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Halloween & The Dead with Kids

This October was my Dad’s 2nd birthday he didn’t have. He would have been 81, and on the 5th of October, my family and I build a shrine on our fireplace mantle to remember not only my Dad but others in our family including some pets who are no longer with us on earth.

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We started this tradition two years ago and it was the perfect time to talk about death with my then 2 and 4-year-old. It was also a great way to incorporate our culture as my Mom was born in Mexico and Offrendas are common at this time of year. Once we are done decorating the photos with candles, candies, and flowers we watch a movie. For my kids now 4 and 6, we still watch “The Book of Life”. It’s a cute cartoon about the transition of death but not scary at all. My kids enjoy the story and each year I think they pick up something different. It also starts the conversation about death and gives little kids the words and context to ask questions about death.

My son is more aware of death and even made me promise him I would never go skydiving again after he found out I’d done it twice. That said I still don’t think he understands it completely. Death is not easy to define and it is hard to talk about especially if you aren’t a religious family but, like me, do believe in a higher power.

I was raised catholic and I remember being very confused by death. One day my older brother found me playing with a dead bird in my dollhouse around age 5. It was the first talk I remember about death. I also remember being really confused as to why I couldn’t still play with the bird, as it was dead.

Research says a child’s understanding of death is broken down into 3 stages.

1-3 Years Old

At this age, kids don’t have the cognition to grasp what can’t be reversed.  They cannot grasp how death is final and can’t be undone. So kids at this age will talk about death as if it is just a trip or a car ride and they will come back once we find the right solution.

4-5 Years Old

At around age 4 kids start to learn that some things are not reversible. That said, about half still are learning this well into age 5. Even with this understanding that death is final kids around this age are still not able to grasp the magnitude of death and how they are no longer functional and can no longer do things that they could before.

6-7 Years Old

Every kid is different and those who have experienced more trauma and emotional events might understand death sooner. Around age 7 most kids understand death and that all living things will die. Still, some kids will think there are special groups of people who are protected from death, like family, friends, teachers and themselves.

73381173_417092529008880_6741290211495378944_nHave you talked about death with your kids?

Do share any tips or things to consider to help others who might be navigating this topic with a heavy heart. * L

 

 


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What the RACE

I usually do several book reviews in one post but most recently I got the privilege of reading a book so special it deserved its own post.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.

It’s probably worth mentioning, I would likely have never picked this book to read for myself. There is so much drama in the world right now,  and I usually read a book to escape or learn…

But I learned SO MUCH from this book!

Book

Since this is a book I most likely wouldn’t have picked up if it wasn’t for my awesome book club, Titles and Tangents, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of you would not either and that is why I wanted to write this post. Not to get you to buy the book, (but that would be awesome if you did,)  but at the very least I want you to be exposed to what I learned.

We are all privileged and if you really take a look at yourself you can do something powerful with that and make it a positive. What I like about this book is it doesn’t just tell the readers how and why we are privileged but actually give us something to do with it.

 

Step 1: Write down some of the ways you are privileged.

  • I was born and I live in America.
  • My skin color is white.
  • I’m employed and have a good job.
  • I have a car and can drive to work.
  • I can attend PTA and Parent Meetings at my kids’ schools.
  • I am happily married to a good partner.
  • My family has money and access to buy clean water and healthy foods.

Maybe your list looks different, maybe you feel safe running at night, or live in a good neighborhood, have a great group of friends, own your own home, know several languages, or are getting a college degree. No matter who you are we all have some advantage that we can leverage. Be honest with yourself and see how you are benefiting. Even a gay black woman who wrote this book recognized how she was also privileged.

All this said, I want to call out that this book just doesn’t talk about race, how we are privileged, what we are doing wrong, but also gives actionable things we can all do to make things better for everyone.

It is no longer just OK to ‘not be a racist’ but we need to be an ally, we need to be aware of the intersectionality we are placed in and use our privilege to benefit others.

 

Q: How can we do this?

At the PTA meeting and at school ask what the school is doing to around the school to prison pipeline? What their discipline procedures are? What is the school rate of expulsion for black, brown, and minority students? What is the school’s racial achievement gap and what is their plan to remediate it? As an ally and a white woman, I need to be asking these questions when I have the opportunity to be at the table as others might not have this privilege.

 

Step 2: Now take that list and make it actionable so you can be the ally to others who do not have this on their list.

To give you an example this is what mine looks like.

  • I was born and I live in America. So I can advocate for laws that help others who are not born in America have a good life here.
  • My skin color is white. So I am treated differently. I should use this to give others a voice and help elevate the issues around minorities that others might not be listening to.
  • I’m employed and have a good job. I can use that to help others get a job, network, open doors, and help them gain employment opportunities.
  • I can attend PTA and Parent Meetings at my kids’ schools. When I am there I can advocate for rules and regulations that support parents who can’t be there. I can suggest the meeting times be offered on different days or times so others can have the option to attend.
  • My family has money and access to buy clean water and healthy foods. I can buy snacks for the class, make food for others, and share to help people and families who can’t afford healthy foods.

 

Step 3: Educate yourself, listen, and be a true ally.

I get it, you aren’t a racist so why would you read this book. Because no matter who you are you don’t know the whole story. No one really does. So we all need to educate ourselves, listen without judgment, and be an ally to our fellow humans.

I’m not doing anything wrong, what more can I do?

It is almost Halloween and I’ve been there. I wanted to wear the sari I got in India for a wedding I attended. It’s beautiful and I love the culture and wanted to use it again. Thankfully a friend clued me in.

NO, it is not OK to dress up as a Mexican, African, Indian, or anything that is not what your culture is from and have the DNA in your blood. I know it is hard to think why your love for this culture is different and how you are not making fun of it but rather embracing it. I too have been there. The truth is you and your people did not suffer, you do not have stories in your family that make you cry about how they got treated. If you are not part of the hurt then you have no right to be part of the celebration. I see this now and I am happy Ijeoma mentions this in her book.

This is just a slice of what I found in the book and really hope you take the time to read it or listen to it. Educate, listen, and remember to think beyond yourself and how not being an ally is really just feeding the problem. It’s time for everyone to do more.

How are you doing more? Share in the comments and let’s be an ally. * L