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Rumblings of Getting Older with Kids

By Susana Benavidez
Published: Friday, February 06, 2009, at 11:11AM

Last week was my birthday! I know - how could you not know? The world must have felt a shiver of delight at knowing that such a wonderful being as myself turned another year older. The positive outcome of my increasing age is that I don’t feel uncomfortable when people ask how old I am, how old I was when I had my kids or why I look too young to have kids. The last statement is slowly slipping away from the grasp of my ego but it was annoying to have to fess up that I had kids at a young age.

I usually hate birthdays; I dread them with the passion of a fanatic cult follower. After the New Year, I try to prepare and brace myself for what’s coming; another reminder that I haven’t done what I was supposed to do before the coming of that changing number.

If you asked me ten years ago where I saw myself it would certainly not be raising two kids before I finished raising myself. I didn’t post anything last week, for which I apologize, but I don’t just feel happy towards the end of January. I think that birthdays are not necessarily a time to celebrate your fleeting youth but a reminder to reflect on what you’ve done in the past year.

Isabella and Eliza have yet to learn how to put the right shoe in the right foot and tie a bow. I have yet to teach them how to read, but I am working on it. Eliza keeps ignoring me when I speak to her in Spanish; in turn, I ignore her when she answers in English. We have made a lot of new friends that live in Downtown. My hearing has gotten worse (which I attribute to the constant Mamiiiiiii! in my ear). I keep asking people to repeat themselves and hope it is their mumbling and not my poor hearing that prevents me from understanding.

So again, why did I mention my birthday? Ah yes, the gawking. I want to talk about the gawking, staring, stalking of the eyes; call it what you’d like, but it’s rude. I’ve noticed that on the weekends when I walk around Downtown with my girls and my partner no one finds it an oddity. They smile and comment on the girls’ cuteness or say hello. Then Monday comes and the smiles disappear; it could be that people are generally in better dispositions on the weekend, but I have a different theory. I will admit that I am a defensive person; I tend to think people are thinking the worst when they look at me.

When I take the DASH in the morning to drop off the girls at school we get stared at a lot. When Iza is cranky and doesn’t want to sit down quietly, people smirk and roll their eyes. If Iza and Bella are playing with a book or listening to me as I read the Economist to them, they smirk. If you want to make my blood boil, go ahead: stare and smirk. As we go home, people ask, “How many more kids do you have”? Or they state that I don’t have to worry about not having a boy because I will surely have three more. What? Did I miss something? Unless I have a stamp on my forehead that reads baby-press-and-bake, they are referring to my wonderful heritage and the stereotype of Latinos.

I might be overly-sensitive or under-exposed to the curiosity of people. I grew up in Boyle Heights where all of my neighbors were Latino and the only non-Latinos were the Chicanos, which only meant they didn’t speak Spanish. I’m still trying to adjust to raising my girls in a mixed-race environment. It’s difficult to relax and not dissect every move or comment as tinged by race.

That’s why I enjoy Downtown. I feel it soothes my sensibilities. It’s so mixed in race, income, style, thinking and creativity that I blend right in.

I’ve been lucky to make friends through DTLA Kids and have had play dates, dinner at Colori and recently, a birthday party across the street. Without the downtown group I think I would be stuck in my hermit ways. Thus as a toast to getting older and dissipating racial sensitivities, I propose a get together for Downtown parents and parents-to-be. Easter is right around the corner and it would be great to organize an Easter egg hunt as a community. A potluck would be the ideal arrangement. Please email me at Susana@blogdowntown.com if you are interested. According to the number of people interested, I will organize the location and date.


This Week's Kid-Friendly Picks

Saturday, February 7 World City - Featuring Diane Ferlatte and Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir 11:00 AM A Music Center resident artist, award-winning storyteller Diane Ferlatte enthralls audiences of all ages while singing, signing stories, playing instruments, and telling folktales, fables, nursery rhymes, and personal stories rooted in African, Southern, and African American cultures. http://www.musiccenter.org

Sunday, February 8 - The 31st Annual Los Angeles Chinatown Firecracker 5k/10k Run Kiddie Run/Fun Walk Bring out the kids to exercise. http://www.firecracker10k.org/

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Kid-Friendly Downtown

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