Here is a truth. Cherish your failures. Bury your doubts. Protect your power. Knock on closed doors. Put a stake through your fears. Take what you want. Respect your pain. Let your spirit rise. Stand in your light. Speak with love. Do what stirs your imagination. Never forget that anything is possible. Find the time to dream. Know your words have transformative power. Use it for growth. Seek real and supportive relationships. Come together often. Learn to belong fully and truly to spaces you call your own. Let nothing, not even a sleepless night go to waste. Love deeply, as if it were forever. Survive all your freedoms.
I watched my baby at a family picnic dart back and forth a multi-colored block unafraid. Even when he fell, he kept going back inside, climbing up and down, until he found himself in the middle, just as he wanted. I figured there was a lesson in his ways hence why I wrote the above. Of course I took the time to dream, and watching a little boy cherish his failures will make you do the same.
I’m learning his ways. His voice is his own. He knows his hearts desires. Recalls promises made in silence. He will share his dreams if you ask. Plus he is only five. I keep asking when will he know. That birds called Sky are meant to fly free. I keep wondering when the fragrant air filled with roses and lavender became his friend. He is only five but wiser than ants strolling aimlessly in daylight. Honesty is his thing. Tell the truth and don’t cry. That and his voice. Everything he declares forces you to remember he his only five. Yet he touches every single edge of me. Like young seeds that know the sun. His eyes are like the sun. Bright, beautiful, big like his world. He breaks off many branches in me that does not bear fruit. He makes me live to many lives high above mountains that I become. He is my son. God, he is mine.
We were talking yesterday, my son and I about why I love him so much. I told him I would put it into words and read it out loud so he will know what he means to me always. The words above were my attempt at letting him know why I think he is loved and how I hope he remains forever. Keep sons that remind you of the sun, bright, beautiful and big, like their world.
My day seemed random at first. International festival. Second grade kids. Talk about being born and raised in Nigeria. Simple. Until it began. There were all sorts of questions from minds curious about places far from home. I took it all in. Mesmerized faces eager to sail from this place to one I call home. We talked about the people, the places and things they will see. We shared 6 fun facts, like did you know the green in the flag stands for natural wealth and the white for peace and unity, something they all nodded we need right now. Especially the peace, one of them noted. I smiled. We need to begin with children.
Their walls were full of letters for the week. Pictures full of reasons for how to be second graders and more. I escaped through their eyes for a moment. Moved as we sailed from this place to another. I saw their love for my home. Smiled as they imagined how we could have so many people and so many languages when all they knew was one.
I imagine this must be what they say when minds and hearts come together as one. Questions of why you are you come to mind. Love for you rush through eyes eager to meet you just as you are. Their eyes tell stories of acceptance. Minds shares words of gratitude for times spent together, learning, knowing, meeting, sailing together from this place to one I call home.
I never thought our meeting would be so important. My narrow understanding of second grade, of minds eager to see, and know people, things and places far always. I now see for myself why these eyes and minds, so breathtaking, so authentic, so open, and unfettered, these minds of second grade boys and girls, must be celebrated always. They have buried their eyes into my soul. A treasure of happiness, resides deeply now. I never thought they would leave such an impression, but this maybe the start of something revolutionary, for this woman, fearless and free.
I see that second graders are rare beings. I see they love the world as it is, beyond themselves for themselves. I see they endlessly begin, where the words you speak end. Everything about them like the world is big enough for you and I. I see too that we should all escape from our world to theirs often. Memories of our day now sink into my soul that I just may focus more, on the stories, the places, the people, all the possible range of things that would keep this going on forever. Thank you to these second graders and all the kids I met today for being so open, so unfettered, as our minds sailed together from this to that. Diversity and inclusion need not begin only with grownups. Not when children hold the key.
I think about the day he was kicked out of school often. They rise up during moments like today, rise up like the moon, to remind me of how far we have come. The journey has indeed been long. Here was a boy, kicked out of his first school experience only after two days. Here is a mother, who cried alone in her car with him, wondering what our life will be come. Here is a boy who brought the words autism to my soul. Here is a boy for whom all sorts of remedy became all we knew. Here is a boy who barely spoke a word at three. Here is a boy who only pointed at things he wanted. Here is a boy for when words came repeated them often so his brain would never forget. Here is a boy who still repeats words so his brain remembers. Here is a boy for whom hand gestures are like silent friends. Here is a boy for whom friends are everyone in the universe and more. Here is a boy for whom bubbles and air in his being run free never forgetting their roots. Here too is a boy who memorized the entire mass, once words that seemed distant turned to dreams of tears, of joy, at least for me and him and everyone who remembers the day we knew we were destined for greatness, yet blessed with difference on our side.
There are still miles ahead to go. Still things I worry about like words inappropriate he says out loud not knowing the weight they carry. Strangers, all sorts, he greets and speaks to on the road, expecting they are as innocent and brilliant as he is. He is truly innocent and brilliant and unfamiliar with the ways of the world, still that I fear for what the future holds. I fear but choose this moment to remind myself to look at the bright side always. That’s what the universe said to me, as we played at a park the next day after being kicked out of school. That’s what the universe still says to me, as we all stand by his side celebrating his first holy communion. Now son, flesh of my flesh, now that you receive the body and blood of the one who first loved you, know that all of life runs through your veins. You silence or laughter or difference or joy isn’t weakness but for his glory and he will want you to look at the bright side always. If all this defines you, if you still live for the universe free, then we are open always to this bright side of you, this power within you.
