Everyone that loves you know the outbursts is not in your voice.

Hands flaring. Nose glaring. The outbursts are not by choice.

Pitch getting loud, redirection leading to nowhere.

These outbursts are only noise.

For a mind overflowing with visions of sunsets, and Orion and dreams of a little star that could, even as tears gently roll.

In the end, there are lessons with each noise, lessons though not by choice, and lessons through your voice.

And they all remind us of choirs of angels singing at a place called Gethsemane.

This beautiful image from Lucille Clifton Everett Anderson series helps to personify what a meltdown often looks like.

We went to the Live Sky Tonight show at the Planetarium yesterday. It was a first for us. When we visit the Planetarium we usually watch the show the Little Star that Could. This time, I decided to try something different. I completely forgot my first son only loves the same thing. He is also obsessed with the solar systems and I thought I was doing something great to expand his knowledge base. Well I thought wrong. The show was great. He loved every moment of it. It was the end. He kept on asking so when are we going to watch the movie Little Star that Could. I told him we didn’t come for it plus besides it happens only in the morning and we’ll it would have to be another day. That didn’t go well with him and right there in the middle of the room, a full melt down began.

We pleaded and pleaded but his mind went somewhere else. Completely unable to process anything we were saying. So I did the best I could, with baby in my arm, picked him up, and proceeded to walk him out of the planetarium. There were stares. The kind that makes you want to go somewhere and hide and wait till the world is asleep to come out. My son kept raising his voice as if he would get help from his over stimulation. We kept walking what seemed liked forever until we got outside and straight to the car. I felt really terrible for my other kids because they wanted to see other parts of the planetarium. But having a meltdown meant that we had to all go home.

Keeping this here as a reminder that having a child on the spectrum will push you out of your limits. We don’t have meltdowns as much as we used to. In fact during the show I remembered when we first came to the Planetarium and how I vowed we would never be back. I watched in amazement as my son sat still and took it all in. There is growth through the spectrum and we see it for ourselves every single day. But there are still moments and days where nothing seems to work and it’s like the beginning where nothing seems to make sense. We know these days are part of his stories and that he is even sorry, in fact always sorry for causing such a meltdown. He says so himself, apologizing for what he can’t seem to control. That’s why I will always be grateful for him. For the grace he teaches even under enormous stress. My only hope is not for this to pass, but more for us to remember that lessons of a meltdown with children on the spectrum. The grace too that follows after so much stress. We keep learning from him every day.

We are how we live. How we bake too, like meat pies made in love. How we dream, how we hope, through thick and thin plus time. I choose your eternity. Choose your smiles too. Something about the power of you. Keeps me smiling. Like how we smiled today. How I hope we smile tomorrow and eternity.

Big smiles full of joy. 

For pies full of meat, full of potatoes, full of love, full of you. All of you. Your smile, like blue skies, brings joy, brings light, brings goodness, brings life, for things as simple as baking. I encounter this love, time and time again, everything we bake. I feast in your love. This love I name, that glimmers with each pie we make, begins with you. As the meat pies rise, so must we. All of us who choose to keep this joy, for meat pies made with love. What we did today, is all that counts. Through meat pies, laughter, flour in disarray, but love as we know it, our way is the real mood. I am loving us, through meat pies, the source of our joy. Keep them with your kids.

Spring time picnics have begun

I watched you the other night and wondered out loud to myself, where are you.

Surrounded by so many of them, few that looked like you, I felt like screaming out loud, where are you.

I waited for you to turn, waited for you to look my way, waited to see if your stride is still as confident as you are, waited to hear whether your voice is just as striking too.

You did. It is.

There you are. There you are still more beautiful than the rising sun.

Still with your crooked smile that melts my heart like on the day you first arrived. Still with a voice so serene, so charismatic like the call of birds.

Someday, somewhere, someone like me, will write about you, about your confident walk, your crooked smile, your charismatic voice, and how something tried but failed to dim the sun, and all it’s brilliance.

To know you, is to see the sun.

Image by Miranda M with ua_designed on instagram.

