Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mom- Fu #9 | Edit

1. Become your best editor.

2. Re-write.

3. Re-write.

4. Failure is a construct.

5. De-construct.

6. Assess the situation at hand and conduct a proper evaluation. Example: "Asshole" becomes “Person in need of understanding and love.”

Training video here:

So Glad I'm Here

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"on thanksgiving day" by Pat Parker

~ Pat Parker, 1985, Firebrand Press from the book Jonestown & Other Madness.

One Thankgiving Day

Pricilla Ford

got into her

Lincoln Continental

drove to Virginia Street

in downtown Reno

and ran over thirty people.

Six of them died.

One Thankgiving Day

Pricilla Ford

got into her

Lincoln Continental

drove to Virginia Street

in downtown Reno

and ran over thirty people.

Six of them died.

Priscilla, Priscilla

who did you see?

what face from your past?

Was it the waitress

who asked you to wait

on you?

Was it the clerk

who tried to sell you

only the

brightest colored clothes?

Was it your child's

teacher who tried to

teach her that she was


Was it the security guard

at the bank who guarded

you from the bank's money

with his eyes?

One Thanksgiving Day

Pricilla Ford

got into her

Lincoln Continental

drove to Virginia Street

in downtown Reno

and ran over thirty people.

Six of them died.

Screams filled the street

panic ran through the crowd

like a losing streak

at the blackjack tables

and the state of Nevada

was stunned.

A tired middle-aged Black woman

was not thankful that day

not thankful for her job

wrapping gifts at Macy's

not thankful for the state

taking custody of her child

she was not thankful

for her Lincoln Continental.

Pricilla Ford

got into her Lincoln Continental

and hurled through the streets of Reno

the killer made in Motown factories

swept down on tourists

looking to make a big hit

hit by a navy blue

steel bludgeon

screams dying beneath its wheels

and the state of Nevada

was angry.

She went to trial.


her lawyers pled

she was crazy with anger

she was crazy with fear

she was crazy with defeat

she was crazy with isolation

no sane person kills

strangers with their cars

Priscilla Ford said yes

I drove my car

into the whiteness

of Nevada streets

she would say nothing more

and the state of Nevada

was frightened.

If Priscilla Ford could do it

who else?

How many Black faces

that emptied garbage

waited tables

bagged groceries

wrapped presents

were capable?

Reaction was swift.

One entrepreneur

printed a card

it said Happy Thanksgiving

with a picture of Priscilla

on its front

inside it said

Sorry I missed YOU.

Pricilla Ford

got into her

Lincoln Continental

drove to Virginia Street

in downtown Reno

and ran over thirty people.

Six of them died

and the state of Nevada

was vindictive.

You can not be insane

to be enraged is not insane

to lash out at whiteness is not insane

it is being a nigger

it is your place in life.

Pricilla Ford

got into her

Lincoln Continental

drove to Virginia Street

in downtown Reno

and ran over thirty people.

Six of them died

and now Priscilla Ford

will die.

The state of Nevada

has judged

that it is

not crazy

for Black folks

to kill white folks

with their cars.

Priscilla Ford

will be

the second woman

executed in Nevada's history.

It's her highest

finish in life.

Nothing Against Tattoos

I love everyone

else’s bodies

stay stable.

me, I know not

how they do it.

but I know

up and down

around 200 pounds

mapping. womanhood marks

9 months spent stretching

the body to open

life. for over

more than 80 years.

I see myself living


no distortions

other than those brought by birth,

nursing, holding, loving

the dislocated shoulder of rocking

hugging to sleep. nothing more mystical

than what She has planned. these

are my tattoos. and witness

the chosen embryo

adult. decorating skin, I wish crafted.

push through

to acceptance,

choice was the life lesson.

I gave.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What I have In The Cupboard

the stories fall out of my fingernails.

display a lovely crescendo of eyelash!

only the willing patient can bring to heel

the dogs of night and mare. hooves ready

shod, iron blessed with teeth ready

to claim that lie we call human.

and make it right.

