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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Is it just me, or does it seem like the last few months of the year go incredibly fast?  We hit October and there’s Halloween.  You blink and it’s Thanksgiving.  You blink again and it’s Christmas/Hanukkah, and one more blink and it’s an entirely New Year!

New Years Eve

As I wrote in a previous post, we celebrate many holidays in our home.  We keep the Christmas decorations up after the New Year until the 12 days of Christmas are over – January 6.  The Littlest E was on break from school for 2-½ weeks and my husband took a staycation for 1 of those weeks.  It was wonderful to have both of them home.  Tom and I didn’t need to set an alarm clock because we knew our lively lad would wake us up around 6:30. I think once or twice during that week, we were blessed with a 7:00 appearance.  The luxury of sleeping in!  Part of me does look forward to the day when The Littlest E is a bit older and actually, truly does sleep in, however, I love the mornings when he wants to come in bed with us and hang out.  It’s awesome family time.  And, of course, our dog, Pepper, has to get in on the action, too.

Holiday time is such a busy time, with vacation, visiting friends, holiday gatherings, all the planning and prep it takes, etc., etc., etc.  Many people take time to reflect at year’s end and come up with resolutions for the approaching year.  I used to pick Angel Cards to see what words would be my focus for the year ahead.  I’ve never really been a New Year’s resolution person though, and, since bringing The Littlest E home with us from Ethiopia 4+ years ago, there doesn’t seem too much time during the holidays for major introspection.

That time happened on January 6.  Tom started back to work on January 5, and The Littlest E went back to school the next day. After I dropped him off, I came home, walked the dog and then proceeded to put away all our holiday decorations.  It was the first time in a couple of weeks I was alone for an extended period.  Pepper was resting and the house was quiet.  The only sounds were cars driving by on a street nearby, the heat coming through the vents wafting warm air my way, and an occasional bird making its voice heard.  It was the perfect opportunity for a bit of contemplation about the year past and the year ahead, and the floodgates of my mind opened with numerous thoughts rushing in.

Meeting Mickey

We had a good year as a family last year.  We traveled a bit to see our families, went to an Ethiopian adoptive heritage camp, went glamping with classmates from preschool, and took The Littlest E to Disneyland for the first time.  The Littlest E began asking more questions about his adoption.  Both Tom and I provided him and will continue to provide him with answers that are appropriate for his age. You’d be surprised at the kinds questions he was asking.  Kids are perceptive and understand more than we think they do.  I won’t go into details because it gets into territory that belongs to our son, since his adoption is his story to tell. I’m just really glad we are here at this point, and he’s asking.  It’s so important for him and for everyone concerned.

I love my family and honestly, couldn’t ask for anything more, well, maybe a bigger house, but that will happen in due time.  Our nightly gratitudes we say at dinner make me feel, well, grateful.  I hear the things my son is grateful for and it puts a smile on my face. Pepper, joined the family this past September and she’s love personified.  She fit right in with minimal adjustment.  Our new routine of daily walks including one in the morning with my son, allows me special one-on-one time with him, and a bit of exercise to boot.  I love just being with him.  We’re all good.  Tom and I could always use more date nights, but I think we have a balance that works.  I want to continue to love and support my hubby in all his endeavors.

Lightsaber!

The explosion of growth that has gone on with The Littlest E this year, not just height, but brain power, imagination, energy, and appetite.  You name it.  He’s sight-reading some words, and they’re learning to write in class.  Watching him figure things out is one of the neatest things I’ve seen or when he’s focused on building something with his Magna Tiles or figuring out answers to questions from his Sylvan learning books, it’s the best.  His imagination is on fire. The first part of last year was all about the Ninja Turtles.  Then the last six months and currently, it’s everything Star Wars. Everything is a lightsaber or sword.  He’s watched a Star Wars movie with lightsaber in hand ready to do battle along the other Jedi, literally. We have rules of play in the house that he observes (most of the time).  He can fight with Darth Wingback or Darth Couch, but can’t fight with Mom and Dad, if neither of us cares to join in.  And he loves stories, too. Right now Tom is reading to him a lot of Greek myths.  The Littlest E LOVES them and regularly asks on the way to school, “Tell me a story, Mommy.” Star Wars, Disney movies, Eurydice, anything made up, often make the ask list. Being a Mom is the coolest thing.

