How Do You Ask Someone Out?


At 6:15 in this morning, as I’m whizzing around the kitchen, I found myself trying to answer my son’s question:

“Mom, how do you ask someone out?”

No doubt, his question caught me off guard.   At soon-to-be 11, it still seems kinda early for a dating question.

“Someone?”  Oookaaay.    I ask if he has someone particular in mind.  He hesitates.  I casually remind him that we talk about everything—no secrets—no subject is off-limits.

“Well, there is this girl…”   He tells me her name.  I know who she is.

So back to the question, “How do you ask someone out?”  Heck, I’ve been out of the dating scene for many years!  Am I “qualified” to respond?  LOL!  Sure I am.  I am his mom.  I am going to teach him the right way to approach young women.

I glance over at my son.  The Cheerios in his bowl are floating around, guided by his spoon.  He is patiently waiting for my answer.

The words roll off my tongue something like this:

Well… before you ask her out, you need to make sure that you share similar values.  If she likes you, she’s probably going to be nice to you.  But watch carefully how she treats others.   Observe her to make sure that she is respectful, courteous, and a genuinely nice girl.

“She can’t smoke!!  I don’t want to go out with a girl who smokes!”  He declares.

I say, “Yeees!  Good!”  She ought to be a good student too.  You know, she cannot use drugs, must go to school, work hard, earn good grades, and stay out of trouble.

I’m thinking, “What did I miss?”  Virginity?  LOL!  Too soon for that!  I think I’ve covered the basics… for now.

Once you decide that she’s of good character and you’ve gotten to know her over time, and through daily conversation, and… you suspect the feelings are mutual, then you pop the question “Would you be my girlfriend?” or “Do you want to go out?”

So there is a possibility, that I may sound corny or hokey, but that’s how I put it out there to medium (He prefers “medium” over “little” man).  Anyway, I believe in plain old fashion straightforwardness and honesty, with no games.

For the fellas who are reading this, what do you think?  Please?  Give me a male’s perspective?  I can’t wait to hear hubby’s response.

I tried to get a clear definition of what “going out” meant to my son.   I don’t assume current day jargon and phrases to mean what they did years ago.  That’s an age revealing statement right?  But it’s true. “Going out” meant the same as it still does to me, asking her to be his girlfriend.

When I asked him more about her, my heart melted when he said,

“She’s kind.”

Do you hear me, “SHE’S KIND!”

I’m raising a gentleman.  I love, love, love, his ability to recognize and appreciate compassion in someone.   Anyway, it turns out that the little lady is a classmate and is hospitalized.

I asked Medium man if he wanted to visit her in the hospital.  He does.  So we will find out if her parents are okay with a visit from a potential boyfriend.

Parental obligations kept me from CrossFit today, so I look forward to tomorrow’s class. I missed working out today.

Sweet Dreams!

I Don’t Like Doing This on Sunday


November 17, 2012, marks the beginning of my son’s loc journey. I am amazed by how quickly his hair is growing and at how beautiful his hair looks. The above picture is his locs immediately after a shampoo AND after professional maintenance.

Although football season has ended, basketball season is in effect. Work, laundry, cooking, and cleaning leaves little time for salon visits. So when KinHairitage Salon offered me a Sunday appointment for his hair, I jumped at the opportunity.

My son, on the other hand, did not appreciate leaving Nickelodeon, the comfort of his bed, and his Sony PS3 game. “Mom, I don’t like doing this on Sunday!” “This” being getting his hair styled on Sunday. His appointment wasn’t until 11 a.m., so I thought that I was doing good. Apparently not. Anyway, Sunday worked best this week, so it is what it is.

Enjoy the day!

“There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout: This is me damn it!

“There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout: This is me damn it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love!  I am a whole complex package.  Take me…or leave me.  Accept me – or walk away!  Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don’t fit your idea of who I should be and don’t try to change me to fit your mind. If I need to change, I alone will make that decision.  When you are strong enough to love yourself 100%, good and bad – you will be amazed at the opportunities that life presents you.” 

-Stacey Charter

Over one year ago and while proudly sporting a two-inch Mohawk, my son proclaims, “Mom, I want my hair like Malakai’s!” We had not seen Malakai for a few months.  Malakai is a former classmate – same grade.  His friend has the most adorable plush locs that I have seen on a kid in a long time. His locs are maintained by Victoria at KinHairitage Salon and Spa.

