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Every Moment is a Teachable Moment

Dr. Juanita M. Morris

“Two schools in Mississippi – and a lesson in race and inequality in America”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/27/two-schools-in-mississippi-and-a-lesson-in-race-and-inequality-in-america

 

A friend and colleague sent an article to me via text. The title immediately caught my attention: Two schools in Mississippi – and a lesson in race and inequality in America. I read further, “One is predominantly white, one is predominantly African American.  The education, and outcomes, for students vary widely.   A lawsuit is exposing the reasons why”

 

Those to things alone stopped me in my tracks. It caught my attention because my husband was born and raised in Mississippi, my mother-in-law is a retired principal in Mississippi, my father-in-law is a successful farmer in Mississippi, I lived in Mississippi and my elementary-aged kids were enrolled in public school and private schools in Mississippi. As I continued to read the article it was a comparison between two neighboring school districts, Jackson Public Schools and Madison Public Schools. My kids had been enrolled in both during our time living in Mississippi.

The journalist presents a kindergartner’s experience at an elementary school in Madison, Mississippi, in which the school is 70% white and having relocated for the next school year the student would then be zoned in a elementary school in Jackson Public Schools that was 99% African American. The focus of the story was on the stark contrast between the two schools in the neighboring districts. The article indicates that the mothers filed a lawsuit not about race, but about the inequity of the quality of education. “This case is about quality of education and making sure that quality is uniform no matter what color your skin is or where you live.”

 

I have written a piece on school choice and what it means for me, and this feels strikingly similar – yet very different. The irony is that my son and daughter also attended a school in Jackson Public Schools and we lasted less than four weeks. In four weeks they were in, it was awful for a multitude of reasons, and I snatched them out. We actually lived in Madison, Mississippi, same as this article, and chose to work to enroll our kids into the Montessori school in Jackson, Mississippi. One of the biggest educational missteps I have taken with my kids. We finished the year in a private school, before enrolling in Madison Station Elementary.

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Back to School on the Block

Here is the challenge. And, this is solely one mother’s experience and perspective. I am in agreement with the article in that the facilities were different. I am in agreement that the length of the building educators was different. I could even agree that the instruction was different. But, we had significant patches of pain while our kids were enrolled in a ‘better’ school. The patches had more to do with ‘non-conformity’ and he expectation that the teacher was right and knew what was best. My daughter experienced difficulty connecting in a class that had no diversity. I remember the conversation and one of the parent-teacher conferences with one of my son’s teachers that started off with him being a kid with more problems than any adult. I had to stop the conversation and help her to understand that we were going to crash and burn and every word about my son could not be negative. But, it was the same teacher that said he would not pass if he didn’t memorize his math facts for the timed test. It was the same teacher that said I, being of sound mind and body, could not take my son out of a gifted program.

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Books my daughter checked out from the school library this week.

I applaud the parents for fighting for some semblance of equity in education. Not only for their kids, but the fight to make a difference for the many. I am not that brave. One of the (many) reasons we left Mississippi was the education of our kids. It was a choice – school choice. We could have stayed. But, I believe that the fight would not have been about the quality of education, but the impact on my kids’ self-esteem and self-value. Where all teachers the same? Absolutely not. Both of them had wonderful teachers their second year at Madison Station. But, there was something systemic about the culture. While ‘we’ like it and it’s better than Jackson Public Schools, it wasn’t designed for ‘us.’ Which means that in order to do or be well, we must assimilate. It is difficulty to answer my daughter’s question when she says … “why am I the only brown girl.” It becomes more difficult when I, as the parent, have made the decision. And then – newsflash – she cannot assimilate. She will always be a brown girl.

 

We are all in search of the balanced educational experience for our kids — sometimes we may have to create it!

