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Friday, July 22, 2011

Hood Tendencies Part 1

Daddy's girl.
One of my earliest memories of Echo Park is throwing up a gang sign to a guy turning the corner in his car.  My proud Father thought it was hilarious, but asked me to stop.  Yelling, my mom warned me that we could all be shot and killed if the wrong person had seen that.  I was a little scared, but knowing folks with fun nicknames like Cricket, Cowboy, and Caveman made gang-life seem imaginary and harmless to four year old Panquetzani.  People get shot, abused, pregnant, imprisoned, stuck on drugs, and I lost friends.  The juvenile, romantic view of gang life fades away and reality sets in.

I love my community, but I am working toward a different lifestyle.  Despite this, the effects of growing up in an urban, post-colonial setting haunt the core of who I am, making 'hood tendencies my friendly charm but also my enemy.

My 'Hood moment yesterday showed me just how much harder I need to work at deconstructing and decolonizing myself in order to have healthy communication with the family I love so much.  The victim: my 21 year old, annoying brother, who likes to spend weekends free loading at my house, verbally and emotionally abusing my kids, expecting me to cater to him like he's in a 5-star hotel.  He accuses me of slavery when I ask him to contribute- but that's not all.

Scenario: We're at my mom's house. I'm making sandwiches for everyone, while my baby cries.  My brother finally picks him up (after I asked him several times), holding him in front of the television.  Iztix is perched on his leg, being supported by one hand, because the remote control is in the other.
"Tots, hold him right, please.  That's not the way you hold a baby", I tell him.  He's good at blocking people out, and poor Itzix continues crying.

Exacerbated, I snatch Itzix and verbally attack his half-ass attempt to contribute.  He tells me to shut the fuck up, and I ask him to tell me why he's angry.  "You're a spoiled little bitch!", he mouths.  In disbelief and disappointment, I silently pack some food, my stuff, my baby, and head to my car.  Stubbornly, he picks at me, and I lose it.  I get tunnel vision and see myself choking him out- I stop myself, yelling at his face instead.  "Look at how you're acting, Oh my god!", he holds up his phone and I snatch it from his hands.  Breaking it in half, I throw one half outside the house, the other above my head as I walk away.  He keeps following me, mouthing sarcastic remarks like "Oh, where's your non-violent parenting class, now, huh?".  In some order, I screamed back "You're an asshole!  Get the fuck away from my car" and "Don't come to Long Beach!".

I can't remember the last time I went this crazy!  I cried afterward, giggled a little, called my husband, and felt better.  I plan on writing a letter to my brother, who was on his all too familiar un-medicated bipolar low.  Violence is everywhere, but it shouldn't be used where non-violent communication can be productive.  I want to have a healthy relationship with all of my family members, and provide the healthy model for my children that I lacked.  Echo Parque, you were good to me...but DANG...I have to be good to me now.

1990, Echo Park. Playing with our pit-bull puppies in matching LA Raiders outfits.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Honoring Baby's Wisdom

As I held four month old Itzix in my arms, from the living room on my way to the bedroom, he stared about intently.  Passing by the bathroom, he gazed in through the open door, flailing his arms and legs.  Recognizing his vocalization as an "I want that, Mama!", I immediately and instinctively stopped in my tracks, observing my surroundings for what he wanted.

Embracing my four month old, in his birthday suit.
Keeping his eyes on the bathroom, he continued waving and vocalizing.  "Oh! Quieres hacer pipi en la potty?" I delightedly squatted him over, and he released his squirmy tension with a stream of urine.  I shake him off gently, and as I place him back on my chest, I take a moment to honor his innate ability to communicate his needs to me clearly.  Recognizing the bathroom as the place of elimination is a huge milestone in infant pottying.  Naturally, I am proud, and we celebrate.

"¡Te gusta hacer pipi en el baño! ¿ve'da', Itzix? SI, di que si...", I playfully sing.  Every mother has attunement to her baby, by natural law.  Moments of sharing wisdom and affection during my hectic days are the golden moments of our short time together as mama and baby.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Eczema= Bad Mom

Investigating our emotions through funny faces.

Akinyemi's last outbreak of eczema was at two months old.  Since then, we have been on a strict dairy, egg, red meat, and shellfish- free diet (pork has never been in our diet for other health concerns).  He has balanced meals, takes Vitamins, Supplements, Superfoods, gets plenty of Sun, and avoids sugar, refined carbs, processed, or junk foods.
A healthy snack! Home made paleta: chia, piña, orange, lemon, peppermint.

Sometimes I forget how much of an impact our emotional/psychological health makes in our daily lives.  Since the birth of my second son, I haven't made enough time to sit with my son, and explain how our roles are all changing, how our lives have been enriched, and how my lack of time for him has nothing to do with how much I love him.

The worst part (although still mild), his thumb.

His little scratchy skin is his way of reminding me not to snap, not to scream, or not to give him that extra little squeeze or shove.  He's two and a half and deserves nothing but empathy, affection, and protection.  It's a physical reminder for my absent-mindedness and neglect to find sufficient methods of resolving difficult situations and feelings he has never encountered. 

So what am I going to do? We'll start by making books with him, have some puppet shows, and help him regulate and express emotions his emotions through art.   My family is always supportive, and I've slowed down our days, so I have time to whole-heartedly exhibit empathy.

Essential oil bath before bed.
He hasn't complained at all about his eczema, but it's slowly spreading.  I apply patchouli essential oil to his thumb, where it's the worst, rub him down with shea butter, and give him relaxing herbal/essential oil baths before bed.  

On the nutritive side, he's continuing his probiotics, and he was on an immune booster for ten days.  Since he hates his Omega supplement by the spoon, I am searching for a gummy one, with cod liver oil.  I drizzle a little coconut oil on his food for the medium chain fatty acids (great for skin), and sometimes spread a tad on his skin.

His diet, when I am in complete control of it, is alkaline, and we take liquid chlorophyll.  Lately, he's been nursing more, and only wants to eat fruit.  I figure it's okay, some of the time, since his food preferences change so often.  At night he'll have his tesito: manzanilla; canela; yerba buena; or whatever I'm having.

Ultimately, my job is to help Akinyemi regulate his stress, a common trigger, and nurture him in every possible way.  Every mom wants optimal conditions for her children.  "We do the best with what we have", is what many moms utter.  Right now, I have a rashy two and a half year old who wants my undivided attention, a holistic medicine cabinet, and mother's intuition.