A new study from the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University found that children who are spanked as 1-year-olds are more likely to behave aggressively and did worse on cognitive tests as toddlers than children who were not spanked. The study focused on low-income families and found that African-American children are spanked more than their white and Mexican counterparts. I have no love for Duke but I guess they have some pretty decent researchers there. Still, I don’t think, from personal experience, that children who are spanked are more aggressive BECAUSE of the spanking and not the other factors in their lives. Even if the toddlers are performing below their un-spanked peers, I wonder how they compare when they’re teens and adults. The latter part, Black kids being spanked more, is not surprising to me at all. Many a comedian has based their routine on spanking Black children. We get together and laugh about this shared experience. We see kids acting up in school or in the store and shake our heads thinking he or she needs their butt whooped. Not all Black folks spank their kids but there is definitely cultural acceptance and encouragement of the practice within the community.
There was spanking in my family. Physical discipline was definitely on the menu but it wasn’t the main course. I’m definitely against violence in most forms. It’s criminal and inhumane to abuse a child, a spouse, a friend, a stranger… It’s not the way I want to live my life, being violent toward others. I don’t know if this makes me a hypocrite but I don’t consider spanking to be “violence” in the same way. Truthfully, I have more of an issue with some of the verbal punishment I hear hurled at children than the physical. I feel there is a certain way to use physical discipline for punishment or correction with children. That being said, I don’t see myself using spanking as a disciplinary method very often when I do have children of my own. Continue reading
I was in court yesterday and although I recently graduated law school I wasn’t there to represent anyone, nor was I there to chat with a judge or observe lawyers in action. I was there because I had to drive my mother. It wasn’t for anything too bad. She just had some tickets or traffic violations that hadn’t been paid and were probably some kind of violation of probation, I don’t really know because I didn’t really ask. Anyway, I go to take her and my uncle wanted to come along for the ride. We get there and it’s a small, town court in another county. Really small. My mom has to sign in and she sits in front waiting on her lawyer. My uncle and I pass through security behind her and for some reason unbeknownst to anyone, my uncle signs his name too. My mother yells at my uncle to quit writing his damned name because that’s the list that goes to the judge which he’ll use to call on the people there to go before him. With this knowledge, my uncle starts frantically crossing his n ame out. See, this idiot has been before this particular judge before and from what I could gather, they don’t have that great of a relationship. Plus my uncle thinks there’s a possibility that there could be a warrant for him in this county or some reason they’d wanna lock him up. Basically, signing his name down there was tantamount to turning himself in. What a retard, right? I don’t even know why he would volunteer to walk up in the courtroom knowing all of this ahead of time. Now, nothing happened. My mom got called, she and her attorney went up to the bench and got a continuance. Womp womp. I just had to point out my uncle’s stupidity for the gazillionth time. Continue reading
You can’t always go home. I watched Grosse Pointe Blank all the way through for the first time today and John Cusack said that when he realized his childhood home had been turned into an Ultimart. He was home for his high school reunion (incidentally, I’m on the committee to plan my HS reunion right now) and people were all weird and asking where he’d been. I used to think my reunion would be cool. Now I’m like ugh. I digress…
Who says you can’t always go home? People always say that. Or do they always say you CAN always go home? I don’t know. The former is what I’ve come to realize. This is the most time I’ve spent at “home” since I left at 17. I’ve mostly been away because I was busy. I went to a school 5 states away, sight unseen, without a single soul I knew for miles. After that, I moved around then went to school again, this time closer to home but far enough away to make visiting inconvenient. Then I left the country. Even when I was geographically far from home, that wasn’t the only reason I stayed away. I just didn’t see much of a reason to return. My family is small and not very close-knit. There were no holiday celebrations to return to. No one calling and nagging because I never come visit. There weren’t any cool or interesting things to do in my little city anyway, so why go back? Visits were spaced months apart and mostly lasted for a couple of days.
Now I’ve been here about a month. I think I’m dying inside.
Sure, that sounds like I’m being way overdramatic and maybe I am. I bet my insides are just fine. What I do know, and this is no exaggeration, one of my life goals from here on out will be to never spend a significant amount of time here ever again.
What’s so bad, huh? I guess the problem is two-fold: my family and the city itself.
I have nothing in common with my family other than the fact that we share DNA and we lived together (off and on) for the first 17 years of my life. While that’s a lot and enough to bind most people for a lifetime, I have found that it is not enough for me. You know how they say you can love your family but not like them? Yep, I’m there. I don’t care how much “history” we have together because history is ALL that we have. Let’s examine my family that lives in the area (this is to the exclusion of my father’s side and my family outside of this city): Continue reading
I had the dumbest conversation a couple days ago. I was sitting here with my uncle and my step-dad (who is only my step-dad because saying “my sister’s father” is so cumbersome) enjoying the night breeze, drinking Guiness and Heineken (my uncle opted for Steel Reserve. SMH), and blowing it down (cuz that’s what the kids are calling it).
