Straw Meet Camel or Buy this house

messylivingroomThis is one of my favorite views of my home. From the stairs, looking down at the bookcase and the floor. This house, what I’ve called a crumbly pile of bricks, has been a joy. But I’ve been pondering a move out of the city for various reasons. The main one was for career reasons that I won’t get into here. Second, I’d like my husband to have an awesome car-less commute. Third, is the kid and that relates to a piece of straw.

A couple of days ago NBC Channel 4 reported on some leaked information about plans for DC schools, including PreK-K. That ticked me off, so much so, I’ve been in contact with Realtors. Maybe it was the thing I needed to finally stop delaying and start moving on. I’d been so looking forward to Pre-K3, getting ready for it. But it looks like Pre-K 2020-21 is gonna be a bust, with alternative schedules and partial in person instruction. I won’t be able to depend on the schools for adequate childcare coverage. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I had thought of offering to sell (by owner) as-is so I can sell it for a lower, more affordable price so a new owner could build some of their own equity. Because staging, hiring painters, landscapers, all that winds up getting paid by the buyer in the form of a higher price. I was toying with that idea for November of this year. But now, probably not, but I’m willing to be persuaded.

If you’ve read this blog, or managed to follow it since the early days, you know I’ve left the house better than when I bought it. I’ve renovated it (with a contractor) several times, going down to the brick and beams. The basement/celler got finished and has 3 french drains. A couple years back I put on an addition in the rear. Last year, got a new fence and now we could theoretically park in the rear. I’ve been constantly improving it and making it my own. But now, it’s time to let go and let someone else make of it what they will.

Bresca Pick Up Review

I don’t know why Bresca did not appear in my initial run down of Michelin starred restaurants offering take out. But looking at the various Tock options I noticed it wasn’t on my radar before. That and it is in Shaw!

Well that has been rectified. Bresca is great and provides a major meal. When all this is over, and we have a sitter for Destructo, the Help and I need to sit down at this lovely restaurant.

Looking-into-a-bag-of-food
Our meal before I ruined it in a bike ride

The above is an image of our meal before I ruined it along the bike ride home. The tarts on the right are at their best, so there is no at home photo because when I secured the bag on the CaBi, the meringue was ruined. I tried to come home on a JUMP scooter, but none were working with my app.

I ordered the BeeHome four course meal, which after the 20% service charge and 10% taxes (was the service charge taxed?) came out to $118.80. Money well spent I say. The four courses consisted of a snack of Brioche Tartine, with foie gras topped with a strawberry-campari puree and black pepper and a green leaf I cannot identify. It’s not mint. Maybe an oregano or kind of basil? Then followed by a starter and main course of our choosing. I chose a green tomato salad and the pineapple and carrot salad as the starter. Then the main of the Brioche Stuffed Chicken and the Duck Leg and Thigh. Dessert was a chocolate tart, which got destroyed on the ride back home. Also thrown in, I gather was an amuse bouche of a two little madeleines.

The meal was wonderful, so much so it kicks the Dabney meal down to 3rd place (Rose’s #1, Bresca #2, Dabney #3, and Kinship #4). And the Dabney was almost even with Rose’s at Home. Even better it was so filling, we’ll have some later for lunch this week.

Several parts of the meal was a big hit with Destructo- the 2.5 year old. He really liked the duck and the carrot and pineapple salad. He inhaled the madeleine. I doubt he appreciated the little flecks of salt on the chocolate drizzle. He really, really liked the duck even though he loves the 5 Little Ducks video and excited to see live ducks and even after we told him the duck he was eating once went “quack”. He didn’t care, he just wanted more duck in his belly.

Bresca mealI can’t tell you anything about the chicken as my beloved spouse ate the whole thing without sharing. So I am left with his impression of “it was good.” He said the meat was tender, and it had a cheesy interior. I don’t know if cheese was in it. I think he’s mistaken. I will never know. But I do know about the fennel sausage that accompanied the chicken in another container. That will survive till lunch and what little I sampled, was oh so good. I think there is a whole stick of butter in it. It’s rich herby and buttery, and a little salty.

