May 29, 2008 Rant
So my son and I were walking home from school today, and when we were almost there I saw some garbage fly out of an SUV’s window onto the sidewalk in front of our house. I tossed a frown towards the very large woman in the front seat, who was eating chicken and throwing the bones out of the window. There was other garbage too, what looked like bread or potatoes. But it was the chicken bones that concerned me the most – they weren’t going to dissolve in the rain, or get eaten up by birds. No, the chicken bones would be there until someone – probably me – cleaned them up.
As we were walking past, my son said (rather loud) “Mommy, did you see that? They just littered!” “Yes, I saw.” “I’m going to go tell them not to do that!” “No Jake, hopefully they’ll realize it on their own.” And we went inside.
I was fuming. How dare they? And why didn’t I say something? Because they were black. It’s a weird kind of reverse discrimination. If they had been white, I wouldn’t have hesitated. But they were black, and there’s so much racial tension in our neighborhood that I didn’t want to be seen as making trouble.
We live in a neighborhood that has seen its housing values skyrocket in the six years we’ve lived here. And while that’s been fantastic for those of us who own our homes, it’s been catastrophic for a lot of the renters. Their landlords have either sold and kicked the tenants out, or have raised the rent so much that the tenants had to kick themselves out. And while this is clearly a class/money problem, it just so happens that the majority of the renters getting priced out are black, and most of the families moving in are white. It doesn’t matter that I know plenty of white people who have gotten priced out of the neighborhood, and it doesn’t matter that I’m surrounded by wealthy black professionals who have really nice cars and summer homes. The widespread perception is that its a black/white thing.
Oddly enough, so is the chicken bone issue, at least among the white moms I’ve talked to about it. While I’m quite sure that somewhere in Brooklyn, a white person has at some point thrown a chicken bone on the ground, it seems to be a black habit. Of course it’s not, it’s a class thing. But again, the perception is that black people throw their chicken bones on the ground. And with this in the back of my mind, I didn’t want to talk to the people in the SUV about it. I didn’t want to be seen as some uptight white lady who has a problem with black people. And perhaps I just wasn’t giving them the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard to respect the judgement of people who are throwing trash out of their car.
I watched them out of the window for a while, until I was sure they had seen me. I had decided that if they threw anything else out, I would go out and try to have a friendly conversation with them. But after a few minutes I went on to other things. About half an hour later, when I left the house again, the SUV was gone, as was the garbage. I would like to think that they just hadn’t realized what they were doing until we came along, and that they picked it up.
Should I have said something right away?
Originally posted on Selfish Mom
May 22, 2008 What's Going On
OK, I know I’ve waited a while to tell you how the Macy’s fashion show went, but it was just too embarrassing. I’ve written about it in more detail here. Since writing that, I’ve seen a video of the fashion show (the kids and I appear at 15:08) and I’m relieved to report that while I don’t look good, I also don’t look as bad as I imagined I looked. The expression on my face is not as painful as I had felt it was, and I don’t seem to look like I’m limping or tripping (although if you look closely you’ll see my right shoe slip off with each and every step). I’m not saying I look graceful and poised by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s nowhere near as bad as I thought it would look.
And the kids look adorable, as always. While waiting in line for our turn, the mother behind me asked me how I was managing to keep my kids so calm. I let her in on my little secret: every time they started acting up, I squeezed their hands so tight they whimpered. I was also reminding them frequently that if they didn’t embarrass me, we could eat at McDonald’s after. But really, it was the hand squeezing that was keeping them still and quiet.
