Sex and the Pre-teen

In this motherhood journey I’m often caught between a rock and a hard place. I’m balancing what I should share with Munch and when. It’s a juggling act. Do I want to take away his innocence early or wait until later? I’m rambling about…the sex talk. I’m wondering, when is the appropriate age to talk about sex with your children?

I have a boy and for all intents and purposes he’s still pretty innocent. He turns off songs with bad words in them or inappropriate subjects. He still watches Disney Jr. and Nick Kids. He just recently started watching The Thundermans on Nickelodeon about a superhero family. I’m wondering if broaching sex now will change him somehow.

My mother never talked about sex with me. I learned at school in the sixth grade with all the other children. Not that I was thinking about sex or anything, but I had started my cycle before then so I had no idea what was happening to me. It was as though the sex talk was somehow taboo.

Children are growing up faster now than when I was a child and I don’t want Munch learning something from the kids at school or in the streets. I want to give him all the information to make informed decisions. I want to teach him how to love and cherish his body and to not treat sex as a rites of passage. It’s your body that is a temple that we should use to honor God.

But, I don’t want to be naïve and think that he may never do it, so I struggle with how much to tell him and when?

My best friend has a son one year older than mine and I asked her had she talked to him about sex? She said no. He’s not mentally ready yet. So, I’m wondering do we wait until our children are mentally ready to have the sex conversation or do we overload them with information now in hopes that they will choose to not engage in sexual activity until marriage?

Yes, Munch knows about his body and boundaries. I’ve made sure that he calls his genitalia by the proper terminology. I’ve explained that a doctor can only examine you with mommy and/or daddy in the room. He is now getting shy and embarrassed when a doctor has to examine his penis during his annual visits. However, is it too soon to have the sex talk?

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page @mskeeinmd.

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Gifts of Gratefulness

I’ve been really going through it lately. Being introspective. Being in prayer. Being observant of the things and people around me.

I’ve had this writer’s block and I didn’t know what to say. This mood. This is a funk that I’m in. It’s been rough. But, in my funk I had an epiphany as to what I should write about…being grateful.

So, that’s what I decided to do. Write about what matters to me. The moments of gratitude that I have that never ever seem to diminish no matter what is going on around me.

One of the things that I’m most grateful for is Munch. He’s amazing. A few weeks ago, we had a packed weekend of activities including a paint night. He had been asking to attend and I was happy to oblige.

But, he’s also a ten year old who still gets upset about things. He acted out when he didn’t like his photo that he was painting and he wanted a whole new canvas. I was fit to be tied at his behavior.

I politely explained that is not how it works and it is supposed to be fun not stressful or perfect. He was not understanding. It made it worse when another parent said “I love your duck”. He replied with tears in his eyes “It’s not a duck it’s a dolphin.” She was awesome because she didn’t miss a beat and said “Oh, it is a dolphin, I’m sorry I couldn’t see because your mom’s arm was in my way.”

I smiled. Just like that. She made my son feel better. Mothers do that right? They sense the uneasiness in a child that may not be their own and they come in and try to soothe their spirit. I smiled and said “Thank you.” He sighed. He was still disappointed.

It was distressing to watch him unravel over a painting. I tried to comfort and talk to him. It wasn’t working. He asked to throw his picture away. I said no.

Later that evening when he was speaking to my mom she asked him how it went. He explained that he threw a tantrum because he was upset over his painting and how I was hurt at his behavior. She asked him what happened. They talked. I think he began to understand.

The next morning he apologized for his behavior. He said he loves me. He hugged and kissed me. I said “Okay”.

I know Munch is still young so he doesn’t understand the gratefulness of spending time alone with Mommy or being appreciative and accepting of his choices, but it didn’t make me love him any less. I was grateful for our one on one time. I was grateful for our mutual love for art. I was grateful for making memories. I was grateful for time.

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page @mskeeinmd.

