Teach Me Teach

IMG_7089

I was sitting behind the reception desk, filing papers, answering the phone, and rubbing my pregnant belly when I decided to leave the workforce and return to school. Without consulting Rudy, I walked into the head-honcho’s office and verbally resigned, giving him two weeks to find my replacement.

Back then, I had allowed myself to somewhat give up on my education because combining a fulltime job and being a fulltime student had become overwhelming. Rudy and I needed me to work more than I needed school, so I temporarily dropped out.

Which meant, I soon discovered, that I was working for the sake of working. Simply showing up day-after-day, earning a bi-weekly paycheck. What I really was seeking, besides a monetary compensation, was the feeling of making a positive difference in someone’s life. I was six months pregnant, with our first child, when I quit the receptionist job, and found myself joyfully walking onto the local university’s campus, ready to fulfill my goals of earning a Bachelor’s of Arts degree.

My daughter was born the day after my first semester ended and on occasion, she continued to tag along, sitting in on lectures with me, quietly coloring or pretending to take notes, absorbing the value of an education. As a transfer student, it should have taken me two years to meet my goal but, being a new mother, I needed to balance my homelife with my academic one, so I cut back on my courseload, in order to accommodate both.

Ironically, after graduating, Rudy and I decided I needed to, once again, return to work. More focused, and determined not to give up, or give in, I found employment working with young children, which filled my days with satisfaction. Fulfilling my dreams of working with impressionable youth.

After three years of involving myself with preschool children, I once again gave my resignation notice, knowing that once-and-for-all I was going to complete the necessary steps it took to earn a Clear Professional Teaching Credential. I returned, to a different college campus, with my second-born, a son, holding my hand, as I walked him to the onsite children’s center, while his sister attended second grade at the near our home local public school.

A year of daytime, and nighttime classes, resulted in my receiving a credential. Finally, I would be able to structure a classroom not only filled with academics, but also a safe haven to instill a belief in all children that they are valuable.

Several years later, I became a student once again. Yet, this time, I was a student simply enhancing my skills as an educator. I had another personal goal to meet. I earned a Masters of Science degree, while attending to not only child 1 and child 2, but also while caring for my third, and final, child.

Not only am I happy that I pursued, and met, three major educational goals for myself, my hope is that I have instilled in my children to never let any obstacles block their way and that they live life the way they choose, regardless.

Roberto William

roberto baby

He was born with an abundant amount of hair. From the beginning I knew this small boy-child of mine was, and is, mine. He definitely possesses my looks, so I say. Everyone else seems to think he looks more like his dad. “Think what they want,” I tell myself. “He’s me.” Not only was the dark, newborn hair like mine, except for the fact that Roberto’s would stick up straight like blades of grass, but as the years passed, more and more of me – shrug it off-one day at a time-go with the flow-if it can’t be changed then move along-attitude flowed out of him. The way he thinks. About the world, and the people in it. Of course, his eyes match mine, only his somehow look more brilliant, and the shape of his face is definitely inherited from me.

Aside from Roberto’s mostly not completely predetermined mom’s DNA personality, he is himself. His own unique person.

roberto youngster

One of the most obvious stand-out physical attributes he has are his eyes. His blue, blue eyes. The stops and stares began way before he could understand the compliments people tossed his way, admiration of his Paul Newman eyes. “He has the most beautiful eyes…,” they’d say. I agreed with all those wow compliments, yet I always made sure to tailgate them. “He also is such a nice boy, and so smart, too.” I didn’t want him to grow up thinking it was his handsome face, his pretty eyes that would take him safely through life. No. I wanted to ensure he knew how to stand strong. As a person. Less so as a look. As he grew, began to understand what people were saying to him, he also began to roll those baby blues. He’d heard enough. He wished he could paint them brown. Just to stop people from saying anything.

When he was about four and a half years old, I would drag him along with me to watch his only sis cheer for the local pee-wee football team. I soon realized that it wasn’t a drag for him, it was the beginning of a booming talent. Entertaining people, without trying to.

