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.

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…

Confronting the Bully

A strange thing occurred this morning as I walked my offspring to school. We ran smack face-to-face into a kid who has been bullying my boy.

I only recently found out about this bully who is older than my 9 year old and much bigger. As with any bullying story the described bully tactics made me angry and even fearful for my child’s well being. My very reason for the school drop off this day was to ensure the school was acting appropriately. Little did I expect to encounter the young thug and his cronies.

My son didn’t point out the bully to me, we just walked past him. However, I could tell by looking at my son that this was the bothersome kid. My son kept staring straight ahead as we beelined for the door. My daughter was with us and her involuntary signals gave the perpetrator’s identity away as well. And I was beginning to fume.

My kids ran off to the lunch room as I made my way for the office. I expressed my frustration and displeasure about the previous incident and demanded it be handled correctly, otherwise I would handle it myself.

I only felt somewhat satisfied as I left the office back out into the frigid Chicago Fall air. Thoughts were running through my mind on how me and my family came into this situation. I was not bullied as a child and I didn’t understand why kids did it. Heck, I even came to the defense of the bullied souls back in the day. However, the only thing that mattered to me now was my son’s safety, and no disrespecting bastard of a kid was going to cause issue with my boy.

Then it happened. It almost felt like time paused for a moment as the Universe (or maybe God) cleared the path for me to confront the bully as I left out of the school. He and his partners were still outside talking. He was looking directly at me as I slowly approached him. I knew it was him.

Without hesitation I pardoned myself into their conversation and I began talking. I asked him if he bullied my son and he sad yes.

I said to him, “listen my man, we all need to be sticking with each other ya know? My son needs friends and doesn’t deserve to be harrassed. He’s a good boy and needs someone to be a leader not a bully. Can you be a leader to my son and others instead of picking on them? Can you be that person they look up to instead of fearing? Man, I’m counting on you to be better and do better, my man. Can you do this for me?”

The little boy was intensely focused on me as I spoke to him. His eyes were a beautiful soft brown and his complexion was smooth. I could tell he really wasn’t bad at all, just misguided and probably mis-parented. I felt for this little sixth grader.

He looked at me and shyly stated “yes I can.”

I said, “Thank you. I know you can.”

All the while I kept a fairly stern demeanor not wanting to show all of my cards. I wanted him to know I meant business yet I was willing to work with him. I asked each of the boys their names and said I was counting on them to be better and to befriend my son.

I’m not sure where my talk will take them but I hope it resonates in their souls and they understand the role they were playing as bullies is not as becoming as the role of a leader.

Go well and with love good peeps. For real.

PS – Let’s stop bullying. Support your local efforts to putting an end to this nonsense.

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Goodbye and Hello

My weekend is filled with blissful fun – like packing and moving. Woo-Hoo! Nothing screams “change” like a new residence. The old residence contains family memories neatly packed away in U-Haul boxes awaiting the arrival of a few young men to complete the transition; while the new residence is a welcome change in eliminating strife and confusion from a wayward marriage. We all welcome these moments as we move past the pain, heartache, and sadness and look forward to new horizons.

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As I packed, I flipped through numerous pictures of me and my family. I looked through albums and smiled as I gazed at the pictures of the births of my kids. The pictures brought me back to all of those wonderful times captured in the four walls of the brick and mortar we called home for so many years. I smiled.

I rid myself of the various toys played with by the kids. I remember nearly every single toy I purchased and when my kids played with them. It’s a wonderful thing how the memories come flowing back. I caught myself basking in the moment. I smiled again.

The items left behind from my previous garage sale were stacked kindly along the curbside awaiting future homes to be adopted by other families. Neighborhood kids rummaged through the newly found treasures making their careful choices among the loot. I smiled again.

And as I prepared my new residence for the arrival of my “stuff” I felt a peaceful calm overtake me. I had a brief moment of bliss that I had not felt in a long time, a feeling that reminded me about the good in life. These are new beginnings, accomplishments through the storm, my kids and their smiles. I can’t help but smile again.

I’ve traveled a long road toward this moment as many people have and I haven’t cracked to the point of no return. I have held steady as I wound my way around those evil moments. I am nervous as any would be, but I feel I am in a good place. My mental capacity is strong, and I see the reaction of my kids to the new surroundings. They feel comfortable and secure even with less. And for this I smiled.

When it’s all said and done – even through the tedious tasks of packing and moving reflections of life are bound to occur. These reflections will be of the good and not-so good of the memories created through my family experiences. I can recall days which I can explicitly recount what we did as a family, the laughter that filled the room, and the smell of the family meal. All these events are happening simultaneously in my mind. The memories may be gone, but I have new ones waiting.

