Build a Family

Our children are post childhood now although they are still stuck at home.

And being parents of adult children it presents us with many options: we’ve joined a gym, we vacation as a couple, we go on day excursions, we got a dog. Our possibilites are open wide,our funds, however, are near shut.

I’ve been missing how little ones around, though. I don’t miss the teenagers since I work with them daily, but I like younger children, under ten who are okay with being kids and not ready to jump into the world of teens.

Yeah, I miss that.

So  So the signs were all there that it’s time to bring a little one back into our lives. An d by signs I mean billboards, all around us.

Then there were the sermons at church. And a friend keeps posting on Facebook about Foster Care/Adoption Fairs. And then there is my new favorite tv show, “The Fosters” on ABC Family.

Just from working with teens at the library I know that the need for Foster Parents in the world is great. But I just don’t know if I am capable of being one.

I love kids, I love to hugs kids and be around them. Most of the teens that come into my department are the most awesome young people anyone could meet and then there are the teenagers that makes one question why the human race needs to continue.

On thinking about the children that need a family you have to think about what your abilities are and the amount of time you have. I didn’t think this hard about parenting when I was pregnant, I mean I skimmed a what to expect type book or two beforehand but mostly I expected to wing it.

Foster parenting you can’t wing.

They give you a list of what type of issues you are willing/capable of handling with a child. Stealing, lying, sexual abuse, enuresis, and more on that laundry list. They can have one of the issues, or a combination of them. Plus, one has to facilitate a relationship between the child and the estranged parent(s), carrying the child to the arranged meeting place.

The child can be with you for a few week, months or a few years with things in limbo as to whether things can be resolved between the parent(s). During that time the child may be dealing with conflicting feelings about the absent parent that meanwhile the fosters parents –generally the mother but we can say its the regularly present caregiver– has to deal with.

While all this is occurring you are developing a relationship with the child, taking care of the child and in the end the child –even after two to five years– may not be your forever family member.

Then there is the age thing –do you want a young child? Most children are older but even with babies you have to pay for daycare, you have to find a good daycare.

Foster care children generally come with siblings, can you take them also?

I have been consulting with a few friends who have gone through the system and they have different feelings about fostering. One friend loves it but she has no plans to adopt, only foster. Another friend wants to adopt. She has fostered three times and the previous two times she hoped to adopt the children who took a place in her heart and each time they went home. The latest child may be hers; she’s hoping the third time’s the charm.

So J and I are going to continue with the classes while we decide whether fostering is for us. Meanwhile I am researching adoption options. But those are thoughts for next time.

Raynard

So the question is asked if a teenager who raises his hand against his mother beyond repair?

I was asking myself this question because I was staring at a teen that had. I was only privileged to this information because I had to go to court for the young man. Not because I was a witness to his attacking his mother but for something else.

Over a year ago the young man, let’s call him Raynard, was skipping school at the library. We don’t say too much about the people skipping because we don’t know if they are actually truant or if they attend a school for problem children that has varied start times.

Because, really, if you have a teenager who has various issues don’t you want to give him/her endless, unstructured free time to spend with their friends?

Apparently we as a society don’t think there is anything is wrong with that. Or we are oblivious to the fact that it’s happening which is basically the same thing.

Raynard was skipping though. A patron had come up to me to tell me that Raynard was on our public computer and masturbating –all the while only a few steps away from me. Raynard was less than six steps away from me, from my position I couldn’t what he was viewing on the computer and after I was informed of what he was doing I didn’t want to look at him straight on. So I walked away from the desk and behind him and there he was, sitting bare-assed on our hard plastic chairs, his jeans around his thighs (which is actually the fashion for many young men) and his underwear slipped down just as far. His hand was beneath the table and I couldn’t see it but I could tell his arm was working furiously.

“What the heck are you doing?” I exclaimed. I have “no-chill” in situations such as this. What I should have done was secretly walk past him and then call security so they could try to catch him in the act (although too many of our guards are slow-moving middle-aged men) but instead I confronted the boy.

First Raynard got up and left in a huff but he came back a minute later asking what he had done wrong. I was spraying down the chair and computer with Lysol as he looked on indignant.

“What did I do wrong?” he asked incredulously. “It wasn’t all that. Why you acting like that?”

“Dude! You were masturbating at the computer!”

“And?”

