dust of broken hearts: a lesson in parenting

I depart from my usual posting content to share a story with you. You see, I try to keep this place fun, lighthearted, interesting. But above all, I like to keep it honest. This is a post where I share some trials in the world of parenting.

It is nothing new when I say that kids can be some of the biggest assholes on the planet. Some kids don’t know better, or they were never shown how to be loving and kind. Some come from horrible home situations and in turn act out or take it out on other children. It’s almost of right of passage to encounter one of these kids in your lifetime.

Ever since Reza decided to shave the side of her head, she has told us about situations where kids (mostly older boys) make comments to her about it. That she “looks like a boy”.  We encourage her to defend herself in whatever way she seems fit and have stressed that we will never be mad at her if she gets in situations or altercations out of self defense. I will never punish her for standing up for herself or others.

For a while now, we have been noticing changes in her demeanor. Truth be told it happens quite often. As she grows up she continues to navigate down uncharted waters, with it come storms or smooth sails. These changes are usually par for the course, typical growing pains. We usually just say it’s “just the age” and when that happens we adjust how we handle it accordingly. But this was different.

All of a sudden our spunky girl was bottled up, withdrawn, moody, snappy, sassy. We are very in tune and when she isn’t herself it is pretty obvious something is going on. So I decided to ask her what troubled her. My first instinct was that she was getting bullied in school. Several weeks ago I was cleaning her bedroom, reorganizing her many books. I picked up one of her sketchbooks and this is the page it was opened up to…

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Try finding that amongst your child’s things and tell me your heart wouldn’t break a little. Mine did. Here’s this wonderful person who just happens to be a little quirky and other kids are using that unique light against her. Assholes. It’s funny because the defense mechanism kicks in and the first thing that comes to mind is, “who is this little shit so I can go open a can of whoop-ass”. You too? Ha. Luckily we talk to her A LOT about always being a kind person and owning her eccentricity. She brushes stuff off but even the strongest of fortresses can have a weak spot. Trust me, I know… she is just like me.

I never asked her about the drawing because I didn’t want her to feel I was snooping. We are very large proponents about giving her her space. I didn’t have it and I still remember how hurt I was when my privacy was violated by my Mother, even more when I had zero reasons for her to even cross that line. But the change was so drastic that I decided it was time to ask.

She did admit some kids have said things to her. When that happens we tell her how to cope, retort and the best ways to dish it back. But she insisted that wasn’t the “issue”. I was met with a lot of resistance. “I don’t want to talk about it” many times over. I asked all kinds of questions without being pushy but she insisted on staying mum but did say, “I would rather not tell you because I know it is going to make you mad”. You can imagine the kinds of shit that went through my head. Pair that with a very heavy heart because I just knew something was wrong and all of a sudden, I can’t fix it.

This is one of the hardest feelings in my life as a parent thus far. Sleepless nights, potty training, tantrums? All of that shit is trivial and pales in comparison to when you know something is wrong with your child and you feel they are beyond your help. That sense of helplessness is overwhelming, a knot in your gut that nothing will relieve. All of a sudden your Mommy Glue doesn’t work on this, not this time lady.

I didn’t press her. I talked to her teacher and nothing abnormal there. And then it hits me. She has asked questions about having boyfriends and we always respond with stern “not anytime soon girlie”. I bet this has something to do with a particular boy. As the evening rolled on, she broke out in an allergic reaction to something and while grilling her about what she did, ate, etc. I just told her that I can’t help or give her the right kind of advice if she isn’t going to talk to me.

And out it came. Yes, she does get poked at in school but nothing she doesn’t seem to be handling. This mood was heartbreak, a schoolgirl crush that is going unreciprocated. Shit. Look, I am not naive enough to think that my daughter isn’t going to develop feelings for another boy/girl/wherever she wants to go with it. I guess I didn’t expect this kind of thing so soon but nonetheless here we are. There were watery eyes as she sat in my lap and while stroking her hair I tried my best to band-aid it, telling her stories about all the times I got my heart stomped on by some boy who never even knew I existed or decided my friend was more interesting. We talked for a while about it and within minutes it was like the light came back in her eyes because she felt that safeness that comes from knowing you can tell your story without being judged, punished or humiliated.

This was a lesson for us too. We realized that by saying “no boyfriends anytime soon” and not explaining our reasonings, we pushed her into a corner where she felt she couldn’t talk about it with us. The idea of that alone is a bummer because that is not how we roll as a family. But hey, this is our first time go around with this parenting business and we are bound to make mistakes, right?

I share this for two reasons…

One? Think about that drawing and how it probably made her feel. She is one of many that has felt that way at the expense and hand of another. Kindness and acceptance are lacking in this world and it will never change unless we continue to educate ourselves and those coming up under our wings.

