Shining Light: Words that Don’t Belong to Everyone

Monday, February 11th 2019

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Astonishingly, a School Committee Member in our town is currently under hot scrutiny for having said the full N*word out loud in front of a group of students In the turmoil that has ensued, of course there have been white ladies on the public forums bitching about why is it okay for black students to say the N*word around school all the time.   (Never mind that unlike the school committee member in question, the students using it are;  a) African American and b) children!)

Anyway, for deeper insight, here is a most beautiful 5-minute reflection on Words That Don’t Belong to Everyone.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on words that don’t belong to everyone | We Were Eight Years In Power Book Tour [4:58]:

 

In the words of one parent:

“I have heard loud and clear from Black friends and colleagues that under no circumstances should a white person use the N-word in full. Not reciting lyrics, not quoting poetry, not quoting a slur to denounce it, just no. I think that understanding the impact of it is important for those of us who want to have good discussions that do not inadvertently cause pain to our friends and neighbors. It’s a good idea to explain that to your children, too, that someone within a group may choose to “reclaim” a slur, and use it within the group, but people outside the group cannot do that because the context of words give them meaning.. It’s not reclaiming when used by a non-Black person. Also, many Black people do not use this word in any circumstances, either. I would suggest that as a ground rule for life, that we not use the N-word if we are not Black. 

“I recognize that the intent was not negative, but impact on the listener is different than what’s in your heart.” 

 

And in case it needs to be said,  NEVER WEAR BLACK FACE EITHER!!!

State Meeting – SNL [4:40]:

 

Thankful to be living in a more enlightened time than the one in which I was raised.  And DEFINITELY making sure my kids get the bulletins in this area!  Dang.


Posted in activism, childhood, education, fighting Fascism, global inequity, history, learning, mental health, parenting, politics, school, Shining Light, social justice, work | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Zachary 16th & Olivia’s 14th Birthday

Saturday, February 9th 2019

Happy Birthday Zachary and Olivia!

 

2019-02-09 Zachary 16th & Olivia’s 14th BDay [1:00]:

 

 

 

And thanks especially to Pops for being here, as always!  ♥♥♥

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Posted in childhood, comedy, cousins, evidence they get along, faith, family, food, Friendship, grandparenthood, health, love, mental health, money, parenthood, work-life balance | Leave a comment

Another Magical Time with ClaraJane

Thursday, Feb 7th 2019

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CJ waiting to be picked up in the school office;  “Hang on Mamma,          I just need to finish this book…”

 

Hard to believe these dental trips might end up among happy memories from this childhood, but they just may.

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Little Miss in the chair, whistling and waiting for her BFF Dentist. ❤

 

ClaraJane is surprisingly chipper after having anticipated THE 100TH DAY OF SCHOOL for weeks and then having a dental appointment in the middle of it.  She responds to Dr. Filstrup’s inquiries by telling her ALL ABOUT the 100 “Orbeez” (water beads) that she brought in the for the occasion; what orbeez are; all the experiments she has performed on them at home (too many to mention here).  My little scientist. ♥

Before long Dr. Filstrup is injecting the anaesthetic;  “Oh ClaraJane you came on a good day because we actually have a lot of new prizes that we didn’t have before.  I mean Edna, doesn’t that make you feel good when you open up the cabinet and see all those new prizes?  It makes me kind of excited, to see all these things lined up that we don’t normally see…”

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“Let’s take this out and give it a rinse.  You did it!  No more tight pushes.  You did it.  Hip hip hooray!  You’re doing a good job in there!”

 

I simply cannot say enough great things about Dr. Filstrup.  She is a Child Whisperer beyond the likes of which I have seen.  And that is coming from Jenny the Juggler.  I am great at coaxing kids through face painting, balloons, bunnies etc.  Dr. Filstrup makes it fun even when getting your TEETH DRILLED.

If you can believe that.

ClaraJane concurs, as we stop off for a quick treat at the bakery.

 

Now back to the 100th day of school, pronto.   And then back out for soup after school -plus money math practice- on our way to the doctor’s… and ack!   I have to stop taking photos of this creature today!