Bresca meal-Carrots adm PIneappleHe was supposed to have the carrot and pineapple salad, but was so stuffed with stuffed chicken, he did not really touch it, which allowed me and the 2 year old to eat it. Destructo liked the salad until he didn’t. There were some vinegary undertones that I think built up until he noticed it enough not to like it. The carrots (and maybe parsnips) were sweet and slightly tender. In the grains (the granola) were quinoa and pickled sultanas. And of course, there was pineapple.

Bresca mealMy duck was accompanied with some root veggies, rice and pickled fennel. When I had the fennel, the duck and the rice on the fork they worked together. However, if I had the fennel on its own it was too acidic. Paired that with the green tomato salad, then I was getting way too much vinegar. The other problem was some of the carrots were too woody. Flavor and mouthwise those were my only complaints.

As mentioned, we were pretty stuffed at the end of the meal and had enough for left overs. We saved the chocolate tart for after the days dishes were washed (or placed in the dishwasher) and the toddler was put to bed. It’s a tart with a chocolate shell and a chocolate filling with a layer of passionfruit on top. I ate about 2/3rds of mine and saved the rest for later.

Next, restaurants that do their own delivery.

COVID & Daycares or DC.gov’s Stupid Interpretation of CDC Guidelines

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.– Hanlon’s Razor

So March 15th our daycare closed in response to the corona virus. Then a few weeks later we got a message from our daycare that they would be open on a very limited-restricted basis. I figured it wouldn’t last long, and the daycare closed again citing rules from the DC Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE), which has oversight over schools & child care centers, that were impossible to follow.

I got a hold of those OSSE rules. Most made sense, but several seemed like they were written by someone with no practical knowledge of children or child behavior.

Then I compared those rules to the CDC’s Guidance for Childcare Programs That Remain Open. Yup, OSSE’s rules were written by an idiot, or an intern, or maybe a childless lawyer.

Let’s review shall we? These are the OSSE rules shared with me, I’ve italicized the stupid:

  • All staff & children above 2 years old must wear non-medical face coverings at all times
  • One staff member has to be at the door to receive children or go curbside
  • All surfaces must be cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected after each use
  • Staff must bring clothes to work to change every day before the start of work
  • Children & staff must be 6 feet apart at all times
  • Staff are not allowed to hug the children
  • Staff & children must wash their hands for 20 seconds every 20 minutes
  • Staff & parents [should be] aware of the requirement to check their own (or their child’s) temperature 2 hours or less before arrival to the facility each morning
  • Staff are to wear clean, large, button-down, long sleeved shirts when working with infants and young children.
  • Parents are required to wear non-medical face coverings when picking [up] and dropping off children
  • Signs posted in every classroom throughout the building with reminders regarding cleaning, disinfection, and sanitation, as well as hand hygiene

Of the 11 rules, 3 are stupid, so stupid all cannot be practically followed. And when looking at CDC’s guidance, they are horrible misinterpretations. Let’s compare:

Face Masks for Kids

OSSE: All staff & children above 2 years old must wear non-medical face coverings at all times.

CDC: Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies and children under age two because of the danger of suffocation.
and
When feasible, staff members and older children should wear face coverings within the facility. Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies and children under age two because of the danger of suffocation.

Notice the difference between what OSSE says and the CDC. The CDC is mainly saying don’t put masks on children under 2 because of the high risk of suffocation. It appears it got interpreted by OSSE as put masks on everyone over 2. I’m not 100% sure the danger of suffocation is non-existent for the 2-5 year old set. Also, we know for a fact 4 year olds like to rip off clothing. Shoes. Socks. That sort of thing. Many adults working in industries or conditions find protective masks irritating after several hours, and will take them off, I have my doubts the 2-5 year olds will have a greater tolerance.

There is a phrase in all the stupid OSSE rules, “at all times.”  Sometimes it’s the part that makes a reasonable rule, stupid. The CDC says that staff and older children (not really defined) should wear cloth face coverings “when feasible”, providing opportunities for meal times and other incidences when face coverings are not feasible or practical. The CDC’ “when feasible” provides more leeway than OSSE’s phrase “at all times,” which I can only imagine means mealtimes and nap times (opportunities for suffocation and partial ingestion of loose cloth– remember this covers the nose & mouth).