Parenting Fail: Cleaning Out The Closets

A couple of weeks ago I was frustrated by all the clothes and toys that Munch had outgrown and the fact that I had yet to set an appointment for Purple Heart to come pick them up. With a steadfast determination I selected my appointment and packed up his room of too small clothes, brand new jeans and shirts (I forgot they were in his closet and had never been worn – please don’t judge me) and toys to donate. I needed to have order in the chaos of his room.

Now, before I go further let me pause and tell you that my son is a stuffed animal hoarder. He truly is. He needs to be on a show. He doesn’t care if there is no room to sleep on his bed. He loves stuffed animals. In the last year he had over 100 stuffed animals and played with maybe 5 consistently. His favorite is this stuffed dog that he got for his second birthday that is still holding on. I’ve washed and sewn up the holes multiple times. It needs to be refilled with stuffing. But, that dog (whom he affectionately named Puppy Thomas) remains firmly on his bed as he sleeps with it while at my house.

As I began to get the toys and clothes bagged up, I left the stuffed animals on his bed alone. He slept with them and they weren’t bothering me, but the rest had to go. I needed to make room. All in all there were 9 bags of clothes, shoes and toys that were put out for the van to pick up that morning.

Munch watched me lug those bags down the stairs and out the front door with nary a question or look. I had to get it together. I was on a mission for some form of organization and Munch didn’t question it.

However, that didn’t last long.

Last night when I was tucking him into bed (yes, I still do that) he asked about the bags of stuffed animals. I felt like a deer caught in headlights. “What about them Munch?” I said. “Well, where is it?” he questioned. I replied “Munch I donated them to Purple Heart a couple of weeks ago. You saw me take the bags outside.” He said “But Mommy, all my stuffed animals were in that bag.” I reminded him that he hadn’t played with any of the animals in the bag in the last 11 months. He said “Mommy, my Alvin and the Chipmunks were in the bag. You got those for me last Christmas.” He started crying.

I didn’t know what to do. I mean I went through the same thing as a kid when my mom started donating my toys behind my back, so I could relate to his 10 year old pain. Had I become my mother? The giver of things without my input or knowledge?

I tried to comfort him and explain that I didn’t look in the bag and that I didn’t know the Chipmunks were in the bags. Truthfully, I should have because isn’t that what parents are supposed to do? Remember to do everything?

Those are his favorite plush animals and he watches Alvin and The Chipmunks on Hulu faithfully. I didn’t know what to say. I felt bad. He hugged his puppy and just cried. He asked “Are you going to give away puppy one day?” “No, I would never give away puppy” I told him. I kissed him good night and told him how much I loved him. He sniffled and muttered “I love you too.”

I felt heartless and did the only thing I thought could make this better. I caved and went on-line to order them again. I remembered ordering those stuffed animals for Christmas 2016. I remembered Munch being so excited to get them because he loved the Chipmunks. I went in search of these particular plush animals. I found them on the Fisher Price website and on Amazon. I ordered them on Amazon because it was free shipping and with my discount I was able to get them sooner and with free shipping. Crisis handled.

I needed a drink. But, I didn’t grab a bottle of Chardonnay. Instead, I went into his room and told him that I’m sorry and that I ordered him Alvin and the Chipmunks again because I knew how much he loved them. I told him it came with Brittany. He smiled and closed his eyes.

All is well in the house tonight. It may not be well tomorrow or the next. But, I am loving the fact that I went from villain to hero in 10 minutes. I guess I’m doing something right?

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Be the Man You Want to See

I was listening to the radio yesterday and the morning show host was talking about how 40% of women are leading single parent homes and how he got into a discussion with a gentleman that said that women can’t teach boys how to be men and that they coddle them. The gentleman said in particular, black women coddle their sons and don’t raise them. Can we have a frank discussion on this issue?

Do I have your attention? Good.