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ClaraJane + Mom

 

In conclusion:  “C + M.”


Posted in art, childhood, education, evidence they get along, faith, health, learning, love, mental health, parenthood, parenting, patience, school, work-life balance | Leave a comment

At Rise: The Secret of Life

Thursday, February 7th 2019

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AT RISE:  After an unusually stressful night, Gavin is looking like a brand new shiny chipper Boy this morning as he climbs in the front seat of the car.  ClaraJane is in the back.

Mom:  Wow.  (tussling his hair)  YOU’VE just had a dose of the ‘Secret of Life.’

Boy:  [looking puzzled] Huh?

Mom:  According to your Mom’s Mom anyway.  Remember last night when you were so stressed and I told you to go ahead and let it all out, don’t despair; you WILL feel better in the morning?

Boy:  Oh yeah, sleep!

Mom:  That’s right!  Nothing like a good night’s sleep as a cure for whatever ails ya.

Boy: [laughing]  Oh yeah!  I remember when we used to get in these huge fights, and I would go to bed and promise myself, ‘I’m still gonna be mad at her in the morning!‘  But then I would forget and I was never mad at you in the morning!

Gavin & ClaraJane:  Ha ha ha ha!

Mom: [not remembering that]  Heh heh heh… Yeah.

ClaraJane [from the backseat]:   Oh yeah!  And I remember Gavin when WE would get into huge fights and I would say, ‘I’M NEVER TALKING TO YOU A-GAIN!’  But then in the morning I’d always be talking to you again, ha ha ha ha!

All Three: [laughing]

Boy:  Yeah I remember that.  She’d say, ‘I’m never talking to you again!‘ and I’d say [reaching out for a handshake] ‘Ok great you want to make it a deal?’

ClaraJane:  Ha ha!

Boy:  But [changing to a forlorn tone] she never did.

All Three: 

SCENE.


Posted in At RISE, childhood, comedy, domestic life, evidence they get along, faith, family, forgiveness, health, learning, love, mental health, nature, parenthood, parenting, patience, siblings | 1 Comment

Parenting: Self-Actualized, Competent, Capable, Confident Adults

Wednesday, February 6th 2019

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As I am now on a journey to better understand how to deal partner with helicopter parents, I came across this wonderfully inspiring and succinct overview of How to Raise an Adult by Standford Dean Julie Lythcott-Haims.

Just the title alone warms my cockles as I have long asserted I do not aspire to raise children per se, but future adults!

Long-term risks of helicopter parenting [4:38]: 

 

And here’s her great Ted Talk;

How to raise successful kids — without over-parenting | Julie Lythcott-Haims [14:16]:

 

And this fascinating little quiz:

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“Our job as a parent is to put ourselves out of a job.” 

Imagine!


Posted in activism, animals, art, childhood, domestic life, education, faith, family, fight, health, history, learning, love, mental health, nature, parenthood, parenting, patience, school, work, work-life balance | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Secret Juggler: Oh What A Night

*Tuesday, February 6th 2019

 

“Jenny and Friends Tonight!”

 

BEGIN RANT.

So, last night* was the first time I incurred a complaint at the restaurant(s) where I have been working Kids Night every week for over 6 years now.   Fortunately I get along great with management, perhaps in part because of all the years of merry making and so many customers coming in to see me.

The poor woman who called asserted that I needed to be fired, slapped across the face, and am the rudest person she’s ever met.  Ironically, she’s never even met me.  She wasn’t even at the restaurant; she was calling on behalf of her *sister* who had come home complaining.  The irony of course is that the son/nephew/child in question -whose face I’d painted- had not just a great experience but a truly beautiful and transformative one.

Specifically, the child started out so unhappy and profoundly restless most of the evening.  Then he was so completely unsettled on my face painting stool, until I came up with a brand new accommodation for him that worked like magic.  (First time in 21 years I had a child hold onto my shoulders while I painted their face.)  All the stress went out of his body as his face and shoulders relaxed completely.  He was finally able to close his eyes gently and had all the patience in the world while I worked out the inane Sponge Bob on his face per mom’s insistence.