Social Distancing at the Childcare Facility

OSSE: Children & staff must be 6 feet apart at all times.
CDC: If possible, child care classes should include the same group each day, and the same child care providers should remain with the same group each day. If your child care program remains open, consider creating a separate classroom or group for the children of healthcare workers and other first responders. If your program is unable to create a separate classroom, consider serving only the children of healthcare workers and first responders.
and
Consider whether to alter or halt daily group activities that may promote transmission.

      • Keep each group of children in a separate room.
      • Limit the mixing of children, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate for special activities such as art, music, and exercising.
      • If possible, at nap time, ensure that children’s naptime mats (or cribs) are spaced out as much as possible, ideally 6 feet apart. Consider placing children head to toe in order to further reduce the potential for viral spread.

and
It is important to comfort crying, sad, and/or anxious infants and toddlers, and they often need to be held. To the extent possible, when washing, feeding, or holding very young children: Child care providers can protect themselves by wearing an over-large button-down, long sleeved shirt and by wearing long hair up off the collar in a ponytail or other updo.

There are several examples where the CDC propose the 6 feet of separation, during the pick up and dropoff period, temperature screening and naptime. I have failed to locate in the CDC guidelines anything close to the OSSE’s rule of staff being 6 ft. away from children at all times, which creates another safety issue. The OSSE rule makes no exception for toddlers who need close (less than 6ft) supervision, especially when they are mobile and attempting suicide via exploring their environment. Once again the CDC provides greater leeway than the OSSE.

Our particular daycare has several separate rooms that would allow mixed ages but separate spaces for children of 1st responders and other kids.

The OSSE rules appear not to allow for kids to be in groups, but the CDC does.

Lastly, on this point, outside of a Soviet orphanage, who does childcare at a 6 foot distance? If this was a temporary measure of a few days, less than a week, fine. Longer than that and there are some childhood developmental and behavioral issues (see institutional autism) that could crop up for some population of children. Logically when the economy starts opening up, some of these rules are going to remain in place in order to head off the second wave. And if all the stupid rules remain in place, then daycares cannot remain open and be in compliance.

Wash Yo Hands

OSSE: Staff & children must wash their hands for 20 seconds every 20 minutes
CDC: All children, staff, and volunteers should engage in hand hygiene at the following times:

    • Arrival to the facility and after breaks
    • Before and after preparing food or drinks
    • Before and after eating or handling food, or feeding children
    • Before and after administering medication or medical ointment
    • Before and after diapering
    • After using the toilet or helping a child use the bathroom
    • After coming in contact with bodily fluid
    • After handling animals or cleaning up animal waste
    • After playing outdoors or in sand
    • After handling garbage
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If hands are not visibly dirty, alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol can be used if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Supervise children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent ingestion.

The CDC guidelines on handwashing are something that should be done anyway, virus or no virus. My only concerns would be with drying out infant skin if interpreted to include them. But OSSE’s rules would have adults and children trying to wash hands 6ft apart constantly all day…. while wearing face masks.

Conclusion

I don’t know how long this is going last, and if things open this Summer, they’ll close back down for the 2nd wave, which tends to be worse than the 1st. I don’t expect to get back to life as it was in 2019. But I would like my daycare to open back up so I can get back to work and it (and the schools) can’t open up if OSSE insists on keeping unworkable rules that have less leeway than the CDC.

Yes, I care about my son’s safety, which is why I looked at the CDC’s webpage. If the daycares cannot open, then I guess we’ll be looking for a nanny, and that has it’s own issues.

You can contact the OSSE and ask about their rules their email is osse@dc.gov or you can fill out the Ask the Superintendent of Education form.

Intersection of Interests or Diversity is Hard part #354

Sunday, an obit in the paper edition of the Washington Post caught my eye because of the circumstances of the persons death. Courtney Mykytyn was standing on a curb, chatting with a neighbor, when another neighbor in a car accelerated in reverse, hitting and killing Mykytyn. I’m sensitive to drivers killing pedestrians and cyclists and even stupid people on scooters. [insert 1000 word rant about American car culture and climate change genuflecters who make no real change in their energy consumption habits. Did you know your drivers license is a license to kill?] It wasn’t until the near end of the obituary when I realized I had listened to her podcast.