The Heart Beating The Body

I can not even love myself enough

to activate the index finger

on the desperate moist button;

enter the movie theatre of my husband;

play yesterday in circles

on my tongue or any open place

until thrill releases

worry. it is that simple

really. my husband real

and imaginary. devises

calm. delivers when

I am good

and these days,

have one too many between.

appendage presents

declare. I have to love

myself. and my crazy

marching band heart

frenzies. he calmly states,

“no, not today,

suffer and work it ~”

more likely this behavior

is a clot ready bomb singing

time to release


and rise.

fire. the simplest


I have always wanted.

the pain fist to do something

very important. like take a life.

oh, look, Spongebob is on tv.

is it time to laugh now?

thank you…dearest,

ohhhh, darling, thank you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Poem Husband Texted After Listening To Me Sleep Talk

hold her.

she is fragile

wisp of memory. keep

her. safe

from love

& longing. let her

gracefully go

into the whatever

so fancied. you know

that place, where

suns are born.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

MOM-Fu #8? The Fetal Ball Of Whoa!

1. Accept that laying down is not on your agenda today.

2. Not even for 45 seconds.

3. Straighten knees. (From "The Fetal Ball of Woe Position."

3. Unfold arms.

4. Stretch. Stretch, Stretch.

5. Assume the “Embrace The Whole World Position."

6. Breathe in deeply…all the way down to your diaphragm.

6. Hold the breath until it feels as if your rib cage will shatter.

7. Release the breath as slowly as you can. (Do not allow the panting rhythm.)

8. Repeat only 2 times. In between every breath mutter, "In every day, in every way, a little bit. Just. A little bit. Until it is done."

9. Sit up.

10. Place feet on the floor.

11. Do not allow for one single moment of sorry to cross you mind. (If necessary, flick your hands beginning from the wrist and releasing the energy outward. Your chin may need to do its best to connect with your heart beating frantically. Allow this.)

12. Stand. Assume "The Neutral Position."

13. Proceed.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Old as not to quote myself out of context

The Porno Pussy Talks Back

I live in low budget

X-rated porno movies with bad

soundtracks you turn down

so the neighbors won't know

what a perverted depraved prick you really are.

& I'm the star.

The pussy you know better than your girlfriend's face.

The pussy with that irresistible Vaseline and glitter smile.

The pussy with the perfectly done hair and better muscle tone

than all the personal trainers in L.A. combined.

The diploma carrying pussy with a doctorate

from Amsterdam 's red-light district and a concentration

in all the tasty tricks even the Kama Sutra wouldn't publish.

And you think

you could fuck this pussy?

You wish you could

get near this pussy.

This pussy is twenty-four inches big on a bad day.

A telephone pole would leave this pussy unfulfilled

(yet, amused by the high self-opinion the telephone pole

thinking it was large enough to appease me.)

Next to this pussy, you would be an ant. And itty bitty

irritating baby boy. This pussy could drown you,

make you choke to death on cum;

curl lips back in a snarl giggle

watching you writhe like a snake

in a voodoo lady's hand. This pussy

could cover your head and suffocate you,

or squeeze tight in a contraction and snap the head

right off your shoulders like a dandelion in a malicious child's fingers.

This pussy would love to eat you up for lunch just to burp out

your hair and teeth 'cause there are fireworks scheduled this evening.

Your eyes are bigger

than your head. I live in

low budget X-rated porno movies with bad

soundtracks you turn down

so the neighbors won't know

what a perverted depraved

prick you really are.

& I'm the star,

the Godzilla pussy

you think you want to fuck?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Ear On The Heart With Deep Rumble Hum Stance

(Or Go The Fuck To Sleep Already)

Staying At The Laptop Variation 1

Best achieved with under 8 year.olds

1. As child calls out that they will not be sleeping, remain seated in front of your machine. Call out, “Come, dear.”

2. As child approaches, close eyes.

2. Deep breathe.

3. Open eyes upon exhale.

4. Enter The Neutral Stance.

5. Open arms in what dancers call “Second position.”

6. Invite the child into your Circle Of Quiet.

7. Keep one hand on the keyboard, the other will gently and loving place the child’s head over the sternum.

8.Deep breath in.

9. Low vocalization on the exhale. “Hmmmmm. Or Shhhhhh” work very nicely.

10. Repeat whilst typing one handed.

11. Repeat approximately 15 times. Then, kiss the child’s forehead.

12. Whisper, “I love you and off you go. Meet you in the Dream Time.”

13. Gently re-direct the child’s body out of your Circle Of Quiet and in the right direction towards bed.

14. Say, “I need you to go make a fun place for us when I join you the Dream Time!

15. Maintain contact with machine whilst assuming “The Yes Position” and nodding while the child walks away.

16. Say, "Shhhh, surprise me! Love you! Meet you soon!"

17. Nod and smile as the child walks away.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Switzerland Is Beautiful.

grown-ups complicate

everything. we show up

on our children's doorstep

with 5 steamer trunks, 20 valises

and a hand bag.

then we have the nerve

to smile and invite

ourselves in. we also expect

them to be grateful. Sometimes...

