What Kinder (Egg) argument is that

Raising three boys means that my house is filled with Superheros, Trains, Cars, Dinosaurs and lots of the colour blue. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining, it’s kind of the go to territory for boys, and I think people feel any of those things are suitable and won’t cause any offence to parent or child when purchasing gifts and we get a lot of gifts. 

Now, I am of the mind set that children can wear any colour they like and play with any toy they like. I saw a meme on Facebook that said unless a toy is controlled by the child’s genitals it is NOT gender specific. I am however also of the mind set that I let my boys choose, I don’t try and get them to wear/buy/play with girls stuff. But if they want it, then OK. 

          [I also believe a child can wear ALL colours at once]

Oliver (Seven) is now at an age that he is aware of what is expected of him by society. He is aware that certain things may cause him to get laughed at, maybe even called names. He is an amazing little dude and he picks his battles (fancy dress as a witch is as No No) but wearing the colour pink and having a One Direction satchel for school, they both got the thumbs up (although, 1D is no longer something he is a fan of anymore, they grow and change so quick at this age). 

Now Zachary (pictured below) who will be four in October, he has no concept of gender or what boys and girls are supposed to do/wear or play with. He will pretty much play with anything, he is obsessed with trains, especially Thomas the tank engine and in terms of his Autism this is his special interest or motivator. He does also really like the home corner, playing with dolls pretending to change their bottoms (he stills wears nappies so he re enacts what happens to him). He loves all colours especially orange. He loves to play dress up and often calls himself a “princiss” and goes off hunting for a crown to wear. Like I said I just let them get on with it, I don’t try and force anything onto them. I am far to lazy and can’t be dealing with any extra unnecessary tantrums.       [He is such a dude and getting so big now]

So, what this post all about? A Kinder Egg. Zachary has had for a long time now had a fascination with watching other people open Kinder Eggs on YouTube and play with the toys inside of them. Well this past week Zachary has started to really want his own Kinder Eggs and I have bought him one EVERYDAY this week *don’t judge me*. Well on Friday we had a really long day with a trip to the hospital for a routine ENT appointment for Darwin. We left our house at 1:30 and never got home till 5:45. It was stressful for all three of us, Zachary did really well and napped in the pushchair on the way there. Bless him. After a really pretty stressful appointment we headed home.

 

On the way home I decided to treat him to a Kinder Egg, mainly because he was chanting “egg.egg.egg.egg.egg.egg”. When we got off the bus I went to a little corner shop. The Kinder Eggs were right by the till. Zachary ran straight for them and he picked two up a blue one and a pink one. I got down and explained he could only have one and did he want the blue or pink one. He choose pink. Apparently this was NOT OK. The following conversation happened.

For the purposes of my story telling 

= Me

C= Cashier

Ma = Man

M: Ok Zachary, you can have pink

C: Oh, I think he meant blue

M: *smiles* No it’s OK he chose the pink

*picks up another pink egg for Darwin and starts looking for money in purse*

Ma: awwww you should get him the blue one, he won’t want to play with a pink toy

M: *getting flustered* Honestly, he won’t care, he just wants to open the egg

Ma: Yeah, but the blue ones are for boys and the pink ones are for girls. Go on, get him a blue one

M: He has no concept of boy or girl and doesn’t care and neither do I

*pays for egg and gives it to Zachary*

Ma: You shouldn’t confuse him, he doesn’t like Barbie, Do you want him to like Barbie?

M: I really don’t care if he likes Barbie or not. It’s just some chocolate and a toy 

*starts leaving the shop*

Ma to the C: That is why kids are confused nowadays they don’t get taught how to be men.

* I feel my blood boiling* 

M: NO. You are the reason they are confused, telling them what they can and can’t be. It’s a bloody chocolate and a toy for God’s sake. Next time don’t butt in. No one wants to hear your opinion. 

*walks off muttering to myself* 

For anyone that knows me, they will know how much of a big deal it was for me to actually argue back. I felt so angry. Regardless of whether or not he thought it right for Zachary to have a pink egg. It was none of his business. A few months a go Zachary couldn’t tell me what he wanted or choose between 2 options and now he can. If you give a child a choice the worse thing you can do is then override their choice. It just teaches them their choice doesn’t matter. It’s not valid. You don’t care what they want. It wasn’t hurting him or anyone else. It was a bloody Kinder Egg. 

Well by this point Zachary had opened the egg and demolished the chocolate and was asking me to open the yellow plastic egg. I opened it and his present was a BRIGHT PINK BARBIE 😱. Just kidding it was a Green plastic ring with a Tinker-bell sticker on it  and under the lid was a Green Stamp. Zachary loved it, he wore it with pride and had great fun waiting for the bus stamping random receipts from my purpose. By the time we got on the bus he had ink on his hands, face and clothes, but best of all he had a HUGE smile on his face. 