So, let me state the facts. I’m a black mother raising my son on a shared custody agreement. He is being raised 50% of the time in a single parent home. Now, I’m not going to argue logistics because yes my son’s father is in his life, but I’m still single. That means on my time, it is imperative that I cultivate an environment where I am both nurturer and disciplinarian. Where I am leader, mother, teacher, spiritual advisor, nurse, etc. Oh, and if that’s not enough I need to make sure that I’m giving him the best opportunities to be successful.

Seven days at a time. Seven days to make sure that I’m doing all that and then some. I cook breakfast each morning, fix a hearty lunch, review homework and enroll him in engaging and beneficial activities. I take him for Mommy/son dates, pay for field trips, camps and make sure that he’s getting sufficient exercise. Exhausted yet?

But, I don’t complain. I love my Munch and I want him to grow up and be a faithful, dependable, kind man who remembers his faith in God and has great moral character. It’s a lot but I am thankful for this opportunity and I don’t take it lightly. Now, here’s my issue…

Where are all the men?

Many men who make these comments about women not being able to raise a son are not stepping up to help them out. They complain about an issue when in fact they are part of the problem. How is it a woman’s fault when they are doing the best they can under the circumstances? Do you think women want to be single parents? Some do, but many don’t. Where is the man’s responsibility in this picture? How do you know the man in question knows what it means to be a man? Did he have a man who was a good man teaching him to navigate manhood?

I’m exhausted from hearing that women (especially black women) are the main issue with many of society’s problems. We aren’t. We are the backbones and many times bread winner in a two parent home. We get tired. We need help. What are you doing to help? Are you a mentor? Are you volunteering your time to young men without fathers? Are you spending time with your women friend’s male offspring? Showing up at little Timmy’s baseball game or Max’s lacrosse game? What about Jonathan’s spelling bee? Were you there?

My truth

I’ve been separated from my ex for five years. In that five year time, not one of my male friends has EVER stepped up and spent one on one time with Munch. EVER. NEVER EVER. Why not? Why is it that I have some of the most educated, kind hearted and morally correct male friends and they don’t seem to think about standing in and being a role model for Munch? I don’t know. Maybe it’s simply because they don’t think about how I can’t teach a boy how to be a man. Maybe it’s out of sight out of mind. They don’t think about Munch. They see me busting my butt to attend every school meeting, PTA meeting, volunteering in the classroom or on field trips or at the school, paying for tutoring, coordinating play dates, paying for private flute lessons, swim lessons and boxing and think I have it all under control.

I do.

But, my son could always benefit from positive male influence. Be the sane person when his parents are stressing him out. Be the one that shows up and encourages him for his event. Be the man that he calls when he wants to take about things. Be the man that gives him true and direct advice to life’s problems or concerns.

But they don’t. We are invisible. We are invisible to many until Munch grows up and leads a less than desirable life. Then it will be my fault.

I’m not giving up on my son. I know that I’m not alone. I will pour everything that I have and more into helping him navigating boyhood to manhood. I will enroll him in mentoring programs and give him opportunities to have positive male influence.

I am not alone. I am one of many women. I am raising a son. I nurture. I coddle. I discipline. Our children need mentors. Stop complaining and get to work. You know what it takes to be a man. So, be a man and give unselfishly of yourself. You might just see how your presence makes a difference.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Random Thoughts – 06.20.18

Last week I was drinking some water and spilled half the bottle of water on my computer. My computer won’t cut back on. I sighed. I complained. I wanted to cry. Heck, Munch did cry because he wanted to play a Sonic The Hedgehog game on my computer. I didn’t stay in the place of despair.

I quietly said a prayer and ordered a new computer. It’s been 3 years. It was unfortunate, but I’m going to be spending a lot of time this year writing and blogging so I need a working computer. I also need to work with Munch this summer with typing as he will now be typing his papers for English class. I guess it died when it needed to. But, thank God that I could afford another one.

