When Your Child Asks “Is Trump nice?”

Today my four year old asked me if Trump was nice.  She has asked me this many times before.  In the past I have answered this question very carefully.  I have told her that Donald Trump is our president and he lives in Washington DC.  Sometimes that answer is sufficient, but sometimes she continues to dig for a more direct answer.

“So he is nice?!”, she will asks again with a big smile.  She wants him to be nice so badly. I tell her his job is to run our country and protect us.  She thinks that means he is nice.  One day she even drew a picture of him and slept with it.  No joke.

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She drew President Donald Trump and slept with it. I told her to use an orange crayon. I could not help it.

The truth is that I very much dislike our president.  I can’t believe our country voted for such a man, but I can’t tell her that. I can’t tell her that I believe he is ugly on the inside.  I can’t tell her that Donald Trump’s personality is, in fact, a constant reminder of the importance as a mother to teach my children empathy, love and respect. I can’t tell her that he said a Mexican American judge can’t do his job fairly because of his heritage, or that people that come from Mexico are rapist and drug dealers. I can’t.  She knows my parents come from Mexico. She knows her dad’s parents came from Colombia.  She does not know about hate.  She is indifferent to people’s color of skin or ethnicity.  She does not know that the Alt Right is just a modern name for KKK, who believe people like us are beneath them, and we are a threat to their race. She is only four years old.

But today as I watched the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump defend and excuse the “Alt Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, who marched with torches, chanting “Jews will not replace us”, “You will not replace us” and “blood and soil”, I was disgusted.  I could not believe what I was hearing. I could not believe what I was seeing.  How was this real? I was watching Trump’s speech on my phone, and my daughter asked me again, “Is Donald Trump nice?”  I thought about my answer.  I decided I had lied enough. I can’t have her think I was ok with this man’s words.  I can’t with a clean conscience call this man nice, even for the sake of my child’s innocence.  I need her to know where I stand. I want her to tell my grandchildren that I did not vote for that man, and I did not like that man.  For the first time ever I told her that I did not think President Trump is nice.  I told her that some people hate him, and some people like him. She asked me if her teacher likes him. Ugh, of course she has more questions! She will make a great reporter one day! I just hope someone like Trump is not around calling her fake news. I told her I did not know, but that many people in our town do like him, and so I don’t want her to talk about him with her friends.  I told her that I can’t explain to her why I don’t like him because she is too young.  I told her he will not be the president forever, and that one day she will be able to understand why people feel so strongly about him whether it is positive or negative. She was satisfied at last.

Are you honest with your kids about Trump? What is the right age to be honest about Donald Trump with kids?  How do they handle it with their peers? Please share.

 

 

Being Mexican American surrounded by Trump Signs

Next week is our 2nd year anniversary living in Georgia.  I’ve had no regrets about the move. My blog is filled with words and photographs of my love for Georgia’s landscape and weather. From the very day we moved to Georgia we’ve felt welcomed and accepted.  I have to admit, before the move, I had little knowledge of The South. I was nervous about the cultural differences there might be, and if I would be accepted as a Hispanic or a northerner. I think our friends back in Chicago were nervous for us as well.  We often get asked by family and friends if he we have encountered any racism in our Atlanta suburb.  I explain to them the stereotype of The South being racist is not accurate, at least not in our town.  I had to explain to them that strangers would say hello to each other on the street, and I was invited to play dates by the second week of moving into town.  People were extremely polite and kind.

I had thought we found paradise.  I was excited for my children to say “yes ma’am” and enjoy a childhood where they would have the freedom to be outdoors year around.  If only I could stay living in that rose-colored world, but it is an election year, and my perfect suburb is not immune to the divide that the country is experiencing.

The contrast from living in a blue state to living in a red state is very visible now.  Being a Mexican American in a red state is an eye-opening experience. Mexicans were brought into the forefront of the political arena by Donald Trump during his presidential announcement speech when he said, When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

It was insulting to hear him call my parents and relatives that immigrated to the US rapist and criminals.  What is that you say? He said some are good people so that makes it ok. No. He said he “assumes” some are be good people. You see, to assume is to say you are guessing, you are really not sure.

My relatives are citizens now, thanks to Ronald Reagan’s Amnesty program, but I can’t deny our history.  I know they all came to work, and I know they are not drug dealers or rapists. I know most immigrants work in factories, agriculture, hotels, landscaping, housekeeping…not drug dealing. I know that although they may not become rich working in blue-collar jobs, they are giving their children a better life than they lived. I know, I don’t assume.  Trump did not have to walk in my shoes to know this.  It is statistically accurate. It is for that reason that I dislike Donald Trump. I can never support his use of racism to fuel his campaign. Over and over again he paints Mexicans as the enemy, and to me his name is synonymous to a hate symbol.  To discuss securing the border or enforcing immigration laws is what civil people do, but to name call and create an inaccurate portrayal of people that look like me is dangerous and irresponsible.