While the little girls were dressed to the tee in their white and dark blue cheerleading outfits, standing in front of all the adoring parents, he stood off to the side. Far enough away so that the crowd didn’t spend their time confused wondering if he was part of the cheer squad yet, close enough to copy exactly what moves the girls made, the shouts they cheered.

Roberto stood there. Or, no he didn’t. He really moved to the music. He never just stood. It was the girls who should have been pumping up the crowd but it really was him who brought smiles and laughter to the field on those fall mornings. The cheerleaders spun, bent, jumped, shouted, tossed, ran, raised arms, clapped. They did what cheerleaders do. Cheer.

roberto

So did he. He cheered. Wearing his jeans and a neatly tucked in t-shirt. Little did anyone realize that during practices, before the big game, he was watching every move. Every must do it right move. He practiced. And practiced some more.

He was the entertainment. Sometimes even more entertaining than the game itself.

roberto2

Not much later as a group of girls danced to the Spice Girls in the garage, he would take over the show. Steal the limelight. Not intentionally, he just did. He was Mr. Personality. When the youngsters decided to perform for the other families in the neighborhood he was center stage, singing and dancing. The girls dancing and singing behind him joyfully laughed along with everyone else.

roberto's shredded pants

I remember once upon a time, Roberto was just a young 6 or 7 year old, when he decided it would be cool to shred the bottom portion of his jeans. Let his personality take over, I believed. Creative, artistic, funky jeans were all the rage for him that year. So creative. So cool. So him. He wore them everywhere. I thought it was fantastic. His ingenious idea.

bano roberto

The garage bathroom door needed to be painted. “Let me do it,” he said, the lilt in his words told me it was really a question. I took the door off its hinges. Removed the doorknob. Lay it flat on the ground. After I painted the background an ocean blue and let it dry he began drawing using a pencil. For whatever reason, I never asked, he drew a picture of his dad and his sister holding hands. He wrote the word el baño on the top portion. For his dad. He speaks Spanish.

Roberto has always been an interesting character. A unique one. Someone everyone should be so lucky to share their life with. I watch him. Admire him. Am proud of him.

roberto4

As a young adult now, he truly does appreciate his good looks, his big blue eyes yet it’s his kindness, his spark for life, his energy, his personality that he really likes about himself. I do too. While he is lovely to look at, it’s his concern for everything that I am most content with.

roberto3

 

My Daughter, My Friend

Elizabeth Cecilia

me and liz, 2011

“Who are you looking for?” the unfamiliar preschool teacher asked me. “Elizabeth,” I responded. Miss I can’t remember her name checked me out, looked me up and down, and stated rather bluntly, “Are you her babysitter?” Surely, you pale-skinned and overly-done blond-haired person belong to some other kid, she seemed to be thinking. “I’m her mom,” I said, with a smile. “She’s mine. Definitely my daughter.” Elizabeth ran toward me wearing clothes full of dirt, her dark hair dangling into her face, her small hands pushing it away. Elizabeth’s olive-toned skin glistened in the sunshine.

elizabeth, baby girl

The first time I took Liz out into the world it was her spirit and her happy smile that caused people, generally women and young kids, to claim “She’s so beautiful” and “She must resemble her dad”. I laughed and wrapped those compliments around my expanding heart and admitted that, Yes, she got her father’s Honduran looks. Little girls and boys would hold Elizabeth’s hands, touched her baby-soft skin and coo to her. All she had to do was smile and the people fell in love.

little liz

When Liz grew into a toddling child I had purchased a variety of my style clothing. 6 outfits in all. I figured if she didn’t look like me, maybe she could at least dress like me. I put one outfit on her after another. And click click went the camera. There was something dark-purple with polka dots and lime green tights, pin-striped blue-and-white overalls, a light pink like cotton candy sweatshirt dress, a barely there pink jumpsuit, a second jumpsuit, this time green, and turquoise shorts topped with a tie-dyed all the rage t-shirt.