My first son hates to read. Not all books. Just the ones that have to do with school. Give him a Dogman book or anything with space and he will quietly read and read. But homework, or anything from Journey is a pain. Today’s assignment was a chapter in his Journey book. All he had to do was read. He complained and complained and tried not to do it. Even asked for us to do it together. I stood my ground and told him to read. Even went as far as to share about how his sister read in church on Easter Sunday all by herself. In fact he should be like his sister. That was all I needed to say and 10 minutes later, the chapter he dreaded to read was done.
Big sis remains a big influence in his life. Watching her read all by herself in Church on Easter Sunday was a gift that keeps giving. I am inspired by them and their gift to each other.
I am re-reading Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salteaters, and I am struck by this line in the book ‘the source of health is never outside.’ The book itself is always worth a read but the idea of all you need for health nestled within you has always made me feel whole. Two days ago, my first son and I were visiting his pediatrician and as always we marveled at how far we have come with being on the spectrum. We know we still have so many miles to go, but this idea of all we need for him being within us helped me put so much in perspective. See we often take huge leaps forward, often expect things to seem better, meltdowns dissipate and the brain seems to function as if all was well. Then just as soon as we bend a curve, we are ushered right back to the start. His doctor reminded me that in those moments, all we need are already within reach. She reminded me that when we have meltdowns that seem so out of control, those like our recent experience at the planetarium, a chewable childrens motrim will do. It can help the body quickly reset as my son makes sense of all that is happening to him. I was stunned. Of course don’t use it on an empty stomach she cautioned, but whenever you take him out and feel like he may start to stim or have a serious meltdown, a chewable Motrim may help to calm him down. I went straight to Walmart and bought 3 bottles. She also mentioned the need to have meltdown packs, almost like a first aid kit for moments like the Planetarium when we anticipate the end just may not work as well as we expect it to end. I said this summer is going to be like that. I also noted that I dread the summer for him. Nothing seems to work out well and he always seem to have meltdowns when ever he has to end anything. I share all this to say we are looking within ourselves these days for the source of all that would help us cope with being on the spectrum. Only time will tell but I am learning with each passing day that the source of our health, is already within our reach
I know that girl. I see the light in her eyes every time she remembers she can do anything. She may not know how to be brave in the moment. May not know what to say or how to fight back in the moment. But when she remembers her mother’s voice, she knows she can do anything. She may not know what to do at times. May not know where to even begin. But when she remembers her daddy’s voice, she knows she can do anything. She may never know why things come her way. She may never see them coming her way. But when she remembers her grandmother voice, she knows she can do anything. She may feel frightened at times. May feel helpless at times. But when she remembers her grandpas voice, she knows she can do anything. And so she does. What may seem impossible for others, is possible for her. Especially now that she knows she can do anything.
Love is always present, always with us. I see it clearly in Spring. Whenever Spring comes around, my mind and heart open up. Everything about this season pushes me to live my life to the fullest. To live in the moment too. And trees call me. With every way they sway, they move me. Naked or flourishing, they seduce me. With each falling leaves, they challenge me. Each falling branch, they guide me. And each root, uprooted, connect me back to the heart of the matter, my roots. We are still here, standing because love calls, we answer.
We all know trust is hard. It evades. Drowns in oceans and disappears. It’s steady if you have it. Old people seek it. Young people ignore it. But children elevate it, create new possibilities with it. Even if they are drowning. They trust they’ll never sink. Not when the ocean loves them back. To know it can never be shaken. To feel it never move. To see it surround them just as deep and as wide as oceans is to stand erect in love. I have lived too long with children who know trust. When I speak of trust, they speak of love. We stand together, erect.
One of the highlights of Spring break last week was climbing trees at a park close to our home. I watched as my children trusted the tree to hold them despite its crumbling state. They kept climbing till they could climb no more, trusting the tree would keep them erect. It did. I admire that about children. They go around keeping their trust in things and people they know who keep their best interest in mind. They are like those who trust in the Lord, those whose trust is like Mount Zion, never shaken or moved. Children are a a gift from God. A real blessing if you stop to observe how they make sense of life. I am doing so everyday and like them, I long to be like Mount Zion. Never shaken or moved. No matter what life throws my way. If you know my story, you would know my foundation begins with trust. I thank my children for giving me this reminder. I hope you keep it.
My son told me yesterday, he would buy me flowers forever when he gets older. I smiled. He is only five and still reminds me of God every time I look in his eyes. I forgot to pen one more moment with him as he turned 5 back in February. He reminded me of why it matters yesterday. So here he goes. I hope you keep moments with God. He will give you flowers forever.
We took the best of ourselves. The best of our minds. The best of our peace, the fullness of our hearts and gave them to you. Son, whose skin is the color of the night, with eyes as brilliant as shooting stars. See the full moon. See how it persistently tends the night skies. It knows places in the night, dark and never spoken about, like flowers blooming in the dark. Ways to love without failing too, even at the darkest hour. What I know to be pure and genuine is in the way you care for others beyond yourself. The way you love persistently. Only you are like the moon, so full, so full.