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Monday, June 29, 2009

Talking to Our Kids About Michael

Since Michael's passing, I have been in this indescribable funk. "Mama, did you know him? Did you meet him?" one of my kids asked after seeing me tear up while we watched his video, Smooth Criminal, on YouTube. The thought of never having the privilege to meet him caused the tears to come a little stronger. I would now never get to see him. I'd always said he was the one star I would pay big money to see. Now, even if I won a huge lottery I would never get to see him.

I've seen his videos myriad times over the years and thankfully there are Cd's and videos to purchase. My kids have been watching his videos on YouTube and I guess now that will be our nexus to the King of Pop. Watching these videos with them online as well as seeing the videos on television- and I am sure this will go on for months- has allowed me to discover Michael all over again. I watch with appreciation. I see the perfectionist everyone has been talking about. I can see his musical influences like Fred Astaire, while watching Smooth Criminal. Seeing the influence of James Brown in his earlier videos when he performed with his brothers. The artistry, creativity and Broadway abilities in videos like Thriller, which revolutionized music videos and put Michael in the Guinness Book of World Records.

I talked to the kids about him being a philanthropist and how giving he was. He used his celebrity to shed light on problems around the world. I can refer them to videos like We Are the World, The Earth Song and more.

Of course television networks have flooded our screens with videos, discussions and shows about him since Thursday. TV One aired the movie The Jacksons: The American Dream, which debuted in 1992. Daddy and I watched it with our kids. It was their first time watching it but probably our 100th time. We would watch it differently now. Paying precise attention to Michael now in a different way. Interrupting many scenes to point out certain things to our kids- really wanting to submerge them in our world of Michael Jackson Mania. I wanted them to feel the way I feel about him!

"See! See how he sings and dances so well and he didn't have to be taught!" I stressed.

But they weren't as excited as I was- but they didn't grow up in my time.

Then came the scene when Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson, caught his father, Joe, on the phone with another woman. She then walked up on him while he was laid back on the phone. She began yelling and wailing on him!

"Why was she doing that?" our six-year-old son asked.

I looked over at Daddy to see if he wanted to take a stab at that one.

"Well... he (pointing at the screen) was not telling the truth about something. He wasn't doing what was right," Daddy told him.

"Yes, they were husband and wife- married so he was doing something he wasn't supposed to do," I added.

There was silence for about five seconds- we'd hoped it was enough to explain.

"Oh. I thought she did it because her husband was on the phone with another woman," our son nonchalantly replied.

Kids know more than we think.

There will be innumerable opportunities for our kids to see Michael Jackson over the next few days, weeks, months. And opportunities for those of us who grew up during his reign, to Remember the Time when he was Bad. So I assume there are many, like me, in a little funk right now. So I didn't have to meet him, yet I feel like I knew him. I wish I could just "look over my shoulder and "he will be there." I will shed a few more tears, but it is okay to cry... it is just Human Nature.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Memories of MJ