I’m feeling better mentally and physically. Mentally about my break-up and physically with my body. I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in years. I can’t wait to get back to the gym. I learned some interesting things about my body during this process, but it was all good. I started making a list again – yes a list. A list of qualities that I want in a partner since it’s been a while dating other people. Ya’ll know I kissed a lot of frogs before meeting Mr. C, so I’m not looking forward to the frog kissing stage, but I’ll be dating.

I’m probably looking more to spending this summer living my best life and focusing on me and enjoying each day. I have some things planned with Munch and I’m getting serious about my book. I’ve done the outline and I’m just trying to get the short stories together to develop it into the masterpiece I pray it will be.

I have a busy summer with Munch. Between his swimming, private flute lessons and summer camp I’m adding tutoring at Mathnasium so that he can stay fresh in math and that he can work through these word problems. I discovered this year that Munch likes to just work on a math problem on a computer, but he won’t pull out a piece of paper and pencil and work the problem first before answering the question. This leads to many failed tests. That’s something we’ll be working on.

Between the beach and the trip home to Tennessee it will go by quickly. I won’t be taking any long trips because I exhausted leave for my surgery and I’ve only been at my job for two years so I don’t have much leave. Oh, today is my 2 year work anniversary. I still love my job. I consider myself blessed.

That’s about it for the random things in my life right now. How are you? Any exciting plans?

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page @mskeeinmd.

Mom You Lied

This past weekend, Munch and I went out shopping on Saturday for new church clothes. Later that evening Munch came in my room and asked me could he talk to me privately. I said “Sure.” I have to tell you that I was really proud that he closed the door and asked me to talk privately. I eagerly awaited what he had to say.

“Mom, I felt like you lied to me today” he said. I was caught off guard. “About what Munch? Why do you feel like I lied to you today?” He said “About the store earlier. You said it wasn’t going to take long and we waited in line for a long time.” I had to catch myself. I was ready to say something smart, but I’m practicing the behavior that I want him to emulate so I said “Munch, do I work at that store?” He replied “No.” I then asked “How do you define a long time?” He didn’t respond. I continued “I had to wait in the same line and they had every register open. But, I am asking you to remember that God wants us to be patient and what you are exhibiting is your frustration at the fact that we had to wait. Wait in line while picking up clothes for you. Remember that you must have an attitude of gratitude all the time and right now, you’re not being gratuitous. I didn’t lie. You didn’t have a realistic expectation as to the time it would take and neither did I.” I asked him was there anything else and said good night.

I almost lost it. I couldn’t believe that my child was blaming me for the long lines in the store. I didn’t know if I could continue down this positive parenting journey. It was stressful to reign in my emotions and then to try to explain how disappointed that I was without losing my mind. I did it, but sometimes I wonder if I’m even making sense to Munch.

I didn’t lie, but his interpretation of the fact that I said it shouldn’t take long had told his brain that I lied when he had to wait over a certain amount of time. I didn’t know what to do. I was literally making it up as I go along. I thought about it over the next couple of days and expressed to him that we needed to take the time to process what he said and his expectations. I explained that his expectations are his, but he needs to practice reasonableness. I discussed that because he’s in an awkward size in dress clothes that I need him to be present and that I try my best to shop without him, but that may not always be the case. He needs to be prepared that sometimes he will need to be present.

I don’t know if he understands. Talking to other people only increases my anxiety about my choices because they don’t understand what I’m doing on this positive parenting journey. I’m being firm but allowing him to have choices. To openly expresses his feelings, but to level set with him. I pray that I’m not messing him up.

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

 

Daddy

I know it’s Mother’s Day weekend and I’m sharing a post about my daddy, but I had to share this. I was asked to be a part of an incredible project by Dr. K E Garland. Her next book is called Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships and will be released next month (pre-orders are going on now and hard book copies will be available June 2, 2018).  This is an amazing book and I wanted to share my write up for the upcoming release.

Daddy is going to give you insight into the importance of father-daughter relationships. All relationships are important, but I tell you growing up without a dad changed me. In good ways, but definitely some bad and I’m not alone. So, I wanted to share my story.

