Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I told off the psychic today.

Let me back up. The last few weeks with Mihiretu has been challenging. We moved, which is difficult for any child let alone one that has had as many major transitions as he has. Then, a couple weeks later, we went to camp. Confusing for him, I'm sure. Is this home now? Or the chicken-house? He's actually been asking lately to go home. While we're home. Today he even said, "To San Jose" or mumbled something that sort of sounded like San Jose. I knew what he meant.

And through this time Ben has been traveling. He's been here for a few days, gone for a week, here for a weekend, gone for ten days. It's our typical summer, Ben's busy time at work, but that, most of all, I think, has sent Mihiretu into a tail-spin. He asks on the hour where Dad is and when he's coming back.

The manifestation of all this turmoil is some really bad behavior. We're back to the old hitting, biting, screaming Mihiretu. I didn't miss him, I have to say. I far prefer the laughing, smiling, kissing Mihiretu. All day every day from the moment he wakes up (this morning shouting and kicking at five a.m.) to the moment he falls asleep (this evening at ten after a good hour of jumping and yelling in his bed, in, of course, the room he shares with his sisters) it's a whole lot of mayhem. We have some nice moments but we also have a lot of trouble.

Today we went to the farmer's market in Fairfax, unquestionably my favorite couple hours of the week. We were sitting on our blanket, eating strawberries and rotisserie chicken, listening to the guy play classical guitar, having a great time. Then things started to unravel. Mihiretu refused to put on his shoes to walk around the market. Thirty minute back and forth, him asking, okay screaming, why he had to put on his fop-fops and me trying to explain that I wanted him to wear shoes so that his feet didn't get hurt because I love him. We finally made it past the shoes and were making a tour of the market when he lost his mind because I misunderstood him. When he was asking for chocolate he really meant Afghani food. Duh, Mom. But even when I offered to take him over to the Afghani stand he continued to remained rooted in the middle of the market, screaming. And I've said it before but I'll say it again. I've never heard a shriek like his. It hurts, physically hurts.

I took a couple of steps away from him as I often do when I've had enough and need a breather. I was just far enough to hear a woman say, "That screaming! What an ill-behaved child!"

This happens more than you might think. People don't connect pale me with my chocolate son. They don't realize we're together. So, when he's acting out, and yes, he acts out, I hear all about it. I've put up with this for a year. Strangers shooting my boy dirty looks, rolled eyes, smirks. Today I had had enough.

The speaker was our local psychic. She dresses in draping white clothing, including a tall white velvet witch's hat trailing a long white veil. The Wiccan Bride. Last week it was a little cold so she put on a white zip-up hoody sweatshirt to complete the look. She's been at every Fairfax farmer's market that I can remember, going back ten years, passing out her card (which reads "Professional Witchcraft Services. Private consultation and custom spell work. No problem too big, too small or too weird.") and giving free Tarot readings, trying to get people hooked. I've always found her vaguely charming. Very Fairfax. Part of the fabric of the place.

"Excuse me?!" I said today, always a good way to begin a confrontation. The woman with whom she'd been discussing my ill-behaved child immediately faded back into the crowd.

I lit into her. I told her what I've been wanting to tell every person who's misunderstood Mihiretu since we've arrived home from Ethiopia. With a shaking voice, I said that she might want to take a look at the child she was disparaging, check and see if, oh, I don't know, there might be some conclusions she can draw. Brown kid, white mom. Maybe he's adopted? Maybe he's been orphaned, abandoned, institutionalized, then brought to a country where every single thing is foreign? That maybe he lost his mother a year ago.

Here the white witch, who (when she could get a word in) had continued to insist that he was still ill-mannered, looked confused. "He lost his mother?"

"Yes!" I heaved.

"Well, where is she?"

And it dawned on me that she still had no idea that Mihiretu and I were connected.

"She died!" I said. "I'm his mother now!"

"Oh," she said. What do you say to that?

She was now mumbling that everyone was very grateful for what I was doing, which for the record, I really resent. I'm not mothering Mihiretu to better the human race, to lighten our white-man's burden. I'm mothering him because I am his mother. Because I wanted a child. Because he is mine.

I couldn't even hear the apology starting. I walked away with a thrown-away "Fuck you." Not my proudest moment. When you resort to "Fuck you" you aren't thinking anymore.

Was she wrong in saying Mihiretu was ill-mannered? Probably. Did she deserve the raft of shit I dumped on her? Probably not. She got everyone else's belated serving plus all my stress of the past single-handed month. Maybe next week I'll apologize.

One bright spot. Half way through my diatribe, I realized that I now, after a couple of blank days, had something to write about.


  1. Well, let's hope that at least a few dozen people surrounding you and the white witch heard your rant; maybe it'll stop THEM from making rude and insensitive comments about someone else's kid the next time they think of it!


  2. We all jump to conclusions and judgments. This story really exposes that we never really know anyone's story. The truth here is she lacked compassion and knowledge. You had every right to stand up for Mihiretu.But, mostly you had the right to stand up for yourself.
    I am loving your blog!
    Julia A.

  3. I think you handled the situation well and as a friend of the family (he is a priest) A well placed F-You is somewhat the only appropriate thing to say!

  4. I kind of wish I was as brave as you.