Friday, February 27, 2009

5:00 Fridays

I am a huge fan of all things chai. My whole being clamors for it come fall. I sip it indulgently by the fire on Sunday mornings while I read the paper in winter. Come spring I add some ice and savor the spicy tea into the warm months. The stuff just doesn't get old.

Oh, the hints of vanilla, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, fennel, ginger! An olfactory sensation indeed.

And so you can imagine my sheer delight at this Internet discovery, chai liqueur! Oh, Internet, I love you so. Yes, I hit upon a beverage custom made just for Dirt & Noise's 5:00 Fridays! Well, not really, but let's pretend, mkay?

Leave it to the Dutch to create this masterpiece: Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur. I guess those crazy Dutch learned a thing or two from the Dutch East India Company. Tea and spices were a huge part of that spice island monopoly after all. Why the heck did this creation take 300 years is the question?!

So when I manage to get my hands on this delectable ambrosia, I'm going to simply pour it over ice and sip. Maybe I'll add a shot or two of milk, you know, for the calcium.

There's a reason that the word "chai" means both "tea" and "want" in my native language.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Time Travel

When my babies were tiny, I used to spend hours gazing at their slumbering faces. Little nostrils flaring, breath setting a hypnotic beat, eyes twitching in dreamland, itty bitty fingers swatting away invisible itches on a scrunched up nose. Their little faces contorted this way and that. Their gaze so fixed on me upon waking. In their faces I would imagine them as toddlers, boys, grown men. It was an involuntary slideshow running before my eyes.

In a flash I would catch a glimpse of them as their older selves.

Now that my boys, my babies, are teetering on the cusp of six and four, I see time reeling backwards and forwards in a cruel teasing tango. In a random giggle I see them as their infant selves. Perhaps it’s in a pensive moment while chilling out in the back seat. Perhaps it’s while they rest their heads upon each other, a scrambled mess tucked onto the beanbag chair.

At other times, I see my boys as men. When Bird glances at me sideways and snickers in jest at some silliness, I see him as a high schooler, rolling his eyes at my latest faux pas. When Deal perches on the couch with a toy catalog in hand, knees crossed, fist tucked beneath his chin, I see him as a contemplative adult. His gestures already too grown up for his three years.

Time is at once a thief and a jester. We want more of it, we want it to clip along at a faster pace, we want to switch it to slow motion, we want to hit the pause button, and sometimes we want to rewind. Yet Time controls us. We simply live to its ticking. It’s infinite and eternal beat.

And so, at night when I am restless, I slip out of the comfort of my quilt, kneel beside my sleeping boys, and watch them sleep. Inhale, exhale, twitch, rub, toss, flutter, turn, sigh. And I watch Time travel before my very eyes.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Race Relations & Gender Equality, as Explained to a 5 and 3 Year Old

I have been having some heavy conversations with my sons lately. Racism. Race relations. Sexism. Gender equality. Heavy stuff for any age, but even more so with a five and three year old. Admittedly not the typical fare for car pool lines and kitchen conversations everywhere. But my sons sit perched at the breakfast bar while I cook dinner, and we talk. Mostly they ask questions, and I wrack my brain coming up with an honest yet meaningful answer that will make sense to their innocent blank slates. I tread lightly, knowing this will likely be the beginning of their developing self awareness. So what's the catalyst for such heady talk at our house?

Barack Obama.

You see, my children are mixed race first generation Americans.

My husband is a born and bred Midwesterner from a town of 500 people. I am an Indian girl who was born in Calcutta, a city of 16 million people. I say it's kismet that brought us together 31 years after our birth.

My sons are starting to recognize that we look different from each other, and that I look different from other moms. The beauty of childhood is that they view these differences with no judgment, no preconception, no expectations, no bigotry. Some call it naivete. I call it bliss.

I spent the better part of 2008 campaigning for Barack Obama in my home state of North Carolina. Political chatter surrounded us, and we tuned in the children when we felt it was appropriate. Granted, they were Obama walking billboards sporting their "Yes We Can" T-shirts. My husband and I told them about this historic election, and pointed out the significance of the Clinton vs. Obama primaries.

I brought my boys to the voting booth with me. Bird, my kindergartener, even filled out the ballot for me, proudly marking Barack Obama's name. It's no surprise that "Obama" was one of the first words he could read on his own. On November 5 I showed a picture of the past 43 presidents to my sons and asked what they noticed about the people. First they said, "There are no girls, Mommy." Home run! Then Bird said, they all look like Daddy. They are pink." I explained that the terms we use are white, black/African American, to which he animatedly replied, "But we are brown, Mommy. And no one is white. They are pink!" How could I argue with such logic?

And then came Lily Ledbetter .

I happened to flip on the TV during Obama's press conference about signing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act . The boys shouted for me to move so they too could see the TV. Obama! Obama! We all sat mesmerized as he spoke, with a tenacious and victorious Lily Ledbetter at his side. They were particularly excited when Obama mentioned his daughters in his speech. They love to hear about kids in the White House (which we just visited recently). I explained that when Mommy and Daddy met, we both had the exact same jobs (Yes, an office romance!), but Daddy got paid more money than I did. I told them that I had actually been in the job longer, but Daddy earned more money. "No fair!" they shouted in unison. I regaled them with the tale about me marching into our manager's office demanding an explanation...and a raise. My next pay stub reflected a significant bump in pay that equaled my husband's. Whether it was my gumption or my boss' fear I'll never know. I explained to my sons how many, many women earn less money than men doing the same things. I told them that that lady standing next to Obama got fed up, and America finally listened.

As the mother of boys, I hope to raise them in a manner that debunks gender biases. My three year old's favorite color is pink . My five year old loves to draw and paint. My husband often cooks spectacular dinners, and he has breakfast duty on weekends, for which he spoils us with creme brulee french toast and the like. We share duties as primary care givers. My goal is to raise my sons as open minded citizens who see the worth in all people, regardless of race, gender, or anything else that adults deem worthy of judgment. And I hope, as their mother, that the world grants them the same respect.

This original post is cross posted to Deep South Moms Blog.
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