Myths

A headspace occupier for us this past year has been the quest for a kindergarten.  When I was a child, schools were vastly different. So it’s been a blog-worthy journey trying to figure out the best option for our son.  We’re not sure how things will unfold.  We’ll know in the next few months.  We just hope we do right by our son, and are excited about where he’s headed for his next phase of life and education.

Aside from a bit of skin cancer, I had a pretty good year.  Now that The Littlest E is older and heading off to kindergarten in the fall, I’m ready to get back to work and start contributing financially to our house.  In serving on the board of Connect-A-Kid and working on my project, I discovered that I’m pretty adept in reaching out to strangers, making cold calls, and networking, particularly when I truly believe in something.  I’ve got my project and I’m also partnering with a girlfriend to help her event company thrive.  I’m excited about both opportunities and have faith that it’s all going to fall into place one way or another. Somehow the Universe has always provided, when I do the footwork.  The biggest challenge from last year, as I think with any parent or person for that matter, is balance, when to say yes, when to say no, and when to take action or take it easy.  Balance will be key this year, too.

So, no resolutions, though more exercise should be on the list as well as cutting back on watching so much television, just ideas and thoughts about 2015, and reflections on 2014.  With life there are ups and downs. Hopefully, the year ahead will have more ups than downs. Hopefully, all the grandparents will stay healthy.  Hopefully, the year will be filled with wonderful adventures, good times with family and friends, and personal, professional, spiritual and emotional growth for the three of us.  We’ll see how the year unfolds!

Images: Cindy Kilpatrick, Melanie Elliott

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A good friend if mine knows a family in need so I am reblogging her blog here to give you information to help the family. Give Forward is such a wonderful organization.  Please help if you can.   Thank you.

“No way around it,  being a parent of a child on the spectrum is a big challenge.  Throw in Cancer on top of that, and well,  it’s even harder. That cancer, for TMR’s Booty Kicker Melanie is out of remission and spreading for the third time…She has a beautiful Non-verbal child who needs care 24/7.  Right now this is Melanie’s world.   Melanie is a mover and a shaker who is fighting as hard as she can to kick cancer’s butt a third time. Please join us in supporting her family in their time of need. We know Melanie has so much faith,  love and healing energy behind her.  Please say a prayer for her and her family now, too,  see her happy and healthy and caring for her amazing son.  We are all cheering you on Melanie  sending you love and light and healing!!

If you would like to donate to the fundraising Campaign to support Mel and her family please visit the Give Forward donation page to DONATE HERE: Melanie’s Give Forward Page.”

Send love and prayers to Melanie, Luke and Tim

Send love and prayers to Melanie, Luke and Tim

Original blog written by Monika Ostroff

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Over the summer, my husband and I purchased a new computer. For a couple of years, I have not been able to sync my iPhone with our computer and upload the hundreds of photos I’ve taken in that time. Somehow, on my phone and in iPhoto, there are duplicates and triplicate of the same photos. These last few weeks, I’ve tasked myself with going through each photo/video and deleting any duplicates. Tedious as it is sorting through 2,000+ photos, it’s given me an opportunity to look at our family photos, our memories of a lifetime.

Life did exist before we welcomed The Littlest E into our lives. Tom and I dated for a couple of years before marrying and we spent 6.5 years of our marriage working at starting a family. Though, in that time there were lots of valleys, there were also many peaks. Our honeymoon is Greece, Turkey and Paris was an amazing trip, though I didn’t have my iPhone back then, nor did we own a digital camera so our pictures are all in print. The Alaska cruise with Tom’s family in 2009, our Christmas in Taos and Santa Fe, and the trip to the Grand Canyon. We also took a couple of trips with a support group I’m a part of for women who used Eastern and Western medicine to help in making their families. Those trips were to the Bahamas and Asheville, NC. All of these trips were amazing experiences, adding to our palate as individuals and as a couple. I also have pictures of the home we bought in 2007. Life documented in photos.

