Last week the brilliant, inspirational soul savior Adrienne Maree Brown asked this question on her feed: “on being intersectional: what are the intersections you are most struggling with right now? how do you hold the complexity?”. My answer was parenting and activism.
I was reminded of this response again this morning while listening to the news. NPR has long been a safer choice than my itunes playlist when driving the kids to school because I never knew when some random “2 Live Crew” song might pop up. But for the last week with one distressing revelation from the new administration after another I find that I can not listen to any news segment for more than five-minutes without getting unnerved.
Anyone knows me knows that I’m far from a sailor when it comes to cursing—but maaan……do I want to drop some f-bombs in the car while listening to the news these days.
I want to be a good parent. I want to raise informed and conscientious kids.
But more than anything these days, I want the freedom to say “give me an effin break” when I hear a radio host (not necessarily an NPR host) says something foolish without having to worry about my 6yo repeating my words on the playground at school that morning.
Robert Lopshire’s Put Me in the Zoo has emerged as one of Turtle Biscuit’s favorite bedtime stories. I’ve also grown to appreciate this story over time. The main lesson that what you want is not necessarily the best thing for you, and in fact there may be something even better out there if you open yourself up to that possibility is one that resonates with a person of any age.
I’m not quite sure if Turtle Biscuit understands the nuances of this story, but it is clear that understands the plot twist. She appears open to the possibility of changing one’s ambitions.
Put Me in the Zoo was still on my mind this morning while I was at the gym and Kanye’s “Everything that I am” came on.
The two pieces are very similar. The refrain in “Everything I Am”:
Everything I’m not, made me everything I am
Reminded me of the moral of Lopshire’s story. Being forced to recognize that he was not a zoo animal allowed the leopard to find a home in the circus. Whether you consider his spot changing antics tricks, or as Turtle Biscuit likes to opine him “being silly,” the truth of the matter is that the leopard is an artist. Exiled from the zoo he finds a home in the circus.
And as Kanye makes plain his insecurities in “Everything I Am”, he too reminds the listener that like it or not, we are often defined by what we are not–therefore it is incumbent to embrace all that we are:
Damn, here we go again
Everybody saying what’s not for him
But everything I’m not, made me everything I am
I vaguely remember Mom Biscuit and I cracking a few jokes, maybe even dropping a few double entendres, the first time we set eyes on the tub in what would be our first home. Our realtor played along egging us on. And since we were two city kids from Queens there was of course an inevitable reference to the old Mt Airy Lodge commercials.
Never did we imagine that the “spa” that we thought would be our respite from long days at the office and occasional romantic date would become the domain of our baby girl
It dawned on me shortly after my wife and I welcomed our second child that I needed to revive my Turtle Biscuit series. After all, how would it look to the girls a decade from now when they both can read and they realize that I documented my experiences with one but not the other.
And the more I think about it, just as I was eager to share tales of the lazy days I spent with Turtle Biscuit while on leave in 2011, the forthcoming trials and tribulations of being a commuter parent of an infant are also important, and worthy of reflection.
With that being said, I introduce everyone to Baby Biscuit, Little sister of Turtle Biscuit, Singing Biscuit and College Biscuit (formerly Teen Biscuit).
Guilty as charged, and you know what, it is really hard to break this habit because what the author doesn’t get at is that not only is there a short term reward for the child, but for us parents as well. Look, I appreciate not having to wait two hours for Singing Biscuit to finish his chores and holding us hostage from getting on with our day when I promise him a $5 bill for his efforts. That said, I also cringe when he asks if he will get his “allowance” for doing some other task in the middle of the week. Those cringes are far and few in between these days because I’ve disassociated his allowance from completing his chores, but I still haven’t given up on the bribing habit.
I find the issue of bribing children — or to be more precise, the giving of blunt, uncreative rewards for desired behavior “If you just stop kicking that seat in front of you on the plane, I’ll give you 10 minutes of iPad time”; “Clean your room this weekend, I’ll give you 10 bucks”; “If you use good manners at Grandma’s house, I’ll let you have an extra brownie” — to be one of the more nagging challenges of being a parent.
Like most families we had grand recreation ambitions this week. With July 4th taking place on a Wednesday it seemed as if this week was going to be one long weekend, even if Snuggle Biscuit had to work the first 1/2 of the week. But before we could get going on the staycation to end all staycations, Turtle Biscuit came down with a fever. Therefore, instead of being preoccupied with getting enough grub for Wednesday’s BBQ, my thoughts were turned time and again to Turtle Biscuit’s health.
Parenting ain’t poker, but man you sure do learn how to count your cards, what matters, what doesn’t, and the moments to go all in as you go through the process of raising a child.
Speaking of things that resonated, when I saw this poster during a recent trip to Target I was instantly struck. It is practically pitch perfect. Great copy-line and the photo was neatly captured the bond between a parent/father and child. I couldn’t help but take a picture so that I could keep it in the file to share with Turtle Biscuit one day.