Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Best of Us: MBB Mom Andrea Pinkney

We just don't get enough credit for being the fantastic parents we are, so MyBrownBaby is dead-set on giving credit where credit is due. A round of applause for MBB Mom of the Week Andrea Pinkney, who is also the brains behind a series of wonderful children's books, including the four up for grabs in the latest MBB contest. To find out how you can win an autographed set of four books authored by Pinkney and illustrated by her fabulous husband, Brian Pinkney (the beautiful couple is pictured above), click here. And then come back and find out more about MBB's incredible Mom of the Week!

My name is... Andrea Davis Pinkney

I live in... New York City

My brown babies are...Chloe, age 12 and Dobbin, age 9

I make a living as... a children’s book editor and also as a children’s book author. I’ve published more than 20 books for young people, many of them collaborations with my husband, illustrator Brian Pinkney.

The last time my kids cracked me up was... yesterday evening during dinner! While my hubby and I strongly discourage any kind of shenanigans at the dinner table, we couldn’t resist when the kids insisted on doing their Beyonce impersonations!

The last book I read with my kids was... The High School Musical junior novel (Sorry, fellow moms! I wish I had a more “serious” answer!)

My favorite place to take them is... to see the Christmas decorations in the Saks Fifth Avenue window here in Manhattan.

My proudest mom moment was... when, at a school-wide formal auction event, the head of the school presented my husband and me with a framed broadside that our kids had made for us. They’d drawn portraits of Brian and me and a bold caption that says, “OUR PARENTS ARE AWESOME!!”

My most embarrassing mommy moment was... the time when my son went to school proudly singing the lyrics of a song that was all about mature adult feelings. The boy had NO IDEA what he was saying, but we did get a note from his teacher.

The thing I most want my children to know is... that they should be exactly who are they – and not try to emulate qualities in others that they think are “cool” or “better.”

The one family tradition I hope my kids continue when they grow up is... having a big family Kwanzaa party every year on January 1.

If I could invent one thing to make being a mom easier, it would be... a planet where I had more time, more stamina, more patience, more humor, and more acceptance of my own limitations and those of my kids.

The best invention for kids ever is... school.

The most important life lesson I want my kids to learn is... to never hide their talents or interest under a bushel for fear of what others may think of them

The one thing no one knows about me is that... I am America’s Next Top Model, the new American Idol, a Shear Genius, a Top Chef, and winner of Dancing with the Stars and Project Runway (in my dreams!).

The thing I lost as a mom that I wish I could get back is... really, really enjoying my kids more when they were younger, rather than wasting time stressing every little hair out of place.

My “I’d Rather Be…” bumper sticker would say... “I’d Rather Be At A Spa!”

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Monday, November 24, 2008

The Weaning: A Mom Learns How To Let Go


I loved nursing my son when he was a baby. I had a deep satisfaction knowing that beyond the physical benefits I was providing, that somehow through this process, we were forming a bond that no one else could ever know. Only I, his mother, could give him this and somehow that underlined the fact that no one could love him as much as I, no one could know him more deeply than I, no one could care for him better than I.

Well, thing is, he has a father who was often sitting right next to me as I nursed. And, well, eventually, I started to have moments when being the sole source of sustenance and never being able to go anywhere alone for longer than two or three hours became unrealistic. It was time for Daddy to learn to feed the baby.

I can now admit that during my pregnancy and for some time after my son’s birth, I was, well, slightly neurotic. I read everything. I planned everything. And, then, I obsessed.

So, when it was time to teach him to take a bottle from his father, I had done all my due diligence. I knew that there was a chance that this would be a miserable failure, or at least a really difficult process. I lectured his father about how to talk soothingly to him. I demonstrated the correct nursing positioning which he should be held. I did everything I could to prepare his father for either eventual success or complete failure, but mostly for the certain disappointment that was sure to result from my son’s inevitable and understandable reaction to the fact that, well, he wasn’t me.

Short story long, that little boy took that rubber nipple in his mouth and never gave me a second look. I, of course, ran to the bedroom the second I realized that he was nipple and feeder agnostic, threw myself across the bed, and wept for the loss of my position at the center of his universe.

OK. Rewind, a couple of months. Back in September, my son announced, “Mommy, I think that I should start spending Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with Daddy and Thursday through Sunday with you.” (My son’s father and I split up four years ago and have been co-parenting since.)

“Um. OK. Daddy and I will talk about it.”

And, we did. He explained that while he had nothing to do with our son’s suggestion, he did want to increase his time with the little guy. This confession was actually something I had been waiting a long time for. In fact, I’d even suggested it on more than one occasion. But, plagued with a series of, shall we say, unreliable transportation situations among other things, he never made that happen. And, frankly, he seemed satisfied that the one or two days he’d get our son on the weekends were enough. So, this was new, and it was good.

But, it has at times left me a little lost as to what to do with the extra time. I have found myself feeling a little less useful to my son. And, in response, I have periodically looked for evidence that our mid-week switch was not providing the stability that a six-year-old requires. It certainly has disrupted mine, anyway.

Fast forward to last week. My son earned a pretty bad behavior report on Wednesday. When his father, my co-parent, arrived to pick him up, he firmly lectured our six-year-old, as the little guy sat there, lip quivering, eyes wide and fixed on his father’s, all the while secretly rubbing my hand for comfort. When his father ended the speech, my son replied with a simple and humble, “Yes, sir.”

I was floored. I had never seen him like that. He’s not really that kid, at least not with me. And, in that moment, if in no other, it became painfully evident to me that just like that day when he was traitorously willing to substitute the flesh of his own mother’s breast for a rubber nipple held awkwardly by his father, my son was expanding the center of his universe to include his father in a way that he hadn’t seemed to need to before.

I guess I was preparing myself to deal with this when he was older, but he needs his father now. And, I see the difference this additional time makes. When he comes back from his father’s house, I often see glimpses of the seeds being planted outside of my control. There’s an emerging maturity and increased respect for me that seems more evident when he comes back to my house. Once, he even said, “Yes, Ma’am,” when I told him to take his shoes to his room!

This weaning myself off of my exclusive centrality (or at least my self-important perception of exclusive centrality) in his life isn’t easy. I will admit that. But, I know that it is necessary, if I truly want to give my son my best.