Two? I needed to put this somewhere, if anything to continue to remind me that communication is key. Talk to your nuggets about a lot, about everything, even the scary stuff, the things we hold back to spare them from growing up too fast… cause guess what? They’re going to and while you can’t give them all the answers, you can certainly give them the flashlights so the path isn’t so dark.

for posterity

A convo Reza and I had today.

We were leaving Target and there were two transexual/drag queens outside. As we walked by, one of them says, “I LOVE YOUR DAUGHTER’S HAIRCUT!!”
I smiled and thanked her as we walked to the car.
Reza says, “what did they say?”
“She said she liked your hair”.
“But that was a boy”
“But she is dressed like as a she, we address her as ‘she’ because thats who she wants to be”.
“Ok!”.

fruitful

In the past month I have taught/shown my daughter:

– The magic that is putting avocado in your sandwich – she fought me tooth and nail on this one but she got schooled! Now it’s a must.
– New watercolor techniques
– How to do the bump (the dance) to Shake Your Groove Thing, no less.
– More exposure to Prince, Madonna (the Material Girl era) and music that doesn’t suck.
– The skill every woman must know: always check for toilet paper prior to sitting your ass on the pot.
– Exposure to cosplay and how fun it can be
– How to own being different and not caring what other people think of her.

Granted, some of these will be continuous work in progress but still. She may not be in Summer camps but a month of her vacation has gone by and it has been very fruitful. Life lessons and all.

Adventures In Cosplay

This past weekend we attended the Santa Rosa Toy Con, a small, local convention all things toys. Most of them were vintage collector type stuff. It was nice to have something in town for a change!

Reza has recently been watching Heroes Of Cosplay on tv and because of it, she was all hung ho about going in costume. First time for everything! So I suggested we resurrect the witch costume from Halloween. So here we go, another hour of makeup application and we were off.

From the minute we walked in she was bombarded with people wanting to take her photo which she ate the hell up. Considering it was her first time in a Con environment she did pretty well with the attention. Wasn’t too overwhelmed.

A photographer from the local paper snatched her up and I just found the photo online… hilarity!
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Feeling a little confident she decided to enter the cosplay contest. There were lots of cool costumes so I had my apprehension on letting her but decided to roll with it. We prepped her for the inevitability of not winning anything and she understood it was about the fun, not the win.

She got make a model space shuttle, took photos with a ton of other people in costume and even got to ask Ernie Hudson a question at his panel since she is a big Ghostbusters fan. He was a little distracted by her skin color.

Contest time came around. She got up there, cackled and gave her best “I will get you my pretty! And your little dog too!” impression.

Wouldn’t you know, she won the kids category. Granted, there were only 5 kids total but still. You should have seen the look on her face when she won, fanning her eyes, trying not to cry. She was STOKED. She scored a certificate and $50 cash which she promptly spent on a Lego set the following day.

That face. It wasn’t about the prize or the win…. it was the confidence it instilled. She believed she could and she did. Priceless.

winner!

She is already talking about what her next cosplay costume is going to be. *sigh* I created a monster.

jumbalaya

Every Sunday morning I find myself in a ritual. After the girl and cats are fed, I like to sit down with my cup of coffee, listen to music and catch up on my blog feed on Bloglovin. On the music front I have been revisiting the Deftones catalog and listening to lots of Palms. If you haven’t heard the album by Palms (former members of Isis with Chino Moreno on vocals), you really should.

My desk is in the shambles at the moment right now, discarded blades, paper scraps from my most recent paper cut, papers everywhere. One of the felines is usually perched on my printer… today it was Judas.

I have been conceptualizing for a piece I am contributing to a show in July. Not sure if I am overthinking it or I am just too self critical but it is not going the direction I want it to. So frustrated with it really. Needless to say I decided to step away from it for a few days and hope I can come back to it with a refreshed perspective. They say your space is a reflection of your headspace and if that holds any water, well, it says a lot.

I did however make this cut out. I have a series of loteria/Halloween cards I want to do and this was the first of many ideas I have in my head. They’re very time (and blade) consuming.

Yesterday we drove out to Bodega Bay to take in the coast a little. It was cold for a beach day but it certainly didn’t stop Reza from sticking her feet in the water. You have no idea how nice it is to be near the Pacific Ocean again. I managed to rescue a couple of ladybugs, collected some shore treasures and aggravate the hell out of my already angry ankle and knee.

I came back feeling all kinds of defeated. I know that sounds awful but I just get so frustrated when my judas of a body won’t allow me to do the things I want to do. Simple shit like cardio, hiking… all on hold. Up until a couple of weeks ago I was on a routine and I was feeling much happier when I was more active. But then the pain kicks in and renders me limited since I have to lay low to prevent further injury. It fucking blows. Needless to say I am probably going to end up at the dr. again to reevaluate my ankle, I may need to go back to physical therapy or who knows what else.

