apache | doctor | nurse | mom | teacher
My husband was the guy in charge of dropping the kids off at school until early this year, when I took over. It was my turn, really. It turns out it's a lot of fun- more fun than I realized. When I used to do it- when he was out of town or had a morning meeting- it was always something I had to fit into an already busy day, usually crammed into my commute. I hated it. But now that it's just part of my day, I am really enjoying it.
One of the things I like to do is send them off with a little note in their head, a little mom-ism. As they get out of the car, I'll say something, Coach Taylor style. I often contemplate actually saying, "Clear eyes! Full Hearts! Can't Lose!" to them, partly because they would have no idea where it came from and one day they would find out it was from Friday Night Lights and it would be just another one of those weird things that mom did. I don't say it, mostly because I never remember the full saying, and end up with something like "Clear Eyes! Empty Bowels! Can't Pee! uh... Have a great day! I love you!"
Today I told one child that he is going to rock and roll all night (and party every day). The other child was slow to get out of the car, so as he was gathering his things I started small, telling him he was going to "tear it apart." As he opened the door, he was going to "shred it!" (volume increases). By the time he was out of the car and slamming the door, I yelled after him that he would "rip their heads off!!!"
The second child- the shredder- his school has a rolling drop off. It is a preschool through 6th grade, so usually there is a teacher waiting by the door when he gets out of the car. They have discouraged us in the past from telling our children to "have a good day," because this is fairly meaningless. They encourage other positive sayings, like, "work hard!" I generally support this. I am not sure what they think of my supporting his use of violence to achieve this objective. It is a Montessori school, so...
We have been going skiing lately, the boys and I. The price of candy at the ski lodge is nearly equivalent to movie theater prices, so I like to bring our own when I remember. We still have Halloween candy, because my kids really only care about the hunt. Once Halloween is over, we have bags of candy that hang around the house for a few seasons until we shove it into plastic Easter eggs and give to our friends for their annual hunt. We do eat some of in the winter, packing it in the car to enjoy après ski during the car ride down the mountain (ahhh, the joys of living in a ski town. do you like how I so casually talk about going skiing like everyone does this? total #humblebrag, right? We are the NDN middle class and proud of it.). As a result of this whole candy situation, we currently have a gallon-sized ziplock bag of candy sitting on the backseat of my car. This means, when my kid opens the door at drive-through drop-off, the teachers at his Montessori hear his mother yelling some aggressive craziness as he climbs over a huge bag full of party-sized snickers and three musketeers treats, wrappers flying everywhere. I'm sure we leave a great impression.
Speaking of Halloween... Last fall I purchased a unicorn onesie from Target. I don't want to overstate just how wonderful, how magical this unicorn onesie is. White, with a big gold star in the middle and a hood bearing a ridiculously small horn and rainbow mane, and it is fleece so it's warm, double bonus. One day in October I wore it to drop the kids off at school. The older boy, he got into the car, looked at me and smiled. He was all in. The younger kid was completely distracted when he got into the car. His motivation for getting to the car in time for us to get to school is that he gets to play on the iPad, so he didn't even look. This means we were waiting in line for drop off at his school when he looked up and saw my unicorn horn. He got a very funny smile on his face.
"Why are you wearing that?"
I tried to play it cool. "What?" I replied. Like everyone wears a unicorn onesie to drop their kid off to school.
"That?!" He tried to look irritated, but fifth graders don't necessarily pull off the amused-yet-irritated thing well.
"I don't know what you mean?" I responded. "It was cold out, so I thought I would wear something a little warmer. You know, with a hood?"
He scoffed in mock disgust. Then he got out of the car for school. "Clear hearts! Open eyes! Be awesome!" I yelled after him. He pretended he didn't know the crazy woman driving his Lyft.
I went straight home and bought two more onesies. A unicorn is awesome. A unicorn, a dragon, and a raccoon? yesssssss.
I took my kids to see our local orchestra perform. It was a magical performance, the kind where you linger a few minutes after the house lights have gone up because you just don’t want the music to end. After it became clear that the volunteer ushers were tired of us wasting their time and they wanted to go home, sit down, and watch Matlock, we gathered our coats, gloves, programs, books, devices, hats, and the kitchen sink (we don't travel light), and headed toward the exit.
On the way to our car we passed a new bakery. I was still feeling a little high from the music and therefore generous, so I suggested we poke our heads in and see if there was anything we might enjoy- maybe to prolong the good feeling just a little longer, or maybe we could get something yummy for tomorrow’s breakfast. No croissants, but they did have a very appealing selection of macarons. We waited in the very short line, then each boy selected two macarons.
As I began the quick payment transaction, I noticed with only a small bit of irritation that I was standing along-side a woman who had maybe not noticed the line of people waiting for their turn? While we had patiently waited in line then worked with the shopkeeper, this woman had walked into the shop and went directly to the register to make her order. The woman was older than me by more than a few years. She had tastefully colored blond hair, cleanly applied is-it-or-isn't-it make-up, and she was wearing clothes that were comfortable, stylish, and flattering. It takes money to get the holy trinity of fashion- that combo does not come from Target.
The shopkeeper began to tell me what I owed him for the cookies when we heard the unmistakable sound of Native American drumming, some Native American men were drumming and singing- essentially busking- not far from the bakery, We could hear it in the shop, mixing in with the general street sounds of Santa Fe. People do this from time to time here, trying to make a little money from the tourists. The woman next to me whispered loudly to everyone in the bakery with that delighted wonder in her voice that tourists get when they believe like they’re experiencing something special, “There are Indians outside!”
Without pause, I responded, “They’re inside too…”
At this point, I was just trying to pay for my damn macarons. I handed my $20 over to the shop-keeper. The woman looked over to me with a surprised look on her face.
I waited a beat then added, “...we’re everywhere!”
The cashier counted out my change, stone-faced. I took my macarons, and we exited the shop. The kids were very excited, in an "OH SNAP!" kind of way. They were delighted, and smug.
I don't often have opportunities to actively confront racism in public, in front of my kids. This was one of those times where I could not stop myself. Although it is hard for me, I do feel it is my responsibility as a parent to demonstrate for my kids just what it means to be a merciless Indian savage. I only hope I will always step up to the challenge when the opportunities arise.
I'm a Chiricahua Fort Sill Apache Nurse Researcher. I write, speak, and think about health equity and parenting in our complicated world.
Views expressed here are my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.
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