How Do I Raise a Black and Proud Little Girl Who’s a Human First?

 

A few weeks ago, my five year old daughter and I traveled to Washington, DC to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture among other historical landmarks. While we both enjoyed ourselves, I had a bit of an epiphany as we walked through some of the exhibits. Even though we identify as African Americans, we’ve never really discussed race within our household. We live in a multicultural neighborhood, and Quinn attended a multicultural preschool and now a multicultural elementary school. I truly do love that we come in contact and embrace many different races, nationalities, cultures and even religions, but am I negligent in not focusing as much on our African American heritage?

We do talk about relatives who are no longer alive, and when it is African American History month or Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday may talk about the accomplishments of African Americans, but we’ve never really talked about the “struggle” of our ancestors and sadly the “struggle” some African Americans still face today with racism and unfair treatment.

I actually made the decision to stay clear of the slavery exhibits because I just didn’t feel ready for the questions Quinn would have and did not want to expose her to those types of evils. As we walked through the segregation exhibit and witnessed the disparities between blacks and whites, she asked, “How come people had to be separate, Mommy?” As my mind raced for an age appropriate response, I just told her that is used to be that way long ago. Some people are mean and may not like you for different reasons, but everyone is not that way. I told her how many people fought for us so that we could all be together, go to school together and even eat together today.

Everyone’s experience is different, and it saddens me in 2018 that some people are still treated like they are less than human because of the color of their skin. Yes, I want my little girl to be proud of her heritage, but more importantly, I want her to be a proud human being who cares for others regardless of their skin color and just so happens to be African American. I hope that I am a good role model for her to emulate and that she will not allow any future racism or poor treatment because of the color of her skin to deter her from being a good person. As she gets older and more questions or even instances of racism surface, I hope and pray that I am raising a brave and proud daughter who can handle it.

All the best,

Tanya

Hoping a Great First Day of Kindergarten Equals a Wonderful First School Year

This morning was a big milestone day for us. My husband and I took our daughter to her new school for her first day of kindergarten and anxiously waited for a detailed report on how everything went once school was over. With butterflies in my stomach, I still had to go in for my first day of teaching, so when my class concluded, I raced from the classroom, got in my car and drove directly home hoping to arrive just in time for my little girl to be walking up the street with her dad so that I could immediately hear about her first day, and I made it!

Quinn said that she had a great day and got to go the music room and played outside. The teacher read fun stories, and she at all of her lunch in the lunchroom. My heart finally stopped palpitating as Quinn told me about her day. I now feel a bit more comfortable in her ability to transition to a new school environment and that it involves. I’m so grateful and glad that my little girl had a great first day. Here’s to her having a wonderful first year!

All the best,

Tanya

Kindergarten Here “We” Come! Well, Here “She” Comes!

For the past week, I’ve been a combination of nervous and excited. I’ve had sleepless nights, reoccurring dreams and a bit of anxiety. Tomorrow is the big day: the first day of school, kindergarten that is! On Friday, my daughter’s preschool teachers thoughtfully gave her a sweet letter with several treats. She was concerned about when she can eat the candy, and I was concerned about how I’m going to hold it together on Monday. On Saturday, Quinn received a lovely kindergarten card in the mail from my sister, nephew and niece wishing her a terrific first day. Then later on, my husband came home and surprised Quinn with a cake wishing her “Good Luck” in kindergarten.

How can I not get emotional? My blog is called Mommy’s Baby Steps, and this truly is one of the steps I am struggling to take. It’s a new school, all new children, all new teachers, a major milestone in her life. I’m so anxious and have to remind myself that it’s really “we” but a “she” is going to kindergarten. Thank goodness her school allows parents to come into the classroom for the first hour tomorrow and even has a kiss and cry for parents who need a little support in parting ways with their children.

While I am confident she’ll be just fine, knowing that I’ll have to dash off to the college for my first day of teaching (a day on which I still get butterflies) immediately after the “kiss and cry” has my stomach in knots. Wish me luck, and send “strong mommy vibes” my way please. I want to be brave for my little girl and focus on how great this milestone is and how wonderful of a year it’ll be!