I think about black girls a lot. Black boys too. How they live and grow in a society that batters them before they turn 15. I watch whether they still stand erect as trees or not. Whether they have voice. Whether they remain rooted or not, in something stronger that whatever society throws their way. And society is out for them. I know this too well having grown in places that would rather we remain invisible than seen. Few care to dig in the night. I know. But when the possibilities of treasures like stars resides in them, why not dig. I choose to dig to see their light for myself. All they ways they bend and still stand. All they ways they speak, walk, confident in their words and stride. I choose to see because seeing is all we can do when society would rather they stay invisible. I hope to write one day letters that celebrate them, lift them up to, through the struggles, and still remain a fountain of joy for them. This is my prayer. That I too will keep seeing all black girls and boys, just as they are. Like the brilliance of the sun.

You came in the afternoon. Around four, forty-five. On two, seventeen, seventeen. Daddy was there the entire time. Just him, you and Gillian, our nurse practitioner with a smile that never fades. Only three of us. She looked at Dad and asked if he was ready. He smiled. She knew he was. He wore the scrubs. Green scrubs. Put on his gloves. Latex free gloves. She stood by his side and together they said it was time. Dad said to breathe. I did. The contractions were coming. She counted. I pushed. We did this 4 times and by the fifth, you gently came into the world. Your dad gently brought you into our lives. You were the only one that got that gift. The only one that Dad did everything, from the beginning till the end. Gillian trusted him. She knew he had done this way more than her, knew he did this first before spending time now with the brain. Knew I would also be in great hands. She gave us this special gift. She let us bring you together, to the world.

I always wondered why your ways are seamless, your strides effortless, even your smile totally divine. Honestly, everything about you is always divine. There is gentle ease about you, so peaceful like flowing rivers. Every aspect of you, son of my womb, is flawless. Even your ways are limitless. They call it grace, I hope it stays with you always. As your turn around once more, this fifth season of you, there are four things about you that are so amazing to me. No, five, that keeps me looking at you. One, your voice is so powerful. I pray it continues to thunders over our home, over our lives. Two, your smile is breathtakingly beautiful. I sincerely hope you continue to use for glory. Three, your caring for others, even you fierce protection of your brothers is supreme to me. I pray you keep it, always. Four, your likeness, I adore how it falls like rain, this radiance around you. But of all this, I stand mesmerized by your name.

We named you after the one who forms mountain. The one who creates winds. The one who turns dawn to darkness. The one whose face is light. We named you after the one who stirs up the sea. The one who makes the waves roar. The one who strikes with flashes of lightning. The one who thunders over mighty waters. We named you after the one who makes nations leap like a calf. The one who shakes the desert. The one who twists mighty oaks. The one who strips the forest bare. We named you after the one who gives hidden treasures. The one who stores riches in secret places. The one that blesses his people with peace. The one enthroned as king forever. You my child, we named you after God. May he be your guide always. Happy Birthday Olisadubem.

We remind ourselves, each day, all children are precious. Black, Brown, White, no matter the color, or creed, all children, whether strange or foreign, are precious. Recently, I have been struggling with the reality that some children have nothing precious or valuable within them. I often wonder too what happened to them that at their tender age, they only know hate. To see them seduced by it, to hear glimpses of their hate expressed through actions, such as stepping on another child’s foot for no reason and intentionally, or telling them they don’t belong in certain places or spaces, makes me cringe.

Yesterday, I found myself screaming and giving way to much attention to the spiteful ways of hateful children. Then almost immediately, I felt so sorry for them. I felt so sorry that they don’t know love. I felt sorry that they weigh themselves down with hate. I felt so sorry that they have no place to shed a tear or even be heard. For if they knew love, if they felt it deeply within their heart like all children who are precious and valuable do, then maybe they won’t be as hateful as they are. Or they maybe worse. These are the realities I am slowly learning. That when children bully, that when they go out of their way to be mean to other children, that there are deeper issues at hand, one that begins from a place where no love exists. And I feel so sorry for them.

I pray they find love. I pray they bask in the warm gaze of acceptance for their ways. I pray they learn of it ways, it’s joyfulness and kindness. I pray they see it too in other children. But most of all, I pray they learn one day that they are indeed precious or valuable, even though no one at home tells them so.

