Thursday, October 23, 2014

Family Photos 2014

Here's this years family photos taken at Kaw Point on a lovely, cool morning.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Center Grove Orchard

While visiting family in Iowa at the end of last month, we hit up the apple orchard/pumpkin patch.  If you're in the Des Moines area, it's a really awesome one to go to.  Plenty to keep the kids entertained for hours.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dealing With the News

A news story came out a couple of days ago that left me feeling as though the wind was let out of my sails.  I read it aloud to Scott while Abe sat in the back seat squealing about water, which only increased the pit in my stomach.  My beautiful boy.  How in the world do I prepare him for the racialized world we live in?

What happened in North Carolina is that a White family and their teenaged Black foster son moved into a neighborhood several months ago.  The mom left the front door unlocked so that when her son could come in easily when he walked home from school in the afternoon.  Upon seeing him walk into his home, a neighbor called the police to report a break-in.  The cops arrived, yelled profanity at him, held guns to his head, and eventually pepper sprayed him.  A teenager IN HIS OWN HOME, that he entered without any appearance of forced entry, was treated as a criminal because of the color of his skin.  The full story is here including a video news piece where the teenager is interviewed.  

The story is being talked about in several online communities I'm a part of that deal with adoption and race issues.  Most of the response is anguish, fear, and concern trying to figure what to do with news stories of this nature.  How do you, as a parent of a Black child, process what could happen to your baby?

There has been some pushback though.  Which I expected as soon as I read the story.  It's kind of inevitable.  Someone will most likely claim that someone else is pulling the dreaded race card, want to blame some action by the teenage, or place the blame on the neighbor who called.  

The pushback I wasn't expecting though, was from a fellow White parent of a Black child.  She was angry with the police, but wanted to try to pick apart everything the teenager in the story may have done.  We went back and forth about this for a long time.  Finally I stopped though because it wasn't going anywhere positive and because all of a sudden it hit me what was behind her posts.  What was being left unspoken.  Deep, gripping fear.  Terror really.  The kind of fear for your own child's life that leads you to want something, anything that this teenager did to be something on which to pin his fate.  Because if you can pin this incident on some action by the victim, then you can talk to your kid about it.  You can prepare them, teach them how to respond, and avoid ever having it be your child's name in the news story as long as you convince them to listen to what you're saying.

The problem is that there's nothing that can be done to change the color of my child's skin and the institutional racism he will experience because of that.  There are no perfect words he could say.  There is no perfect behavior he could exhibit.  There is no perfect outfit I can send him out in.  And that feeling is one that leaves your feeling paralyzed.  And sometimes it's so overwhelming that you're willing to try to blame a crime on the victim because you want it to not be true.

So in the end we all had a big virtual group hug and cried together.  There was solidarity in our fear and in our role as ally.  And we will have to do this again when the next news story comes out, because it will.  And we don't know who's child it will be next time.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Morning at Kaw Point

When you have 3 young kids, there are a lot of moments that aren't magical, sweet, or memorable.  There's a lot of fighting over toys, yelling, trying to convince little people to eat or clean up after themselves, or begging them to sleep.  But occasionally you do get to simply enjoy a morning together being adventurous and playful.  That's what this morning was.  It was a really beautiful time for the 5 of us to go exploring as a family.

We climbed rocks, walked along the river, threw rocks in the water, hiked to a railroad as a train was coming over a bridge and got to wave at the conductor, and picked wild flowers.