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College Enrollment Numbers: Inside Out

images-3I remember a few years ago I was working a small private black college in Tennessee. I had accepted a project to guide the institution through reaffirmation of accreditation (another story for another day)! During that time and at the College I was a passive participant in several administrative meetings. I can remember the president talking about enrollment and the anticipated decline. As registration drew closer and closer the meetings grew increasingly tense. I left one meeting and called my husband and said … “you will never guess what happened in the meeting today” … went on to rattle off the details and ended that conversation about work with … “I will never work in enrollment. I mean NEVER.”

Well … so … okay. What smart person uses the word ‘never’ in a sentence? The small private college closes registration with enrollment down for the second consecutive year. This time, through a perfect storm of varying factors, loosing a whopping 25% of its total student population. Breathe slowly and take in the idea of a private institution (no state funds) with a quarter of revenue from tuition and fees … gone. Meanwhile, I am in reaffirmation mode until the bright lights from heaven blinded myself and two other colleagues. Together we orchestrated a perfect outcome for reaccreditation – no follow-up. Done. Complete. Finito.

After I finished basking in the glow of perfection through partnership I realized I was the director over a project that needed no additional ‘directoring.’ Yep – worked myself smooth out of a job. Meanwhile, it is now deep into the fall and my president was still reeling from the loss of students. “Dr. Morris, in January, will you go over and guide Enrollment Management?” Umm, weimages-2ll, originally I mentioned the word ‘never’ in the same sentence as ‘enrollment’ but “sure.” Especially since I have no other work to do! At that moment, my love affair with enrollment was born.

Fall semester has started in colleges and universities across the country. This would normally be about the time I would be drawing a chart on the board in my office space documenting the fall enrollment of all my competitors for the most recent five years. I would be looking up each of their websites checking on admissions and recruitment events, checking high schools to see what colleges and universities are scheduled to attend and contacting alumni for some inside tips. I would be spending some time evaluating what worked and didn’t worked in our enrollment strategies for the most previous fall and establishing the profile of the student for the fall 2018 class.

I can tell you, honestly, as I sit at my desk now, not working in enrollment for almost a full year, I am looking at enrollment for colleges and universities and certain states to see the language and data used to explain increases and decreases in enrollment. The truth in enrollment lies in what the article neglects to mention. Even

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if there is a decline across the board, there is always a … yea, but sentence.

Through mentoring and straight-up hard work, I have found some success in enrollment. Here is what I know and believe to be true and often times it is missing …

Enrollment is a holistic number that is comprised, in its simplest form, of people of value – students.

Yes, enrollment is about the number of new students. Yes, enrollment is about the number of first-time freshmen. Yes, enrollment is about the number of transfer students and re-admitted students. Enrollment is absolutely about the number of students taking online courses and the number of students who are part-time or commuter students. Enrollment is about the number of minority students and the number of student athletes. Enrollment is about setting goals and establishing targets. Enrollment is about our graduating seniors and the number going to graduate school or to work.

It feels like enrollment is just a number. Isn’t that what I did this evening — looked up the numbers, skimmed a few articles for the justification for decline or increase in the number?  Enrollment is a holistic number that is comprised, in its simplest form, of people of value – students.

Enrollment is about valuing people. Enrollment is about the culture of the campus. Enrollment is about the phone call to financial aid when a parent cannot figure out how to complete the FAFSA. Enrollment is about the connection of students to campus. Enrollment is about the creation of an academic climate that challenges and supports the student inside and outside of the classroom. Enrollment is about faculty, staff and administration being visible at student-led events with school pride! Enrollment is about eating in the cafeteria where the students are. Enrollment is about directly connecting a parent to the necessary resource on campus or in the community, even when it’s past the end of the day. Enrollment is about a classroom that honors and supports diversity in thought and response. Enrollment is about asking a student is everything okay. Enrollment is about speaking to students, janitors, administrative assistants, cafeteria workers, movers, and visitors – honoring their presence.

Enrollment is about recognizing the value of people. When we do that, when we value (not understand, but value) students and their parents and their families and all that they bring to college with them, when we sincerely believe they will add va

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lue to our campus, a unique perspective to our university, and there is no other institution that will honor and educate them … and add a little bit of work … the numbers move. Start counting your enrollment numbers from the inside!  I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. I believe it to be true.  I value people!