“No one wants to touch the computer after you’ve been touching yourself,” I said pointedly. “No one wants to sit in a chair that just had your bare behind on it.”
I turned to the girls who had been obliviously sitting beside the boy on their own computer. “Would you girls want to sit next to a guy masturbating?”

“Say what?” one of the girls asked, her eyes growing wide with wonder.

“No!” said the other definitely.

By then the security guard and deputy sheriff who was on duty came in. My co-worker had called them

“Still…” said Raynard growing more indignant. “You didn’t have to do all that.”

“Yes I did,” I said. “It’s nasty.”

The deputy took Raynard away and charged him with indecent exposure. Later I told the responding guard that the crazy thing about it is he could have walked away and come back another day to do whatever if he had just stayed gone when he first left.

Three months later I got a summons to appear in court on the matter. Initially I didn’t remember –we have so many nutty teens who come in to entertain us—but my coworker jarred my memory.

“Ohhhh, him!” I said. “Ugh, that child!”

The first time I went to court he didn’t show up so the case got continued. The second time I went to court the case was continued again because his mother didn’t show and the prosecutor wanted to put all the issues together. It was then I discovered that the boy only recently turned 15 and the other case involved his mother, whom he allegedly attacked one day. He had a few more issues that I can’t recall but it was at that moment I realized that he was troubled. No, he should not have skipped school to come to the library to get heated up watching gay porn in a teen area but he didn’t get to that point by himself.

The third time the case was continued there was a discussion about who had custody of him, his mother or the state. I didn’t even show up to court that time because the arresting deputy said he would contact me if the case actually began.

So by the fall Raynard returned as if it was all over. And for all he knew it was. When I saw him I called security to have him escorted out because I thought he had been kicked out for at least three years. But we soon discovered for that indiscretion he only received six months.

Security wanted to know if I still wanted him removed but I remembered the other charges against him and instead of being afraid I just felt sad. How could he be so young and so fucked up? So I pulled him aside and talked to him.

But before I could even say a word he spoke first.

“I am so sorry,” he said. “What I did was wrong and I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“I don’t think you are that person anymore. I think you want to change and if you want to be here I want you to stay. I don’t hold anything against you.”

“I’m just so sorry,” he said again tears filling his eyes.

“I know,” I said. And we hugged.

I don’t know what makes a teen to act out this way. Sometimes its parenting. Sometimes it’s hormones. I’d even hazard to place the blame on peers and society. Maybe it’s all of these things working together or a chemical imbalance or something else entirely different. I don’t know. But what I do know, what I hope, is that we don’t always hold a child’s missteps against him, even something as egregious as an attack on a mother.

The Talk

Every parent dreads having to have “The Talk”.

Every child cringes when their parents have “The Talk” with them.  It’s traumatizing.

Coming from the child’s side, the first inclination is to say, “I know, I know, I know everything, you don’t have to tell me” to stop words like vagina, penis, clitoris, orgasm paired with love from coming from your parents’ mouth.  Your parents are not supposed to know those words.  It’s just wrong. You are supposed to talk about it with your friends not your parent. What’s wrong with them?

From the parents side, when your kid says, “I know” you just want to say, “Oh, you do.  Cool, well, if you got any questions I’ll be in the den on the computer.”

Unfortunately I don’t know when to stop talking. I like to talk so on good occasions I can talking jag.  In awkward situations I keep talking because I’ve already started and it just needs to come out.

My daughter was 12 when we had “The Talk” and she told me, “I know, I know, I know” and instead of taking my cue to run hide I said, “Let me say this…” and went on to explain more than she probably wanted to know from me.

I thought I did a good job until one day my ex said, “Yeah, Mimi said you had the talk with her the other day. She thought it was funny.”

She and I had “The Talk Two: Different World Edition” right before she went off to college. This time she was 18 and we were in a car. You can’t run away from your mom when you are in a moving car.

Still, even with my propensity to talk Mimi still comes to me for advice… sometimes.

Luckily with the boy I got out of having The Talk with him. Instead I had “The Talk” with J over everything he needed to say to J2.

With the hypersexuality of American culture one would think that “The Talk” would be unnecessary for children. Sex is in our music, sex is all on our PG TV shows heck a while back someone was trying to sell thongs to five year old children.  SEX IS EVERYWHERE.

But then so is disease. In Hamilton County, OH (the county I live in) STDs are rising among teens of color.  So although many kids know about safe sex  at a young age not many practice it.

