Monthly Archives: August 2010

August 26th

I ran out of court themed titles, so I just decided to name this post after the date on which the final judgment was meant to be had.

I woke up that morning, pretty confident that the judgment was going to be in my favor. I mean after all, Douche Bag had come to the Superior Court seeking full custody of my eldest on the grounds that her hair was “busted” every time he picked her up.

A few unexpected things happened that morning. As I tipped into the judicial building precariously on heels I hadn’t worn in two years, I got stares of admiration  from homeless men and vagabonds. I haven’t been ogled in a while, since my appearance has been in decline with the birth of each successive child, so I was somewhat flattered. Once inside the building, I was told after going through the metal detectors that I would have to leave my camera in the security office. The very (very) elderly security guard flirted with me and upon my departure, groaned ever so slightly and begged me to come back and see him when I came to get my camera. Again, I was somewhat pleased, because I hadn’t been flirted with in a while…but ewww. As I turned the corner to get to our assigned meeting room, a young man in his late 20s exclaimed “Dayum!”. I could practically feel his eyes boring into my backside. 10 years ago, I would have been annoyed and cut my eyes at him; but all 32 year old, overweight Malaka wanted to do was turn around, thank him, and give him a big hug.

Concerning the judgment - It was like bringing paper clips to a knife fight.

Douche Bag greeted the judicial officer with a cautious “good morning” and a hopeful look in his eye. For my part, I hadn’t even got my butt in the seat before she said:

“Alright. Here’s what we’re gonna do. Your daughter is going to go with her mother to Ghana on a temporary basis. You will have visitation with her everyday via Skype. You (pointing to me) will bring her back here on November 19th to get the final judgment from the superior judge. Normally, we’d allow you to read the social services report, but why? Basically, all it says is that she’s bonded with her mom, she’s excited about going, so she’s going.”

She looked down at a stack of papers, looked back at us and began to scribble. Douche Bag sunk into his chair.

“So that’s it?” he asked in despair. “She’s just gonna go? You just make it sound so simple; like dats it!”

“It’s not simple at all Mr. Douche Bag,” she said briskly. “It’s a horrible, horrible situation. I recognize that you love your daughter, and she loves you…but she is bonded to her mother, and I’m not going to take her away from her. I’m not going to do that to her.”

She delivered the news as if telling him he had cancer, was going to die in a week, and to suck it up. She turned and looked at me.

“This has nothing to do with you, you understand.”

I raised my eyebrows and nodded in quick agreement.

“So dats it?” he said again. His lips began to quiver.

“Yes. What time do you get off work Mr. Douche Bag? We need to schedule a time for you to have skype visits with her.”

“About 8 o’clock.”

“So that means she would be in bed at midnight. What time does she go in for school Mrs. Grant?”

“At 8 am,” I replied.

As she mumbled about dates and times, Douche Bag broke down and wept uncontrollably. The officer and I looked at the floor uncomfortably. I feigned morose. Any sympathy I might have felt for him was quelled when I recalled what he had said to me in a moment of privacy in court just a few months before.

Yeah nigga,” he chuckled. “I bet you wish you never had a baby by me, huh? Next time, put a sock on the pickle.”

I looked at the man who had put me through 5 years of hell – costing me money, sleepless nights, my self esteem, joy and at times my sanity.

Yeah nigga,” I thought. “Next time, put a sock on the pickle and maybe you won’t be sitting in court crying like a beeyotch.

My thoughts were interrupted when he suddenly fled the room -  or attempted to flee the room.

“How do I open this door?” he sobbed.

“Turn the handle and pull it,” the judicial officer said flatly.

He left the room hurriedly and left she and I to sort out the details of our return and skype visits.

In the adjacent court room, the superior judge was hearing a case of a divorced couple with 2 boys. It was a mess. The mom was holding her own against his lawyer who was just being a total jerk, drilling her about silly things that had everything to do with nothing. I thanked my stars that I was lucky enough never to have married that dirt bag.

*****2 days later****

Douche asked me if Na could spend the night at his house for the last time. I wanted to remind him that it was NOT the last time, we’d be back in November, having wasted thousands of dollars when all he had to do was drop this suit and save me some money.

“Sure.” I replied.

I told her that she was going over to his house and she immediately burst into tears.

“I don’t want to go,” she cried. “I want to stay with you!”

All I could see was him waving his court order in my face.

“Sweetie, you’ll be back tomorrow,” I said. “If you still don’t want to go when I drop you off, we can come back home. Just tell him you want to stay.”

I packed her into the car and drove her to what must have felt like her doom. When we arrived, she kept herself buckled in her seat and refused to budge. He walked up  to the car and asked what was wrong.

“She doesn’t want to go,” I said.

He rolled his eyes, roughly unbuckled her and commanded her to come on.

“You only have one more day with your daddy,” he said.

I watched her walk off bravely, sobbing silently, her shoulders and chest heaving. It brought back memories of when she would flail every time she saw him as an infant.

“Hey!” I yelled. “Are you really going to make her cry???”

“How am I making her cry?” he asked in irritation.

“Look at her!”

He saw his child holding his hand, mourning with  huge tears rolling down her  face.

“Let me talk to her,” he said.

I sat in the parking lot for 25-30 minutes. He could be very persuasive, and I was certain he would bribe her with some phantom treat or blackmail her emotionally. After a while, he walked her back to my car, strapped her in, and gave her a final kiss. Wit for wit, she had outmatched him and gotten what she wanted. She is her father’s child in that way. I was certain he would accuse me of plotting against him. Whatever.