Well, in the end, dressing like me didn’t pan out too well because as she grew older, I quickly discovered, for the most part, Liz’s choice of clothing is the opposite of mine. I wear jeans, t-shirts, and either a sweatshirt or a cardigan all the time. My hair is always pulled back. She prefers dresses. She allows her hair to flow gracefully over her shoulder.

I like the comfort of tennis shoes. Elizabeth? Heels.

How about when it comes to exercise? I love, and I mean love, to wear baggy too big for me workout gear. Liz? Well, of course, everything is fitted nicely and looks so modern. So hip.

So, it may seem that Elizabeth and I are different. In looks, sure. Clothing, yeah. Mostly. But in how we feel about each other. We are equals. I love her. More deeply than she will ever know. She loves me, unconditionally. Faithfully. This world is a better place because Liz is in it. Her smile enhances life as we know it daily. Elizabeth is my daughter. Elizabeth is my friend.

Dear Elizabeth,

I brought you home with me, 27 years and seven months ago. I held you in my arms while you slept. Fed you when you cried. Bathed you, soothed you. Your smile has grown with you, never wavering. You have maintained a kindness I wish the whole world could embrace and make their own. When you were a young girl, you would hold my hand – knowing I would always be by your side, guiding you. You looked up at me with a love I had never known before, a love only a child can give. So innocent, yet full of life. As you grew into your teens, you continued to open up to me, let me be a part of your life. You trusted me, I trusted you. I cherished the fact that you would come to me, talk to me, tell me everything knowing I would help you figure things out. You, Elizabeth, have made mothering a wonderful experience for me. I am very proud of the road you travel. The calmness you possess. The friendships you hold close. The love you share. Everyone should have an Elizabeth in their life.

I Love You truly,

MOM

P.S. Hug me all you want. Warmth is a wonderful feeling.

#tb 5 years ago…

Bradford Ramon Antonio, age 11

brad 2011

There he sleeps, that child of mine. I’m sure he’s dreaming about all the things he wants to do in his young life. His innocent life. His right-now life.

Sunrise to sunset, that kid is on-the-go either physically, or mentally, or (of course) both those things at once.

The minute he hops out of bed, he puts on his favorite baseball cap. Angels! At the same time his feet begin to shuffle. Swish! He slides his left foot across the wooden floor, kicking it straight out in front of him. While that foot dangles in the air he quickly raises his knee, and just as quick he stomps that foot back down. The other foot takes its turn and begins to also stamp. Now both feet are shuffling back and forth. He spins his body, grabs the brim of his cap and twirls it backward, then forward again in a rapid, smoothly-planned motion. His whole body is moving. His feet are gliding, stamping, and being raised high off the ground. The techno music in his head eventually stops, so then does his dancing.

He settles on the couch, waiting for a hot cup of tea. While he waits, his fingers, all ten of them, begin to intertwine. His hands move as if they are dancing. A hand dance. His arms shoot out as his hands continue to twirl, round and round. His arms twist around each other, like slithering snakes; his fingers continue to lace loosely together, then apart, and his arms maintain their own motions, to ensure that the fluidity of the dance is just right. The hand ballet stops when he reaches for the sugar-and-milk-filled cup of tea.

He’s a DJ. He uses the computer to spin a record, to jumble the original music in an interesting way. He adds voice overtones to create definition, character to the song. The techno music adds a certain flavor to the whole effect. He works it, over and over, in various ways. Both his hands are moving rapidly, spinning up, spinning down, spinning to the right, spinning to the left. Then his feet begin to shuffle. All his skills are joined together into one fantastic show. His motions don’t stop until the music does yet, his heart still sings. He knows his skills are working, working the crowd. He knows because they all scream for more.

So sleep well, my son, sleep well. Dream your dreams. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is another day you can move. Another day to perfect your real-life ambitions.

At the End of the Day

family photos

I was lounging. In my room. Reading. Reading a few chapters. Of the young adult novel I had heard about. Wanted to see for myself if the storyline was indeed intriguing.

Noticing the sun falling slowly down. Out of view. I wanted to make sure the house was locked up, lights off, before my evening ended. Before the kids retired to their rooms for the night.

