As a parent, it’s my goal to train, encourage, listen, observe, guide and discipline. Clearly parenting isn’t just about these things, but that’s the basics. As I have been on this journey and what I have learned from other parents who I respect, there are several “rules”, or as I like to call them, truths, that this kid needs to have as part of his foundation. This is just the start to the list. I know I will add more. I know that as we grow and evolve, as a family, things will need to be added or shifted, and I am ok with that.
Truth #1—Be nice to EVERYONE! You NEVER know whom you are in the presence of! Just be nice—even when they aren’t nice to you! They may not be nice to you because you are Ethiopian-American. They may not be nice to you because you are awesome. They may not be nice to you for a number of options or reasons. That’s ok—still be nice. They won’t know what to do with your niceness. *This doesn’t mean you are a doormat and allow people to walk all over you.
Truth #2—Your penis should be used for good and NOT evil! Obviously, I will expand upon this when you’re a wee (no pun intended) older.
Truth #3—There is such a thing as skank! Love her because God loves her, but don’t date her, sleep with her or marry her.
Truth #4—Jumping off a roof into a swimming pool is just strait unwise—don’t be stupid.
Truth #5—You WILL go to college. It can be trade school, medical school, whatever, but the “School of Hard Knocks” ain’t college!
Truth #6—Allow yourself to fall in love. It’s scary and you could get hurt, but don’t let that keep you from loving and loving someone else with all that you are!
Truth #7—It’s ok to cry, but… make it worth it. Losing the NCAA Championship—cry, Baby! Slamming your finger in the door—cry, my love! First person you ever loved dumps you for someone else—let it go and cry Konjo! Getting a “B” on a paper—um NO!!!
Truth #8—Laugh out LOUD. Continue to find life funny! Laugh every day—several times a day! Along with this—be funny. You can be funny and not be the “class clown”. People love being around someone who makes them laugh!
Truth #9—When people show you who they are—believe them. I can’t take credit for this one, but thank you Oprah for having Maya Angelou on your show when she shared this. Take it to heart. People rarely change. Allow them to be who they are, but when they show you who they are—good, bad or ugly—it’s probably the truth!!!
Truth #10—Respect people and their space. The only people we don’t respect are people who touch your penis or booty.
Truth #13—Know the difference between compassion and feeling sorry for someone. Compassion moves you to do something about it. It inspired you to want to have mercy for them and spring into action to do something immediately. Feeling sorry just does that—you feel sorry for them.
Truth #14—Look at the bigger picture. I know that it can be tough to see past the “right now”, but just knowing that there is a bigger picture may help you.
Truth #15—There are 3 sides to every story—his side, her side, and the truth! Don’t jump to conclusions or assumptions without the whole story. Take a step back, look at #14 and then at #29!
Truth #16—There is no such thing as “woman’s work”. Knowing how to do dishes and laundry and baking and cooking and cleaning makes you AWESOME!
Truth #17—TRAVEL. Explore the world. Don’t pass up the opportunity to see how other people live, experience history, and step outside your “world”. Embrace cultures and language and food and life!!! It will truly change your life for the good.
Truth #18—Be courageous. It’s tough sometimes. There are so many things that you need courage for. Here is a quick list—asking someone out on a date, loving, climbing a mountain, going to college, driving, sky diving, trusting, asking someone to dance, giving someone a Valentine and they don’t even know your name, ordering something on a menu that you can’t pronounce the name of, and so on and so on. You can also refer to #20, 23, 16, and 27!
Truth #19—Technology is your friend, but it doesn’t replace REAL friends.
Truth #20—Not everyone will believe in your dreams, and that’s ok—keep dreaming (but you also need to have a real job at some point in your life!).
Truth #21—Celebrate yourself. Don’t do it to the point of being a jerk, but you need to be your best advocate, strongest encourager and celebrate each day.
Truth #22—Unless you can sing—just DON’T do Karaoke. Trust me.