As his car disappeared in my rear view, all I could think was Dag! Talk about adding insult to injury. You’re so reprehensible, your own child doesn’t want to spend her final days with you.

Welp! You know what they say about the wages of sin.

This is Ghana: Get your mind right

This Tuesday I leave for de mudda lan’ – Ghana. I haven’t packed a stitch of clothing as of this morning. It really doesn’t matter, because 40% of what I enter the country with will be confiscated anyway.

I love my people, God knows I do…but I can’t STAND the way they hustle me for my belongings!

I can already tell you how this trip is going to go:

First of all, I’ve gotten off pretty easy this trip. I’ve avoided the God-awful ritual of 600 Ghanaians asking me to carry a perfume, a bag of shirts or a washing machine to their mother. Every Ghanaman assumes that their traveling brethren is some sort of substitute for UPS. It’s not that I mind taking a package back home for my friends: It’s just that that package is usually overweight, will cost me an extra $200 in fees, and said mother of said friend(s) will insist that I deliver the goods to her home at her convenience with little more than a ‘thank you and please be on your way’.

Having avoided that little quagmire, I can skip directly to the airport experience.

As soon as the cabin doors open, a burst of scorching hot air will assault me. I will then take in a deep breath, smile, and gingerly walk down the metal ladder onto the tarmac where a bus will eventually shuttle 3 of my 4 kids and I to the arrival hall. We will then wait in a long line in immigration before we are herded to baggage claim where only one of the three conveyors works.  An airport official will manually open every individual suitcase to check for contraband. Upon noticing that I have a plethora of candies and other goodies, he/she will comment on how “nice my biscuits looks” and eye me expectantly. I will then say “thank you” and politely offer the inspector a packet if they like. He/she will smile, rummage through the lot, and take the package of their choice.

A slew of porters will ask me if I need help pushing my bags on the trolly just 60 feet ahead to the exit doors. They will then forcefully take the handle of said trolly, as this is good “customer service”. Generally, I rebuff these services, but because I will be traveling with so many little children, I’ll let it happen. He will then push our bags to my father’s waiting vehicle and try to pack the bags into it. My father will scowl, smack the man’s hand and pack the vehicle himself. The porter will assume that I am an ignorant akata, and try to joss me for a $10 tip. I’ll give him a buck.

I learned last week that my dad’s pick up is in the shop, barely on its last legs. That truck should have been put to pasture years ago. He has informed me that he will arrive at Kotoka in a rented “bone shaker” (those lorries that jar you senseless as they hit every pothole because they have no suspension ). My children will either be giddy with delight or permanently traumatized.

As we leave the airport, beggars will swarm our vehicle at every red light looking morosely into the car. If I give then money, God will bless me – if I don’t they will mutter a slew of curses and hurl insults in my direction. I’ll take the insults and keep my pesewas.

As soon as we get home, my father will rummage through our bags looking for his requested items, and then ‘suggest’ I leave this shirt, that skirt, that bag and this shoe for one of my numerous ‘cousins’. I will of course oblige. This is Ghana.

In earlier days, my neighborhood friends would have asked me what I brought them from America. I don’t live in Labone any more and all my ‘hood friends are grown up, having kids of their own and live in different parts of the city. I have no candy bars and toys to dish out. Instead, the users of the group will expect me to pay for dinner when we go out (because after all, I just came from America where money grows on trees), the ones who have lived abroad themselves will pay for their own meal, and my best buddies will “spread” me just because they’re so glad to see me (that, and they know I really don’t have any money…all I have is a BUNCH of kids).

Next, I’ll have to get my mind right for utter nonsense.

I don’t know why Ghanaians love to litter. I will certainly be infuriated as I watch my father suck down his pure water sachet and toss it out the window as we drive though town. I will scold him for doing it, until I look along the dusty streets of Accra and scope a sea of black polythene bags, water sachets and all manner of ungodly discards.

Some politician on the radio will make an unfounded and asinine assertion that all female politicians are prostitutes. His superiors will not call for his contrition, even though his uttering is imbecilic. Dim witted female politicians will clamor for his promotion. “Ehhh, after all, what he said is true!” They will then list 6 women in power, accusing them of prostitution. An on-air slug fest will ensue, embroiling the country in NONSENSE and detracting from weightier issues.

At some point, I will go to the tailor with some nice fabric and they will invariably ruin my outfit/design.

“I asked for short sleeves,” I’ll say.

“Oh! But sista. Long sleeves is nice. This one will rather suit you,” they’ll say in explanation. I will then have to go berserk and insist that he/she cut my sleeves and give me the style I asked for!

In a week, I’ll go to get my hair braided and ask for brown extensions. Because the beauty shop owner has a truck full of gawd-awful red weave, she will try to pawn it off on me by saying: “Sista. This one is nice. This one will rather suit you.” Upon running her fingers through my natural hair, she will then suggest that she put some “small perming cream inside” to soften it up. Frowning, I’ll tell her to go and find some brown hair, keep her perming cream and hurry up and braid me. She will insult me in some local vernacular which I will pretend not to understand. You don’t fight with your hair dresser.

After making all the necessary rounds to greet half the country and let them know I’ve arrived, I will endure a cascade of shocked and disapproving statements concerning my weight.

“Oh! Malaka. This is too much. Why? Are you eating all the cake, cookies and french fries in America? You have to come down.”