Currently, Trump signs could be found on front lawns in my Atlanta suburb. Trump bumper stickers are on cars, and people wear “Make America Great Again” hats. At first it made my heart break every time I saw a Trump sign. For the first time since I had moved here I felt unwanted.  I felt that these people must all agree with Trump, who said he could not trust a Mexican American judge because of his Mexican heritage and Mexican billionaire is conspiring with Hillary and the New York Times to create a sex scandal against him.  When in trouble he finds a Mexican to blame. Seeing the vast Trump support in Georgia I wondered if we made a mistake in moving here. Don’t get me wrong, I have to say that there are many other people in my suburb that feel like I do about Trump. It just seems that by the look of the lawn Trump signs we are outnumbered.

If I lived in Chicago,  I would most definitely write these Trump supporters off as crazy.   It is so easy to think of people as crazy if you don’t know them.  Now they were my neighbors and friends.  I could read their posts on Facebook, where they expressed their distrust in Hillary Clinton and their desire to protect their conservative values.  They are not voting for Trump. They are voting for the party. There are a few who truly do like Trump and insisted the media was to blame for my taking offense to Donald’s Trumps comments, as if it all his comments were not taped on video for all to replay, however, for the most part, as I heard Trump’s supporters reasons for supporting him I found out they care about taxes, the security of the country, gun laws, abortion laws, etc.  They did not like Trump for the racist things he said.  Those comments were just irrelevant to them.  It was something to accept or rationalize in order to protect something higher in their priority list. They don’t hate me, they hate Hillary. In fact they hate Hillary as much as I hate Trump.

Last week I was at my kid’s soccer game.  A man was wearing a Trump shirt.  I read his shirt and looked up and our eyes met. I looked away. I don’t know how that man feels about me, but I do know how the friends I’ve made feel about me.  They reach out to offer help if my kids are sick.  I see them tell their kids to stand up for other kids that get bullied. I see them do their best at parenting.  I no longer think we made a mistake in moving to this suburb of Atlanta.  I realize that it is important for me to be here.  Just like it would have been easy for me to call Trump supporters crazy if I lived in Chicago, it would be easy for Trump supporters to not care how Trump’s words affect me if they’ve never met anyone like me. I can’t defend some of the claims against Hillary and they can’t defend some of the claims against Trump. We have limited choices. We are forced to make the best choice for our family.  I needed to write this and be at peace.  I needed it to make sense to me. No matter who you support politically being able to look at issues through someone else’s eyes can bring a feeling of peace and calm.  I am now glad for this opportunity. My political stance is unchanged, but at least now I can respect the opposing views, and I hope that by being in Georgia I’ve helped someone else respect mine.

 

A Mexican, Colombian, American Christmas

I can’t function without a plan.  I find that I get lost, I forget things and I don’t complete tasks.  I know this about myself, and therefore I am usually armed with a list and detailed plan.  Currently, I feel like I have failed to plan Christmas, and I am behind. In my defense we spent Thanksgiving in Hawaii, and when we returned our Christmas tree was not up, my son had an ear infection and my daughter had hand food and mouth disease. It took us awhile to get ourselves together and back on track. Our tree just went up last Sunday, December 6th.  I decorated the kitchen, dining room and living room. My husband decorated outside and put up the stockings. He found the Elf on the Shelf, but has only moved it twice. I bought a snowman clock that tells us how many days are left for Christmas. It currently says there are 20 days, but there are actually 16 days left until Christmas.  I feel like I suck at Christmas.

I wonder if my disorganization this Christmas comes from the fact that the Christmas that my husband and I are creating for our kids is a mishmash of  traditions from our Latino upbringing, American traditional Christmas and some new traditions of modern times.  It is like creating a new recipe as you go — add a little of this and a little of that and hope that it all turns out good.  We are making it up as we go, creating a new Christmas for our family that is Mexican, Colombian and American.

Growing up my family use to celebrate Christmas with my mom’s family or my dad’s family.  They took turns. They each had 10 siblings.  At that time not all of them were in the US and not all had children.  We all fit in one house.  The house was still packed, but somehow us kids had room for running around, and the adults had room for dancing. Those were fun times! We ate traditional Mexican Christmas foods: tamales, ponche (Mexican spiced punch) and bunuelos (dessert that looks like elephant ears) and the families all brought additional dishes to share.  From ribs to chile rellenos, rice, spaghetti, you could find it all at our Christmas buffet style dinner.   The party started Christmas Eve at around 6pm and lasted until 2am.  Everyone would stay up to wish each other a merry Christmas at midnight and open gifts.  It was awesome opening gifts at midnight.  Only once did the adults pretend that Santa Claus dropped off the presents (it was my Godfather in a Santa costume).  The rest of the years everyone brought the gifts over.  My mom would label some from Santa and others from Mom and Dad. She used the same wrapping paper. That is the extent to which the adults kept the Santa fantasy alive.  Maybe I was just very gullible, or maybe I suspected the truth and decided to pretend like everyone else. Whatever the case, celebrating Christmas was always fun, and one of my favorite holidays.  It was the perfect celebration.

