The flashy affair was over.  Finals were happening in a few days and The Kid was ready.  We attended the Senior Parent Breakfast and waited to pick up our cap & gown.  You will notice I talk about this moment as if it were mine but we worked at this. So, we celebrated this moment together.img_4143

Now, this senior breakfast wasn’t a high point for me.  Especially after I saw that buffet line.  In true fashion, that kid knew I wasn’t about that life and he got my pancakes. Not wanting to be a brat I stood in line for the other portion. During the running around, we took this picture. Yup – he got me by a few inches! God answered my prayers. 😉  This was the final whoo rah for the seniors.  The final grades were being calculated and the verdict would be announced the coming Friday.  These 10 days were taking the longest time to get to us.  This was the only moment we were really waiting on.  I told you about part of our struggles to get here.  See, his dad graduated out of summer school and he didn’t want to repeat that experience. We worked our asses off, he more than me but I kept a light fire under it to keep him on his toes.  Then June 9th happened and he handed me this when we met up with each other. img_4187.jpg

For the 3rd time during this journey, I shed a few tears.  He reached over and hugged me exclaiming “I told you I’d get it done.”  This cap and gown made it real. I held on to that thing like it was mine because somewhere in my soul it was.  I worried, prayed, and cursed to get him right here. I’m that teenage mom that had never even baby sat a child and here I was about to watch mine walk across the stage to accept his diploma. My expectations were firm but my methods kept changing but he did it.  Yeah, it would’ve been easier if he had done it my way but this was his story. I needed to let him do it his way.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i-made-it/id204509084?i=204509140

So the morning of the graduation was here, and I posted the picture that matched my mood.  Hashtag #TheFinisher – I was beyond ready and I even packed a handkerchief. img_3986

This picture captured everything I was feeling about this meeting.  In a graduating class of 262 students, all I could see was him.  He strolled pass me as they marched in the theater of the Michigan Opera House.  This was a long ceremony and for a short moment, I was ready to rip all the programs up because I didn’t see his name. When I found it in its respective area, #CarryOn. Then they asked the graduates to stand up and I was on my muthf’n feet -which happened to be in some 5″ heels but let’s go. Then I got this message: I remember this paper being in his room on his desk and of course he forgot it. Now, I gotta run down the aisle like I’m on the Price is Right. Then I got back to my seat and cheered for all the kids that spoke when they were on the phone with him, introduced to me, called me “Ma, Auntie & Ms. Wilson.” Then I saw him make his way to the stage. #Leego The announcer said Lorez Wilson and I lost it – screaming, clapping, jitting up the aisle (my footwork was unmatched) and I did all of this while taking pictures.

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Did you notIce me mention I cried? NOPE! I had shed all the tears prior to this day.  This day was for smiles. We did it. In 1999, this event seemed to be a million years away but with each passing year, I realized how close we were.  As we made our way out to the streets of Detroit, I couldn’t wait to see him and congratulate him one more time. I found him in the swarm of black and yellow.  His smile was as bright as the day but I saw something in his eyes.  We snapped a few images in the daylight.

I asked to see the diploma and he told me they had to pick it up from the school later on. WTH DPSCD? We left headed to Joe Muer for lunch with Grandma. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you he cut his hair off prior to graduation. I was looking at a young man ready to make his mark in the world.  Little did he know he had already done a good amount of that through me.  I was different because and for him.  He is the best part of me.  Everything I never knew I needed.img_4240
While we were at lunch I learned his dad had not shown up to the graduation, after I gave up my opportunity to monopolize this event. I knew I saw something in his eyes at the theater. It was sadness.  Afterward, he went and got a tattoo (how could I say no- I have 16) and I sat down to REST.  I thank everybody that was on this journey with me. All of your help was and still is appreciated.  You never left me out here to do this by myself. The village of Marti truly came through for this kid. There are so many to name but I’m positive I’ve already told you personally. Eternally grateful to you all for everything because I know your love for him is an extension of the love you have for me.

August 1st, while I’m sitting in my chair at work listening to inspirational music this little exchange occurred and it gave this chapter closure.

