Finding a work/life balance is harrrrrrddddddddd.
As an opinion writer for the Kansas City Star Editorial Board, I take pride in shining light on injustices. My track record here in the Kansas City community is solid. I am here to serve.
On Friday, when I read a headline online that a young man had been shot after mistakenly ringing the wrong doorbell, not once did it occur to me that this tragic incident took place right here in this great city I have called home since 2007. The next day, the story of Ralph Yarl spread like wildfire. Ralph, a Black 16-year-old honor student at Staley High School in North Kansas City, was unarmed and posed no threat when he was shot twice by a white homeowner.
Community activists, celebrities and others in the community sprang into action. By Sunday, protestors had descended on the alleged shooter’s home and other dignitaries were weighing in.
Over the course of two-and-a-half days, relatives from St. Louis called to ask me what was going on. I don’t know, I said. I am on dad duty this weekend, I told a cousin.
Later, a longtime friend from Detroit messaged me on social media to express outrage and another friend from St. Louis rang my line as well. In all, about five people contacted me over the weekend asking about my thoughts on the situation. Most wanted to know if I was going to write something about the incident that put Kansas City in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Yes, I told each of them. But I am on dad duty this weekend, I said. And both of my middle school children have basketball games Saturday and Sunday, I said. In fact, between my 12-year-old daughter, Emilee, and my 14-year-old son, Giulian, there were 11 games in two days at four gyms in two different cities in two states.
Both had games Sunday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. I was on my single dad's kick, so I made a strategic move. There was some sacrifice involved as well. I would miss one of their games each. As a parent of youth athletes, missing game days are touuugghhh.
I dropped Emilee off at HyVee Arena close to 1:30 p.m. then made the 22-minute drive to Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kansas. Baby G was at his game on time. I stayed to watch him play at 2, then hiked it back down to HyVee, the refurbished gym formerly known as Kemper Arena, to catch Em’s 4 p.m. championship game. At 5, we dipped back to Kansas to pick up Baby G after he finished the last of his six-game set in two days.
A short time later, I took them to their mother then hightailed it from south Kansas City to the Northland neighborhood that Ralph Yarl was shot. There was a protest planned there at 3 p.m. and I thought maybe I could catch the crowd. I did not. And it pained me.
My job is to write opinion journalism at the speed of breaking news. But I made a promise to myself and my children that I would not work on their time. So I tuned out everything going around me in the news cycle and focused on time with my kids and their activities. And I make no apologies about it.
On Monday, we called out Kansas City police for the sloppy work conducted by investigators who allowed a grown man to walk free two hours after he shot an unarmed teenager in the head and arm. For obvious reasons, the editorial was one of the most read opinion pieces on our site.
The next day, after the suspect surrendered to authorities, I penned a column questioning why the man was allowed to roam free for days after shooting a kid to begin with. It still makes little to no sense. The column, by the way, was also one of the most viewed opinion pieces on www.kansascity.com.
In life, we often forget what’s important. Those that know me, know I am a community-driven opinion writer. I wanted nothing more than to lift up Ralph Yarl and his family in my small little space on the internet and on the pages of the Kansas City Star.
But spending an uninterrupted weekend with my children was priceless.