I was thinking about all of this when a kid that comes into the library –lets call him Ronan –came out as gay.

I have not had “The Talk” with any kid that has come into the library before. Well, maybe I have but it was nicer, gentler, variants of it. More admonitions than full blown talks.

Like we had one trans kid named Dee Dee who was skipping school and wearing short shorts in the dead of winter. She was tiny with glasses and was always querying why men seemed to always be hitting on her. I had to pull her aside and talk to her about being careful of the men that she was titillating and how dangerous getting into cars with strangers can be.

Then there was another girl who was obvious in a bad relationship with her partner and we talked about how she did not have to accept that type of behavior and that sometimes it’s best to walk away.

But “The Talk”? Nope.

So when Ronan came in I said, “We need to talk.”

“What did I do?” he asked.

Labels

Gluten free food is freaking everywhere.

Ev-reee-WHERE!

You can’t go into an aisle of a store without seeing a label that cries, “Gluten free”. Then there is a barrage of postings on my Facebook timeline about paleo diets and gluten free recipes. Who are all these people with gluten allergies? Are they self diagnosed celiacs? Will gluten filled bread kill me?

I have only met one person who has had a doctor prescribe a gluten-free diet for health but the food manufacturers have responded as if this sudden up tic is a real epidemic. Who are all these bread allergic people walking among us?

The real disease that is running rampant right now is diabetes. I see a lot of commercials for diabetes. I know a lot of diabetics, mostly type 2. I am sure if you think about it you can quickly name 5 people that you know that has diabetes, maybe some of them are related to you. But if you go to the store you aren’t going to see food labels touting their products to be diabetic friendly. Maybe it’s because we look at diabetes as people who brought the disease upon themselves. They can eat what we eat, they just shouldn’t eat too much of it. Or maybe they shouldn’t be eating it at all, because they are fat. Think about it, they are fat, why are they eating.

I can say this because I am a diabetic. At first I was diagnosed as type 2 and then type 1.

How can I go from type 2 to type 1? Well, it’s kind of a funny story…

Four years ago I went to a fertility specialist to find out what was blocking me from getting pregnant, discovered several things (which I will talk about in another post) but the main one is that I had glucose in my urine. Go back to my doctor and she sees that I am a middle age black woman who is nearly 200lbs so she tests me and I discover that I am diabetic. Not pre-diabetic, just diabetic. I don’t have any symptoms– at least I didn’t think I did. She sends me to a place for diabetics that is affiliated with a hospital that was completely humiliating. I sat in a room with 10 other people who were also fat and condescended to from a skinny white chick who stood at the front of the room. She told us we had to turn our lives over to her: keep a diary, come in once a week for weigh-ins, forced exercise on their machines and purchase these nasty shakes that were to be used as meal replacements for two meals a day. Everyone around me seemed enthralled with the information and I know I wore the expression that said, “Bitch, please, I am not that fat”. As we all filed out at the end of the presentation people stood around the desk making appointments and signing out checks for $500 bucks to get the meal replacement plan (the other things were partially paid for by insurance). The presenter stops me and wants to know if I want to sign up.

“Noooope”, I say. She got me stuck.

She hands me a complimentary shake and asks me to think about, telling me I can take off the rest of the year –many people might not make the change until the new year (it was October at the time).

“Yeah, ok,” I say. I leave rolling my eyes, thinking bitch you ain’t gonna never see me again.

Instead of giving 1000 dollars to her I take the money and join a local Sports Club that has a lot of fitness classes, opens at 5am, closes at midnight and has a nice steam room and indoor track. I begin losing weight, slowly at first. When I go to the doctor in December I lost 5lbs but when I go back to the doctor in late January because of a cold I lost 15lbs.

“Oh, you are using weight,” my doctor’s office say.

“Yeah, I am,” I said although I am still mad at them because they sent me to that horrible place that tried to gauge me for money and run my life.

When May rolls around that year I lost 30lbs. As I lost the weight suddenly the diabetic symptoms appear. My hands go numb from time to time. I wake up in the middle of the night with pain in my hands I can’t explain. I begin to urinate more frequently and it smells sweet. Why this? Why now? I go see my doctor and she gives me strong pain killers. I try to test my blood sugars but I have no idea what any of it means. I’m losing weight but nothing is making any sense.

