These tiny hands and feet defy odds every time they move. You with your tiny hands and feet, you my Belle, defy odds every time.
We are kicking off this summer with 100 days of books, books, and more books with my kids. I believe in leading by example and so to kick off, I just finished reading Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes. It was a beautiful, easy, effortless story of how a girl who loved to day dream turned her day dreams into words. She was of course aided by a teacher who saw the magic inherent with day dreaming and flipped his classroom to accommodate the girl and her day dreaming behavior. I loved this because I saw myself in Gabby. I am a day dreaming girl to the core and these days I turn them into grants. The one I am currently working on began as a day dream and it took 4 days, yes 4 days to put a draft together before we travelled out of town. I was able to travel and rest simply because my day dreams turned into words which then turned into a very rough first draft of the grant. Of course editing is the toughest part of any grant, but I am happy this one began as a dream. Only time will tell if this dream turns into reality.
In the meantime, my kids read if I had a tail and according to my 8 year old if he had one, he would use it to write. My 9 year old will fly with her tail while my five year old will wag his tail around just because. Happy summer days of reading.
They say there will be mornings like this. Meltdowns too like this. Toothache pain from nowhere. Tears flowing non-stop. Listening to Favor. All of us wondering. Whether we will prosper. In this space where horses roam free. We will. Not when blue skies greet us good morning. Grass the perfect shade of green too. And air as gentle as can be, reminds us that everything will be alright. Everything will. Now that we choose, choose and choose rest!
Many times we begin and start, a new day, a school year, time again. Many times, we were bitter, sad, joyful, glad again. That this time, this year, this day, ends, just as we prayed it would, is the bittersweet, joyful thing, I hope greets you this time, this year, this day again and again.
My heart still bleeds for Uvalde. But I am thankful for today, this time. Hug those you love.
Memories like from this weekend, sink deeply into my soul. Good people are rare. Good food too. A belly full of laughter from boys cheerful with their joy, is forever etched in my memory. Black boy joy surrounded by grey elephants is truly magical. I am walking into this week full of thanks for being among people so good, boys so delightful too, for whom memories of doing together will forever linger.
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.