The House Built On L♡VE & Shenanigans

The In's and Out's of Family Life in Charlottesville, VA


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Am I Brown? Or Am I Black?

DSC_00091Original artwork by Marley Boston age 5

As the girls are getting older and discovering more about themselves and the world around them, they are becoming more conscious of ethnic differences; specifically languages and skin color. Any time that we are out and about, and the girls hear someone speaking a language other than English, they automatically assume that – “They’re speaking Spanish!” The person could be speaking Japanese, Swahili, Cantonese, Portuguese, it doesn’t matter – it’s all Spanish to them. Of course we correct them (or attempt to), but we hear them quietly discussing amongst themselves how wrong we are, still thoroughly convinced that it is in fact Spanish that they heard.

Typical for children, they seem to comprehend life concretely, very literally, and they do not yet grasp the more abstract or higher level conceptualizations within our society. So it doesn’t surprise me that the girls, with regard to skin color, refer to themselves as brown. When they hold a brown crayon next to their skin, something they’ve done many times, it’s obvious to everyone that they ARE brown!

So why would I tell them that they are not?

We’ve never told them that they are black, or that society refers to them as black – a conversation that I’m sure will happen soon. But at 3, 5, and 7 – I’m not sure if I am quite ready to discuss such convoluted subject matter or delve into the history of Africans in America.

I love who I am, and what I am (which has little to do with color), because I understand the Universal Truth of our Beings; of our connectedness with our Creator, with each other, and with all things. We are all spiritual and divine expressions of God having a human experience. So to me, in the big scheme of things, skin color is less important.

However, it would be naive of me to deny that in this country, being defined as ‘black’, and even the word black, carries with it many negative connotations and stereotypes. I think we all know it, we all feel it, and probably have been confronted with it directly at some point in our lives. Think about all of the words that are negative that start with the word black: black market, black sheep, black mail, black list, blackballed, black Monday (wall street crash), etc. All of these words undoubtedly have had these negative associations purposely attached to the color black for many subliminal reasons.

Now lets think of some good words that have black associated with it…Hmmm, it’s a stretch. I can think of Blackberry – or in fashion when a hot new color is defined as “the new black.” Can someone please help me out, because I’m having a hard time coming up with anything! And I will not even digress into the history and deep rooted implications and social conditioning that come with being a black person in America – because that’s a whole nutha post! Yes, I said nutha!

However, like any parent, I want my children to grow up feeling validated, worthy, secure in who they are, loved, and protected. Which means, it’s up to me and Marc, as their parents to provide and teach this, so that when they do go out to make their own mark in the world, they will have an unmistakable knowing of who they are, and Whose they are, and become less affected when the world tries to define who they are for them!

So, if they want to refer to themselves as brown, black, purple, green, orange – it’s fine with me. Color is only skin deep. And in this family, we try our best to go deeper than that!


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Candy Girl

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She’s probably the most stubborn person I know…and that’s saying a lot considering the willful nature of the woman I married :-). Maybe that explains why after an exhaustive effort to cure her of her cravings, Journey, nearly refuses to eat anything that isn’t sweet!

When presented with regular food, she will protest eating it with the fervor of a 1963 SNCC civil rights activist. Most times we just concede to her defiance and let her eat what she wants – usually a PB&J, applesauce, yogurt, or some fruit snacks. Lately she’s been on this bread kick…yes, she wants to eat a plain ol’ dry slice of bread!

We try to reassure ourselves by justifying that, “she’ll eat when she’s hungry, ” or “she’ll grow out of this phase” – but all the while we are filled with a mild sense of guilt, and the anxiety of having a child that is in the 15th percentile for height and weight.

As a consolation, she will eat pretty much any fruit you throw her way – oranges, grapes, strawberries, watermelon, raisins, apples, and her favorite, bananas.

But the truth was brought to light one time, when Auntie Geika asked each girl what her favorite food was. Marley proudly said spaghetti, and Delaney enthusiastically replied that hers was “Chinese chicken.” Journey had the nerve to affirmatively declare – ”My favorite food is candy.”

It’s partly our fault I’m sure. By the time Journey came along, we were tired y’all…tired of training these kids on what to eat, making sure they ate every green morsel placed in front of them. We were both tired of sitting at the table spoon-feeding children to make sure they cleaned their plates. The minute Journey was able to hold a utensil by herself…she was on her own.