A new December rolls around and I go see my doctor. She says this is the new normal. The nurse says you are new to being a diabetic, aren’t you?

I go to a friend at work that has been living with type 2 diabetes for over 10 years now and ask her how she is living and she gives me terms I had never heard before: what was your last A1C? What are your daily blood sugars? I don’t know, I told her. She suggested I see a new doctor.

So one night, after staying up for an hour I go to the bathroom and tried to bring the feeling back with hot water I decided something had to change. I had been seeing a place near my home that touted itself as a diabetes center, so I made up my mind to call them that morning.

“I don’t want you to take over my health, I want you to show me how I can control it,” I told the receptionist on the phone, a bit defiantly. “I don’t want to purchase food supplements, I want to learn what I can eat. I want to be in control.”

They said they wanted that for me, too. So I made an appointment.

Initially I met with a nurse who asked me to keep a food diary and set a blood sugar daily goal. Next I took several classes with a nutritionist where I learned that carbohydrates were the key to dealing with diabetes. If you can control carbs (no more than 45 per regular meal; 15 to 22 for snacks) then I’d be fine. I started losing the last 30lbs. Then I kept losing weight. I was slipping down to 145, then 135, then 130.

J held up his baby finger to his eyes, turned sideways and squinted. “I can’t see you,” he teased.

I was down to 128lbs. I hadn’t been that thin since I was in high school and depressed. But I didn’t know what to do because I needed to lose the weight to kick diabetes. People can reverse type 2, right?

My regular doctor said no. I was definitely a diabetic now. My Endocrinologist said I was holding tight at below a 6 for A1C (at least that is what I remember).

And then everything changed in 2013.

In May of 13 I ran a half marathon (finishing at a time that I didn’t even expect 2.5 hours). One morning in July I woke up with pain in my left shoulder. I couldn’t move it. If I reached it hurt. I ran through my mind trying to figure out what I did to it. Did I hold a plank too long? Were the weights I lifting too heavy? I tried to ignore it the pain but it steadily got worse.

Then suddenly my blood sugars were rising and I could feel it rising. I was trying to keep the number before 140 but it was rising to 150 and 160. I was told in the nutrition classes that if you eat and your blood sugars are high that I brisk walk can help. I ate a low carb meal and went for a brisk walk with the dog. Two hours later I checked my blood sugar and it was 168.

Ok, something wasn’t right.

So I made an appointment and went to see the Endocrinologist. At first she thought it was just a blip but when I told her about the marathon and the semi-rigorous carb counting and the fact that I had lost nearly 80lbs she said she wanted to do a deeper blood work instead of just a regular A1C.

I didn’t think about it, we just did it.

A few weeks later they call me at work and gave me the news that I wasn’t a type 2 but a type 1 diabetic. I cried because I did everything right and there is nothing you can do about type one. I had to go in immediately to talk to a nurse again to learn the ropes: exercising after eating would not help if I over ate carbs– it could actually raise my blood sugar. I needed to be more vigilant not just for highs but for lows. I had to throw away the metformin, which wasn’t doing anything for me anyway, and begin taking long acting insulin that night.

Ok, so it’s not that funny. Seriously in those four years I could have easily have had an insulin crash and died.

There is a difference between type 2 and type 1. They are very different. If you have type 2 it won’t morph into type 1 and vice versa. Type 2 can be controlled with pills and insulin. Type 1 can only be controlled with insulin. Type 1 your body has decided to stop making insulin. Type 2 your body makes insulin, sometimes a lot of insulin, but it’s not getting into the cells.

Type 2 used to be called late onset diabetes. Years ago mostly people in their 60s developed it but now many people regardless of age may develop type 2 diabetes because of weight or a sedentary lifestyle.

Type 1 used to be called juvenile diabetes because so many children and young people were diagnosed with it.

I am far from a youth. So why did my pancreas slow down on making insulin? They don’t know.

Type 2 you can control with weight loss; type 1 your body type doesn’t matter too much. The more carbs you eat the more insulin you will have to take to cover those carbs but that is about it.

I became depressed. I stopped running. It didn’t mean anything anymore. This whole time of meticulous carb counting and exercising it didn’t mean anything. I didn’t have to lose the weight in the end.

I didn’t gain the weight back. Well, I gained some weight back because my fitting into a size 00 didn’t look right on me. I am now a size 4/6 and feel it’s where I should be.