I hope that isn’t my last fashion show. I’d like a chance to redeem myself someday.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom
May 3, 2008 What's Going On
OK, I’m not exactly known for my fashion sense. I shop at basically two places: Old Navy and Target. I get what fits, and I wear it until I wear it out. Every once in a while, for a special occasion, I’ll go to a store with better clothes and drop a little money on something nice. But nobody is going to confuse me with someone who gives a crap about fashion anytime soon. So when the offer came to be in a fashion show at Macy’s, why did I say yes? I’m honestly not sure. A big part of the reason was that it wouldn’t be just me, it would be me and my kids. And who wouldn’t want their kids up in front of an audience getting applause? I’m not talking about child stars here, just a fashion show! Another part of it was the chance that I would get to keep some clothes, or at least get a discount. Nothing like this was mentioned in the offer, or even hinted at, but I’m a whore for free stuff so I held out hope that this might happen (it hasn’t). And last, a small part of it was that I lost some weight a little while back – about twenty-five pounds – and while I’d still like to lose about fifty more, it was something, and I wanted to show it off in nice clothes. Now, I don’t much like trying on clothes. It’s a hassle. I’ve often wished that I had a doppelganger who would try on clothes for me while I sat in a comfy chair, drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper, and watched. But no such person exists (that I know of) so I have to try on my own clothes. I also don’t like being there when my children try on clothes, but they’re old enough now (six and four) that I can no longer just grab clothes according to their ages and trust that they’ll fit. But all three of us trying on clothes together, in a Macy’s dressing room, with a stylist judging us? Well, that’s never happened before. And I hope it doesn’t happen again anytime soon. It actually didn’t go as bad as it could have. I had bribed the kids with the promise of McDonald’s if they behaved (there’s one right inside Macy’s), so they were trying a little harder than usual. But this all happened on Friday, after they had both been in school all day, and now they were tired and hungry. The key would be to get in and out of the fitting as quickly as possible. Each kid only had to try on two outfits, and they were done. This was going to be a breeze! But not so fast. The first three outfits I tried on (all dresses) were disasters. We came to the conclusion that while my waist and everything above had gotten down to a size 14, everything south of that was still a 16. Meaning that dresses were out of the question. Big enough to to get over my hips and thighs? Way too big at the top. Fits me perfectly on top? Won’t fit over my ass. So we moved on to skirts and tops. The kids clothes were already chosen, but they had to stay in them so that the kids could stand next to me and the stylists could see how their outfits looked with mine. Even with no food, markers, or dirt in sight, there was still a great chance that my kids were going to ruin those clothes. First, my daughter decided that she wanted to try on the $300 shoes set out for me – while she was still wearing her sneakers. Then, my son got down on the floor and tried to look under the wall into the dressing room next door (he’s peeping at a third-grade level!). Seeing him on the floor, my daughter got down on the floor too. Wearing a white Ralph Lauren dress. This is why I buy cheap clothes! I was going to have a heart attack. Then, my son said he had to go to the bathroom. Now, we had visited the bathroom on the way in. It was one floor up, on the other end of the store, and the line was about ten minutes long (and nobody was taking the hint as I loudly told my daughter over and over again, “You’re doing great holding it in sweetie! Just a few more minutes! Just hold it in, sweetie, you can do it!”). So I asked him if he could hold it, and he said yes. But my daughter had heard him, and she started yelling “Mommy, I have to go poopy!” Can you hold it a few minutes sweetie? “No, I can’t, really REALLY I can’t!” Since she had had some diarrhea that morning, I was not taking this as an empty threat. On the other hand, she hadn’t said anything until her brother had, meaning she probably did not actually have to poop, and if I took her to the bathroom it would mean all of us getting back into our regular clothes, and then the kids would have to change again afterwards, and it was getting late already…So I tried a Jedi mind trick on her, telling her over and over in a soothing voice “No honey, you don’t have to poop. You’re fine. You don’t have to poop. Just hold it in, you’re doing great!” I guess it worked, because after a few minutes she was back on the floor, still in the white dress. And finally, we found an outfit that didn’t make me look ridiculous (and I’m criticizing my body here, not the clothes). The fashion show is tomorrow. I have to admit I’m getting a bit nervous. I can feel a big zit growing on my chin. The kids went to bed late tonight and should be nice and cranky in the morning. And weekend subways in our part of Brooklyn are not always reliable, so we’re going to have to leave much earlier than we will probably end up needing to. Plus, I just found out that there will be a Daily News reporter and photographer there, and since Guiding Light star Yvonna Wright will be walking in the show with her children, there will also be a lot of freelance photographers there trying to get pictures into soap opera magazines. And it’s all being videotaped for someone’s blog. Eek! I’ll let you know how it turns out. If one of my children decides at the last minute to throw a tantrum, if my daughter poops all over the white Ralph Lauren dress, if my son decides to totally be himself and goof off and try to make the audience laugh, or if I fall off of my four-inch heels (I rarely even wear pumps!). Should be fun! Originally posted on Selfish Mom