Don’t get me wrong, she was by no means neglected…we just were not as diligent as we had been, and that inconsistency may be coming back to bite us!

She’s pretty good at eating potatoes, broccoli, and chicken here and there, but foods that are naturally or artificially sweetened are topnotch in her book.

So until someone who’s experienced something similar to this can give us some good advice on how to flip her script…she will for the time being remain our little sweetie.

Literally!


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Let’s Do Lunch

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We went to Marley and Delaney’s school for lunch to celebrate Marley’s birthday, and got caught up in the full experience of a very noisy and raucous elementary school cafeteria.

Not only did we have lunch with both girls (with Journey in tow) on the Friday before Marley’s birthday, but we ended up going back to the school on the following Tuesday, and Wednesday for each of their Thanksgiving luncheon events!

It was a lot of fun and the girls enjoyed having their parents at school to share in these occasions – but suffice it to say, I’m glad that these events come only once a year! 🙂

MB


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Do The Happy Dance

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In the mornings on our way to school, I used to dictate what dial our Sirius XM Radio would be tuned to – because like Chris Tucker’s character in ‘Rush Hour’ said, “never touch a Blackman’s radio!” We’d listen to a typical mix of Symphonic, Jazz, or Old School Hip Hop music. But one day while perusing the channels, I stumbled upon the ‘Kids’ music station – they heard it – and that’s all she wrote!

So now the radio remains fixed to Kids Place Live each day for our short morning commute.

DSC_0034I’ve come to accept my demotion as morning musical director, and I must admit that most of the songs on this channel are rather cute and catchy. One song in particular has stood out for me, and has actually become my new inspirational jam!

“Happy” – by Pharrell Williams from the ‘Despicable Me 2’ soundtrack has the distinct ability to brighten up a dull moment while convincing us that inspiration can come from unusual places…like the music from a children’s film performed by a rapper who’s well known for his racier subject matter.

The motivating lyrics also encourage us to live a life without limits, and urge us to know that we can experience this delightfully buoyant emotion more often when we choose to live from a place of authenticity – striving to express the truth of who we are.

 


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I have a small handful of words that irk me, or that I just don’t make part of my vernacular that are commonly used in today’s culture. The term “Minorities”,as it relates to a sociological class of people is one of them. The term itself as it relates to people, is belittling, as no entire group of people are minor – much less, any one person.

There are no “minor people”, there are no “major people”. Conversely, rarely do I hear the word “Majority ” used to describe the other group. It’s just not used as often in comparison, because the term is not used as a numerological concept in this instance, it’s used as a definition of those that hold the social power in society.

The “minorities” do not, and are typically differentiated by characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation; basically, anything that’s not considered a male, heterosexual anglo saxon. The intent behind the word was by no means conceived out of an all encompassing, well meaning, nor uniting spirit, but as a means to continue to consciously and subconsciously breed an undercurrent of divisiveness and separation.

Let’s make an attempt to say what we mean, and mean what we say, without blindly and rotely following the status quo. Let’s think about the words that we use.

A Birthday Poem For My Daughter

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A Poem for my daughter:

It was 2006, when I felt your first kicks

Little did I know, what joy lay bestow

For what did I know about raising another?

Since it was you who gifted my first title as mother.

Taking great pride in my widening girth,

On Nov. 17th, it was you that I birthed.

On your sweet time, finally out you came,

Since that day, my life’s never been the same.

Hearing your first cries and….

Looking lovingly into those brown eyes,

We thanked our heavenly Father as your dad raised you high to the skies.

Although our parenting skills were not quite distinct,

It all came natural, almost instinct.

You have brightened my world, my precious flower

My love for you, I will forever shower.

As you continue to grow, I’ll invest my best in your raise

I promise I’ll love you throughout every phase

Today you are seven,

My precious gift from heaven.

Now I know what’s meant

When they say time flies

I would like to slow down the pace

And keep you just this size.

Oh precious child of mine, so pure, so divine.

I thank God for entrusting you in my care,

My precious, precious Marley Bear.

Happy Birthday!

Your mother

Rachael Boston