Integrated Schools is a well produced podcast, but I found it super cringey. I know. I know. I am not the target audience. I’m a black mom and this is a podcast for lefty white parents talking to other lefty white parents about their whiteness and education. Knowing I’d probably write on this, I listened to some more podcasts to be fair. What I got out of that was an exposure to only what I can call a perverse white superiority that feeds on black and brown dysfunction. And it isn’t just for white people, Asians and bi-racial people can join in on struggling over their privilege too. Opposite of the Asian Parenting for College Success podcast.  I listen to a lot of podcasts.

Listening to these podcasts I grew concerned about my own neighborhood and the in-boundary school of Seaton. The message I was hearing in these podcast to white parents was ‘don’t bring your A game.’ To which I am going to scream BRING YOUR A GAME! I wanted you to fight and try to #SaveShawMS (RIP Shaw Middle School). Was that effort lost because some parents were holding back? Why did I just sit in the background and not bring my A game? I’ve got a great excuse, because my kid is 2 and not enrolled in Seaton and thus not in a feeder for what would have been Shaw Middle School.

I also grew concerned about childless white neighbors and they deciding to hold back too as a way to confront their own whiteness. Nah, I need you to keep on the SaveMcMillian Park effort. This effort began before most of you got here. Former ANC and BACA president Jim Berry put me on some committee or panel a decade and a half ago to slow it down. Mayor Bowser is hellbent on getting the greenspace paved over and developed, historic districting/landmarking or whatever bedamned.

I listened to Integrated Schools podcast episode regarding gentrification and school segregation. There was one thing Ms. Mykytyn said regarding getting mugged that ticked me off. Listen friends, your whiteness is not a bulletproof shield. It does not protect you from stray bullets. It does not protect you from the mentally ill beating you, or raping and killing you. I want you to be safe. Get those damned headphones out of your ears. Be aware of your surroundings. Say ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’ to people you pass on the street.

Folks diversity is hard. There are no easy answers and there are many moving parts. Resist the urge to turn people into magic minorities. Resist the idea of not being and giving your best in service to your neighbors. There are so many stories I could tell about how the neighborhood was saved (or delayed an unwanted inevitable until the nab could handle it) by having a lawyer or journalist or some A type personality in the group. It wasn’t their whiteness but the skills they developed in their profession. Bradley Thomas & Teri Quinn brought their lawyer skills, not black lawyer skills but competent lawyer skills to the betterment of Bloomingdale and Truxton Circle. So not about color. Diversity is our strength when we are united in a goal, be it holding people (developers, city govt agencies, etc) accountable or reducing crime after a fatal shooting.

Lastly, on parenting, diversity, and gentrification let me share with you an observation. When I first moved into Shaw in the 00s it was not uncommon to see a Black mother yelling at her kids using profanity and verbally abusing her children. Humans are very social animals. We observe and watch each other. Sometime in the last 10 years I began noticing young and not so young black fathers in the neighborhood interacting with their kids in similar ways as hipster white dads. Several months ago I observed another black mother, walking down the sidewalk,  fussing at her elementary aged son. She was mad. She was livid. But not a single curse word passed her lips. That’s improvement.

Shaw School Review: Cleveland Elementary School

Schools

1825 8th St. NW

Type of school: Public
Grades: Pre-K 3 to 5

PreK3: 29;  PreK4: 44; K: 42; 1st: 37; 2nd: 35; 3rd: 40; 4th: 39; 5th: 38

Before School care: No
After School care: Yes, Fee
Enrollment: 304 (2018-19)
Permanent DCPS Programmatic Capacity, 346; Unfilled Seats, 42 (2018-19)
Cost Per Pupil- $11,029 (300 students 2019-2020 General Education)

Boundaries

Percent of in-boundary participation: 29.1% (2017-18)

Schools attended by in-boundary students (2017-18)