About Our MyBrownBaby Contributor:
Talibah Mbonisi, a mother of one, is on a mission to incite a Black co-parenting revolution. She is currently working on her first book, a guide to co-parenting for African-American mothers and fathers, as well as an online community called She muses about co-parenting and other life adventures on her blog, The Mama Spot.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm Saucy!

I mean, that’s what everyone’s always said about me—that I’m sassy, saucy, bombastic. On my good days—which come often—the titles certainly fit. And today is a very good day. Because the ladies behind The Secret Is In The Sauce, a fantastic blog that encourages us to shower comments and cyber hugs on fellow bloggers, chose to tell their fantastic members to check out MyBrownBaby. In the words of the great pop culture philosopher Paris Hilton, “That’s hot.”

Here’s what you should know about me: I’m a mom. I’m a wife. I’m the Reality Check columnist and a contributing editor for Parenting magazine, a contributing editor for Essence magazine, the Real Talk mom for iVillage’s Momtourage, and the author of 14 books. I think Idris Elba and George Clooney are the sexiest men alive (after Nick Chiles, my hottie hubs), Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway are gods, Mary J. Blige’s catalogue is the soundtrack to my life, Love & Basketball was one of the best movies ever made, the authors Junot Diaz, Paul Beatty, J. California Cooper, and Toure all have beautiful minds, and Now & Laters and Butter Pecan Haagen Das are the food of the gods.

And most days, I’m ridiculously, utterly giddy for no good darn reason.

Here’s what you should know about MyBrownBaby: It’s an irreverent, intelligent, witty, thoughtful space where moms come to talk about the joys, beauty, frustrations, and fears that come with raising children of color. Writing about motherhood is one of my many jobs as a journalist, but being a mother is my passion—and I absolutely adore commiserating with other mothers about how to be a stronger, smarter, better mom, particularly moms of color, who, I feel, all-too-often get left out of the motherhood debate. Not to get all deep on y’all, but I hope that MyBrownBaby helps to change that, not only by showcasing my musings on motherhood, but those of other moms just like me who have a voice and ain’t afraid to use it. *steps off soapbox now*

So pull up to my bumper, baby! Sit on the MyBrownBaby stoop and let’s chat a while—about how much I love my beautiful, ordinary life, and what happens when memories of my mother haunt me, and how I unwind after a long, long day. Check out, too, why I use my MRS like a weapon, why I kicked Lil’ Wayne out of my car, and why I think our new First Family will do more for the image of black folks than even The Huxtables did. And when you’ve had your fill, head here to enter MyBrownBaby's latest contest.

If you’re so moved, leave a comment. Subscribe. Follow MyBrownBaby. And tell a friend or two that you’ve found a wonderful, warm, inviting place for moms—all moms.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

On the MyBrownBaby Bookshelf: Boycott Blues. Plus, A New MBB Contest!

Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation
By Andrea Pinkney and Brian Pinkney (illustrator)
Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins

This story begins with shoes.

This story is all for true.

This story walks.
And walks.
And walks.

To the blues.

So begins this poignant retelling of Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks’s stand against Jim Crow, as recounted by a guitar-strumming, blues-playing hound named Dog Tired. He tells in a beautiful rhythmic style how Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, AL, on December 1, 1955—a peaceful rebellion that led to the boycott that ultimately dismantled America’s segregation laws. As Dog Tired spins his bluesy tale about the perseverance of the hundreds of men and women who car-pooled, taxied, and walked rather than pay to ride on a segregated bus system, a foreboding bird named Jim Crow swirls menacingly over the heads of the righteous, giving the people the blues as they work to change the world.

My daughters know the story of Rosa Parks, but this amazing book, with its rich, swirling illustrations dancing across the pages, breathed new life into the incredible narrative in a way that connected for my daughters. They instinctively understood that the dark, stormy streaks and swirls that enveloped Jim Crow represented hard times for our people—the blues—but that joy came in the bright yellows and sky blues and reds that marked the emergence of our people from a most dark time in American history. What’s more, they really enjoyed the story’s poetic tempo, which makes it a stand-out read-aloud book. Though written for kids ages 5 to 8, the story is sophisticated enough for tweens to enjoy.

To enhance your child’s reading experience:
• Have your child look up the word “hero,” discuss it’s meaning, then draw a picture of her hero.
• Discuss the concept of rules with your child, then let him list rules he thinks are unfair, and ways he would change them.
• Let them check out Rosa talk about her experience in her own words in an exclusive interview on


Win four incredible autographed books penned and illustrated by the prolific husband and wife duo, Andrea and Brian Pinkney. The Pinkneys, who come from a long line of children’s book authors and illustrators, are my hereos—they’ve long been passionate about the value of books featuring characters and stories that speak to the African American experience. Indeed, when I went searching for picture books to stock in my then-newborn baby’s library, works by the Pinkneys were some of only a handful of published books that were being written for and about black children.

The Pinkneys have graciously agreed to give one winner four (!) books from their incredible collection of children’s picture books. Included in this package are: Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation; Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince & His Orchestra; Peggony Po: A Whale Of a Tale, and; Mim’s Christmas Jam. Imagine that: Four books featuring characters and stories that your child will flip for, with the personalized autograph of the author and illustrator! This is a $70 value, but the Pinkneys’s authographs are priceless.

Here’s how you enter: Check out the Library of Congress's fab interview with Andrea Pinkney, then come back to MyBrownBaby and leave a comment about something you learned about her by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 30, 2008.

Want to enter more than once? Boost your chances of winning by completing one or more tasks on this list:

If you haven’t already, sign up for MyBrownBaby’s email updates by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 30, 2008. To be eligible, you must verify your email subscription when Feedburner sends you a verification email. Your entry will be invalid if you do not verify. If you would prefer to get MyBrownBaby updates via an MBB RSS feed, please leave a comment letting me know you’ve done so, and include an email address, as RSS subscribers are anonymous.

Buy Boycott Blues, and email a copy of your confirmation order to

Blog about MyBrownBaby and post a link to your blog entry here.

Fave MyBrownBaby on Technorati. After you do this, come back to MyBrownBaby to leave a comment with your Technorati user name so that I can verify it.