Truth #23—Be a maverick. Don’t just follow the crowd. Be a trailblazer. Use words that aren’t “cool” just to change it up a bit. This keeps people on their toes. *It also shows them that you are not just a follower!
Truth #27—Take responsibility. This applies to your choices and actions. Once you make a decision about something, it’s now on you to take responsibility (good or bad) for what happens next. And it’s ok to be wrong! Please see #’s 1-4, 11, 12, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26!
Truth #28—Grunting, rolling the eyes, loud/audible guffaws are NOT acceptable responses. EVER!
Truth #29—Listen. When someone speaks to you, listen to them. When someone you care about says “no” in an intimate situation, it means no. When a teacher tells you to do something (unless it’s #10 or 11), you listen to them. When a friend needs to talk, please listen. Sometimes listening could save someone’s life.
Truth #30—If someone looks like they need a hug, they probably do. If you don’t really know them, ask before you go in for one. But, for the most part, sometimes, people can use a good hug!
I know! I know. I have only been a Mama for a little over 2 years and this certainly DOES NOT make me an expert, but what I am pretty secure in, I am a good Mom to MY kid. For some of you, you might think this post should be written by Jen from Kansas, but I have Had! It! up! To! HERE!!!
So there is a certain person in my life (who is probably reading this right now—yeah, I am talking to YOU). At first glance, it might seem that she unconditionally loves me and K-man. She “loves” to go out to lunch with us or come over and “hang out”. However, after some digging, she really only wants to hang out with us to critique my parenting and offer parenting advice. While I know that I should ask for help a lot more than I do, I do want to be the best Mommy I can to K-man, so I don’t mind critiquing and offers of advice from people I trust. I don’t mind input. On the other hand, constantly negative ideas, unsolicited advice and things that absolutely go against my parenting plan are no longer wanted or needed.
You don’t have kids and don’t want them—God bless you for that. I completely respect that choice/decision. So keep your “expert advice” to yourself, please. Furthermore, you have no clue how other 3 or 4 year olds act and even when we see a nasty, ugly example of a kid running around in a restaurant almost knocking over the waiter or a kid pushing another kid off the slide and laughing about it, you are quick to point out some other “thing” that K does that you feel labels him “out of control.”
For anyone who has spent time with us, you know that my son is active. You know that he talks ALL THE TIME. You know that he is constantly asking questions. You know that he wants to have my attention for pretty much any and everything. You also know that he uses his manners (most of the time). You also know that he (tries) to share. You also know that he loves his friends, Nana and Grandpa and me. You know that he doesn’t always listen to me all the time. You know that he doesn’t always want to hold my hand. You know that he has a mind and opinion of his own (just like his Mama). You know that he is sweet and charming and witty and funny and ALL BOY! He loves the dirt, he isn’t afraid of anything and loves to climb and jump! All of which, as far as I can tell, are part of being 4!
So thank you “friend” for trying to tell me how to parent him and where I am doing a crappy job. Thank you “friend” for not knowing the first thing about being a parent, but being an expert. And from now on, when/if you try to correct me, scold me, or even tell me how to “fix” something—I have a few words for you—SUCK IT and SHUT UP and I still love you girl, I just don’t need your advice!!!
I think ages 3 and 4 are the tattle ages, right? I mean, I am sure that it continues into 5, 6, and 7 (and so on), but I haven’t gotten that far in our familial journey, so I can only speak to what I have already experienced. And with a 4 year old—he likes to try to rat out his friends. I have already talked about how I have been working with him on being a good friend and one of these parts of being a good friend is to not rat out your friends, right? I mean, no one likes to hang out with someone who isn’t gonna keep your secrets.
So, having said that, we have a rule in our house about tattle telling…I don’t want to hear it. If Cooper Jack took your car—ask for it back nicely. If Bradley threw sand at you, ask him to stop nicely! If he does it again, walk away and go play somewhere else! Jeesh!
