The Parent’s Notebook: The Transformation Of A Nation Begins In The Homes Of Its People

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September has been an emotionally charged month for me, beginning with my 70th birthday celebration hosted by my children and grandchildren.  I was moved by the loving energy that existed in the space where people from many different sectors converged and I totally  felt loved.  I was especially moved by the words of my offspring (mellowed a lot since adolescence) and their offspring (grandparents are always winners).  I was especially moved by Adonis, 11, who told his dad that he really enjoyed the party, and another ll-year-old  who danced with my grandson and me, told me as they were leaving: “This was the best party”.
The month culminated with the film Waiting for Superman, the documentary exposing the dismal state of education in America. On a billboard were the words “The fate of our country won’t be determined on the battlefield – it will be determined in the classroom”. Observing my children and the experiences of raising them and observing them parenting my grandchildren, I say the fate of the country depends on parents sending self-confident and motivated children into the classroom, assuming an informed and participating  partnership with the educators and refusing to get drawn into the struggles between factions, insisting they stay on track…providing opportunities for your child’s genius to expand.
While deploring the statistics presented in the film, seeing  large  numbers of parents who were obviously involved and actively pursuing better schools for their children reduced to a number and dependent on that number being drawn from hundreds and the tears and anxiety on the faces of the students made my heart ache and the tears flow.  I cry because we have allowed ourselves to become totally dependent on alien systems.  Overcoming dependency requires us to heal our relationships with self and others.  SAVING OUR CHILDREN is up to us…turning our homes into  training camps.
Beginning January 1970 and ending January 1976, I gave birth to five children, making me the mother of seven children.  Two older sons died and I gained another daughter and son,  Debbie and Daniel, through marriage.     Needless to say, it was a busy time with the five so close in age.  Fortunately, the EAST became the community where values were shared – I could contribute my skills and continue to grow while my children attended Imani Day Care and Uhuru Sasa allowing some much-needed separate time for us all.  Dealing with five determined, opinionated children 12 years and under was challenging to put it nicely.  Dealing with those five during adolescence was downright scary.  I enrolled  in my first parent workshop and I was amazed and eternally grateful for the information that helped me survive the turbulent teens.
Over the years I watched them mature – from physical fights quelled by emergency family meetings where everyone was allowed to vent their feelings.  Each sentence had to begin with “I felt (blank) when”.  The sessions would always end with them going to the store for snacks, arms around each other. Now as adults, they pursue their individual interests, support each other and they’ve got my grandchildren’s backs. They include the three adult children of my oldest son, Pamoja.  In fact, the girls, Asha and Afriyie,  handled the decorations for my party while Gyasi (Jah-C) was MC and DJ.   While living and working in Kentucky, Makini could allow Dakari, 13, to fly to New York for basketball tournaments, and  Kweli or Kojo were at the airport to meet him and to get him to Coach Tommy.  Kweli’s youngest, Nazim, has spent summers in Kentucky… Kojo, father of three girls, is a great mentor for his nephews; Michael, a freshman at Coppin State, and  Dakari, a high school freshman, being their unofficial basketball coach.  Hazina and Daniel, living in Birmingham, travel to connect with Makini and Dakari when there’s a  tournament in a Southern city.  Auntie Nandi is planning to have her nieces and nephews come to New Orleans for a week.  Being an only child, I am amazed at their connectedness and also with their friends whom I’ve inherited.  And I truly see that regaining  Africans’ highest-held  value of relationships between persons is the battle to be fought and won.  In retrospect, I give their father and me an “A” for not comparing them to each other or others, for allowing them to express their opinions and make choices,  for assigning them areas of responsibility and for tolerating their protests.   Each of them is an advocate in some area or another.  And home is the place where it began.

September has been an emotionally charged month for me, beginning with my 70th birthday celebration hosted by my children and grandchildren.  I was moved by the loving energy that existed in the space where people from many different sectors converged and I totally  felt loved.  I was especially moved by the words of my offspring (mellowed a lot since adolescence) and their offspring (grandparents are always winners).  I was especially moved by Adonis, 11, who told his dad that he really enjoyed the party, and another ll-year-old  who danced with my grandson and me, told me as they were leaving: “This was the best party”.The month culminated with the film Waiting for Superman, the documentary exposing the dismal state of education in America. On a billboard were the words “The fate of our country won’t be determined on the battlefield – it will be determined in the classroom”. Observing my children and the experiences of raising them and observing them parenting my grandchildren, I say the fate of the country depends on parents sending self-confident and motivated children into the classroom, assuming an informed and participating  partnership with the educators and refusing to get drawn into the struggles between factions, insisting they stay on track…providing opportunities for your child’s genius to expand.While deploring the statistics presented in the film, seeing  large  numbers of parents who were obviously involved and actively pursuing better schools for their children reduced to a number and dependent on that number being drawn from hundreds and the tears and anxiety on the faces of the students made my heart ache and the tears flow.  I cry because we have allowed ourselves to become totally dependent on alien systems.  Overcoming dependency requires us to heal our relationships with self and others.  SAVING OUR CHILDREN is up to us…turning our homes into  training camps. Beginning January 1970 and ending January 1976, I gave birth to five children, making me the mother of seven children.  Two older sons died and I gained another daughter and son,  Debbie and Daniel, through marriage.     Needless to say, it was a busy time with the five so close in age.  Fortunately, the EAST became the community where values were shared – I could contribute my skills and continue to grow while my children attended Imani Day Care and Uhuru Sasa allowing some much-needed separate time for us all.  Dealing with five determined, opinionated children 12 years and under was challenging to put it nicely.  Dealing with those five during adolescence was downright scary.  I enrolled  in my first parent workshop and I was amazed and eternally grateful for the information that helped me survive the turbulent teens.    Over the years I watched them mature – from physical fights quelled by emergency family meetings where everyone was allowed to vent their feelings.  Each sentence had to begin with “I felt (blank) when”.  The sessions would always end with them going to the store for snacks, arms around each other. Now as adults, they pursue their individual interests, support each other and they’ve got my grandchildren’s backs. They include the three adult children of my oldest son, Pamoja.  In fact, the girls, Asha and Afriyie,  handled the decorations for my party while Gyasi (Jah-C) was MC and DJ.   While living and working in Kentucky, Makini could allow Dakari, 13, to fly to New York for basketball tournaments, and  Kweli or Kojo were at the airport to meet him and to get him to Coach Tommy.  Kweli’s youngest, Nazim, has spent summers in Kentucky… Kojo, father of three girls, is a great mentor for his nephews; Michael, a freshman at Coppin State, and  Dakari, a high school freshman, being their unofficial basketball coach.  Hazina and Daniel, living in Birmingham, travel to connect with Makini and Dakari when there’s a  tournament in a Southern city.  Auntie Nandi is planning to have her nieces and nephews come to New Orleans for a week.  Being an only child, I am amazed at their connectedness and also with their friends whom I’ve inherited.  And I truly see that regaining  Africans’ highest-held  value of relationships between persons is the battle to be fought and won.  In retrospect, I give their father and me an “A” for not comparing them to each other or others, for allowing them to express their opinions and make choices,  for assigning them areas of responsibility and for tolerating their protests.   Each of them is an advocate in some area or another.  And home is the place where it began.

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