Anyway, my step-dad, who has been broken up with my mom for years now, was talking to us about all of his female troubles. He’s a single dad with two girls under 15 in the house, one in college, and two boys who visit every other weekend. He just got out of a relationship with the mother of the boys. They were together for 10 years but had a falling out and he says he’s no longer in love with her. So we’re here, chilling, and he’s telling us about the women he’s been dating.
First, he has a “booty call” (his words, not mine). This woman supposedly knew she was just on booty call status from jump, but ended up catching feelings. He’s toying around with dumping her altogether to eliminate the stress, but still “values” her company. Next there’s the woman he met around town who has a lot of baggage. She has three bad kids, is a white woman with a fetish for Jamaican men (he’s Jamaican), and she’s trying to be all chummy with his daughters. She basically invited herself and her kids over one day, stayed the night and left some shit at the crib so she can keep coming over and picking it up piece by piece. Wow. Finally, there was the woman he met online who he has never met in person. He’s attracted to her and likes her personality but there’s one thing he cannot get over… she’s 5’2.
The step-dad is 6’4 and is adamant about not dating a short woman. After all of the outlandish conversation we three were having, this little piece of information was too much for my uncle to swallow. He basically put the brakes on the whole thing and was like “whoa whoa, when did you get so picky?” See, you gotta understand that my uncle would date anyone. He said straight up that his only two qualifications for a woman are breathing and AIDS-free. So much for standards. I was laughing so much at this part of the conversation that I had to jot down little notes on my cell phone to remember the tidbits of “advice” my uncle was laying down. Some selections:
- Extreme examples. I don’t know why, but my uncle is constantly dealing in extreme examples, which I hate. For example, when telling my step-dad how much he didn’t care about superficial things like height, he said, “I don’t care if a bitch (yep) is 1 inch or 7 billion feet tall. If she fine, I’m gettin’ with her!” Like really? You don’t care if she’s 1inch tall? I guess Thumbelina could be my next auntie then.
- When the step-dad talked about how the sex had gotten wack with his last girl (the boys’ mom) as time went on, my uncle tried to explain that it wasn’t that the sex had gotten worse. It was just that the more you get to know a woman, the less sexy she becomes. To make his point clearer he offered, “How you still gonna be attracted after you know she get shit on her hand after wiping her ass?” To which my step-dad replied, “Nah, nah. Why you even sayin that? Use another example!” My uncle contined to explain that getting to know someone and their habits “changes their sexy.” “It’s like, I don’t even wanna fuck her cuz she don’t say excuse me when she burps! Women just need to try harder to stay sexy cuz when your girl bend over with a thong up her ass, you forget how she took a shit on the floor!”
- Finally, after becoming totally fed up with the fact that the step-dad keeps finding things wrong with perfectly good women (in the uncle’s opinion) my uncle left us with some wise words: “You gotta stop throwin out good bitches. Recycle em. Recyc-Ho. You gotta Recyc-Ho. Otherwise, you throwin out a Rolls Royce just because it gotta dent!”
Yes. This is the family I come from. These are the people responsible for influencing my childhood. It’s a miracle I turned out half as well as I did!
I used to have this cat named Tiggah (womp womp, yeah I know). Anyway, I got Tig when I was a junior in college and had this lil off campus apartment. At first my roommates were all like “that’s your cat so no one else is responsible for taking care of him”. I could understand that. However, after a little while, Tig began to grow on everyone who came around. He was so cute and I watched him grow from the little kitten I got from the shelter into a nice lil young adult cat. LOL. Then I eventually graduated from college and had plans on going away to Louisiana for law school (obvy I didn’t go there, but it’s a long story) and in the meantime I was moving around. I couldn’t really take Tig with me all around so I brought him to my Auntie’s crib and basically gave him to her. It worked out because she freakin loves Tig. LOVES him. Spoils him like nothing else. The one thing that bothers me though is that Tiggah is a fat cat.
Not fat cat like Garfield who is a comic/cartoon cat that talks to a dog and eats lasagna. Garfield is funny. Tiggah is a real cat who can develop diseases and die from obesity-related conditions. Tiggah is not funny. Ever watch Maury and see those parents whose 4 year old children are obese? The parents usually say that they have trouble telling their kids no or they want to provide their kids with everything they want. If those wants happen to be food, so be it. My aunt is like that. There are cat treats all over the place.