As we tackle this next mission, I’m positive he’ll be just fine but I’ll be right there to throw an assist if needed.

 

 

I left you all with a helluva cliffhanger. You knew The Kid turned 18, is a senior in high school and scheduled for graduation.  It’s about time I bring you up to speed.  The picture from He’s 18, is from his senior pinning ceremony. Our next event was prom and after some teenage drama, we arrived in style for the big dance.

First of all, he did the whole prom-posal thing and the young lady accepted only to decline his invitation weeks before the event.  Never to be outsmarted, he decided to go by himself.  Then one day he calls me at work and says ‘he has a date’ – WHAT!? Within minutes, I see a face I remember and the dress she’s chosen to wear.  We were officially on a mission to find him the perfect complimentary suit.  He’s a classy kind of guy with his mother’s sense of style. 😉

We spent days looking for the perfect floral jacket, bowtie, and pants.  Then it all happened at once. Dinner jacket – found and the other parts just came to us, all at reasonable prices and Auntie submitted her order for it all.  We’re not rich people and refused to go broke for one event. Then there was the rental car situation and Grandma came to the rescue in that area.  Then the barber, Arf, gave him a cutting edge haircut to go with the look for the evening.  His date asked me to bring some chicken to the send-off. (You know that’s what the young kids have nowadays. Everyone comes over to one location to see the couple off to Prom.  There’s food, balloons, red carpets, backdrops, and lots of pictures.) After I picked up the chicken, I was on my way to see my kid which was ahead of me by 45 mins.27_3

I showed up and to my surprise, my sister was in town to see her #1 guy go to the prom. My family gathered at the young lady’s home. She looked adorable and the jacket was a perfect match.  As they rolled away in the Escalade, I told them to have a nice time and her parents stated her curfew. What they didn’t know at the time was their daughter probably had the safest date in SE Michigan. But I had to see things through their eyes, he was the driver and responsible for her safe return afterward.  Here’s a picture of the two of them prior to leaving for the Roostertail.Prom                      They both returned home at a respectable hour both reporting they had a good time.  For a good portion of his life, I thought of this day and what it would feel like for me. I can truthfully say I felt proud. He was a door holding, well mannered young guy that a daughter’s parents didn’t have to worry about when they were out of sight.

The Prom was over, the jacket was the most asked about attendee and The Kid was on his way to Cedar Point (some traditions never change – they were doing the same thing when I graduated 19 years ago.)

It was a night to remember and I moment I will never forget.  🙂

The Kid only became a senior after June. Somehow or another he gets asked to the prom by a graduating senior. This all sound good until teenage girl anxiety walked into our lives.  I wasn’t expecting this type of stress until Spring 2017. The young lady’s prom showed me the areas I need to plan and execute for his send off.  Here’s the shortest version of this tale without becoming emotional.

So, when I was pregnant, I prayed to God to give me a son. He heard me. Then I prayed he’d be tall. Measuring in at 5’11”-6′ (depending on where we are). He heard me, again. I didn’t factor in was his charmingly fun attitude, personal sense of style and a little something people call swag which makes the girls gravitate to him.  He walks in one day and says “I got asked to prom.” WHAT?! We both think on it and decide it can’t be that bad. He just needs the following things:

  1. Suit
  2. Coordinating tie
  3. Corsage
  4. Haircut

Right? Oh, how wrong we were! We didn’t find out until the week prior what color her dress was. Then I hear his phone ringing EARLY one morning. Who could that be? He comes over to my room and says “I don’t even feel like going with her anymore.” She had called him and told him he needed to purchase his ticket to attend. This was not a part of the original deal. However, I tend to be a little compassionate to other children’s situation because I know everyone is NOT being parented the same. I coughed over the cash and got the items on the list.

The day came and there was some early morning drama. Then football practice that prevented him from getting to the barbershop on time. This meant Taylor was calling every 5 minutes. He got to the point where he wasn’t answering the phone. Then the logistic issues rose. The car service was coming to our place, she was waiting on him in Roseville. I had become more involved than I anticipated.

