My Growing Kids

I had a moment of clarity where life hit me in the gut. No, it wasn’t anything like a life-threatening illness or heartbreaking loss (i.e., an Ex doing you wrong…grrrrr…but I digress); it was a simple act. The act seemed so innocent in its nature – almost like a flower deciding the time was right to bloom; or a butterfly determined to leave its cocoon. No, none of these things. But, yet, what happened to me was powerful beyond words and an eye-opener to boot. I was floored when the situation presented itself as well as at a loss for words. I couldn’t believe this shit was happening to me – but folks had warned me so. And here I was, face to face with the biggest decision in my life – minus the vasectomy I decided against. The decision you ask? Well, to let me kids walk alone to the corner food store. By themselves.

Albeit – there were about 30 other kids going with them…at least that’s what I told myself. And the corner store is approximately two city blocks away, in a neighborhood in which the President himself entrust the local law enforcement to serve and protect (minus the whole “Rodney King experience” we seem to be dealing with in this current year). It was, in fact, a safe passage for my kids to take – they knew the route and simply had to follow the directions provided by me.

But I was tentative and afraid.

I wasn’t afraid that they might be snatched up from deranged lunatic or that they might encounter Bozo the Clown asking them to feel the candy deep inside his insidious pocket, but that my kids were growing up. I felt sad as a tear slowly drifted down my cheek with this realization. Of course I didn’t let them see me cry because I never do but I felt it nonetheless.

I had explained to them in the past about being careful out there in this crazy world and to know that society will not be kind to them because of their race and gender and age; but I had a sense that they were smart enough not to be taken.

I felt confident in their awareness of their environment and that they were able to discern right from wrong. For this I was comfortable in my decision to let them experience this new found independence for themselves. I remember my own satisfying experience of going to the store and dropping “Abraham Lincolns” for a bag of goodies. However, it was eating me up because they were no longer my little angels. They were growing up.

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Those of us with kids clearly understand they do not stay the same size as the playful Raggedy Ann or Andy dolls we hoped they would. We get that they will experience their own taste in clothing, music, food, and other worldly desires. They’ll zoom through life collecting these various experiences and create the being they were intended to be. And we get to sit back and let the magic happen, regardless of where we are in our experience of “letting go.”

My kids were safe. They didn’t run into a creep or a thug or even a homeless guy running game, but just simply an innocent walk to the corner store in which they spent a total of $5.56 on items I’d rather not disclose. (FYI – I was unaware cotton candy can now be bought in a cellophane bag.)

So here I was, accepting life’s facts as she threw me what was inevitable for me – my youngsters growing up. It wasn’t an easy acceptance of the truth but I had very little choice in the matter. Instead, I let go and let God (a favorite of us Christian folk) watch over them and protect them through the valley of the shadows of death and so forth.

And they returned. Unharmed. Excited. And empowered.

All because they were able to buy an Orange soda and a bag Twizzlers on their own – forging their own path for their lives and realizing the power of independence.

Go well and with love good peeps.

An Unexpected Intersection of Love

Man, I was a brother down on his luck with love. Shit was horrendous. I couldn’t maintain a relationship to save my soul. If there was a time to SMDH this was it. Fucking women. Fucking life. I swear, I was hating it all as the story goes.

And then she showed up.

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It should have been a bad time to meet because my mood sucked and I felt I would bring her down. I was feeling funky and unlucky and didn’t give any fawks! But there I was waiting for this imagined goddess who would turn out to be connected to me like my angel twin – literally sent from the heavens to intersect with my life when it most counted. And trust me, she did.

My kids had been giving me the flux all day before they were to go back to their mama’s home. I, being the decent fellow I have always been, didn’t mind “watching” their assess from time-to-time so she could take care of her shit, but this time I wasn’t having it. My plans appeared to be thwarted for the night as this wrinkle was presented to me by the Ex. My first inclination was to tell her to screw off; but I didn’t. Thus, I was doing my daddy duties when I said “yes.” Needless to say she was a tad late in picking them up. I wanted to curse her ass out but I thought, “what about the kids?”

Then my piece-of-shit-car didn’t want to start in these frigid temps. I tell myself day after day I’m moving from this cesspool of a city – the cold, the crime, the cops – the triple C’s of destruction. But I can never pull the trigger because my heart is bigger than my brain. I persevere as I need to but not without proper bitching.