See? That means each of you can receive up to 5 entries. A winner will be chosen via, and contacted via email. This contest is available to U.S. mailing addresses only.

Well… what are you waiting for? Go ahead—Dog Tired is waiting!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Because Every Mom Needs A Theme Song

I love an uplifting song with meaningful lyrics—bonus points if the person delivering it can blow. Ledisi gets a star, an A+, and a super-sized bag of generic bodega chips for her single, "Alright." I make a point of playing this song every day, usually while I’m cooking dinner or just relaxing with my girls, not just because Ledisi is singing like it’s early Sunday morning, but because the words she’s saying send an incredible message—that no matter how broke/sad/confused/blah you are, you have to know that really, it’s going to be alright. It's about resiliency, see? And there's not a group on the planet more resilient than African-American mothers. This one is one of my theme songs, fo’ sho. Loves it!

And speaking of loves it, I’m so pleased to announce that the winner of the first MyBrownBaby contest is LaTonya Yvette of Che’ Demi’s Boutique, a loyal MyBrownBaby follower who has a terrific upscale baby boutique and a lovely blog, to boot. LaTonya wins three books in the Ruby & The Booker Boys series, autographed by the author, Derrick Barnes. Congrats, LaTonya!

Finally, I’d like to thank Jennae at Green Your Décor, Mama’s Got Moxie, and Angelika for showing me bloggy love last week for my posts, Our New First Family and Neighbors Gone Wild. Each of you encourages me to think longer and write harder—more than you’ll ever know. And a special thank you to Preston over at Me and the Blue Skies, who hit a sistah off with a Super Scribbler Award for Our New First Family. I wrote that piece from the heart, and I’m so glad that it touched so many others in the way that it was given—in the spirit of love and unity.

And now, as Preston did for me, I’m going to pay it forward by doling out some blog love to five of my favorites. I read these blogs faithfully because the people who run them can, quite simply, write their behinds off (and y’all should know by now how I feel about the written word). Here they are, presented with fond admiration in no particular order:

Naked With Socks On
Tea and Honey Bread
The Mama Spot
Is There Any Mommy Out There
The Wind In Your Vagina

Oh, and the rules. Of course there are rules. The rules are:

1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Link me for giving it to you.
3. Link the originating post here.
4. Pass the award on to five more deserving people.
5. Post these rules for your recipients.

Be sure to come back tomorrow—I’ll have some exciting news about another MyBrownBaby contest as fabulous as the first! Until then, remember that it’s gonna be alright…

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Don't You Wish Your Daughter Was Hot Like Tyra?


I know there’s a special place in Mom hell for me, but I let my daughters watch America’s Next Top Model. (There. I said it out loud.) Every Wednesday, without fail, they dutifully take their baths, get into their jammies, and line up on the carpet for their must-see TV—an hour’s worth of need-a-macaroni-and-cheese-I.V. stat!-thin model wanna-bes, climbing into fabulously impractical clothes, slathering their faces with more colors than a 64-pack of Crayolas, and striking poses that defy all realm of logic. My girls are all in from the re-cap/preview in the first minutes to the very last moment when Tyra sends the weakest mannequin packing—they roll their eyes during the makeover melt-downs, crack up over the model mishaps, shake their heads and tsk-tsk when the contestants get catty, and pour over the elimination photos, making predictions about who had the best shot, and, naturally, who sucked (my word—not theirs).

Of course, the model who takes their breath away every week is the queen of it all—Tyra Banks. Tyra alternately clowns her subjects and plays mama, too—shows them the tricks of the trade, and disses her model-wanna-bes hard when they fail to live up to her supermodel standards. And my girls cling to Tyra’s every word—talk about her slick dresses and her perfectly-coiffed hair and how pretty she looks when she “smiles” with her eyes.

They. Love. Them. Some. Tyra.

Total stans, I tell you.

So much so that one recent week, Mari asked me if I thought she looked like Tyra.

Now, please understand: I’m the president, CEO, and executive director of the Mari Is The Most Beautiful Girl In the World (Next To Her Little Sister) Fan Club. She’s a delicious little girl—got these thick, juicy lips, and high cheekbones, and these incredible chocolate-brown eyes, framed with sleight eyelids that make her look like she’s got a little Japanese in her family. Nick and I recognize that when this kid hits her teens and gets the Beyonce booty and hips going, it’s a wrap. Rifles. Threats. Intimidation. We plan on using the full arsenal to keep the boys at bay.

But my baby doesn’t look like Tyra.

Nothing of the sort.

(I guess I should be happy that she didn't say she wanted to look like Paulina Porizkova, or Heidi Klum--that she picked a black woman as her ideal beauty. I mean, at her age, I wanted to look like Farah Fawcett. That's another post.)

But since I’m a stickler for keeping it real, I had to tell her: “Um, no, baby. You don’t look like Tyra.”

No matter that I broke the news real gentle, no matter that she had no verbal response, the defeated look on Mari’s face spoke a thousand words. It was the look I remember seeing in the mirror when, as a little girl, I’d examine my eyes and lips and skin and hair and wonder why I just couldn’t measure up to the prettiest girls in my school—the ones who seemed to get all the attention, all the boys. In my daughter’s face, I saw vulnerability. In telling her she didn’t measure up to the woman she idolizes, I had, in effect, delivered a southpaw uppercut to her self-esteem.

So I went into damage control mode—told her the truth, but added a little sugar to make it go down better. “Tyra is beautiful, but so are you, in your own special way.” I told her how much I loved her twists, and adored her cheekbones, and the way her face was shaped like a perfect, juicy apple. “You are lovely, sweetheart—a beautiful, special little girl,” I told her. “But if you want to be like Tyra, be like her in the ways that mean something. Be smart. And independent. And fierce. And run your own business and call your own shots and be the one to tell everyone else what to do. Tyra is dope like that. And I know you’ve got the beauty to be as pretty as her, but I also know you have the smarts to be just as successful as her, too. That’s what makes you special, and that's how you can be like Tyra.”

She was quiet.

Thought about what I said for a moment.

And then she smiled at me with her pretty eyes.

Crisis averted (for now).

