300 Mothers

People are all up in arms over the “alleged” words of Donald Sterling.  Here in New York City a mini race-riot nearly broke on a Brooklyn bus by a 60 something year old white man who single-handedly attempted to turn back the hands of time when he told a black woman she needed to move to the back of the bus and let him have her seat.  A man who, in the midst of the argument that ensued, out right says Sterling should run for president. When it comes to black and white relations, even now there are times when it all feels as though we are just one lit match from the racial powder keg. These are the things that occupy our news and social media cycles.

But what has garnered my attention the most these past three weeks are nearly three hundred mothers.  The nearly three hundred Nigerian mothers of the girls kidnapped from their school last month and the eleven more stolen from their own homes in the middle of the night in recent days.

Did you know there were more kidnappings?  Here we are three weeks after the initial kidnapping and the U.S., is only now stepping forth with “doing the best we can”. It feels all Okay, fine I’ll do it, as though our involvement now is akin to the petulant child forced to apologize to a sibling for some wrong.  It’s better than doing nothing. It is certainly better than the incompetence that has been the Nigerian Police; the same police who initially did not even want to acknowledge that more kidnappings occurred.

Is it the sense of helplessness, the “what can we do about it?” Is because it’s over there, on another continent and not in our backyards?  Is it because it is happening to Africans by Africans,  a black-on-black crime if you will?  What is at the root of this overall sense of apathetic whatever regarding it? Let’s be honest, if this were nearly 300 little white girls in South Africa, or in any other country been kidnapped as such, the immediate public outcry would be swift and deafening. Why is the world so relatively quiet for Nigeria’s little girls?  It has taken nearly three weeks of a slow building public international pressure for any course of assistance to be offered, action to be put into play. Are nearly 300  little black girls not worthy?

  • Tell that to the mothers who do not know if their girls are already dead.
  • Tell that to the mothers who do not know if their girls are alive, but already parsed out to the human trafficking / sex trade markets as threatened by the leader of the group who masterminded the school kidnapping.
  • And as more time that passes without any of the girls being rescued, tell that to the mothers who do not know if perhaps death is the better option.

This Sunday for those of you who will celebrate Mother’s Day, unless a miracle happens between now and Saturday, take a moment to remember  the nearly 300 mothers across the ocean missing their daughters and acknowledge them. Let’s continue to put pressure on our governments until each and every girl is accounted for.


I’ve Got The Look…

All mothers have a certain look in which their children instinctively comprehend to mean  stop and desist NOW.  I do not care how “no mannered”, “fresh”, “no home-trained” et cetera the children may be, all instinctively understand the most powerful wrath short of the Lord Almighty’s is about to reign down upon their little souls and behinds should they continue with the offending activity.

There are the mothers whose look will only work on their own progeny. There are the mothers in which the look not only works on their children,  but other family members’  children and sometimes the neighbors’ children.  And then there are the mothers. Those special mothers who can utilize the look with such force, that even the children of complete strangers will take heed.  It does not happen often, for I realize I have to be in a certain mood and the child involved must have seriously crossed my invisible line of intolerance for it to be at maximum force, but I am definitely among the last group.

That being said, while all mother are capable of that look, not all mothers have the ability or the desire to use to its full potential and that is a shame. Mothers who cannot put the fear of Mom unto their little darlings at a very early age are soon victimized by the tiny terrors they’ve brought forth unto this world.  I ran into one of those unfortunate types this morning.

I heard the mother already pleading with the child the moment the subway doors opened.

“Sweetie won’t you please sit down.”
“You’re going to hurt yourself!”
“Didn’t I say sit down, Sweetie?”
“You’re going to get a pow-pow.”

The mother did not say “Sweetie” I’m using it  instead of the child’s actual name to protect the little hellion more so than the parent.  I also cringe when parents of young children use cutesy names for things. If you are about to discipline your child, the child should fear it. It is not a “pow-pow” it is a “spanking”.  Children do not fear the cute, especially when spoken in that sing-song sugar coated speak most adults reserve just for young children. Sweetie was not that young and I’m guessing having heard such idle threats all his young life, this child was no exception.