On December 25th, 2006 the Godfather of Soul, James Brown passed on. Believe it or not, two other shining stars were lost on the same day but different months and years. Young star, Aaliyah died in a plane crash on August 25th, 2001- eight months later, April 25th, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez from the all girl group, TLC died in a car wreck in Honduras. Then two days ago on June 25th the world lost one of the greatest entertainers... Michael Jackson. I was registering kids for the final night of our Vacation Bible School, when I received a text that he had a heart attack and was in "pretty bad shape."
I read it but immediately thought he would be fine- he had access to the best doctors. So I thought. Shortly after that I found out he was not coming back.
It didn't really sink in until yesterday- June 26th. Michael Jackson- who I watched growing up is really gone. So many things have run through my mind. The memories, what happened, did he know he was still loved, what about his family and close friends?
The memories: There are too many to write about. The first time I saw him. I can't remember the very first time- I just remember it was Michael Mania for many years growing up. The videos were some of the most vivid memories. Beat It, Billie Jean, Remember the Time, and the one most talked about... Thriller. Vincent Price's voice gave me chills.
I'll have to be honest, that video scared me. I could not watch it alone when it first came out. I remember being teased by older cousins about that. The Making of Thriller was just as popular as the actual video. It was a video that people never grew tired of. And that red jacket he wore in the video- everyone and their grandma had one. There was a guy at our church who had one just like it. His hair was styled like Michael's and he had the loafers and socks like him. When he came up to the balcony, where all the teens sat, on Sunday mornings- all eyes were on him. As the kids say now, "He was HOT!" And I am almost sure his name was Michael too!
Fast forward to the video Remember The Time! I think this video came out in the Spring of my sophomore year of college. It was an all-star cast! Magic Johnson, Eddie Murphy, Iman, and more. The choreography was so sweet! I could never just watch the video- I had to TRY to do the moves with them. Michael moved like no other in that video and all of his videos.
I cried when he had the accident during the Pepsi commercial. I was on the phone with friends talking about it for days. And I actually begged my mom for a Jheri Curl back then. Well after that mishap I knew, if my mom had considered it, she had changed her mind after that incident.
When MJ showed us the moonwalk during Motown 25.... the world went nuts! It was to be talked about for years. And while others have tried to do it, no one could ever do it as well as him.
Michael was different. He did reinvent the wheel! He seemed to be such a perfectionist. He mastered his craft. He entertained us so much and so well. There is no one like him. He would always say he loved us and I believe he did. That is why it was sad to see how some of the world treated him in the last decade or so. Making a mockery of his looks and behavior.
I think he was a troubled person. He never had a chance to be a child- well not for long. I believe he and his siblings did have a tough upbringing but they also had love from their parents.
I read that he had been having a lot of pain. I think most of his pain was emotional more than physical. The financial struggles I read about were sad. This man who gave myriad times- not just his time to entertain us but he gave financially and shed light on problems such as the poverty in Africa. He did all that and as he grew older and needed help himself, he didn't get it. Now that he has died he gets his flowers and messages of love. I just hope he knew he was still loved. Many close to him say he was troubled and sad. I hope he is at peace now.
I feel sorry for the generations who did not get a chance to see him. I feel blessed to have been able to see him- to have grown up during his time. I saw a message from someone go across the screen while watching some of the many tributes last night. "It was not his time to Beat It!" It read. How do we know that? I do know he will be missed... he was a Thriller!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Boobies, Bookinis and Brows!

I realize it's hot outside and I know you cannot leave your children or pets in your car, but I'd rather take Fido or Cujo in with me instead of my kids!
If you have been keeping up with my blog posts you understand what I have been through with my two- the comedy fests they have when I change with them in the fitting rooms or the random conversations they have while browsing through clothes. I'm not saying that kids should be left in the car but I understand.
I contemplated going into the fitting room this time with them- I really did. I held the outfit up in front of me. I looked at it then looked at my kids. They were being silly as usual- oblivious to what I was thinking about. I thought long and hard. Should I quickly move to the fitting room and just threaten them with their little lives if they make any comments about my body or just take a chance that it would fit and head to the register? Decisions, decisions.
I decided on the first option.
"Hey how are you? Just two please," I smiled at the fitting room attendant.
She handed me a number two and led me to an open room.
"Here you go. You can have this room!" she smiled, leading me to the first room- closest to her.
My heart began to beat faster. My paranoia quickly kicked in. Had she heard the chaos and comments from my little family before? I do come to this store quite a bit. Why did she put us in this room? Why not the one waaaaaaaay in the back- the last one? That way I could continue threatening them and perhaps even physically. I could hang the first one to make a comment, on one of those hooks.
I was smart. I distracted them by talking to them about our vacation time coming up next month, while I quickly changed.
"You ready for our trip in a few weeks?" I asked them- snatching my shirt over my head.
"Oh I'm ready!" my son started dancing.
"Me too! I can't wait to get on the rides!" my daughter added.
It was working!
They continued talking about it and I allowed them to interrupt one another- just as long as the attention was taken off of me.
I was so glad because I could hear more people coming into the fitting room to try on clothes as well.
The outfit didn't work for me. I needed an extra medium. ;o)
Out of breath, I quickly took the outfit off to put my clothes back on.
"Give me my shirt right over there," I pointed for my daughter.
Their conversation now came to a frightening halt.
Instead of just giving me my shirt she put her hands over her mouth and with eyes stretching as if she had never seen me in my undergarments, she pointed to my bra and said to her brother,
"Look at her bookini!"
They both began laughing.
I rolled my eyes and snatched my shirt.
"Just be quiet!" I said with my teeth clenched together tightly. "And it is not a bIkini- it's a bra!" I added.
They couldn't hear me over their laughter.
My son stopped laughing and had the 'mama you may want to put your hand over my mouth right now' look.
"Ewww! She used to feed us milk from her brows," he said and it was not with his inside voice.
I just closed my eyes and thought of the show I Dream of Jeannie. Wishing I could fold my arms- blink and be in my car.
I stood there with my finger over my lips and listened to see if anyone heard it. I was not ready to leave. The comment was too fresh.
When I finally turned to look out of the fitting room, they continued to talk about it.
"Have you seen mama's boobies?" my daughter asked, then put her hands over her mouth.
"I have! They gots brown cir-" he started before I put my hands over his mouth.
After a minute or so of me hiding out in the fitting room, I finally stepped out, playing with my cell phone so I would not have to look up at the attendant.
"Did that work for you ma'am?"she asked.
Without looking up at her I told her, "No. Not this time, but thanks." I continued to be engaged with my cell phone.
As we headed for the door, someone looked at my daughter and said, "She's so pretty and her hair is beautiful!"
I'd just roller set it and styled it the day before.
"Thank you!" I replied.
"Mama. She wasn't talking about you- she was talking about me!" my daughter smiled.
The lady giggled and winked her eye.
"They are so cute," she added.
"You want 'em?" I thought.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finding Teachable Moments

