Knitting for Dummies, by Pam Allen, Tracy Barr, and Shannon Okey, is my lifeline! It breaks down knitting to its simplest - keeping me out of trouble when that project has presented a new challenge. It is also the perfect accompaniment and teacher in learning new skills and tricks of the trade. What would I do without it? While not every problem in life or in parenting is as easily solved as the challenges we face in knitting, through this craft, I have managed to learn a lot about myself as a human being and as a parent. I hope I can share these experiences with you, and in turn, we can spend some time together learning from each other...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Love & Roses

Ahhhh, February.

In February, we get to participate in two special celebrations:  Valentine's Day, and Black History Month.  And this year, I found special meaning in both of these.  I saw the beauty of both of these celebrations and the intertwined nature of them, and I realized that February was the perfect month for celebrating Black History when, for many years, we have been celebrating... Cupid.

On parenting...

This month has been a rollercoaster.  The beginning of the month started with my son's SCPP test in order to determine if he would be accepted and able to attend Walnut Hills High School - a Special College Preparatory Program.  The day of the test - a beautiful Saturday morning, he had a good breakfast, and we left with plenty of time.  He found a good friend of his in the awaiting crowd, and he went off to take the test.  As I waited for him at the end of the test, I thought something was off as he was much later than originally anticipated.  He walked out feeling defeated and tired - as he often does on many things.  That day was hectic and we had no time to process those feelings as we needed to head to his next event: a gala at the Art Museum where he was playing violin.  I felt horrible.  All I could do was refocus him and invite him to think about his still upcoming audition for the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA).  I wanted to finish the paperwork and set his audition for the SCPA.  After all, if P did not pass that SCPP test, we would have to see what his prospects would be for the SCPA.  (I could only start thinking what this would be like in four more years when we started talking about colleges... OMG!)

That Monday, the application went out and by Tuesday, I was being informed that the final audition for the SCPA this year was that next Saturday.  Oy!  The audition which lasted 3.5 hours (!) went beautifully well even through the perceived lack of organization.  P was excited, and I thought - based on comments shared by the audition staff - that we had a good prospect for him ahead.  And so... the waiting game began as in both cases, the SCPP and the SCPA, we were told that we would not hear a peep until... mid-March.  Oy, again.

On Black History Month...

As the waiting game unfolded, I continued coaching my son through his school papers.  Through his research and his writing, I learned about Gandhi and his "influence on our Civil Rights Movement", about the children's march in the South during the Civil Rights Movement and the "KID POWER worth celebrating", and Bessie Coleman and how she broke barriers "as an African American female pilot".  I loved watching P learn about civil rights and what these stories were teaching him.  It was heart-warming to see his eyes opening to the progress we have made, but also - and sadly - to the insanity that our history contains.  "Really?!" is a question he often asked.  We have been through so much ignorance and discrimination.  Much of it is still around us, perhaps better-disguised.  It seems that at the core of the hatred our history houses, there was so much ignorance which led to so much pain!  The discrimination, the chaos, the pushing, the shoving.... the pushing... and the shoving...  Really?!

On Valentine's Day...

It came... and it went... quietly...

But throughout the week, I had the opportunity to think about love and what it means in my life. I am a pretty lucky fellow.  I have the love a wonderful partner who is patient and caring.  I have the love of my family:  my siblings, mami, my cousins, aunts and uncles all of whom raised me and some with whom I have recently reconnected.  I have the love of my friends who are supportive and encouraging.  I don't know what I would do without them.  And I have the love of my son who at eleven years of age has already become a thoughtful, fun (and funny), intelligent (both in street- and book-smarts), young man.  I never knew you could feel so much for someone in your life as I feel for my son.  And when I try to show him... often, I am always reminded that I am suffocating him from hugging him too tightly and too closely.  Whoops.  The fun thing is that I am now beginning to feel the tight hugs back from him.  Yipee!

On parenting... again...

So, as the month moved on, my son and I were still waiting to hear from one of the schools.  I had asked P to think through the different scenarios and to start preparing an opinion on what he wanted to do depending on what happened.  My son was not too thrilled of thinking about what he would need to do if he was not accepted at Walnut, but he agreed to go through the exercise with me.  (Even though my parents never taught me to do this, I find myself finding opportunities to teach my son about projecting and thinking through what options and paths are ahead.)

By this point in our story, it was now February 22nd.  That day, we worked so hard at catching up with work and with homelife after our very short but very fun ski trip to Salt Lake City.  We were exhausted.  By evening, while dinner was being prepared, I realized that no one had checked the mail, so I ran out to get it.  The top piece of mail was from CPS (Cincinnati Public Schools).  My heart went to my throat.  This can't be THE letter!  It has only been 17 days - including weekends and holidays - since the test.  How could this be that letter?!  I opened the letter nervously.  I could not focus on ANYTHING in that letter; I could not read it at all!  But after a second or two, I found the following words, "I am pleased..."  Immediately and excitedly, I ran to the kitchen to read the letter.  The look on my son's face was PRECIOUS!  (I think he had a moment like mine when I opened the letter, because I ended up explaining what I had read a couple of times.  We were all so excited!  We had a little family party to celebrate!  P had passed his test and - interestingly - he now had the option he desired (a.k.a., the opinion).  Yeah!  Congratulations, P.

(As a funny side note and as any parent could relate to... my feeling of jubilation was quickly curtailed when, as I reviewed the information, I learned very quickly that I had two days (!) to prepare the tome of paperwork needed to register P at Walnut.  At that point, I had less than 48 hours from that night we celebrated, otherwise, I would have had to wait a month and a half!  February was just crazy!)

And in the beginning...

The piece I am sharing with you today is a cozy neck warmer.  It is knitted in one piece.  On one end, there is a knot resembling a rose, and on the other, two leaves, slightly separated so that the rose can sneak through.  The middle is a simple, luscious cable.

I find the piece significant for this month's post not because of my (stomach) knots throughout the entire month which turned out to be no more than a rose, but because of the lessons learned this month.  

In February, we get to participate in two beautiful celebrations:  Valentine's and Black History Month.  After learning about so many different influences and important people and events of our Civil Rights Movement, I now see Valentine's and Black History Month like this neck warmer:  intertwined in life like the cable that joins the rose with its leaves.  

As a gay, Hispanic father living in a committed relationship, I often feel discrimination.  And I know in my mind that it is based on ignorance.  So, I usually combat it with education.  However, as a human being, I am also a feeling person, and the hurt discrimination provides is big.  If ignorance is fought with education, I want to fight the hurt with love.  "Love and Roses" is dedicated to the fight we face when discrimination is the protagonist, to the great work and wonderful people who have paved ways for many of us regardless of who we are or from where we come, and it is dedicated to the discrimination we face still ahead.  This is my hopeful reminder that I combat with... love. 

Happy Valentine's Day and may you have had a chance to learn something new about Black History this year.  ;)e-

A special thank you to my friend Cate C. who took a leap of faith and a step forward by modeling this piece.  Her beauty is classic as is her style.  Thank you, Cate.  :)e-