All the best,

Tanya

Motherhood & Childhood: Hoping The Mirror Reflects True Happiness, Not Just an Illusion

A mirror: known as a reflecting surface. Something that gives a true representation, but does it really? Or is it our interpretation or impression of what is being reflected?

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I were in a fun house with mirrors that give the illusion of one being taller, shorter and even wider, and she was fascinated by how her reflection changed from mirror to mirror very well knowing that she still physically looked the same but the mirrors gave the impression that she was something different.

This made me think about how she may mirror me and reflect back the energy I put out. For some reason it left me pensively wondering about the illusions many mothers perform, trying to be perfect, trying to do it all, wanting the best for our children and just hoping we’re doing it right yet giving the illusion that we do it effortlessly. As Quinn stood in front of the mirror making her taller, I reflected on how she will be when she is older. How much will my actions of today reflect her tomorrow?

The memories of my childhood definitely reflects who I am today, and I just hope one day my daughter will be able to look into her mirror as an adult and feel that her childhood and life reflects happiness and wonderful memories that she holds near and dear to her heart and are not mere illusions.

All the best,

Tanya

The Amusement of Life: My Little Girl Knows How to Enjoy the Ride!

 

With her arms swaying in the air and a smile on her face, my little girl squealed and cheered for more as the ride took her around once again. One of my five year old daughter’s favorite outings this summer has been amusement parks; she lives for the rides. Now, at about 47 inches, which is tall for her age, she’s able to get on the some of the rides she longed for last year but just didn’t measure up.

This summer, she was ready to prove that she’s absolutely fearless while I held on for dear life on roller coasters and other rides whipping us around so quickly that I could barely contain my lunch. Thank goodness for her father because I’m just not able to handle most amusement park rides like used to.

But seeing how happy and excited she is to get on some rides over and over again makes me think about life and how amusing it can be. There was one roller coaster ride that I got on with her just once, but she got on with my husband seven times and was still ready for more. Each time Quinn whizzed by on the roller coaster, I could see that beautiful smile and hear that infectious squeal-like laughter. She’d raise her arms in preparation for the drop and feel so exhilarated upon departing the ride ready to run back in line to board it again.

It is my hope that Quinn treats life this way, ready to enjoy the ride, eager to take on adventure and willing to hop off one ride and get on the next as life dictates.

All the best,

Tanya

The Beauty in Broken Seashells: A Remarkable Observation by My Little Girl

“That one’s broken,” I informed my daughter. To which she replied, “It’s still beautiful even if it’s broken. I want to keep it!” In that moment, at the beach last week, her statement truly resonated with me. Oftentimes, when people come across seashells at the beach, they only want the “perfect” ones: no imperfections allowed.

But as my daughter observed, there’s still beauty even in the broken, imperfect shells. I pondered over how parents, including me, are sometimes guilty of wanting our children to be perfect. This makes me want to try even harder to always acknowledge her natural beauty and not her ability to be perfect but to try her best. In less than a month, my little girl will be entering kindergarten.  My little seashell possesses so much beauty, and while she make get a chip or two in her shell along the way, it will only add to her wonderful character.

All the best,

Tanya

Reading is Within Sight! Learning with My Little Girl

Who hasn’t heard the adage “knowledge is power” or “reading is fundamental?” Now, something that is truly powerful is observing a child obtain knowledge through learning and reading. Since my daughter was one day old, my husband and I have been reading to her. Five years later, her eyes still light up, and she displays a smile as she picks out a book for us to read together. Since she began talking, she’s always been inquisitive and has expressed an interest in learning to read on her own, so when my mother provided me with information about a Reading Program through Temple University, I was eager to enroll Quinn.

The program was five weeks long, and as she learned sight words, like “I, see, can, and,” I learned different techniques to keep her engaged and to help reinforce what she learned in our hour long class. Even though we have ABC Mouse at home, and I could have just used some of the kindergarten preparation books I purchased, I am glad we did the program and am very happy with the progress Quinn made in a short duration of time.

With the first day of kindergarten just a little over a month away, Quinn is not only more than ready but confident.