I’m so excited to be a part of this project. It was therapeutic and I know that you will enjoy the book, so please check out my interview via DADDY CONTRIBUTOR: Tikeetha Thomas

Also, look out for me promoting this awesome book for everyone and think about getting it for Father’s Day as a gift to the many men in your life that are raising daughters.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Love

I’m late. This should have gone out on Friday. Please forgive me for just getting out this post. It’s about love…

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April 16, 2018

There are times as a parent when you realize that your job is not to be the parent you always imagined you’d be, the parent you always wished you had. Your job is to be the parent your child needs, given the particulars of his or her own life and nature.

Ayelet Waldman

Love. There is no greater gift than to love the young man that God has blessed me with. He’s pretty amazing. I thank God for him every day. He is a child that challenges me to be better. I’ve grown because of him into someone that finds joy in the everyday simple moments of rushed kisses, determined hugs and high fives. I will support his dreams and help him understand his failures are a part of life. I will encourage him to just be himself because that is what the world loves.

This post was part of the A2Z challenge and the letter “L” is for Love. My posts will be written as a journal style for the challenge and will be on the theme: Mothering While Black. I hope you enjoyed it.

L

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Parenting: Discipline Part I

I told you awhile back that I practice positive parenting. Positive parenting basically means that I embrace positive discipline. That I listen to Munch and don’t physically spank or lay hands on him. Now, this is new age in my family who believes in spare the rod and spoil the child, but I am an advocate for allowing Munch to understand that his choices will have negative or positive consequences, but he needs to understand that.

I treat discipline as a teaching opportunity instead of a physical task of spanking. Pretty much everything becomes about examining the issues, understand why the behavior occurred, making you accountable and still providing love, hugs and kisses. I know this may seem like with craft to some folks, but I don’t believe that you have to go around spanking children to correct their behavior.

Positive parenting tries to strengthen the parent/child bond by creating a more affectionate relationship. This works with Munch. He is a hugger and loves to be hugged, petted (LOL, his words) and encouraged. However, it’s not always easy.

Last Friday night, I got this email from Munch’s teacher:

I wanted to let you both know that Brennan had a problem in English class today. He had a discussion with a classmate about the biography book report. This is my knowledge of the situation. Brennan and the classmate were discussing who they were reading about. When Brennan heard the boy was reading about the life of a white person (students can choose anyone) he told the student he had to read about a black person. The student then called Brennan a racist. The boys both raised their voices and argued. Brennan was yelling I am not a racist. I was teaching, standing in front of the class and immediately raised my voice in order to be heard, and stopped the argument, reprimanded them both and moved Brennan from that table. I reprimanded the boy and we had a mini class discussion about racism. I told them that I was upset with them both for not stopping when I asked. At the end of class I met with the boys. The 1 student said he was at fault, said he should not have said that and admitted to inciting Brennan. Brennan said, right, I was wrong, too. I complimented him for being mature and respectful. But then he immediately told me, I’m being sarcastic, and continued to say he did nothing wrong. I tried to convey the idea that yes, the boy was wrong, but you were rude and disrespectful to me as I was trying to resolve the problem. I felt I had taken the time to discuss and reprimand the boy, in front of the entire class about his name calling. But Brennan was still defiant and defensive about my correction of him. I had a class coming in and no time to continue our discussion. I sent him to class but it was unresolved. I wanted to advise you of the incident. Please let me know if you have any questions.  Mrs. B

Yeah, it was rough. Basically my son told the teacher that he was being sarcastic with his apology as she was complimenting him. Huh? Where does that happen? I was mortified. I really like his teacher. She’s phenomenal and just a good human being. I trust her.

Now the question became how do I approach Munch with this positive parenting? See, I knew that my mom would have smacked my mouth for being disobedient. Positive parenting doesn’t allow for spanking. I needed to teach Munch a lesson. I needed him to see how he was wrong and needed to apologize, but I had to make sure that he understood the rules/expectations of self-control.

