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Malik’s first date

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Keira Smith & Malik Dulaney mother-son date 2022
Photo by Larry Walker
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When 8-year-old Malik Dulaney was accepted into GATES, the school district’s gifted and talented program, his mother knew she wanted to mark the occasion with something special.

“I felt like he needed to be rewarded, because he does great at school and he is just an excellent child,” said Keira Smith.

Keira Smith & Malik Dulaney mother-son date 2022
by Larry Walker

Smith says she thought about taking Malik to an arcade, but she decided to surprise her son with something more meaningful and memorable instead.

She reached out to Larry Walker at Picture This Selfie Studio and asked if he could help her stage a mommy-son date night for Malik.

“I wanted to show him how to treat a lady when you take her out, and also show that a man can be treated sometimes, too. It doesn’t always have to be about the man treating the woman, men deserve that, too.”

Walker set the scene for a VIP fine dining experience, and mom hit the dollar store for fancy wine glasses so they could toast to Malik’s achievements.

“It’s about making memories.”

But Malik was nervous. “He’s a very shy kid,” Smith said. “But I learned something about my son doing this. He doesn’t like surprises. When I say he doesn’t like surprises, he really didn’t like the surprise.”

“I had to calm him down. It wasn’t the surprise as much as the not knowing.”

Keira Smith & Malik Dulaney mother-son date 2022
by Larry Walker

Dressed to impress, a tentative Malik accompanied his mom down the red carpet that led to a private booth where they could celebrate over Malik’s favorite meal: pizza.

Keira Smith & Malik Dulaney mother-son date 2022
by Larry Walker

“Once we got inside, he relaxed. And then he really enjoyed the whole, entire thing. He even got to shoot some hoops, he loves basketball.”

Keira Smith & Malik Dulaney mother-son date 2022
by Larry Walker

“You know at first, I really didn’t like surprises,” Malik told his mother. “But now, I understand better what a surprise is and its okay for me.”

Keira Smith & Malik Dulaney mother-son date 2022
by Larry Walker

“I know I will remember this for the rest of my life,” Smith said. “And that is what it is about, making memories. You can buy a gift and down the way it could be gone, but memories, nobody can take that away.”

Malik is very intelligent, with a maturity beyond his 8 years, his mother says. “I’m just so proud of him,” Smith beamed.

“It’s been me and Malik from the beginning, making it happen,” Smith said. “I operate my own business and you know, there’s been a lot of tears and trials getting it started. But having a child – being a mother makes you want to be a better person. Malik makes me a better person.”

“It all started five years ago with a vision,” Smith said. She launched an online store, The LuxSHary Klass, specializing in hair extensions. Recently, the business has expanded to include strategically placed vending machines for her eyelash lines.

Keira Smith & Malik Dulaney mother-son date 2022
by Larry Walker

In addition to her entrepreneurial pursuits, Smith also works a 9 to 5 to support her son. It’s been a struggle at times, she says, but she wouldn’t change it for the world.

So, raise your fancy wine glasses Vicksburg. To Malik, a brilliant young man with a bright future, and to his proud mom ‘making it happen’.

Men are what their mothers made them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
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