We try to take advantage of "teachable moments" when they arise. Sometimes we hit and sometimes... I just get frustrated with all the questions, from our two little ones that I just throw my hands up and say, "Just forget it! Maybe I will go back to that one later!"
I'm now cognizant that I really have to be patient and stick to those lessons surrounding biblical issues. We are definitely raising them up in the way they should go but sometimes they get things a little twisted. Now our daughter is sharp enough to use what she learns in church at an appropriate time to bail her out of trouble.
The Genesis of these stories began with our daughter's kindergarten year.
Her teacher began reprimanding her for playing in the mulch after warning the class not to.
"That darn serpent!" she told her teacher.
She was serious! She folded her arms and stomped her feet. She wouldn't make eye contact with her teacher initially. She began talking to herself- shaking her head so much that her two, long ponytails were moving side-to-side.
"What are you talking about?" her teacher asked.
Slapping her forehead with the palm of her hand she responded, "The serpent made me play in that mulch!"
"What serpent?" her teacher asked.
She now made eye contact- she now had her teacher roped.
"You know that serpent who made Eve eat that apple!"
Well her brother, God bless his little soul, either gets things all confused or he may get it but does not want to apply what he learns. He wants to pick and choose what he wants to live by.
He and his sister have racked up with money from their birthdays here recently. He wants to spend it as soon as he gets his but I have made him save it. I mean he can't spend it if we don't take him anywhere to spend it.
So he has been saving it but Lord knows he has been asking for someone to take him to a store to spend it.
I have explained myriad times about tithing. Well it is usually a huge question and answer period with him. Yesterday as we prepared for church I told him that he needed to put some money in church. As we pulled out of the parking lot after church, I asked him if he put any money in offering in his class.
He didn't say anything.
I turned to look at him and his lips were pressed together as if he were keeping a secret- which he is not good at.
This begins our conversation. Which we have had before.
"Now I have told you that when you give it comes back to you."
"But I need my money to get that ATM machine from TJ Maxx," he whined.
"But God blessed you with that money so you can give some of it back in church," I told him.
"Huh? (Looking at his money) Grandma, Papa gave me this money and I got one of these dollars from her (pointing at his sister) room," he replied.
"WHAT? You give it back!" his sister shouted.
I further explained the process of giving and he listened, then looking back at his face I realized he would need more work to be a "cheerful" giver.
We went on to eat. When we left our tip for the server I saw him eyeing the money. Another "teachable" moment.
"Now see Mommy and Daddy are giving and it comes back to us," I told him.
"Daddy gone give her all that money?" he asked.
"Yes! And don't even think about getting any of it!"
On the way out of the restaurant we bumped into our pastor and his family. He always asks our two for hugs. Our son just recently starting complying and the pastor eats this up. He (pastor) gave them both a dollar bill.
When we got in the car our daughter, the appreciative little Saint she is, said, "Look! Pastor Bill gave us some money. I'm gonna save it with my other money!"
Then her brother with dread on his face said, "He probably gave it to us to put in offering."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