And for those who endure their ways, I leave these words for you. I praise you for your valiant struggle. I praise you for asking them why they hate, even though your questions keep leading to more hate. I say always, always ask why. I praise you for your voice. I praise you for speaking up, fighting back, even though they remain least willing to be civil. I praise you for demanding to be heard. I praise you for using your strength to weigh them down with love. I praise you too for feeling sorry for them. No matter how many times they hate, I praise you for looking at them despite their hate. By looking, you teach love. No child that knows love, can look away when others know hate. So I praise you for looking. I praise you for teaching them civility, for reminding them about humanity, for doing the work necessary to love your enemies as your self. You are indeed precious and valuable. Truly remarkable in every single way. And your love, like Dr. Martin Luther King once noted, is the only force that can turn their hate into love. We never get rid of hate by meeting it with hate. Even if they choose to destroy or tear down, that’s what most haters do, I still praise you for transforming their hate into love. For letting your words and your actions speak love. This is a reminder that you are indeed precious and valuable always.

Some moments linger on, like a song, playing on. Like the moment he arrived. We call him Olisa, but truly he is our beloved. Our guide through life. Remember, the $10k lottery, from over 1100 entries. Olisa won that last year at his school. His ways are not ours. The words out of his mouth these days are like deep waters. Caring is sharing. Rushing like flowing stream. Be kind, keeps me smiling. He is turning into his 5th season. My child, born two, seventeen, seventeen. I can’t help but wonder all he will become. This week we celebrate him. This child, we call God.

Perhaps the lessons from falling snow,

is that every fall brings disruption.

Every disruption brings change.

Every change brings power.

Every power brings insight.

Every insight brings abundance.

Every abundance brings grace.

Every grace is sublime.

I agree with the snow.

What if anything can we learn from snow? The past 2 days my family and I have been stuck inside as Saint Louis became perpetually covered in snow. Luckily, we knew the snow was coming so I dashed to the market and stocked up the house with food. Day 1 was quiet as it felt like a hoax at first. There were no snow for most of the early morning and we began to wonder whether it was all a fluke. Then as if on cue, snow started to fall and it came down fast and furious. We watched as the snow fell through out the day and into the next. Every where we looked as far as our eyes could see was covered in snow. Beautiful snow too if I might add. We took the time to play games, watched movies and well simply enjoyed being around each other.

Until this morning. I was launched back into homeschooling this morning as one of my child’s school decided that 2 days of doing nothing was a lot. I agree, but homeschooling. I am still tormented by the experience from 2020 and 2021 that the thought of it gives me anxiety. When it was time, I prayed our internet would go out. It didn’t. My son was not in the mood for it. I wasn’t either. We both summoned enough courage and went on it. He managed to do some language which he did not like. I got to see once more why I hated homeschooling. We both had no patience for it. He was disruptive in class. I saw again that he can’t seem to emotionally regulate himself when frustrated with work. I was equally frustrated watching him struggle. All the anxiety from homeschooling kept creeping back for the two of us. I asked if we could do the work on our own. We did. He sat through the work and finished it on his own. Then we returned for Math. They had to prepare for some tests. He once again had no patience. I didn’t either. We took the work, logged out and struggled but finished it on our own.

Then we came back for reading. They had to read a story about Bats. I opened the book and told him to start reading. I expected him to become frustrated. He wasn’t. I also expected that he would log out as he did with the other 2 classes. He didn’t. Rather he sat and read through the entire work. I looked at him perplexed. Here was a kid who refused to sit through other classes earlier and now he was looking forward to reading and actually reading along. I left him alone to go to my work. He stayed on to read with the class. When he was done he came to look for me. I asked if he was done, he said, yes. I said, ok we can take a break now. Then he asked whether he could go out to the snow now that it is time for recess. I said recess? Confused.

It turns out that they only reason he loved reading is that it’s the last class before recess. He said his teacher told him that he could go outside and play in the snow after reading and so he would like to go play. I looked at him in awe. So the only reason he sat through reading was because he was looking forward to the snow. We both looked outside the window. And I kept wondering what if anything can I take from the snow today. It helped to calm my son. What are the lessons from the snow for me, following my anxious morning with homeschooling. That’s when I realize that though every snow fall can lead to disruptions, every disruption change, every change can still be powerful, if only we discern for ourselves the lessons from the snow, it’s abundance and grace. I am learning. Keep this for you.