She and my uncle feed him all day long, wet food too. When I had Tig, I tried to balance his wet and dry food intake. Why? Well he loved the wet food and would gobble it all up. He’d eat it if it was there, even if he wasn’t hungry. but the dry food, he liked okay but you knew it wasn’t his fave. He’d only eat that when he had to eat SOMEthing. Here, in addition to the dry food being out all the time, new cans of wet food are popped open all day and treats are given out. It irks me so much.
You’d think I’d be upset because Tiggah used to be my cat and now he’s this fat hairball who can barely jump up on the window sill. No. I’m upset because I see the treatment of the cat as an extension of how my aunt and uncle view food themselves. Both of them are overweight. I should probably note that they’re brother and sister, not husband/wife. Anyway, my aunt suffers from a ton of problems with her back and joints that she could likely relieve should she lose some weight. My uncle has been diagnosed as a diabetic but still eats like food is going extinct. I probably wrote about this before, but I am prejudiced against overweight people. I can’t help it. It doesn’t make sense to me to KNOW you’re ill because of your size and continue to do nothing about it. Now granted, I understand that there are a lot of psychological issues and some biological issues behind overeating. I know because I can identify some of those psych issues in my aunt pretty easily. I’m just saying. Continue reading
These trying financial times coupled with the holiday season made me wonder how my family was able to make Christmas so good for me as a child. At any given point in time, there was usually only one person in the household with a full-time job. I can barely feed and clothe myself right now on this student budget I’ve got. How in the hell did my grandmother and ‘nem put so many gifts under the tree and food on the table? As a good friend recently said, clearly people were making sacrifices. I guess the baby gotta have a Crimmus!
I lived on the second floor in a duplex apartment so there wasn’t any fireplace. There was barely room for the freakin’ tree. I’ve never had a real Christmas tree in my life. Growing up, we had one of those artificial trees you put together by sticking the color tipped branches into the color coded holes on a stand. Then we’d decorate it in multi-colored lights, bulbs, candy canes and tinsel, complete with a peaceful Black angel at the top. My grandmother would hang up my stocking by tacking it to the wood-paneled wall. Other Christmas touches included a wreath on the door and lights on the balcony.
I knew there was no Santa Claus. I don’t know when I knew, but it was pretty early. No one had to tell me. I was the kind of child who figured things out very quickly by putting things into logical order. Clearly grandma was buying things and hiding them. Besides, that whole Santa story didn’t fit into my life at all. There was no chimney! Right then and there I knew that was a wrap. Oh, and presents would be under the tree days before Christmas. So… what was left for Santa to do?
Before going to bed, I’d slip into my footie pajamas. Oh, let me speak on those footsie jammies for a second. You had to be kinda cautious when putting them on, yo. Don’t get overzealous and think you’re going to zip them up with the quickness! That zipper starts at your ankle and has to travel up your leg and torso to stop at the collar bone. Without the proper care, you are bound to catch some skin in the zipper. OUCH! I learned that lesson a couple of times as a youngin’. Other than footie pajamas, I’d always have a long nightgown with ruffles on the end, sort of like this. I loved those things. You think my sexy would suffer if I brought ’em back today? Continue reading
A lot of folks are of the opinion that girls who grow up without their father’s presence have issues, particularly concerning other men in their lives. While I believe that is true for some, I don’t know if that’s particularly true for me at this point. Granted, there are some things I have little patience for that I can trace back to my father.
For example, I hatehatehatehate waiting on men. I don’t like being stood up. I don’t like people taking too long and not calling. I don’t like promises being made and then broken. Nobody likes that stuff but I think I get irrationally upset about stuff like that. I can remember being extremely excited whenever my father would say he was coming into town. His visits always meant lots of attention for me. He would take me out to eat, likely Red Lobster (and at that age and in my community, Red Lobster was doing it big!). He would buy me stuff. He would drive me around town in his nice car. Now that I think of it, it was always a big deal in my neighborhood when someone’s father came to visit. You kind of wanted to show your daddy off since most of us didn’t have fathers around. So when he would tell me he was coming I’d get ready super early and wait. There were a couple of times when I waited all day and all night. I kept running to the window when a car stopped outside. I kept my shoes on. I was ready to go. It’d get dark and my grandma would just look at me, she already knew it was a wrap. Ultimately, I’d figure out he wasn’t coming and go to bed pissed.
