Let me start out by saying how beautiful I think you are. I really like your hair. It is so long and pretty; I like the wavy layers that you can put in it. I like how you are able to put it up, but still able to have the pretty spirals coming down the front. I want my hair to look just like yours.
It makes me sad that my hair can’t look like yours. It makes me sadder, when I see the frustration in your eyes about what to do with my hair in the morning before school. I over-hear you telling others that “you don’t know what to do with my hair,” and it doesn’t make me feel pretty when you say that.
I do like it when you make an attempt to comb my hair and style it. It feels good on my scalp when you put the lotions in my hair and rub my head. I feel a connection to you when we are done. I feel as pretty as a princess when my ball of fur is transformed into pretty, soft, pigtails, and braids with beads and barrettes in them.
I also like it when you take me to the salon. The ladies in there look like me. They have hair like mine. The smell from the hot comb smells like my granny’s house used to before I came to live with you.
I like it when you have the black girl from the high school come to our house to braid my hair; she is so nice. Her braids in her hair remind me of the pretty African lady that I saw on TV. She tells me that I am pretty when she is braiding my hair. I like her because when she is done, my hair looks like hers.
Mommy, I want to be like you; however my hair is different than yours… and that is perfectly okay!
After a rough night of practice, you will excuse me while I vent…
You see, I run a truancy program for high school boys and, to keep them engaged with school, I’ve turned them into a basketball team. I work with young men who are struggling to stay in school raise money for uniforms, form study tables to get their grades up, and I will offer support for better school attendance.
During our practices and class time, we work on goal setting, decision making, and communication skills – even working to increase their employability skills. They are a very talented group of young men.
All this to say, that they are the most un-coachable band of misfits that I’ve ever been around. They continuously argue with each other, hate to be redirected, and don’t respond well to constructive criticism.
I have ten boys on my team and NONE OF THEM WILL GO HOME TO A DAD. Because of that, I extend them grace and pray for strength.
Every practice, I am reminded that I am so much more than a coach to them and I need to remember that.
After every practice, I break the huddle – 1.2.3.Saints.4.5.6.Family! I do this because the lack of a father figure is so visible that this small statement is the best that I can do that can give them a sense of belonging.
As a foster dad, I am blessed with an opportunity to fill a void. Most of the boys that have come into my home have never had a dad play a consistent or positive role in their lives. Some have never even met their father… ever.
I see the challenges that they face, but I also see the potential that they possess. I know that it may seem challenging to think about raising a child that has not had a father in their lives; however, the consistency of a strong and steady hand, which can help that challenging boy become a young man is one of the most rewarding things about being a foster dad.
So, foster dads we have one of the most important jobs in the world.
Imagine being a 7 year old boy, one night your parents get into a fight and the police come and take your parents away in handcuffs.
The next day, the lady, that smells funny, tells you that she will take you to a different home and school, away from your sisters and brothers and you are only allowed to take what will fit into your duffle bag.
The next week, at the new school, you have a hard time with concentrating. You day-dream a lot. The teacher sends you to the principal’s office for misbehaving. You punched a kid in the nose for talking bad about your mom.
When you get home…errr I mean to your new house, the lady is there (the one that smells funny) talking to the parents of the house in the living room. You overhear them say “he is aloof, a dreamer, and aggressive, and I am afraid that he will hurt my bio son….please take him away.”
Now imagine that happening 10 more times before your 12th birthday. Would you be angry, hurt and scared? Wouldn’t you be confused and scared to trust?
This is the day in the life of some foster kids. These kids need and DESERVE love, patience, guidance, and understanding; but most importantly they DESERVE a loving home!
My boys watch everything that I do. They hear everything that I say. I am conscious about making sure that I am on top of my thoughts, actions, words, and movements. I am a father to four teenage boys. One bio, two adopted, and one guardianship. My four sponges absorb everything that I put out. I must display a positive image.
All but three of my boys have had a mother figure that has failed them. Bio-mom may have abused and neglected them. Previous foster moms may have abused and neglected them. Two of my boys have had at least eight mother figures that they have been failed by in their eyes. My wife is their ninth and final mom.
All of this to say, that in displaying a positive image, my actions must be pure. The way that I treat my wife is one of the most important things that I have to be aware of. My boys have been conditioned to see women/moms in a negative light. They gravitate toward me, in the beginning, because most men haven’t failed them, but women have. I must be diligent in treating my wife with the utmost respect. My sons need to hear me tell my wife “I love you” constantly. They need to see that I will always put her first. They need to see me be affectionate with her. They need to see me put her on a pedestal because that is where she belongs. I can’t control what their eyes have seen. However, I can be sure that their eyes see a positive image on how a woman is supposed to be treated. In doing so, I am not only teaching them how to be respectable sons to their mom, I am also teaching them how to be respectable young men to all women. They are being shown how to respect, a mom, a sister, a girlfriend, and hopefully one day, a wife. My boys are watching. As a dad, my actions are the most important things that they will ever see.
A few years ago, I changed my career. During the decision-making process, I had to take money off of the table and, doing so, I was able to hear God calling me to my purpose. My purpose determined my mission of making sure all kids receive the love and care they deserve. I am a Foster Parent and foster care advocate because God told me to be one.
You often hear people say, “find your passion and make a career out of it.” But what if your passion doesn’t line up with your purpose? I wrestled with this question for years. I finally found my answer when I stopped doing what I wanted to do and started doing what God was calling me to do.
Because my purpose is now defined, my “why” became very clear. My “how” somehow became easier.
If I was asked ten years ago what I was doing for a living I would’ve said “Sales Account Manager” proudly. If you asked me that question today the answer would go something like: teacher, mentor, coach, youth development specialist, foster care advocate, author, blogger, speaker. Once I found my purpose I became very passionate about doing all of these things; it is what I do and I never turn it off.