And in full disclosure, the poetry above was inspired by the work of Lucille Clifton, the second black author I honor this Black history month. In case you are just following, I plan to honor a black author/artist every day I write this month. Yesterday, was bell hooks. Today the indomitable Lucille Clifton, one of my most favorite poet and one I highly recommend you learn about. She is my muse through writing poetry and her work, the lessons of the falling leaves, inspired today’s poem.

Lucille Clifton

Is it to early to pray for Spring? I know it’s just January. But I am tired and exhausted with winter and Omicron. The thought of Spring seems soothing. I saw yesterday on New York Times, that parents with kids under 5 are in despair. The stress of the pandemic has brought many of us to our breaking point. Our children under 5 cannot become vaccinated. Omicron is surging along unperturbed. Meanwhile, every time I drop my kids under 5, I keep wondering if I am sane or insane for letting them live as if Omicron is not around the corner. Everyone at this point knows someone that had gotten the virus. And Omicron doesn’t really care. Then I looked outside my house this morning. I looked as saw black birds flocking around. It’s been awhile since I looked intently at nature and seeing these birds this morning helped me remember to live, helped me crave for Spring. The bipolar nature of weather in Saint Louis doesn’t help, but at this point the thought of birds and flowers, helped me get through feelings of exhaustion. It also inspired this little thing to keep that I wrote for myself this morning.

I keep rising again, yet things on my mind, pull me down, dragging me deep, down into the ocean foundation, the despair, failures, the self-doubt, all linger like a fortress of solid rock, pulling me down.

I keep avoiding again, the magic, the love, burrowed deep into words that become doors, with vision among stars, words that lead to openings for healing, gifts of restoration, many I crave right now, to help me remember why all this began.

Then I remember to bloom like flowers. Black birds are all round. They see plants transitioning into flowers. I see myself initiating my flowering again. The tips of myself, becoming clusters of flowers again. Together, we are becoming a collection of meristems, generating a collection of undifferentiated cells, that slowly become organs within unpredictable environments again.

Now, I choose to keep protecting all that makes us fragile. Attracting things that help us reproduce. Generating seeds that helps us grow. All of us together, in our bright colors, keep rising again, keep coming into our bloom again.

Yesterday we began an adventure into 8 days of Christmas fun.

In fact, we are living our lives through a book written and illustrated by my daughter.

All I can say is that because of her, my world is Belle.

Like Lotanna Belle, there are no limits.

She is one who opens our hearts to truly remember the love of our fathers, every time, beautifully.

Belle, writes, and illustrates, and shows us love that reminds me of my father’s sweet embrace.

She lives out her live in words more elegant than sweet. An elegant love. Her love burrows deeply into my heart. Deeply like a stone, crushing it, until it’s all love. That’s what reading my daughter’s words does to me these days.

A world fully Belle is genuinely Belle.

There is a Belle in all things, all around my world and this Christmas is Belle all because of her. I am loved. She makes me remember the elegant love my father showered on us this time of the year too. He is so missed.

Born in the year of a pandemic, I remember when he started to crawl. He crawled as if he was ready to walk. He walked when he turned 9 months. He has been walking ever since. Late last month, we started to remove all the protective features around our stairs. By this month, we removed all of them. We had quite a few and the thought of a fall was forever on our minds. I knew we would get here one day. Just didn’t want the day to come so soon. Watching him grow has been everything. Now my baby walks up and down the stairs all on his own. He has mastered the stairs too all on his own. And that’s a feat worth celebrating. This is also what it means to be a toddler. Every aspect of his being, full and free. Wisdom he never knew now blossoms through his life with delight. Watching as he follows directly in its path even with walking up and down the stairs is a prayer answered fully. There is no end to your treasures and like an olive tree you are loaded with fruits that will continue to tower to the clouds with every step you take, even up and down these stairs. Keep moments like this.