 [Zachary wore the offending ring to bed]

So to the stupid, ignorant man. Do me a favour and don’t try and pass your twisted point of view onto my children. Also Kinder Egg STOP making gender geared eggs, make something all kids can play with!!!! This whole gender equality issues start way younger than you think. It starts in childhood. Don’t limit your children, give them freedom! Give them choice and respect that choice. Now I am under no illusion that males and females are designed (so to speak) to be better at certain things but it doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t try just to be the best version of us regardless of our gender. I think we should stop boxing kids in based on their gender and should support them based on their personality and character. 
  [All colours for all children]
Thanks for reading 

Mynamesnotcherry πŸ’

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What does that make me?

*Please note this post has racial references/names that may offend some people. 

I feel like this is probably going to be one of the most intimate blog posts I will ever write. It isn’t about my children, my husband or my extended friends and family (although it does involve them). This is completely about me. It is my fears, insecurities and my own personal predijuces. People that know me may be surprised by what I am about to write. Others not so much.

Identity

My Mum is white
My Dad is Black
What does that make me?
A Nigger or a Honkey?
Or just a fucked up half breed?

Rejected by you
Rejected by them
Who will accept me?
Will someone please help me find my Identity?

Β© Cherie Lewis-Quinn          1999

I wrote this many, many years ago. Thankfully I feel different now. I no longer try to define myself or others by the colour/shade of their skin. However, I wanted to share how I felt back then and try and maybe work out why. This could potentially be something worth reading if you are raising children who are a different mix to yourself, but then of course it might not be. Not everyone is a drama queen like me. 

I remember my first real experience of racism. I was around seven or eight years old. I was playing with some other children, they were all white. I don’t remember why it was said, but I remember the way it was said, it was spat at me with real hatred. When I look back now, I think how sad it is that a child of seven knows how to use such hatefilled words, what must they have been hearing/seeing at home? Anyway, I digress. The child said to me “you look like you have been rolled in shit”. I can’t remember my reaction. I know I asked my mum what it meant and why they had said it to me. I was given a talk about how they weren’t very nice and that it doesn’t matter what colour your skin is – thanks Mum, as always she was right. 

I think in a way I am lucky that I remember, I have been fortunate to not have experienced much direct racism, like that. I can think of four or five other incidents and nearly all of them occurred when I was 20, and it was when I moved from Birmingham the second largest city in the UK to a small almost village like place (I won’t name it). If I hadn’t experienced a wealth of direct racism then why did I feel so insecure about myself, particularly my skin colour, that I went on to write that poem. I’m going to explain a little about my life to give you a picture of where those insecurities may have come from. 

I am one of four children, I am the eldest. When I was ten years old I learnt that my Dad was actually my Step-Dad. I hadn’t lived with him since I was Seven, we still had a relationship so it wasp a shock and a lot to process. This is where it gets a bit harder to tell the story as this isn’t just my story, but my Mum’s story and my sibling’s story too. I don’t feel like I have the right to disclose every ounce of detail. I will provide as accurate a picture with as little information possible. My Mum and Step Dad separated when I was seven and due to exceptional circumstances my Mum had me and my younger sister, whilst my two younger brothers lived with my Step-Dad. 

I asked my Mum if I could meet my Dad and I did. It didn’t work out. We tried for a while to have a relationship mainly over the phone. I don’t know what was happening in his life at the time, but this was not convenient for him. I have only spoken to him once since then, before I got married and to tell him, he was Grandad. My mum has spoken to him, he knows that he now has 3 Grandsons. I grew up with just my Mum and my sister. We were happy enough in our own way. My Mum was a very social lady, I get all my best qualities from her. I forgot to say, my Mum is a white Welsh woman (although no accent as she left Wales when she was 10) my Dad is a black English man who’s Parents or Grandparents hailed from Jamaica. I was very lucky that my Mum had quite a lot of knowledge about my black heritage. 

My Mum knew how to look after our hair and skin, she makes the best Satday soup normally with chicken, noodles, potatoes, yam,vegetables and homemade boiled dumplings, it’s so tasty. My mum has always had a passion for reggae music and lovers rock. I grew up listening to Bob Marley (who I didn’t know at the time was also mixed raced!!) My mum can also talk Patwa, the colloquial language used in Jamaica (think of that joke, English man asks for a Beer-can sandwich and gets a bacon sandwich) it’s quite funny to see, especially when she loses her temper and suddenly starts cussing everyone in Patwa, my husband thinks it is hilarious. 