No one knows this better than me. After all, I have to lug this 230 lbs arse around daily, don’t I? I will laugh it off and say that I will try to loose weight. My critics will then offer me a big bowl of fufu/banku/jollof rice – all loaded with complex starches, and none the harbinger for weight loss.

Later, I’ll go to the beach and watch the waves hit the shore, without a care in the world. The azure blue water will delight my eyes and gentle warm breezes will lull me to sleep. I’ll sigh inwardly, reflecting on how good it is to be home.  As I prepare to doze off, an enterprising young man will approach me, rouse me my moment of zen, and try to sell me sea shells. At the beach.

????

This is Ghana. Gotta love it.

Judging Shaquan Duley

Last week, Shaquan Duley suffocated her 2 and 1 year old sons in a motel room, strapped them into their car seats, drove 10 miles away and back the car into a river with their lifeless bodies still inside.

Today, she sits in jail on murder charges.

For most people familiar with the story, it seems an open and shut case. She’s been called a “fat piece of trash” who should be “hung from the nearest branch”. She’s a cruel, heartless monster. She has to be, after all, right? I mean, how could a mother look down at her two children and willfully smother them? The truth is, it’s easier than most people realize or want to admit.

There is a dark side to motherhood that nobody ever talks about. There is a reason that women are given 1-800 hotline numbers routing them to a crisis center in their discharge papers after delivering a baby. People were never meant to raise human beings alone, and caring for a perfect stranger (which is what your baby is) can be a daunting task. Some women love their children immediately they exit the womb; most have to grow to love them. ‘Single mother’ is not a title most women ascribe to – it’s an unfortunate situation that many find themselves in. Consciously making the decision to be a single mother is the career equivalent of running full tilt off a cliff in the Grand Canyon…every day. Raising and caring for children is truly the hardest thing one will ever do. It’s mentally taxing, physically exhausting, and spiritually draining. As a stay at home mom, I can say with honesty that I would rather spend my weekdays on tour in Iraq than contend with my four children. I, like other moms, am rewarded with 2 things: the moments of joy that motherhood brings, and the knowledge that my children will eventually have to leave my house.

If you ask a woman who is honest, she will confess one of two things. She either knows someone who has thought of hurting her kids, or has thought of hurting her own herself. The overwhelming majority OF COURSE do not, which is why Duley’s case seems so abominable. Though you may have the urge to wring little Junior’s neck, your “mom bone” (the organ that stores your unconditional love for your child) keeps you from doing it. I have a cousin who told me that she was so depressed after her son was born, she thought about smothering him with a pillow in his crib as he slept. I heard a stranger  say she has contemplated taking her kids to the mall and walking away. I myself have been driving and looked longingly at the side of a brick wall or a ditch and envisioned myself crashing my vehicle into either one, consuming us all in a fiery inferno. Some days, it just gets to you.  And like most women raising children in America today, Shaquan Duley did not have much help. We don’t live in Mayberry anymore.

What she DID have was a nagging, overbearing mother, drilling her about being “more responsible” for her kids. No one needs a harpie re-emphasizing the obvious. Having recently lost her job, I’m sure Duley was very much aware that she unemployed and single. Combined with the noise of her 2 small children, I can only imagine that her mother’s utterances (no matter how ‘well intentioned’) could not have been very soothing. If you poke a person long enough, eventually they will snap. From what I read, Duley was an oak tree; strong, steadfast, accommodating to a fault, a little too rigid and a little too self reliant. But to survive motherhood, you have to be a willow – You have to bend when the storms of life come your way so that you WON’T snap.You have to ask for help, and keep asking till it comes.

In hindsight, many people in her town and those closest to her now opine and say they would have helped her with her kids if only she had asked. Really? Think about how many times you, dear reader, have asked a friend for something as simple as a ride only to be given the run around? Everybody knows a single mother needs help. It’s not rocket science. Shoot, I have a spouse and I still don’t see how I’m going to make it through the day. The wages of motherhood is death, and those wages are taken in the form of the passing away of a woman’s former life. For Duley, it seemed she sadly tried to resurrect that life by taking those of her poor two sons.

I don’t excuse Shaquan Duley for what she did. It was horrific, and it was wrong. She is distraught over it, just as Susan Smith is, I’m sure. What I don’t do is rush to judge her. She is not the pillar of strength society would have all mothers to be. She gave in to a moment of weakness, and now she must pay for her actions.

When I was a child, I once saw a mother hen peck her newborn hatch-ling to death. It was born feeble and probably would never made it past 3 days on its on anyway. My grandmother helped me understand that animals kill their offspring if they are born flawed and cannot care for themselves in the long run. Basically, defective young make the job of parenting too hard. Of all life forms on Earth, human babies have the longest time frame of dependency on their parents. Cases like Duley’s force us to ask ourselves how much higher than animals we truly are.

PS: Do something nice for a mother today, whether she appears to be struggling or not. She’ll never say it, but she needs some help.

I’m Your Bigot

Arrgghhh!!!

I am SO sick of American political correctness. There used to be a time when people could engage in conversation, say what they mean (and mean what they say), listen to the other guy’s opinion and politely agree to disagree. End of discussion.

Now?