There is … life in the jump

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This picture gives me pause. It makes me stop. It almost brings me to tears when I look at it. Just look. She is flying solo. She has made a choice to leave it all behind. She has built a solid foundation to stop, stand, dance, sleep, play … whatever – the bottom can hold the weight of it all. Her form is perfect. Her stride is strong, yet feminine and intentional. I can image that the front of her shirt says ‘no fear,’ or ‘go anyway.’

And then, enough speed has been built.   Something is happening. A transformation. Her form adjusts. Arms out stretched. In order to obtain the utmost leverage she has to leap – even while the opportunity to stand on solid ground is still an option. Don’t miss it. She makes a definitive decision. It’s time.

Given everything I know. Having made sense of all that my finite eyes can see. Where I have come from on this journey … my soul – my spirit – my universe – my creator whispers into my soul “there’s more.” Two words with enough power and force to make my being uncomfortable. So, I jump.

I jump into the clouds. I embrace risk, failure and rejection. I release the security of knowing. I allow all that is unknown, this idea of faith that every minister preaches about; to guide the one life I’ve been given. I don’t look back. Those life changing moments and experiences … I carry with me in my heart. The rest remains there. I understand that sometimes you can’t see what’s coming when you are in the clouds – try as you might it may be dense. There are other days that the drop down seems exceptionally fast, so fast that I miss details, ideas, connections. And, then there are those days that I recognize while others are with me and I share this life … the journey and the flight is solo.

Strangely enough, there is a sense of freedom with the jump. There is an added excitement to the idea of the unknown. There is an opportunity to land somewhere totally unexpected. There is … life in the jump.

When my girlfriend sent this picture she wrote one word underneath … You.

Illinois $ Impasse & Higher Education

Illinois Public Higher Education

The Impact of the Illinois Budget Impasse

Title: In the Beginning

Illinois higher education system is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. All of my post-secondary experiences occurred at institutions in the State of Illinois; with three of four degrees awarded by public universities in Illinois. It was that education that I received from Illinois’ public universities that prepared me to launch a higher education administration career, which I believe has and continues to impact the lives of students and many minority students in Illinois and beyond. My culminating experience at Illinois State University was a study that examined national trends and the impact of recessions on tax appropriations (state), need-based aid (federal) and student enrollment at public higher education institutions over 28 years.

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I must confess … the dissertation was shredded and set ablaze shortly after all signatures dried, the three stripes were worn and the tassel was turned!!! What a journey.

When I was discussing with colleagues, professional mentors and others about returning to Illinois I heard a common chorus — don’t return to Illinois with the expectation to find work in higher education. They shared that higher education professionals, who were early in their careers, was leaving the state in masses securing more stable jobs elsewhere. Those that were eligible to retire had begun to do so and others were calculating their time to exit. They advised, with all sincerity and concern for me professionally and personally, to sit tight until at least a budget had been passed. Well, I returned to Illinois. And, clearly, well before a budget!

images-5So, I find myself now trying to piece the pages of the singed edges of my dissertation back together to make some sense of not only the most recent recession and its impact, but also funding and enrollment in public universities here in Illinois. There is always dialogue about who pays and who benefits from an educated society. There is always extensive discussion about access to higher education and the barrier of cost. In general, you will here time and time again about the cost of tuition and how it has outpaced inflation. But, is there more? Absolutely. We know there is more because Illinois and its public higher education institutions is living through ‘more.’

Over the course of the coming weeks, it is my intent to analyze and present a thorough overview of the current status of Illinois pubic higher education system. iphec_mapThere is no question that many of the public universities in Illinois are suffering from the three-year budget impasse by our State’s governing body. The articles will have us to believe that our public institutions are on the brink of closure – and some may very well be. It is and will continue to have a devastating impact on our institutions. I think that we all know the impasse is having an adverse impact. But, we are not quite sure how … other than money is not being given to the universities unless it is ‘stop-gap’ funding. And, what exactly is stop-gap funding anyway?