I am surprised that during the middle of football season he was thinking about a new hairstyle. Tailor’s request was a shocking because I never encouraged him to wear locs or any hairstyle.   The Mohawk was his idea but is typically partaken as camaraderie among football players of all ages. To prepare for locs, at the end of the 2011 football season, his Mohawk was shaved.  During the ride home, I glance at him in the rear view mirror.

 “Tailor, what’s wrong?  You look like you want to cry.” “I’m sad mom because I had to cut my hair.”

I reminded him that to achieve locs, his hair needed to be cut even.  He understood but was still sad to see it go.

The big day came on Satirday, November 17, 2012.   We were both excited.  Finally after a year of mishaps of so-called “trims” at the Barber, my son’s hair grew long enough to begin the process.  Yay!!!

From across the shop, I hear his jubilant voice, “this feels good!”   I cannot resist a peek, so I quietly sneak over to the shampoo bowl. This is what I see!

Baby locs initial styling  11-17-12

Baby locs initial styling 11-17-12

His smile says it all!  Enjoyment and delight!  There is no doubt in my mind that he was grateful for the experience and look forward to indulging in luxurious shampoos in the future.  While Victoria twisted his hair, he sat content chatting with her.

I watched in amazement.   Why amazed? Because at his age, many children are trapped by the idea of looking like everyone else and trying to fit in.  My son has chosen a hairstyle, which is different from all other classmates.  He is comfortable and confident with the choice.   His choice pleases me a great deal.

How long will he wear his locs?  I don’t know.  He can wear the locs for as long as he chooses.  The choice is his. Speaking of choice… I’ve been asked,

“You’re letting him wear those?!”   “Those!”  Hmm… “ABSOLUTELY!”

I grew up without the benefit of making choices for myself.  As a child and as a teen,

I was told what to wear, what and when to eat, and darn nearly, what to think!

The same person, who tried to “think” for me as a kid, still frowns upon and attacks my personal likes for tattoos, piercings, and other nontraditional accessories.   Lol! Frankly, the thought makes me laugh and want to behave like a rebellious child and get more tats and holes!  Lol!  I refuse to impede my child’s ability to make sound, reasonable, and responsible choices.

Nearly 24 year of parenting has taught me to pick and choose my battles carefully.  The phrase is a cliche  but it is the crux to surviving the teen years. You get to a point, when you ask yourself, how important is the situation?  Is it life threatening?  Is it life altering?  It most cases the scenario is not and is not worth the stress and aggravation.  A friend says, “I’m not trippin on the dumb sh**!”  She’s right.

In the weeks that have passed since his first styling, my son has shown a genuine interest in maintaining his hair.   Before bedtime, sometimes I get, “Mom, can you fix this twist, it’s coming loose.”   Lol!!  I love it!

Victoria at KinHairtage Salon and Spa styled Tailor’s hair wonderfully.

photo (9)

Shop owner, Victoria, specializes in loc maintenance and does an incredible job with all lengths and hair textures.  Two and half years ago, I started my natural hair journey with ShidaNatural at KinHairitage.  More recently, Vicki jazzed up my hair with color and highlights.  I don’t know if I will ever return to my natural dingy brown colored hair. Heeey!

Using WordPress’s new photo gallery feature, I am working on a post to show my 2 1/2 year  hair journey.

I must admit, I am excited at the thought of my son’s hair thickening and lengthening   He is so cute with his new style! Yesterday was his second salon visit.  He was shampooed, conditioned and retwisted. He told me that the visit was “relaxing.”  Lol!

Re-twist after 4 weeks   12-15-12

Re-twist after 4 weeks 12-15-12

For now, the locs are a cool and a fun hairstyle for Tailor.  Later they may become something greater with more depth and meaning to him.  It is imperative though, that he can confidently and accurately articulate his knowledge and understanding of the cultural and historical aspects of locs.  Too often I see young people proudly donning cultural, religious, and other styles but lack the historical knowledge base to understand the meaning or possible ramifications of their chosen style. We will learn about the history and traditions of locs together.

I am also certain that in the future, if not already, he will be questioned about his hair and will receive ignorant stereotypical and negative comments.  As with anything else, we will talk about specific situations as they arise. Some of the family matriarchs’, including my mother, are absolutely revolted by the site of locs.