Now, if I  didn’t vote for Obama and I happened to be White, I’m a racist. I’f I’m Black, I’m a sell out. If I espouse that illegal aliens ought to return to their country of origin and then come back LATER and enter the country legally, I’m a racist. If I agree with something Glenn Beck says, I’m a racist (or a sell out, or an Uncle Tom). If I say plainly (as the Bible does) that a gay lifestyle is a sin before God, I’m a homophobe. The Bible also says (plainly) that it’s a sin to have sex out of wedlock (and that includes animals), but I don’t get called a name for pointing that out as well, do I. So what? I can’t say what’s true because it might “offend” some minority or special interest group? Well let me help everyone out.

I’M YOUR RACIST.

That’s right. Before you can label me, I’ll label myself with your weak description. The word racist has been thrown out so much now it doesn’t even hold weight anymore. Who cares if anyone is a “racist”? If you have a differing opinion with anyone of a dissimilar background, you are suddenly intolerant and  - *shudder* – racists.

Gimme a friggin’ break.

And now this mosque thing.

Do Muslims have a right to build that mosque 2 blocks from Ground Zero? Abso-stinkin-lutey. This is America. If they pay market price for the property and have the crew and materials to set up a structure, they can do whatever they like. The question is: Should they?

Let me put it to you this way. Building a place of worship that salutes the religion under whose banner the worst terror attack on American soil to date has taken place is a little more than insulting. It’s the equivalent of the Klan blowing up the King Center and then building a massive, lavish Klan rally center on the ashes. – But wait! Everyone is welcome to use the facility if they like.

Before all my Muslim and friends sympathetic to Islam get on my nuts about that analysis – let me say it for you: I’M A BIGOT.

I am totally intolerant of this intolerance for debate, which all too often quickly degenerates into name calling and mud slinging. Allow me to save you the trouble. I’m already rolling around in the muck.

A FOKN Fine Evening

Gawd I’m such a groupie.

That very fine dark cho-co-late man is M3nsa, the other half of the duo Fokn Boys. He traveled aaallll the way from Spain to give us a screening of the film Coz of Moni, a Ghanaian musical done entirely in pidgen English.

It was 45 minutes of brilliance.

I haven’t cackled that hard in a few weeks, so it was with great joy that I forked over $15 to buy the DVD after the show was over. And because I paid $15 to enter the show, and another $15 for my husband – who has a limited understanding of pidgen – to enter the show, and a $2.50 ATM surcharge to get the money to buy aforementioned DVD, I was all over the star of the film like stink on poo. Not to mention I neglected to put on nursing pads before I left the house. No sooner had the film started, I felt a warm wetness drip down my back. Marshall offered to go get me some paper towels and in the darkness of the theater I padded my bra to stop the flow of liquid gold. I required much in repayment. I took his autograph on my CD, made him write a dedication to me on super big Post It, and took 3 pictures featuring me grinning like an Adenta bred Cheshire cat. I asked M3nsa if he felt appropriately “groupified”. He giggled in response. Mission accomplished. Was my husband embarrassed?  Of course. When is he not when we go out together?

As we left the theater, a massive 6′ 4″ Black man stopped us and humbly asked us for assistance. A victim of the economy, he (Michael was his name) explained that he had lost his job and needed some items on his grocery list. I caught a gleam in Marshall’s eye. If you are going to ask me for my money, you are going to hear about Christ.

After we went to Kroger and picked up a few items on the list, the most important being diapers (according to Michael), Marshall began to ask him about his spiritual life. It turns out the guy was the typical American Christian: given to some vice (his being drink), neither a zealot nor really dedicated but somewhere in the middle, did not have a personal relationship with his pastor and had not been to church in more than a month – which means 6 months. Marshall gave him what I felt was really good counsel and encouraged him to be an example to others even in his economic state.

“Even though I still have my job, I don’t have much money either,” Marshall confided. “I still have to be a godly example to my family and society.”

Michael nodded in agreement.

They exchanged a few more words, gave each other a manly hand shake and hug and bid each other farewell. Michael watched us hop into Marshall’s shiny black Mercedes as he trudged off in the thick Atlanta humidity, lugging his groceries in thin plastic bags. I could almost read Micheal’s mind. Not much money huh? I couldn’t help but feel like a little bit of an impostor. Marshall pointed out that his car was 13 yrs old and only worth $3000. That made me feel much better very quickly.

Yes indeed, it was a fokn fine evening for everyone.

Hi Ho, Away We Go to Court!…Again.

Have you ever looked across the room at someone and said to yourself: “Man! I can’t believe I had intercourse and procreated with this retard”?

Well, at least 4 times a year I find myself in that very position; the latest being last Wednesday.

My final oder requires me to give Douche Bag a 30 days notice telling when/where I plan relocate with my eldest – so that’s what I did on August first. Before I could throw a t-shirt into a suitcase, a sheriff showed up at my door to deliver a summons. He had filed paperwork to get an emergency custody hearing. I thought he might try to amend the terms of his visitation… but custody?? He’d lost what little bit of mind God gave him if he thought that was ever going to happen.

I spent the first half of the week in a tizzy. This was a custody hearing…a huge deal! I frantically contacted lawyers in my area to get estimates on representation. They all wanted too much money in too short a time. $150 for a consultation and $1500 to appear in court that day. There was no way I could raise that money in 2 days. Truth be told, we HAD the money, but those funds were meant for our move to Africa, not for frivolity. I had to take a step in faith: I prepared a 4 page document and got ready to represent myself…again…and hope to God that everything would be okay. I mean, this was a custody hearing.

When I arrived at the court house, I saw him conferring with some dodgy looking people before our case was called. I was certain Douche Bag was going to show up with some damaging evidence, some proof that I was a negligent mother – a crack whore, perhaps – certainly HE would have a lawyer, right?