Lets begin to explore Illinois public higher education system together, in particular enrollment and finance, and see where the road leads. More to come!

 

New Definition of the Word ‘Nothing’

So, school is out, which means the kids are happily on summer break! We were in Kohl’s a couple of days ago picking up last minute items for a quick road trip. My son see’s his music teacher from last school year shopping with (heaven forbid) her own children! His eyes got big … his smile even bigger and he stops dead in his tracks. Frozen. No words. Staring. Deer in headlights at midnight. OMG – We have a sighting! A teacher sighting! Say it isn’t so.

She enthusiastically says … “Kyle!!! It is so good to see you!! What you have been up to this summer?” Kyle responds – still in shock and disbelief that she was let out of the music room for the summer – and in the most monotone and non-enthusiastic voice you could imagine … “Nothing.” He says … “I’ve not been doing much at all this summer”

Well, now, mama deer is confused. Standing there with my eyes wide shut! I’m sure Kyle’s teacher thought – boy this family doesn’t talk much, but they sure stare a lot! I politely interrupted the boy genius and asked for clarification of the word – nothing. Kyle, what do you mean nothing, mama deer asked?

2017-06-07 18.43.35 HDRI must have missed the seven hour drive that his dad and I just took to pick him and his sister up in Mississippi from an almost two week stay with the Grands. I thought for sure they went to vacation bible school. Time spent visiting the Grammy Museum. Catching up over meals at favorite restaurants and in grandma’s kitchen making requests; filling their bellies with midnight snacks consisting of cooked Kale, cornbread, black-eyed pea salad and homemade pound cake. I’m pretty sure I saw some type of visit to somewhere that included snakes and turtles. Not to mention some serious shopping!

When he left Mound Bayou, Mississippi, there was a stop right up the street at Bass Pro Shops in Memphis, TN, and he literally spent the night IN Bass Pro Shops.  Not around, by or close to, but IN Bass Pro Shops. There was an extensive tour of store, fish watching, snack purchases and a ride to in the tallest indoor elevator in the country to the top of the pyramid to visit the observation deck. So maybe that is nothing.

Well, let me think. I wonder if swimming lessons every morning count? What about the fun at Decatur’s Nelson Park Swimming Pool? Or, does the weekly guitar lessons at Richland Community College count for something this summer? Let me think a little more about this ‘nothing’ as I unpack a suitcase with a plastic bag filled with dirty clothes. Could the trip to Detroit Opera House to see a first cousin graduate from high school count for something fun this summer. Or maybe even just something?!

Mama deer is really confused by the new definition of ‘nothing’ that my son has offered up. My pocketbook sure feels like it’s something! I’m going to rest my eyes for a few minutes – until pick-up time – all of this nothing has me beat and it’s still June!

 

 

School Choice

Unknown  I recently returned to my hometown of the Limitless Decatur, Illinois, with my family in tow. One of the challenges in relocating is finding a school for my 4th grade daughter and 6th grade son – school choice. They have been enrolled in schools in Illinois, Tennessee and Mississippi so choosing a school is not easy, but definitely not new. And, if you are wondering, nope – no military service we just live a slightly adventurously nomadic lifestyle.

As I began to research the schools in Decatur Public School District 61 (DPS61), which I am a proud 1990 graduate of, we discussed and settled on two possibilities and decided that my husband and I would schedule visits. As we sought to schedule our visits, what we found was while we have a Decatur address we are actually zoned for Mt. Zion Public Schools. That was a bit of surprise, not unusual, but still a surprise nevertheless. So, my focus shifted to researching to understand Mt. Zion Public Schools.  2017-04-19 21.04.16

It really started me to thinking more about school choice on a local scale and the longstanding discussion about school choice nationally. Broadly and simply, the definition of school choice is directly tied to public money following students to schools and/or programs that is believed to better meet the needs of the student. And, there is a position in favor of or against vouchers, charter schools, school choice within districts, tax credits, magnet schools, education savings accounts, and all other forms of modifications under the heading of school choice.