Now, please note that there is a time that he is allowed to tattle—if someone is touching his penis or his booty. No, really, that’s the rule! I actually think it’s pretty genius. And it works. It gets to the heart of what he is allowed to tattle about and what is unacceptable. I want him to know the difference between tattling and knowing when someone is hurting him or any of his friends! I don’t expect him to get the full gist of it at 4, but I am laying the foundation for full comprehension! Hey, there are weirdo’s out there—people we may know and strangers! So…here’s the deal, and it’s a rule we can all live by—no tattle telling…unless someone is touching your penis or booty (well, if you don’t want them to! Just sayin’!).
As many of you know, Coach and I broke up. But most of you only know this because we finally updated our Facebook status. Ironically enough, we broke up about 2 weeks earlier but never changed our status because our break up wasn’t traumatic. Our break up wasn’t because of a fight. Our break up wasn’t because of infidelity. Our break up wasn’t because of anything we did or didn’t do to one another. Our break up was between us and only us. The details of which I hope will stay between us and only us.
But the larger question, I guess, is—why didn’t we change our relationship status?! We didn’t change our status because we are going to attempt to be friends. We didn’t change our status because….well, I will say it—we didn’t want the pity party from other people. We didn’t want to put our business in the streets, per se. We had an adult break up!
While most people in my life genuinely care, there are a few people who don’t know anything about my inner circle and I like it that way. I share my life with the people who are closest to me. They know the truth about me. They share my tears, frustrations, and joys. They listen with a non-judgmental ear. I am not someone who likes a bunch of people to be in my business. So…when we talked about it, we both decided that it was better to not change our relationship status since we were still trying to figure some things out as well.
What this also brings up is the bigger question, at least for me it does. Why, at almost 40, do I care what Facebook says or doesn’t say? Why did it feel like another break up (to me) when we did change our relationship status? Why does updating your Facebook status mean that it’s “really” happened? What does it say about our culture that we ALL KNOW EVERYTHING about EVERYONE simply from their status updates, tweets, Instagram photos and relationship status updates?
Clearly, these are purely rhetorical questions, I know the answers, for the most part. So, for those of you who truly care—yes Coach and I broke up. Yes, we still care about each other. Yes, we are hoping that we can remain in each other’s lives. And yes, I guess it is “official” because we updated our status on Facebook!
PS—No, to all the creepers out there—I am not ready to date you now!
I read somewhere once that this dad, instead of asking his kids how their day was at school, would ask them, “What questions did you ask today?!” Once I read this, I loved it. I knew that I would, at the appropriate time, start to incorporate this into our after school chit chats! However, what I wasn’t/haven’t been prepared for are questions that REALLY stump me. It isn’t that I don’t know the answer, I just don’t know how to explain it to a 4 year old. And sometimes, it’s a case of, “You know what kid? You are right!”
This is just a start. I know there are daily questions that my handsomely, witty 4 year old will continue to ask—and thank God for that!!!
These are a few of the questions that…well, I really don’t have a good answer for OR I don’t know how to really explain it in a way that he will understand:
1. Picking your nose and why we just don’t do it!
Me: K, please stop picking your nose.
Me: Because we use a tissue if we have boogers in our nose!
K: But why can’t I just pick it?
Me: (Mentally going through all the reasons I should give him for not doing it and nothing sounds like an honest answer. I have been known to incorporate lies into my parenting plan at times, but nothing great came to mind!) So I never answered him and just let him continue picking his nose!
2. Peeing in the bathtub
Me: K, please go potty before you get in the tub.
Me: Because you don’t wanna go pee pee in the bathtub. The water is supposed to get you clean, not have pee pee in it.
K: But why. The water is gonna be dirty in 2 minutes cause I played hard today (a phrase I use a lot when he comes home from school FILTHY!)
Me: (Again, no real answer for this one! He’s right. And really, is pee all that bad? He usually goes pee before he gets in the bath, but the minute he hits that warm water, he usually has to pee again anyway!)
3. Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.
K: Mommy, she’s a girl! She has a vagina!
Me: Yes Baby, she is a girl!
K: She could have a penis?
Me: If she is a girl, then she probably doesn’t have a penis, but…
K: (cuts me off) but she could…
Me: (since this is taking place at the grocery store, several eyes are on me at this point! Talk of penis’ and vagina’s can do that!) Yes, she could, but…(and I don’t have any words to follow the but… so I leave it hanging there!)
4. Jingle Bells all year long
K: Mommy, can we listen to Jingle Bells?
Me: Baby, we only listen to that at Christmastime.
Me: (Still, no real answer. Why can’t we, huh?! We most certainly can. Well played son, well played! *As I turn on Jingle Bells for him!)
5. K: Mommy, why does warm water make me pee?
Me: Well, because…it just does baby. (Reality is—it relaxes our muscles, including our bladder, so it makes it difficult for us to hold it! However, he has no clue as to what a bladder is, so…basically, not worth trying to open that can of worms, right?).
6. Darth Vader
K: Mommy, why is Darth Vader a bad guy?
Me: Well, he just is.
K: But couldn’t he be a good guy? He’s Luke’s Daddy and Zurg was a bad guy and he was Buzz’s dad and he was good.
Me: This is true and you know how Darth Vader helped Luke when the mean Emperor was zapping him with the lightning?
K: Yeah, so why isn’t he just good all the time?
Me: (Speechless! How do I explain plot and characterization along with rising action, climax and resolution in addition to the fact that he is obsessed with the trilogy, so there is a resolution at the end of each of them, but then there is the ultimate resolution…. Oi vey!). I don’t know Baby.
7. Moon awake at the same time as the sun!
K: Mommy, why is the sun awake, but I can still see the moon?
Me: Well, you know how the planets circle the sun and the moon is like a big mirror that shows us how bright the sun is and…
K: But the moon is only for Mah-tah Mah-tah time (bedtime).
Me: Well, that is true most of the time.
K: And when the sun goes to Mah-tah Mah-tah then I do too and when the sun comes up then it’s time to get up.
Me: Yes that’s true.
K: So, why is the moon and the sun is up at the same time?
Me: Well… *Changing the subject—and thank goodness he is 4 and is easily distracted. I don’t know that he can fully understand fully things like the Earth’s gravity, the moo’s reflective surface, etc).
What is it with me and my neighbors lately? Maybe I don’t have enough “Umph” in my life. Maybe I am just bored and have to focus on others. Or maybe, I attract some crazies every once in a while. As you know (but really, you would only know if you read my blog consistently), my former neighbor died. His wife is doing well and I am very glad to see that she is hanging in there! My other neighbors are sweet and didn’t know my son’s name. But that’s ok. K might now really know it either and at least she asked me—so that’s cleared up.
Now, on to my other neighbors. They are friendly and nice and that is wonderful! They have made serious efforts to get to know me and K and they are a very nice couple. You can feel a “but” coming can’t you?! Here’s the deal, they are SERIOUS CHAIN SMOKERS! Now, I don’t have anything against people who smoke—that is your choice. You can do whatever you want, you are an adult, but… I have a 4 year old who has breathing issues, who does breathing treatments, and has had a cough for, oh, let’s say…the 2 years that I have been his Mama! So pretty please…don’t come to my door to ask me a question with your lit cigarette. Please don’t come over to me while my garage door is open and I am watching my son ride his bike while both of you are smoking and talking to me—suckin’ on your cancer stick! Please don’t call my son over to look at your dogs when you are smoking. How about not smoking around him at ALL???
Granted, it’s an addiction that is tough to beat. I get it. I have been morbidly obese for, um, basically my whole life—so I “get” addiction. But I have told you about his asthma. I have told you about his breathing and the robot dance we do when he does his breathing treatments, so he “enjoys” them. I have mentioned that he has dealt with a chronic cough. I have asked you specifically to NOT smoke around him. Do I have to bust out my condescending 4 year old speak, “Did you hear my words, really nice neighbor? Please use your listening ears!”? I don’t wanna have to do that—but I will.
