Alas, I didn’t make Halloween costumes for the girls. I was disappointed in my sewing ability and didn’t want to send them out in any old thing. I ran to the local discount store at the last minute and bought a generic fairy costume for Nadia. I paired it with matching tights and hair glitter.
As for Simone, she decided to be Princess Tiana. A few months ago, Nadia received a Princess Tiana outfit for her birthday. The costume is too big, and she didn’t mind her sister taking it for a twirl. Tights and hair glitter provided the perfect finishing touches.
They were gorgeous, and I was happy. I still plan to make the no-sew tutus because you can’t have too many of those. One holiday down, two more to go.
Toy manufacturers say taller dolls may entice children to play with dolls much more as they grow older. Doll play has been skewing younger and younger, with many girls leaving them in the toy box to play with electronic games. Larger dolls may encourage girls to play with dolls well into elementary school. Check out this Wall Street Journal article to learn more about this trend.
I was struck by the mention at the end of the article of Karito Kids Giving Girls, a new 21-inch doll line from KidsGive. The line features six dolls from around the world. Each doll comes with a code, allowing children to give three percent of the cost of the doll to one of four charities.
A brave soul allowed Simone and Nadia to name his standard poodle puppy. Simone is responsible for the first and third names, while Nadia dreamed up the middle name. (Yes, she has seen snow. I think she was going for the feeling of the name.) Jackson, as we call him, is a very smart dog and will be a wonderful companion for his owner.
The girls loved having a puppy around for a few days even if he nibbled on their shoes and tore two holes in a dress while Nadia was wearing it. Don’t worry, she’s fine.
We do have a bit of a bone to pick with Jackson. We left him in a bathroom for a few hours while we attended an event. When we returned, we saw Jackson had jumped up on the bathtub and turned on the cold and hot water. Nadia discovered this serious design flaw as a toddler and would turn on the water and then take off like nothing had happened. I mean, who puts the faucet on the side of the tub? Anyway, we have no idea how long the water was running. All will be forgiven as soon as we see the damage and settle the water bill with Jackson’s owner.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has issued a lead scare just in time for Halloween. The coalition tested 10 children’s face paints and found all of them contained lead. Scary.
A few weeks ago, Nadia had an allergic reaction to some face paint. Since then, the girls have only had the tops of their hands painted at festivals and kids’ events. Our Halloween costumes do not require any face paint this year. Thank goodness.
Question: I’ve got one for you, Mama. We’ve got a few years before kids, but pretty early into our relationship, we discussed that — in very basic terms — our potential kids would have to navigate between Black and White worlds. I would love to hear how you instill “Black” values and sense of pride in your beautiful girls, without alienating their White heritage.
Answer: This is a tough question for many reasons. First, what I consider black values may not hold the same distinction for others. Second, families, regardless of race, ultimately decide what does and does not work for the unit. As long as everyone has a say, all will work out well. Third, having pride in one area doesn’t necssarily negate pride in another area. How’s that for a disclaimer? That said, I will give four examples of how I try to instill black values or a sense of pride in Simone and Nadia.
First and foremost, I want Simone and Nadia to learn and understand black history. Right now that comes in the form of books. Later, we will take family field trips.
When Simone was a toddler, Ken and I took her to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on Martin Luther King’s birthday. She looked and pointed and asked questions. She had no idea she was learning about civil rights. I was so proud and then she asked when we were going home. The lesson: Make sure your teachable moment is age appropriate.
Second, I collect black folk art, which often depicts black life. I should say, I collected folk art because I purchased most of the pieces before Simone and Nadia were born. We once were at an arts festival and Nadia saw a painting that resembled a piece in our home. She pulled Ken by the arm, smiling and chattering, all the way to the artwork. When I caught up, I explained to the artist that the reason my daughter was so excited about her work is because we have two of her pieces hanging in our living room. The lesson: Be a model for your children.
Third, I require Simone and Nadia to respect their elders. Friends and family have limited choices about how the girls may address them. The choices are: aunt, Ms., uncle and Mr. I think it’s important for children to learn adults are not their friends. This strategy also serves as a way for me to welcome family and friends into our village. The lesson: You had better listen to and respect these folks or else.
Fourth, family is everything. I would like for Simone and Nadia to be close. (They are only two years apart.) For that reason, they share a room. When they are older and want and need a bit more independence and privacy, they may have separate rooms. For now, they can share time and space. They are individuals and they are family. Family always comes first. If they leave together, I expect them to return together. The lesson: You are your sister’s keeper.
So, what do you say? Answer the question and leave your answer below.
Simone has completed her transition to the Big Kid School, and I have been thinking about how I would like to help the school. We’ve contributed in 50 million ways, donating money and time. Still, few of these gestures will have a lasting effect.
I’ve been poking around on children’s literature sites and learning very few of children’s books are about children of color. Of those, even fewer have been written and illustrated by people of color. Sadly, the number of books written and illustrated by and about people of color has not increased since 1994.
Given those statistics, I bet Simone’s school doesn’t have very many multicultural books. If so, I want to do something about that. I don’t know whether that means I will write a grant or call book publishers and request free books. I just know I should try to fill this void.
If anyone has taken on such a task, please leave a comment below.
In the meantime, here are a few wonderful sites for children, parents and teachers.
Asia For Kids is a resource for teaching Asian languages and cultures.
Bess Press has been publishing for Hawai’i and the Pacific since 1979.
Bopo Books publishes children’s picture books with both English and Spanish text.
Children’s Book Press is a nonprofit independent publisher that promotes cooperation and understanding through multicultural and bilingual literature.
Just Us Books is black-owned independent press dedicated to producing black children’s books.
Lee and Low is an independent book publisher that focuses on diversity.
Oyate is a Native American organization that ensures Native life and history are accurately portrayed.
Something always goes wrong at our family portrait photo session.
One year I thought it would be nice to have our dogs, Big Al and Ringo, join us. It was a bad idea. Simone refused to smile, the dogs marked the studio, and Ken had to chase down Ringo, who got loose and took a tour of the mall food court.
The photographer got only one shot of all of us looking at the camera. One beautiful shot.
Last year, we were on vacation in Florida. I got the girls all dressed when I realized we were running late. I ditched hair and make-up for me to help make up time. That only solved one problem. There was nothing I could do about the weather. A hurricane was in the Gulf of Mexico, and it was way too windy and cold for the beach clothes I had packed for all of us. We nearly froze.
Our photographer told the girls to run up and down the beach to scare off the chill and that idea produced some of the cutest photos.
This year I planned to break the family portrait curse. We would be on time, the weather would be great, everyone would smile and there would be no dogs.
At 2 p.m., we were all in the car. We weren’t out of the subdivision when I told Ken we needed to turn around and get a check. Then we were off again. Ken drove as I put on makeup. A quick drive down the Interstate and we would be one step closer to a beautiful Christmas card. We cruised along until we saw brake lights. Cars and 18-wheelers stretched for miles and miles. I called the photographer and said we would be a little late.
Nadia gifted us with a monologue. She fashioned a microphone out of a kids’ menu and started talking and singing about anything that came to mind. Simone announced she needed to go but could hold it.
Was it happening again? We were trapped in the car between exits with monologue Nadia and I need to go Simone. An hour later, traffic started to move. We stopped at the first exit for a pit stop before continuing our trek. We were 45 minutes late, and our session was a bit rushed.
Our photographer is excellent with children and families. No one will be able to tell it took us an hour and 45 minutes to arrive or that the girls were hungry or that it was a little warmer than I had planned.
As for breaking that curse? Maybe next year.