Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Few Good Moms

A few weeks ago I had a bunch of neighborhood kids and some family friends over; we were going to roast marshmallows later. One of my neighbors brought her daughter H (6) over to play with Amélie my four year old and said:

“I noticed C (8) is outside and we don’t want H playing with her, I don’t want any thing to rub off, so I’d rather Amélie come over to our house to play.”

I must have given her the “you have just sprouted two heads” look, because she continued on explaining.

“Well we tell H it is because of the age difference…you know…you have seen how she dresses…”

““First of all we have company, so it H wants to play she has to play here. Second, she is a child; she doesn’t buy her own clothes. Whether or not she picks them out, she doesn’t buy them.” I am still looking confused.

“…and have you noticed how much weight she has gained?”

My mind is reeling, I can be less than tactful when stating my opinions; she is my neighbor, I have a living room full of company who are listening and looking as stunned as I was and I couldn't just stand there mute.

“But she is a child she doesn’t buy the groceries either; you can’t ostracize a child for their parents’ lack of taste or poor judgment. She is a sweet girl, she is always polite and respectful, she doesn’t have behavior problems, she has never been anything other than kind and helpful over here. Has it occurred to you that a child like that needs your love and acceptance? Instead of worrying about something rubbing off on your child, you and your family’s values could be rubbing off on that child. That that child will inevitably grow up and have kids of her own and without having ever seen any alternant examples of how to live you are helping to ensure that she will follow the only example she knows? You don’t want H playing with her, I don’t agree with your rationale, but it is your right. I will respect your wishes.” I am sure she was just as confused as I was as she slunk out of my house leaving her child behind.

My friend and I breathed a sigh of relief as she said “I just don’t know how you just did that.” (She has known me for a long time.)

Now what I must say is yes, C’s family does bare a slight resemblance to the Clampett's. They are not the typical family in this neighborhood. Their love of tchotchke lawn crap that adorns their memorial garden that has been known to cover the front lawn in its entirety and mom’s bikini clad lawn mowing has more than raised some neighborhood association eyebrows. It has inspired a campaign of calling the city on any and every possible infraction of any city code, from the dog being off its leash to the height of the trailer parked in the back yard to the stickers all over their car. You can’t legislate taste, I don’t always get it but I’m sure they’re not really hurting anyone.

I have seen the way C dresses. No, I would not allow my child dress in mini skirt and a belly top and kid size high heels, no matter how badly she wanted to. And in all fairness on more than one occasion I have thought the only thing missing from C’s ensemble would be the red cup and cigarette, I do fear I see a pole in her future. But personally that makes me love her all the more.

At the point all of the kids came into the house to play, I had my eldest walk H home. The rest of the kids stayed, played, roasted marshmallows. All the while H was home, alone and untainted by the over weight eight year old in the belly shirt.

People who find out now that I was in group homes and foster homes growing up inevitably say “But you seem so normal now!” my curt reply is usually is “ahh! Don’t be fooled!” They didn’t see the years of rage, the drunkenness, the homelessness, the total lack of self respect, the self destruction, they see me as I am today and they have no idea what I went through to get here.

Now, my momma didn’t dress me funny and I was a pretty normal kid when I was back on Country Club Drive. I was just the kid whose parents were divorced and had a live-in housekeeper. But my kids and I owe a lot to those few good moms who feed me, loved me and who gave me another example to follow.

Maybe thirty three years from now C will pick up a loaf of whole wheat bread and remember me fondly.


Anonymous said...

I can not only scream witness to your pain, I shared it with you. Nice story. Love ya.

Patricia Moran Elements of Grace said...

You are in a special category of the people I love so much.
Thanks for having so much moxy. I remember your sister standing up for the next door neighbors, wonderful people who just happened to be from China, to an ignorant neighbor who referred them as "Ch*nks". I was beamingly proud of her that day as I am of you.

Annette W. said...

Wow! Good for you standing up!

Sunday Kofffon said...

Love Ya too Anonymous!
Thank you Patti and Annette!

Anastasia said...

What a ridiculous person. And what exactly is going to rub off? Does she think by hanging out with that girl that overweightness will rub off? Ridiculous.

Sunday Kofffon Taylor said...

Yes, that or there sense of style, I guess. Like I said I was in shock. My only hope is that maybe I gave her something to think about.

Anonymous said...

My Mom seemed to think like that when she was raising me. I was told I wasn't allowed to hang out with one of the two girls I was closest to when entering highschool. She went on to go to university with scholarships, and later became a nurse. As for the girl who I was allowed to hang out with, her future plans at graduation consisted of going to a bar and picking up an older man. What on earth made my Mom think she could judge how a kid would turn out based simply on how much money their parents had?

I think I'd rather follow the parenting example from one of my friend's Moms, who welcomed everyone over, and said she loved having them there because then she knew they were safe. Lots of kids I knew called her Mom and hugged her. That's the kind of Mom I wanna be one day.


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