After five years my brothers came back to live with us and again due to exceptional circumstances we had no contact with my step father again. We moved to a place called, Handsworth, it didn’t have the best reputation as decades before there had been very bad rioting. It wasn’t that bad. I grew up and threw myself into school, I loved school. We had moved a lot and no matter where we went, I went to school. Once I started secondary school things started to change. First off I went to a girls’ school. It was clear from the first day, that I was different. I had recently cut off my dreadlocks and had a small Afro which I hid under a bright red beret. I wasn’t the cleverest girl, but it was obvious I loved learning and I loved school. I was not a rule breaker. I never jumped the fence to go to the chip shop at lunch time, I never went down by the gates to smoke and I certainly never had a boyfriend. Instead I joined the orchestra, drama club and would often stay after school either in the library or in some extra curricular class. I also went to church a lot. I was a good girl. 

My nickname at school other than Chezza the Lezza (kids are so original), was Bounty, I learnt this was because the girls used to say I was black on the outside and white on the inside. These conclusions were drawn because I liked Hanson (remember the 3 boys who sang Mmmmmbop), I didn’t listen to garage or bashment music and had no sense of rhythm and two left feet. I did not like spicy food or West Indian foods such as Ackee and Salt fish, yams and green bananas. I grew up in a predominantly black area where my Mum was one of a handful of white people, although she was so emerged into the culture you would never have known it. 

I never felt like I fitted in (teenage angst much, haha). I didn’t feel like I really had any role models. I did like Lauryn Hill, but still felt isolated.  Then when I looked at magazines which were mainly filled with white women (or at least the magazines I read were). I would see all these women, none of who looked like me except Tina from S Club 7 and Samantha Mumba, but I didn’t like them I thought they were boring. Whenever I wanted to to find inspiration there was always a problem, the wrong skin, the wrong hair, my boobs were too big, my hips were too big, I didn’t have a bottom (JLo)l… The list went on and on. Slowly, slowly it chipped away at my confidence, yet most people wouldn’t know because the lower my confidence sunk the bigger my ‘personality’ got. 

I’m not sure when it changed or if it really has changed at all. Have I really come to terms with the issues I had as a teenager? Or have I just learnt to push them aside and grow the fu@k up? I am a Wife, I am a Mother, but deep down I am still the scared confused teenage girl. Desperate to know who she is. I don’t know if I ever will? I sometime feel like an almagamation of many of the women who have influenced me during my life. This often leaves me feeling like a fraud. Now I know that most people go through their teenage years feeling that they do not fit in due to their sexuality, weight, appreance etc, so maybe what I felt was nothing new and the loneliness was the same as what everyone else was feeing? I don’t know?  It’s funny, I have 3 sons. My husband is white, so my children are technically more white than they are black (they have gradually got lighter and lighter), but my genes are strong and they each have something which suggests that  they are not completely white.

race is a funny thing. Children often do not see it. Children are not born racist. It is learnt and it is taught. Raising a child of mixed heritage can raise some interesting questions. A prime example of this is my 7 year old thinking that he is a different race to our youngest son because they have different complexions and different hair textures… The innocence of a child. The main thing I do is try to teach my children is that they should judge themselves and everyone else not by their skin colour, but by their intentions, their morals, their actions. I try to teach them, just as we shouldn’t limit someone because of their gender we shouldn’t do it because of their ethnicity and I am glad that I am teaching my children this as it reminds me too. It’s a horrible thing to admit, but I have pre conceived notions about certain racial groups, I believe every one does and we have to actively work to remove and break down these notions.  Through teaching my children to see past the skin colour of others I hope that they will see past their own skin colour. Their heritage is important, no doubt about that! To me that means their Irish and Welsh heritage is just as important as their Jamiacain heritage. I am slowly learning about these too. My point is their skin colour/race/heritage is something which helps to shape them BUT it does NOT define them! Their heart, their spirit, their character and their actions define them! I am still learning this about myself. I limit myself in life. Using my past as a scape goat. This has to stop, my children learn more through what they see me do, more than what they would ever learn from what they hear me say. 

The last line of my poem, was… will someone please help me find my identity. I now realise I need to stop looking to everyone else. I need to look into my heart and decide who I am and have the confidence to just be ME.