Switzerland is

just &


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mom-Fu Basics.

Be = Action Statement.

Cause = Action Statement.

(Raise eyebrows. Graciously offer a good dictionary.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Mom-Fu - #7 - Home Training Basics

Home training assumes mastery of all of the positions previously discussed.

A child will happily wipe the spill from under his glass and the remnants on the counter top, if you have mastered “The Neutral Position,” “The Yes Position” and “The No Position.”

It all really starts out quite small.

Child: I can’t find boo-boo bear!

Mother: Well of course not.! Look at the mess! Oh, my!

Child: Boo-boo bear! (appears as if meltdown in approaching.)

Mother: (enters “The Yes Position.” And exclaims joyfully.) Why, we’ll just clean this house from top to bottom.

Child (dubious) Ummmmm….

Mother: Everything has a place and when everything is in it….nothing get lost. Not even Boo-boo Bear.”

Child: I just want Boo-Boo Bear!

Mother: (assumes the No Position) Well, then, let’s get started. You DO want Boo-Boo Bear, right.


Child: I just spilled the milk.

Mother (assumes Yes Position after moving through the No Screaming Position.) Are we so lucky we have sponges?

Child: Huh!

Mother: Look! How exciting! We have sponges. I’ll teach you.

Child: Oh! We have sponges.

Mother: How awesome! Should we try to do this with watercolors on paper later?"

Child: No, that's cool.

Mom-Fu #7 - The “Fetal Ball Of Woe Position” Variation 1 - Silent

It has already been established that you have precisely 5 − 10 minutes to feel deeply and profoundly sorry for yourself everyday. This is your basic right as a mother. Every morning, when your feet touch the floor, you breathe in this practice. Let go. And then assume “The Neutral Position.” But(!!!!!),

whatever should we do with the other 1,430 minutes of that day which are not spent sleeping, caring for others or pretending to achieve our life goals?

That is why the “Fetal Ball Of Woe Position” is every mother’s salvation. The importance of this position has been undermined by alcohol, pot, and/or any other drug a Mother might choose to simply get through her day. You don’t need these things!

Let’s face it. You can’t be a grown woman with no sorrows, unless you grew up in a cult. (And even then, you have a whole different set of woes.) We al have our deep sorrows, regrets, angers and stabby feelings.

The “Fetal Ball Of Woe Position” is a vitally important self-care nightly (or daily) ritual. It channels the chi or spirit or energy or soul into being able to be honest in all of the other position you will need everyday.

My preferred location is my bed. But, this position can be practiced anywhere you can reasonably expect 10 minutes of privacy. Set your timer for 10 to 15 minutes.

The “Fetal Ball Of Woe Position”

1. Lay down.

2. Bring knees to chest. (Or as close as you can get them.)

3. Fold arms in to the body. Elbows to diaphragm. Wrists to neck.

4. Open hands cover your face.

5. Breathe in deeply…all the way down to your diaphragm.

6. Hold the breath until it feels as if your rib cage will shatter.

7. Release the breath as slowly as you can. (It is perfect if you can get a panting rhythm going.)

8. Repeat.

9. After 10 repetitions, a “sobbing sensation” should occur. (Silent tears streaming down your cheeks are an awesome indication you have performed this correctly.)

10. Allow your Personal Injury Movie to play. (This is a stream of recollections involving anyone who has ever hurt your feelings, injured you or left you with an unmet need. ) Allow it to flow through your brain.

11. Pant them out.

12. Continue until the timer goes off.

13. Get a tissue. Clean your face off. (Lipstick is always a nice touch.)

14. Sleep. Or paint or compose. Or just do what needs to be done… like the dishes or laundry.

Side Note: Sex is always delightful after Step 13 because it leaves the practitioner in a open, receptive state which invites the nurturing and care of others. (Limited exclusively to people practicing Pop-Fu, and/or and other sensitive partner types. Yes, this has a hetero-normative bias….my apologies. I’ll try to work on that with your help.)

Mom-Fu Basics - The Personal Injury Movie

- a stream of recollections involving anyone who has ever hurt your feelings, injured you or left you with an unmet need. A vital and important part of employing the "The Fetal Ball Of Woe Position" in order to achieve an honest and authentic "Neutral Position."

Mom-Fu #6 - The Listening Position

The Listening Position.

Variation 1 - for unwelcome interruptions.

1. From “The Neutral Position,” invite “The Yes Position.”

2. Let the request begin to issue from their lips. Then, allow each vertebrae to release one by one until your chin rests gently on your chest.