Could I do this? Was I ready? The challenges were only going to get bigger. I knew how I handled this would set the precedent for future parenting discipline moments. The key was to teach him, not to break him.

-To Be Continued –

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Parenting Lesson: I Will Not Chase You

Munch is the best thing that ever happened to me. But, sometimes I really feel like I’m sucking at this parenting thing. Not that I’m mean, but sometimes I have to teach him a lesson and I wonder if my teaching those lessons are having an adverse effect on him.

Last month we were working on homework and then we were going to review his oral presentation. He had to memorize a poem. He chose “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes. It was awesome, but he wasn’t in the mood. When he’s not in the mood to do anything, he pretty much shuts down. He acts like he’s bored and it’s really like time consuming and emotionally draining.

That being said I decided to push forward and chastise and ignore his negative attitude. I wanted to record him saying his poem. He was nonchalant and had no emotion. He was literally just acting like I’m forcing him to plow the field. It was draining. I had enough. I said “I love you Munch, but I’m done. I’m reclaiming my peace and you’re going to bed. Go upstairs and get your shower so you can get in the bed.” He was upset. “What about TV time?” I said “It’s not going to happen. You’ve tried my patience this evening with your behavior so TV is a reward that you don’t deserve this evening.” He cried.

Cried in the shower. Cried when he went to bed and then cried himself to sleep. Even when I tried to tuck him in bed and give him his kiss good night he cried louder and turned away from me. No problem. “I love you and goodnight” was all that I said.

I spoke to Mr. C and he listened and then commented how our parenting styles are different. I know. He’s told me before. I’m used to getting spanked as a child if I cried for no reason, but I left him to cry it out.

The next morning I did what I always do…cook his breakfast, pack his lunch, lay out his clothes and make up his bed. He then comes upstairs and criticizes me for all that I’ve done. “You’re not letting me do anything by myself. My daddy says that I need to do things on my own” he stated in frustration. I smiled sweetly and said “Love, you know what?” I don’t have to fix your breakfast each morning. I can sleep later and you can get up and fix yourself a bowl of cereal. It has always been important for me to send you to school with a hot breakfast each morning, but you want more responsibility so tomorrow, you got it. You can make your own bed and pick out your own clothes and fix your own lunch. I’m fine with it all. Now get dressed please.”

I was peeved. I couldn’t believe this child being defiant and first thing in the morning. I asked God for strength and we exited out the house headed for school. Munch didn’t speak to me at all. Ignored me on the whole car ride. I blasted gospel music to shift my mind and hopefully his too.

We exit and go into the school and as I’m signing him in for Before Care he doesn’t speak to the teachers when they say good morning. He walks away from me and is still ignoring me. I sigh. I said “Good morning” to the teachers, signed him and left. Five minutes later my phone rings and it is the Director of the Before and After Care program. She says how Munch had a breakdown and started crying because I just left.

She said that Munch said “She didn’t kiss me goodbye and she didn’t tell me that she loves me and to have a good day.” She said that they couldn’t console him. She asked could I speak to him. “Yes” I responded. He gets on the phone crying “Mommy, you didn’t tell me you love me. You didn’t kiss me goodbye.” I said “Munch, I realized that you were frustrated when you complained first thing this morning, I realized that you were still angry when you didn’t speak to me in the car ride over. I knew you weren’t over it when you walked away from me and ignored the teachers this morning. I accepted that. I love you so much but I will never chase anyone including you. My love is always given freely but I won’t chase someone to force it on them and this includes you. I love you more than life itself and will always love you. I love you more than you’ll ever know so have a great day.” He said “Okay, I love you too mommy.”  We got off the phone.

This parenting thing is hard. I struggle some days and find peace with my choices on most. But, in the end I’m still a work in progress learning and loving this beautiful boy that I’ve been blessed with.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.