But after a year of consciously living with Type 1 (and just now getting back the use of my shoulder –it’s now at 80 to 90% use) I discovered that many people around me were living with the disease. I got a new co-worker who has Type 1 and has lived with it since she was a child. Two more co-workers discovered they have Type 2. An old friend stopped in while working on her brothers obit and told me he went into a diabetic coma in the parking lot of the grocery store where he went to purchase orange juice (low blood sugar can make you act loopy).

Diabetics are everywhere. It’s a controllable disease; both are genetic in nature. It’s not anyone’s fault who develops it, even if you are overweight. It’s not a judgement or a punishment.

And food is not the enemy. Something doesn’t have to be covered in grease or high in carbs to taste good. Okay, sometimes those things do taste good, but once you make a lifestyle change you barely miss it.

November is National Diabetes Month. For more information about the disease for yourself or a loved one check out the information on the American Diabetes Association.

Boys Go to Jupiter

I have heard a few black mother’s say that raising boys is far easier than raising girls.

Yeah, I never believed it either.

Even just looking at the maxim on the surface you could see the fallacy just by the state of many of our all black communities.

Heck, sometimes you can discount that saying just by the speaker who just said it.

“Ok, sooooooooo…. Lemme get this right: you feel it’s best to keep a tight rein on your daughter to suppress her sexuality and freedom of thought so she won’t bring any babies home but it’s ok to let your son “do him” because he’s just a boy being a boy? Ok. I see. So what time are visiting hours for Ray-Ray? You go on out and get the car cuz I got Ray Ray Jr’s diaper bag and baby mama number one is gonna meet us up there with Rayeshia and Ray’kelle.”

In our society, if you have dreams that go beyond just making sure your children graduate sans having babies of their own, raising a child is hard regardless of the gender.  A good parents goes beyond just making sure they don’t become grandparents before their time.  A good parent makes sure that by the time their child is in high school they are sidelined to coaching because everything that needed to be said about character, morality, values and tenacity has been instilled  before the age of 13.

Technically I am not even raising a son anymore because now J2 is officially an adult. He’s over 18.

Well, chronologically because mentally—maybe 12. Ok, 14, 16 on a good day.

J2 is not a bad young man. He’s not violent. I don’t think I have ever seen him angry, although he can be moody and pouty.

He never skipped school.

But, over the years he has done some stupid things.

Some really, really stupid things.

Example: when he was in junior high he got in trouble at school for being involved in a food fight. And then there was that time an older kid tricked him and a friend into stealing bikes (the friend said the bikes belonged to him and asked them to help him walk the bikes home and when the police came the older kid ran off). Then there was the beginning of his senior year when he played a prank on his wrestling coach by taking a shit in his shoes.

Yep, you heard me right. He defecated in the man’s shoes.

He did it on a dare, as if that is an excuse or a reason.  Why hasn’t one of his friends ever dared this boy to read a book?  Build a robot?  Take a higher level math class?  Why do boys only dare one another to do stupid, reckless shit?  Is this a way of herd thinning?

scene:  8000 BC.  Brrrguh and Smishay are standing on a cliff overlooking prehistoric antelope.  They are 500 feet above the ground.

Brrrrugh is the first one to speak in prehistoric language of course which is more than likely simplistic but translated here into English for us in the 21st to understand.

Brrrrugh: I dare you to leap from this cliff and land on the back of that big antelope.

Brrrrugh is actually pointing at the smallest antelope in the herd off to the side. 

Smishay: Yeah, ok.

Smishay takes a running leap and lands face first onto the field below.  Stiffly he begins to show a few signs of life but the antelope that didn’t run stay to kick him to death for scaring them.

Annnnnnnnd scene.

Prehistoric antelope are gangsta.

J2 wants to be the cool kid,  in high school he was a kid that slipped easily between social groups.  I would say that he is a follower, but not really.  He doesn’t follow any one person but he is completely invested in this image that he has of being the cool, crazy, Black kid.  And to be that kid you have to do some cray-cray stuff.

Which brings us to college life.

This boy.

This boy got drunk one winter night and then decided to go down to the computer room and sprayed everything with a fire extinguisher.

(Ugh, I am so ashamed.  For me and for him.)

Why J2?  Why did you do this?  WTF dude?  For real.

I was drunk and bored and feeling existentially disconnected from my projected image by attending a college that’s over a hundred miles from home and needing to re-establish myself among a new community of people which made me feel insecure and sometimes constipated.