As a parent, I struggle with the concept, with the terminology, and with the overall discussion of what school choice is and really what it means to and for me. The national verbiage and local discussion of school choice has never crossed my mind in making any educational decision for my kids.

2017-04-19 21.43.28School choice has meant that I am empowered to be an active part of the process in the school building and the system in which my kids are a part. I have told EVERY teacher that has had the privilege of teaching the Morris 2 that there is no way on this planet that they can educate my kids without me. It is my responsibility to support the educational process of the school that our family selects. Believe it or not, every educational outfit does not welcome parent participation or involvement. I know – crazy right!

School choice has meant that a public school may be the best fit. A private school may be the best fit. A charter school may be the best fit. A single-sex school may be the best fit. A Montessori school may be the best fit. A magnet school may be the best fit. A neighborhood school may be the best fit. A Christian school may be the best fit. For me, school choice means just that … the ability to choose, without restriction, the best fit for my child.

School choice has meant the ability to remove my kids from any environment that is not conducive to learning and has the possibility of doing more damage than good whether it is on the first day, in the first month or the first half of the year. There are things that happen, while they may be part of the educational process, can have a long-term and severe impact the self-esteem of a child. When a teacher tests my daughter and begins to make plans to put her in ‘special groups,’ ‘special needs,’ ‘special break-outs,’ special anything without consultation with her parents … I, as her parent, have the right to raise hell, take her to task and remove my daughter not only from the classroom but from the school. When a teacher tells me that my (gifted) son may not pass a grade because he can’t pass a timed multiplication test my commitment to my kids and the choice that I have made for their education tells me to unapologetically share with his teacher … try it and I wish you good luck.

School choice means that we are able to tour the schools, to ask questions, to meet teachers and staff. Not just my child’s teachers, but other teachers in the building as well – the community. School choice means I am able to ask the staff at Mt. Zion Intermediate School how many other black kids are enrolled – and receive a candid and honest answer followed by a discussion about the environment and cultural climate. School choice means selecting the culture and climate that will best suit my child at that time.

School choice rests with harnessing the power and the desire of the parent to want what is in the best educational interest of their child. I know that all circumstances are different. I also understand that the value of education in one household may be different than the next. The ability to change schools may be elusive to some. But, the one constant that is able to impact any school is harnessing and focusing the power of a collective group of parents/guardians/families of those enrolled in the school buildings – not any appointed Secretary of Education. Not tax incentives or education savings accounts. It’s the community. And sometimes the collective community has to redefine choice. What’s being offered? Who’s selecting what choice and why?

 

Our choice.

 

Last Day of 2016-2017 School Year!!!  Let the summer break begin!!!

Well this most recent school year we did chose Mt. Zion Public Schools and I have been asked countless times … how did I choose Mt. Zion. When asked, I always hear ‘why didn’t you choose DPS61?’

The choice was not in opposition to Decatur Public Schools or local private and parochial schools. Ultimately we chose Mt. Zion Public Schools because it was important that our kids be given the opportunity to develop a sense of community. Having attended schools in a multiple states over a short span of time, community is something they have not been afforded. Here, my daughter sees her classmates out playing when she walking the dog. They are developing a common bond among classmates and create some childhood memories with neighborhood friends.

Today … school choice for the Morris 2 is defined as… the development of a sense of stability and community internal and external to school that supports the pursuit of academic excellence. Will that change or will we make another choice … absolutely!

School Supply Shopping … uuggghhhh!!!

As a parent of two elementary-aged kids, a wife to one (who is in a doctoral program I might add), a girlfriend and a budding entrepreneur, my days are full.  Even off-days and flex-schedule days are full!  Each school year I am looking forward to the end of the school year for a brief reprieve.  Summer.   We are almost there … a few more days!