3. Allow your shoulders to follow you neck and roll slightly forward.

4. Reverse.

5. Place hands together in a prayer stance. (A slight nostril flare is useful, but not vital.)

6. Assume a balance between the “The Neutral Position” and “The Yes Position.” This is best achieved with a slight crinkle of the eye corners, the slightest hint of a receptive smile.

7. Lean forward.

8. Make eye contact.

9. Listen.

From this position, you are ready to instantly assume No, Yes, I Don’t See Why Not, and I See Why Not, Can You? or the "How Awesome Are You?!? Position"

Sunday, July 08, 2012

MOM-Fu #5 - The Neutral Position

Growing up, my nanny used to say, “Be careful, your face might freeze like that!” Terrifying. Imagine your tongue stuck out; eyebrows ready to engage in battle with one another and your chin disjointed and asymmetrical. Forever! Terrifying truly. Make that face and imagine it stuck there forever.

Are you horrified? (Okay, I was.)

This theory was validated by my 7th grade science teacher. She talked about skin and muscles. She said, “All you have to do is look at an old person to tell if they were happy, sad, kind or ruthless and nasty. It’s all in their wrinkles. Keep your facial muscles relaxed at all times and smile. That way, when you are old, everyone will know how wonderful you are.”

Needless to say, that was all I needed to know. (She was very focused on muscles, muscle memory and appropriate planning. When we got to reproductive systems, she also talked of keagaling. But, that’s a different set of musings.)

From that moment forward, I understood the value of “The Neutral Position.” We do not wear our hearts on our sleeves. Whoever thought that up was a silly-pants. We wear our hearts on our faces and our hands and our feet.

The face is such a tiny portion of our body. It can’t even begin to contain our internal truths and myths. Our myths and truths show up as a twitchy finger. Or a clenched fist. But, it always starts in the face.

From time to time, I will be at the shop, squeezing lemons or fondling a new shirt. In these times, I employ “The Neutral Position.” Invariably, somebody brings a very loud discordant energy. There I am fondling peaches and deciding which ones are best for my family and suddenly a marching band of anger storms into the aisle.

Suddenly she (yes, it is usually a she) slams food into her cart. She’s got a scowl on her face. If she is with children, I know one of them is just about to employ familial patterning in age-appropriate way. (Or plainly said, they are gearing up for a temper-tantrum.) It is highly likely, that her tantrums were beaten out of her as a child. That is why she is in mega-chain store slamming things into her cart silently and angrily.

Chances are, no one ever told her she could just curl up in the fetal position and weep silently at night. No wonderful grandmother told her to wake up every morning and give herself precisely 10 minutes to feel vastly and profoundly sorry for her self, and then get about the day. It is not her fault.

Which is why the importance of “The Neutral Position” as a beginning stance for any woman wanting to learn “Mom-Fu” is essential.

“The Neutral Stance”

1. Wake up.

2. Set the timer for five or ten minutes.

3. Feel tremendously sorry for yourself. Weep a little. If you have time (best done at night) curl into the fetal position and heave sobs. Moan. Lament.

4. When the timer goes off. Dry your eyes., splash water on your face, stretch a little.

5. Relax every facial muscle.

6. Adjust to a mildly amused position.

7. Straighten your spine.

8. Square your shoulders.

9. Put one foot in front of the other and get about your business of the day.

10. Repeat until another stance is required.

Mom-Fu #4

Mom-Fu #4 “The Yes Position - Variation 1”

Mastery of “The Yes Position” virtually guarantees automatic success with “The No Position.” While this position is virtually indispensable in ever aspect of life, in this instance, it is applied towards children.

“The Yes Position” is one of the hardest Mom-Fu stances to master. Some may need a therapist to fully achieve it. Others can follow the simple tutorial below. Ability to meter “The Yes Position” is not a judgmental statement about ability.

It is a statement of fact which insists upon four premises. 1. Everyone has lived a life ~ good or bad. 2. Everyone’s personal journey includes: obstacles, defeats, triumphs, regrets, hum-drummery and abject nihilistic boredom. 3. Everyone can create action statements for themselves which assume “achievement,” yet, allows for “failure.” 4. Everyone is an awesome writer. At anytime a personal life story re-write is possible. Success can be revised as failure and failure revised as success.

