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It Takes a Village

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I am the perfect imperfect mom. My kids are everything I want to be in life and everything I want to change about me. I try to celebrate their uniqueness by keeping them engaged and involved in our community.

Raising my oldest, Franz, was as taxing as my youngest. I actually earned my stripes with him. He was too smart for his own good and no matter where we put him, his inquisitive nature got him trouble. He was not a bad kid and never did anything to hurt others; he just got into trouble … often.

When he attended school at MLK, Dr. Saffell-Smith was the principal. I introduced myself to her at the first parent-teacher conference and told her he was going to be a handful. Any advice she had to give, I was willing to listen. I am not a parent to complain about a teacher’s authority and I have always supported anyone who cultivates leadership and growth in my children. Dr. Saffell-Smith’s patience was put to test within the first month of school. A call about his rambunctious behavior was the beginning of my relationship with Dr. Saffell-Smith.

Dr. Saffell-Smith and I talked weekly. She never let him get away with anything. She was the first to bring up the word mentor with me. While I was frustrated and yelling, she remained calm and encouraging. She never gave up even when I wanted too. She introduced David Bullock to our family. At that time, David worked for FANUC Robotics. They had similar spirits and complimented each other well. Around the same time, my son started networking and working for himself. David gave him small projects to complete that would earn him income. Earning his own money at an early age was the key to helping him value being independent later.

My kid, who gave me migraines and sleepless nights, graduated with honors from MLK in 2004. He chose his college (TSU), he worked out his scholarship offers and took the lessons he learned from his schools, his principles, his mentor and family with him. The good, the bad and the ugly were all part of building his character. He navigated his college education by building a support network among his professors and peers. His sophomore year, he joined the track team and promised me he would not allow track to distract him from his studies.

The decision to run track while studying sports medicine was not my choice for him but he was “grown” and what could I say. The conversations about school and post graduate studies were peppered with track meets. I was afraid he was being diverted from his education. We came to an impasse his senior year when I was informed he was not going to march in May. He said he had a track meet. The words I uttered that day can never be taken back. He told me later, he had already hung up his cell and never heard me. Thank God.

He marched August 8, 2008. He was number one in his school and carried the flag. My tears flowed freely as I shouted his name. I acknowledge, his four years of college was around the time of his sibling’s crazy phase. Franz graduation’s helped me to realize that a mother never stops wanting the best for her children. He started grad school the following month. He was also hired as the assistant strength coach. Looking at his schedule, I mentioned school/ work balance. He hurriedly told me he can manage both. Not only was he independent but he was determined.

This summer, I turned my attention to my youngest son and his laid back attitude about life. He was feeling my wrath. While I was dealing with his younger brother, Franz went to Colorado with Coach for three weeks. He mentioned a training event but no other details were given.

When he returned home, he looked as if he found his calling in life. He was a trainer and guide for the Paralympics for Team USA. He worked with blind runners for two weeks at the U.S. Olympics facilities in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Did I ask about school and work? No. I have learned; he knows what he is doing. It truly takes a village … two more to go. Now don’t go anywhere, I need you.

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