Thanks for reading

MynamesnotCherry πŸ’

Sun Hats and Sun Cream: When the little victories count for so much

   You may have noticed I have been a little quiet of late. I can’t believe I haven’t posted for a MONTH (if you have missed me, I’m sorry). Life has been a little hectic. In all honesty it hasn’t been any busier than normal, but I have been struggling a little more than normal (there will be a post about this later). Anywho…

This post is about last Tuesday. We had a sickness bug work its way through our house last weekend, and it claimed everyone except me as a victim. On The Monday Zachary was sent home from nursery as he had projectile vomited, he had apparently made quite a mess as he continued walking whilst being sick. It was quite cute as they think he was trying to notify staff. That night he was sick multiple times, but by 7pm it all appeared to be out of his system. He is a funny little man as when he is sick there is absolutely no warning and as soon as the last drop has left his mouth he is fine again asking for “tissues” saying “dirty” and “gusting”. He can be adorable at times.

Anyway, the sickness on Monday meant no nursery on Tuesday. By Tuesday morning he was absolutely fine. Recently we have had to change our morning routine which means we now drop Oliver to school first. This is not going down well. Every morning Zachary gets pretty distressed that he can’t go to Oliver’s school. We generally have tears, screaming, lots of sitting/ laying on the playground floor with protests of “Zachary School” and when he is informed he can go to nursery we are told  “NO ursery”. 

When we eventually are able to leave it is normally with a request for “apples” “green apples” or “orunge playground” and some times “eggs”. Once we have established what he needs we progress to nursery. After an initial request for apples he changed his mind to playground. I thought why not. It was a gloriously sunny day and he really wanted to play. Our local park has benches which are shaped like a train and its carriages. Zachary adores it as does Darwin. We went and we played and had a great time.

 Then it happened. Zachary has recently been doing a lot more delayed echolalia (basically repeating whole scenes from Thomas the Tank engine, over and over) well there is a particular one to do with one of the trains being rescued by another. Well when Darwin was a little too confident in his clmbing abilities and starting climbing up a ladder on the climbing frame Zachary began to look very worried and said “Zachary rescue Darwin” then he started talking jibberish. He ran over and started trying to pull Darwin down. I was so happy, he had used the concept of what he had been verbally repeating over and over and selected the correct word AND used it in a sentence AND acted on it. Now a Neurotypical child maybe would have said that Darwin was Stuck or that they would help him. Rescue seemed a little extreme, but perfect none the less. This was going down as a WIN!

What I wasn’t aware of was there were going to be many more wins that day. These included, Zachary wearing a Sun hat!!! Zachary isn’t keen on hats, hoods he loves but hats not so much. Well today, he wore his hat (for 20 mins at least in total) he kept removing it and I explained that if he didn’t keep it on he would have to go inside. He would then slowly lower his hand and put his hat back on. This was a double WIN. He understood AND he followed a new instruction. 

Did I mention the Suncream? This was also a double WIN. We were on a roll. Zachary dislikes Suncream, although to be fair, I’m sure most children dislike Suncream. Today I tried a technique I hadn’t tried in a while. I let Zachary apply my Suncream and then we applied his together. It was a moment filled with giggles and smiles. I was so happy. Then Darwin did the same and his Suncream was applied with smiles instead of tears… That was what made it a double WIN. Now we all know Zachary has Autism Click here to read about our diagnosis  there have been some questions raised about Darwin, there is no question of Autism, but there is talk of speech delay and Sensory Processing disorder. However he has ongoing issues with his ears and we can’t move forward with any sort of diagnosis, so we just keep plodding along. One of the things that have had us wondering is his random fear of normal every day objects, the kettle, the washing machine, the vacuum cleaner and the shower. The worst is definitely the shower.

 Now, it’s not uncommon for children to be frightened of these things particularly when they are babies but Darwin isn’t a baby anymore and has been exposed to these items almost faily for coming on 2 years. Well this was our biggest win of the day. I had taken the boys in the back garden and we had played Dinosaurs, trains, javelins (with our foam swimming noodles) and then the boys decided to lick the mud. They were filthy so I decided it was shower time. Zachary loves the shower, Darwin is in and out in 30 secs whilst screaming his head off. Not today, I am not completely sure how it happened, but Zachary was filling a bucket with the shower water and Darwin was at the opposite end of the bath by the taps. Zachary playfully threw some water at Darwin. Darwin Froze. I froze. Then he started laughing. Within in a few minutes they were filling buckets and splashing each other. I was so proud. This was a SUPER WIN. Over the past week, Darwin has started requesting the shower be on when he is in the bath by pointing and getting excited. 

When you have a child or children (especially a child with additional needs). It can be hard to see the woods for the trees. It can feel like you are fighting the same battles everyday. Progress can be slow and I won’t lie it can be disheartening. That is the very reason we have to take every win we can get, the smallest of victories are worth celebrating, sometimes even if only to allow us to keep our sanity. Just remember it’s the battles in which we are victorious that allow us to win the war. Onwards and upwards. 

Thanks for reading 

Cherrysnotmyname πŸ’