By Zerline Hughes
2015 was a whirlwind for this mother.
Drop off, pick up, commuting, overnight bag packing, keeping up with our summer activities spreadsheet (yes, I said spreadsheet), and oh yeah, completing school assignments and moving on to 5th and 7th grades … What’s a mom to do?
I’ll tell you … start it all over again for 2016! And it’s my pleasure to do it again. Anything to keep them on the path that keeps them busy, motivated and out of the category of “at-risk youth.”
Don’t get me wrong, there were many visits to the chiropractor to get my cramped driving neck together. There were many a TravelZoo and GroupOn coupons cashed in to take in a massage almost every month to unstress the knots in my body. There were tears of defeat and frustration. There were also some bank account shortages.
But what stands out about 2015, was the fact that my resolution of setting aside more time for both me and my children was achieved. Last year marked my first full year of working on my own as a communications consultant. Doing this allowed me to manage my own schedule, thus spend more time with these two. It made all the difference.
So, to recognize a great year and to motivate us to do it again in 2016, I asked the Js what their top 10 activities of 2015 were. I want to take notes to get an idea of what they loved, what we’ll have to do again, and what keeps them motivated, out of trouble, and on a continued path of discovery and success.
Top picks from the girl, who turns 11 this month:
- Girl Scout Camp – My girl is a die-hard cookie-selling, outdoors woman who loves packing her bags for a week in the summer for smores, horseback riding and sing alongs.
- Lake Michigan – Our summer 2015 trip marked maybe the 7th time we’ve driven all the way to Michigan to stay at our dear friend Beth’s beach house in West Olive. There’s scant cell phone coverage, no cable and Monopoly. And the kids love it. Wow … who would have thought simplicity would rank in their top 10!?
- School science experiments – Last year FINALLY marked my girl’s appreciation (I think) for education. During her final year in elementary, she’s been exposed to project-based learning and science experiments complete with goggles, beakers and hypostheses! What a breakthrough!
- Learning coding and robotics – Around Thanksgiving, national organization Black Girls Code hosted a coding and robotics event at my alma mater, Howard University, to expose African-American girls to STEAM. She absolutely loved it!
- Architecture camp – this summer the Washington Architectural Foundation hosted Design Like a Girl, a $25 week-long camp in downtown DC — another to attract girls to the world of STEAM. These half-day courses (temporarily) made reading and mathematics fun for my kid who is not a fan of either.
- Christmas (no surprise, right?) – Though her brother was in the hospital Christmas week, the girl was able to go holiday shopping for everyone in the household – a first. Using money from her bank account that she’s never accessed before, she loved shopping till she dropped with family friends Beth and Angelyn. This time around, she was able to see and appreciate the excitement of others as we opened presents. This particularly brought me joy as I know one day, she may prefer to spend the holidays with another family, decide to go to Cancun or choose to have her own family and spend the holidays with them.
- Winter break sleeping in – Winter break of 2015 was our first in several years that didn’t include road trips, TSA patdowns, overnights, family visits, etc. It was perfect and much needed – for all of us.
For the boy who turns 13 (woah) next month:
- Costa Rica – His spring break was spent abroad (that lucky kid), and without his mother! A week-long school trip to Costa Rica’s inland areas and coast made his top 10 list as he visited banana and coffee plantations, schools and put his Spanish to good use.
- Swimming with the fishes – Thanks to his Big Brother Program brother Michael, Jobe had the most amazing opportunity to swim with whale sharks, giant string rays, and a host of beautiful fish at the beautiful Georgia Aquarium . When he put on his flippers, his heart beat out of his chest, he said. But after having done it, he said he’d do it again!
- Earning his Black belt – At the end of 2015 the boy became a man after he survived a 15-hour karate test which resulted in receiving a black belt in Okinawan Katate-do after seven years of hard work!
- Food tour in Chicago – during our annual summer Michigan trip we always take a 2-3 hour train ride to Chicago to tour its wonderful museums, appreciate its public art and get a Giordano’s pizza. This time around, we stayed overnight to take in more, which included a walking food tour complete with big samples of gourmet popcorn, trendy donuts, infused chocolates, and best of all, stuffed, Chicago style pizza.
To round off the list with some honorable mentions from me:
The boy scrapbooking with my mother during Black History Month at the Anacostia Arts Center; the boy receiving end of the school year awards, one of which included the Saint Award; continuing our annual Halloween Party tradition and participating in a Trunk or Treat event in Anacostia; me being able to take them to my classroom to see me teach at Morgan State University; the kids almost sticking to household chores for a full year (we’ll get back on that in 2016; going to the gym with the kids; and truly seeing for the first time my children grow and get taller right before my eyes, turning into beautiful, thoughtful, enlightened citizens.
A busy, happy, goal-oriented kid is a kid that is destined for greatness … not the confines of our criminal justice system.
Happy New Year!