After a fellow citizen decided to act like Mother Teresa I got rolling. I figured a good meeting place for my online match was somewhere warm yet accessible and safe for all. I’m not a fricking Dexter but no telling these days of the women a man might meet. I saw the movie I married an Ax Murderer so I wasn’t taking any chances. Besides, I had a couple of extra dollars because a brother just got paid! I gotta take advantage of these moments because they seem less and less frequent these days. Shit sucks.

I sat at a quaint table near the bar that faced the door. I realized I wasn’t being very chivalrous during this courting period but it was cold as Hell! I threw out the dating etiquette book and ordered myself a Scotch on the rocks to calm my nerves. I eyed the other patrons around me to familiarize myself with my environment in case a MF’er decided to go postal in the joint. But it was all good. So I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more – after a few more Scotch on the rocks.

I swear by the time she walked into the place I was just getting up to put on my coat and leave. I was angry that she would have the audacity to treat me like this; we spoke a few times prior and the conversation was good so why would she be so disrespectful? She approached me as I stood there eyeing her up and down. I admitted to myself she was fine as anything my eyes have seen although I was still upset about her seemingly lackadaisical approach to this date.

But then it happened – she spoke to me.

Each word that came forth from her luscious lips was carried by the most beautiful songbird I imagined. My heart melted as she neutralized my anger and she proceeded to gently blot it up with her metaphors and loving innuendos.

Within the first five minutes of our new relationship I muttered the words I think I love you.

 

Music as a Reflection of My Personality

Growing up I had quite the eclectic taste in music as evidenced by my collection. During the days of vinyl and early compact discs, affectionately known as CDs, I racked up an impressive inventory of popular, soulful, rock, punk, new age, jazz, and every genre in between. My music collection was even admired by the crooks that broke into my apartment and stole my entire collection. Incidentally the crooks broke into my neighbor’s apartment the same day but left my neighbor’s CD collection barely touched. My neighbor embarrassingly stated the crooks had a pretty good musical acumen.

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However, for me my selection of songs always seemed to come from some deep place in my soul. Music, as we all agree, can reach the depths of our souls and provide us some type of haven for whatever emotional experience we are dealing with at a given moment. This is no different for me, thus I’m not saying anything new. But what I do recognize is where my mind is as a given song “speaks” to me. My awareness is critical to understanding things about myself.

I have recognized the hills and valleys of my emotional journey and have come to appreciate and manage through most of those times. So far so good considering my stupid ass has made it this far in life.

When I think of some of the bands or lyrics I have connected with and how they spoke to me I shiver. From my beloved Circle Jerks to the heavenly voice of Yolanda Adams I have experienced a musical rollercoaster – sometimes all within a day. Really? I can go from punk to gospel within minutes? There is something seriously disturbing about this – but at the same time quite interesting.

I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall thinking about everything

But then again I was thinking about nothing

And then my mom came in and I didn’t even know she was there she called my name

And I didn’t even hear it, and then she started screaming: MIKE! MIKE!

And I go: What, what’s the matter?

And she goes: What’s the matter with you?

I go: There’s nothing wrong mom

And she goes: Don’t tell me that, you’re on drugs!

And I go: No mom I’m not on drugs I’m okay, I was just thinking you know,

Why don’t you get me a Pepsi?

And she goes: No you’re on drugs!

I go: Mom I’m okay, I’m just thinking

She goes: No, you’re not thinking, you’re on drugs! Normal people don’t act that way!

I go: Mom, just give me a Pepsi, please

All I want is a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me

All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me

Just a Pepsi

Institutionalized – Suicidal Tendencies

What my taste have done is allow me to analyze the emotion I’m experiencing and then make some type of assessment on how to cope. Or it might open my mind to a moment when I should be rejoicing. Even more, the music might give me a calming effect [Music calms the beast] that will get me through the day. It’s all good and it is usually needed for the moment the music presents itself.

I can appreciate having this discernment about myself and the impact of music. Nearly every day I have theme music in my head for how I perceive myself for the day. It’s kind of like the Shaft music but not as cool, nonetheless, just as effective. And in my growth as a human being I no longer feel strange because of my eclectic behavior. I am still learning to embrace this part of who I am – I just need to connect with those who have similar experiences with their musical taste.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Things My Dad Never Did

Recently I experienced some venom targeted my way and luckily I dodged it by my wit. It was nothing major, just the same ole “people-only-know-you-by-what-you-post” kind of nonsense. While some of what we post reveals a little about our personalities it is necessary to take a deeper dive into our lives to truly understand who we are as individuals…and as a society.

Thus, I started thinking about who I am and compared it to how I was raised. However, parents for people of my generation, especially our fathers, did not have the same things to contend with during their days of parenting. Society has changed so much that the norms of today may appear foreign for an entire generation. God only knows what the norms will be a generation from now.

