Monday, August 22, 2016

Dear White Parents of Dark Children,

What will you do when she says her friend at playschool said she can't play with her because her skin is brown?

What will you do when that black guy at high school says out loud, "Light skinned girls are the most attractive?"

What will you do when she wishes she had your long flowing hair and your peach-coloured skin instead of her coils and curls and brown skin?

What will you do when as she brushes your silky, flowing hair she is sitting there wishing it was on her head?

What will you do when you find out she's been secretly bleaching her skin, avoiding the sun in order to fit in more with the world you've created for her?

What will you do when she imbibes the message from mainstream media that black is ugly and white is right?

It's not only about race.

It's about colourism too.

It's about how the light-skinned girls are allegedly fun and beautiful and the dark ones are boring and ugly.

It's about wanting to have light coloured babies instead of dark.

It's about being less than even the other black girls because she's darker.

It's about society and the devastating message being given to our daughters.

It's about our friendship circles not being diverse.

It's about her seeing white and light everywhere.

It's about her hair being the odd one out.

It's about not fitting in.

It's about her skin

But it's more.

It's about her identity and the trifling scales others use to measure her worth.

Black is beautiful.

She needs to hear it from you. She needs to see it in the adults around her who look like her andembrace themselves wholly. She needs to hear it from her father, or her uncles, or her grandfathers.

Black is beautiful.

Say it.

Because if you don't, your silence tells her what mainstreadm society is telling her.

"White is right.

And you're not white

You're not even light.

So you're not right."

And that's when the bleach comes out.

It has to stop.

I hoped it had.

But it hasn't.

Here. In South Africa. Today.

And to you, parents of light-skinned girls I have a question- Oh, well I guess I had more than "a" question! Oops ;-)

What are you teaching your daughter about embracing all skin tones? About standing for anyone who is abused or teased for their tone? About complimenting all skin tones? About telling the 'boy' who chose her based on her skin tone and not her personality about his shallowness?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Addendum to the Vegan Journey Post

And he learnt you can still have pizza, potato salad..and a scrambled meal. ;-)
Just not with 'normal' ingredients.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Reader Request: My Vegan Journey

Ahh, the past. I've been so busy talking about where we are today that how I got to where I am hasn't really figured. Someone asked if I could share my "vegan journey..." So here it is.

I grew up Seventh-Day Adventist. We had the books. My father was a pastor. But he never lived the health principles (nor others but that's not the focus today.) I think I only knew one person who was vegetarian, and he'd be all snide and ask why people were eating dead animals. Which it was, but you know... It sounds gross! :-)

I met my husband in 1999 and he was vegetarian. I thought he was crazy! Why would you not eat meat? It taste so good! But I started reading more of our church's books at the same time, books he had in his room, and slowly, something started shifting.

"I need to surrender everything to God. My body belongs to Him and therefore it needs to be the best it can be. Which means..HEALTH!" And so began my on and off vegetarian journey. (Chicken was my weakness for a year!)

Then... When I was pregnant with my son in 2005, I realised that our books called for veganism where there are protein options available. We lived in Kenya at the time and Nairobi had a shop selling tofu cheaply. What was to stop us going full vegan? My husband thought I was nuts. No more pizza? No more scrambled eggs? What about potato salad?

But like a good man, he agreed.

And so, the vegan journey began. We're not super strict. If we're in a village, we'll eat whatever is more balanced. When we were living in Tanzania and a widow gave us eggs as a token of gratitude for visiting and finding out how we could help her, we used them. B12 and all!  (Kids don't know! We mashed them up and hid them in their food.)

We use supplements, and make sure our rice and soy milk are supplemented. They also eat stuff like Morvite (I hate porridge) that is fortified, and drink stuff like Blackstrap Molasses for iron. Oh, we also have Spirulina and other superfoods.

Unlike others, we do have cacao instead of carob. Because I can't eat honey, we use brown sugar. That's another difference between us and other strict health reformers.

And I am less vegan than my family is because of my limited diet (IBS and FODMAP ) so I might sometimes have something FODMAP friendly but that has egg in it. Like..gluten-free muffins. And before you ask, I don't buy them often (Maybe once every 3 months) because they're so expensive! And I do NOT have time to bake. Right now with baby boy therapy and homeschooling and house chores and facet joint disease, our family is geared towards time-saving as much as possible.

