Mama, go space?

April 22, 2009

All week, Little Bear has been asking, “Mama, go space?”  If I ask him a follow up question, or don’t respond immediately (because, say, I’m already in the middle of a sentence), he follows up with, “Mama, Goddard?”

Cracks. me. up.

My two year old is asking to go to the Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor’s Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  It’s a great little place, with lots to investigate for the older kids and a dress up area and space capsule for the younger kids.  We often go there with our playgroup, and have lunch in the rocket park afterwards.

Being able to go to so many museums, and get out of it what we need to for that day, is one of the wonderful things about living in D.C.  We are taking advantage of every minute of it.

Edited to add: You have GOT to go see Stimey’s post about the day.  She is freakin’ hilarious, and she recaps the day for all of us … and Commander Blue Bear.  The 6 moms and 8 kids (including Heather) had a fantabulous day, and the sky was just as blue as it appears in the pictures.  Truly, truly, these are the good days.

Jessica’s got a great line up of Earth Day activities today, if you’re local to the Washington, D.C. area … there’s also a special Sid the Science Kid on today, and lots of other things to do to celebrate the Earth.  What will we be doing?  Getting out into the garden again, preparing the soil, and planting our vegetables for the summer.  Mmmmm.  I’ve been looking forward to planting in the garden with both my children for more years than I’d like to say.  Oh, okay.  Forever.


Inauguration

January 20, 2009

1.4 million people came to my town today, to see history being made.  They crowded on Metro, parked their tour buses, walked for miles, and stood for hours in the cold to see the realization of Dr. King’s dream — of many, many, many dreams — come true today.  Sen. Barack Obama is now President Barack Obama.  Elected for the content of his character, not judged on the color of his skin, today we step back and marvel, and wonder at just how far we’ve come in the last 60 years.

Perhaps I can only speak for myself here.  I will.

I marvel.  I grew up in the Deep South, just after desegregation, surrounded by private schools that all mysteriously popped up in the same year, the year that the Mississippi schools were truly integrated.  I attended a neighborhood school, but half the students were bused in, from — literally — across the tracks, in neighborhoods not too far away but in some ways a different world.  The neighborhood around the school was full of professionals, and no one there ever went hungry, or needed a new pair of shoes their mother couldn’t buy.  Many of the kids who were bused in didn’t have those luxuries necessities, and we lined up each day, together, but in strata nonetheless — the kids who got free lunch lined up first, so the cafeteria ladies would know not to charge.  These were the kids who arrived late to class, dragging after a long commute and a quick (free) breakfast in the cafeteria.  There were differences, but we were kids, and we didn’t notice, most of the time.

I went to public schools in Jackson, Mississippi, my entire life, and it made an impact on me.

I grew up learning about the Civil Rights Movement, hearing history from social studies teachers who had marched, singing songs of protest and of strength, and learning about the delta blues from teachers who had grown up in segregated times and schools.  My classmates and I were conscious of the recent history of our state — of our city! — but we were convinced those days had passed.  We lived the dream of desegregation, of white children and black children (and the Tran boys) going to school together, walking hand in hand, and learning how to navigate the world together.

In eighth grade, I ran for Student Body President.  I ran a tough campaign, seeing my first chance at real leadership, and campaigned as hard as I could, within the rules, even though I didn’t agree with them.  You see, in those days, we had strict rules about who could win.  If a white kid won president, a black kid would be vice president, and then anyone could be secretary.  Two of my friends also ran, and we all rankled under the rules that we thought we were so far past.  Would we really have to live with this antiquated, grown-up-enforced rule?  We didn’t know the name for it yet, quota, or affirmative action, or even equality, but we rankled under it.  We proved something on our little Election Day, though.  The student body voted overwhelmingly for Chaka, and he became president.  Without quotas.  And the crowd went wild.

I’ve never been so happy to lose an election.   (Although there were others I wish I’d lost — but that’s a story for another day.)

Chaka, Jim, and I served happily that year as student body officers, and our actions proved the old rule outdated.

Of course, that was just our introduction to race-based rules — we would soon learn that  the class favorite designations for ninth-grade graduation came in pairs, with thinly linked names.  The top-voted boy and girl would get the top designation (like “most beautiful”), and the top-voted boy and girl of opposite race(s) would get a secondary kudo (like “cutest”).  I still don’t know who those rules were trying to protect, but they live on in my yearbook, awkwardly posed pictures of ninth graders in remarkably similar combinations of race and gender.

