Joy

In my younger years, I was one of the girls who only made friends with boys. Later, I grew to become a woman who wisely realized that I needed women in my life. But somehow I always felt I had to compromise my self somewhat to fit in with then. Men I thought, were more accepting of me and my quirks.

Now, I’m reading a book–Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister. A wonderful book about a woman recovering from cancer who challenges each of her five women friends to do what terrifies them most with insightul results. The book made me think about the joys I’ve been experiencing reecently and how they came about. I’m making new friends and acquaintences–one. a Hungarian divorcee whose daughter is my daughter’s BFF. Through play dates we’ve become fast friends and recently signed each other up as emergency contacts for aftercare. And today while waiting for the school bus I noticed an Indian woman releasing her little girl to join my daughter and her BFF–the three of them in matching assembles of pink, purple, and white. Later my daughter told me the girl was a member of their trio. And perhaps, I thought an opportunity for me to make another friend in my community! On my daily walks I meet the same elderly Chinese woman at the same point along my path. She speaks little English but always communicates to me in ways that make it clear that she is complementing my look and carriage, starting my day on a bright note. Today, at the bus stop I noticed her acting in grandmotherly fashion toward my daughter and her two BFFs, a proud senior matron escorting chattering charges on to the school bus.

I correspond routinely with my daughter’s teacher–sort of an email pal and it’s reassuring to know she looks out for my daughter, whose frequently surprised at how much I know about what’s happening with her in class, not being there myself!

Recently, my daughter’s school announced that they will be hosting an International Family night in March and I decided to volunteer, offering Nigerian artifacts, something I would’ve avoided in the past in my attempt to minimize differences. Now, looking forward to it!

What I’ve learned so far is that differences make each and every one of us unique and interesting, and ultimately more appealing.

The more time we spend with each other the more the benefits become abundantly clear.

And…vulnerability is a good thing.

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Small cravings

I was in the throes of not so genteel thoughts about the celebrant’s dad at my daughter’s classmate’s birthday party, when I was I was roused from my reverie by  a turn in the discussion at hand. I’d previously lost interest after the debate on the merits of Greek yogurt versus plain, morphed into various dietary meal plans whose primary objective appeared to be the avoidance of mastication. As a person of African ancestors, who’d subsisted voraciously on meat on bone, the use of my teeth, although not usually for that purpose, ranks highly.

But I digress…these thinnish mothers were in hot discourse about key issues; one son’s weak pencil grip, another’s intermittent mumblings, and a daughter’s inverted letters. As their worrying reached fever pitch my eyebrows resided in my hairline. I had no clue, that I should be worrying about these things, as each of my perfect children display a mix of these deviations, though not all at once.  All of our children, themselves unaware of the criticisms being visited on their small heads, played innocently nearby.   

I attributed my lack of awareness on cultural relevance and recalled how MY so called deficiencies were approached while living in Africa. My mother no longer able to afford the exorbitant school fees at the Lebanese Community School where I’d spent a year, transferred me to a local Catholic elementary school. The administration at the new school, decided I’d merited a double promotion from 4th to 6th grade, of which I was extremely proud. When I arrived at the 6th grade I immediately began experiencing problems with math (never a strong subject for me,) compound interest calculations, in particular. 

One Friday, the teacher in deep frustration, marched me to the principal’s office to lodge a formal complaint. The principal, a woman, looked me up and down and thundered; By next Monday, if she continues to REFUSE to learn compound interest, bring her back to my office and I will cane her!

I exited the office, head reeling.

That weekend, despite my mother and father’s separation, and him not being allowed into the house, due to a stalking habit, I learned compound interest with gusto. My father, stood outside the house and tutored me through the window, in full view of the next door neighbors.