“Eeew!  How can you wear that mess?!?”  “It looks terrible!”   Are a few comments made to a family member who is six months into his journey.  The comments are absurd and offensive!

It’s a personal choice people; get over it!!

I told my mom in advance about her grandson’s new style.  I told her to speak positively or say nothing.  Mom did not like my command but it was necessary.  My son WILL receive encouraging and loving support from our family.  Anything other is unacceptable.

So far Tailor’s journey has been positive and encouraging.  His classmates, teachers, and family have shown him much love.  He is confident, has a positive self-image, and is upbeat about his new look.   We are truly blessed and I thankful.

Valuable lessons learned from a Nintendo 3DS

“I bit my 3DS [Nintendo] because I was so mad [at] losing. I should not do that because it may give me germs. I could have lost it for good. They [mom and dad] should give it back to me because I’ve done a lot of good things. I found my mom’s [diamond] earring. I’m always good in school. I always get good grades.

I learned my lesson. I could have been grounded. My dad and mom don’t have to give it back to me. Mom tells me to be happy because she says [a lot of] kids don’t have the stuff like our place. They don’t have the money to buy toys, computers, food, bathroom, [a] Kindle, [Sony] DS, movies, TV’s, [a] pool, beds, fireplace, playground, clothes, [a] backyard or rooms, so I should make myself lucky since I have my DS.

I’m happy because I have a dog; I have toys, a sister, a mom and dad, a[n] uncle, a grand mom, a 3DS….”

This is a large part of an essay that my 9-year-old son wrote. He broke his 3DS about two months after he received it as a birthday present. Three months went by before my investigative nature discovered why his Kindle Fire was being used more for games and less for reading.

He’d done wrong. He knew that his actions were wrong.

So he hid his actions from mom and dad.

Although his game was replaced by the manufacturer, we did not give it right back to him. He needed to understand the severity of his actions.

To help my children think about their actions and behaviors, one strategy is to require them to write. They must write essays about the lessons that they learned from making poor choices and better ways to handle similar situations.

Writing an essay is productive. More productive than some of the consequences that I endured as a child. Writing involves being still, being quiet, and constructive thought time. Every child and adult can benefit from the process. To clear my mind, I often write.

After he wrote the essay, I wanted to know more from my son about his potential actions when playing his game in the future. So I asked him, what will he do the next time that he gets frustrated or “mad” because the game is beating him. In a slow and deliberate manner he said,

“I’m going to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Calm down and try again. That’s what I did to beat Super Mario 3D Land.”

Where does the “deep breath” come from? On and off (more off lately, but we’ll get back on track over the summer) from meditation.

Meditation is good for everyone, including kids. If you recognize that you feel stress– you make a conscious decision to address it constructively. Meditation is a positive way to relieve stress and to refocus. Best of all, you can meditate anywhere.

While his essay may not be written grammatically perfect, neither are some of my writings without consistent and precise editing. Another day he will put on his teacher’s hat and edit his work.

The idea isn’t for him to write a perfect essay. The point is to teach him to think about his actions, choices, and understand that consequences are the result of his choices. Children grow up to become adults. As adults we must also face consequences; some good some not so good. Either way, if we can help our children to understand the connection between the two at a young age, they should grow up to make smarter choices. Making smarter choices doesn’t equate to a perfect life, but it can definitely make life more fulfilling.

I’m fulfilled in what I do… I never thought that a lot of money or fine clothes — the finer things of life — would make you happy. My concept of happiness is to be filled in a spiritual sense.
Coretta Scott King

A promising future

“…among his many accomplishments… made the Dean’s List in college every year… graduated Suma Cum Laude… a Master’s Degree in  Business Administration… served as graduate assistant for the MBA Program…”

The description signifies success and a promising future.  Sadly the words are taken from the obituary from a young man who was gunned down on New Year’s Day 2012. He would not live to see his 31st birthday.  I did not know the young man, but my heart aches for his surviving family members, especially his mother and father.  I cannot even begin to imagine the grief and sorrow felt by his parents.

Parents are not supposed to bury their children, but this daunting task is reoccurring more often than not.

When the story broke New Year’s Day, I cringed.  I thought,

“He made it through his teen years.  He made it through college.  He was smart.  He graduated with honors. What happened?  How do I prevent my son from falling victim to these heinous crimes?”