On the good front, I acquired plane tickets to go to San Diego with Reza in late July. My parents are flying up from Mexico and my sister is coming in from Japan. I haven’t seen any of them since our brother died in February 2013. Reza hasn’t seen them since Summer 2012. It is long overdue… my parents are going to shit a brick when they see how tall Reza has gotten.

Speaking of Reza, this happened last week…

She has been badgering us for the head shaving for months and since Summer is here, we decided it was time to let it happen. She is starting to mature in places and we have to let her make decisions for herself…. corners turning left and right, we just have to let her drive while Josh and I guard rail for her.

It has been interesting experiment cause she loves it, but she has her insecurities and some kids have told her they don’t like it. I have really been working on her self esteem, teaching her that it doesn’t matter what other people think and she just needs to own it and own who she is.

“Besides baby, did the kids who told you it was bad have cool hair themselves?”
“No”
“Then why does it matter what they have to say?”
She nods with a smile.

The grandparents are going to *hate* her hair and no fucks are given.

the last day of first grade

Today is the last day of 1st grade. I can’t believe a whole school year flew by already… funny how fast it goes when you’re in a happier place.

Reza really turned a corner this year. Seriously. On the left was her first day of 1st grade and the right was this morning.

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Funny enough, I love to hear people argue about how uniforms stifle a child’s individuality. Oh, ok. Sorry, but even with the little accessories she has, you can already tell what kind of a kid she is.

In the past year she learned how to read, write and speak a lot French (with full on accent), showed an aptitude for math past her grade level, is doing very well with her spelling, writes beautifully in cursive and academically is pretty off the charts for her age. Through an awesome lunch program she also learned how to eat/try new things. I still can’t get her to eat a salad but she has opened up her palate to new things.

All things aside, we couldn’t be happier with her school. She has really thrived being surrounded by a wonderful, culturally diverse community of kids and parents. She has a place she fits in and you have no idea how happy that makes me after watching her get ostracized for being “different” when we were in NJ.

This week she brought home all kinds of workbooks that she used over the year. Her “journal” was my favorite cause it was full of art and little stories. This one had us laughing our asses off. We will make sure to show her this when she goes through her “I want to be vegetarian” teenager phase.

She made a lot of cool artwork but the notable Mona Lisa of the year goes to this wonderful rendition of the alien exploding out of the woman’s chest. Note: she has not seen the movie. Girl is all kinds of dark and twisty.

The other day they had a school Kermesse/Carnival. It was a free dress day and they got to play, get face painted and I guess there was a dress up photo booth. This came home the other day. Her hair is a hot mess and she will be getting a cut after school today. School’s out! Summer haircut will be in full effect.

She moves on 2nd grade with flying colors. Her behavior grades could have been a tap better but dude, she’s 7. You can only control a wild thing so much. She is the splinter off our bark… a tree that hauls ass down the freeway blasting Into The Groove and Goodbye Horses while the splinter sings along in the back seat and then we laugh at the nose pickers in their cars, who throws the goat, air guitars, loves Adventure Time, vampires and listens to The Hobbit audio book at bed time. That’s our girl.

But this…. when flipping through her journal, I came across this page she wrote the week of Mother’s Day. Needless to say I will be saving the whole book, but this page I will come back to a lot, especially on those days when I think she doesn’t like me anymore. These are the moments that make all the things I do, the work I put in, the things I gave up…. this right here makes it all worth it.

spooky art, costumes and back pain. oh my!

Excuse my quiet. Last week I seem to have picked up some funky bug that had me laid up for days with what felt like a horrible ear infection. I pretty much rode it out and it took all week. It was a real bummer cause I had to miss seeing Broods which we already had tickets for. Josh went though and he was nice enough to get the band to write me a little note.

On top of that I seem to have jacked up my lower back and no amount of chiropractic adjustments have helped. Today I broke down for a 90 minute massage and while relaxing, really hurt in spots. I hope some of whatever is going on back there gets hashed out, cause being in constant pain isn’t fun and makes me a pissy bitch. Add PMS to that. I am all kinds of fun.

This past weekend was Bats Day and I sat here with total Missing Out-itis. Mainly cause it would have been nice to see some friends, go to Disneyland and see how people responded to my artwork. Now that I am able to share, here are some work in progress shots of two of the pieces I submitted to the Haunted Icons show for Bats Day 2014. These were a lot of fun!

This one seems to be the favorite piece of the bunch which was actually two oval shaped frames and the silhouettes are reversed, meaning, I had a square piece of paper and cut out the negative space. I wish I had a better photo cause when I took the photos, I shot them facing each other. Derp. Their new owner is going to send me better pix soon. (Thanks Derek!)

The final, framed versions can be viewed over in my gallery.