And I’m still in the running to be the Next Top Mom.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Faith In Our Fathers


On the mornings when my husband, Nick, walks the girls to the bus stop, my commute involves me leaning over the side of my bed and picking up my laptop and the remote. I’m lucky like that (for both the husband that shares bus duty, and my ability to make money from home). And while I’m busy writing, I usually have the TV on, with the volume turned down low—loud enough for me to tune out irrelevant drivel and hear stuff that I want and need to hear. Recently, I caught site of this video on the The Today Show, and immediately pumped up the volume. A black guy? Wagging his finger and twisting his hips and cheering? About boys?!

Turns out that the video, produced by the Ad Council with the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, is a PSA that encourages fathers to be better dads and get more involved in their children’s lives. The inspiration for the piece came, according to the Ad Council, after a survey revealed that more than 79% of Americans feel “the most significant family or social problem facing America is the physical absence of the father from the home.”

I can dig that that. Lord knows enough of us have survived without/missed/wished for a stable father figure in our homes—and suffered because our daddies didn’t live up to their promise. But seeing that I’m a glass-is-half-full kinda girl, I took this PSA not as a plea to fathers to step up to the plate, but a heart-warming “thank you” for the ones doing right by their kids—fathers like my Dad, who, without the benefit of a caring, nurturing father to show him how to love a child, turned out to be the most loving, nurturing father this girl could ever have.

And like my husband Nick, who, consistently reminds me I picked well when he makes my girls giggle, and helps them sort out tough math problems, and teaches them Taekwondo moves “so that they can fight off any boy who steps to them wrong,” and throws blue "footie" pajamas in the cart at Target so his girls will be “cuddly” warm in their beds.

And the fathers who bring their paychecks home…

And kick in toward the mortgage/rent, or pay it outright…

And rub the swollen feet and sore backs of the pregnant women they love…

And change diapers and warm bottles and bounce babies on their arms, even when they haven’t a clue, really, what they’re doing, or we stand over their shoulders, ordering them to do it our way…

And play horsey and helicopter over and over and over again, their exhausted bodies energized only by the glee in their giggly children’s “please, Daddy—one more time?” pleas...

And dole out discipline in healthy doses—with great love and the profound knowledge that setting their kids straight will go a long way in helping them become better human beings.

And make their families feel protected, even when deep inside, they’re scared crapless…

And kiss their wives passionately because they think after all these years, she’s still hot…

And do it in front of their kids, so that they can know that they’ve seen true love…

And love the Lord…

And their children with abandon…

We see you.

In the words of the esteemed poet Tupac Shakur, “You are appreciated.”

And loved.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Picking Up the Pieces: A Mother's Journey With ADHD


There is no fear quite like the fear of being judged. Especially when you’re a mom. You worry about how others see you as a mother—whether you measure up. To your parents’ standards. Your kids’. Even, sometimes, your own.

These fears became compounded for me when my son began to have behavior issues in school. The notes from the teacher came in slowly at first, pointing out normal, everyday kid transgressions—your son keeps tumbling out of his seat; he shouts answers, even when he wasn’t called on; he stares out the window when he should be doing his work.

And then the teacher’s accusations came in a flurry—each one pointing out incidents of misbehavior that seemed to get worse with each note: My son couldn’t focus, and was becoming a distraction in the classroom. He was refusing to complete projects, and, in some cases, throwing outright tantrums if the teacher pushed him to do it. Transitions were particularly difficult: sometimes he would just plop down on the playground after recess was over, refusing to go back into the classroom. There were times, even, when I had to trek all the way from my workplace in New York City back home to Jersey in the middle of the day to pick him up from school.

Finally, the teacher went where I prayed she wouldn’t: Your son, she said, should be tested.

Many of the behaviors the teacher described just didn’t happen at home, so it begged the question: Was my boy’s natural boisterousness being stereotyped as “wilding out” just because he’s Black? Were the teachers and administrators at the school encouraging me to have him tested because they didn’t want to deal with a child who has a different learning style? Or were my son’s actions a true cry for help?

I had to see for myself. So I visited my son’s class, carefully observing from the sidelines while he went through his day. And I was pained by what I witnessed: my dear boy, fidgeting and shifting in his seat, ignoring the teacher’s directions, staring into space. His desk was a disorderly mishmash of broken pencils and crayons, balled-up papers and buried library books. His writing journal was a jumble, full of incoherent sentences and unfinished thoughts. He was impulsive, blurting out answers, or waving his arm wildly to get the teacher’s attention. Not even my presence that day could make him stop the behavior—he just couldn’t help it. That’s when I knew for sure that we were dealing with something more than simply “boys being boys.”

I was struggling, trying hard to figure out what to do. I could hear all the judgmental voices in my head:

“All that boy needs is an attitude adjustment.”

“Ain’t nothing wrong with him that a belt can’t cure.”

“They want all of our kids on medication so they don’t have to do the work.”

So many opinions and condemnations batted around in my brain—I knew I really needed someone to talk to. But then fear would rear its ugly head. Would people label me a bad mother—a mother who couldn’t control her child? What mother wants to be thought of as clueless? I was certainly at a loss.

But it was when I finally admitted that I didn’t have all the answers—that I needed help—that a new kind of healing began—a healing for all of us. I started the slow and steady route. My son and I joined a support group for children with behavior issues, while I investigated some pediatric neurologists to have him tested. After several evaluations, we learned that my son has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a chemical condition that causes him to lose focus and become easily distracted. In his case, behavior management is not enough; he requires medication to help keep his brain focused on tasks such as schoolwork and studying.

It was hard to accept the diagnosis at first. I worried about the effects of the medication—would my beautiful boy become a zombie, sleepwalking through life? Would the medication wipe away the personality quirks that make him such an incredible person to be around? And yes, what would the other mothers think? Would they empathize with my son’s plight to my face, but secretly scoff at my decision and accuse me of “selling out” to the pharmacy pushers? Was I taking the lazy way out by putting my son on medication?

But here’s the thing about fear: once you face it down, its power diminishes. I soon realized that I had to stop being fearful and start getting empowered. To this day, I read up on the disorder. I ask questions of the doctors. And yes, I set standards for my son so that he knows that his condition doesn’t give him carte blanche to act out, let up, or give up. In short, I’m being a mom, the best way I know how.

