Monthly Archives: September 2013

Wait Till Your Father Gets Home…

A departure from my usual light-hearted fare, but sometimes I just need to speak my mind. Non-Trinis may find my Trinbago Dictionary useful. Be sure to leave your comments after reading! Enjoy.


Much has been said about Miley Cyrus’s recent appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) and her new raunchy persona. While watching a clip of the controversial performance on YouTube I remember thinking – “If that were my daughter I would slap her so hard”.

My talented young cousin Battymamzelle wrote a thought-provoking post about the racial implications of Miley’s performance. A perspective which I do not fully share, but interesting nonetheless.

Forget about the twerking. Twerking is nothing new.  Here in the Caribbean we have been wukking up for generations. It irks me however that a sizeable portion of the US population think they invented the move because it’s new to THEM. (Those of you old enough to remember the oohing and ahhing over Bo Derek’s hairstyle in 10 know exactly what I’m talking about).

Questions swirl around my head about Miley’s very public embracement of her sexuality. What does Liam (Hemsworth) think? What does his family think? He and Miley are supposed to be engaged, after all. But more importantly – what do Miley’s parents think?

Publicly, Miley’s parents have expressed nothing but love and support for their daughter. Rightly so. But I want to believe that privately they are gritting their teeth and harsh words have been exchanged.

At twenty years old Miley has the right to do whatever she wants. She is legally an adult. I wonder though – did Miley consider the possible impact her performance would have on her parents, and if so – did it influence the actual presentation at all? Somehow I think not.

The issue here for me is – at what age do we stop being under parental control?

I want to argue that for many of us, particularly people of colour, the answer is never.  There are many things I would never ever consider doing because if my mother found out she would kill me.

Black parents live by the Bill Cosby motto – “I brought you into this world and I can take you out”. I dodged countless pot spoons and slippers as a child.  The scent of disapproval from my mother still strikes fear into my heart. As West Indians we have the added pressure from all the relatives constantly reminding us – “Don’t make the family shame!”

If at age twenty I had climbed onstage in  a worldwide broadcast and simulated masturbation with a giant foam hand – my parents, aunts, and uncles would have collectively jumped on me and beat the black out of me. Even now – despite her Zimmer frame – I’d risk serious injury from my mother. When you live in a society where the extended family is a norm; adult offspring live at home; and many generations often live under one roof; it is hard to escape that sense of family responsibility.

In Trinidad and Tobago we are identified by our familial alliances – Greta’s daughter. Indra’s sister. Nazir’s mother. My blogger cousin Battymamzelle recently pointed out that there is no such thing as six degrees of separation in T&T. The most you will get are two. Everybody knows you AND your family and they are quick to report on the slightest perceived infringement of the T&T Broughtupsy Code. Forget about the middle class – T&T only has two social strata – ghetto and stush. Guess which one so-called Nice Boys and Girls don’t want to be identified with? The result is that long after we stop pitching marbles we still feel obliged to do what our parents want.

I am not putting forth an argument for full parental control from womb to tomb. But that sense of responsibility to those who raised us – and fear of disappointing them – has stopped many people (myself included) from doing something which they might later regret. It didn’t stop me breaking into a public swimming pool in Cambridge at midnight to skinny dip with a group of friends but I figured there was NO chance of my parents ever finding out. Oops…

Billy Ray Cyrus admitted a few years ago that he spent too long trying to be Miley’s friend instead of her parent. “How many interviews did I give and say, ‘You know what’s important between me and Miley is I try to be a friend to my kids’? I said it a lot. And sometimes I would even read other parents might say, ‘You don’t need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.’  Well, I’m the first guy to say to them right now: You were right. I should have been a better parent. I should have said, ‘Enough is enough – it’s getting dangerous and somebody’s going to get hurt.’ I should have, but I didn’t.”

Here’s the thing – your children will make and break many friendships as they grow up. But building a healthy respect for the parental bond and influence? You’ve got one shot. No do-overs. Get the parenting right and the friendship will follow.

Talk to your kids. I’m willing to bet twenty years from now when Miley looks back at the video of her VMAs performance she will wish her mum and dad had said to her “I brought you into this world…”

At the end of the day, we are all the product of our parents and the degree of control and influence they have/had over us.

But that’s just my opinion. What do YOU think?


The Not So Empty Nest

As the mother of a 14 year old boy and 20 year old man-child, the most frequent words I hear are “What’s to eat?” and “I have a problem.” The response to both is the same – make a sandwich. I’ve commented before on the trials of being a MOB but seriously – I’m beginning to wonder if my sons are bottomless needy pits. I look at them and I see open beaks constantly squawking for attention. When does the boy child become self-sufficient?

Lest I be accused of male-bashing, let me state that my female offspring has frequent bouts of mummy mania. But somehow the common sense gene seems slightly less recessive with her.

After discussing this with friends I realise my problem is far from unique. SMOGs report that girls grow up, get educated, seek gainful employment, and leave the nest. MOBs paint a very different picture. As boys increase in size, so do their appetites and capacity for causing mayhem and incurring unexpected, unwanted expenses.

In spite of the fact that – as one friend bluntly put it – Murphy has a “special” relationship with my family –  I think I have had more than my fair share of testosterone-tainted calamity. The bigger the boy, the bigger the issue. In my household we’ve graduated from “I’ve lost my school shoes” to “I crashed the car” and “I got robbed”. I spend an inordinate amount of time sorting out OPP* when I should be focused on myself.

But being Mrs Fix-It is only part of the problem. In the rare event you produce a boy who submits to formal education without protest, the chances of getting him to leave home post-graduation are slim. I recently suggested to my eldest that now that he is gainfully employed, perhaps he’d like to consider moving out? From his reaction you’d think I’d asked him to lop off a testicle.

I blame myself. Home is clearly Too Nice. At age 22 I was a fresh faced graduate living in a cold apartment and determined to prove I could make it on my own. My mother was thousands of miles away; and even if she hadn’t been, I doubt she would have been setting an alarm to wake me up, make my breakfast, pack my lunch, and wave as I drove off in her car.

By contrast both of my sons have made it quite clear that they have no intention of leaving home any time soon – perhaps never. Why should they? Free room and board, laundry service, transport, and Wi-Fi. I briefly contemplated losing the 14 year old in the mall after a shopping expedition last week. He’s 6′ 1″, 160 lbs, and wears a size 13 shoe. The expense of clothing this goliath is astronomical. And don’t talk about my grocery bill. He requires feeding every two hours.

I honestly don’t know how much longer my finances – and sanity – can withstand the constant and ever-increasing demands. I followed the rules of the parenting manual. Loved, nurtured and guided – so why the hell can’t they fend for themselves? I’m sure I’ll be relegated to the maid’s room when both sons take over the house with their wives and kids.

I love my boys dearly and these home grown money pits are my creations. This is my reward for helicopter parenting. Given the opportunity for a redo I probably wouldn’t change a thing. Living in a country where baby-faced thugs casually extinguish life for an iPhone and a pair of Supras has given me a grim appreciation for the endangered young male species. As much as I bitch about their dependence at least I know where my sons are. Sadly many mothers in Trinidad and Tobago cannot say the same.

So here’s to the bottomless laundry basket, the empty larder, and the dent in the just-serviced car. Drink a toast to mama’s boys everywhere; and the women who made them.

OPP* – Other People’s Problems

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