As the summer hours, days, moments and holidays & events come to a quick close, there comes a time when I am panic stricken.  I realize I have to go back, find the school list that came home in the last bundle of paper that is still in the backpack, or look online in hopes that the new teacher has it posted, or worse yet, venture to the store in search of the infamous school supply list.

Not for one, but for two kids!

Different.  Different lists.  Different stores.  Different prices.  A lot of time.  A lot of gas.  A lot of frustration.  A lot of money on all of those things that are not on the list that find their way into the cart.  A lot of anxiety and then to drag it all into the building on meet-the-teacher night.  Uuggh!

So, we have created some relief!  PackEd is a division of 4M Educational Services has made school supply shopping a breeze for busy families – in a less stressful and more convenient way!  We shop for you!

All we need is two things: a) your list of supplies and b) payment.  That’s it.    There are no contracts.  No registration fees.  No hidden costs.   These convenient customized school supply packs are filled with brand-name products that match the requests of each school supply list.

For more information visit the website (www.packedschoolsupplies.com) or email (info@packedschoolsupplies).

Click.  Ship.  Done.

Juanita M. Morris, PhD

Mommy to 5th grade son & 3rd grade daughter

I am ready to go home now …

The family selfie above is our last moments before going home!

At the end of 2015 there was a still, small seed planted in my soul – “I is time to go home.” I know the day. I know the time. I know the place. The idea of returning home, in my head, seemed to be such a crazy thought. It was an out of place feeling, I had been on the move for more than 25 years. The idea was also very unexpected. But, it was there. I felt it and new that the seed had been planted and covered with soil (fancy word for dirt!).

As I welcomed in the 2016 new year the roots began to grow and take hold with my vision.  Everyday things appeared just a little different. I saw work differently – there was an end-date – no longer the idea of building and growing appealed to me. I saw my commitment to community as no longer necessary of my investment. I saw the education of my kids and the relationships with their teachers as temporary. I saw my checkbook and account differently – spend on only those things essential to survival. Every moment, for me, was just for that moment. And, many events, people and things became the water to nurture the growing seed of change – they were confirmation. I am ready to go home now.

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Since only 2 of us can drive right now, the other two helped to load the car to be pulled!  A family endeavor!!!

It’s Time

There came a point that I could no longer deny the growing need to not only leave, but to go home. So, I began to prepare. I began to clean my office. I began to speak to my staff about the departure. I began to clean and box my home. I began to secure and brace my kids. I began to block out all of the voices that in good conscious and with well intent provided expertise – the ones who tell you to ‘stay until’ … some random event, milestone or mile-marker. I began to Pray.

I am ready to go home now. I was 583 miles. Which would take 8hours and 58minutes to drive. Or 2 plane connections, 8hour flight plus a 2hour drive.

What I know for Sure

Here is what I know for sure. Change is inevitable, it’s not easy, but inevitable. There is so much more to this life that what is immediately before us. If change has been planted in your spirit – be still. Listen to the change. Feel the change. Allow the change (seed) to grow in you. Nurture it. Give it the information it needs, meet with the experts, go out on a limb to figure out what is and what comes next. Don’t spend your valuable resources (energy, time, money, etc.) fighting to stay where you are when a seed is trying to grow with you – that smothers the possibly of growth, change, more … ultimately life.  And, stop listening to everyone else – there is no way they know what it’s like to carry your gift! No way!

Maybe you are supposed to find another job. Maybe you are supposed to do more and do better with the job you have.  Maybe you are supposed to grow the business you have started. Maybe you are supposed to take the other job that has been offered. Maybe you know in your soul that this relationship with a friend, spouse, significant other … is not for you!  And, quite the opposite, it could be that it absolutely is for you.

Don’t Look Back

What we often find is that it is much easier to look back because we cannot see what’s in front of us – there are no guarantees. Let me say that anything that is essential for you from “back there” is with you today. There is no need to look back. In coming home, yes I did come home, I have shared with my husband that it feels like we are in a heavy fog and we can’t see what’s coming, which creates more than its fair share of anxiety. But, not once have we looked back.