Sorry it's so dry and kinda impersonal. Joys of being interrupted by little voices :-) I can hear one crying out there so I'll end now!

Hope that was at least a bit informative! It was indeed a journey. Nothing sudden or immediate about it.

Monday, August 15, 2016

"You're His Mom, You Know Him Best!"

On this journey, one thing I've noticed is the different reactions I've received. It started when I first started noticing that something was up with our little guy. Most people actually got it immediately, but one professional didn't. And two mothers didn't. Thankfully, I didn't believe them but still. When someone tells you, "Ag, all babies are different, it's normal" and you've had three babies beforehand, they actually come across as patronising. When another one tells you, "No, he's fine," they are implying that you are the one with the problem.

As a first time mom, I maybe would have stepped back and told myself I was seeing things.

So my first plea to people who listen to others' concerns is, don't discount what a mother says about her child. Especially if you haven't even taken the time to look at the child holistically. Mothers..KNOW! I know, what a novel idea. (Yes, obviously there are those who cry wolf erroneously, but better safe than sorry, where a human is involved.

Believe the mothers, they know their children best!

For the parents with concerns-

Then, we come to the picture below,. But before we do, we'll take a detour. Last week when the audiologist was talking about options for the next test, as I was telling her about my misgivings about my trying to put him to sleep naturally and hoping he'd stay asleep for a whole hour-all in a strange place-she said, 'You're his mom, you know him best." and left it up to me to decide the way forward.

That's true professionalism.

Does the boy in this picture look like he's crying?

When we arrived at the physiotherapist's at the start of this month, (Already blogged this before) I mentioned that I wasn't sure how long we'd last as our Little Guy is very anxious around strangers. Then obviously he started wailing. And resisting the exercises she was trying to do, actively trying to get away. She said he was crying because he didn't like the exercises and the feeling of not being in control. And I thought to myself, "I warned you that he'd cry and why!"

Later on, I told her while trying to rock him, "I was expecting him to cry like this, he doesn't like strangers." She didn't listen to me, his mom.

Near the end of the session, she said, "When he cries at home, don't stop doing these, and don't pick him up because he'll learn that crying will get him out of doing these."

I stopped bothering.

She wasn't listening.

To me.

His mom.

Needless to say, he's never cried at home. Whether I'm doing it or his daddy.

There are (hopefully, at least. I don't know where you live) many professionals who can do what the one unprofessional professional can do. If they don't listen to you, move on.

You're his mom (or dad) you know him best.

(In the photo, we're teaching him to use his feet firmly on the floor and to use his hands to balance if he feels he'll fall. No holding him above the knees allowed.)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

My Bible Thoughts

A couple of months ago, I was asked by a missionary, to write on their page. To write on their blog. So, for now, all my thoughts on various Bible topics will be HERE. Which is why you don't see many posts regarding my Bible thoughts in this blog. Those are there until further notice.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

We Knew, Didn't We?

I knew we were in trouble when the audiologist asked about our medical aid after we were done.
I knew we were in trouble when her tone softened.
I knew it.

But let me back up. I'm sure you're super interested in how the actual test went. (Not really, but hey, I might as well document it.) It was 'ok' this time. Went straight into the booth. We managed to do one test on his left ear and then he'd had enough so we moved onto a non-invasive one. Audiologist had to ask for her receptionist's assistance to keep him engaged but we got it done. Then tried the right ear but poor boy had had enough. He was done. So we left it.

As we sat and waited for the audiologist to review everything, I thought of how as we sat in the booth this time and last time, I'd hear the sound..and he'd not react at all and I'd think, "Come on Mickey, you can hear that, right?" But he couldn't. He couldn't. He never did. The lowest he reacted to was 30dB.

His middle ear is fine.

Re-tried the otoacoustic emissions one-that's the one he couldn't tolerate in either ear the first time, and only tolerated in the left ear. And yep, what we could see in the other test was visible there too. (That one basically tests the functioning of the cochlear.)

Something's up. Could be mild to moderate hearing loss, Could be one ear or both. His localisation in the booth was also suspicious. (Looking in the wrong direction for the sound)

So of course, there's more to come.