WRONG.

We entered the judicial officer’s conference room. She was a 40-something, no-nonsense, racially ambiguous woman.

“Are we missing any attorneys?” she asked

We shook our heads. She then confirmed why we were there and asked us to raise our right hands and swear to tell the truth. Douche Bag stuttered saying he “would”, “I do” and then giggled.

“So, Mr Douche Bag (she didn’t really call him that). Tell me what’s going on.”

“Ma’am, I got an email on Sunday saying she was moving out of the country. All she gave was an address and phone number, saying she was going to Africa and that was it.  How am I supposed to protect my little girl if she’s in Africa…I mean not to say her mom wouldn’t protect her…but we’re just now starting to bond. She should stay with me.”

That was it?? This is a custody hearing dude! Where’s the bravado? Where are the fancy lawyers in pin-stripped suits? Where’s the irrefutable evidence to prove that I’m an unfit mother and that she is better off with you? Wow, this was going to be easier than I thought. Suddenly, I felt like an overdressed prom queen at a NASCAR rally.

“Ms. Grant, how would you like to respond?”

“I have a prepared statement that I’d like to read, if that’s okay. It should take 4.5 minutes to complete.”

“Go right ahead.”

6 minutes later, I completed my verbal onslaught. I decimated him with my words, my countenance cool and my tone matter of fact. I informed the court that as of that day, he was 60 days in arrears in support payments, he had lost yet another job (his 7th in 6 years), he had chosen to go to NC to visit his uncle instead of bonding with the child and laid out a whole host of character flaws that sadly comprise his nature. I concluded by saying that if I did not have any regard for him as a father, I would have run off with the child like the mother of his first born son did (he’s 4 years Na’s senior) or if I did not love her, I would have aborted her like the 6 other women  he impregnated, one of whom 6 months after Na was born. I offered a compromise. He could keep her for 90 days in the summer and a week at Christmas. I’d pay half the ticket cost if he would do the same. I folded my hands and waited.

The room went deathly silent until he blurted out: “That’s a load of crap! There’s so much crap in there, I don’t even know where to begin!”

He went onto a tirade telling the judicial officer that he went to NC to visit his uncle who helped raise him because he was on life support (Lie: He met the man 3 years ago). He then asked if he was such a bad parent/person, why did I sleep with him (Chicken before the egg, you idiot). THEN, the kicker. “And that boy she’s talking about, I don’t even know if that’s my son or not. His mother was sleeping with 2 or 3 other men at the time, and she knows that!”

What?? Folks, I need you to understand what he was saying. This man spent countless nights lamenting the loss of his son to me. Wishing he could find him, and cursing this woman for taking the boy away from him. He has a picture of him as an infant in his album. Nicole (“that woman”) told him that if he did not marry her, he would never see his son again. Clearly, he chose not to. But it begs the question: Why does he have a picture of a boy he is not sure is his? I was actually rendered speechless.

The judicial officer, was not, however. She cut him off just as he was saying:

“And I have here a signed statement from my beautician talking about her hair. Every time I pick up my daughter her hair is all busted and I gotta spend $40-50 to get it done…”

“Look, let me redirect you,” she said sharply. “I really don’t care if you got her hair done. What are you going to do/give this child that is better than what her mom is offering? Is she going to be in school?”

“Yeah! I live in Tucker. We got great schools in Tucker!”

“I know she’ll be in school,” she countered. “But does she have any friends at that school?”

“No,” he replied. “But I got friends who have kids who are 3-4 years old. She can play went them. He paused and added “But she don’t have no friends in Ghana neither.”

“But she has her siblings,” I interjected.

“Mr. Douche Bag, what about Mrs. Grant’s offer to give you 90 days in the summer?”

He shook his head. “No way ma’am. It’s not enough.”

“You mean to tell me that you’re not interested in spending 90 consecutive days with your daughter plus a week at Christmas?” she asked incredulously.

“No. This move to Africa is just another way for her to keep me from my child. She said she would. I have an email where she said so.”

For real?

“Let me see the email,” commanded the judge.

He began to fumble through a short stack of papers. Nothing surfaced. He kept shuffling.

“While you look for that email, I’ll be back,” she said.

She left us alone with the bailiff, who eventually got bored and left the room. Douche kept shuffling through his emails to find this phantom note that I had left him. Finally, he pulled out a single sheet and placed it in her seat. Whatever it was, it was printed out of context and probably edited. Our email strings are always combative and at least 4 pages long. That dirt bag. Twenty minutes later, the judge re-emerged and (sort of) apologized for her absence.

“Here’s what we’re going to do,” she said brusquely. “You guys are going to meet with the social services coordinator. Give her any emails you need to when you meet. She has a lot going on right now. We’re going to reconvene here on the 26th…ON MY DAY OFF. I’m not even supposed to be here, but we’re going to meet.”

She then pointed at me.

“When are you supposed to leave?”

“The 31st.”

“Right. The 31st. Because you’re getting on that plane and leaving on the 31st, aren’t you? Aren’t you.”

“Uhh…yes. I am?” She seemed to be telling me, not asking me.

She dismissed us, and I thanked her for spending her day off with us.

“Yeah…it’s exactly how I wanted to spend my day,” she retorted with snark. I liked her.