My kids see the change to the new residence and they embrace it. I see the event of change approaching and I slowly make my way toward it. I hope to embrace this change with the desire it will continue to rid me of my pain. I feel there is a positive smell of change in the air regarding my new residence with the smell catching me just under my nose and pulling me closer to acceptance. It pulls me toward the direction where my new future awaits. I smile again for the last time in my current humble abode.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Just When My Positivity Was Peaking Along Came a Spider

Let me take a moment to compose myself because I love myself and I don’t want to find myself in a situation that diminishes myself to uncharacteristic actions that will define myself.

People can be very narrow-minded.

I am tired of how baby daddies are continuing to get beat up as a whole based on the actions of a few. When a father desires to see his kids and takes it upon himself to remove his child from a situation he considers dangerous or unhealthy why is he deemed the monster? Or when another father takes his kids from the mother because he is being held back from seeing his kids the father is a kidnapper? However, some mothers will do the same thing but without the titles. We all believe fair is fair and we all desire equality.

In a recent discussion there was an article about a police “manhunt” in search of a father that left his home city with his child; a manhunt mind you, expending who knows how much money to apprehend a man with his unharmed child. Yet, there was another news item where the woman did the same thing but was painted very different (the article stated: “…mother and baby were found healthy…”). There was no mention of a manhunt nor did there seem to be equal sentiment toward the perpetrators. Yet it is considered illegal as well.

What gives?

I do not condone illegal activities. I do not like when bad acting people do bad things. But I also don’t appreciate how we so easily lump individuals into categories to fit our own perception of people. Not all men are dead beats and not all women are Mother Teresa. Therefore, we should be careful to look at each situation individually as best we can before passing judgment.

Scenario: Man takes his own child away from mother and a manhunt ensues. Woman takes child away from the father and questions come up, “what did the man do to provoke her?”

Let’s either treat the cases equally or look at them individually before we move to how we think about the individuals at hand.

It is an unfortunate situation we have put our children in – broken homes and separated families – therefore, it will take more for us to move pass the emotional baggage that hold us back from giving our children the benefit of being in the lives of both parents equally. Get with it folks.

There are always two sides to the story so let’s see both sides as objectively as we can before we pass judgment, especially when it is continuously against the man. I’m just saying…

I Am the Most Powerful Man in the World!

Well, technically I’m not. If I had to really look at myself in the mirror I would tend to agree that I’m not even the most powerful man in the world physically, either. Yet, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming cool factor when I think of the fact that I DO SHARE the same birth-day as the most powerful man in the world – President Barack Obama. Now that is cool.

And on this day of reflection in all of my years on this Earth I have encountered many acts of love and kindness that make me want to recognize the good in all of us. So I put my political views aside, give thanks to God Almighty, and I embrace the love that has come my way. And it feels good.

And today is not only special because of the sharing of birth days, but it is special to recognize I made it this far. When forces were upon me that could have shortened my chaotic lifestyle I was covered by endearing Angels to help me find my way. I was not aware of it at the time but over time I’ve come to recognize the protection throughout the years.

And it is not only special because I’ve made it thus far but also because the encounters I have experienced with so many people. Each soul that I have come in contact with has held a unique place in my own spirit thus helping in forming my life. These souls have assisted to shape my outlook and have become a part of my past. My traveled road shows signs of connectedness.

And it is not only a special day because of the souls I might have touched but the possibilities that surround me going forward. I am not the type, nor should you be, to give up easily on life. We all have the bumps and bruises to show our resilience yet we should wear them as the badges of honor they are. This helps the world recognize that you are able to overcome and puts out the positive energy we all so desire. Therefore, like a peacock I say display those colors proudly! Dare to change the world for all of the positivity you see.

In recent conversations I was struck to hear stories of those individuals that overcame obstacles, who weren’t afraid to ask for help, and who desired to be a positive spark in this world. There is nothing wrong with sharing the positives in which we experience. And on mine and the President’s special day (and all of you that share this day) I reflect on my life’s activities and I recognize that I am truly Blessed!

Go well and with love my good peeps. Go well.

Celebrating Life’s Wonderful Moments

Today I celebrate my son’s birthday! I feel so honored to have him as my son and I am happy that God put my kids in my life. Through all of the turmoil I have experienced it is moments like these where I sit back and just give thanks. Whether you know who or what you are giving thanks to, just give it, it won’t hurt.

Then just celebrate those things around us that give us joy. Life can be beautiful.