He arrived and the mini photo shoot began. I was asked if I wanted to be in the pictures. No. My year was 2017. Seeing him all dressed up brought some ideas to the light. We only had a few more events like this left in his primary education career. They looked very nice together.


No rest for me, I was on task to pick them up from the prom and transport them home. Her feet hurt and he was carrying his jacket. As he helped her out the car to end the night, she thanked him. He had fun and was full of suggestions for his big day. I know it’s going to be on a grand scale because we always doing the most.  🙂

Summer of 1998, I got pregnant.  Spring 1999, I gave birth to a son – 2 weeks early from the expected due date.  Fall 2013, I watched him walked in to MLK High School for the first time.  Spring 2016, I dropped him off to board the bus for the New Hope Black College Tour.  For the first time in my life I dealt with the idea that this is about to be my life.  In this series, I will expound on my feelings, changes and experiences I go through as we draw nearer to this moment.  I’m about to be an Empty Nester, for real!

I knew this day would come.  Hell, in those parenting conversations with other parents we joke about the day when our children leave for good and we’re “Free” again.  The part that never comes up is how will we deal with that moment emotionally when it comes.  Some of my friends have the joy of having multiple children so the time is prolonged until the youngest to eligible to leave.  In my case, this is it!  This moment comes a lot sooner for me than many of my friends.


I got my first experience to life without him during spring break this year.  We decided he would go on the black college tour to experience HBCUs.  I really didn’t want him to go to one in the beginning then I changed my mind.  It may be in his best interest to be around “his people.”  Here’s a partial look at the itinerary:

I had created a full list of things I would do while he was gone.  This included going back to dance class and catching the ballet.  I cooked like a gourmet chef for myself and didn’t concern myself with closing the door to get dressed or shower.  This was a comfort I wasn’t use to but it felt freeing.  However, I kept wondering when I would talk to him.  He called me Tuesday morning while I was at work.  We chatted for a short time before he boarded the bus for the day.  It warmed my heart to hear his voice and see his face.  He was off to see Fisk University and get on with the rest of the tour.

We texted one evening while he was on the bus and no more until he was in Ohio returning home. I felt myself becoming excited as time got closer to him being back.  I needed to see him.  There is definitely strong connection between he and I and it showed its head several times while he was gone.  I missed having him around to talk, watch sports and do the things a mother asks a son to do.  Even though, I didn’t need to take that trash out until he returned, lol.  The juice stayed plentiful and my snacks remained in the cupboards all week.  I came to realize he takes my mind off being unmarried, not having more children and a very limited social circle.  

When he got in the car, all he could think about was Coney Island and seeing his home.  He spoke to the gate that shields us from some of the Detroit ills, our building in the complex and his bed.  I was happy to have him home and made note of my feelings.  I’ve been his mother everyday for 17 years (minus my vacationing hours). Even then I picked up items to bring him back from my travels.  Back before TSA became the CIA of the airport, he would run to me screaming “Mommy” and I would melt.  He’s grown over the years and thanks to great genes and prayers- he’s become the tallest person in my immediate family. That’s huge because the tallest use to be Shawn at 5’11”.  Now, he yells “Ma or Mom” when he’s trying to get my attention.  He’s become a young man and I witnessed the whole thing.  


Revelation: I need to create a healthy balance of activity to fill the void I will feel. 

I believe Malcolm X said it best, “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”   As parents, we expect the educational system to provide a sufficient foundation for our children to build upon during the next steps in their life.  After Brown vs. The Board of Education, there was a blanket of security wrapped around black people who assured them they would receive the same education and opportunity as their suburban neighbors.  During a time of great social unrest and concern for #BlackLivesMatter, we find ourselves in Detroit preparing to go to battle regarding education and its numerous failures to our children.  Sit back and read my frustrations mingled in with the facts being presented in relation to how DPS and the political machine have left these children and teachers out.  This is an extended emergency and too many have turned away.