Let’s work together to keep black lung out of our block, ok?!
A student’s paper… Um, you clearly have not done any real research, nor did you prepare at all to answer this essay and…yeah, I will say it, you have major naivete/ignorance about what is going on in the real world. Answer the prompt kiddo, just answer the prompt! Oi FRIGGIN’ VEY!!!
"The Europeans definatly had an unfair advantage when it came to fighting and taking over the Africans, yet some of this can be seen as a blessing. Out of all the African Americans none of them would enjoy going back to Africa; even though it is independant now. By capturing and enslaving their ancestors we have unknowingly created a better life for them in the modern days."
“Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.”
For those of you who know what’s been going on in my family life—you know that it’s been touch and go for a little bit. Quick recap—my dad went in for a “routine” 1.5 hour procedure and woke up “paralyzed!” Four surgeries later (within 24 hours) and 4 days in the ICU and he was able to come home! Clearly, NOT just a routine surgery! He has been home now for a few weeks and has been going to physical therapy to regain the strength in his legs and stability in his walking—this has seriously infringed upon his golf game. It’s situations like this, that really make you think, right? It’s sad that it takes situations like this to think, but it usually does. I am extremely close to my parents, so I spend a lot of time with them. I go with them to doctors appointments and I have (at least) 2 meals a week with them (we meet every Saturday for lunch and every Thursday for dinner). I talk to both of them at least once a day, just to check in! But it truly does take a situation like this to refocus on what’s important—and not just what, but who.
I know that, for me, things at my job have escalated from “we sure are busy!” to “is it ever gonna stop or even slow down????” And it’s not just me and where I work. I talk to my friends who work in different industries and they say that it’s the same for them too. They are feeling like they are being pulled from every direction. So it’s easy to get caught up in work. If you have kids—it’s easy to feel the pinch on time with them. It’s easy to feel like you are running around crazy. Oh, but the important things. I cannot forget what and who those are. Luckily, I have a constant reminder of probably the biggest important thing and his little charming face wakes me up every morning at around 530 AM! And I love it! But my friends and parents and the people I love and respect in my life shouldn’t be schulffed to the side because work is busy or because I have laundry and dishes to do. There is always a reason, right? There is always something that I view as important, right? There is always something that I can move to the top of the list. Oh, but re-focusing on what’s important is soooo important.
So, I thank you, shady Doctor who botched my Dad’s surgery and then kinda laughed about it after, saying (something to the effect of), “Good thing you signed that waiver, huh, Chuck?!” Thank you—because this is a lesson learned, for me. I will always be busy—everyone is busy, but I am so blessed with amazing people in my life and I CANNOT take them for granted!
Parents of toddlers get it! I know you do! My kid seems to be in constant pining for a band-aid. Please tell me that yours is (or was or you know will be) the same way? Please confirm that this isn’t a fetish for only my child (*and I know that there are worse things he could be begging for.)! One of the things that I wish people had warned/educated me about when I was thinking about adopting was to buy stock in Band Aids! Why not! I would have made myself a LOT of money by just letting my son be who he is—a love of the band-aid! Every random bump or bruise or scrape or scratch needs a band-aid. Every “injury” (and I use that term loosely) needs immediate consideration and attention! Bust out the triage center for Mr. Williams!
While I habitually oblige him, I am almost mad at myself for doing so. Does he need at least, no really, one band-aid day for some insignificant thing that happened to him while he was sitting on our soft couch? Why, yes Mama, he does! Does he need the Buzz Lightyear band-aid and the Lightning McQueen one after scraping himself with his own fingernail? Oh yes he most certainly does. Does he need to only keep the band-aid on for about 87 seconds before taking it off and claiming a full healing and restoration to the effected area? Oh, why not. Who wants to be restricted by a darn band-aid!?
