Daughter, Dad On Life Apart, Together

Kioni "Popcorn" Marshall was just 8 when she interviewed her father, Minister Beau Harris. i i

One of the requirements to participate in StoryCorps is that each speaker be at least 10 years old. But StoryCorps made an exception for Kioni "Popcorn" Marshall, who was just 8 1/2 when she interviewed her father, Minister Beau Harris. hide caption

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Kioni "Popcorn" Marshall was just 8 when she interviewed her father, Minister Beau Harris.

One of the requirements to participate in StoryCorps is that each speaker be at least 10 years old. But StoryCorps made an exception for Kioni "Popcorn" Marshall, who was just 8 1/2 when she interviewed her father, Minister Beau Harris.

Kioni "Popcorn" Marshall's parents were separated for five years of her life. Things eventually changed, and they got back together. Kioni, 8, recently asked her father about that separation, and how their family has changed since then.

The pair started off with Beau Harris asking his daughter what person in her life has been the kindest to her.

"I would have to say my mother," Kioni says. "When I do something and she's, like, mad — she understands and she tries to lower her temper down. And I think that is kind."

"Have me and Mom ever extremely disappointed you?" Harris asks.

"Yes. She asked me if I wanted to meet my father, and I was already 5 years old," Kioni says.

"And I was like, wondering, why couldn't she have said that before? And I was disappointed that she didn't," she says. "If I could do it now, then why couldn't I have done it when I was 4 or 3, or 1?

"And you had disappointed me, Dad," she says, "because you have not been in my life for five years."

Kioni got her nickname from Harris, who says she is like a popcorn kernel — she's hardheaded, and soft on the inside — but with a solid core. She showed some of those characteristics in the interview with her father.

"Are you ashamed that you went with my sister's and brother's mom?" she asks.

"No, I'm not ashamed," Harris says. "I regret that I didn't make better decisions when I was younger. And I would've took more accountability for everyone's feelings involved."

Harris asks his daughter, "Have Mom and I ever made you extremely proud of us?"

"I have been extremely proud of you when you came to my life. That was a big deal for me. So much when I met you that I started crying when I went home, and you didn't come with us.

"I was disappointed then, but I'm not now because you've gained up those five years — and you've been in my life ever since."

Harris is the founder of America's Children — an organization that provides parenting workshops for inner-city families. His own mistakes sometimes bring painful memories, he tells Kioni.

"But then I appreciate who I evolved into as a person — the man, the father," he says. "I'm glad I reached this point.

"Popcorn, I would like to thank you for your time," Harris says.

"I would like to thank you for your time, too, Daddy."

Produced for Morning Edition by Nadia Reiman. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

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