Over the pass several weeks, the teachers here have become “sick and tired of being sick and tired” and have been demonstrating through sick-outs.  The first I heard of this was one day when I pulled up to drop The Kid off at school.  He said, “Aww man Ma, I might have to go back home because these teachers have been talking about a sick out.” WHAT?! With no time to drill him about this, I went on to work and classes were not canceled.  It was later on that day that I learned what was going on.

I completely agree with the sentiment expressed in the video.  After countless messages via email and my representative about books with limited to no response.  This was puzzling to someone who is only 17 years out of high school herself.  Yes, I attended public schools in Detroit and they always gave us the ” it’s not in the budget” speech.  However, look at how much enrollment has decreased in the city.  I’m not making these numbers up.  Not as many kids, would mean to me, there are more resources to allocate to the students. Right?

Enrollment

They’ve closed numerous institutions within the city to cut the cost of under-populated schools and pushed kids to other schools that are not in their neighborhood.  All in an effort to become more efficient.  So far the plans they hatched, cracked, cooked and shitted out are not working.  As I said, I attended and graduated from DPS and here is the short version of the history of my former schools.  The first school I ever attended was Sanders Elementary School.

This was the only picture I could find of the place because it was demolished very early in this century.  As you can see, once I left there it was no question where I was going next. The school right across the baseball field was my next stop and that was – Harry B. Hutchins Intermediate School. Every day I looked forward to crossing through these doors in anticipation to learn ANYTHING.

This school held a special place in my heart.  It was here that I was exposed to my love of science through DAPCEP, was inducted into the National Junior Honor’s Society, developed my personal style, learned to swim, got paddled on the hand when I was out of line and experienced my first school dance.  It was a wonderful time but as times and populations changed so did my beloved middle school.  Here’s a small slide show of the place that cultivated someone eager to learn continually. (Some pictures including are courtesy of this site.)

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You will notice that my middle and elementary schools were a standoff point during the Detroit ’67 riots.  After leaving this school, some family concerns forced me to split from my friends and I entered Beaubien Junior High School and went to Mumford for a short spell.  All to return to the same high school my entire Detroit family graduated from – Northern Senior High School.  NorthernHighSchool

This is the only institution still in functioning order.  The only difference now is it’s home to the Detroit International Academy for Young Women.  I’m sure you can imagine all of the memories I created within these halls and the expectations I had as I became a parent. The education was sufficient even though we could have had more but the budget never allowed us to get everything the teachers wanted for us.  We made due with what we had, we succeeded and I graduated in 1998.

The Diploma

So you can imagine my frustration when I kept looking for the answers to where his educational tools were.  The tools I was looking for were books.  Books for all his classes. There was one day I asked him about homework and he showed me a picture on his phone.  What kinda lazy shit was this?! He told me, this is what he needed to do because they do not have books to give each child.  WHAT?!  Are you implying they don’t have money to get you all the supplies you need?  He couldn’t give me an answer but in his 3 years within the Detroit Public School system, he has only brought a book home twice and that was when he stole it out the building.  So, you need to steal to get an education in Detroit in 2015?  This was and is unacceptable.  I had more questions the teachers/administrators could not answer.  So when the shit hit the fan about the “sick outs”, I was on board.  These are the concerns I have been having.  Not only for my son but all of the children.  Why?  I’m seeing the reports stating “Detroit students are not prepared for college when they leave high school.”  Was this a bad side effect of no child left behind?  My mind continued to race for information and resources to get answers.  My mom told me about a state representative that was explaining all the details at the church and brought me some literature to read.  I read it but it still wasn’t clear to me.  I didn’t get any solid answers until the beginning of 2016.  The SICK OUTS finally hit Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School.  In a quick crawl through social media, I was given an over abundance of information.  Let’s start with a declining timeline which begins right after my graduation year.

Schools

The writing is right there in this infographic supplied by one of the educators within my circle of Facebook friends.  Feel free to open it up and take a good look at it.  From Surplus to bust with almost 120k missing students in the last 17 years.  Where are the students? Falling over into neighboring districts for an opportunity at better.