Ok.  The third thing I made up especially the constipated part.  But not really.

“What are we going to do?” I ask J every day since it happened.  I estimate 65 times.  “What are we going to do to get through to this boy, no man.  He’s a freaking man now.  What can we do to get him to grow up?”

“Nothing,” my husband answers me back 65 times the same way.  “He’s grown.  We’ve done what we needed to do.  He’s going to have to learn the hard way.”

I look skeptical.  The hard way might be really hard for J2.  Like calculus hard.

We all make mistakes, especially when we are young.  Hopefully we learn from them and become a stronger smarter person who lives to tell the tale of what a fool we were when we were younger.

One day J2 will be a professional and his own man.  He will be far above trying to get the approval of peers or coworkers or acquaintances.  He will think before he does things although he will retain a bit of the sweet boy he used to be.

I look forward to the day J2 has a son of his own.  This son will undoubtedly do dumb things, following in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather.  And when this child does, I will laugh at J2, say something like chickens roosting and nuts falling from trees and twisted metaphors.

A few weeks ago a teen girl came into the library chanting, “Girls go to college to get more knowledge; boys go the Jupiter to get more stupider.”

Daily I am surrounded by stupid boys.  Mid-teen boys who think by skipping school they are outsmarting everyone around them, but they are just making it harder for their future selves.  Boys in their early twenties who are trying to figure out the way to go; should they follow the straight line or hook up with their boys to make easy money.  Middle-age boys I have to tell that their chess game is not that serious or they will be asked to leave the library.

Encountering “men” during the day is very few.

We are a culture that worships the “boyness “of men.  It’s in all the popular movies and music.  It’s in our saying, boys will be boys when actually no boys will be men.

And so is my young man.

Raising a boy, especially a boy of color, is not an easy thing.  I don’t think it’s completely the XY chromosome that makes them several beats behind their female counterparts.  As a parent, you do your best and wait for the man to appear.

Although, if he does mess up again a trip to far reaches of outer space may sooner be in his future than grandchildren.

Choices, Challenges, Chances

We are the sum of the choices that we make. We are a result of the challenges that we face. We are creatures of chance; chances that get bestowed on us by others or by fate.

J and I got up at 5am to make the 2.5 hour drive to J2’s school.  We pick him up by 8:30 and then retrace our trail 10 miles back down the highway to make it to court by 9am.

We don’t say anything as we are all a bit nervous.  Even though I had a few hours of sleep and decaf coffee , I was wide awake.

J suspected we will be in-and-out in no time.  It’s a small county court.  I am not so sure.  Yeah, it is a small county court but I think we could end up listening to all manners of crimes which could mean J2’s case isn’t heard until 10 or 11, hopefully before noon.

We go inside the building, up to the 3rd floor.  In a small hallway stands a police guard next to a metal detector.  He’s moving slow, heck he’s gonna be there all day but after a 20 oz and a 3 hour drive I needed to use the restroom.

I come back and the Js have entered into court.  I take my phone and keys out of my purse and then hand all three to the officer before I walk through the detector.  He hands me back my purse, tells me to turn my phone off and that I need to check my phone in with him?

Whaaaaaaa?  Fa realz.

He gives me a ticket for the phone and I head into the first room where  a lady is behind a big desk.

“Are you here for court today?  What is your name?”

I tell her I’m there for my son and give her his name.  She points to another door to enter into court.  I go inside to find the place filled.  There were four rows of ten chairs facing the front.  The only row of seats that were empty were behind a row of convicts in khaki jumpsuits and shackles.  I guessed no one could sit there, but I didn’t want to anyway.

J is standing in the back of the small room and I move to stand beside him.  J2 is sitting in the front row.  He’s starting to look nervous.  I think, “Good.”

Everyone is staring at the television in front of the room where a video of a judge was going over the rules of court and their rights.  We came all this way and we get a video?  I reach into my purse to tweet the absurdity of it and realize they have my phone.  This must be the reason why.

Next to me is a black guy wearing jeans, a tank top and an open button down shirt.  I thought that J2 was going to be the only one inappropriately dressed with his khaki shorts but he seems to have hit a sartorial high note whereas I was overdressed in a skirt, cardigan and pearls.  I guess if there is a meet and greet with canapes after court then I would be good to go.