Then on April 9, 2010, our lives changed forever when I received the call from the adoption agency telling me they had a baby boy available for referral. Four months later, The Littlest E became our son. Fortunately for us, our agency sent us a number of photos of him along with a 13-minute video, before we even met him. We are grateful to have those images. These photos will eventually become part of his lifebook. Since he’s 5, he’ll help create his lifebook with us, which hopefully will be a good family bonding experience.

I know I’m not the only parent who’s browsed through family photos. Aren’t we all lucky to have them? Moments captured in time. Going through these photos brought back so many memories, our trip to bring The Littlest E home, his first few days/weeks/months with us, and the cementing of our family life. We have photos of all his toddler adventures with friends from the parenting classes Burbank Adult School and Sunnyside Preschool. I’ve looked at photos of holidays, boo boos, our travels to see family, the day our son became a U.S. citizen, and most recently, all of The Littlest E’s adventures in soccer, baseball and basketball. I wasn’t just looking at them, but re-experiencing them. Thankfully, my task isn’t finished yet.

What I glean from this trip down memory lane is we have built a lovely life for us and for our son. Most of the photos are filled with smiles, love and joy with The Littlest E, family members and friends. We are blessed to live the life we do, and I’m eternally grateful The Littlest E is part of it. If you have a minute, or five or fifteen, take time to look at your photos, your memories of a lifetime.

Next up, I’ll be writing about continuing The Littlest E’s Ethiopian culture, and all that entails.

©2014 Melanie Elliott

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Several weeks ago my husband and I took The Littlest E to African Cradle, a heritage camp for Ethiopian adoptive families. We all had an amazing time and I was excited to share about it on my blog. Then we came home to news about Michael Brown’s death and our amazing camp bubble burst. I’ll still write about our weekend, but it’s important to talk about what happened in Ferguson and to Michael Brown.

Once again, an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed this time by a police officer. The death and subsequent protests, militarization of police, unrest, deployment of the National Guard, peaceful protests, and Michael Brown’s funeral have occupied much of the news and, as upsetting as it has been, I’m glad it’s out there for the world to see. Why you might ask? Because the incidents in Ferguson highlight what’s going on in America. We are an incredible and wonderful nation, but we also have a dark side, and that dark side is our racial divide which doesn’t seem to go away no matter how many young, unarmed black men are killed, and no matter how often these stories make the airwaves.

Every time an unarmed, black youth is killed, I can’t help but think, that could be The Littlest E. He’s only 5 years old, but he’s already 3’ 9” and could be well over 6’ by the time he’s Michael Brown’s age. Who knows how much he’ll weigh by then? Currently, he’s this energetic, engaging, lovely, bright child, but someday, in the not too distant future, unless we shift how we view people of color at a cellular level, someone is going to walk on the other side of the street when he walks down the street. This happened to a black friend of mine. Or, maybe someone will follow him around a store when he’s shopping to see if he’s going to steal something, which also happened to a friend of mine. Or, maybe he’ll be pulled over for no reason whatsoever except that he happens to be a young, black man driving in a white neighborhood. This hypothetical list could go on ad infinitum, which is heartbreakingly sad.

At the root of the issue is this (and this is my opinion only) – ingrained in a number of Americans is the idea that black men are threatening. It may be unconscious, it may be masked as something else, but it’s there at a deep level. This can also be said of basically any person of color. Not all people of color are bad and not all white people are good. But knowing it, and KNOWING it are two different things. Maybe Michael Brown’s death will finally force us to have unpleasant discussions about race in our country. Maybe this will lead to some healing. Maybe things don’t change and Americans aren’t able to rise above our issues. I don’t know. It seems we have a lot of work to do as a nation. We could all use a course or two in diversity training. Seriously. We can’t ignore Michael Brown’s death.