My son needs me to be his advocate, to speak up for him against any misconceptions a myopic society might try to impose. He needs a mom who’s a pitbull with lipstick, not a Beverly Hills Chihuahua. So here I am, standing at the ready to rail against anyone who threatens to pigeonhole or put my child on standby because of his disorder. It’s challenging having a child with ADHD, no doubt. But I think—no, I KNOW—I’m just the right mom for the job.

About our MyBrownBaby contributor:
Vanessa Bush, a mother of two, freelance writer and aspiring chef, gave up corporate life to focus on her family. She writes about this and other escapades on her blog, Food Lovers Like Me.

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MyBrownBaby contributor Vanessa Bush, who penned Picking Up the Pieces, an essay about her experience dealing with her son's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, graciously shared with MBB online resources for parents who have children with behavior disorders. Here, her picks, with links to the sites:

A.D.D. Warehouse
The ADD Warehouse is the leading resource for the understanding and treatment of all developmental disorders. Here you will find a wealth of information relating to ADD, including conference information, articles, and books.

ADD Resource
The site brings together the expertise of Internet specialists and hundreds of ADD, ADHD and LD professionals worldwide, to help you find relevant information on the Web quickly and easily.

Filled with valuable information from respected professionals in the field of ADHD and Special Education, along with advice from parents and other readers. Registered with the Library of Congress.

The ADDvance Web site, first created in 1996, is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

CHADD is the national non-profit organization representing children and adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Founded in 1987 by a group of concerned parents, CHADD works to improve the lives of people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder through education, advocacy and support.

The Learning Disabilities Association of America
LDAA is a national, non-profit organization for children and adults of normal or potentially normal intelligence who manifest disabilities of a perceptual, conceptual, or coordinative nature.

American Academy of Pediatrics
AAP is committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

On the MBB Menu: Smoked Turkey and White Beans


Seems like there are more cold days than warm ones lately, and I’m kinda sad that our rib, chicken, pork loin, and salmon dinners cooked on the grill are numbered. I am, however, looking forward to cuddling next to the fire place, and most certainly to putting some of my favorite comfort food dishes on our dinner table—recipes I picked up from watching my mom burn in the kitchen. Bettye was the original “Bertha” Stewart (that’s the black Martha Stewart, y’all)—she threw down something fierce, and always made the simplest, bare-boned, country dish seem like a 5-star meal. This hearty recipe is one my mom used to pull out on cold Saturday evenings; she’d make it with smoked hamhocks and neckbones, but I updated it a bit by using smoked turkey legs, which have less fat than my mom’s favored pork pieces. Trust me when I tell you: Put this on the table and your family will think you’re genius.

And don’t forget that Sunday is the last day to participate in MyBrownBaby’s Ruby and the Booker Boys contest. You could win this entire children's chapter book series, autographed by the author, Derrick Barnes! Imagine that: Three books featuring a character your child will flip for, with the personalized autograph of the writer who penned them. These paperback books can be purchased for $4.99 a piece, but Derrick Barnes’s autograph is priceless. Click here to find out how to enter.

Also, if you have a minute today, stop by iVillage's Momtourage to check out my latest "Real Talk" mom advice. This week, I help a mom decipher whether her young son was the victim of racism. Check it out here—and leave a comment if you're so moved.

Have an intelligent, bright, confident weekend, MBBs!

Smoked Turkey and White Beans

What You’ll Need:

• 1½ bags large white beans
• 2 medium-sized smoked turkey legs
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 1 tbsp garlic powder
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tbsp black pepper
• ½ tsp red pepper flakes
• 1 bay leaf

How To Make It:

• Follow the “quick soak” directions for preparing beans (on the bag).
• In the meantime, while the beans are soaking, in a large stockpot, cover turkey legs with water, and boil on medium for 50 minutes, until they begin to get tender.
• Once turkey legs start to get tender, add the beans, chicken stock, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf to the stockpot, and cook on medium-low until beans are tender and turkey legs are falling off the bone.

Serve over rice with a side of cornbread; add hot sauce for an extra kick.

Serves 6.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How Mommy Got Her Groove Back


Let me just go ahead and put this on out there: I can’t dance.

I mean, if you put on, say, Stevie Wonder’s “As,” Earth Wind & Fire’s “September,” maybe some Jay-Z or a little old school hip hop, I can drop it like it’s on fire. But when it comes to organized routines—choreographed dances that require coordinated movement, especially with others—I’m about as graceful as an elephant in a Conga line. It’s. Not. Pretty.

So when my sister-in-law/BFF Angelou invited me to a local African dance class, you can imagine how quick I was to run through my mental calendar to come up with a gang of reasons why I just didn’t have any time over the next year to make it there. But Ang is really persuasive. And she offered to drive. And give me a glass of Reisling when class was over.

Well, have drink? Will travel.

Our instructor, Sauda, promised to be gentle. And she was. While the drummers beat an incredible rhythm, she led us through a series of warm-ups and then slowly introduced us to a series of age-old traditional West African dances—a bit of Manjani, a little Lamba, some Kuku. I’ll tell you this much: exercise gurus Billy Blanks, Donna Richardson, and Richard Simmons ain’t got nuthin’ on Sauda, you hear me? Every pound of the drum required a different movement from a different body part—every inch of me was bending and stretching and bowing and gyrating and kicking and leaping in ways I never thought possible. I had quite the time trying to keep up, too; when Sauda said go left, I went right—by the time I got to the bend, everyone else was soaring through the air.

It was ugly, I tell you.

But then the cool down came, and Sauda slowed down and the drummers, Sekou and Jerome, hit a smoothed-out beat, and suddenly, I could breathe again (kinda). And then Sauda instructed each of us to open our arms wide and slowly wrap them around ourselves while we swayed to the drums. “This,” she said, “is a hug from me to you, from you to me, from we to we—positive energy filled with love and light.” And then, mid-hug, she encouraged us to pat ourselves on the back, “because if no one else does, at least you can,” she added. “That hug, those pats, are always available to you. Use them to help yourself remember just how valuable and beautiful and wonderful you are.”

