Hedreich Nichols

June 2019

Dance With My Father

An open letter peppered with football metaphors

Single motherhood is the only game I know in which you get booed for running someone else’s fumble into the end zone. Ball recovery is usually the stuff that makes MVPs, wins full rides and goes viral in compilation videos. So where is our cheering crowd?

Chris In Earl Campbell’s Number

As I walked out on this morning’s sermon that began with that old familiar tune about single mothers being unfit to raise boys, I realized that, had a preacher begun with “only a white man can govern society”, there would have been folks walking out right along with me. Sadly, I think I was the only person who noticed something was horribly wrong.

Basically if “only a man can raise a man”, then only a ball carrier can carry a ball, right? New England’s Kyle van Noy should have been lambasted for last season’s scoop and score against the Jets, right? Instead, the crowd went wild, as it should be with a fumble recovery. 

I want to be a Single Mother Head of Household Raising Children Alone…said almost no one ever. And men probably don’t start out to leave women to raise their children alone–but they do. In African-American households like mine, almost half of us are quarterbacking our boys to manhood, often with the defensive line sitting the bench. According to Pew and the Census Bureau, dads (and occasionally moms too) owed a whopping 33.7 billion in child support. That puts many single moms at our own 10-yard-line with poverty, dropping out, unemployment and drug use threatening to tackle us before we even hit the 50. Still, even deep in enemy territory, we play hard. And, despite what the old research says, recent data says we are making our way toward the goal line (insert crowd-goes-wild cheering here).

For folks not quite getting this, it’s all good. We don’t always get the home game crowd. But do me one favor? Next time you flag a single mom for picking up a fumble and running with it, check your jersey. If it ain’t black and white striped, be a fan and just cheer, because when the ball is fumbled, you pick it up and run. That’s what you do. And in spite of archaic, nay-saying rhetoric, women are winning the game, raising successful men every day.

Bobby D. Porché
My BFFs dad, prior to his death in 2017

While I have not had the luxury of an earthly father, I have known great men who have loved and protected their families, me included. I honor them and am thankful for the vision of fatherhood they have given me. Today, I also want to give a crowd-goes-wild cheer to women raising men on their own. Mommas, let that roar be the background music of every successful play that you end-zone-dance to. Finally, if you happen to know one of those single mother MVPs, give her a shout-out. Like #metoo, it helps to know someone else gets it. #SingleMomsRock

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Whether the title calls to mind Gershwin’s Summertime, Will Smith’s anthem or Mungo Jerry’s 1970 hit that has more lives than a cat, thanks to Shaggy and the Minions, fact is, “school is out and it’s sort of a buzz”!

Unplugged on vacation–just do it.

If you are not a teacher, you probably imagine us educators at the pool every day with our kids. While hopefully, most of us do take advantage of having less structure, what we’re probably doing is attending conferences, cleaning out files and spending countless hours on our computers learning new skills and strategies in order to become better educators. My personal faves are research and strategies from Edutopia, podcasts from Cult of Pedagogy unconference swag from ISTE and Google trainings from Kasey Bell, which I am sending out to my student tech staff to prevent summer brain drain.

The beauty of this time is that, it gives me time to reflect and dream of how I can bring more to the table for future generations. It’s that space that gives me impetus for innovation and lets me critically look at what worked last year, what didn’t, and what I can do to better facilitate inquiry and learning. Even in my 13th year, I am still looking for ways to bathe in cutting edge bathwater while not throwing out the sound-teaching baby, which will always involve building relationships, and helping littles and young people grow their passion for learning.

Happy summer teachers! Practice self-care and spend time doing things you love–like shopping on Teachers Pay Teachers, registering for Instagram giveaways and filling up your Pinterest and Twitter feeds with stuff you want to add to your lesson plans next year. And don’t sweat any of the “you don’t work in summer” shade. Working or not, school is out and it really is a buzz!!

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