It’s not a bribe. It really isn’t. I am a non-custodial
parent and I live on the opposite coast from my children, which means that we
spend lots of time on the phone, hanging out on Skype and sharing the stories
of our lives. And yes, there is lots of gift-giving on non-holidays, but I am
not sure it’s more than the average mom does. The only difference is, I’m not there to hand the gifts to them and they
have become accustomed to receiving packages in the mail with little tokens of
I’m not trying to win their love — I am confident that I have
that. When I send my sons a gift it is truly because I want to involve myself in
their everyday lives and take care of needs that I see they have, and I consider
these gifts to be investments in their future.
My younger son Solomon is an avid book reader. He speed
reads, has a great vocabulary and is constantly telling me that he just
finished a new book. Even though he is only 12 I like to challenge him by
sending him books I loved when I was younger so we can discuss them. Just last week he received the classic "The
Grapes of Wrath." “This book is bigger than the Bible,” I warned him
and he laughed. “But it’s one of my all-time favorites.”
One night my son Solomon called me, whispering into the
phone, telling me that he couldn’t sleep and he was bored. “So read a book,” I
suggested. “I am sure you have plenty.” He told me that his brother was on the
top bunk and the light would bother him. So I ordered a book light to solve the problem.
My older son Saidon wanted new shoes and I told him that he
needed to create something to sell. He decided that he would create paintings
and sell them and I offered to invest in him by sending him a painting starter
kit. He ended up selling two paintings (to my mom) but he made $60. Gotta love
The last time my sons visited Los Angeles I took some time
to teach them about proper grooming, including giving them pedicures and
teaching them how to clean their ears without a q-tip. Before they left I gave
them their own package of wipes to use so they will be squeaky clean
everywhere. When they ran out, I sent them a refill that I hope will last a
I’ll never forget when they arrived. ... My Sneakerhead was so happy that I could feel his joy through the phone.
This is my favorite book to give as a gift because reading
it completely changed my life. One day I was sitting at home and thinking about
how much I want my sons to have a good life and became frustrated because I
didn’t really know how I could ensure that. Then an image of this book flashed
in my mind. If I can’t protect them from the world, then maybe I can teach them
how to handle life’s inconsistencies in the same way this book taught me.
I’m turning into a fit chick. Well, at least my mama says I
am. “You look like a body builder!” she exclaimed recently after seeing me over
Skype. I’m trying. I see some progress and I want my sons to progress too so I
ordered Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred and had it shipped to them so that we
could work out together. They weren’t
thrilled but they indulged me for a couple of weeks.
My son has an amazing language arts teacher who challenged
his eighth-grade class to read "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. As my son
described the premise of the book to me one evening over the phone, my eyes
grew wide and I just had to go and download the book for myself to read along
with his class. After I was done reading, I ordered a copy for my younger son
to read as well so that we could all discuss the important themes presented in
this marvelous book.
My older son Saidon is a social butterfly, he simply loves
meeting new people and making friends. He believes that anyone you share a joke with is your friend and I can’t break
him out of that so I just watch him enjoy himself. One day I was thinking about
how I could support him by teaching him a social skill that would make him stand
out. I don’t know where it came from, but
I decided to buy him a book of card tricks and a book filled with coin tricks
too. After he received them, he practiced and practiced and now he gives little
shows when he meets new people. It proved to be the perfect addition to his
I won a gift card so I told my sons they could choose
anything they wanted, and my older son chose his first pair of “LA shoes” — bright red Converse Chuck Taylors. I’ll
never forget when they arrived. He called me so that I could witness the ‘unboxing’
and my Sneakerhead was so happy that I could feel his joy through the phone.
These are the moments when I feel complete and whole, knowing
that I am making an impact on my children’s lives, even from 3,000 miles away.