The pile of clothes on the living room floor, at the feet of my kid, bothered me. The empty five gallon water bottles near the front door, waiting to be filled, by someone willing to drive to the local water machine, irked me. And the full of dishes sink threw my mood for a loop.

“Geez!” I started. “Why is it that I just can’t get the help I need?” I eyeballed my two old enough kids. “I guess asking nice, even writing down what I want done, just doesn’t work!” I began to yell. “I’m not the only one who lives here. We all need to contribute!”

Blah, Blah, Blah is probably all the kids heard.
I was sure of it.

I picked up the water bottles and slammed out the front door. Sped off to fill them. Then returned home again. Still angry. One kid stood to help me as I stepped over the threshold of the front door. “Don’t bother,” I snapped. “I can do it all, as usual.” I plopped a water bottle onto the dispenser, splashing a bit of water onto the floor. The other bottle, I dropped onto a table, in the garage, as my other kid just stared at me. Not sure what to say.

I went to the kitchen to do the dishes. Clinking them into the dishwasher. Hard. Hoping I wouldn’t break anything.

Yet, didn’t care.

The clothes in the living room? I left alone. I was at a boiling point as I stormed back to my room. Slammed the door. Sprawled on the bed. I breathed deeply. Sighed. Then lay my head down. Sideways.

Feeling a bit calmer. A few hours later. I returned to the living room. To recheck the door locks. “Sorry, Mom,” the kids tried. I just nodded. Tried to smile. Noticed the clothes had been discarded. Somewhere. Couch blankets folded.

“Goodnight,” I mumbled.

I went back to my own room. To read another chapter. To sleep off my bad mood.

At the end of the day, I know tomorrow will be another beginning.

california weather = arkansas heat

brad AR 2012

today, on this stagnant CA day, a day weighed down by extreme heat

i was reminded of 2012

when brad and i took a walk, on a stagnant arkansas day, a day weighed down by extreme heat

when we were

red faced and sweating

trotting along, in plus 100 degrees, hiking up a trail, trudging down again

I am the Mother of a Gay Son

rainbow flagI heard my 7 year old child quietly crying. Roberto was wiping the tears from watery eyes. I wondered if I should say something. “Give him a minute,” I told myself. “Let him have a moment. Everyone needs a moment to work through their grief.”

As his breathing slowed and tears were blotted dry, I asked Roberto, a sweet innocent person, “Are you okay? You seem very sad.” Deep breaths, interrupted with quick short sniffles. “Heave-ho,” his chest physically vibrated.
“Some kids said I was gay.”
“Gay? Doesn’t gay mean happy?” I asked, allowing him to control the conversation.
“Yes, I think so, but… they meant boys-like-boys, girls-like-girls gay.”
“Why did they say that to you, why do you think?” I wondered.
“I don’t know. One of them said that the color of my eyes were not like theirs so I must be gay.”
The adult in me simply said, “They are just uneducated, uninformed”. The feeling miffed person said, “Ignore them.”

Gaily, life went on. Mostly, Roberto enjoyed happy days, with many days trying to figure out what life means – only in a way a young child is capable of.

___

I heard my 12 year old quietly crying. Roberto, almost a teen, was wiping the tears from watery eyes. I wondered if I should say something. “Give him a minute,” I told myself. “Let him have a moment. Everyone needs a moment to work through their grief.”

As his breathing slowed and tears were blotted dry, I asked Roberto, not so small, not quite a grown person, “Are you okay? You seem very sad.” Deep breaths, interrupted with quick short sniffles. “Heave-ho,” his chest physically vibrated.
“Some kids said I was gay.”
Why did they say that to you, why do you think?” I wondered.
“I don’t know. Some of the kids think I am different. One day someone is my friend, the next day they don’t talk to me”.
“How does that make you feel?,” I questioned.
“I feel bad. I just want a friend I can trust, be myself with.”
The adult in me simply said, “Just be patient. Somewhere, a friend is waiting in the wings“. The feeling miffed person said, “Ignore them.”

