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.
I am overwhelmed and tired. Trying to stay focused but exhausted. I feel like I am running a race that never ends. I want it to end, but I keep running. There will be days like this I am told. Today is one of those days, I see. Nothing brilliant to say expect that all I need right now is rest. This maybe the most brilliant thought I have held all day.
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.
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.
‘Black stands out best of all. Black is the most beautiful. Our body gleam all colors in the sun. Black is the most beautiful one.’
They are not mine. They belong to the late great Ashley Bryan. We read his book Beautiful Blackbird tonight. It’s a story about how true beauty always comes from within. Also how no matter how much we may feel invisible everyone wants what they think black folks have. Of course he meant for this to represent black birds, but if you remove the word bird, you will see that everything black is still the most beautiful of them all. My message to my kids. Keep this for you.
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.