Enrollments

This wasn’t even an option for me.  The kid wanted to go to KING and who was I to deny him his dream.  I graduated from DPS and I was alright.  I needed to know what was so wrong that they needed to go this far to protest in the middle of a school year.  Things should be better by now.  Nope, my timeline was littered with the truth.  This information was disturbing. Here’s some of it:

Parents

Teachers

Bad Deal

These were the answers I had been looking for but didn’t want to find.  The system was failing our children on a higher level and the parents had no idea.  The teachers have taken all they could and now they wanted action.  In my support for them I found more upsetting information about our schools:

Horror House Unhealthy

I posted these things and videos to show what was going on and my frustration with the way our children’s welfare is being handled.  The institution my son attends does not have any visible signs of wear, I can see, from my numerous visits inside.  This for me was about the community and being a voice for those that I felt needed my help.  During all of this the one thing that kept jumping out at me, was everything minorities have been through to obtain an education in a land that provides it to its residents and I became angrier and focused on learning how I could help.  I used my social media pages to spread the word to parents of DPS kids, charter school kids and children outside the district.  The community needed to become outraged. Generally speaking, we all are products of DPS that have ventured off but this is the system that showed us there was more for us in this world.  How dare them deny our young for whatever reasons they may have?!  Hell, we’re only one generation out of school before this decline began happening.

This system was already FUCKED up when my son got there in 2013.  I made a plea to leave this place for better and he chose to stay in this school.  He and I have talked about teachers that have walked out on them and never returned.  He’s been through more substitutes and abandoning teachers than I have had my entire scholastic career.  Then people wonder why the students are having an even harder time learning.  They can’t adjust to the daily changes that are happening at home and then school as well.  The only consistent thing some of them have is their friends.  That’s also lofty idea because there are still parents ripping their kids from the district in search of better than THIS. He’s been bounced around from class to class in search of instructors or lack there of. They don’t know if the teacher is coming back or they have to fend for themselves.  This certainly isn’t a way to learn or trust the education system.

It’s not enough to say the system was already bad.  It’s not an option to relocate these children in haste.  It’s not fair to give the appearance that learning is being done and it’s not.  Have we lost our will to fight for what we believe is fair?  Have we turned a blind eye to the educational needs of our children?  Is the future of our children less important than our own?  I do not want to accept yes to these questions. With four Emergency Managers over the Detroit Public Schools, no one has found solutions for the EMERGENCY of these children not receiving a proper education in the wake of financial ruin – year after year.  As the old saying goes, “desperate times call for desperate measures.”  We’re desperate if you can’t tell.

#SupportTheTeachers

#StandUpForTheStudents

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bet you already knew the top 2 was going to have something to do with football.  It does but this time it has more to do with a player.  Education is extremely important to me.  So when I thought the BS “No Child Left Behind” program and desensitized guidance counselor were going to succeed, I knew I had to take action.  The events that happened in the pass 5 days confirmed I was not alone.

Division 1 Champions
The official close of the football season has come and gone.  We attended the banquet, broke bread with his teammates and picked up his awards.  While they celebrated, I kept my mind on what I needed to do to make sure that he achieved higher over the final months of his junior year. When my frustrations with his grades were expressed to the guidance counselor, he told me I had nothing to worry about.  Excuse my English- WHAT THE FUCK YOU MEAN?  I’m looking at the grades and the shit ain’t looking good.  It was then that I figured out why he was so calm.  As long as he continues to get Ds, he’ll graduate.  Not from this house with me as his mother.  Things had to get better before he went back for the 2nd semester. 

In a quick rant on Facebook, I expressed my disgust in his current scholastic patterns and explained how this effected the Christmas holiday for him.  A few nights prior, I let it rip in a no holds bar to his dad and stuck it in the mail for him to receive it pronto.  I was fed up to a new degree.  It kept feeling like we were running out of time and he couldn’t see it or didn’t think it was that serious.  I couldn’t wholehearted buy him gifts and he hasn’t given his best efforts in school this term. During the late night hour of Christmas Eve, a few good men spoke of helping me communicate the importance of education with him.  I appreciated the gesture and overwhelming concern.  What was I going to do to get through to him?   