The most frequent use of “The Yes Position” is when you are interrupted. Maybe you are cooking dinner and you dear beloved child(ren) come into the kitchen to ask a question. Maybe it is Saturday morning at 6:00, and you are being awakened by a happy, happy child who is delighted that the sun rose yet again. Perhaps, it is the middle of the night. Your bedroom lights are flicked unmercifully on, and your beloved child is here to share the details of their nightmare with you.

“The Yes Position” assumes that you made a whole human body out of your own and therefore, must nurture it. It is also effective with humans that you did not make, but with whom you wish to achieve a passing pleasantry.

This position affirms delight and attentiveness. It is also helpful to have a number of pet names. Honey, Sweetie and dear are wonderful casual words. My favorite with personal progeny is “My Love.”

Instructions: “The Yes Position - Variation 1 - Seated”

Upon the first utterance of “Mom.”

1. From the “The Neutral Face” position, allow a warm radiant smile to begin in the chin. The muscles drift upwards toward the crown chakra

2. Allow the lips, cheeks, eyes, and eyebrows to sweep upwards.

3. As the rising upward motion hits the cheek. The head slightly tilts to one side. The neck allows the chin to drop approximately 5 degrees. (Right or left is irrelevant. What feels good in your body is what is important.)

3. As this facial musculature action occurs, the spine should agree with it. The spine straightens.

4. The shoulder moves in relaxed opposition.

4A. It is assumed you are “doing something”. If you are. Stop. Facebooking? Lower your screen to 45 degrees. Cooking? Put the spoon down. Reading a book? Gently set it to the side.

5.Fold your hands as if in prayer.

6. Answer, “Yes, my love.”

7. Make eye contact.

8. Maintain the joyous smile. (Whatever visualization you use to maintain the joyous smile is irrelevant. Killing zombies? Good. The last great orgasm? Even better, it feed the positive energy of the smile better. Finding the perfect dress? Okay. The first time you held this creature in your arms? Bang! Pop! Sizzle!

9. Acceptance or denial of the action requested. Example: Child: "I can't sleep. I had a terrible nightmare. Mom: Lay next to me and close your eyes, we will change that nightmare by dreaming together." OR Child: "I'm hungry." Mom: "Well, then it sounds like it's time to make lunch." Alternate: "You just had lunch. You might be bored...let's empty the dishwasher!"

This is the basic set up for “The Listening Position,” “The Sigh Position,” and the “I See Why Not, Can You Position.”

Friday, July 06, 2012

Mom-Fu #3 - The No Screaming Position

This position is to be used when you or others do something awful. It is not for actions which make you feel "stabby." It is for genuine mistakes. Those little moments when what happened is actually a trigger point touching on something deeper with in yourself.

The No Screaming Position

1. Smack head. (You determine how hard, just knock that anger right out of your head.)

2. Take deep breath.

3. Close eyes and calmly, elegantly drop hand and arm down to your side.

4. Open eyes.

5. Paste a radiant smile on your face. (Whatever internal image can bring this forth is at your discretion. The only thing you need to do is achieve that radiant smile.)

6. Offer a helpful solution.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Frock Dream

We had an AFS student from Norway when I was in high school. She was almost six feet tall, blonde, fit and ready to be fierce. I was kind kind of dumpy white girl-gone-tanned-in-Aspen brown, pretty face, curvy, (or sturdy - as more liberal friends would say.) We embraced the mission. From day one, we were sisters! My family is her family. Her family is my family. Wow!

What a relief that she became the top Public Defender in Norway. (Yes, we shared spirit drenching conversations last time we saw each other. She is representing that serial killer (77 dead) who now faces sentencing.) We love each other deeply and even time and space will never separate us.

How much we loved her yelling, “Dad! Dad!” after my cinnamon Daddy. We all loved arresting every human being within ear and eye-shot …at Saks 5...the country club…whatever place we had already transgressed with our Blackness. Just honoring a mission. A mission which allows her to be an attorney. A mission which has made her everything I need not strive to be. A mission of doing what you are best at regardless of what anyone else thinks you ought be.

(Honestly, my father was right. It is too tiresome and truly against my nature to enter into the head of a serial killer and give him a right and fair trial. Let my sister defend the mass-murderer. Let me mine all of the questions. Let answers fall out of my mouth like the diamonds of the fairy-tale girl. Let them cut my mouth.)

Let me smile and hold a mission which says, "you aren't going to write about any of this are you?"

But, didn’t we always look so awesome in our matching outfits?

So the dream. My dear AFS sister is here for a visit. There will be a great party to celebrate her. She is the perfect daughter and I am so glad that I do not have to be. I am filled with gratitude! All spotlight on the most appropriate! I heave sobs in my husband’s arms at nights after these about gratitude and the freedom to take liberty.