Name of School # of Students
Seaton Elementary School 25
KIPP DC – Lead Academy PCS 22
Thomson Elementary School 17
Friendship PCS – Armstrong 13
KIPP DC – Grow Academy PCS 10

Physical Activity Time: Grades K-5: 75 Minutes/week

PARCC Scores 2018-19, % meeting & exceeding expectations
Black White Hispanic Asian
ELA 2018-19 20.3% N/A 29.7% n<10
Math 2018-19 20.3% N/A 40.5% n<10
Males ELA 10.8% N/A 21.1% N/A
Males Math 24.3% N/A 42.1% N/A

Mari’s 2cents: I’m taking the participation rate with a grain of salt because I’m not sure if they are counting Pre-K kids who have to lottery into the boundary and space is limited. I have another table for other institutions that take OSSE money for Pre-K so there is that. Also notice which schools students are going to instead of Cleveland, Seaton (DCPS), KIPP Lead and Grow, Friendship-Armstrong, and Thompson (DCPS), these are schools in Shaw or close to it. Two of them are other DCPS schools, so it isn’t that DCPS schools aren’t fitting a need, just that particular one. I’m including unfilled seats because someone tweeted about a horrible number of unfilled seats in Ward 5. Forty-two seats seem small and I suspect those are spread out to the higher grades as the peak number of kids is below 1st grade. Cleveland has a dual language program for Spanish and English which looks very interesting and appealing. But you want to know what’s even more appealing? It’s like almost across the street from the Shaw metro.

Sources:

2018-19 School Year Annual Enrollment Audit Report Supplemental Tables
EdScape_Chapter 3 Facilities_Facility Enrollment and Utilization_6
http://dcpsbudget.ourdcschools.org/
https://www.dcschoolreportcard.org/schools/1-0224
https://www.myschooldc.org/schools/profile/23/
Detailed 2018-19, 2017-18, 2016-17 PARCC And MSAA Performance
FY1718_Public School Enrollments per DCPS Boundary

Thought Exercise: Moving out of Shaw

B/W px of a early 20th century moving vanI had a job interview a few weeks ago, it went well, so well I seriously gave thought to what we would do if I was chosen for the position. You see, it is in the same suburban area of Maryland where my spouse, the Help works, and I said if I were to get a job there, we’d move. So for several days I was looking at moving to Maryland and all that would entail.

We already know what neighborhoods we want to live in on the other side of the border. Yes, this is something we think and talk about on a regular basis. But I hadn’t thought about the consequences of leaving Shaw and the city.

What we’d lose
Walkability
Our part of Shaw is a wonderfully compact. Within a 1/3 mile I can walk to the grocery store, a couple of bakeries, a bunch of restaurants and bars, the metro, and Destructo’s daycare. I haven’t owned a car for over twenty years and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve driven. I like being able to walk with Destructo or plop him in a stroller and walk to a park. When I looked at a few houses on-line that I thought was close enough to a metro station, PG Plaza was over a mile away, and a park well over 1/3 mile. Whereas our block has a WalkScore in the 90s the areas I was looking at had scores in the 30s… and no sidewalks.

Lower Property Taxes
When looking at possible homes in our price range, looking at the property taxes made some places just, unaffordable. A lovely little 3 bedroom in the $300-400K range had taxes above $5,000 a year. Our taxes in DC are somewhere just below $3K a year. A couple hundred dollars of our monthly mortgage goes to taxes and insurance, but I was seeing sizable $400-$700 a month going to taxes for PG Co. properties.

Free Pre-K
Dangit, I been paying into this system, I’m going to get my 2 free years. Destructo won’t enter the school system until 2020-21. If we were to move, we’d be paying for  2 more years of daycare since PG County doesn’t have free Pre-3-4K. That’s when I decided I’d rather have a bad commute (I’d worked at this location before) than pay $30,000+ for 2 years of daycare.

Loss of connections
Living here for nearly 20 years, despite people constantly moving, we’ve got some deep strong connections here. After observing others move to other nearby neighborhoods or over into suburbs, I know after a while you stop seeing those people. I wouldn’t expect us to be any different. We have friends and family in PG County and those connections would get stronger, but I would miss what I have built here in Shaw.