Across the board, police need to undergo special training when dealing with teenagers and mentally ill people. Shortly after Michael Brown’s death, another man, Kajieme Powell, in St. Louis, was shot many times by police and killed. I watched the video of this on YouTube. It was horrifying. The man obviously had serious mental issues and was carrying a knife of some kind, but there wasn’t any reason for the police to shoot him as many times as they did after he was down, and then put him in handcuffs when he was obviously dead. It’s the same with Michael Brown. There was no need to shoot him 6 times. I’m not saying give teenagers or mentally ill people a pass, especially when there is a real threat to a police officer or person, but what about shooting to wound and not kill? A shot to the leg or knee can do an awful lot of damage, stop a person in their tracks, and give the police officer time to regroup without having to shoot to kill. Maybe I’m being naïve.

Police officers also need to not always jump to conclusions when they see a black man walking down the street. On Monday, television producer, Charles Belk, 51, was arrested in Beverly Hills and held for 6 hours because he fit the profile of a suspected bank robber. Here is a bit of his Facebook post: “Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that my car had been impounded…..All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong ‘tall, bald head, black male,’ … “‘fitting the description.’”

The police mishandled the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death. Was there a need to militarize the police force? It only fueled the flames of unrest that first week. Thankfully, calmer heads took over and they actually had someone from the community in charge, which inevitably led to lesser violence. But, will justice be served? Will Darren Wilson ever be arrested? Why is it that he didn’t file an incident report until days later, and when he did, there was no relevant information about what actually took place that day? Why is he still on paid leave? There are many unanswered questions that will hopefully be answered in due time.

Another thing that really upsets me is why people feel it’s important to demonize Michael Brown, demonize the victim? Yes, he got into a bit of trouble as a teen. Yes, he stole from the convenience store. I’m not saying he was a saint, but he was your average teenager. So, because he was flawed he deserved to die? Who knows how his life could have turned out once he started college? His parents will never know.

What we need is a continual, honest, national dialogue on race relations in our country, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, starting at the community level and reaching out to the states, then regions, then nationally. This issue isn’t going to be solved overnight. We must make a conscious effort if we are to learn, understand and grow.

What will it take for us to dig down deep and shift how we see those we consider “other?” Since becoming The Littlest E’s mom, my acceptance of others and openness to diversity has broadened considerably. Did you ever see the Matthew McConaughey movie A Time To Kill? Samuel L. Jackson plays a man on trial for murdering two white men after he learned those men raped his 10-year old daughter. Mr. McConaughey plays the lawyer defending him.  In one scene, there’s only a shot of Mr. McConaughey as he describes the events of Mr. Jackson’s daughter and what happened to her. He asks the jury to close their eyes and he goes through step-by-step detailing what happened to the little girl, so the jury and the movie-watching audience is taken on this journey together. At the end of his monologue he says something like, “now imagine she’s white.” We can’t ignore Michael Brown’s death.

©2014 Melanie Elliott

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Today was the first day it truly felt like fall.  We live in Los Angeles so, compared to the most of the United States, we don’t really experience the usual changing of the seasons.  It has been a long, hot summer with temperatures in the San Fernando Valley going well beyond 100°.  For the past few months, not a day has gone by where we haven’t used air conditioning to cool off the house.  This is not too far out of the norm for Los Angeles, but for some reason, this summer seemed endless.  Today was also the first day our house was an air conditioner free zone.  It was cool this morning when my son, The Littlest E, and I ran a couple of errands.  Refreshing to feel the fresh breeze on our skin as opposed to wafts of sauna-like air.

I love fall.  It may be one of my favorite seasons.  Yes, there are only four, yet this one sticks out in my mind.  Until we turn the clocks back ending Daylight Saving Time, it’s darker in the mornings.  This darkness is comforting, giving the dawn a welcoming, peaceful quality.  In Los Angeles, we don’t see the leaves transform from green to yellow, orange, red and brown.  We witness little hints here, but nothing like walking down tree-lined streets in the Midwest or back east.  That is a breathtaking site, Mother Nature doing her handiwork.  It’s one of the things I miss about living in Chicago.