Today’s images of Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe and Jill Biden brought those pictures to mind again.  Only, once again, their success is OUR success, and their performance is proving the old way of thinking outdated.

It feels like a new time in America, a time when anything is possible.

A time when we can finally leave our past behind, and look to the future.

Anything is possible.

Congratulations, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and all the new leadership and staff.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.


Because toddlers like to party

January 4, 2009

I’ve had my share of fun toddler parties. Oh, not for birthdays and such, mind you (I’m rarely that organized), but for unexpected stuff, like New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. We always host our whole mom’s group on the Fourth of July, dads included, and everyone has a fantastic time just running around the yard, picnicing with babies on blankets, climbing in the fort and sliding down, swinging until the moms’ arms hurt, and adventuring in the forest. Oh, and eating. We always eat a lot.

For the past three years, I’ve also hosted a New Year’s Eve party, where we get the little guys together for a morning playdate that culminates at noon with a big countdown, a celebration, and lots of squealing. We do the “ball drop” by giving each kid a ball to throw up in the air at the end of the countdown (at noon). We skipped the traditional noon ball drop this year, but celebrated quietly with very good friends and a progressive dinner. Progressive because the other mom had made dinner and I had offered to host dessert. So we went to her house for dinner, wrapped all the kids up and put them in the car, and came over to our house for ice cream sundaes, wii games, and a whole lotta train play. Cause that’s how we roll.

My favorite nonstandard party activity was for Widget’s birthday last fall, when we cut out dozens of animal pictures from the Baltimore Aquarium and Best Friends magazines, pasted them to bendy straws, and hid the animal pictures around the yard and the forest so we could have an Animal Rescue adventure. (My big kid is very into Diego and animal rescuing.) Which works out well for us, since we’re kind of animal rescuers ourselves, having fostered 35 beagles in 3 years before the kids came along.

We’re at it again over here at Toddler Planet. Or, apparently, unusual party central. This time, I’ve volunteered to host the pack of kids for an Inauguration Party. We’ll get together that morning and spend the day playing and talking about the new president and what we think might happen in the next few years. (You know, like turning five.) It’s a once-in-a-childhood opportunity for these kids, growing up so close to the District, but there’s no way we’re going to take kids this little downtown for the inauguration or parades. There’s just too much going on, too fast for toddlers and preschoolers to have a good time.

So here’s where you come in. What would you plan for an inauguration party for preschoolers? What games would you include? Crafts? Party hats? I’d love to hear some ideas as I brainstorm over here as well.


Voting Together

November 10, 2008

One in a series of Widget’s bedtime stories.

Once upon a time (for that is how our stories always begin), there was a little boy named Widget.  He and his little brother Bear went with their Mommy to vote.  And who did we vote for?  [Widget answers.]  That’s right.  And who else was running?  [Widget answers again.]  That’s right too!  And who’s going to be the next president?  [Widget looks confused.]  That’s right.  We don’t know yet.  We won’t know until all the votes are counted tonight or later in the week.  But I’ll tell you as soon as we know.

Voting is very special to Mommy.  Did you know that when Mommy was a little girl, she got to vote with her Mommy?  That’s right.  Grammy and I would go to our voting place, sign in, and wait in line just like you and Bear and Mommy did today.  When it was our turn, we would walk over to the little booth and pull curtains around us, kind of like being in a shower.  But we didn’t get wet.  Instead, Grammy would read the ballot and choose who to vote for.  Mommy got to be in the little booth too and see what happened.  It was very cool.

And when Grammy was little, do you know what Grammy got to do?  She got to vote with her Mommy, your great-Grandma.  I imagine it was the same kind of thing, waiting in line and then casting a ballot at a machine or in a little box.  I don’t really know, cause I wasn’t there.

What do you think happened on voting day when your Great-Grandma was a little girl?

[I don’t know.]

Nothing.

[Silence.]

Because when your Great-Grandma was a little girl, they didn’t let women vote.

[Why, Mommy?]

I don’t know, sweetie.  But some Mommies and other women worked very hard so that women could vote, and then, later, so that all people could vote, and now everybody can.

[Does everybody, Mommy?]

I hope so, sweetie, I hope so.

And that is why voting is so special to Mommy, and why I’m so glad that you and Bear went to vote with me today.  Thanks for being such a good kid today, kiddo.

[I love you, Mommy.]

I love you too, Widget.