ABR test- This is a test that tests the cochlear and the ability of the brain itself to react to sound.

1) He could do an ABR while put to sleep by me. And have it carried out for an hour while he sleeps.

NOT GONNA HAPPEN. He's too 'sensitive' to fall asleep in a strange place, let alone STAY asleep for that long.

2) Have medical aid tell us if they'll pay for the test. The audiologist motivate with them for us. She's going to get in touch with a Dr Van Zyl at the Ear Institute in Bellville to "get the ball rolling."

3) If not, we'll have to go on the State system and hope the waiting list is not too, too long.

One of my friends likes to ask, "So how are YOU doing through all of this?"

I mentioned on my Facebook page recently that my mind is obviously not doing well. So absent-minded these days. I'm very protective of any quiet time I may have. Just want to be home and not thinking or talking. Just being-not very possible with my 4 blessings and a traveling husband.

I am tired and it's only the beginning. It's like everything we've put him through leads to more that he needs to go through. It's draining on the pocket but mostly on the heart and mind. I just want to protect him, but I can't. I need to help him.

Remember how a couple of months ago I wondered if my son was "broken?" I had NO clue that hearing would enter the equation. This has caught me off-guard. Totally. And so, I cried as I drove home until I realised my tears were making the white lines all wavy so I needed to woman up ( I said it!) and get home safely.

"Poor Micaiah. Poor little guy, when will he catch a break?

What if this test does show a problem, then what?

What if it's a progressive hearing loss and he ends up with a worse loss?

What about his other issues? Do I focus only on one thing at a time or continue bombarding him with stuff that leaves him emotionally drained week after week?

What do I do to help my son?"

 I should have known it from last week's test. But the result was from a behavioural one, so I hoped the other one would show us we had no reason to worry.

Nothing's simple, in this journey to solving the mystery that is my son.

But life isn't simple.

And the receptionist too. She was much softer. I guess hearing the audiologist talking to the Dr at the Ear Institute was enough of a clue to tell her we weren't leaving there with awesome news.

But you know, it's meant to be Thankful Thursday today. And I'm thankful that these two women were great. Professional but soft. Exactly what we need. Even when we were ten minutes over time and the next client was there. (Also helps that he was a lovely man.)

So if you or your child ever need an audiologist (God forbid) then you can see Elbe Boshoff near Bayside in Table View.

And now I want to cry again.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Raising a Christian

We were able to meet our daughter's birth mother on the day the foster mom gave our girl to us. She made it clear that having her raised by Christian parents was very important to her.

We also received one letter from her last year, in which she said she had been so happy to see how happy we were to receive our daughter.

And so in moments like these I wish I had her number to tell her how that's going. How she sings Christian songs randomly. How she randomly recites Ps 23:1. (Usually when we're about to pray and had already had her say a different scripture. Lol) How she sometimes sings (too loudly lol) at church so people can't miss her presence.

And I wish I could tell her that my heart is still just as happy today as it was that day.

This woman was such a strong woman as she sat there, telling us why she couldn't be a mother to our child. She rejoiced when I told her the Sotho name (Oarona) we had considered for our daughter before we knew about her. "It's exactly the same name!" Same in meaning as the Xhosa one-Owethu - she had chosen.)

And so, as we wait for her new documents to arrive, her name in seSotho is there. Not because we had always decided to use it. But because her birth mom liked the names and, that particular one, "Is the same."

I don't know how the future will pan out. I don't know if she'll ever send another letter like she'd promised. Or if thinking about it is too hard. Or if she's trying to forget she placed a child.

I don't know if the birth mom will meet when our daughter is 18. I don't know if our daughter will WANT to meet. I don't know if birth mom  be alive at that point anyway. I don't know much.

But I do know that in heart, at least until last year, she was/is OURS. All of US. Ke OA RONA kaofela. NgOWETHU sonke. Whether she'll acknowledge that in future or not. Whether like with other birth moms it will be too painful to talk about or not.

One girl... Two women.
A mother through birth.
A mother daily - and nightly ;-)

And if she grows up with a strong faith in Christ. I will be happy. That's all I want. For all my children.