December 26th the thread was revived with talks of when and where we were going to meet for this discussion.  WHAT?! They were serious about helping me.  I agreed to their terms and without giving any information about where we were going exactly, I got the kid up and ready for the conversation that could ultimately change his life.  We talked as we rode into our old next of the woods on the west side of the metro Detroit area.  As we walked into the restaurant, he was curious about our business here.  He caught a familiar face and smiled.  It was his football team’s Dr. Cecil Forbes.  I knew this would make him a little more comfortable in lieu of everything that was going on.  In addition, James Johnson, Calvin Evans and Shaka Senghor joined in for the CTJ talk.

We sat down and I opened the conversation.  Each volunteer took time to introduce their story to him and expound on the ways their lives have been impacted by their choices.  He was listening and instructed to take notes on what was being said.  I sat there and watched the chicken he ordered get cold but it never really held any interest for the 16 year-old that generally eats on sight.  He was entranced in the conversation these men were giving him. He was given an opportunity to speak and they instructed him on the manner in which he should speak to another man.  They informed him that they would be there for him to make sure he succeeded. At one point in the meeting, I broke down into tears after I explained the significance of his life.  This broke him down and pushed a more intense conversation.

I’m not here to expose everything that was discussed but I will say they got through to him.  As they prepared to end the dialogue, they exchanged numbers, pleasantries and informed him of a pending follow up.  They ordered him more chicken to take home.  I would say this is by far my most rewarding post in all of social media. (It’s even topped my Oprah tweet.). This wasn’t about me.  It had everything to do with the love of my life being this guy’s mother and the lengths I would go to for his success.

Never stop fighting for your kids. Moms never give up on your sons. I thank these four men for slowing down to talk to mine within 48 hrs of my cry. You are my brothers and I love you all for loving me and passing that love on to him. I’m optimistic that together we can and will inspire the changes needed for SUCCESS! 🙂

The year was 1999.  I was 19 and in April of that year I was given the charge of being a mother to a boy – a black boy.  In my efforts to raise him, I vowed never to let my single-parent status hinder me from being a support system for the kid.  His father, who cut out soon after due to another birth and a decision I had to make has been figuratively present.  In his absence, I ran to my brother for help and that was working out okay until this year.

I’ve told you all about some of our struggles and triumphs in high school so far.  As I’m preparing to close the bojrok on this chapter of his education.  A portion of my support system has been broken.  In February, we learned that his dad would be required to serve 2 years with the Michigan Corrections.  This is due to his involvement with illegal drugs.  My son got the news from friends at school that know his dad.  A hard blow to get during a time when your mind should be focused on your learning.  No matter how much he hasn’t been involved in this kid’s life, he still loves him because that’s his father.  When he came home to me, the 1st thing he said was “he’s not going to see me graduate high school.”  I didn’t realize that was a big deal to him.  In turn he started going to my brother and talking to the Mista more.  I felt comforted because he still had a few men he felt confident he could talk to when he has questions.  He has a few more uncles and grandpas but these were his go to people.

A few weeks ago, we learned that my brother will be away from the next 6 years in the MDOC – you know the reason.  Another blow to the structure I had in place to support me as I try to encourage him to go on and be great.  It seems like my son shutdown after getting this news.  Now, his favorite uncle wasn’t goGZing to see him move on in life after high school.  He has went to see him a few times but I can tell the change in his attitude.  You know us women, we like to talk but he hasn’t wanted to open up about his feelings on either of these situations.  I have overheard him talking with his friends on the phone about being disappointed and not wanting to let them down.  He still has the Mista, but at this point, I think our situation isn’t permanent enough for him to trust another man right now.  I see him trying to figure life out on his own.

This whole ordeal is working on me and all I am able to do is educate myself on how I can assist him during this time.  It’s not going to be easy but here is what I’ve discovered so far that semi-mirror my story and offered me advice:

He has found a few people to look up to through his football team.  All I can do is hope, pray and help him get through these next couple months and his senior year.  I have a few people in my network that have offered to sit down and talk with him.  In the meantime, I’ll keep you all posted. Moreover, I really just didn’t need this to happen at this time.

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