In this dream, my house has a lovely “his and her” bathroom that my sister and I share. Both of us can shower, choose our clothes from the huge walk-in closet, and chat without being too much in each other’s face.

Well, she is showering. I don’t remember her shower stall having a sit-down ledge. But there she is relaxing; sitting down; her long legs stretched up in the air; the razor moving precise and perfect down toned legs. Getting ready in 10 minutes perfect.

Me? I’ve showered. And I am walking around this massive closet. Everything that fits - and is appropriate - is either too big or too small. And it will be hot outside. I need something loose and flowing. Something that makes my size 12 frame look as good as her size 6. (We don’t wear matching frocks anymore.)

I riffle through the clothes and come across a perfect dress which fits me exquisitely. Proportioned well enough to let me breath freely and yet tight enough to show that I am not a “gym avoider.”

It is made of black leather, it has buckles and straps which accentuate all of the right places viewers should observe. No. This is not the cocktail frock for this event. I place it back on the bar.

There is a sailor dress to the right. But, that hangs on me. It shows every single way I was once fat.

There is a sweet not quite Black Watch plaid jumper reminiscent of our school days. It fits perfectly! Except, nobody could see my waist. And that is where she and I always differed. It’s why I looked so “sturdy” next to her. She was rail thin perfect. I had curves which could jack up the train. We were quite the team.

Finally, I find an A-line, delicate chiffon circa 1950’s frock I must have inherited from my Aunt Billy. Delicate perfection, it is sheer. But, not too sheer. I happen to be wearing the exactly perfect colored bra to go underneath it.

(I must have worn this once when I was 14 years old, but, with combat boots, ripped fishnet stockings and that wide flaring petticoat.)

But, tonight, I can pair it with delicate flats, a string of husband-gifted pearls and naked legs which need no shaving due to “good” genetics. If only I can find the petticoat. And there it is! I put my right leg inside the waist.

That is when my husband wakes me. Putting on the petticoat; being myself and acceptable.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Drunk Walkers

integrated. obeyed the laws

of scrutiny. mimicked

the sameness of privilege. knowing

our demons had a casual acquaintance

with one another. cocktails,

pinochle, perfect table

settings with name cards carefully delineating

the who is who of who

in the book of whom.

we all knew to be

a preordained percentage.

mocking the white middle class

seems so deliciously retro.

look at the photographs.

posh Negro women

strutting Saks 5 wrangled

frocks from sisters passing

as sale clerks or under the table

union shop rebellions never to be outed.

savoring piece work in The Courier.

oh, high society! how precious


the pre-ordained silent

subversive community.

until we started to dismantle

the stress of ceasing

to be gatekeepers.

took our education

to the courts. open

doors. and the sight of shot guns

from both sides asking why

would you unweave

this precious

precarious fabric?

the dinner parties with poker,

place cards, china

and back street high street

frocks. unraveled some so much

that a secret society

formed. A solemn

order was born.

the women

make and do and

do make. lovely.

but, when they break,

we must never let others

know. we are fragile

people walking off the crazy

we drink. looking so pretty

and deadly sober come morning.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Mom-Fu #1 - "The No Position"

A friend was fretting about over-compensating for being a busy working mother. But, I think it applies in all instances when a temper is forthcoming. You can see a child wrking up to a temper fit, if you are just connecting with the energy around you. So, I encouraged her to contemplate using the "No Position." I thought, I'd expand on how to practice this important stance for inter-acting with children...your own or other wise..

Employing the "No Position"

1. The "No" involves complete relaxation. It involves "being inside your NO." There will be no need to tense your muscles. There will be no need to snatch somebody. There will be no need to make any physical intervention. The "NO" is final and without debate.

2. Relax all of your facial muscles into a "NO position." This is the beginning of the cascade effect. They know the indisputable, "NO" is coming. They may not trust that it will happen. But, if practiced early in a child's life, just the relaxing of the eyebrows can get them on page.

3. Next, relax your entire body into the "No position." Feet wide apart, shoulders relax, neck cocked slightly to the side. "

4. Speak quietly and issue the command for desired behavior. "We are leaving now." Gather your things, walk to the door." OR "We had lots of sugar today. We can think about that tomorrow." OR "It is time to put your toys away, put on your coat and walk to the door."

5. Choices should be offered freely, but only when they can actually make that decision and you are willing to abide by their choices. When there is no choice, well, there isn't.