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And so I decided to write some notes to capture the spirit of my thoughts. These notes detail some of the things my father never dealt with as he and my mother (in the same household no less) raised me and my siblings:

  1. Texting – the closest thing to my dad having used a text message back in the day was…NOTHING! I guess you can’t really call smoke-signals coming from his angry head as texting but that was pretty close. Usually his voice could carry across the neighborhood to grab my attention. While texting is very useful these days it doesn’t give much in the way of tone UNLESS I TYPE IN CAPS or use Emoticons. (When did this become a word? When it showed up in Wikipedia?)
  2. Working from Home – Many of today’s businesses are allowing folks to WFH. Keep in mind, it might appear to be for the benefit of the employee but not-so-fast…I’m using up my electricity with the air blasting, I don’t engage in water cooler conversations (unless it’s FB beef – see # 6 below), and I have to make my own lunch. Argh, the struggles I endure.
  3. Be a Stay at Home Dad – There were only a few men who actually admitted to being stay-at-home-dads back in the day. It’s commendable so don’t get it twisted, it just wasn’t practiced nor was it embraced. I do welcome the time I am allowed to hang with my kids while they struggle in the comforts of luxury and modern technology. #privilegedlivesthesedays
  4. Take a Selfie – Colin Powell admitted he was the first to take a self-proclaimed-selfie with a Polaroid (see picture above) and I can’t even imagine my dad (or other dads) doing such an act. The times have changed – and I’m certain the egos have not.
  5. Deal with petty shit – Did I ever see my father deal with petty shit? Not to my knowledge. Usually he would say something grumpy or down right indignant and leave it there. No room for pettiness in the old world. #pettypatty #politicalcorrectness
  6. Get into an internet (or public) IG, FB, TWITTER, beef – There were probably some good brawls that I was never privy to as a kid. But I can respect a good ass kicking every so often, up to a certain age. But nowadays you get into sissy-like confrontations hiding behind a GUI screen while in the security of your home. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
  7. Get divorced – Granted, marriage ain’t for everyone, nor can every couple stand the test of time. My parents have been married for a gazillion years and they’ve made the best of it. Right, wrong, bad, or indifferent they committed like many others did and they worked through their differences. Nice job parental units. Good luck with this to my Gay and Lesbian fellow human beings.

These are just a few things that come to mind about how my life differs from my dad. Not saying it’s better or worse, it’s just…different.

Now ‘scuse me while I get into a beef about Hillary vs Trump. It’s funner this way.

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Go well and with love good peeps.

If You Ain’t First…Yer Last

Apparently there is a debate brewing regarding participation trophies for kids in sports. I think Rick Bobby of Talladega Nights said it best – “If you ain’t first, yer last.” Or maybe what The Donald has said about losers and winners – “I like people who weren’t captured.” (The Donald on Losers) Or as a former boss of mine declared about people’s work product – “It’s not great it’s just work.”

So if these shining examples surround us how can we feel bad about a parent revoking Participation Trophies from his sons because he feels they should “earn” them?

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Hog wash.

If my child has participated in a sport (or any other activity) I believe they should be recognized for participating. If a child goes to the practice, learns the drills, participates in the plays, and does what is asked of him then why shouldn’t he be rewarded? Just because he may not be the most talented or the winner he should not be shunned for fear of leading him down the path of laziness.

Opponents of the practice to award kids participation trophies might say: a) it teaches kids they don’t have to work for anything in life; b) you have to earn everything in life (hello – this is false!!); c) it doesn’t teach kids about winning and losing; or d) kids will not know life isn’t fair. (Do We All Deserve A Gold? Setting kids up to fail. – Post published by Vivian Diller Ph.D. on Nov 19, 2011 in Face It)

However, I would argue these ideas with the following:

  • Is it wrong to reward a child for trying or is a pat on the back sufficient?
  • Is it so bad to encourage a child to participate in anything by recognizing their efforts to do so?
  • Shouldn’t the parents take the responsibility to tell their child that they just aren’t good enough?
  • And why does a parent have to crush a child’s ego by expressing the child doesn’t have the talent to participate in a given sport?
  • Don’t we reward participation for junior varsity and varsity sports?
  • Will kids really not understand that life isn’t fair? Hello…I’m a Black man living in America…I think it becomes obvious at some point that life is far from fair.
  • Finally, if you look at the very successful people of today they didn’t reach their level of success because of their talent but because of their success to nurture relationships.

