K.I.P.P-(KIDS IN PRISON PROGRAM)-BLACK BALLED AND PUNISHED

“While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about.”
  — Angela Schwindt

It takes a lot for me to speak on or expose many details of my personal life especially those that pertain to that of my eleven-year old. For many who are familiar with Dude (my son’s nickname since birth) and I it is no secret that we move quite effectively as a unit, where there is he there is me. This was no different when we decided to enroll in KIPP Triumph Academy, a choice charter school located in Saint Louis City[but a much smaller entity attached to a larger national conglomerate]. It was all of the glitz and glamour that was sold to us upon out initial new family tour during the spring of 2015. From the moment we stepped foot inside the school we were more than impressed with their advance curriculum, the dedication of the teachers and of course the super fly uniforms.

However, it wasn’t long before the honeymoon phase was over for us; it quickly became evident as to why the children refer to KIPP as the “KIDS IN PRISON PROGRAM”. Now granted, I whole heartedly support their academic learning structure but the rigorous and overbearing discipline structure is extreme and over the top for children who more likely that not are transitioning from less restrictive public school structures.  KIPP serves the “under-privelaged, low-income” urban families in the inner cities, and recruit and employ young first year white Teach for America educators to pay their dues to what they believe to be poor, unfortunate, undereducated children whose parents surely can’t have more than a high school diploma or a G.E.D. [ This is the furthest things from the truth as it pertains to the families attending KTA]. I have been an active member of the school’s Parent Ambassador group, taking time out of my schedule to attend meetings, book fairs and new family orientations to encourage new families to come to KIPP, chaperoning dances,  and much much more. Over time I have noticed that the strict and extreme discipline structure gives children more time out of school than in for even the smallest of infractions. My son has been one of said students who no matter how big or small his indiscretion is he pays a hefty price. [No I am not one of those “My child does no wrong mothers, I know my child is a handful but right is right] 

This is our story.

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An Open Letter to Shawn James (Freelance Writer)

*It took me a while to decide HOW exactly to respond to an August 27th, 2012 blog post written by Shawn James titled “Why Real Men Avoid Single Mothers“.  Not because I am a single mother and was offended but because who is he that he deserves to be made relevant? Does his opinion really matter that much four years later? Well, apparently it does and the internet has convinced him that his life and his words matter. So here goes.*

Dear Shawn,

Before I rip you to shreds in the most polite, motherly and classy way that I know possible for your brave yet feeble attempt to degrade single mothers I would like to commend you on your becoming relevant (nearly 4 years after your article was published might I add). You successfully found a way to ensure that your life matters; I’m sure your mother is proud of you. For weeks I have purposely tip-toed past your “article”  simply based on the title “Why Real Men Avoid Single Mothers”, then my friend decided it was something I needed to read simply so he and I could touch on a few of your talking points. [Some of which have validity while others don’t hold water] Let’s start at the top and work our way down shall we? Continue reading

If I Could

 “If I could
I would help you make it through the hungry years
But I know that I can never cry your tears
But I would
If I could”

From the moment a woman finds out that she is with child, she becomes protective of the life she helped to create. Be it changing her diet to cutting back on strenuous activities she becomes cautious and conscious of the things she does or puts in her body. For most women that maternal instinct is natural and almost instantly you become selfless in loving your child more than you love yourself. I knew that I had forever changed and become a mother the moment my OBGYN told me at 7 months pregnant that if I did not have an emergency c-section that one of us would not make it. It was at that moment that I knew that I had to fight to save the life of the little person inside me, even if that meant risking my life to save his. It is amazing the amount of love you can have for someone you have never met.

“If, if I could
I would try to shield your innocence from time
But the part of life I gave you isn’t mine.
I watched you grow
So I could let you go”

Taking care of yourself during pregnancy is nothing compared to the trials and tribulations we face once our child has entered the world. You do your best to keep them from catching a cold, or from getting cuts and bruises. But one of the biggest fears that we have as mothers (and maybe this is just me) is that someone will do something to harm the child we work so hard to protect. Be it a stranger, friend or family our biggest fear is that we won’t be able to protect them against those who mean them harm. Everyday we see stories on the news that talk about a child that has been abused or molested by someone inside the home or close to the family. Then there are those stories that make the pit of your stomach knot up so tight you can’t breathe, the ones where the mother is the abuser or is aiding the person doing harm to their child. It took me a very long time nearly 5 years after my son’s birth to allow him to go with anyone outside of family (and that was limited to a select few) or his Godparents. (There were no sleepovers unless they were at our house.) When my son left to visit out-of-state relatives for the summer I cried like a baby for nearly a week. It is no secret that at times I baby my son a little too much, but he is an only child and in my mind he is my miracle child. When you are a mother you do what you have to do to protect your child/children from harm, pain, heartache and other things. But what do you do when you fail them and they get hurt?

It is only natural that children will fall, bump their head or catch a cold, these things are the inevitable. These are also things that as a mother you can fix, you can put a bandage on a fresh cut, ice on a knot and a tablespoon of cough syrup will soothe a cough with no problem. (Don’t forget a kiss to make it better) I know I am the mom that even till this day I will ask my son, “Who did it? You want me to go get them?” But what do you do when your child tells you that someone hurt them? What do you do? I am not talking about a school yard brawl or a sibling rivalry. What do you do when your child tells you that someone has been abusing them? In so many words your child is telling you that you failed them and didn’t protect them like your promised. Initially the shock will subside and the guilt will set in and you will ask yourself, “Why didn’t I protect him/her?”  “How could I let this happen?” ” What do I do now?”  That overwhelming feeling of guilt will eat you alive if you allow it to, especially if the abuser is someone whom you trusted. (Which if they are around your child more than likely they are.) The feelings of betrayal and anger will soon consume you and you will become enraged and angry. Angrier than you have ever been in your life and the thoughts of doing harm to another will become your focus.

Dealing with any form of abuse, be it sexual or physical when it comes to a child is no easy feat. I have heard so many horror stories of people who suffered abuse and their families swept it under the rug. The long terms effects of abuse on a child are damaging. As mother, no we can not protect our children at all times, if we could we would. Since we can not be with them 24 hours a day seven days a week we have to pay attention to the signs and more importantly listen to our children. When they tell you someone is hurting them in any fashion, believe them and address it. No child deserves to be mistreated, unloved, abused or used.

National Child Abuse Hotline” 1-800-4-ACHILD 

 

The Infamous “Where you been Penny” episode of Good Times.