I’m back. I wasn’t actually away and I haven’t been too busy to write nor have I felt I didn’t have anything to say. In fact, there’s been so much filling my mind and so much happening, it’s been hard to choose one thing and finish and post something. There are many short pieces of things started.
Here is the long-ish short list of some of what I’ve had on my mind to write about:
1. Lots of change and growing up around me. My oldest nephew, my nephew whose birth I was present for– has just graduated from high school. He is coming here to our city– a long way from his home, to go to college starting in August. I cannot wait to have him in our lives in this new way. And I, who has always felt terribly sad as part of almost every big life transition, other than the arrival of my daughter and when I moved in with M, my partner– cannot help but feel sad too at his leaving home.
2. The end of my daughter’s school year has felt like my liberation. Three weeks of daytime arts camp has begun for my daughter. Hooray. Just two of the offerings in which she is ensconced are: girls’ rock band, taught by a long-time lesbian rocker in our town and green screen (a digital video making class– which happily I had heard of through watching ICarly with my daughter).
3. My daughter is 10 years old. It’s different from 9 years old. In some ways very different. And it’s not all been smooth sailing but I am learning a lot this summer. About 10.
4. Mama C has a very interesting dialogue she’s begun about some things she is trying to figure out as the white mother of two African American boys… One of which is the question of whether it does or does not make sense to leave her majority white community (with a huge support network and much to recommend the community from the sound of things) for a place where her two sons will be around many more boys, girls and adults who are African heritage. Like them. A flood of thoughts and stories have been prompted by her posts and the comments.
5. One of the things on my mind, for months and months has been the emerging picture of how racism and internalized racism affect my daughter as she grows older. How we white people need to move in some big ways if things are ever to change. Racism is not a verbal complaint of hers, but it is all around her and clearer as she gets older.
I have wanted to write about segregation. There she is at a very diverse public school. A school that is both diverse and “good” by someone’s educational and conduct standards. A school that middle class white people (like me) clamor to get into and to send their children to– because it is a good school; because of the diversity. Diversity— is what the white people say and I know they/we mean it that they/we want it. Yet this year, not so different from last year, but more obvious and stark, and very different from kindergarten and first grades– this year I popped over several times at lunch time. Each time I came upon the group of 4th grade girls I know and have known for years now, sitting out on the front plaza eating their lunches. They aren’t one big tumbling, chasing, laughing mass anymore. All the middle class white, blonde girls were always seated on one side of the front entrance, clustered together. Apart from all the brown girls. My girl and many other black and brown girls like her could be found on the other side of the front entrance at a table, laughing and trading food and talking. A diverse fourth grade? Yes, it is. But the world as I hope it will be someday– race and racism-wise? Not even close yet.
And these two starkly segregated groups don’t even get talked about. At all. Unlike, say, bullying which is on posters and the tongues of teachers, parents and children alike– all at the ready to take up arms, figuratively speaking, against the bully. He or she is apparently someone else’s child.
5. On my mind is also the story of the woman I should really refer to as my other daughter— F. What gives? you ask. Many, many years ago– like 17– my partner and I informally fostered– invited F, in her late teens, who came to live with us. She was living through a very difficult period in her teens. She had dropped out of high school and left home. She was traveling with someone much older than she and because we had built a relationship with her, she would call periodically. She took us up on the offer to come to live with us and stayed for just shy of a year. Although she has lived far from here since she left us, and she has two perfectly good parents here whom she visits and who visit her–my relationship with her is an important one and I’ve not written about it yet. F. visited from England (where she lives) recently– without her husband but with her new baby boy. And so I have really been thinking about the fact that in a particular and important way– I am actually mother of two. And a grandmother. Wow. It was so wonderful to see her and so wonderful to be with her boy.
7. Many of the above items remind me that I am now, even with just one child, an experienced parent.
8. Many interesting upcoming travel plans for our summer vacation. To Nova Scotia and to Wisconsin.
9. I have read and loved the feminist, anti-racist, Jewish Women’s journal– Bridges–since they started publishing about 20 years ago. I’m still not quite sure I have the whole story, but I think they have either just published or are about to publish their last issue. Another end of an era– and a big loss.
10. Jobs– several very interesting (by my own standards) things on the horizon, more interesting than in some time, but the question remains, what do I really want to do with my time and my mind?
And there is more, but every time I’ve sat down to write, I cannot pull one thread out and just follow it through to the end. So I thought I’d try laying down all the threads, or at least several of them, right here before your eyes and then go from there.