Reza’s school participated in the Santa Rosa Luther Burbank Rose Parade this past weekend. She goes to a French immersion school and they have many kids representing all over the globe so they thought it would be cool to let them wear “cultural dress”. I decided Reza, who seems to think she isn’t Mexican (oh hell no), was going as a Dia De Los Muertos catrina. Two days, two craft stores, forever 21 and a glue gun later, I managed to get a decent costume out of the deal. 90 minutes of hair and make-up later, she was done. Boy did she eat the attention up… almost too much for her own good. Apparently lots of the local press were taking photos of them and can’t say I blame them cause their whole row was like a live action It’s A Small World. Oh boy, I just discovered she made the news. Ham.

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She is out of school next week. Already. Hard to believe I am the mom of a soon to be second grader. Where does the time go? DAMN.

wicked stitches

It’s funny how the world can be so small. Over the years I have made some very awesome connections, from all kinds of backgrounds and parts of the world. Designers, makers, models, artists of all kinds and I mean ALL KINDS, parents.. You name it I probably know someone who does it. Blogging has facilitated a lot of these connections that in many cases I probably wouldn’t have. In sharing my world, people in turn welcome me to theirs.

One of my long time e-friends Alyson hit me up last week and told me she had these rad dolls she had and was ready to pass on. She immediately thought of Reza and asked if I felt she would like them. One photo and I was sold. What I was not prepared for was when I opened the box to this…

DUDE. Reza was out at an Easter party when they arrived but when she saw them, it was instant love. Can’t say I blame her. The little couple are Azazel & Doyle. They came with those names. The priest didn’t have a name but Reza named him Constantine.

This is how I found her last night, piled up with her new spookies, her usual stack of books in the bed and her faithful tuxedo cat at her feet.

Funny enough, I shared them on Instagram and another one of my e-friends happened to know who made them. Small world. Apparently Brandon is retired from making them but his name was passed on, I dropped him a fb message to give him some kudos. After pleading my case of encouragement he says he may consider making them again… I said if he does, I want a nun.

And Alyson, who always manages to send me awesome boxes with goodies and dead things? Well, I got something planned for her cause awesome is only repaid with awesome. Thank you!

she may

As we were getting ready for bed last night I walked in to check on her one more time. This is what I found. She may be 7, use words bigger than her age, whip our asses at Monopoly on her second game ever, sass us like she is 13 and she may think she has it all figured out.

All I have to do is walk in to scenes such as this to realize that the little peanut is still in there somewhere. The peanut that insists on too many pillows, sleeping on top of all of her blankets in her Cinderella nightgown, on having books in the bed with her, her pillow pet, Build A Bear cat she named Brittany and her faithful sidekick Gomez, who will only sleep with her in this manner.

I hang on to moments like these.

Seven

It’s amazing how time flies when you are watching someone grow. I know. A complete and total cliche but you never really grasp it until you are actually living it. Yesterday, we celebrated Reza’s 7th birthday. *sniff*

Like every year, I find myself looking back on her baby photos, the ones where we were the new parents bringing home our one and only bundle of joy. It seems like so long ago. It is hard to not to fall into the sappy pools of nostalgia when you still remember the feeling, the way your world changed and how everything looked different through your eyes. I could try and put it into words but nothing I can say would ever do it justice.

Finding ourselves in yet another new city we chose to not celebrate with a party, no point when we do not know anyone and going to San Diego to be with our friends wasn’t in the cards this year. To our dismay we were met with a very disappointed daughter who really had her heart set on a party. Bust.

She woke up to a house clad with streamers, balloons, gifts and ice cream cake for breakfast. Unfortunately I have been battling some cold/flu business and wasn’t at the best of my game but I powered through it for her.

We spent the day as a family at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and gave her the best day we could. There were rides, feeding sea lions, cotton candy, getting drenched by dolphins and taking photos with zombies and vampires. A feat she braved like only our kid could. I think we did a good enough job cause at some point I heard “best birthday ever” and no mention of the party she didn’t get to have. I felt a lot better after that. No parent likes to feel like they let their nugget down after all.

It’s a trip to see how she has gone from a spiky haired newborn to the person she is now. Reza has really grown up into a pretty cool kid and I am not saying that just cause she is mine. She’s quirky, smart as a whip, creative, inquisitive, brave, bold and outspoken. Sometimes too much for our own good. Sure, she tests our patience to no limits but I would rather have a kid that knows how to question than one that will cower.

She is at an interesting age cause there are times I look at her and she is full on little lady status. That heartbreaking moment when you realize that she is one step ahead in her independence. Then sometimes she is still the hand holding, baby cheeked child, who still calls me mama and loves to goof around with her daddy.

I am so proud of this kid… sure, she makes me want to pull my hair out at times but every day with her is a gift… the gift of grey hairs! HA!

Ever growing, always evolving, forever laughing.

Happy 7th Reza. I love you lemon.