Like mother, like son, the one we named after God, lives like his mother.
Always talking, always questioning, if it doesn’t feel right, he will be the first to ask. If it comes to his minds, words will be out and free.
Like mother, like son, the one we named after God, sees the world in big ways. Trees are big. Sky, too big. So are the oceans and everything that makes him relax. He maybe small today, but his tomorrow is big.
Like mother like son, the one we named after God, won’t stop talking. He keeps asking questions too. Why do you work so much? Why can’t we go to Drace Park?
His ways maybe tiring. His talking and questioning too. But, I’ll gladly suffer the tenderness of his kinda of love.
My middle son is forever in his pajamas. Not just to sleep, but to wear as day wear. We have tried though in vain to switch his style of dressing, but he keeps returning back to what he loves. Recently, I asked why and he noted that they make him feel comfortable and relaxed. He simply loves them because of their comfort. I looked at him and wondered out loud to myself, where does he get all his ideas from. He is only 5 years old. His ways are irresistibly charming and full of ease. His ability to live as he sees in world, in union with all that makes him relaxed is my keep for today. There is tenderness in his ways. I am learning that everyday. But most importantly, the fact that his ways are mine, keeps me hungry with every fiber of my being, for life.
Pour me juice mom, please pour some juice in my cup. This was the sentence that jolted me back to writing. I was in the middle of sorting groceries that I just bought. Exhausted and still trying to figure what to eat for dinner. My five year old son had other things on his mind. They included pouring a strawberry lemonade juice in his strawberry lined cup that he made for himself. I wondered out loud to myself that I didn’t even know when I asked him this question: why did you line the strawberry on your cup. To relax, said my son. That’s how I relax. Where did you learn that from, I asked again. From a cartoon, and this is how I want to relax, he said and walked away with his strawberry line cup with strawberry lemonade juice. We should all be relaxing like my five year old. Sure a strawberry lined cup will do. But beyond the cup, a little me time is critical. I looked at him in amazement. He is only five and prioritizes himself first. He is only five and understands what makes him relaxed. He is only five and seeks enjoyment things. That was my text to Daddy right after our exchange. A lesson I learned from my five year old. Life na je je, as we would say in Pidgin English. We should make time to relax and do all the things we love and want to do. It doesn’t have to be strawberry lined juice on a cup. But more so, that thing that keeps you going. I have been on a slump with writing. This is probably the longest I have not written in awhile. Of course death has a way of keep thoughts and word bay. Death stole my thunder and words would not do. I am grateful for my son and the lesson he taught me that I didn’t know I need. Life na je je. We should all make time to relax. I’m am off to relaxing.
Who are the people you fight for? I am learning about them everyday. Not the typical, my family, those I love and care about, but the people you are willing to go the distance for. Slay dragons or catch a grenade for. The people for whom, risking your life is expected. You will do that everyday, every time if time is all you have. The people you fight for are like the air you breath. Life means nothing without them. Water too and you know just how precious water is. The people you fight for are more precious that silver and gold combined. More significant for you than anything insignificant that comes by you. I am in the season of letting some people go, to do what is necessary to guard my heart. But for those that remain, let me tell you that I will fight for you. All I need is a day or time. I will go to the highest mountains for you. Pass through the deepest valleys of hell for you. I will willingly let fire burn me just so we come out finer than the most finest gold. I will fight and fight 700 and 70 times, no matter how long and no matter who. You are my destiny and together, we will write the chapter of why this fight we did together was necessary.
We read bell hooks today. Stood by the mirror and let her words slide through us. There will be days where bad moods will force you to grump, groan, or growl. Whether as a child or an adult. In the end, just let it pass, no need to hide it, let the feelings be.
Some places are inaccessible. For those with heads like velvet blackness, skins smooth like the color night.
Some places are inaccessible. For those with eyes darkly clear, those who look the sun in the face, unblinded.
Some places are inaccessible. For names wrapped with African-ness like a shawl, names like Olisadubem, or the ones for whom God calls.
Some places are inaccessible. For those unafraid and lusty, those with feet destined for infinite processions through paths dusky.
Some places are inaccessible . For those who scream, through every limb, those who let tears fall, unashamedly.
Some places are inaccessible. For those prepared to be truly free, those prepared to unlearn centuries or days of lies.
Some places are inaccessible. For those full of life, black boys, young with sterling and vigorous life.
So make places accessible. For those with laughter, the sweet staccato of black boys.
Make places accessible, for those with electric currents of life, black boys with thoughts like tiny sparks.
Make places accessible. For long days argued away, black boys articulate with provocative assertion.
Make places accessible. For dreaming, debating, aspiring, black boys whose feet echo through windy paths.
Make places accessible. For black boy joy, perpetually overflowing, astounding, indestructible.
Just make places accessible, for boys, black, young, our own.
