The Stories We Share

Becoming a parent rearranges your schedule, your priorities, your whole head.

Some of that stuff, well, I guess I was expecting it…I knew I’d be sleeping less, worrying more, changing diapers and baby-proofing my apartment. But I’m gonna let you in on a secret, something they don’t tell ya about:

When you have a kid, you have to start thinking like a kid.

Honestly, it’s a blessing most of the time. This has been a dark and turbulent year for so many of us, and seeing the world through the eyes of my Baby Ariana has been refreshing. I now truly believe that Doc McStuffins is great television, hah! I have to think about what things will feel like from her end, not just mine. Kids don’t really have the motor skills, or the right words, but they do understand intentions. They don’t even know how to hide the way they feel. Right now, my angel is a blank slate. She doesn’t know limits, or stereotypes. She doesn’t know what her calling is. All she knows are the sensations: happiness, yumminess, sleepiness, safety, love.

I’m starting to realize how big this responsibility is.

Kids are sponges, learning how life works so quickly. They take what they learn, go out and face the world. I can’t afford to fill Ari’s head with fluff and waste. I certainly can’t let evils like racism, sexism and negativity pass through her in any way. It’s on me to show Ari what tolerance and kindness looks like, and it’s on me to fill her world with color and goodness. Let’s leave all the played-out stuff in the past.

Ari and I love listening to records together on the big speakers. She’s taking an interest in soccer, running around out in our yard until the sun goes down. And these days, there is no shortage of good stuff to stream on the TV. But what is she learning? What is sticking in Ari’s little head? Aretha Franklin passes on integrity and soul. Megan Rapino shows her the value of teamwork and training. Doc McStuffins teaches you to spread your wings and heal the needy, no matter where they come from. When you’re thinking like a kid, there’s a lesson in every new discovery.

I do have to admit…

After reading what feels like a whole library of children’s books, the same few lessons tend to appear. And to be real, very few of the characters look like Ari. So, I’m putting it on myself and my foundation to deliver a more specific message. I want to celebrate Ari’s beauty and light, but I also want to show how Ari has changed my life. I guess this is another Dad thing they don’t tell you: when you have a daughter, she changes you as much as you change her! I’m so inspired by that. You may be raising and protecting a lil child, but that child makes a new and improved version of you. We’re traveling on this journey as a team, bettering each other in very different ways.

I’m ready to tell that story.

I want to give Ari a main character that she identifies with. And I’m hyped to share this experience with young parents like myself.

Our debut A.R.I. Foundation children’s book will be out some time in 2021. There’s a lot going on right now, and we want to make sure this is done PROPER: a story that means something, delivered through a Black-owned family publisher. I’m also not trying to go one-and-done here…the A.R.I. books should make for a whole entire series! I’m so excited to be working on this project, and I’m learning more as I go each day. I didn’t think I would add “children’s author” to the back of my player card…but, like I said, daughters change you. Stay tuned for updates!

There’s a lot of static out in our world right now. I’m committed to keeping my angel’s head full of promise and possibility. Parents, reply in the comments or holler at me with suggestions for books, music, art and cartoons! Perhaps we could set up an A.R.I. Foundation book club or reading group!


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Rita Strickland
Rita Strickland
3 years ago

Sometimes all I can say is WOW!! I’m sooo impressed!!

1 year ago