So now we wait. In the interim, douchey is trying to convince my daughter that she’ll be living with him from now on, despite her repeated protests. Stay tuned for the next chapter of Douche Bag floats me into court again on his river of slimy vaginal water due out next week!

A Week From Hell

And I mean that literally.

I’m one of those Christians who doesn’t pay too much attention to the devil. The devil is going to do what he’s going to do, after all. There are some folks who think that every cold and headache are agents of destruction from the devil…whereas in reality, they are the result of shaking hands with dirty people who have the cold virus – who in turn spread it to them. It’s logical.

What is illogical is the type of week I’ve had so far, the contents of which can only truly be attributed as an assignment from the Father of Hades. Everyone has hellish weeks, and it apparently was my time on the devil’s rotation.

It started Sunday. After taking my daughter’s to IHOP to explain what our move to Africa would mean to them, and seeking to reassure them that they would make new friends and still have contact with the ones they’ve made here, I felt confident that they were mentally prepared for this big change. As soon as we got in the car to go home, I got a call from my husband.

“Got some douche baggery for you,” he said.

“What?”

“The sheriff just showed up with a summons from Douche Bag for an emergency hearing. He’s seeking full custody of Na and trying to prevent you from taking her from the country.”

Bollocks!

(I’ll have to talk about that in my next post. The hearing was this Wednesday and it was a sheer comedy. Trust me, you’ll laugh.)

I spent the better part of the first half of the week preparing for my hearing, when I should have been trying to finish up some paperwork for a grant we’re trying to secure to fund our venture in South Africa. I was frustrated and annoyed. I was losing sleep and breast milk. I developed a ringing in my ears. I wasn’t happy, my newborn wasn’t happy, and there was a tremendous spillover effect. After our comedic court hearing on Wednesday, I was certain that my week was about to get better. By 9:00 am Thursday morning the devil showed me he wasn’t quite finished yet.

Still attempting to finish up this grant paperwork, every possible disruption you could think of took place in my home. The kids were insatiable; dirty dishes miraculously kept multiplying in the sink; the baby would not be still unless she was being held; my eldest kept whining and complaining about being bored, despite the  options I gave her to entertain herself; the second born just kept whining, period – I was making no progress with my day and was fatigued all around. I didn’t think it could get much worse.

As if bent to prove me wrong and dash whatever inkling of joy and sanity I might have left, the final blow was dealt to me by Nadjah, first fruit of my womb – the one who is supposed to love her mother best. In an attempt to have some “alone time”, she went into my bedroom, turned the lock, stepped OUT of my bedroom and then slammed the door. It was 5 pm, I had prepared myself to go off duty and retreat to my room (which was now locked tight) when my husband came home at 6:30.

I.HAD.HAD.IT.

“I can’t believe this!” I screamed into the phone. Marshall was on the other end. “All I want to do is take a nap! I can’t anything done, and now I can’t get into my roooooom!!!!”

“I’m coming home right now to fix everything,” he said.

“Well if you’re thinking of unscrewing the hinges on the door, you can’t. They’re on the other side.”

“Oh.”

Yeah, she’d screwed us pretty hard.

When my husband finally did get home, he announced he’d have to go to Home Depot for extra tools. None of them worked. After 45 minutes of failed attempts to unlock the door using conventional methods,  I announced that I was going to climb on top of our carport and open our bedroom window. They were closed, but not locked.

“The wood on the carport is rotten,” he objected. “You’ll fall right through.”

“They just refurbished our carport,” I retorted. “There were 3 men up here less than 6 months ago.”

“Yeah, but they were all Mexican. They’re not as heavy as you.”

“I’m pretty sure I don’t weigh more than THREE Mexican men.”

I instructed him to get the ladder ready. I was going up. As I prepared to ascend, the heavens broke open and it began to storm. It thundered as if God himself was hosting a Beatles concert and his angels never ceased to applaud. Lightening blazed against the night sky. The rain was hard and torrential. Wearing only a flimsy camisole and some old gray running shorts, I climbed up the (metal) ladder to get to the roof of the (metal) carport above. It was too short. Marshall suggested I climb on top of my car instead. As I stepped gingerly onto the roof of my car, it buckled.

“Oh crap!” I yelled above the thunder. “It only supports 75 lbs up here! I weigh 230!!”

Marshall hoisted my leg to shift the weight and I was up.

As I snaked my way across the (metal!) roof, lightening and rain water blinded me.

Oh God. I’m going to die, I thought. I’m going to die in this dingy camisole and that douche bag is going to take custody of my child.

Finally, I made it over to the window and pushed away the screen. Marshall cheered me on from below.

“You did it babe!”

I lifted the window, freedom and success no more than mere seconds away. Suddenly, the window jammed, halting my progress.

“No!!!!”

I was screaming.

“Try the other one!” Marshall called from below.

I belly crawled a foot to the left and lifted the window. It was jammed too. Mutha%&**@%^*@!!!

Defeated, I slid backwards across the (metal!!) carport roof. I was abruptly made aware that I could only hear the sound of my own heavy breath.  Everything had gone still. This was the part when a fearsome bolt of lightning broke from the night sky and fried me. I was sure of it! As I tried to find my footing on a part of the top of my CR-V that would best support my weight, I lost control of my upper extremities. The jagged edge of the carport was pressing against my belly, and my huge posterior was dangling lifelessly in the direction of our neighbors’ bedroom windows.

“Marshall??”

Suddenly, his strong hand caught the bottom of my foot and guided me down. Sopping wet, dirty, frustrated and frightened, I limped back into the house, a failure.