God Moving Furniture

If you listen to kids you can always learn something new! Last night we were pulling out of the driveway when we saw this beautiful display of lightning, flashing through the sky. It wasn't accompanied by any thunder or rain- just light, back-to-back. It looked like someone in heaven was snapping pictures.
The kids loved it of course! They had to give us their take on what lightning means.
Our daughter said it was King Neptune, making light from his fingers.
"Mama there really is a King Neptune- we learned about it in class," she persisted.
Now when our kids say their teacher said something, we usually leave it alone. Don't want one of them going back saying we said something. That has happened before. Wasn't good. Our son told his daycare teacher that I was going to "Jack her up!" I did say that I was going to "Jack somebody up" if they messed with my baby at school but I was being funny and talking to Daddy.
Now it was our son's turn. I knew it would be interesting. Daddy and I were talking about something else when our son chimed in. But his comment got our attention.
"No it's not King Neptoom. It's just God moving his couch up there," he said.
We smiled.
"Who told you that?" I asked.
"My teacher- Mrs. Thompson," he said confidently.
The van was quiet.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

They Grow Up Fast!

Another school year has flew by! Our two little ones are getting older. Growing taller.
Our daughter just finished second grade, while her brother finished kindergarten. Where does the time go?
Yes he graduated from kindergarten yesterday! It was bitter sweet for me. I watched him sleep for a few minutes before waking him up to get dressed. He still sleeps the same way- on his back with his mouth slightly opened. His arms are always up over his head. Same cute, little toes I used to kiss on, especially right after his bath. As I continued to watch him I thought about how quiet he used to be. But he always watched his sister- taking it all in I guess.
I woke him gently just before a tear rolled down my face.
"Last day buddy! Let's get up and wash your face!" I told him.
Daddy dressed him so cute: Carolina blue and white vest with his khaki pants.
So many people commented on how cute he looked in his outfit.
"I like what you are wearing. You look really nice!" one teacher told him.
He flared his nostrils and instead of just thanking her he replied,
"My mama made me wear this."
I did say that he USED to be quiet.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Clearing the Confusion

Our two kids get things confused all the time. They think that things that apply to them and how they respond to us, also applies with them and other kids. I know it sounds confusing but I will explain...
They know that they canNOT be sassy with adults or talk back, in any way to adults. Well they think that applies to each other. Our son is the worst for it. He was being bossy with his sister and she, understandably, told him, "You're not the boss of me! You don't tell me what to do!"
You should have seen the look on his face. He really couldn't believe it and thought I was going to do something about it.
"Mama! Did you hear your daughter talkin' back to me?" he shouted.
Once I stopped laughing and chocking, I explained that there was no such thing with his sister- that it did not apply to her. He was disappointed to say the least, but I didn't realize until a few minutes later who he was really disappointed with when he referred to me as his daddy's wife.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Burning Bush

Yesterday Dude was doing some yard work with our son... well I guess our son was just out there with him. He would run in and out giving my daughter and I updates about what was going on outside.
"Mama! Daddy is out there talking to our navel," he told us one time. "It's okay. He can talk to him. We should get to know our new neighbor," I assured him.
"Well he can't do nothin' if he talking to him," he came back.
He had a point. We all know women are much better at multi-tasking than men but I told our son he (Dude) would be okay.
"You just go outside and keep an eye out on him," I winked.
He ran back outside. I looked out the door and secretly gave him a thumbs up to encourage him. He nodded back.
About 15 minutes later he came in coughing (over-the-top), and waving his hand in front of his face.
"Look at that steam out there!" my daughter commented, looking out the door.
"Mama. You see that smoke out there?" my son asked. "Well that's Daddy out there with the navel burning down that bush!"
Dude had done that last summer but I guess he didn't burn it enough. The bush becomes a headache sometimes when the wind blows- leaving its long remnants across our yards.
Our daughter the philosopher chimed in.
"Oh! You know what Daddy is like Moses. Although he doesn't seem to be talking to the bush."
I thought that was the end of that until we were preparing to say our prayers for bed. Then our son out of the blue- five hours later said,
"Mama. Daddy going to hell for burning that bush ain't he?"

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Another TooF Story!