With the advent of fall, comes the mental prepping for the fall holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Halloween is such a fun holiday now that The Littlest E is getting older.  As a child and young adult, I loved the holiday, but over the years it lost its luster.  I remember one October evening in Chicago back in 1994 that holiday magic reappeared.  I was walking from grad school in Lincoln Park to a friend’s house close by and decided to go a way I’d never taken before.  It wasn’t that late, but it was dark out.  Suddenly, I came upon a house whose entire front was lit up with these amazing jack-o’-lanterns.  There must have been well over a hundred illuminated pumpkins in various sizes and designs.  They were everywhere.  Time ceased to move, as I stood there mesmerized by the magnificence before me.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Incredible.  If only iPhones existed back in 1994.  To this day, I’m not sure whether what I saw was real or my imagination.  I never knew the name of the street I was on and wasn’t able to find it again.  That memory magically haunts my mind this time of year.

This year, as last year, we’ll go trick or treating with our friends and their kids.  The Littlest E can’t decide whether to be a dinosaur or dragon.  Tom and I can’t decide whether we want to be a thematic family or do our own thing.  We’re going to be carving pumpkins for the first time and I can’t wait!  I wonder if our son will like roasted pumpkin seeds and sticking his hands inside the pumpkins to take out the squishy pulp?  Seeing and experiencing Halloween with The Littlest E has given this holiday new meaning and excitement.  The same goes for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all.  It’s about family, friends, love, food, treasuring the moments we have with one another and being thankful for the blessings in our lives.  It’s a wonderful holiday filled with many happy memories.  I will always remember our first Thanksgiving as a family.  The Littlest E had been home with us from Ethiopia for nearly 4 months.  We went over to my brother’s house for turkey dinner and celebrated the evening with his family and their friends.  Everyone who hadn’t met our son was excited to see him.  Most knew of our long journey to becoming a family and they shared in our joy.  We loved spending time with our niece and nephew.  A Thanksgiving filled with great food, good company, guitar playing and our son with us for the first of many Thanksgivings to come.

This year, we’ll be spending Thanksgiving weekend with my Mom’s side of the family.  It’s been awhile since we’ve done this and it’ll be great to see relatives we haven’t seen for a long time.  It’ll be like attending a family reunion and what better time to have it.  Some family members have yet to meet The Littlest E and we have yet to meet the newest member of my Uncle’s family.  Looking forward to creating new memories for The Littlest E.  A couple of values I hope my husband and I instill in our son are the importance of family and tradition.  Continuing to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, those values will take root.

Fall signifies the beginning of the end of the current year.  Somehow time goes by incredibly quickly once we hit October.  Holidays, birthdays, moving from fall to winter everything seems to accelerate and before we know it, it’s a new year.  It all reminds me that time is precious and moments are precious.  Already it’s our third fall with our son and I know he’ll grow up before our eyes.  Going into this season, I want to make sure we capture as much as we can whether through pictures or video to create living memories for us and for our son.

Images: White93, Brett L., toholio

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I was all set to post my blog, Happiness In Extended Family, when I realized Father’s Day is tomorrow.  This got me thinking about Father’s Day and dads in general.

Growing up, my dad may not have been around all that much because he was out working, trying to grow his business so he could support our family, but he was there for main events, birthday parties, soccer matches (he even coached one year), graduations, plays and other events involving my brother and sister.  I don’t remember whether he changed my cloth diapers or fed me as a baby.  What I do remember is him being around when it counted and when he was needed.

One year when I was in college, my dad came to see me in a musical.  He forgot the flowers he was going to give me, and drove all the way from Berkeley to Sausalito and back (which is not a short route) to make sure I had the flowers by the musical’s end.  He missed most of the show, yet I got a gorgeous bouquet, a thoughtful, thoughtful gift.  He was so proud of me.

My stepfather has been in my mom’s life since 1983 and has been my stepfather since 1988, almost my entire adult life.  He’s like a second dad to me, sharing insights, guidance, encouragement, and, of course, fatherly love.  We have a special connection because we’re both writers.  I had the privilege of being one of the first to read a book he wrote and helped him edit it.