After that, I pegged him as unreliable and a liar and didn’t allow myself to get hyped up again only to be let down. Now, if a guy tells me he’s going to be somewhere and doesn’t show, I get upset like that little girl waiting at the window with her shoes on. Ugh. Continue reading
I have no concept whatsoever of what it’s like to be a child of divorced parents. I just saw this girl on the show Private Practice crying because she thought her parents were going to get back together. I really can’t understand what that must be like. My parents were never married to begin with. Where I grew up, I can’t recall ANY of my friends’ parents being married. Well, wait, I just thought of one, but that’s it. I can usually empathize with people on a number of things but that one I can’t.
I know it’s harsh, but sometimes I want to be like so what. In situations where your parents both still love you and still want to see you and likely don’t live that far away from one another, why does it hurt so much if they don’t love each other anymore? Maybe it’s not that deep. People love each other and get divorced. Perhaps they can’t get along or someone was cheating. Either way, I can’t understand why kids get so bent out of shape about it. I’m not talking about little kids either, because I can see why they might bug out. I’m talking 12-17 year olds. Hell, even adults bug when their parents break up. Folks end up in therapy for years over their parents’ breakup!
I’m not saying they don’t have a right to be sad or angry. Not at all. I’m just saying I have no frame of reference for that and therefore I cannot empathize or understand where that sadness/anger stems from.
I never wished my parents were together. Clearly they don’t even like each other that much. I just wanted them to be better parents independent of one another. My grandparents were married but ended up being separated. They never got divorced but saw other people. My grandad had a child with another woman. Nobody got bent out of shape. That child, my aunt, is just as much a part of the family as anyone else. It was just understood in my family and neighborhood that relationships don’t always work out. People have kids but don’t get married. Marriages that do happen are not long lasting.
I want to get married. I want to be married once and that’s all, preferably. I don’t think one should rush into divorce, but sometimes I do believe it’s necessary. Yet if I didn’t get married, no one would fuss. I have friends whose parents pester them about when they’re going to get hitched. My family has never ever ever asked me that question. Ever. They could care less I think. I don’t know why I want to get married or why I have these strong ideals set around marriage but I do. Maybe it’s a push in the opposite direction from what I’ve known for so long. I do a lot of things opposite from my family.
Are your parents divorced or together? What’s the big deal about it all?
Cont. from Part II: The Wrath of Greyhound
Ain’t no ocean, ain’t no sea. Makidada. Keep my sister away from me.
– Nettie & Celie
When I got to Albany, I was greeted by my father and his girlfriend Renni. I was kind of surprised because my father looked old(er) and I had no idea that Renni was a large white woman. LOL. We hugged, loaded my bag into the car and went for dinner. Good thing too, I was starved. Due to my hectic day and crazy bus trip from Philly to Albany, I hadn’t eaten for 12 hours before I got there. At dinner, my father asks me if I would be willing to go to Ohio. Since my sister and her family couldn’t make it to NY and this was the first time in 20 years she has come to this country, we should just say fuck it and go to where she was. That was fine by me. I had blocked out the entire weekend and wanted to see her. So, early the next morning we got on the road and headed to Akron, OH. 8 hour drive!
The 8 hours did give me a chance to chat with my father. It wasn’t really awkward except for a few moments scattered here and there, but that’s to be expected. Whenever my father was out of earshot, Renni would tell me things about him like how he was nervous the night before about seeing my sister and I. I thought that was kind of funny. There was a weird moment for me in the car when my father said that the reason I lived with my grandmother/mom was because he thought I was happy there and it was where I was in school and all that jazz. I guess I get that, but it still doesn’t account for not coming through to visit and shit, feel me? I honestly don’t know how I feel about all of that. I don’t think I’m bitter about it, I just thought that his reasoning was pretty simple.
Right as we pulled into Akron, I got nervous. I thought I was wearing the wrong clothes and started wondering if she’d like me. I also started wondering why the hell they were in Akron, which sucks for all intents and purposes. Her brother Kevin lives there and they came to see his new baby. The new baby whose name is LaDanian. The new baby who is white as hell. I laughed for a good while about that and it helped ease my nerves. Continue reading
So many folks have been asking me about meeting my sister and seeing my father again. I don’t want to have to tell the story too many times, so I’m just going to direct folks to my blog. They ought to be reading it anyway!
Before I went, I wasn’t really feeling any type of way. People asked if I was nervous or excited. I was neither. I just kind of wanted to go with the flow. I had never met the chick, you know, so it’s not like I had been living my life with this expectation that we would be best friends. I have my sister on my mom’s side who is 9 years younger than me, so I’ve mostly felt like an only child anyway. Right before we met I did get nervous though. Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning of this crazy trip. Starting with this post and then the next, Part III. More on how Greyhound sux