These are the reasons why rewarding some kid a medal for participating will not hurt them as they come up in the world. In a way it will hopefully motivate them to become better. Heck, it’s better than the child sitting home all day playing games. And let’s be honest, the ole pat-on-the-back just ain’t cutting it like it used to – then again, in our jobs we would all be so lucky to get that pat-on-the-back.

Go well and with love good peeps.

I Used to Love You…But I’m Good

I remember the exact moment when our eyes first gazed. I had beautiful thoughts of you run through my mind as my mind imagined “us.” I envisioned you and me in a foreign land laughing, talking, and foreseeing the future as one. I felt your presence in my spirit as our brief encounter seemed like an eternity. However, it was only brief as I was introduced to you, but I remember the feeling well – euphoric.

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As I made my acquaintance I remember the feeling of your skin as I reached for your hand. Because I am a renaissance man I chose to kiss your hand as a sign of respect as well as a chance to feel your silky smooth skin grace my lips while briefly catching the scent of your perfume for the day. What was that? Jean Paul Gaultier’s Classique? Or maybe it was your natural scent that danced around my nose and awakened me like a splash of cold water on a hot summer day.

I did not want to release your hand for I believed you would be mine. I wanted to run through the building with you in tow down to the fountains hidden behind the finely manicured greenery purposely placed to welcome in guest of the building. And I thought to myself “this is where we will have our first kiss.”

Your laugh and giggle tingled my spine as you sheepishly flirted with me while I gently released your hand. I glimpsed your bright smile and I was overcome with an emotion I had not felt before. The smile of a goddess right before my eyes. And if you had noticed, albeit a very brief nano-second, you would have seen how I lost my cool, calm, and collective demeanor all because of your smile. I nearly melted away.

We exchanged meaningless pleasantries as we both tried to contain the obvious metaphysical connection we were experiencing – hoping not to expose our true feelings to one another. But the bystanders knew because of the energy we shared created an aura around us like a firefly at night. You and I had forgotten we were among friends as the world seemed to stop for the moment as we took in every detail of one another.

And as I walked away I knew. I just knew. That someday we would be in an embrace sharing our vows and professing our love for each other to the world. As the sun is inevitable to rise our path to love would bear just as true. We would never love another the way we fell in love that day.

But I’m good now. And I’m over you now. And I release you from my spirit.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Son Don’t Let these Streets Get You (A letter to my boy)

The seduction of tight-ass bitches twerking under bright lights as you make it rain hundreds can make any lil homie have a desire for the streets. Dope cars, dope chains, dope clothes, and swag like no other. The Hip Hop music is on fleek! Fast life as you cruise down the street bumping the hottest beats.

Yeah, it’s enticing, but it ain’t worth it son.

My love for you won’t allow me to let you stray into an environment that will make you a statistic. I won’t be responsible for your slide into a life full of risk with only quick rewards. I know you may not understand at this time but please trust me when I tell you. My father said the same thing to me as I’m saying to you “Don’t hang with street-walkers cause nothing good comes from that.”

I realize my conservative life style may not appear as sexy or fly or whether I have swag but I still know best. I only know best because I’ve seen many things in all my years on this earth. Therefore, I want to impart this wisdom onto you so you do not have to experience all of the pitfalls life will throw at you. Make a choice to avoid them. Life can and should be beautiful – all of the parts coming together like a well-played symphony.

The allure of the almighty dollar will not allow me to see you fall to the streets. I’d rather be a poor son-of-a-bitch with a lifetime of non-material riches than to die young or live an empty existence. Or to have my life interrupted by a prison system that is unfavorable to people like us.

I pray that you hear my voice as I make this public plea to you at an age where you may not quite understand all of the pressures you will face down the road. We live in a different era these days and it may not be the kindest to you.

I get it… I’m not ignorant of what is out there and how you might believe you are doing what you have to do as you might struggle with the balance act of being a stand-up guy but not looking like a punk. I hear the music and agree that we have very good music these days that has evolved over time. But do know we are living in an over-sexed period and it may have longer term detriments than advantages. Resisting these temptations is what will mold the man I want you to become.

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One day it will all make sense – what I am spouting off to you. I need to lay the ground work today so that you will have a future tomorrow. It is my role and obligation as your father to enlighten you. We should always be learning from one generation to the other. My lesson for today is to show you how much I love you by exposing you to the harsh truths of life.

I look forward to our time together in the years to come. I look forward to sitting with you and having a beer with you and listening to you as you spout off knowledge from your own experiences. And God willing, we’ll make it to that day together.

Go well and with love good peeps…