Gaily, life went on. Mostly, Roberto enjoyed happy days, with many days trying to figure out what life means – only in a way a preteen is capable of.

___

I heard my 17 year old quietly crying. Roberto was wiping the tears from watery eyes. I wondered if I should say something. “Give him a minute,” I told myself. “Let him have a moment. Everyone needs a moment to work through their grief.”

As his breathing slowed and tears were blotted dry, I asked Roberto, close to being an adult, “Are you okay? You seem very sad.” Deep breaths, interrupted with quick short sniffles. “Heave-ho,” his chest physically vibrated.

“I don’t want to ruin the dynamics of a nuclear family. I don’t want to disappoint anyone,” Roberto emotionally forced the words out of rather strong vocal cords.
“Why do you say that?” I soothingly asked, already knowing the answer.
“I am gay,” he stated, voice quivering. He fell to the floor, emotionally overwhelmed.
I knelt next to Roberto, told him to always be true, true to who he is.

Gaily, life went on. Mostly, Roberto enjoyed happy days, with many days trying to figure out what life means – only in a way a close to being an adult teen is capable of.

____

I heard my adult son, laughing happily, content with who he is. Knowing his family supports him no matter what, a family who doesn’t judge him based on who he chooses as a partner, but rather a family who embraces his warmth, his kindness, his love, and his life, without conditions.

#selfie

meThumbsUp

I learned early on, without being told, that I had to look out for myself. To be independent. Somehow I knew that if I wanted to get anything done, I had to do it without help.

I was the tenth child born into my family, so my arrival was most likely nothing too exciting for my nine brothers and my teenage sister. They most likely had other things on their minds, something else besides another baby in the house.

As I grew, I learned that anything I hoped for had to happen because I wanted it to occur.

I remember being young, but old enough to ride a bike out on the street, in front of the house. One day, I experienced my first flat tire, and wasn’t sure what to do about it. None of my brothers was around to help, or just didn’t feel like it, so I searched high and low, looking for a patch kit to repair the inner tube. Right there, in that garage of ours, and using my common sense, I managed to pry the tire away from the metal rim by using a flathead screwdriver, pull out the tube, fill it with air, dip it into a container of water, and look for bubbles. I then patched the hole, returned the tube to the inside of the tire, secured it to the rim, and filled the patched tube with air. The tire was bolted back onto the bike’s frame and I rode off. I was so proud of myself for accomplishing something I knew nothing about. I felt very independent and at that moment realized I didn’t need anyone’s help, with anything. Me, Daphne Anne, was very capable of getting things done.

My independence deepened, which affected the way I molded my life, when I found my first job, at age 16. Like any young kid wanting to work, I wanted my own money to spend the way I chose. But more so, I assumed I must have been a financial burden to my parents, and I wanted to ease any stress they may had been feeling, having to find extra cash for this or that. Therefore, I, first and foremost, will always depend on me and rarely ask for help. Which many might say is a fault I should ease up on. But, I’d say, it’s a personal fault I can deal with.

valuable values

i value my parents, and how they modeled what it means to be a good person

i value love, patience, understanding
happiness, health

family, friendships, relationships

diversity, freedom, independence

nature

warmth
kindness
smiling faces

children and cats

i value simplicity
living like there is no tomorrow
teachable moments
making a difference in someone’s life

i value laughter, loud cheerful laughter

i value quietness

i value rudy, liz, roberto, and brad

i value me, the mirrored me
public and private

i value honesty
open-mindedness
concern for humanity

kisses
caresses
and hugs

i value life

A boy.

brad at newport 2012

A boy.
Stood.
Looking out to sea.
Wondering.
If.
He’d ever go back in.
Into the water.

He wants to.
But.
He’s scared.
Because.
When he was younger.
The ocean tried to swallow him up.
When he was just playing.
Splashing in the waves.

That boy.
Was pulled under.
Tossed around.
Until finally.
He was spit back out.
By the teasing sea.

Since then.
The boy will not even allow.
The foaming waves.
To lap his toes.
Not at all.

Not yet.