Cup and Saucer

Many, many, did I say many? moons ago I remember hearing people talk about standardized testing and how they are biased. The specific example I remember hearing was regarding a question along the lines of, what do you place a cup on? The correct answer was a saucer.

A couple of months ago during a volunteer opportunity/work event I was talking to a teacher who works with students of financially challenged parents. She was teaching her class to set a table for a meal. As she provided instruction for sitting down at the table, she said, “like you do at home” to which a student replied, we don’t have a table at home. That was a reality check for the teacher. Never assume the students have tables, chairs, or anything else.

When I was growing up, my brothers and I ate in our individual rooms and usually in front of the television. I remember a table at some point but I also remember them having a fight, breaking the table then using the top to break dance on. They were resourceful fellows and the first in the neighborhood to repurpose furniture for entertainment. The guys in the neighborhood learned how to break dance on that table, I became their agent and manager by finding places for them to dance for money.

But anyway…

I don’t remember sitting at the table as a family. I don’t recall ever using a cup and saucer. I would sometimes make my mom a cup of instant coffee but I didn’t give it to her with a saucer. I didn’t drink hot tea back then. I would not have been able to pick out a proper tea cup in a line up.

I honestly didn’t learn how to set a table until I was in my early 20’s. I learned after a very embarrassing incident during a visit at the home of the parents of my boyfriend at the time. It was Christmas. His mother asked me to set the table. Uh, what? At the time I swear she was trying to expose my ignorance in many areas in order to discourage him from dating me. I pulled him aside and confided in him my delimna. I had never set a table in my life. After telling me lay down, he told his mother I had a headache and needed to rest. He set the table for me.

Cup and saucer… we make a lot of assumptions about the lives people live and the experiences they have. The affects of those assumptions are evident when only a certain group of people are invited to the table to make decisions about an entire population of people. The decision makers pull from their limited experience without regard for others. I will not say it’s intentional, although I’m not ruling that out. I will attribute some of the decisions to ignorance, being out of touch with various people groups and perhaps not caring to understand.

Some might think or even say a person who grew up in a household without a table is doomed or will not have the ability to over come. These are the people who are easy to discard and write off. I say to you, you are wrong. I believe if given opportunity, education and wisdom most of us will thrive.

Are the tests bias? Of course they are. The question I have is, how do we bridge the gap between the decision makers and the experiences of the test takers?

Bob

I didn’t realize the strangeness of Bob until I was talking about him to my cousin. The thing that’s strange is not that he exists as much as my daughter named him Bob. He is a presence that lives in our house. 

He makes himself known by closing the cabinets in the upstairs bathroom or walking around. I hear him when the kids are gone. I use to think somebody lived in our attic and would come out when the they were visiting their dad but then I realized it wasn’t just me who heard him. We have all experienced him and my daughter named him Bob. 

Last week I heard an audible knock on my door. My alarm had gone off moments before. As I lay in the bed contemplating what I was wearing to work and whether or not I was going to the gym, I heard it. I thought maybe it was one of the younger two so I waited for the “mom?” but it never came. I waited to hear footsteps walking up the stairs but that didn’t happen either. 

A day or two later I mentioned the knock to the kiddos. My daughter said, “I guess Bob is back from vacation. He’s been gone for a while.” One of the younger two said he heard footsteps the other night. 

Welcome back Bob. 

Random thoughts

I haven’t written anything on here in a while. I’ve been struggling with pulling my thoughts together and staying focused on one topic. But my mind is cluttered with a variety of things and happenings so I decided to just share some thoughts that will actually make sense or not by the end. 

The year was 2006, I was newly pregnant with my fourth baby and had not made the announcement to friends and family. I had a nursing infant and as the office staff of my OBGYN had indicated on my folder,  I was “advanced maternal age.” My then dear husband, the three kids and I were visiting with a pastor, his wife and they’re gaggle of kids. I realized during the visit this was an interview or recruiting session for me. My dear ex husband wanted to join this church (read cultlike body of believers) and this dinner with them was his way of convincing me this was the way to go. 

One of the rules of their church was the children were watched or monitored at all times. This was done to keep them from sinning. Because we all know that you can’t sin with your parents or church elders watching. (Have you ever had an inappropriate thought?) 

Some time during this visit the mother came to us to apologize for her young daughter’s actions. The little girl had given my 6 year old son a note stating she wanted French kiss him. The parents were extremely embarrassed. The kicker to me was the apology offered by the mother. She said if she had been in the room with the kids this would have never happened. She blamed herself because it was her duty to watch her children and keep them from sinning or behaving inappropriately. 