In my mind, he’d made it! He made it through the “high risk” and “troubled” teen years.  The local newspaper also reported that he was an Entrepreneur and was planning the opening of a new store. Could his death been prevented?  I don’t know the circumstances.  I only hope and pray that his death does not go in vain and hope that somehow something positive can evolve from his death.

This story makes me want to hold my kids tighter, tell them that I love them even more, kiss them more every day and never let them out of my sight.  I know the latter is impossible, but the words sum up my feelings.

This story and others like this frighten me.  Why?  I have a young son.  He’s a minority and the statistics don’t look good.  However, I do know that through faith in God, prayer, good parenting, a structured environment, support from my village, a solid education, steady discipline, and lessons on how to make smart choices, can help to put him in the position to succeed.

So, you might ask, “What’s the point of this post?”    The death of this young man is a reminder that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. And when it comes to our children, we have to clinch and act on the concept of unconditional love.  The early and late teen years are tough; both for parents and for our children.  In spite of disappointments, upsets, and whatever else we may face, we have to continue to support and encourage.

As parents, we must remember our own missteps and shortfalls and understand that our children will too encounter their own mistakes.  We can only hope and pray that their mistakes are not life altering.  Meanwhile, we should remain supportive, encouraging, and continue to practice unconditional love.

BOARDING SCHOOL: Part-Time Parenting?

>Recently I ran into a friend and former colleague, whom I haven’t seen in many years. We briefly chatted about our careers and our families. He mentioned that his job required him to travel so his children attended boarding school. All of his comments about boarding school were positive. For some reason, the one comment that stood out in my mind was that, “it really helped with the homework thing.”

His comment really got me to thinking about boarding school. Could I send my son to a boarding school? Would he receive a better education there? What else would my son learn? I certainly understand what he said about homework. Any responsible parent, who lived through the arduous experience of helping their child with homework, will tell you it can be exhaustive, challenging, and a real test of your patience.

A part of me believes that sending my son off to boarding school would be “passing the buck” on my parental obligations.

What about sports and other extra curricula activities? Yes; some boarding schools have strong athletic programs, but what about being there to show my support for him. I’d miss out on the cherished memories of continuing to watch him grow as an athlete, as a young adult or miss his performance on the debate team. Sure, I’d attend some games and other school activities, but I would certainly miss more than I could attend.

As a parent, how can I be certain that my son is being treated equitably? Yeah, I would miss a great deal of treasured moments with him. Most of all, he would miss the positive influences of his dad; which cannot be replaced by any academic program.

The life and personality of a teenager evolves slowly. If my son attended boarding school, both of us would miss out on all the life learning opportunities that take place everyday at home.   Of course, I know first hand experience that raising a teenager is one of the most challenging experiences of parenthood.

I can be honest and say that having my teenager away at school during some of the most tumultuous year’s sounds appealing. After all, the staff would have the responsibility of making sure he made it to class on time, that he had adequate study time. The staff would have the heated and ugly debates on why he has a curfew, and making certain that he went to bed at a reasonable time- All I would have to do is call him daily, pay the tuition, and be a loving & dutiful full-time parent on the weekends, holidays, and breaks. Some parents wouldn’t dare speak these words, fear of being perceived as a bad parent, but it’s just a thought and I’m certain that someone out there shares this sentiment with me.

The Art & Science Group, a marketing research & consulting firm based in Baltimore conducted a comparative study for The Association of Boarding Schools (TAB). This “contemporary study of secondary school education” reported that 91% of boarding school students found their school was academically challenged; compared to 70% private & 50% public school students. The study also reported that boarding school students spent more time doing homework felt more academically prepared for college, felt more prepared for “non academic life,” and earned more advanced degrees than private and public school students. I wondered about the quality of relationships that boarding school students have with their parents and siblings; the study generally reported that 86% of boarding school students reported being very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their family life. It did not give any in depth details about relationships with  parents or siblings. To read the complete report, I contacted the marketing firm who conducted the study and was told that the research data was proprietary information; TAB would have to approve release of the information. If TAB is genuinely concerned about educating the public about boarding schools, they should publish complete reports and not partially edited data that could mislead readers.

Did the study change my mind about boarding school? No. It did however; interest me enough to want to further learn more on the topic. As a parent, I firmly believe that I should be well rounded and well informed. Being open minded enough to educate myself on unfamiliar topics related to parenthood is important to me and to the overall well being of my family. Will my son attend boarding school? Probably not, but ask me again in seven years.