Other things I had to consider
Sell/Rent house?
Then there is the question of selling or renting. I’m emotionally attached to this house I live in. It was my first property. I’m not sure I can just hand it over to some renter to make their mark on. However, renting would allow me to return to the TC if I manage to return to my current duty station if an opportunity arose. Also the rules about renting in this city seem to get more complicated, which would mean hiring a property manager. Some of my former neighbors self manage, other use a property manager. Question would be would I want to self manage my baby?

Then we’d have to make the house suitable for renters. When you own your own home, there are things you let slide. Our AC died 3 years ago. We’ve got portable and window units that work well. The bathrooms aren’t painted that well, because I painted the whole house myself and never ever got back to them. There is a whole long list of little repairs that should be done, but since the health of the house does not depend on those repairs getting done anytime this century, they don’t.

If I were to sell, the property tax issue I have such a problem with would be less of an issue, because the equity we have in our home would make some places mortgage free. I wouldn’t have to think about managing a DC property.

Mari InShaw to Mari N. Peagee?
A lot of my on-line identity is based on being in Shaw/Truxton Circle. Would I change it if I moved? I’m still pondering that one.

Recently, I found out I wasn’t chosen. I called one of the interviewers, who I knew professionally, regarding why I wasn’t and now I know what areas I need to improve. So when the next opportunity pops up I know what I will do, and if chosen, I have a plan.

Edited 12/11/19 to add Walkscore URL.

Momblogging in over at DC Area Mom’s Blog

I’m going to try to limit the posts relating to parenting at InShaw and decided to join a local mom’s blog. So a month or so ago I joined DC Area Mom’s Blog and I am one of 12 new contributors.

I already have a post up, “3 Upsides of Being an Older Mom/Dad“.

However there are parent related issues that will remain here. Such as my support for the concept of charter schools in DC. I’ve seen too many neighbors vote with their feet soon after the postive pregnancy test. DCPS should not take the children (and their parents/guardians) for granted. And I remember the bad old days. Also there are things that are just too hyperlocal like the Florida Avenue park, the Kennedy Playground and the like that wouldn’t be a good fit. Which reminds me, there is a certain style that I’m learning for the other blog, so thing with a harsher tone would probably stay here.

I Suck as a Hausfrau

View down Florida Avenue
Random picture of Florida Avenue NW

Well. If this furlough as proven anything, I suck as a housewife. I do not have what it takes to be a stay at home mom. I need to get back to work. This shutdown has lasted way too long.

The house is not cleaner than normal. I’ve scrubbed the kitchen floor several times, but somebody who will go unnamed, keeps throwing banana slices on the floor. Then somebody else who isn’t paying attention, steps on the slice or the sticky left over from the banana and tracks it all over the 1st floor.

The handywoman list of things to do, still undone. I haven’t fixed the sink. I have an excuse, I’m sick, with a cold. And I don’t wanna. The light needs me to have the ladder brought up and someone to spot me. That’s the negative to high ceilings, looks great but a pain to replace the lights.

The SAHM thing is not a thing for me, right now. When he’s not sick or school isn’t closed, Destruct-o-Baby still goes to daycare. He’s not waiting till 2 yo to be terrible. The holidays and other days when he’s stayed home with me, have not made me yearn to be with him all day. The laid back chill baby we brought home is gone, replaced by a loud, moody, whirlwind of energy (thus the name Desctruct-o-Baby) who throws food. Maybe if this had happened when he was still immobile, I might have fallen in love with the idea of hanging out with him all day, everyday. So yeah, he’s still going to daycare. I’m afraid if I pull him out we will lose our spot. We lucked out and weren’t on a waiting list to begin with, so not gonna screw with a good thing. If this lasts longer than 2 months, we might see if he can go part-time. Please Lord, don’t let this thing go longer than 2 months.

I am cooking more. I guess this is where I shine in one of the housewifery skills. Normally, one of us does 3 nights, and the other 3 nights and Wednesday is for sandwiches. Sandwiches are perfectly fine for dinner in this house. I’m doing all nights. Nothing fancy, but I did make some paneer cheese for palak paneer. No sandwiches, unless I plan for some fancy schmancy sandwiches like monte cristos or BLTs.