And right there, in that moment, with my own arms holding me tight, in a room-full of fellow dancers, each of them supportive, interesting, smart, fun, committed moms and wives, I knew that no matter how wack my dance skills, that class was where I wanted—needed—to be. Each of us need it like we need air. I was getting in some (much-needed!) exercise and learning the beauty of a continent’s cultural expression, and, most importantly, getting in much-deserved me-time—the incredibly freeing feeling that comes when no one is asking you to do stuff, or focus on them, or put aside your needs to lead the team. That time when it’s all about y-o-u and y-o-u alone.

I’ve been taking that class for almost a year, now—Tuesdays and Fridays are my dance nights, and everybody in the house is on notice that it’s just not a good idea to try to book Mommy’s schedule between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. when I’m supposed to be in class. Oh, you can try. But you might just get your little feelings hurt.

Let me make it to class, though—make it to my hug—and it’s virtually guaranteed that I’ll spread the love.


Note: Is that me in the picture? Nope. I'm nowhere near as graceful or beautiful when I dance. That stunning photo was taken by an incredible photographer, Victor Holt, whom I discovered while searching for a picture to illustrate this post.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

The Best of Us: MBB Dad Derrick Barnes

We just don't get enough credit for being the fantastic parents we are, so MyBrownBaby is dead-set on giving credit where credit is due. A round of applause for MBB's Dad of the Week, who is also the brains behind the children's book series, "Ruby & The Booker Boys," and the generous donor behind MBBs first contest. To find out how you can win an autographed set of Barnes's books, click here. And then come back and find out more about MBB's Dad of the Week.

My name is... Derrick D'wayne Barnes

I live in… Kansas City, MO, but my roots are firmly planted in Mississippi.

My brown babies are… Ezra Langston, 8, Solomon Matthew, 4, and Silas Nathaniel, 2

I make a living… making up stories, places and people to hopefully inspire brown babies all over the world.

The last time my kids cracked me up… my 4-year-old was brushing my 2-year-old's hair, and I heard him from down the hallway tell his little brother, "Hold your head up high, Black man!"

The last book I read with my kids was… "Uptown," by Bryan Collier; real good brotha.

My favorite place to take them is… The Children's Museum in St. Louis; we always have a great time there.

My proudest dad moment was… when both of my big boys received academic accolades at their school ACECC (Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus) last week on the same day. I was a beaming brown daddy!

My most embarrassing daddy moment was the time when… I locked my eldest son, then around eight months, in my truck with the engine running. I scaled the walls of our apartment, climbed through the patio door and found the extra key. I was embarrassed and terrified.

The thing I most want my children to know is… God is real in everything that we do and everything that we see, and that all things in life are possible.

The one family tradition I hope my kids continue when they grow up is… having dinner every night, in the kitchen or in the dining room, without the presence of a TV, with their families every night.

If I could invent one thing to make being a dad easier, it would be… wait, it already exists--a personal chef. Everything would run smoother if we didn't have to worry about what's for dinner.

The best invention for kids ever is… books.

The kid snack I’m most likely to get busted eating is… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fruit snacks.

The most important life lesson I want my kids to learn is… It's never over, it's never done. Get up and look forward to tomorrow.

The one thing no one knows about me is… I love, love, love an album from a 90's British band called the Sundays, entitled "Static and Silence." You gotta check it out.

The thing I lost as a dad that I wish I could get back is… my sense of invulnerability. As a very young man, you feel as if you can break bricks and bend iron; fear is not a part of your vocabulary. But when you have children, it is no longer about you. Invulnerability becomes a very tangible care and concern, and ultimately, you become hopelessly, helplessly vulnerable.

My “I’d Rather Be…” bumper sticker would say… in Barbados with my fam!

Find out more about Derrick Barnes and his series, "Ruby and the Booker Boys," here.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Neighbors Gone Wild


He’s full of life, my nephew—energetic, incredibly funny, frighteningly brilliant, and, at age nine, still comfortable enough in his kid-hood to dole out hugs and kisses freely, sans embarrassment. For sure, joy leaps from his raspy voice from sun up to can’t see. So when he called me early yesterday morning, instantly, I could tell that something was terribly wrong. “I’m really sad, Auntie,” he said simply, before his father gently asked him to hand over the phone.

I wasn’t ready for what my brother-in-law told me.

Someone, you see, had run a pick-up truck all over their yard the night before, desecrating their Obama signs and destroying the halogen lights on their lawn. What’s even more mortifying is that those same animals (they don’t deserve to be called humans) left two open pizza boxes full of human feces and soiled toilet tissue on my in-laws’ front doorstep.

This, I gather, was supposed to be some kind of sign that my family’s well-to-do, extremely conservative, ridiculously Republican neighborhood wasn’t feeling the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, or my in-laws’ glee for President-elect Obama’s historic win. Indeed, for the length of the campaign, these hoodlums expressed as much by destroying my in-laws’ Obama signs no less than 11 times (replacing them on several occasions with McCain signs,) ripping Obama stickers off my sister-in-law's car, and sending children onto the bus to verbally assault my nephew and his brother with all kinds of foul, ridiculous arguments for why Obama shouldn’t win. The same and more was dished out to the few other Obama supporters—overwhelmingly African-American—in their subdivision. Simply put, my in-laws were targeted by a bunch of jackasses for speaking up, having an opinion, and exercising their right to vote for who the hell they wanted to.

I’m trying really hard to let my light shine bright today, but it’s hard in the thick of this darkness. While the world celebrates America’s ability to move past color and elect a black man president, here, in my small Georgia town, tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Some Republicans are acting as if Democrats stopped the earth’s rotational spin and are seconds from dropkicking white folks off the planet. Others are making a run on gun stores, telling local media that they’re stocking up on AK-47s because Obama is going to eliminate their constitutional right to bear arms and, get this, because the president-elect’s tax policy will force small businesses to fire their employees, making people desperate enough to rape, rob, and pillage their neighbors.

Still more are leaving their crap, literally, on our doorsteps.

Granted, this incident isn’t nearly as harmful as what our prior generations dealt with in the face of southern racists. There have been no crosses burned on our lawns, no strange fruit hanging from our trees, no one shouting racial epithets to our faces. Still, that someone would do this to his neighbor in 2008 is beyond understanding.

