Soccer season has started again, “God Save The Queen,” come Thursdays I’m in a perpetual state of dread, as I the rebel against the “Soccer Mom” stereotype. I pack our picnic dinner of fruits, cheese, nuts, crackers, and water bottles. I bring layers of clothes for when the sun drops, and whatever else is needed in the event of a soccer field emergency like: wipes, repellent, gum, dental floss, lotion, sting-ease, a first aid kit, a quilt, books, Sudoku, a charged I-phone, and, as my girlfriend Susan says, “A pound of Bacon.”
In my cool state of soccer-mom-anarchy, I load my two children into my midsize-SUV, wearing second-hand Chanel sunglasses, and $100 workout pants. I reach for the stash of raw almonds in my console, and tune into popular radio. I’m such a cliché it’s disgusting. But wait, there’s hope for me after all. My son’s team practices at a field a little further south, and away from my neuvo-hip-85% upper middle class, white-neighborhood. My eclectic factor has risen; my kid is practicing soccer in the abandoned warehouse, and graffiti art side of town. I feel like I’ve got an edge again, yes!
We unroll our Velcro-waterproof-picnic blanket, and unload our canvas totes overflowing with our needy necessities. My son heads down the grassy hill towards his Jamaican coach…score, a real soccer player- assumption based on the fact that he’s Jamaican. I’ve moved beyond cliché. I’m ridiculous. The coach says, “Kiids-kiick da ball dataway!” I laugh and wonder to myself if he smokes blunts and eats goat. I’m pathetic.
While my son runs around the field wild with thin, pale arms a flailing, my daughter finds a stout friend with a head full of colorful barrettes. Her friend is two years younger, and twice her size, and says things like she sees them. I love her immediately.
I ask, “Do you want to come and sit on our blanket?” She plops her warmth next to me and pushes in with a purpose.
She leans over and looks at my bag. “What’s that?” she asks. “It’s our bag of snacks, want an apple?” She smiles big, “Yes.”
I’m pleased. “Go ask your mom if you can have one.”
Her mom is sitting off to the side with a man who’s size is one quarter of her width. She has long reddish black tracks hanging from her scalp; and tight jeans that squeeze her from front and back, over the top of them. She’s got a cigarette in one hand, and an extra large McDonalds cup in the other. She looks over and I wave, eager to seem inclusive; and to appear anything other than the stereotype I embody.
The girl returns, “My momma say I can have A apple.”
My heart feels good, “Okay, well sit here and have a picnic with us.”
She says, “I had A picnic with my daddy, but he say the juice was hot. We have a dog. You have a dog?”
My daughter replies, “We have a Gooldendoodle. What kind of dog do you have?”
“We have a little dog.”
“Does your dog have curly hair?”
The girl says, “He have dog hair.” We all laugh.
The two girls sit on the blanket eating out of our bag of snacks, as the friend tells us about how her, ” Momma and daddy fight cause the dog go boo-boo in da bed.” We are all giggling and sharing stories about our dogs. I tell her, “Our dog stinks, ouwee, his paws sure are stinky-winky.” She laughs and tells me, “My daddy wash up my dog cause he stank.” I told her I understood how bad a stanky dog could smell. She puts her plump hand on my arm and leaves it there. I can see the eyes of jealousy staring through my daughter as she looks down at my arm. She scooches herself back into my lap. I touch her hair with my free arm.
The sun is leaving us and the sky is lit up with lines from airplanes, and layers of clouds are forming. Sadie points over to an albino, black girl, “Ewe, what’s wrong with that light skinned girl’s hair?” The friend says, “She gots hair like mines.” I then proceeded to explain the genetic disorder. I don’t think they understood. Sadie responds in a tone like I’m an idiot, “She doesn’t have dark skin moommmy, it’s reeeeally light.” The friend agrees.
I feel a sense of pride as my daughter argues with color-blind language. She and her brother both, refer to people as having either, “light skin,” “dark skin,” “brown skin,” or “yellow skin.” I think highly of myself for raising children without the need to label people beyond descriptive words. (That doesn’t mean I don’t do it behind their backs.)
I’m one of those white people who don’t call black people “African Americans,” to their faces, and then say” black” behind their backs. I was the only white kid in my third grade class, and one of a handful of white kids in the whole elementary. You know I wanted to run over to the mom of Sadie’s new friend and tell her all about how black I am on the inside.
The kids I went to school with didn’t call themselves “African Americans,” They called themselves black, or the “N-word” which I’d love to be able to say, but I learned you can’t say it unless you’re black. I almost got my tail beat by a chunky, vending machine happy, black 5ht grader for using that word.
We were out on the playground learning the lyrics to the song, “It’s A Small World After All.” The song talks about colors of our sight, I may have thrown in the unspeakable word, and that’s when she pushed me. “You don’t say N-e-g-r-o. You white, you a honky.” I went running to the teacher, “Help! Yolanda’s gonna beat me up.” Some of my dark skinned friends came to my rescue, one said, “Teacher, Shanna was teasing.” I may have been white and little, but I had a big mouth, and a large posse to back it up. I was set as “Honky Queen,” in the land of Sheba. I was popular and protected because I was the token white. I was like the female version of the only black kid in all white school, who becomes the star of the football team. I was that kid with the exception of the athletic ability. I was the wit behind the attitude.
The morning of my first “Field Day,” at the all black school I asked my mom if she’d come watch me run in a relay. She did the bare minimum as far as parent involvement at school was concerned, (not unlike myself, however I do a little more, but I’m no PTA mom that’s for sure.) She was stirring orange juice blended with a wheat-like laxative, “This stuff is so growdey, but I’m constipated.”
I ignored her and said, “I promise you’ll see me at Field Day. You know how you’ll see me? I’m on the Green Team, I’ll be the one running in the green t-shirt.” She just fell apart with that statement. She laughed so hard. I didn’t get why she was laughing. I couldn’t see my transparency on the field. She said, “I’ll see you alright, but it won’t be because of your green t-shirt.”
I can’t remember if she came to watch me or not, nor do I remember if I lost or won the race, but I do remember that conversation, and her mixing the breakfast of choice. When I think back, that’s actually the only time I ever remember her being up for breakfast. So maybe she did come as a spectator after all. I don’t blame her if she didn’t, kid stuff can be brain-lame, laborious and exhausting. I dislike (tremendously) doing things I don’t enjoy, especially when it involves my time.
I’m not the type of mom, or person for that matter, who pretends to like things in order to keep the status quo. I wish I could say it’s because I don’t care what people think of me, but the truth is, I just don’t have it in me to do things I don’t like without those around me hearing about it. I’m what others refer to as a complainer, or high maintenance. However, the lighter side of my imaginary- majestic-status is that I’m a woman who knows what she likes and doesn’t, and I’m not afraid to share it with those around me. Even though my confidence sometimes loses me, I’ve always thought of myself as important, and recognizable. Basically, my reality has always circled around me like I’m the main event at every showing.
The night of my son’s practice at the Soccer Field, all loaded down with my recycled bags of insecurities, I wanted the black mom to know I wasn’t who she thought I was. I wanted her to know about my childhood and the diverse nature of my up bringing. The image I portray is what I want the world to believe (most of the time, when it’s convenient,) but I’m a whole lot more than just “What White Chicks Say,” I’m a blend of colorlessness and a collection of colorful stories. I can blend, mold, morph and be comfortable in almost any environment, and damn it, I’ve got a bumper sticker to prove it. (Well at least in my head)
“Writers Do It Better While Writing.”