From the bleachers, the slide and the street
Watching Sam hit a baseball is one of my favorite past times. Marcel has a swing on him too, and starts t-ball at the end of the week! At practice yesterday Sam boasted to his teammates about his powerful hit, a result of our batting practice the night before. The kid really can hit! I was happy to reconnect with the parents I know, and reach out to a few new faces. The bleacher culture is one I’m surprisingly at home in. I love the snippets of opportunity for adult conversation, outbursts of cheer, and that camaraderie web that brings us together at practices and games. Sitting next to one brown skin Papa, I immediately launched into my; “I am so glad Sam is one of several kids of color out there again this year,” conversation. When his partner joined us I immediately boasted about Sam’s choice of threads at Easter. Read: this Black mama will think I am a good mother of a brown skinned child if she knows I bought my son a three piece suit…I stopped myself before making her look at pictures on my phone. I had just met the woman ten minutes ago!
Sam is aching for a new game on my iphone–so I am going to ask him to talk about what’s on his mind in exchange for a new app.
Me: what do you see when you look at that picture? Sam: Hitting the ball really far.
Me: What does it feel like when you hit the ball really far? Sam: It feels like my whole body has worked together to hit it. I feel happy.
Me: What is your favorite thing (besides hitting baseballs) to do outside? Sam: Swim.
Me: Not skateboarding? Sam: Skateboarding means you can mess up and fall, but in the water you can’t fall and mess up. Can we go swimming with my new wetsuit today?
What is the best part of having a little brother? Sam: Having someone always interested in what you are doing.
Me: What did you like most about our week off? Going to the waterpark, going down the slides, and the wave pool.
(Enter Marcel.) Me: Marcel what is the best part of having a big brother? The awesomest part in the whole wide world. I love him so much. He makes cool robots.
Yesterday we bought a used wetsuit for Sam. He might be doing some surf boarding lessons, and he loves to skim and boogie board too. I love to sit on the beach, and Marcel loves to play in the sand. I spent several hours this week (spring break week in these parts) putting the calendar together for the next five months! t-ball and baseball practices and games (clone me!!!) summer sport, science, art and peace camps, family travel, curriculum and assessment planning time, and some precious mama alone time too. Outfitting us for easy beach days is an investment in all of our happiness.
Speaking of happiness, I’ll admit that I indulged a little this week in what I imagine is; “how the other half lives” (says she who comes from upper middle class privilege, living a very comfortable, insured, well fed, and want for very little life) including a facial, a massage, several long walks, trips to the gym, and afternoons in the garden. Shrek treated us to an indoor water park get away, dinner out, and my trip to the spa. Having removed several errant hairs from my chin, I thought I was in the clear. I was horrified to learn that I had; “textured skin” and needed to exfoliate twice a week with this fifty-five dollar product to maintain all of the benefits my skin just experienced.
Seeing me in a picture is still odd. Of course that means that Shrek was there to facilitate the happiness. He does that so well. Finding time for us to talk about us, and our present and future is not easy. We have seven kids between us, which is plenty to cover in a two hour dinner date. Throw in some politics, requests for a raised flower bed, and my wanting to read a draft of a new poem, or him wanting to share a new song he is working on and who has time for; “you know when you/I do that thing, and you/I react this way?!?” conversations? So we make time to go down a water slide, and hope for some good laughs and an easy landing instead.
Before I close, I want to say that perhaps one of the most meaningful moments of the week happened at the Memorial for Trayvon organized by Pious Ali. The way in which he built the event around the youth in Portland allowed something deeply resonate to transpire. Trying to frame the event for the boys prior to the event was “messy” as my dear friend and fellow mama in the hue Erica shared. Our “wolf pack” as we call them (all boys, all brown, all BIG in the world) were all there, along with many other transracial parents–which was encouraging to me. Hearing the young people sharing their stories, poems, and truth allowed us to really feel around this again, as another dear friend Annie Sibley O’brien put so beautifully. Indeed we did.
I hope to hold and honor that moment a little bit longer with a poem I am writing and ultimately performing later this week. If and when it is ready I’ll share it with you all here first. I read it to Sam last night–after he found and read the draft to himself. He liked the middle part because it “told a real story”. Perhaps that means the beginning and end still need work!
It’s pouring rain, and a Monday morning after a week long break. I am leaving to walk to work in a half an hour, and the boys are still snoring. Uncle is on his way down soon to facilitate this transition. But I’ve already accomplished a ton, if I can get this grand post out to before I go. Looking forward to hearing about your bleachers, slides and streets too–leave word–tell us something that’s on your mind, or a soft landing you had recently!