I really wrestled with whether I should tell my daughters what happened at their cousins’ house. How, after all, do you explain such things to children too young to fully understand the atrocities of our country’s racist past? Sure, they know that Martin had a dream, that Rosa refused to sit in the back of the bus—that we are a strong, proud people who have overcome mightily and benefit greatly from the grueling, dangerous work of our forebears. But feces on the doorstep? For supporting the guy who won? How do you break that down?

This much I know: My babies needed to know. So that they could understand just how ugly people can be. So that they could see that despite Obama’s win and America’s collective celebration about moving past race and into a diverse future, we’ve still got work to do. So that they could comfort their cousins. So that they could remember.

I sat my beautiful daughters down and explained it best I could:

• Everyone has a right to their opinion and perspective, and it’s on us as intelligent human beings to respect them, even if we disagree…

• The world is full of small, narrow-minded people too dumb to express themselves in intelligent ways…

• There are still people—some who live among us—who don’t like us for very strange, silly reasons, including because we
have brown skin…

• It’s important for us to take the high road and represent this family in honorable ways, even when people aren’t looking…

• We ain’t the type of Negroes who sit back and let people just do any ol’ thing they want to us. Be clear: We. Fight. Back.

I do wish that in such an incredible time in our lives, when we should be excited for things to come, that my nephew didn’t have to witness such things, and that I didn’t have to talk to my daughters about them. Our children deserve better than this.

But we’ll keep our heads toward the sky.

And try our best not to let the jackasses steal our joy.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

On the MyBrownBaby Bookshelf: Ruby And the Booker Boys. Plus, MBB's First Contest!

Ruby and the Booker Boys: Brand New School, Brave New Ruby
by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantly Newton (illustrator)
Scholastic Paperbacks

Ruby Marigold Booker is fabulous: Her favorite color is grape-jelly purple; she’s got an iguana named Lady Love; she can sing like nobody’s business, and; when she grows up, she plans to be the most famous animal doctor on the planet. But she’s got to make it through the first day of school at Hope Road Academy, where her three big brothers run things. Tyner, Marcellus, and Ro are smart, funny, and athletic and musically-inclined, and they’ve got serious reps as The Booker Boys. But Ruby? Well, she’s just their little sister. Not for long though. When Ruby schemes to hijack the school PA system and belt a tune for the entire school, it’s clear she doesn’t intend to be the “little sis” for long.

Oh, the sheer joy that is Ruby, who, in the capable hands of author Derrick Barnes and illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton, is a spirited, colorful, adorable little character that absolutely charmed my daughters. They loved her spunk and spirit and crazy antics. I loved that Ruby’s got a family, school, and community that adores and supports her, and that she serves up a fantastic example of what it means to square your shoulders and find your way out of other people’s spotlight—and into your own. Even better, in the true tradition of the Ramona, Junie B. Jones, and Judy Moody series, Ruby and the Booker Boys has its own series of books, including “Trivia Queen, 3rd Grade Supreme,” and “The Slumber Party Payback.” A fourth, “Ruby Flips For Attention,” comes out in January ‘09. Ages 7 to 11 can read the Ruby books on their own; younger children will love having the story read to them.

To enhance your child’s reading experience:
• Help her write a short story about her first day at school
• Have him draw a picture of himself doing something he’s good at, or something that he loves about himself.


Win in the entire Ruby and the Booker Boys series, autographed by the author, Derrick Barnes! Imagine that: Three books featuring a character your child will flip for, with the personalized autograph of the writer who penned them. These paperback books can be purchased for $4.99 a piece, but Derrick Barnes’s autograph is priceless.

Here’s how you enter: Visit Derrick Barnes’s website, then come back to MyBrownBaby and leave a comment about something you learned about Ruby or Derrick by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 16, 2008.

Want to enter more than once? Boost your chances of winning by completing one or more tasks on this list:

If you haven’t already, sign up for MyBrownBaby’s email updates by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 16, 2008. To be eligible, you must verify your email subscription when Feedburner sends you a verification email. Your entry will be invalid if you do not verify. If you would prefer to get MyBrownBaby updates via an MBB RSS feed, please leave a comment letting me know you’ve done so, and include an email address, as RSS subscribers are anonymous.

Buy one or more of the Ruby books on Amazon, and email a copy of your confirmation order to

Blog about MyBrownBaby and post a link to your blog entry here.

Fave MyBrownBaby on Technorati. After you do this, come back to MyBrownBaby to leave a comment with your Technorati user name so that I can verify it.

See? That means each of you can receive up to 5 entries. A winner will be chosen via, and contacted via email. This contest is available to U.S. mailing addresses only.

Well… what are you waiting for? Go ahead—Ruby is waiting!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008



He never talked about it much, my dad. But he’s a 70-something black man, born and raised in the seat of the confederacy—Virginia. He’s got stories. And last night, when I called Daddy all giddy, heart full with the joy of watching Barack Obama be named President-elect, my father brought home the import of an African-American man winning the highest office in the land.

“You’re too young to know what it was like, doll,” he said simply. “How humiliating it was to be hungry and want to spend your hard-earned money on a sandwich and be forced to go to the back door at the restaurant to collect it because you weren’t allowed in the front. How it felt to have to avoid looking a white man in the eye; if he talked to you, you had to hang your head—hang it like a dog. Step off the curb while he walked past you.

“I never thought I would see this day,” he said quietly. “A black man is president. A black man.”

And I could not stop my tears. Martin paid the price for our freedom with his life, but many more black folks invested in President-elect Obama’s new gig by bowing their heads and doing what they had to do to get by, all-the-while hoping and praying that their children would live in a better America—live to see this day when heads could be held high, without repercussion. With conviction. And a high step.

Still, as my father remembers the past, my husband and I look to the future—imagine what this iconic, indelible image of Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha standing on the steps of the White House means for our beautiful brown babies. Just the other day, before we had confirmed what we knew in our hearts was to be for the Obamas, Mari looked me in my eyes as I tucked her into bed and told me she thought maybe it would be cool to be president. “But maybe,” she added, “it would be just as cool to be the first black woman on the Supreme Court.”

