I was sitting at the dining table at my mom's house when I heard what seemed to be someone calling at me. The sound was coming from in the direction of the backyard and I strained my eyes trying to see past the overgrown bush that spilled from the neighbouring yard, trying to determine who could see me. Then I remembered that no house was on that land and I told myself I was hearing things.
As I shovelled forkfuls of food into my mouth, I heard the sound again. "Psst. Pssssst." Again, I found myself peering into the distance doing my best to see what was causing the sound. A minute later, I remembered that my mother, on emerging from the bathroom minutes earlier, had asked with a look of utter distaste if someone was spraying. I had given her a blank stare and casually shrugged my shoulders. I figured she had smelt the chemical, but for me, inflamed sinuses prohibit luxuries like the sense of smell. I simply couldn't say. But upon hearing this psst sound coming from the direction of the backyard, I figured it could be someone pumping a spray can to finally spray the overgrown bushes from next door. That I managed to work this out all by myself in a relatively short space of time was a boost to my ego since recently I have been battling with stress, memory loss and moments of fogginess. I'd like to say that this is all related to juggling work and raising my boys, but a nutritionist might probably suggest that an adequate night's sleep and a good multivitamin would take care of all that. You'd think being in the health industry I'd be better off, but its true what they say about a carpenter's house never being done, I suppose.
Anyway, I yelled to my mother and told her what I had deduced and went to the kitchen to wash up my plate and anything that might be unwashed in the sink. I stood there humming softly and going about my merry duties when I spied my niece standing in a chair that usually stays by the backdoor, peering into the yard. "Renee, what are you doing?" I asked.
"Watching Davis," she said, referring to my mother's companion. That's when it all became clear and I realised that my mother and I were the two clueless ones in the house. He was outside spraying and for reasons unknown me, neither of us thought to look outside, thinking he had stepped out and was not at home at all. And he would have had to have heard when my mother asked if someone was spraying, but chose to stay in the yard, quietly working.
When I finally put pen to paper and write the graphic novel, he will be transformed into a mischievous villain. Real cartoon super villains need to take a leaf out of his book and not talk too much, lest they cause their own downfall. I still can't believe that the man was out there all along and must have even heard when the children were looking for him earlier and not a word did he utter.
Today I bore witness to a level of idiocy that really made me question some people's parenting habits. Imagine two young boys on a porch running around kicking a slipper like it was a ball and each time the wayward slipper hit an older boy who was not a part of the play, he grabbed said slipper and chased the boys around with the intention of smacking them hard on the calf with it. Well, he must have seen the look that I gave him and then he began to chastise them for kicking around the slipper. He fretted about the slipper popping out, then he started to mention the other people standing on said porch, namely me, my niece and my boys. He was actually shouting at the top of his lungs and his face was so stern, it looked about ready to explode. If he and his counterpoints had not had me so irritated, I might have seen the humour in it. And, what was worse, was I have two young boys who are seeing this, and though they dare not move, for fear of me half-killing them, I could see the amusement and excitement in their bright eyes as they watched. I have to admit I was not the least bit impressed.
Yesterday, I think it was, I was taking Jaheim and Shakir to the car that waited for us and some boys from the secondary school in my district were a little ways ahead of me. These boys were talking quite animatedly without shame in some of the loudest voices you could imagine and using a string of swear words. I promptly turned to Shakir and let him know in no uncertain terms that I must never hear about him behaving in that manner ever! People talk about schools and say they don't make a difference and about parenting at home, but there is more to it than that. As a parent, you have to be forever talking to your kids and part of their training needs to be teaching them about independence and such like. It takes a lot of strength of character for a child to go to school and not be influenced by their peers to do odd things. I call them odd things, because if you are parenting properly, some of things your child comes home with aren't principles that you've taught them. And if you had to attempt to beat the idiocy out of them, you'd be featured in the papers and earn yourself a room at Her Majesty's pleasure. So talk away from the time they can understand, give examples where possible and pray hard that they listen.
Recently, I heard about a photo of a schoolgirl posing with a gun, circulating on Facebook and the police were investigating. One photo that caught my eye was some stupid individual circulating a photo and commenting quite proudly that the girl had an entire attitude that she isn't afraid of anyone. I talked to Shakir about it. I told him these young people stupid bad. First, they're foolish for posing with the guns and hanging around with people that would have them. Secondly, they are so social media stupid, that if they pee and it look green all of Facebook got to know about it. He looked at me with wide-eyed and open-mouth surprise as if he too couldn't believe how stupid they are. But folks, this sort of stupidity isn't natural, it is taught and nurtured, because trust me, before your kids start school, you walk around bragging about how brilliant they are. After they start school, you find yourself questioning if its the same child. These days, I spend more time telling Shakir to use his brain and think than anything else because sometimes I can't believe some of the odd things he does and I've made up my mind that he is not going to fall into this new normal. If he sticks out like a sore thumb, it'll be okay and he'll have enough self-confidence and sense of worth to pull it off. I'm going to keep on praying.