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What every child needs.

 

He loved it.  He was so proud of himself and I praised and fawned and reinforced that he should be (proud of himself).  After playfully admiring himself in the mirror for a while he turned to ask, “Where’s my mom?”  I escorted him back to their table and gushed how great he’d done.  When she took a photo it was in selfie mode and I could see the image so I jumped in for a playful photobomb.  I noticed the kid wasn’t smiling anymore.  It seems that’s the deal he’s got going with his mom.

You’d think she would have mentioned her son’s autism.  This was the thrust of the complaint by the way, “MY NEPHEW HAS AUTISM AND THAT FACE PAINTER IS THE RUDEST LADY I’VE EVER…”

Never in the evening did that come up.  Looking back it makes sense, and often I can tell since I work with kids on the spectrum so often.  Had I been informed, it would have changed little about how I handled the boy, besides making a more appropriate choice in fidget toy to help him settle.  But I would have been able to access a lot more empathy for the MOM as to why she felt so compelled to act the way she did; relentlessly dogging the child, feeding into his ennui and pre-empting any chance of my exploring a civil discourse with him.  Parenting is hard and I’m here to partner with parents.  Except when I can’t.

She was really no different from all the worst parents; ‘JOEY! WHAT D’YA WANT?  YA GONNA PAINT CHA FACE??  YOU WANT A TRAIN?  HOW BOUT A TRAIN?  TELL HER WHATCHA WANT!  YOU WANT SPONGE BOB?  SPONGE BOB ON YA FACE?  TELL HER YOU WANT SPONGE BOB ON YA FACE!!!…’

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Usually my response to this is to turn directly to the parent, hold out my hand, smile with eye contact and calmly say, “Hi. I’m Jenny!”   (subtext:  ‘Hey there now, how about let’s cut the shit?’)

Often they come unglued by this, embarrassed by the direct attention and start immediately scrambling to deflect to their child, ‘OH, UM… THIS IS JOSIE!!!!!!!!!!’  (subtext; “The absolute most special, totally unique like you don’t even know and only important thing in the world…”)

“Oh! Hi Josie,” then back to the parent, “How about you?  I’m Jenny.”

Through this simple but radical AF act, I am establishing that there is a distinction between the bleeping grownup and their CHILD.  Like, actual separate entities and shit.  Sadly I find many parents are unable to make this distinction –at all– in my (vast, vast) experience.

But I admit I was off my game last night.  The woman had plopped herself down in the middle of the Kids Zone to issue her directives, in BOTH my direction (face painting) and my partner’s direction (balloons).  When my partner offered a bunch of balloon suggestions including a race car, she told her son to get a TRAIN.  When my partner skillfully said, like, ‘Ehh, yeah or a race car, might be an idea…’  I admit I am guilty of turning to her and saying -as playfully as I could- “How DO you make a train out of  balloons?”

I do earnestly hope my tone was as playful and non-confrontational as I believe, but yes, the subtext of my statement was indeed, “Please lady how about you just STFU for ONE solitary second already?  Like, maybe we actually know how to do these jobs we are doing right here in front of you and if you just observed for two seconds we could show your kid a wonderful time …jerk!”

Now here is why I have no regrets;

#1)  It worked!  She DID, in fact, shut the fuck up.  (Hooray!)

In fact she LEFT to go back to her table, and that is when the incredible transformation of her previously anxious, hyperactive and very unhappy child was able to begin.

#2)  She (or her sister from back at home anyway) is the only one who’s complained about me here or at the other restaurant in over six years, so…

This is what I call a fluke.

Once is a fluke.  Twice is a pattern.  (Three times is a problem.)

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I’m sorry her son has autism.  In future I hope it maybe occurs to her to 1) Speak to the  professionals working with her child instead of just bossing the hell out of her child in front of them, and 2) Maybe share relevant information about him??