I was inspired to write this piece following a experience I had today. My 5 year old was kicked out his camp after only 4.5 days in attendance. I initially blamed myself. Blamed my son for his ways that were deemed as problematic after only 4.5 days. Then I remembered I have been here before. It was probably the jolt I needed. Nothing motivates a mother more than using inappropriate labels or descriptors. I have also be lagging behind with boy number 2. I know he needs help. Not enough to kick him out of camp, but more so to make him want to be around you. He plays piano every weekend with teachers who look like him. He can hold a tune and he is 5. He plays tennis with young men that do not look like him. He can swing his racket really far and he is 5. The fact that they felt he was emotionally dis-regulated, after 4.5 days of being in his presence, the one we literally named after God, is the motivation I never knew I needed with him.
I have always reminded him that his name is all he needed. Little do I know that I need it more. And Olisa, will be our guide. Just keeping this here for when the narrative with son number 2 begins to change. I have no idea what the future holds. I am not as energetic as I once was with the regimen I used to help my son number 1 thrive in ways that keep us speechless. He started his own camp today and let’s just say I give God glory. So here we go. Back to the basics with son number 2. The first thing I highly recommend is to get an evaluation so you know where your child stands. Yes these evaluations were not made with black boys in mind and I have my reservations with them. But they help you attain additional resources you may not be able to assess, many that will go a long way towards changing the narrative as you intervene early. Stay tuned as I go back to exploring how to do this again. Only this time, children’s books like these by bell hooks will be my guide. I intend to work to ensure that black boys thrive in spaces that would love to see them cry unashamedly or laugh with the fullness of life.
My eyes judge your fullness in delight. Ten years of coming into your light. On the day we dedicated you to the universe, the day we raised you up to the one who first loved you, surrounded by all those who loved you, I imagined this for you. I still do for today and tomorrow.
That you will remain as beautiful as the day of your birth. That your days will be as as lovely as the sun. And your nights as majestic as the moon. That you would shine as bright as the stars and remain as breathtaking as the clouds in the skies. That you would remain as gentle as the morning breeze or as heavenly as summers rain. That you would soar beyond your wildest dreams and tower above the tallest trees. That they will speak of you in distant places and marvel at your kindness and gentle spirit. That your smile may melt the hearts of people and your presence enrich their lives. That you would dance like angels dance and let the most high guide you every step of the way. That you will succeed in everything you do and never give up when things become hard. That you will never forget who you are and cherish every beautiful moment on earth. But above all, may your rhythms continue to capture our spirits. May you continue to bloom within, like peonies in Spring. May grace, joy, peace, love and happiness be with you always and may good things and beautiful things follow you all the days of your life.
Seeing you today, seeing all of you, was a joy to behold. Belle, on this 10th year of your life, I pray you never forget the joy you felt today in this city of love. Seeing all of your melody and light, your laugh and stride, every single thing about you was the peace our soul needed. You are peace, and love and you make life easy to love. You make life love, with a breeziness that makes all around you feel good to be with you. You made us all feel good today. You made our hearts swell with joy, our lips quiver with laughter. You were more than a day. More than a groove that made us all move down Faiderbe to Trocadero, Palais Congress and back to Bercy village dancing to a tune you play so well. Only you are like jazz. You never worry about how your melody flows or your love shows. You gift it to everyone around you. I pray you keep playing this tune of life, your way. Keep playing it past this 10th year of life and beyond. I’ll remember love in June, remember the joy of so many we met in the city of love, because all of you, is unique and love. So do not be afraid. Your name and love is all you need. When you pass through deep waters, remember your name and love. Even if fires burn, remember who you are. We will give up everything for you. Belle you are precious to us. We will give up all we own for you. Belle you are loved and honored, from every single place on earth, including the tallest towers that greeted you warmly this morning. You put a lot of beauty into life. For that we are thankful and pray you never forget just how beautiful, how blessed, and how loved you truly are.
To know love, bell hooks, once suggested that we must first surrender to it. Discover it. Choose it. Practice it. Respect it. Voice it. Listen to it. Nurture it. Admit to ourselves that we want to know love, be love, and dwell in it. I have spent the past week doing as bell hooks noted and loving every single moment I discovered love in the city of love. I have walked steps I once walked in love over 10 years ago. Touched faces and places long forgotten, all to rediscover for myself and my love, why our love matters. It’s the eve of our birth. I am still full and choosing and nurturing and listening to love with my Belle.
I went to Bamileke Kingdom today. It was of course at Musee Quai Branly. But honestly, I went on a journey to ancestors and beyond. So much to tell but for now, I learnt about beads and cowries today. Their connections to queens, and all things powerful and of value. I learnt about how their techniques are always the same, always the threading of beads or cowries, few at a time, then stitched together in time. I saw how inspirational the colors and patterns of beads can become. Always together, always in awe. Truly I saw you.
I find myself spurred to relieve moments long forgotten with you. Day and night in June in Paris seems like eternity with you. Like resting underneath canopy trees at Bercy gardens with you. Or running our hands through silver-colored birch trees with you. Reuilly Diderot, Avenue Daumesnil may sound strange to you. But they hold memories of times with you, the beginning of you too, I will never forget. Thanks to dear friends like Richard who love you just as you are, our dear Belle.