I watch my brother be a dad to my almost teenage nephew and 9-year old niece.  He’s a great dad from what I can tell, attentive, present, loving, committed to doing the best for his family and to being the best dad.  It’s wonderful.

My husband, Tom, has been dad to our son, The Littlest E, for almost 2 years now and it fills my heart to the bursting point with love and admiration when I see him with our son.  There’s no doubt about their connection.  I’m at home with our son during the weekdays, but the minute Daddy walks through our front door, it’s “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.”  I love it when The Littlest E asks first thing, “How was your day Daddy?” and wants to help my husband by taking his computer case into our bedroom.  After dinner, while I’m doing the dishes, they’re out in the back playing soccer or baseball (the version for an almost 3-year old) until bath time.

Right now the two of them are at the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival at the Japanese American National Museum on a father and son adventure.  They do these outings regularly, whether it’s to the Los Angeles Zoo, or a walkway near Ventura Boulevard.  It’s important they have their father/son time together and The Littlest E loves it!  It’s their special time.

Tom is an amazing parent.  He’s a hands-on kind of dad and gives The Littlest E his nightly bath and reads and sings to him at bedtime.  He also takes time off work to attend events at our son’s preschool.  He’s fully present in our son’s life.  I guess that’s more the norm these days, different from when I was a child.  By and large, today’s fathers play an active role in parenting.  I look at all the dad bloggers out there sharing their experiences and insights on being a dad and parent: http://brucesallan.com, www.thedadconnection.com, www.therealmattdaddy.com, www.greatdad.com, and www.newdadforlife.com, to name a few.  I glean a lot from reading these blogs.

What it all boils down to is Father’s Day is a day we set aside to give special tribute to dads, giving an extra hug or, “I love you.”  Yes, it’s a Hallmark holiday, but there’s nothing wrong with a little special treatment.  Many dads work tons of hours to provide for their kids and family, so on this day, we acknowledge them.  There are military dads overseas or stationed far from family; so on this day we acknowledge them.  There are single parent dads.  I know some single moms and it’s a tough, tough job, so on this day, we acknowledge the single dads.  Then there are dads who stay at home, either by choice or from the loss of a job.  Since I stay at home, I know it’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done, so on this day, we acknowledge these stay at home dads.  We acknowledge the step-dads who give love, guidance and support to their stepchildren.  There are the grandpas, papas, granddads, bubbas, and grandfathers, who love their grandchildren unconditionally, so on this day, we acknowledge them, because they’re dads, too.

I’m not sure what we’ll be doing tomorrow and am leaving it up to my husband.  It’s his day after all.  To all dads everywhere, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day.  You are loved and appreciated.  I hope you have a wonderful day.

Images: Dean Michaud, Melanie Elliott, KaCey97007

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Watching television, specifically the news, it’s hard to miss a report on Trayvon Martin’s death.  I watched a news program a couple of weeks ago and they reported, at that time, that 19% of news coverage was about Trayvon.  You might be asking why am I writing about this?  If you’ve followed my blog, you know that my 2½-year old son, The Littlest E, the light of my life, is originally from Ethiopia.  The senseless death of Trayvon Martin hits close to home because he could have been my son.

Recently, I’ve read or heard about two other shooting deaths of unarmed African-American young people.  19-year old Kendrec McDade of Pasadena, California, was shot to death by a police officer, and 22-year old Rekia Boyd, of Chicago, Illinois, was shot and killed by an off-duty detective.  I can’t help and wonder if this is becoming a common occurrence, or if it has always been this way and the news is just reporting it more because of 24/7 coverage and social media.

Trayvon Martin's Parents

It is unfortunate but true that we still live in a world where a person’s skin color matters to many.  I have not been the object of anyone’s prejudice.  Kids made fun of me when I was a teenager because I wore a back brace and people also crack an occasional Jew joke around me, but no one ever called me a “kike” or asked to see my horns.  Prior to my son’s arrival in my life, I have to admit I lived in a racial bubble.  It wasn’t intentional; I just knew a lot of white people.

