-too-embarrassed-to-say] of late to bed and early to rise. On top of this, Luc is scared of the baptism process, he’s sure it means swimming naked in front of the whole church. (To any non-Christians: baptism is a clothing required activity.)

My little hot proton and his little hot attitude vibrated into the youth pastor’s office and found a giant stability ball to bounce! Two hot hydrogens and an oxygen. I’ve got boiling water on my hands. But the youth pastor handled my little Luc-ton beautifully. (It may not surprise anyone to learn that all of my chemistry teachers rock back and forth with their arms around their knees when they hear my name.)

We met for a long time. Luc revealed a lot about his beliefs and hopes and fears. We even came away with a pencil sketch of a plan for a future baptism once Luc makes his final decision.

By the time we said good-bye to the youth pastor, it was so late that someone else had to unlock the main door. They chatted with us for a bit. But Luc’s increasing fatigue had lowered his temperment to the red zone: kicking my purse. But wait, there’s more! And when I repeatedly asked him to stop, he smiled ear to ear, winked, and resumed kicking my purse!!

I was super embarrassed. It was one of those Mommy moments where you promise everyone that the behavior is unusual, and nobody believes you. I wondered aloud (rookie mistake) if his behavior was due to fatigue or an independence stage.

Response (closed-mouth smile with raised eyebrows): “Well, they behave if you give them what they need.”

(Wait. What? Am I being accused of neglecting my son’s needs? I’m being told to my face right now that my son’s behavior is unreasonable and that I’m a bad mom?)

Me (tension-relief joke): “Or if you give them what they want, am I right? Haw?”

Response: “Oh no, they’ll never behave if you give them what they want too much.”

Okay, well thanks. It was great chatting with ya! And I walked away with my terrible mom tail tucked between my terrible mom legs. Today, the answer to the name of my blog is evidently NO.

  • Observation: That last part sucked. And that person was out of line. But the implied insults hurt my feelings. And made me doubt myself and, worse of all, my sweet son.
  • Application: I need to focus on the fact that my son is an amazing, strong, kind, independent child. He thinks deeply about his faith. He decided himself that he wanted to be baptized! Plus, I appropriately and successfully taught him about faith in a God who is love.

Dear Peach Parents with Chocolate Children,

I ran into something yesterday that was a solid reminder to stay vigilant. Because sometimes people are just big, fat, ignorant honkeys. Nothing against white people, some of my best friends are white. (That’s a joke, because I’m white.) Anyway, I mistook a Smiling Face for a friend…

“Your enemy won’t do you no harm
Cause you’ll know where he’s coming from
Don’t let the handshake and the smile fool ya
Take my advice I’m only tryn’ to school ya”
Read more: Temptations – Smiling Faces Sometimes Lyrics | MetroLyrics

It is a TERRIBLE feeling to get duped! Betrayed. Tricked. So I have compiled the beginning of a list that might (maybe) help adoptive parents to spot “Smiling Faces”…

#1: “Why isn’t there a White History Month?”
If your friend complains that the African American teacher facilitates constructive discussions about race too much, your antennae should go up. Teaching children to be “color blind” teaches them that color is bad. P.S. White History Month actually does exist! You can learn more about important white figures in the months of January through December each year.

#2: “The Sin of Provocation”
If your friend’s child bites your child and then she blames your child for driving her child to bite, your antennae should go up. Biting is never okay, and it is never the fault of the victim. Duh.

#3: “There is some truth in stereotypes, why else would they exist?”
If your friend ignores concrete evidence and assumes that your black, male child is a trouble maker who struggles with academics more than her white child, your antennae should go up. Everyone wants to think that their child is a genius, but it is nobody’s right to convince your child that he or she is less than what they are.

#4: “Mean People Suck”
If you and/or your child come away from play dates feeling inadequate, your antennae should go up. True friends will be kind to you and leave you feeling encouraged.

#5: “Microaggression Theory”
Suggest meeting at the library so that you can observe your children interacting with each other while they work on homework. If your friend shows up with the child’s Auntie who happens to teach the grade your children are in, you should run. Just run. Know you’ve been ambushed and run. It will end with the Auntie explaining why her niece or nephew is a saint and your child is a goading pre-criminal.

The fact that our children have been through too much too soon makes them survivors, not monsters. They are exceptional and strong. We must publicly celebrate them and stand up for them at all times.

Nobody gets to parent my child but ME.

To 31 year old Luc (if you have issues with cavities):

Note: If 31 year old Luc does not have issues with cavities, please totally disregard and immediately destroy the following babblings.

Dearest 31 year old Luc,

very tired mom

Mom under the influence of exhaustion (mental and physical).

I love you. You know that. You were always a high-energy, strong-willed child. You know that too. Strong-willed children can be tiring. When you were two, you caused mayhem. I’d sigh, “Aw Luuuuc…” and you would double over with laughter. I used to have a private Jerry Maguire joke with myself during times of friction; I would think to myself, “You deplete me.” But, no matter how frustrated or exhausted I became, I always made sure to tell you that I loved you without condition.

So, about the teeth. The guilt is really getting to me. I know I should scrape myself off the floor and brush your teeth after you brush each time, but the inevitable battle… Ohhh the inevitable battle. I just… It’s just… I never do it. I won’t say I can’t do it because we’ve all seen the You Tube videos of the blind or deaf, one-legged and/or no armed, three-toed hermaphrodite puppy climbing Mt. Everest while singing “Nearer to Thee.” Or something similar. Can’t is a big word. I could, but I don’t. I hold myself accountable.

The thing is there are a million things, like teeth, that I need to scrape myself off the floor to take care of: that bump in your nose, hair cuts*, pink sludge, soy, bathing, ash attacks*, pedophiles, room tidiness, holey socks, playing Wii until your eyes glaze over and you forget how to swallow, and on and on. I can find two degrees of separation from any activity and DEATH. Because I’m a Mom. It is a mother’s curse to know that everything can lead to permanent damage. God gave us the superpower of foresight, but He didn’t provide any antidotes!!!

You will probably read this and feel resentment. You might even show it to your future therapist. And you’ll both agree that I should not have let a 7 year old’s temper tantrums dictate my behavior: She should have ignored the rage, and brushed his teeth after he brushed. At least once per day, right? I mean couldn’t she manage even once per day??

No, 31 year old Luc and his future therapist, I can’t manage once per day. I can manage once per week. Usually.

But, no 7 year old can possibly comprehend the permanent consequences of dental hygiene!

I know. I tried to explain them to him.

But that’s insane!

I know that too. I’m sorry.

Sorry?! Say sorry to TSA as their wands go crazy over a mouthful of fillings!

If that would help, I will. Maybe. If I have the energy.

You really are unbelievable, you one-sided conversation having nut jo—

Don’t you talk to your mother like that!

I’m not!! I’m reading this! YOU are typing it!!

I need you to check your tone, son.

You are not a sane person.

I realize this. And sometimes I cling to one of the benefits of being an adoptive mother: I can claim with near certainty that enduring my neuroses is better for you than enduring [insert negative unknowable alternative]. It’s a low bar, but a moderately comforting one. Also, I know you know, and your future therapist knows, and you know your future therapist knows you know I love you. And love conquers all?

In conclusion, I love you very much. I’ve made sure you know you are loved. Your daily hygiene is an acknowledged suboptimal situation. But I love you very much. And I love you. Did I mention I love you?

Now, who wants ice cream?

*It’s a black thing.