6. Combine the "No Position" with "The I-Don't-See-Why-Not" Theory of parenting. Question "Can I eat candy at 10:00 AM?" Answer: "Well, you ate 2 eggs, a bagel and some ham for breakfast. I'm thinking about some fruit and vegetables." Answer: "Oh, I could eat some carrots." Well, when you've done that, I don't see why not. Or yesterday, you didn't brush your teeth after eating candy. So, I'm worried." This ultimately leads to better dialog. Question: "Can I have some candy?" Answer: Can you see why I think not?" Answer: "Oh, right. I think I'll get some healthy food, ask again later and promise to brush my teeth." Answer: "You're awesome!"

Practiced from toddler hood, just the relaxation of the body into the "No position" is very effective. And for some reason, regardless of home, upbringing or their situation, children understand a "No position" when they see it. If you expect a fight, you'll get it. If "No" is the answer and there is a legitimate reason, "why not." They will answer their own questions.

“It Takes a Village To Raise A Child.”

So they say. Hilary Clinton even made it her slogan. But, in a cultural climate where individuals have been encouraged to believe that we are all out for ourselves, this raises some interesting culture clashes.

On one hand, there is a (right) premise that each one should practice their individuality and exercise their personal freedoms, regardless, of the impact they have on others. I hear the phrase, “As long as that is working for your family, I’m glad for you.” It’s the new “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.”

On the other hand, we have become accustomed to being judged. The media fans the fires of “The Mommy War.” In essence, this attacks the very old cliched proverb which has allowed us as a species to survive.

So, many confusing messages! When should we intervene when a child is “stepping out?” I mean, do we know the circumstances of that child? Are they participating in the ADD and ADHD phemoenena? Is their child off of their meds? What kind of living hell are they in every day? No matter how wonderfully they attempt to modify this child’s behavior, it is never enough.

Even if I don’t believe in the “problem,” who am I to shove my viewpoints on others? Watching The War Against Kids, showed me how well we have taught ourselves to doubt children, each other and build bubbles around ourselves.

Because that is a theme right now. There is never enough. Scarcity, poverty and isolation combined with the ability to judge are good tools to help everyone isolate themselves from others.

So, we over-think. We are afraid to re-act. We silence ourselves, when by speaking out, we could make a difference.

When I was growing up, I could expect three “talking-to’s,” one ass-smacking and the phone ringing off the hook when I walked in the door. (This would be followed by a calculated administration of the belt with a predetermined number of lashes from an eerily calm parent and a “talking-to delivered by an attorney who treated me like a witness on a stand.)

These days, look cross-eyed at an out-of-control child; raise an eye-brow at a whining parent and get prepared for all of their unmet needs to come at your face like an angry hive of hornets. So, we all just turn away. We manage our discomfort in whatever way we have to. And we fear offering a helping hand because….it has become okay to bit the hand which actually offers substance.

Well - I still believe that every child within my eye-sight is my child. So, I offer these tips.

1. Step out of judgement. Offer solutions, not criticisms. Offer the best solution you have available at the time. “Gee, it’s hot. I have an extra juice box. May I offer to your child?” OR “Wow! It can seem like a really hard time to wait in a busy restaurant. Would you make me a picture? Here is a pen and paper.” Or “If your Mom says it is okay, I’d love to offer you some of my….whatever I haven’t put my mouth on and can’t be contagious.”

2. Honor your own beliefs without judging. “I’m sorry, I heard your mother say, “No.” In our house, that’s the final answer. Maybe next time you can take a walk with us. We’d love to have you.” OR “Buses can be very boring. Singing quietly can be fun. (Whisper) Do you know this song? Proceed to sing any good nursery song.”

3. Engage the parent. “Wow, is it like this for you everyday? Yeah. That’s hard. I’d be happy to look after your kids while you ran to the bathroom to take 5.” (Look over at the other embarrassed parent and affirm, “You’ll help, right?”

4. Praise the child or the mother. Child “Wow! You noticed that candy bar was on sale! Good reading! But, it might not be in the budget. I bet you can wait until it is. You are smart like that.” Or Mother, “Wow, I really admire a parent who cares about nutrition. (To the child) Your mother loves you sooooo much! She said no to that ice cream because she wants you to be healthy. You lucky, lucky child.”

5. Ask questions and state your own truth. (To the person in line behind you, watching someone smack their kid and call them names.) “I prefer to show peace than to demonstrate violence. Have you read about police officers arresting Kindergartners for temper tantrums? Mmmm…mmmm….mmmm. Guess it’s back to the plantations for all of us. Even the White folks who ain't rich.”