Our baby lost his first tooth! Thank God it was on the bottom! I just can't picture him without teeth at the top. I know it is coming but I am not ready for it. This look will only remind me that he is not my baby anymore. And he knows this too. When he heard me telling a friend that I didn't want him to lose his teeth yet, he asked, "Why mama? Because you don't want me to grow up?"
I just smiled.
But that tooth had been loose for a few days and he has been excited about it coming out for two reasons: his friends at school have lost a tooth or two and he wants to get a visit from the famous tooth fairy!
Well if you have read my old blogs when our daughter lost teeth... you know that Daddy and I have not done well with the whole tooth fairy thing.
While he wants the tooth to be out, he, like many other kids, runs when we ask to feel how loose the tooth is.
"No! Don't touch it. You're gonna pull it out!"
Well he actually suggested that we pull it out while he is asleep. Not a bad idea considering he sleeps on his back, arms sprawled above his head and mouth open. Well Daddy tried one night but he closed his mouth, and rolled over to his stomach. There went that idea.
He suggested something else-
"Mama. Maybe Daddy could tie a sWing around my tooF (demonstrating) then tie the sWing to the door, then sWam the door and my tooth will come out!"
Picture him letting us do that.
Well yesterday he asked for some celery for breakfast.
"You would wait 'till the last minute- right before we need to leave for school to ask for something to eat!" I fussed while rushing to fix it. Then continued fussing when I noticed the Ranch dressing stain on his shirt on the way out the door. I was already late so...
"Look at that! Uh! Well you are in kindergarten and you probably would have gotten something on it anyway so you gonna have to go like you are today Buddy!" I said as I pulled him out the door.
About an hour into the school day, one of his teachers came into my room and asked about his tooth. She thought I pulled it.
"I didn't pull it and (thinking) neither did his daddy," I told her. "Are you sure it's gone?" I asked her.
She went to get him.
"Mama did you pull my tooF Wast night?"
I looked and sure enough it was gone. I sent a text to Daddy. He didn't do it.
It had to have been the celery or it had come out in the night.
"But how is the tooF fairy gonna come?" he asked. He dropped his head.
His teacher suggested we get it once he went to the bathroom. Then she took him by the hand and went back to class. She sound like a dog up a tree- butt backwards! Just as wrong. I don't care if he is my child. It was not happening.
But Daddy and I had to do something.
He had another tooth. He had actually saved one of our daughter's teeth. Not something I would have done but we had one. But would it work on our little inquisitive son?
Daddy told him he found it near the chair he sat in when he ate breakfast. Initially he smiled then investigated.
"Mama (frowning) this tooF gots a hole in it and it looks sharp," he said.
"Well you have a hole where that tooth was," I told him. "Now go put it under your pillow and say your prayers," I convinced him.
"Okay! I hope the tooF fairy bring me lots of dollars!"
Well as we, the dysfunctional parents, usually do- we almost forgot to put the money under there. We argued over who would walk upstairs to put the dollar under the pillow before going to sleep last night.
This Dude wanted to wait until the morning to put it under there. Right before we woke them up for school. Now with our record with the other child, I knew we couldn't wait. So I had an idea-
"Um... I don't feel like walking up there and I may not feel like doing anything else later!"
So he put it under the pillow and everything happened as it should have.
This morning he came running downstairs to show me his first dollar from the tooth- I mean tooF fairy!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Root Beer Mystery

Cleaning out the refrigerator- my husband grabs, what looks like a liter of Root Beer soda from the second shelf. I was just about to say that I was so surprised that it had lasted that long. The liter was placed in the fridge, lying down instead of standing up- where its contents would have been more visible, when opening the fridge.
Now I usually will allow the kids to have a cup or so of Root Beer every now and again since it is caffeine-free. I realized, after seeing that it was empty, that they had not asked much, for any.
Yes, Daddy grabbed it and it was empty. One of our two offspring was slick enough to put it back in the fridge in a way that we could not tell that it was all gone.
Trick was to find out who did it.
I figured I could just call them in and ask them or wait until we said our prayers before going to bed. Oh they usually rat each other out during this time.
I didn't feel like having fun so I just called them in.
"What's up?" I smiled at both of them.
"Oh, Mama is talkin' cool talk again," our daughter smiled.
Daddy pulled the empty liter of Root Beer out of the trash bag. He just held it up a few inches from the faces and shook it. He didn't say a word.
Now our daughter's reaction was a little unclear. Could have been ready to sing or ready to philosophy as she usually does. I was ready to cut her off early though if she tried.
Our son, the recent six-year-old, was a little perplexed. I couldn't get a good read on him yet.
"Someone put this back in the fridge empty," I told them.
Again I thought it was a pretty slick move. One I would have done back in my day. Well I probably would have just said I spilled all of the contents and threw the container away. But back to them...
"Mama do you mean the refrigerator?" the philosopher questioned.
Rolling my eyes I replied, "It's the same thang!"
Guess I told her.
"Is the person who did that gonna be in trouble?" our son asked, not able to look at us.
DING, DING, DING! We had our culprit!