I knew right then that I was not joining this church and as far as I was concerned these people were nuts. I grew up with a single mom with zero adult supervision. It’s a wonder I survived. I hoping to achieved a happy medium with my kids. 

Have you heard of, glanced at or dared to read on of the many articles about millennials leaving the church? Every single article I’ve ever read places the blame on the church. Have you ever heard the phrase, employees leave managers not companies? Okay… stay with me. What if they aren’t leaving the church but leaving their hypocritical parents? Hang on… The children are the witnesses to what their parents are living and doing when they aren’t at church. They hear the conversations and see the truth day in and out. They hear the arguing, gossiping, racist comments and other words that don’t align with the pretense shown on Sundays and in life groups or Bible study.   They know the truth. Perhaps they are choosing to live an authentic or at least alternate life that is not encouraged at church. 

When I was upset with the ex, I still sat next to him at church. Eventually, I sat on the other side of the room. I stopped pretending for the sake of others. It felt good to me but I’m sure it was awkward for people who asked me where he was and me telling the truth. I didn’t want to sit next to him. 

I don’t know where that couple or their children are today. But I’ve spoken with other children who lived under similar conditions or saw through the religious sham and not only walked away from the beliefs of their childhood, they walked away from relationships and some from their parents as well. Marriage? No thank you. They saw the lie their parents lived. Pray. No. They didn’t see any positive results as children. Read, worship, attend church? No, no and no. 

 What do you think? Are children leaving the church or are they leaving their parents?

I See Color

There aren’t many things more beautiful or captivating than a sunrise or sunset. 

What makes us stop and stare in awe or take photos?

The colors

Whether they contain shades of yellow, red, orange or the bluest of blues

There is just something about sunsets and sunrises

Ever look out at mountains and catch your breath?  

Purple mountain majesties indeed

Clear blue water and white sandy beaches

Red roses

Gray clouds

Yellow canaries

Green grass

Brown eyes

The color of a nation’s flag

Color is all around us

It can’t be avoided

Why should I try to deny it

I see color all around me

You see it too

Tell me this one thing

How do some not see the color of skin?

When I read or hear some one say, “I don’t see color” I wonder how that’s possible

I’m officially giving you permission to see skin color

It’s beautiful

But just like the colors in a rainbow, none are better, more qualified, more dangerous, less able, more believable, less captivating or more deserving of being anything other than a color in a rainbow

One color cannot create or sustain the rainbow alone

When each color stands alone it is monochrome

Still just as beautiful and captivating

But like a sunrise or sunset the beauty lies within the aray of colors not just one

It’s okay to embrace the colors around us

It’s okay to see the colors of our skin

The hue of our skin doesn’t make us lesser women or men

RSVP aka Let Me Know Either Way

Have you read the news articles about people billing guests who no show? Yes, you read me right. If you said you were going to attend an event then don’t show up you might receive a bill in the mail for your portion. When I first read about this I was slightly appalled but I understand.

A few months ago, while working for a caterer, I was asmugness a weekday wedding. They were expecting 75 guests. Thirty minutes after the start time only 30 people had shown up. They decided not to wait any longer. I looked into the bride’s eyes and could see her disappointment and sadness. But the show or wedding in this case, must go on. The staff watched from the window. It was really heartbreaking. There were so many empty seats during the ceremony. Most of the attendees were in the wedding.

It seems like no big deal in the surface. They still got married. They were served a wonderful plated meal. The DJ was playing great dancing music. It was  memorable evening minus about 45 guests. That was 45 people who said yes to the invitation. That was 45 people who were to receive a slice of cake that costs upwards of $5.00 per slice. That’s 45 people who would have received a party favor. That’s 45 people who would have received the appetizers and plated meal served by the hourly paid staff. That is 45 people who did not update their RSVP the week of the wedding so the couple could update the caterer who would have bought, prepared and transported less foods as well as scheduled less staff.

Recently, my daughter and I planned her first cookie/ ornament exchange. Out of 15 invitations I received two regrets but no RSVPs to me. A few of the girls said they would attend but their parents, their rides, the purchasers of the ornaments or cookie dough ingredients never responded. I cancelled the event. My daughter was extremely disappointed. She said to me, “RSVPing is old school. Nobody does that any more.” Well baby girl if they plan to come to an event at my house then I need to hear from the adult. How do I know how much food to prepare? How do I know how many crafts to purchase? How do I plan for an unspecified number of people?

Why have we become so lackadaisical? In this age of technology it takes less than a couple of minutes to send a text, FB message, tweet, snap chat or old school e-mail to say yes or no. Notice I didn’t say phone call because that really is old school. I understand we are all busy and have things to do that are important and high priority. But so is an RSVP. You don’t need to provide an explanation. But an answer or a status update is requested.