While my kisses for these owies and whatnot are also part of the gig—it’s the band-aid that he is really after. Yes, I have tried the “Band-aids are only for blood!” routine and that worked—NOT! Yes, once when he had a stomach ache, I put band-aids all over his belly. Yes, I have put band-aids on his head (by request) when his head has hurt! No, it’s not causing me any harm. No, he probably won’t be psychologically jacked up if I do or don’t give him band-aid for his “wounds”. Will this lead to not just a band-aid obsession but a “wound” obsession? Oh sweet Jesus—might be time for an intervention!
My neighbors have shared a wall with us for about 6 months. While I wouldn’t say that we are “friends” we are most certainly friendly. I know their names, I know what they do for a living, I have met their adult children, I know where they lived before they moved to Orange. I know they are HUGE Green Bay Packers Fans. I know a lot about them. I have to admit that I don’t think they know as much about me, but I attribute that to me just not talking about myself to people too often!
However, one thing I do brag on is my kid. Given the chance, even if you don’t wanna hear about him, I will give you the K-man update! Clearly, since they live next door to us, they have met him and have engaged in several “conversations” with him. Their dogs (that probably weigh no more than 4 pounds a piece) have “attacked” him on several occasions and Josie and Danny have patiently, at the end of their LONG work day, watched K ride his bike in circles, when he asks!
What’s so funny is that Josie, the wife, asked me the other day, by the trash bin, “I know this might sound funny, and I hate to ask this, but what is your son’s ‘actual’ name?” I kinda laughed out loud because just in the 3 minutes it took us to walk over to the trash bin, unlock it and put our trash in while trying to watch K ride his bike, I had called him about 3 different things.
For those of you who spend any time with us, you know this is true. I have so many nicknames for this kid it’s a miracle he even knows his name… So here’s a list, just off the top of my head—I am sure there are more:
Yeh-nay Konjo (My handsome)
Yah-nay-lij (my Baby)
Mixed into that are my basic terms of endearment/encouragement/instruction for him in Amharic:
Tiroo-sirah (good job/good boy)
Nah-fee-kay-ha-lo (I missed you)
Aye-zou (it’s ok)
Eh-wud-dih-hah-lo (I love you)
Eh-bak-eh-tuh-ka-fell (please share)
Tuh-ka-met (Sit down)
Tuh-neh-sah (stand up)
Tuh-ten-kah (Be careful)
Yih-kil-kil-now (That’s not allowed)
Eh-zee-nah (come here)
Eh-kah-fen (Can I give you a hug)
Samen (Can I have a kiss)
And so on and so on!
So, thank you Josie, my new neighbor, for asking the question that I am sure so many other people have thought, but never wanted to ask.
Scenario: In line at Disneyland waiting to get on Pirates! Teen couple in front of us FULLY making out. His hands on her boobies and serious groans as well as “I love you so much” flying back and forth!
K: Mommy, why don’t we kiss with our tongues when you give me kisses? Like that!!!
Me: Um… well… that’s a different kind of kissing.
K: But we could do it like they are (pointing at the couple STILL making out).
Me: No Baby, we can’t.
K: But why?
Me: *After a LONG pause… When you are an adult we can talk about it, ok?
K: (tapping the boy who is STILL groping his girlfriend)—Excuse me! Do you have to go potty?
TMG (Teen Make out guy): Uh, hey… no, why?
TMGF (Teen Make out girlfriend): Oooooh! He is so cute!!!
K: (Pointing to his crotch) She’s touching your penis and my Mommy says that when I grab my penis like that, I gotta go pee!
TMG and TMGF say nothing, but just smile and turn around and quit making out! They ask to be on a different boat when we get to the front of the line!
*Oh to be 16 again, but my son is right, if she’s gonna grope your junk in line at Disneyland, maybe y’all need to take it to the bathroom! Hrmph!