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Raising Boys in a Dangerous World

I was feeling badly about not blogging frequently. Now I am feeling badly that I feel like I need to blog about something. I wish I didn’t know the name Trayvon Martin because I would not know his name if he was still living. And yet, I wish I had heard his name earlier. I don’t watch the news often and often read international news sources more than American news sources, so it could be my fault that I only learned Trayvon’s story this week, nearly a month after his death. But when I googled for blogs about Trayvon not much came up. Is there a reason we aren’t talking about this? I know that I am tearing up just already writing this. Is it just too much to talk about, too emotional for us as mothers?

The mama post that most got me is MamaCandtheBoys’ Wearing a hoodie and sweatpants or… I am so glad she chose to share the photo of her adorable, precious, vulnerable son. It seems to be such a brave choice right now.

I don’t fully understand the law in Florida. I don’t know what justice can or will be served. Can and will are very, very separate in this case. I do know that nearly 1,500,000 people have signed a petition asking that George Zimmerman is prosecuted.

I don’t know what happened or who said what, even after listening to all of the 911 calls. (I had to post this link because it was difficult for me to find them because it seems people have been using it for SEO.)

I think that Michael Skolnik may have stepped on a few toes with his article White People, You Will Never Look Suspicious Like Trayvon Martin, but I don’t think he is wrong.

I know that yesterday, there was a “Million Hoodies” march in New York City to draw attention to Trayvon’s death, so maybe I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t heard about it.

I have heard (but not found confirmation) that Trayvon was on the phone with his girlfriend when he noticed George Zimmerman watching him. I have heard that she told him to run, but he said he did not want to. I will assume that Trayvon’s parents had The Talk with him, and he knew that running for safety could exacerbate the situation. I’m afraid that knowing that George Zimmerman ignored the 911 dispatcher’s instructions, nothing could have truly entirely kept him from harm.

As a mama, that is what scares me the most. As parents of brown children or black children, especially as parents of sons, we must prepare them for the assumption of trouble. While I prefer to assume the best of people, I know that the worst will be assumed of our sons. How can we ever prepare them enough even to manage the most sane of those who are prejudiced to expect the worst?

Corey Dade gave us a few thoughts from what his parents taught him. A dear friend who has a son on the verge of leaving adolescence, told me that she has talked to him about never wearing his hood up because it can increase negative perceptions… and he is an attractive, intelligent, well-spoken white boy. The worse has been assumed of him simply because he is a male teenager, and he is white. Our brown sons and black sons will be pulled over simple for driving. They will be followed in stores. They will not be allowed to date certain girls because their families do not approve.

I hadn’t yet thought about not wearing hoods up, but we will definitely have that conversation. Beyond hoodies, we will talk about perceptions of sagging and other fashion choices. I will explain to my boys that being well spoken is not bougie, but a way to encourage others to expect positive things from them. We have to talk about how perceptions can be changed by posture and gait and mannerisms. I am more likely to ensure that my boys drive cars that are clean and well cared for.

The pressure of self-preservation that requires such maturity and awareness of our boys before they are truly capable of such things crushes my heart for every one of these boys. It is overwhelming and perhaps why we don’t want to talk about Trayvon. But we cannot ignore it. We cannot pretend it isn’t reality. We cannot fool ourselves that there are not people out there who cannot see past the color of one’s skin. We cannot believe that the world is safe.

What we can do is support each other as mothers. Regardless of the color of our skin, regardless of whether our children are adopted or biological, no matter if our children are black or brown, we are all still mothers raising children in this dangerous, prejudiced world. We can support each other when the world is cruel to our children. We can learn from each other. I will support you. Will you help me? What will you teach your sons to keep them safe? What should I be teaching my boys?

Edit: I need to add this link to How to Talk to Young Black Boys About Trayvon Martin. I am sure there are more things we need to teach our sons, but this is a good place to start.

Laundry, Housework, and Parenting, Oh My!

I promised you guys a lighter post. I certainly don’t want this to only be a place where I rant about things that I cannot say publicaly. I realize this is public, but most of you do not know who I am “in real life”. I would love to tell you about the Valentines date I had with S-man, but I am afraid it wouldn’t translate well. I would think it was humorous, but someone would comment with ‘the nerve of him.’ So I’ll suffice it to say that I am loved and I am happy, but S-man certainly isn’t prepared for a traditional relationship. I guess I’m not all that traditional myself, anyway.

Before I get into any real content, I want to say that things are really great around the BNL house. Junior is sick often, but it is never anything major. We have settled back in after the remodeling. Pinterest has helped me re-discover my inner wanna-be domestication. I have a lot of freedom in my job right now, so it is easy to balance time with S-man when he is not traveling for business (he travels more than he doesn’t these days) with cooking, cleaning, and spending time with the kids.

In my domestication, I have really mastered the laundry problem I see many other moms on twitter complain about. While this works for me, it may not be as easy for those of you that are in an office 40+ hours per week. I work from home three days each week (two if there are big meetings). On the days I am home (weekends too), I do one load of laundry. One load isn’t much to remember to move as I am making more coffee or taking a bathroom break. One load isn’t much to fold while on a teleconference or listening to the report of ome ones day at work or school. One load isn’t much to put away at bedtime. There have been messy days when I have done several loads, but those are generally about stain prevention.

I’ve actually caught myself washing some things more often, simply because I have the time. Mostly I have learned that I have way more clothes than necessary, yet another symptom of first world excess. I continue to downsize my definition of need, and I hope to continue to reduce the amount of stuff we use and store. So, tell me your hints to downsizing mentally and physically!

I’m still working on the clean one thing each day tip I found on Pinterest. It’s definitely an improvement, but I think my chore list and Trey’s chore list need some alterations. What chores do you think are appropriate for a kindergartener? I’m trying to teach housework as simply something we do to take care of our home, just like we brush our teeth every day or exercise every day. I haven’t used chores as punishment, and I don’t want to unless it is a natural or logical consequence liking cleaning up a mess that was made.

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