Take one step at a time. Look around and say … yes, I am still standing. So, now I can take another step. Well, good night, I am still standing. Even in the fog, I am still standing. You have to find the simagesource of belief & trust that you can do all things!  You have to be able to be steadfast and not easily swayed.  You have to have your eyes, heart, ears and soul fixed on what in front of you … at all times.

I can share that I smile more. I laugh more. I eat dinner with my whole family, which I have not done in years. We talk about the day.  I comb hair in the morning.  My kids have a close relationship with their grandparents. I fuss about school work.  I
am writing more.  I am doing things that have brought me anxiety in previous years – they now bring me peace!!!

I don’t know about tomorrow – it’s still quite foggy. But I believe that it will be amazing and extraordinary if only because my soul is happy to be home

What Happened to My parents … I Think They Have Vanished

 

I know this may sound hard to believe and I must admit that I am in a stage of confusion myself, but I am trying to figure out what in the world happened to my parents. Like – where could they have possibly gone?

For more than 30 years I listened to wonderful advice, whether I wanted it or not, but I must say that one hundred percent of the words of wisdom offered was for my good and benefit. And then … something changed – they changed – the parents that I once new vanished literally right before my eyes.

There were countless years that I would come home from college, from living in a different town, from wherever doing whatever and the pantry was filled with favorites. As I grew older, there would be little pieces of jewelry as ‘just-be-cause’ gifts and a suit here and there for work … a plethora of extras. Requests for menus so favorite meals could be prepared in advanced and packed upon departure.

And then … February 22, 2006, without a trace – my parents vanished.

They went into the bathroom at the hospital while my son was being born, ditched everything that identified them as parents, and came out as these new people referred to as grandparents. They even changed their names … that only the grandkids can call them … now they are “Mimi” and “Papa” – now what? You have a special name? One – who does that? And, two – is it legal? It sounds to me like these parent people began living a double life. It is as if they did not want the new arrivals (these grandkid people) to know of their old existence as parents. Are we trying to erase the past? Is like a credit report – 7 years or so that entry called ‘parents’ falls off?

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She calls herself “Mimi” now!

Ten years later, I am still amazed at the vanishing of my parents. I watch them in awe with their grandkids. I really don’t recognize them at all … the kid’s bags are filled with new fangled technology (I could barely use the phone with no click-over), the pantry is filled with cereal with names, chips with names, ice cream that is not Neapolitan (2 flavors growing up – butter pecan & Neapolitan) – all of their favorites. The granddaughter not only pushes the cart at the grocery, but she fills it and then eats the contents as soon as she gets home. My husband and I were informed the other evening that there is some sort of Marshmallow tradition before bed that they share with both sets of their grandparents. Again, now what? I had to be near starvation to get a glass of water before bed and these people have a puffed sugar tradition?

 

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He goes by the name of “Papa” 

 

I am so confused, flabbergasted and taken aback by this phenomena called grandparenting as it exists in my world. They take road trips. They snap selfies. They take grandparenting and grandkidding seriously!

My parents look different as grandparents. They smell different as grandparents – even other kids can sniff out a grandparent and latch on. They begin to act different once they become grandparents. They enter into a different space.

I really have no idea who these people are and I wait for that moment where I can say … I knew that was you. You can’t trick me. But, I have been waiting for 10 years! I’m so baffled that I asked my mom one day … what is it about being a grandparent … she simply said “I cannot explain it and you won’t get it until you become one.” Now, that sounded like a parent response so I know she is still here with me.

It has been my experience that parents, when they become grandparents, retire. Rarely to be seen again. You think they are “in there” somewhere, but it is so difficult to process that you really aren’t sure.  Since my parents unexpectedly vanished our family is left with: one set of parents, one set of grandparents, one set of grandkids and one set of kids.

They are Lucky & We are Whole

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