Friday, February 21, 2014
Four years ago, we made a WalMart trip and saw some great stuffed animal/pillows. I immediately gave my kids money and instructions since it was getting close to Valentine's Day.
"Take your dad to WalMart and buy me either the ladybug or frog. I also want a bag of Dove dark chocolate pieces. Here's some money and a coupon for the chocolates. The coupon is for two bags so pick out a bag for you girls. Ready? Go!"
That Valentine's Day four years ago I got home from work and walked into the house. The girls were bouncing off the walls with excitement and as soon as they heard the key in the door, they ran at me almost in a full line football tackle! They dragged me to my room and were squealing with delight the whole way there. All of 15 steps. Which is about all I can take with squealing. I opened the door and saw the bag of chocolates, a rose, a beautiful card full of declarations of love from my daughters and husband, and not one but TWO stuffed animals/pillows. My husband, the non-romantic that he is, bought the frog AND the ladybug. I promptly (with urging/nagging from my youngest who was 4-years-old at the time) named them. Mr. Frog and Miss Ladybug. I know. Not very creative but when you're a mother of four children, you have to go down the list just trying to call ONE child. (Ka-An-Pu-Nana! Whichever kid you are! You know I'm talking to you cuz I'm looking right at you!!!) How the heck will I remember the stuffed animals' names, too?
About a year after I received my lovely gifts, my youngest began to have bad dreams. And wake me up at all hours of the night. Which created a very grouchy, tired mom. I tried everything. Reading happy, non-scary stories at night. Singing lullabies. Praying. Using Spock-like mind controls. Telling her to dream of ice cream and cake. Dream of eating candy all day long. Dream of mom karate chopping the monster. My husband even suggested giving her one of my night shirts so she could feel like I was beside her. Because at this point, we were absolutely exhausted. My husband and I can barely fit in our bed let alone having another body sleeping with us and ending up with black eyes every morning from the legs and arms flopping all night long. Enter Mr. Frog and Miss Ladybug.
"Would you like to sleep with Mr. Frog and Miss Ladybug? Do you think that will help with your bad dreams?" I asked one sleepless night. She nodded and basically took over my stuffed animals/pillows. To my husband's delight. He hated the things. But I'm a sucker for stuffed animals and I was sad to let them go. Growing up in American Samoa, I had my collection of stuffed animals and even had a special shelf for them. I've always loved them. I still have a stuffed panda bear I bought when I was 6-years-old on a rare family vacation in the great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina visiting my mom's family. It's not always about the toy but the memories they carry. When it came to these newer stuffed animals, I was happy to give them up if it helped my daughter with her bad dreams and kept her in her own bed all night (and save me from looking like the sleepy, frazzled, crazed mom at work).
Fast forward four years, Mr. Frog and Miss Ladybug have been constant companions in my daughter's bed along with the ten plus other stuffed animals she has acquired throughout the years. So here we are at WalMart, four years later, after Valentine's Day and the store is prepping for Easter. She sees this frog/frog baby combo. And guess what? She offers to give back Mr. Frog. Now that he's flat, smooshed, smells like bad breath, and is in sorry shape. Really? I give her "the look" and continue with my shopping. That's when she gets a bright idea. And she goes and grabs ANOTHER frog/frog baby set.
"One for me and one for you, mom. A late Valentine's present." She says this with a look of satisfaction and joy. Because now we have a matching set. And I'll be honest, I was very excited! So she purchases the frogs and we get home to place them in their rightful places on our beds. My baby girl comes in to see that the frog is being treated properly and to make sure her dad hasn't tossed it across the room then asks, "What are you going to name it?"
I had to think for a minute. We already have Mr. Frog and Miss Ladybug. This one is holding a little one. What matches with a frog? The lightbulb turns on (sometimes it works!) and I replied, "Her name is Mrs. Ribbit and her baby." My daughter smiled and said it was a great name. And of course, everything was right with the world.
As I drifted off to sleep last night hugging Mrs. Ribbit and baby, I felt happy and content. Not because of the stuffed animal in my arms or even the fact that my baby girl bought me a gift. Life was, no, life IS good. And now I have Mrs. Ribbit and baby to create new memories!
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
My sister and I walked into a Claire's accessory store in the mall in Flagstaff, Arizona in the mid-1990s. We were looking at earrings and commenting on ones we liked and didn't like. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a saleslady walking around the store and glancing at my sister and I. Did she ever ask if we needed help? No. Did she tell us about any special offers we might be interested in? Nope. She just stared and stalked. I started getting this creepy, icky feeling and leaned over to my sister asking, "Is she FOLLOWING us?" My sister nodded. We walked out of the store and didn't say a word to the lady. Just walked out.
Many years later I'm standing in line at WalMart in Salt Lake City, Utah with my daughters, the three older ones being teenagers and very observant. The customer in front of us is greeted by the cashier, she was asked if she found everything she needed, they chit chat, and she's told to "have a nice day". Now I'm a nice person. I always smile at people in customer service because I know how it feels to work in that field. My husband says I come off manly and gruff but really, I'm a pleasant person. So we get up to the front and I smile at the cashier. And there's silence. No greeting. No small talk. No "how's your day going". No "have a nice day". Not even a "go to hell". Nothing. Silence. Now I used to say thank you even when people didn't say it to me but I'm over that crap so I just left with my stuff. If they are not going to thank me for my business, I'm certainly not going to thank them for being rude. My girls noticed what happened and when we were in the car, they asked what that was all about. Why did the cashier treat the other lady different from me? I'm not one for confrontations. In fact, I hate them. I told my girls I don't waste my time on ignorance. If the cashier had ill feelings towards me, that's her problem. She wasn't worth my time or energy. She doesn't know me and is really missing out, if I can just toot my own horn for a second. Her loss. Sticks and stones..., right?
Or is it right? I was like the lady in the video (linked above) but I didn't have someone coming to my rescue and pointing out the indiscretion. She even mentioned if SHE was the one who said something and not her sister-in-law, would it be taken in a different manner? Would she have been looked at as the "angry black woman" versus "the woman who had been wronged by the cashier"? How do we teach people about privilege and how it affects those of us on the opposing side? The first semester I taught my Humanities/diversity class at the local community college, I had to teach a lesson on white privilege. It was the first time I had heard the term and was very interested in the concept, although I had no idea how to teach or approach the subject. Until I looked into other privileges. For example male privilege, a female going to get her car repaired and spoken to like she knows nothing about cars. Or my favorite example, class privilege. I used the movie "Pretty Woman" as my example and the scene where Julia Roberts is rejected by a Beverly Hills shop because she's in her hooker clothing and then returning to another store with rich guy Richard Gere in tow and being treated with the utmost respect. Then I understood. Once again, it falls back to ignorance, blissful as it may seem. It's like saying, "I grew up with Samoan neighbors." That's nice. But did you LEARN anything? Or, "my best friend is Tongan." And... your point is??? Actually, your point is that you THINK you understand, but you really don't so you're compensating by claiming you hang out with people of color and that makes you "in the know".
Will I ever be vocal about white privilege if I'm once again faced with that situation? Probably not. But I really liked the video and what it represents. If only people did the right things to make the world a better place, then we'd have some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Cue "We Are the World" music...