Thankfully, the Help has not complained about my hausfrau skills. Destruct-o has been complaining non-stop, but he started that before the shutdown.

 

Transracial adoption

November is National Adoption Month. So I’m posting about our experience.

So I tend not to think of ourselves as transracial parents, as the term applies to parents whose adopted children are of a different race or ethnic group than they. I’m African American, the Help is white. Destruct-O-baby is half white, half, maybe black. During the time of Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry, and how she identified herself, made me realize my son and I were different. He’s bi-racial, I am not.

The typical transracial families I’ve seen and know are white parents, with black (domestic), Asian (international), and Hispanic (both) kids. Each comes with its own challenges, but I’m more familiar with the white/black combo as we know a couple of those families. Hair is a problem for white mothers of little black girls. Then there are the identity ‘hey you guys don’t match’ issues. We’re lucky in that when we’re together it looks like Destruct-O-baby is related to us, but sometimes we’re mistaken for grandparents. I have no idea of how things are when the Help and Destructo are out together.

I have found the work of Angela Tucker, a transracial adoptee and filmmaker, informative. She did a couple of videos talking to transracial adoptees. Below is a video of Ms. Tucker chatting with DC area transracial adoptees. I found her videos and her film Closure, because I was looking for perspectives of adult adoptees. That was before we adopted Destructo. Post-adoption, people we know have let us know they too were adopted, so the adult adoptee narrative is diverse. That may be another post for another time.

Slugg: Fathers are important

So a little bit more from Slugg: A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration

The single most impactful issue plaguing black communities across the country was, relatively speaking, hushed.
Families aren’t supposed to function with one parent. Children need a pair of loving parents…. Given prison, death, and abandonment, in my neighborhood the number of homes without a father was extremely close to a hundred percent.

My parents were in a high conflict marriage. My father was an angry alcoholic, my mom struggled with mental health challenges, and the marriage suffered infidelity from both parties. Taking a selfish look back, my parents staying together while we were minors was the best thing they did for my sister and myself. After becoming a parent, I see what a luxury item my father was, despite himself.

@MrTonyLewisJr tells of what his life was life before with his father and after when his father was shipped off to prison. Before, he lived in a nice house in the suburbs with his mother. His father would drive him to private school. He had new clothes on his back. Hanover Street was a place to visit family. There was stability. Then his father’s life and the Feds caught up with him. They lost the house and his mother slowly lost her mind. Hanover St NW became home. He also lost his 2nd parent to mass incarceration and the safety net his father provided. Thankfully due to kin and family friends he remained in Catholic school, but they could not make up for the fact that he was like so many of his neighborhood friends, fatherless.

In our effort to be merciful towards and supportive of single parents, we dismiss the importance and of the 2nd parent. Since Destruct-O-Baby I’m freaking tired and considering my own and my mother’s mental health history* I NEED the Help, and there is no way in Hell I could do this alone and stay sane. The other parent, the father, can bring a lot of valuable things to the table. Unfortunately too many AfAm children are lacking fathers in their lives, and are poorer for it.

A neighborhood with a high number of female headed households are poorer. The matriarchy has failed to control her sons. Her sons sling dope and shoot at everything with bad aim. Young men surrounded by struggling women become predators as the potential to become hard working respectable men is squandered on the corners. Little boys yearn so much for male attention, any male attention, even from drug dealers, it is so heart breaking. There are hardly any men who look like them in the schools and in their lives that they absorb whatever masculinity they can like a bone dry sponge does any liquid, be it life giving water or deadly antifreeze.

For girls it’s different. Not to dig up more family dirt, I am very thankful that my sister in law’s ex has custody of their beautiful daughter considering my SIL’s poor romantic choices (who she decided to bring into the home), the fact that both her sons are away at college, and her mental health (and housing) challenges. The ex has provided a better safety net than nothing.

*My mom suffered from post-postpartum depression, had several ‘nervous breakdowns’ and was at a low point suicidal. I don’t think I want to detail or summarize my own challenges here.