Tonight, as I stood over the fryer making the bakes that Jaheim asked for, I got to thinking. Once you reach that age of majority where you finally consider yourself to be an adult, you let out a whoop of joy that now you can do what you wish. Did you ever stop to consider that when you enter the world of work you have to answer to a manager, supervisor and even a boss? And, if you want to keep that job, you learn to grumble to yourself about the injustices that you're forced to accept. You can't wait until the day is over and you get home and enjoy that so called freedom you craved since you were a kid.
Then, idiot that you are, you start thinking about how incomplete your life is and you either get married or you have kids. I know this stereotype isn't going to encompass everyone, but whatever the case is, you find yourself a parent. Oh, what joy you feel and then comes those feelings of uncertainty and misgivings that you can really be responsible for someone else's life and care. But yeah, its an adventure and you're as ready as you'll ever be.
Two years later, when that child looks at you with candid and childlike certainty and declares to you that you must make bakes because he likes them, you begin to understand that you are still not your own master. You may have traded in ponytails for a much more adult style and when you step out, its high heels or nothing, but when you have a kid, the moment that child makes a sound, you're there like jack rabbit tending to his every need.
The truth is, that child will probably never recognise the amount of sacrifice you go through just to make sure that the smile on their face stays intact, but when those little arms circle your neck and those tiny mouths touch your cheek in a kiss, believe me when I say its all worth it. And I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Well... maybe if it was possible, I'd trade a little bit of the trouble for a few extra minutes a day just to do whatever I want.
So, I went to PTA at the school and learned that Teacher's Appreciation day is coming up. Teacher's Professional day is also coming up and the children will be off. Shakir has already begun to make plans to spend the day with his father. What was amusing though, is that one woman thought it was a case where both days were days that the children would be at home. Raising her hand to have it clarified, she breathed a visible sigh of relief and mumbled beneath her breath that she can't keep her child for two days. The entire room burst into laughter. Me, I had dollar signs before my eyes and I again realised that I am in the wrong profession. I would happily take her little monster, for a price, of course and I would give her that child back ready for dinner and bed. SIGH. One can only dream of this at the moment.
Anyway, I decided to discuss Teacher's Appreciation day with Shakir to see if he wants to give his teacher a gift to show his appreciation. It was hardly a surprise when he said yes. One valentine's, my sister decided to make little valentine's baskets to sell and Shakir decided that he needed to take one for his teacher. That memory gave me an idea, so I told him that the best gifts aren't the most expensive, but the ones that are given from the heart. I've also suggested to him that perhaps he should make something that the teacher would be able to keep for a long time, then I decided to search the net for ideas. I'm having a hard time finding anything. Apparently, teachers only eat apples and candy and they really like stationary. I mean, imagine the oodles and oodles of crayons, pencils, sharpeners and rulers arranged in many different ways, which say #1 Teacher and such like that. Actually, my mother even suggested a mug, but did I see a single mug online? Nope! So the search is on for a really original idea!
I'm always telling Shakir that he should be grateful for the things that come his way because many are not as fortunate as he is. I try to remind him that he is blessed in many different way that he takes for granted, but naturally, he doesn't always agree with me. Anyway, yesterday the bypass bus we normally take home broke down, so we had a long walk and boy, did that child talk my ear off.
It all started when I got the brilliant idea to encourage him to make up a story, which he would in turn write down once we got home, thereby practising his handwriting, composition skills, grammar and spelling all at once. Well after a bit of protest, Shakir settled into the idea and began to really exercise that imagination of his. He came up with a super hero, by the name of Super Echo. Super Echo has the power of super hearing, super strength and when he speaks, his voice echoes and renders his opponent unconscious. The super villain has no super powers, but uses his own gadgets and inventions to rob banks. His alter ego lives at home with his mother, who has no idea of misdeeds.
I was really intrigued with the idea and so I decided to keep encouraging him, but I didn't want him to forget once we got home so I urged him to not get too carried away with his tale. But once creative juices have begun to flow, its difficult to turn them off. I decided to change the topic, asking him about his day instead. "Did you have something to eat by granny?" I asked.
