I’ve been a jerky, irritated, short-tempered, impatient Icky Mom to this child for a few weeks. I’ve been my worst self. Where loving attention was called for, I gave short answers. When a simple answer was required, I sighed. When the last dregs of daily parenting just needed a short book and a few (more) minutes of conversation, I said we didn’t have to read on Christmas break and hollered in a six-second prayer from the other room. It’s like I can’t dig deep enough for the requirements of this relationship lately. Whether the well is just dry or my selfishness is simply unbridled or this child really would shatter the patience of Job, it doesn’t matter. Because she is unhappy and I am unhappy and apparently I am the grown up and something has to give.
The fact is, our wedding anniversary has become increasing irrelevant to us, replaced instead by millions of other extraordinarily normal moments that mean mountains more and cost thousands less. Pregnancies and promotions, first homes and shut off utilities, sex everyday and having one hand on the door with a bag packed; that is what our life is built on. Not 8 hours in a pretty dress. Our marriage has nothing to do with December 18th, 2004, anymore.
If you think your child’s immune system is strong enough to fight off vaccine-preventable diseases, then it’s strong enough to fight off the tiny amounts of dead or weakened pathogens present in any of the vaccines. But not everyone around you is that strong, not everyone has a choice, not everyone can fight those illnesses, and not everyone can be vaccinated. If you have a healthy child, then your healthy child can cope with vaccines and can care about those unhealthy children who can’t.
Race and blackness and culture are part of his vernacular, his existence and identity — he is conversant in the language of race and racial dynamics, as is my husband. My parents are not, and never were. This lack of conversancy, of a particular fluency — the lack of racial awareness and cultural contact in their role as white parents of a black child — played an enormous role in my thinking at various points throughout my early life and young adulthood that I likely would have made a much better white girl.
At the time, when we pored over the raw images, creating the appearance of smooth flesh over protruding ribs, softening the look of collarbones that stuck out like coat hangers, adding curves to flat bottoms and cleavage to pigeon chests, we felt we were doing the right thing… We knew our readers would be repelled by these grotesquely skinny women, and we also felt they were bad role models and it would be irresponsible to show them as they really were. But now, I wonder. Because for all our retouching, it was still clear to the reader that these women were very, very thin. But, hey, they still looked great!
Several studies have shown that wealth may be at odds with empathy and compassion. Research published in the journal Psychological Science also found that people of lower economic status were better at reading others’ facial expressions — an important marker of empathy — than wealthier people. “A lot of what we see is a baseline orientation for the lower class to be more empathetic and the upper class to be less [so],” study co-author Michael Kraus told TIME. “Lower-class environments are much different from upper-class environments. Lower-class individuals have to respond chronically to a number of vulnerabilities and social threats. You really need to depend on others so they will tell you if a social threat or opportunity is coming and that makes you more perceptive of emotions.”
It must not be easy growing up as a black boy in a society that sees you as a dangerous, yet endangered. Young black men are forced to make other people feel comfortable around them, to make themselves appear less threatening. Why is it a young black man’s responsibility to make others feel at ease? They sense the tension rising when they are laughing and goofing off with friends loudly. They know that despite their best efforts, the culture of fear surrounding them is overpowering.
As little brothers do, I learned from Billy and performed this character to my friends. On a daily basis, I told jokes involving Asian parents, bad driving skills, nerds, rice and eggrolls, small dicks, dog eaters, squinty eyes, accents, kung fu, and William Hung. And as long as my friends laughed, it felt great. I invited other kids to do the same with their race or ethnicity. There were only about 60 kids in my grade and soon, these racist jokes became a part of our language. Saying one more of these jokes became easier and easier. With no other Asian, black or Hispanic students to tell us that the jokes were hurtful, we just continued with white students laughing at our jokes and encouraging us on. The worst and most hurtful jokes, we often told ourselves. And we thought not giving a fuck, not being so sensitive, but, instead, being “cool with it” was our way of saying that we were not what we made fun of.
Studies show that children who exhibit self-control and the ability to delay gratification enjoy greater future success. Anecdotally, we know that children who don’t think they’re the center of the universe are a pleasure to be around. Alice Sedar, Ph.D., a former journalist for Le Figaro and a professor of French Culture at Northeastern University, agrees. “Living in a group is a skill,” she declares, and it’s one that the French assiduously cultivate in their kids.