I partially read my book, partially listened to my music and partially watched as I sat across from them.   The little boy climbed up and down from the seat, swung on the pole and yelled back at his mother in turns. Several people were giving the mother the stink eye as Sweetie ran among them nearly causing one passenger to spill her coffee and causing another to trip. Mother would apologize, yell at her child, the child would be still for all of two seconds and then the boy was off again.  Even as the train became crowded he still misbehaved, just contained his mini-mayhem to a smaller area.

At some point a woman who had had enough touched Sweetie on the arm and nicely suggested that perhaps the child should sit. Sweetie turned around, screamed at the woman from the top of his lungs on how she is not his mother and hit the woman with the plastic bat he had in his hands.  The mother grabbed the bat from him and apologized to the woman. This was twenty minutes after I first embarked and now even I had had enough. I took off my ear buds and put my iPod and the book I’m reading in my purse and stood just as Sweetie turned around and started to run.   Right on cue Sweetie accidentally ran into me. He spun around and raised his hand as though to hit me and I’m guessing that was the moment it happened.

The Look had made its appearance.

I raised an eyebrow at him and whatever he was thinking about doing, he rethought it as his hand slowly came down to his side.

“Say ‘I’m sorry. Excuse me.’”  I looked down on him.

“I-I’m sorry, excuse me.” He echoed contritely, taking a step back.  I heard someone exclaim “Daaaamn!” as I pointed at the boy and then at the seat next to his mother. Without another word exchanged, he picked up a toy that was on the floor and sat down close to his mother looking at me penitently.  The mother looked at me balefully as though she was about to say something and I looked at her waiting for it.  She thought better of it also, putting a protective arm around Sweetie as I returned to my seat.  There was a small bout of applause as I sat down, put on my iPod and returned to my book. The man sitting next to me looked from me to the kid and back “How’d you do that? And can you please teach my wife?” I just smiled, shrugged and returned to my reading.

A chapter or so later I realized it was still quiet. When I looked across the aisle from me Sweetie was fast asleep. The mother still looked like she wanted to do me bodily harm, but I was not worried about her. A few stops later, she and Sweetie disembarked.

Someday, someone is going to be there when I give some unfortunate soul “The Look” and have his or her cell phone camera ready to capture the moment. Obviously, I have no idea what I look like when I use this unique expression, but it apparently has some mystical power in it and I would really like to see it for myself.


Slice of Life Story Challenge

Slice of Life Weekly Story Challenge


Mama holds me in her arms
She doesn’t mind the newborn mess
She takes my measure in her mind,
With a prayer to God to Bless

People mill all around her
The major and minor doings of birth
She tells them all to mark her words
I will make my mark upon this earth

She imagines me dressed for church
Sending pictures of me in the mail
She notes the quiet baby I am
Saying smart babies don’t need to wail

She says I will map new ways
Or maybe I will find new cures
Service is my family’s mantle
Of that she assures

The nurse wants to take me
But Mama holds me tight
They convince her to let go
That it’s going to be alright

My dad bursts through the door
Comes face to face with his fears
His face belies the truth
And Mama bursts into tears

She says my name is Precious
That’s what I am to them you see
That my very life was precious
Because I never came to be

dVerse Poets Pub – Unexpected Poetics

Easy Does It

Easy does it! How time has slipped away…
Both sons now call other places home
Each making his own mark in this world
And soon another state may claim one as son
Easy does it! How time has slipped away…

Easy does it! How time has slipped away…
My heart feels that it was just what? Last week?
I kissed a boo-boo and made it all well
Or, explained why a girl may act like that
Easy does it! How time has slipped away…

Easy does it! How time has slipped away…
The nest for has emptied for quite some time
And I mark the times when I now see their faces.
For the times between seem ever longer
Easy does it! How time has slipped away…

Easy does it! How time has slipped away…
The pictures in my heart still feel brand new
And yet marks the years that have gone by
Fresh lines upon my face tell equal truths
Easy does it! How time has slipped away…

Easy does it! How time has slipped away…
Did I not just give birth unto these men?
Who wince when I call them my babies
But my babies, just aren’t babies anymore
Easy does it! How time has slipped away…


It’s been an interesting few days of marking time for me. I’m still working it out.

In the interim I’ll visit the rest of today’s Slices of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

SOL - Slice of Life March Challenge 2012