The evening ended with Marshall taking a hammer to the door knob and breaking it off.

As I sit here on this Friday the 13th, I am cautiously and nervously observing my surroundings, looking for any sign of trouble. The week ain’t over yet!

New Dads Have Feelings Too

In the last 2 years, a whole bunch of dudes I know have had children – well, their wives/girlfriends have anyway. Outwardly, they’ve all handled about the same. They’ve punched the air and/or uttered a bewildered “WHAT?!?!” at the reception of the news that their progeny will be entering the world in 9 months or so. Whether that fist pumping and screaming was the result of anger, shock and shame or joyous expectation depends on the man. All confessed a certain burden of fear, however, as well they should. Having a baby brings a host of responsibilities that no one can ever fully or adequately prepare for. In my estimation, it’s easier to prepare to go to war than for the birth of a child.

Having a baby is completely life changing, and the modern world does not make that metamorphosis easy for the modern dad. The average men’s magazine hardly ever broaches the topic, and parenting magazines examine the aspect of child rearing from the mother’s perspective.  They talk about how her body changes, her mood swings, how to handle the stress of the day…even how many pairs of black trousers she should stock her closet with.

But what about the men? The rules for dads have changed so drastically over the last 50 years, that these budding young fathers really can’t go ask their dads for advice, can they? If you’re over the age of 35, think about your dad/granddad. You know for a fact that he’d rather pull his toe nails out than change a diaper – it just wasn’t going to happen. Not only is today’s dad expected to change diapers, he must also note their size, where he can get them on sale if needed, and provide a ready dissertation on why the contents of said diaper are not of the consistency they normally would be. After all, he’s also equally responsible for feeding the baby too, isn’t he?

Well Modern Dad; it’s Malaka to the rescue. Here are a few tips that will make your life infinitely easier. There is simple equation to remember in child rearing: Happy Mommy = Happy Baby = Happy Daddy. At the onset, it might look like Daddy is the tail end of the equation, but the opposite is true. You sir, are the alpha and omega. Mom cannot be happy unless you make her so; and despite all this new age “I don’t need a man” garbage floating around the culture, the contrary is the truth. Daddy is the glue that is holding this popsicle stand we call a family together.

Pregnancy

The root of all your future bliss lies in how you treat your woman during her pregnancy. Trust me on this. If you act like a total prick after you’ve pricked her with yours, you are going to be a miserable man. A woman’s mind after carrying a child is like a steel trap – nothing gets in, nothing gets out. If you give her a hard time, she’ll make sure you pay. Even the sweetest of women has this as an ulterior goal. The worst of us will outright take your kids while you sleep, while the more considerate of us will wait politely wait to announce what a donkey you were during the champagne toast at your 86th birthday. Either way, it’s coming. Here’s what you can do to avoid all that:

Read the frikkin’ book: Read What to expect while you’re expecting if she asks you to. Read ahead a couple of days if you need to. Shoot, take it a step further and send her Twitter updates and let her know what’s going on in her body today. She’ll be amazed. Why? 1) Because you look like your taking an active interest in her well being and 2) that you’re totally excited about this pregnancy. Of course you’re not excited about the pregnancy. It’s a phenomenon that women experience and their mates suffer through.

Get your mind right: Your girl/wife is that the same woman you met and married before you got her pregnant. That cologne you used to wear that drove her crazy will now ‘drive her crazy’. She may inform you (very irritatedly) that you stink. Don’t take offense – take a shower and don’t reapply anymore foreign scents. You may annoy her just by doing things you need to do to live. One of my friends was banished to his bedroom during dinner time because his wife couldn’t stand the sound of his teeth clanging on his spoon as he ate. He finally gave up trying to keep his teeth from touching his silverware and opted to eat alone. But take heart, your beloved will be back to her old self in a year or so if you can hang in there.

Lots of sex, no sex: Figuring out a  pregnant woman’s libido is like trying to crack the Davinci Code. In the first 3 months, your very presence may repulse her. 2 weeks later, she may rip your clothes off at the door. Your job is to know and understand you’re putty in her thighs – conform. Yes, you are a piece of meat. The tables have turned. Deal with it.

When the Baby comes

So, you’ve lived through 9 months of hell and didn’t run out for a carton of milk, never to be seen again. You (don’t) deserve a medal. After all, “it takes two hands to clap”. She didn’t make this baby on her own, and should not have to take care of it on her own. Welcome to a world of poo, vomit and sleepless nights!

Your baby: Your child is perfect. God made babies cute so that we wouldn’t run out on them. His/her arrival signals the beginning of real change in your life, Modern Dad, because you will be totally involved in all things ‘baby’. You will have many sleepless nights, and not because you’ve been out partying till 5 a.m. You know how you feel on Monday when you’ve pulled an all-nighter in the club the Sunday before? Now wrap your mind around the notion of going to work and feeling Like. That. Every. Day.

Why the house isn’t clean: Your otherwise neat girl/wife has let the house to CRAP. You walk in the door, and wonder why nobody let YOU know there was a tornado rolling through your hood. For the sake of peace and harmony, go ahead and plug in the Dirt Devil and tackle at least part of the mess. You will be a hero.

Why your girl/wife isn’t clean: The worst thing you can say to a woman who has been cooped up in a house with a new infant all day (for 6 weeks) is “you stink”. She knows she stinks. She hasn’t bathed in 2 days, and every 2 hours some kid wants to suckle on her sore nips. You’d stink if you were in prison and only manages to sneak in an ablution 3 times a week as well.