These are all just tips off of the top of my head. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how we re-write our internal dialog. How we display it to the world. How we create new scripts for interacting with people around us in meaningful ways. How we stop letting a sickened society continue to divide and separate us. The way stopping to truly think about an aggravating situation can help us make new scripts which honor and see each other. To embrace that “acting out” is an expression of an un-met need.

Breaking The Reading Barrier

For nine years, I have been fretting about my son reading. All of my unschool friends just assured me that it would happen when it was time to happen. Last night, my son transformed from a “reluctant reader” to an enthusiastic reader.

It’s one thing to believe that you trust your child. It’s quite another to put that into practice. Anyone who know me, also knows how much my son amazes me. But, he has been something of a challenge.

He is not a challenge in the traditional meaning such as rambunctious, temper-tantrum kinds of ways. It always been his patience with himself and his own process that has been a challenge. He sort of arrived on this planet with a personal philosophy he articulated around the age of two. “I do by self.”

And he is quite firm about following this little mantra. He has a way of doing things. And when he is asked to deviate from his personal way of understanding things, he patiently, calmly and cheerfully makes it clear that it won’t work.

I used to call it, cheerful non-compliance. I would sit him down to do work sheets or visit educational websites designed to teach him how to read. And he would cheerfully sit there and hum or sing and take about 15 minutes to write the letter “A.” Eventually, I would become so frustrated that I just concluded the lesson.

It has been a long journey. A journey of trying to get out of the way of his willingness to learn. As far as I knew, I was doing everything “right.” I introduced books at an early age. I offered to read to him frequently. Sometimes, I just insisted that it was “reading time.” Then one day, I realized he didn’t like to read what I thought was excellent reading material. I realized, I was reading him the wrong things. An exciting bed time story was not a classic folktale, it was non-fiction. Dutifully, at bed time I would read to him the life cycle of butterflies, cell structure or nocturnal animals.

Then - we met a librarian who found kinds of fiction he liked. And I thought, “Awesome! We are on our way!” And we were reading fiction again. And sometimes, he would pick up his favorites and mull over Then, I re-defined what reading to him meant. I read him video games hour after hour until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Eventually, he started to just learn to read those things to himself.

But still he showed no inclination towards picking up a book and reading it himself. So, I thought, I am not doing this properly. I got a tutor. And she started working through it. She experienced the same cheerful non-compliance. But, that wasn’t going to stop her. Still, he performed for her. I carefully monitored his likes and dislikes. Still, he showed no interest in picking up a book and reading it to himself.

Fortunately, I had experience in the “I do by self,” attitude. My daughter read well and often at a much earlier age. She read her first chapter book after an afternoon of reading. Then, when I stopped because other things needed to happen, she defiantly announced, “Fine, I’ll just read it to myself.” She did. An enthusiastic reader was born.

Recently, we’ve been reading the works of Nnendi Okorafor. At first, I thought, this is it! This is our “!AhAuthor.” We were reading more. It opened doorways into an infinite amount of study he wants to do. Our whole list of “learning objectives changed in the course of a few books. And then I found “Long Juju Man,” and thought, this is the break through book. Close, but, it laid a foundation for being open to his own “Aha! Book.” What Miss Okorafor did for him is let him know that there are unique voices out there saying very cool things which he will only ever discover in a book. (I learned this because I tried reading the Harry Potter Books and The Lightning Thief Series to him, but the movies were good enough. He just preferred to read the supplemental materials...the original myths. The movies delivered all the modern day acoutrements to making them relevant.) Mis Okorafor's work was fresh and more importantly spoke to his soul.

Part of this journey has been realizing and accepting that my son has strong tastes. He has always had distinct literary preferences. He has a way of doing things. My job is to pay attention.

But, it was my husband who finally put all the puzzle pieces together. Our son has been reading “pinyin” since he was four or five. He has been reading music since around that same time. He has a way with patterns and numbers. He often writes backwards. Sometimes in mirror. He has a preference for anime. So, of course, the breakthrough book would be Manga. A book read backwards with lots of pictures and dialog.

And when I was done reading to him for the evening, just like his sister, he cheerfully said, “I’ll just read it myself, if that offer to stay up and read in my bedroom is still okay. That is what he did. Now, he wants to get the next book in the series.

Here is where patience and observation and preparing a child to be ready let me know that it is okay to trust my children. It is not my job to judge what they are reading. It is my job to encourage a supportive climate for reading and provide all the necessary building blocks which help them achieve their goal . Ultimately, they will find their path.