Would I ever send a bill to the inconsiderate no shows? (Yes, I know emergencies occurs.) I’m not sure that I would. Is it petty to charge no shows? I don’t know.

For the people who don’t RSVP and show up anyway, why do you think that’s okay?

Relaxed Hair I Don’t Care

Some of you may not fully appreciate this but read on anyway. In the African American/black community there has been a trend occurring for several years. I’m not sure when, where or why it started and frankly Scarlette… What I do know is it has become another reason to divide my already divided people. This migration, this movement, this trend, this evolution is all about hair. This is an excellent moment to gasp or scratch your head or even touch your own hair to appreciate the texture. 

It’s not anything new. Back in the day when James Brown proudly proclaimed, “I’m black and I’m proud” hot comb sales drastically decreased. Those who were down started proudly sporting their Afros. That lasted for a while then somebody decided, after an embarrassing stage of the Jeri curl, that it was okay to have straight hair again. Some went back to the hot comb and others went to the relaxer. 

Well, several years ago, someone decided that chemicals from relaxers were not healthy and that person started a movement to natural hair. It didn’t catch on immediately. But slowly more and more people turned from the creamy crack to natural is back. I’ve watched each of my friends go through the growing out phases. I’ve endured, entertained and glazed over the conversations with each person as they shared with me the benefits of natural hair and the detriments of using chemicals on my hair. Some where more militant in their approach as others presented it as something fun we could do together. Let’s grow our hair out and bond over creams, gels, and hot oil treatments. I’ve learned to smile politely as I declined the thoughtful offer. I like my hair relaxed. 

The reaction to my soft rebuttal is usually more coercion. At times I’ve wondered if there was a commission given on the number of people they could convert. Was this a multilevel marketing effort from the makers of natural hair care products?

Speaking of products, each person has different texture of hair. Finding the conditioner, shampoo or moisturizer that works for your hair is like trying to locate the Holy Grail. I know because I have four naturally curly haired children and we still haven’t found “the one” for them. It’s can be an expensive and and sometimes lengthy process. Shout out to Madam CJ Walker for showing us a better way to care for our hair. 

May I pause for a moment and go down a rabbit trail? Thanks. In this movement to become natural I have noticed that that quite a few people are still coloring, straightening, weaving, braiding, and wigging their hair. You would think that’s a violation in the code book of natural hair. But since I’m not in the club and I didn’t receive the list dos and don’ts. Just wondering. I guess the chemicals from hair coloring are not as harsh or detrimental to the hair. I suppose damage that weaves, braids and wigs do to the edges aren’t that bad either. Shrug. Okay. 

Where was I? Choices. I made the choice to keep relaxing my hair. I like it this way. You would think in this day and age that it’s okay for people to wear their hair in which ever style or fashion they choose. What we have learned over and over again is whenever people are divided insults abound. The YouTube videos, memes, and snarky comments are abundant. It’s hair people. It’s just hair. Why do you care? Why are we distracted and divided over such a minor issue? Get a cause. Get a life. 

Am I the only one who thinks of the Good and Bad hair song from Spike Lee’s movie School Daze? Only substitute natural and relaxed hair.

I can’t believe with all the things going on in the world we continue to allow menial things distract us from the important things. 

Whether your hair is natural, relaxed, braided, wigged, colored, twisted, locked, curled, shaved or some other style embrace that as well as the hair choices of others. 

After all, it’s just hair. 

Give Thanks

Today I am thankful for you. You survived another day or night. You chose life or life chose you. You opened your home or decided to travel to someone else’s to share this day and moment with someone else. I’m thankful that you are serving those without food to eat. I’m thankful there is food for you to eat. I’m thankful that the struggle hasn’t taken you out. I’m thankful you have overcome the struggle. Im thankful for those who give and for those who receive. I’m thankful for those who are surrounded by love even if that love is eminating from within. I’m thankful that you escaped or have a plan or have a dream to leave. Im thankful that you stayed and everything is working out. I’m thankful for your new relationships as well as your tried and true ones. I’m thankful you found a place to lay your head. I’m thankful for the company you started, the employees you hired and for the economic difference you will make. I’m thankful you accepted the job, quit your job or sent another resume. I’m thankful that you still have a glimmer of hope in the midst of despair. I’m thankful your life is overflowing with favor. I’m thankful for my children, family, friends, coworker’s and you who stopped by to read my blog. My thankfulness extends beyond today. I was thankful for you yesterday and will be thankful for you tomorrow. Virtual hugs, pat on the back or just a warm smile to you.