“You can be either one of those, baby—whichever one you want,” I told her. And this time, I knew that those words, which I and many other parents of color like me say over and over again to our kids, were true.

Know that my 9-year-old truly can see this for herself because there’ll soon be two fresh, fly little brown girls in the White House who wear twists in their hair just like her…

And who like to play sports, and read books, and do well in school, just like her…

And who have a fresh, fly chocolate mom who is every bit as brilliant and ambitious a mother and wife in her home as she is an executive on the job, much like her mom…

And a father who believes in hard work, and love, and family, and is beautiful and thoughtful and stunningly intelligent and seems strong enough to move mountains—just like her dad.

In other words, my babies see for the first time in a presidential family a bit of themselves. The White House, built by the hands of slaves, will be the home of black folks. Two little brown girls will play out on the White House lawn, and suck on popsicles in the hot Washington, D.C. sun, and chase after their new puppy—twists flying behind them, giggles filling the air. And their parents will stand there, heads held high, sleeves rolled up, runnin’ thangs—working hard to make this place better for all of us.

This image, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson noted last night, “will do things to the gray matter inside our heads.” No truer words could ever be said. Perhaps the most poignant message to come from the Obama presidency will be that this black family isn’t so different from a lot of other families—that at their core, they want the same things most American families want, whether black or white, Asian or Latino, Gentile or Jew or Muslim, rich or poor, two-parent or single-parent, straight or gay. Indeed, the Obamas do the same things most American families do, and dream the same dream most American families dream. President-elect Obama (don’t you just love the way that sounds?!) reminded us of this in his acceptance speech last night:

This is our time to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

No more bowed heads, Daddy.

Look to the steps of The White House.

This country belongs to us.

All of us.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008



A week before my daughter’s dance recital, her instructor, Miss Debbie, pulled me aside. “We’re asking that all the girls wear their hair in a bun.”

I looked at Jasmin’s golden-brown mane that was pulled neatly into a single puff on the top of her head. Each perfectly spiraled strand was infused with the genetic code of women who came before my child, myself and every other black woman in our family tree. These weren’t the girl next door’s curls. “A bun?”

The fitter-than-thou fifty-something in a black leotard, tights and pink leg warmers looked me squarely in the face. “Yes.”

“I’m not sure if it will do that.” I knew I sounded kind of strange, sitting there talking about my then-5-year-old daughter’s hair as if it had a life of it’s own. But it did.

“Try.” Miss Debbie gave Jasmin a once-over before standing up to sashay down the hallway. I had no idea the woman was even half as narrow-minded as she had just revealed. I could have sworn I saw her do a pirouette before she went back into the classroom.

It wasn’t the first time I’d had this type of discussion about the “proper” way a female of color should be coiffed for something. In high school, the captains of my cheerleading squad insisted that we all wore french braids. Never mind the needs of Tiffany Williams, who wore her hair in intricately designed cornrows, or Mia Kim who wore her jet-black hair in a chin length bob. I hated the idea that this incident was the first in a series that would drill a negative idea into Jasmin’s psyche that something about her “ethnic” hair is problematic. And I didn’t appreciate Miss Debbie for initiating the conversation.

Later that evening, I called to my mother for a second opinion. She calmly reassured me that yes, Jasmin’s hair might be sort of “kinky,” but I could surely get it into a bun if I wanted to badly enough. I just had to get Jasmin to sit still long enough so that I could blow dry it straight and then flat iron it with searing heat so it would be straight enough to twist into a bun (easier said than done). It wasn’t exactly what I’d wanted to hear. You’d think I never made my mom want to fling the comb at the ceiling in frustration (on countless occasions) as I ripped myself from her grasp - mid-braid, mind you - and ran to the bathroom complaining of “chest pains.” I wasn’t about to send her grandbaby on Miss Debbie’s stage looking like the African American understudy of Little Orphan Annie, but the bun wasn’t happening. Less because it couldn’t than because, at that point, I was pissed.

Just like Jasmin’s curls defy convention, the person they grow from does, too. Unlike myself, who once longed to have have hair as long and silky as Dreamgirl Christie’s, Jasmin adores her kinky curls. She sees them as part of her beauty, not the bane of her existence. Even on the day she went to nursery school au naturale, unrestricted by the usual braids, headbands or barrettes, she faced her curious classmate’s criticism with confidence and common sense: “My hair is pretty! I like it just the way it is.” Currently, she’s campaigning to get me to stop blow drying and flat ironing my own hair because she feels I look “much prettier” when I just leave it alone. I’m not about to take beauty advice from a person whose personal style icon is Strawberry Shortcake, but I like the way she thinks.

I wasn’t so sure that my forcing Jasmin to let me straighten and “tame” her hair for a two-minute dance routine to “A Bushel and a Peck” wouldn’t send her a mixed message that something was wrong with her. Whether she grew up to wear regal dreadlocks or highlighted extensions a la Tyra Banks didn’t matter; a grown woman is free to change her hair as often as she pleases. What mattered to me most was that from an early age, my young daughter began loving herself for who she is, not the person society says she should become. From where I stood then, she was headed in the right direction.

The activist mom who sat on my left shoulder nudged me: “Go on girl, make Miss Debbie eat those words. How dare she hold your child to the outdated, platonic ideal of what a dancer is supposed to look like?”

But her counterpart, cynical mom, shouted from the other: “What are you going to do, hold a sit-in at the dress rehearsal?”

Then realist mom (the one who makes most of the decisions anyway) chimed in: “Of course not silly, it’s just hair.”

That night, after the kids were in bed, I put Miss Debbie’s red, white and blue Hee-Haw-meets-French Maid confection of a recital costume into a plastic bag and shoved it into a corner at the top of my closet. Maybe if Jasmin didn’t notice her costume was missing, she might not remember the performance. That way, if I woke up on the morning of the big day with butterflies in my stomach, and decided to take her to the Bronx Zoo instead, no tears would be shed - by either one of us.

About our MyBrownBaby contributor:

Meera Bowman-Johnson writes about pop-culture, parenting, politics and the place the three collide for The Root. She lives in Houston, Texas with her five-piece family band. This piece originally appeared on Anti-Racist Parent.

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