"Yes, I had bread and hot dog and sorrel juice and I finished it all and I gave thanks."
"Was that a good boy?"
At this point, a man rode past us with a small boy on his bicycle bar. "Mummy, he is like Jaheim, but smaller. And you know Jaheim got one of those shirts? I wish I had a baby sister though, but you can't handle me and Jaheim sometimes because we does give you stress."
"You're not always stress, boo. You all are blessings to me as well."
"Mummy, you know a baby sister would be a blessing too."
"I know. You don't want anymore."
"That's right and you should be grateful that at least you have Jaheim to play with. You two have each other and a lot of children don't have any brothers or sisters."
"And I have to give thanks that I have someone to play with. Mummy, you know that today..." Unfortunately, I can't remember what he said, but he finished with, "and I gave thanks."
Three times in one conversation this child going on and on about how he gave thanks so it was with a little uncertainty that I finally asked, "who did you give thanks to?"
"To God!" He returned, his voice think with emphasis that let me know that his answer was obvious.
"That's a good boy, mummy?"
"Yes, Shakir." And I gave thanks.
If you are an avid comic book fan, then you know that all or most super heroes have a backstory where they have endured some tragedy that has shaped their decision to become a super hero. Batman's parents were murdered by a thief. Spiderman's uncle was murdered by a thief - the same thief that a police had asked him to help him catch and he had refused. Green Arrow was shipwrecked and abandoned for five years. Cyborg's father outfitted with experimental implants that made him half machine and half human after one of his father's many experiments went awry and he was almost killed. I'm sure I could continue, but hopefully by now, you've gotten my drift.
If I were to write my own backstory, it would be as follows:
As a child, when others found pleasure in play and surrounded themselves with others, I surrounded myself with books to read, to draw and to write. For reasons I've always been unable to comprehend, I wasn't popular, and I was often teased, and this began before my nerd-like qualities came to the forefront. An animator would probably design me as a small, chunky girl wearing an over-sized pair of glasses and I'd probably be in a classroom or a library with a book while everyone else was playing. I could totally see a teacher urging me to go outside with my classmates and me, giving her a look of absolute distaste with just a small mix of annoyance, shaking my head no. Over the years, I've often been excluded from conversations while sitting right in the middle of one and I've had people say, in my presence about me, that I am cold, unfeeling, unmannerly, insane and not in a cheery, playful way, and several other things. Its like I'm so insignificant that they don't even bother to exercise proper manners.
In light of all that I've disclosed, I think my super hero theme probably shouldn't be so light and bubbly as was previously selected. I'm going to have to go back to the drawing board...
Sometimes I can get so consumed by what I'm doing that it may seem like I'm not aware of what is happening around me. I suppose all moms are like that, but if you learn how to keep an eye and an ear pricked for trouble.
The day began as a normal one and I busied myself with the washing and other little chores around the house. I got the first hint that it was going to be a busy day when Shakir appeared to ask me if he could put together a puzzle. "Don't you have homework you can get started on?" I asked. His shoulders drooped, his mouth tightened into a scowl and he reluctantly went to get it started. That's usually the first hint that ten minutes of work is going to last him half an hour to an hour.
The second hint came when Shakir asked me to explain what 'larger' meant. I try to be a patient and understanding woman so I moved to the table to read the context in which it was used. The instructions read, make smaller, larger or equal sets. The work was broken further down into three sections and the section in question relating to larger had two sets with objects in them and empty sets for him to make into larger sets. It is basic work that he has done before. The only difference is that it is the first time I have seen the word 'larger' being used. I'm sure it wasn't the first time for him either. I heaved a great big sigh and told him that larger is another word for bigger. A few minutes later, I got up to inspect his work and noticed that he had correctly drawn a larger number of items in the empty sets, but that he had also drawn additional items in the set that was provided with the quantity he needed to count. Lord, have mercy. You really does have to pray for grace when dealing with these children.
Anyway, I'm still searching for that super hero theme song. The second selection for consideration is Pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield.
We had a discussion at work today about theme songs and it really got me to thinking: what if I had my own theme song? It would need to be something upbeat to keep me uplifted and yet it would need to have words that really speak to me. I mean, this one song would play every time I got into super hero mode. So people, the search is on and I'm really interested in your thoughts. Choice One: I Don't Like It, I Love It - Flo Rida ft. Robin Thicke & Verdine White.
Allison is mother to two active boys who challenge her on a day to day basis with their escapades. In her other life, Allison juggles a regular day job as a marketing executive in a health food organization. At night, when everyone is asleep, she dreams of being a fulltime writer and super hero.