The court (stenographer?  secretary?) comes in and the guy beside me starts to pant and salivate.  I don’t know why she didn’t quit her job and run away with him right there, this alpha male seemed like a catch.  How many dudes would catcall a woman working in court?  Not many I’m sure.

In walks the judge and we get straight to business.  The guy standing next to me was the first one up.  He was charged with fishing without a license.  The judge gives him 90 days in jail and restitution but suspends it for completion of 500 hundred hours of community service.

The guy was happy and took the plea.  I look at J and mouth, “90 days in jail?”  J looks back at me wide-eyed.  Was J2 about to get stroked?

Next is a white guy.  He was partners-in-crime with the white guy and agreed to the same deal that his friend got.  But less than seven minutes later, after leaving to go sign the paperwork,  the guy was back in the courtroom, this time in handcuffs.  The guy had a change of heart and decided he didn’t want to do community service although he didn’t have full money for the fine right then.

The next few cases were domestic violence and DUI then it was J2’s turn before the judge.  He pled guilty and the judge looked over his file because it seemed there should have been more to it.  The judge asked J2 to sit down.  A few more cases on domestic violence are resolved before J2 is called to the bench again.

The judge ordered J2 he just had to pay restitution and, it’s understood, that if he can get it paid off in a few months it won’t appear on this record.

We retrieve our phones and check that time.  What seemed like hours only took 39 minutes.  If they were anything, they were efficient.

“So were you scared?”  J asked J2.

“Yeaaaah.”

“I thought we were going to have to leave without you.”  J said.

We all began to laugh with relief.  We talked about the guy who decided he didn’t wanted to renegotiate  community service and how he ended up in jail and his girlfriend exploded into a tantrum of expletives at the court workers.

“Did you notice what they had in common?” J inquired of J2.

J2 ran down a list of things: height, class, crime, demeanor?  J said no to each of them.

“A lot of them knew each other,” J revealed.  “Didn’t you notice that.  Even if they didn’t come in together, most of the people in the courtroom were friends.  It just goes to show that who you are friends with matters.”

“Which brings us,” I begin.  “To choices, J2.  Life is a series of choices and chances.  You make choices, for good or bad, about what you want.  You are an adult now.  We aren’t going to be a buffer for you anymore.  You have made some bad choices in your life, but there have been people who have believed in you and they have given you more than enough second chances.  One day, you won’t have these chances.  One day, the choices that you make will be your character.  You just won’t be that kid that does stupid stuff, you will be who you have chosen.  It’s up to you.”

I feel like I have given this speech to J2 a million times over the years in a myriad of variations.  Each time I feel like he hears me and I believe he does until the next time it comes around.

As we pull up to J2’s dorm there is an hour until his next class.  We remind hm that everyone makes mistakes but he needs to learn from his.  We give him suggestions where to apply for summer employment and encourage him to do it now before the onslaught of procrastinating summer college students put their applications in.  We find out when his last exam in and that he basically wants to be picked up immediately when it was done.

As he gets out of the car he says there won’t be a next time.  I say ok to him which translated means we will see.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Check out my next post to discover what J2 did and to read my daughter’s opinion of life as an adult and parental guidance click here.

Blasian Read: Water Baby

blasian water babyIt’s hard to find books for kids or teens with Blasian characters. I am not sure how Water Baby by Ross Campbell escaped my notice.

The main character Brody is a young adult who is a bit of a tomboy. She likes karate, she likes to run and she likes to surf. While out surfing she is attacked by a shark and loses her leg.

Blasian connection: AfAm mom/AsAm dad which you see only briefly in the story.  shark

Some girls will connect with Brody, she’s not for everyone.  She has a punker attitude and isn’t girly in the least.  Her ex-boyfriend muses that she likes to pick her nose.

But even though she is a rough girl she is soft inside.  Brody, although constantly talking about how hot she is, feels very self-conscious about the loss of her leg and battles with nightmares about the shark.

Writer/illustrator Ross Campbell is a great storyteller.  A few years ago I read his graphic novel The Abandoned and was captured into the story.  This story also features another punker black chick but this time instead of sharks she’s fighting Zombies.

For Water Baby and The Abandoned I can only recommend the book for older teens. There are some graphic images in the books and although the book doesn’t depict sex, both of the main characters are sexually active and sexual liaisons are discussed.

So read this book.  And if you know of any books about Blasian kids or families hit me up in the comment section so I can check it out, too.