I thought Christmas would always be celebrated like those days of my childhood, but in marriage each family redefines their traditions.  Some traditions are passed on, others are dropped and new ones are added. Here is what Christmas looks like for my family now.

Keep:

It is a breeze to pass along the core of what it means to be hispanic to me: music and food!  I make sure to play Spanish Christmas songs at home and the smell of cinnamon, cloves and orange from the ponche fills my home.  I make the Mexican bunuelos, and have added Colombian bunuelos to the table to represent my husband’s culture.  I am happy to have kept these traditions even if we are far from family and our party only includes my husband, my children and I.

Drop:

There are other traditions, however, that are harder to keep.  I refuse to dedicate two days to making tamales.  Maybe when my kids are older I will have that luxury.  I could even invite friends to help me!  For now I will buy them if I can find them, but it may not be possible in my suburb where hispanics are only 7% of population. Another tradition that has been dropped is staying up past midnight on Christmas Eve.  I loved this tradition as a child, but my kids are 3 and 4 years old. I don’t think they could stay up until midnight even if it is for presents.  The truth is that I like the idea of the kids opening up their gifts Christmas morning….it makes it easier to explain that Santa brings the presents, it allows us to go to church on Christmas Eve and it takes the focus away from the presents.

Add:

Besides waiting until Christmas morning to open presents we are incorporating other American Christmas traditions like mailing Christmas cards.  It makes sense with living so far from family (family: you won’t all get one because there are a zillion of you). We also now put up Christmas stockings, count down to Christmas on a Snowman’s wooden face and do Elf of the Shelf. At first I did not like Elf on the Shelf, but after I discovered that the Elf watches the children and reports back to Santa on their behavior, my husband and I decided it was worth a try.  It could not hurt (and we can use the help). Also, the kids will pick out one ornament a year.

This is my new recipe for Christmas. A little of this and a little of that. I think it will come out alright!  As I speak with other moms I am starting to understand that being a frazzled mom in December has less to do with trying to redesign our Christmas, and more to do with just trying to keep up with all the American traditions. Being frazzles is a something that comes with the territory. My mom friends in the suburbs have their A game out:  awesome cookie recipes, the most clever Elf on the Shelf poses, DIY Pinterest Advent Caladers and I have just discovered keeping the Santa dream alive requires different wrapping paper and pen for the gifts from Santa. I am taking notes.  Next year I hope for a smoother running Mexican, Colombian, American Christmas!

 

 

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Mexican Bunuelos and Colombian Bunuelos look and taste nothing alike
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I put the Elf on the Shelf at the table so my kids would be encouraged to eat…it did not work 😦
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This is how we are keeping track of Christmas, except I can’t keep track of the tracker. Next year I hope to get it together for Christmas :-/ Snowmans remind me of Chicago 🙂

Passing On The Legacy Of Flavors

My mom is an amazing cook, who has spoiled me with delicious food, and is the person I credit for my love of cooking. Now, I have my own kids, and sharing the flavors of my childhood with them brings me great pleasure.  As a 1st generation Mexican American, food and music are the only two things that remain of my culture. I know Spanish as well, but I tend to only use it when needed. My thoughts and dreams are in English but my taste buds crave saltly, spicy, sour and sweet all in one bite and I am only inspired to sing when I hear Spanish lyrics. That is my reality. Who knows what parts of the Latino culture will remain in my 2nd generation Mexican/Colombian American children? So far I am doing a terrible job in the language and music department so that leaves me with food.  It is my mission to pass on the biggest treasure of my family and culture to my children: cooking! I will share these recipes with you. I hope they help you reproduce flavors of your childhood, or maybe help you create new flavors and traditions in your family.

I will share family recipes and also recipes that I will translate from the internet.  You see, many “Mexican” recipes on the internet are modified to the point that they don’t look anything like what they are suppose to be. I am sure they are delicious, but what the internet is passing off as enchildadas is in reality just a tortilla casserole. If all I have to pass on to my children, as part of their heritage, is food then I want the recipes to be as authentic as possible! Sometimes in order to get an authentic recipe you have to do your search in Spanish. Makes sense.  Spanish recipes can be difficult to follow since the author usually uses the metric system (ain’t nobody got time for that), or they tend to leave out details assuming you are already familiar with cooking techniques. I am very excited to translate internet recipes and share my family recipes. I hope you find it helpful. If there is a particular dish you want me to share please leave a comment.

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