“It was fine!” It’s the dreaded response every parent hates to hear in the school pickup line. This quick, blunt response can almost always illicit feelings of failure as a parent when trying to engage with your child about their school day. We often expect to be so much more than parents. In these moments we hope to be therapists offering cathartic advice to our kids. We want to be heroes. We want to hear about the school bullies and convince our inner saviors not to confront them on the playground. We want to be a resource, but that all stops with that definitive, conversation-ending “fine.”
Thirty-six-year-old D’Andre Foster was sick of hearing the response “fine.” A few months ago, he challenged himself to show up more for his kids.
“I challenged myself to be more present in the moment,” said D’Andre.
For D’Andre, being present means taking well-intentioned efforts to actively engage with Gabrielle, his 9-year-old daughter, and Demias, his 3-year-old son. With his wife’s help, D’Andre developed a list of ice-breaker questions to get Gabrielle talking about her school day. What started as a clever way to gain insight into the hilarious confessions of an elementary school student actually helped D’Andre further his relationship with his daughter. This isn’t surprising because it’s reflective of who D’Andre is: a titan in Northeast Oklahoma City whose community starts at home.
D’Andre grew up in Northeast Oklahoma City in the prestigious Wildewood addition. His love for his community runs deep.
“I credit my parents for that,” said D’Andre. “I connected to and credited my mom’s experience. She was orphaned at the age of 14. The Eastside has always felt like home. The Eastside has always felt like love for us.”
The love D’Andre holds for his parents is palpable and has clearly ignited action in his own household dynamic. He gleefully acknowledges his father as one of his greatest inspirations.
“One of the things that I take from my father is soft skills in parenting,” said D’Andre. “He was hard on us, but he was nurturing.”
After attending Classen School of Advanced Studies for middle school, D’Andre followed in his parents’ footsteps and attended Frederick Douglass High School in Northeast OKC. He says that decision was his own.
“A lot of people would assume that my parents made me go to Douglass,” said D’Andre. “It was my desire and my dream. I wanted to go to Douglass and now my daughter wants to go.”
D’Andre attended Southwestern College in Kansas and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. During his sophomore year at Southwestern, his eye caught a glimpse of Krystle – soon-to-be Mrs. Foster. Their romance started off bumpy with a first date story for the books.
“I had a ‘93 Buick Century and she had a newer Toyota Camry, but we decided to drive my car,” said D’Andre. “We go to the movies and McDonald’s after. We get back in the car and my car won’t go in reverse. She hopped out in her stiletto heels and started pushing the car. I knew that I had to take her seriously and do everything I could to hold on to her.”
After five years of dating, D’Andre and Krystle tied the knot in 2009. They’ve been piecing together their happy-ever-after since. The Fosters welcomed daughter, Gabrielle, in 2013 and son, Demias, in 2019.
A few weeks before his conversation with MetroFamily, D’Andre talked with his wife about the parenting goals he hopes to achieve. For D’Andre, this means a concentrated effort to put his cell phone down and enjoy all of life’s small, fleeting moments. He doesn’t want to miss a thing.
“I wanted to be less focused on responding to messages and emails, including social media,” said D’Andre. “My daughter is 9 now, and she’s at an age where she is going through some changes and transitions. I want to be present to hear what needs to be heard and connect when I need to connect. I try to be intentional about communication.”
D’Andre has come full circle with a return to Douglass High School as an AP history teacher and coordinator for the Academy of Law and Public Safety. This fall will be his fifth year teaching at his alma mater. He says he’s back for the long haul.
“My first-day teaching, a student said ‘How long are you gon’ be here?’” recalled D’Andre. “I am here until they fire me!”
At Douglass, D’Andre teaches beyond the classroom by advocating for his students and offering a listening ear for problems they are experiencing in and out of class.
“If I’m not teaching at Douglass, I don’t really feel like I will be called to teach,” said D’Andre. “Them knowing that I am rooted in the Eastside goes a long way for my students.”
Editor’s note: This article is the fourth in a year-long series celebrating local dads. Author Lance Evans and husband Chris are fathers of Chrystian and were voted MetroFamily’s 2021 Cool Pops.