Since we brought The Littlest E home, my life has opened up amazingly.  Again, it wasn’t intentional; it happened organically.  We have a wonderful mix of friends with different backgrounds, cultures, religions and races.  So, when I heard about Trayvon Martin’s death, it struck a chord in me on so many levels.  I started to think about the things my husband and I need to tell our son as he gets older about being black and what that means.  I also started to think about the race problem we have in our country.

My husband and I are doing our best to impart on our son core values of empathy, compassion and love.  Mind you, he’s still a toddler and if you’re a parent, you know the age.  However, he has on more than one occasion comforted a classmate at his preschool when he/she was crying.  We’re also doing our best to aid our son in building positive self-esteem, and he is doing well in that regard.

As The Littlest E gets older, if things in our present don’t change, we’ll have to make him aware of a number of truths regarding his color.  When he’s old enough to drive on his own, he could be pulled over for absolutely no reason other than his skin color.  This happened to a friend of mine’s husband.  He has a fairly prestigious job and was driving his new car one day.  Without justification, the police pulled him over.  He got out of his car and surprised the police because he was impeccably dressed, which wasn’t what they expected.  They gave him some excuse for stopping him and sent him on his way.

If our son keeps growing the way he has been (currently he’s in the late 90th percentiles for both height and weight), he could be well over 6 feet tall and be a pretty big guy when he gets older.  He needs to know, very sad but true that, purely based on his size, women may walk on the other side of the street to avoid him due to fear.  This happened to another friend of mine’s husband who is biracial, and he was with one of his children!

Do I also need to tell The Littlest E not to wear a hoodie at night, or is that feeding into the problem?  I was listening to a news program where a panel was discussing the Trayvon Martin shooting, and Jonathan Capehart, a journalist from the Washington Post, relayed a story from his childhood.  His mother told him growing up never to run in public and never run with anything in his hands in public.  Is this advice relevant today?  There’s a part of me that thinks it’s not, but that’s my denial.  I’m afraid that it’s still good advice.

Fortunately, The Littlest E is only 2½ so we have a bit of time before we share with him these and other realities.  Of course, we aren’t going to teach him to be defensive or make him feel like he has to walk on eggshells when he leaves the comfort of our home.  As I mentioned, my husband and I are nurturing the positive sense of self inside him that has already begun to blossom, which will be key when conversations are had.

Trayvon Martin’s death got me thinking not only about my son, but also about global concerns of racism, prejudice and religious intolerance.  I look at all the wars, which have been fought and are still being fought over religious or cultural intolerance.  Why is that?  Why are people afraid and hateful of people with differing religions and cultures?  Why is there domination of one group over another?  If we are on this planet together, don’t we all have the same right to be here?  I heard someone say once that we’re all worthy of God’s love simply and purely because we exist.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if we all believed that?

It is written in the Bible that we are to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Does that mean that all the haters out there in the world truly hate themselves deep down?  I did a bit of research and according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are over 1,000 hate groups in the United States, which is a 66% rise since 2000.  That statistic sickens and saddens me.  It means to me that there are a lot of fearful people.  Because isn’t that what’s really at the core of intolerance?  FEAR.  It causes people to do the most horrible things.  People are afraid they won’t get something they deserve or they’ll lose something they have.  If we really and truly trusted in God, fear wouldn’t matter so much.

We have more in common with each other than some people realize.  When we get cut, we all bleed the same.  When a loved one dies, grieving is universal.  We see the same sun and moon and stars at night.  We all breathe the same air.

I’ve asked a lot of questions in this blog and haven’t provided a lot of answers.  Some rays of hope, with the 24/7-news cycle, people are aware of what’s been going on and are taking action to improve our world.  I see the children in my son’s preschool class and they all play together, regardless of race.  Color doesn’t matter to my nephews and niece, who are 12, 10 and 9.  Hopefully, as this generation of children gets older, things will continue to improve.  Who knows?  15 years from now when The Littlest E is 17, the world may be a better place.  I can always hope, right?

Images: David Shankbone, Mike Goren, Doug Kerr, and woodleywonderworks

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