You and your baby: The first time you get left at home alone with the baby DON’T PANIC! It will truly be ok. A baby needs only 3 things: A full belly, an empty diaper and loads of sleep. Make sure you have provided all 3 of these things, and you can sit back and watch the game all afternoon. Women are multi-taskers; men are not. You can sit there and mindlessly hold the baby and watch the tube all day. It really isn’t a problem. Only an exceptional women could ever waste her day like this – which is why your house always looks like crap…she’s doing too much at once, capice?

The Rewards

All this love!: In the very distant future, when you’re sitting in front of your lap-top, your Wii, watering the grass…whatever your fancy is…you’ll be interrupted by 5 little fingers tapping you on the forearm.The mouth attached to this arm will inform you of the following:

“I love you, Daddy.”

If you’re a regular guy, you’ll say “I love you too.” If you’re Kwasi Gyekye, you’ll stare blankly at your child for a moment and give him/her a big hug instead. 20 years LATER, you’ll soften up enough to say “I love you” back. All that matters is that the kid knows.

Take heart new fathers, all will be well. If my eloquent eposition did not answer any or all of your questions, seek out a fellow modern dad. I’m sure he’d be happy to answer your questions with a nodding of his head and a few gruff grunts, just as your dad would.

Suppressing Stinkmeaner

Watch this video

That, ladies and gentlemen, was the spirit of Stinkmeaner…a crazy (dead) Black man who took over the body of Uncle Tom in an epic episode of Boondocks – But what episode of Boondocks is NOT epic?

Back to the point.

We’ve all had our Stinkmeaner moments, I’m sure. If you’re uncertain about what exactly those are, allow me to assist you in your quest for understanding:

A Stinkmeaner moment is when the jerk in the Mustang cuts you off in traffic when you’ve been sitting on the exit ramp for 45 minutes like everyone else. That douche bag thinks his time is more valuable than everyone else’s and is entitled to get to work 5 minutes earlier than you.

Or when you’re heading to the check out line at the grocery store and some old fart with 50 items runs from behind you and starts stacking his items on the conveyor belt just as you’re approaching it.

It falls under days (like a Friday, perhaps) when your boss asks you at the last minute to stick behind and stuff press release folders, while he goes out for happy hour with the big wigs. It’s not that you don’t mind stuffing the folders, it’s just that that jerk-wad knew all WEEK the folders had to be done and waited until 5:25pm to dump the sheets on your desk and expect perfection.

Stinkmeaner has manifested several times in the grocery store when an over worked mother has just about had it with her snot nosed kids asking for cookies, Kool Aid and candy after she dun told them ‘no’ 22 times before.

Stinkmeaner is the persona who jumps out of your car and cusses the #@$*(^! out of the person making your day go a hard way. Everybody wants to be a Stinkmeaner, few of us have the balls to.

I myself had had to keep Stinkmeaner at bay at least 3 times this week, and all within the same day.  The first was when an idiot road worker with a “Stop” sign held up his sign…while standing next to an existing 4-way stop. As I approached (both) stop signs, he pounded on his mobile placard as though I was the imbecile. I was on the phone with a friend from Canada that I hadn’t spoken to in years, so I couldn’t/didn’t want to hang up to hurl obscenities at Obama’s latest example of getting the economy “moving again”. There was nothing wrong with our road that was being resurfaced.

I wish I had cussed the black off that Black man though, because as I rolled by, he shouted “You need to get off de phone, ma.”

You punk ass, b*tch ass, nigga ass NIGGA! Why don’t you figure out you need to be standing at least 5 yards within the spot YOU want me to stop! You ain’t sh*t, you ain’t neva gon’ be sh*t, and your children ain’t gon’ be sh*t either!

That’s what I wanted to say, but I drove on, keeping my eyes forward. My 4 year old was in the back seat.

Two hours later, I was sitting in the parking lot of a McDonald’s waiting for my eldest to get dropped off by her ‘donor’. He was supposed to be there at noon. He sent me a text at 12:30 to tell me there was heavy traffic. As I sat burning $2.75/gallon gas for the next hour to keep my car cool, a pick-up truck full of landscapers parked waaay to close to me. The driver got out, flung his door open and hit my passenger side so hard it actually shifted my car, despite the combined weight of me and two of my kids serving as an anchor. He looked over his shoulder, caught my gaze, and walked into McDonald’s, sweating and laughing because he had just scratched up my car.

You sweaty ass, Mexiville, redneck, manure scarping B*ITCH!!! I should KILL you for scratching my car…B*ITCH!!!!

That’s what I wanted to say…but I didn’t. I sat there, fuming and reading Twitter updates instead.

Finally, an hour later when my eldest DID get dropped off, I had to listen to a Broadway production all about why her hair was not done and why they were and hour and a half late getting there.

You no ‘ccount B*ITCH! You think I like sitting here burning up my gas with my babies in the car because, what? You just didn’t feel like getting up this morning?? You no child support paying, uneducated, illiterate COON. Eat a bag of baby dicks!

But what did Malaka do instead? She nodded politely, ordered her child into the car and drove home on what little gas was left in the tank.

See, look atcha! You’re reading this right now, thinking about 6 people you wanted to cuss out and drop kick this week. I would say the world is a better place because folks like you and I have learned to suppress Stinkmeaner, but I don’t know that it is. There are far too many idiots out there that get away with far too much.