I’m also sorry she had such a miserable time.  Never mind that she had a lovely meal with two girlfriends, that their SIX kids had very good meals plus ice cream –for one dollar each– and were wonderfully entertained and all received fantastic balloons,  excellent face painting and fun attention from a couple of unique and fun seasoned professionals.  I’d even done some extra well-received subtle clowning around the table, had the kids in stitches, got them all to behave and led them in an adorable little train across the restaurant to the Kids Zone so all the moms could enjoy some GrownUp DownTime.  

(This was AFTER a full day of entertaining kids in the hospital no less.)

 

After speaking with management some more at the end of the night it was clear they were not at all ruffled by one maniacal phone call, and that dealing with crazies is part and parcel to the restaurant industry.  The head chef even joked, “At least we have Jenny to get rid of all our worst customers for us!”   (Not true, just funny.)  I’m so spoiled over in in my usual Jenny the Juggler bubble of sparkles, magic, art, love, adoration and adorableness that I mainly only see all the BEST customers!

PS:  There was also a part of the complaint claiming I was saying bad things about the child’s parent to the child.  Honestly this mystified me for a couple days, but upon further and further reflection I’m guessing this might be referring to the humor I sometimes use when kids ask me why the Kids Zone is just for kids. Sometimes I say things like, “Because grownups are the worst!”  Or more to the truth, “Because parents cannot be helpful here.”  I’m thinking this fabulous lady heard me say that stuff, cannot imagine that I TOO am a totally imperfect parent, is not versed in the practice of comedy with kids, and took it personally because you know, it’s all about her.  Or whatever.  Pfff.  

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But this night is not over.  I’m trying to get out of there when this very sweet, tiny little lonely man I know from the bar repeatedly tries to engage me in conversation.  (And yes he is short but I am referring to his mentality.)  Of course I am nice to him and give him my time, but his attempts at conversation are such spectacularly embarrassing and offensive failures I cannot even repeat them here.  “Believe me.”

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So I get out of that hell only to find there are yet two MORE tables with young kids seated in the dining room.  It is 9:30pm on a Tuesday, Kids Night has been over for an hour, I am all packed up and my partner has gone home.  Naturally I charm the hell out of all them with balloons and singing and stuff, grab my food and flee.  I am so innervated that I decide to take this selfie by the marquee outside that bears my name every Tuesday for over 6 years now, only to find I’ve been sporting a HUGE BLACK SMUDGE ACROSS MY FACE for the entire evening.  (See above.)  Not one person has said anything.  Not one.  Not a thing.  Not management, my partner, the friendly bartender, my little hostess bestie;  no kids, no parents, no waitstaff, no sad little man at the bar.  No one.

I remember accidentally grazing my face with my fine black brush during the FIRST face of the night and thinking, “Oop I better wipe that off,” and that was it.  SCORES of people I talked to after that.  I know my outfit and makeup are eccentric, but THIS looks like a deliberate choice??

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All I could do is shake my head at how paradoxically isolating performing can be, so much of the time.  And then jump into inexplicable 10pm traffic whilst shoving pasta in my face like the elegant pig I am in the car between gigs.

I make it home to Dear Hubsand, get DF outta costume and hit the couch.  Add beer plus cats and this is all I need.

END RANT.

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!

 


Posted in art, childhood, comedy, education, face painting, faith, fight, food, juggling, learning, love, making art, mental health, parenthood, patience, Performing Life, Secret Juggler, work, work-life balance | 2 Comments

The Wistful Notion of Sending Thank Yous

February 3rd 2019

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With this simple customized stationary -and parental assistance- my 4 year-old niece was able to send out THANK YOU notes in the aftermath of her early December birthday party.

As I write it is early February and my family hasn’t sent out anything.   With everything that’s going on so far this year I don’t know if/when we ever will.

Just a wistful notion for now.

It’s not like gratitude and appreciation and communication matter.   Oh wait…

 

 

Yeah they do.

Damn.

I’m such a better person in my head than in real life.


 

Posted in art, childhood, comedy, domestic life, faith, family, fighting Fascism, forgiveness, health, learning, love, making art, mental health, parenthood, patience, work, work-life balance | Leave a comment