I have heard a few black mother’s say that raising boys is far easier than raising girls.
Yeah, I never believed it either.
Even just looking at the maxim on the surface you could see the fallacy just by the state of many of our all black communities.
Heck, sometimes you can discount that saying just by the speaker who just said it.
“Ok, sooooooooo…. Lemme get this right: you feel it’s best to keep a tight rein on your daughter to suppress her sexuality and freedom of thought so she won’t bring any babies home but it’s ok to let your son “do him” because he’s just a boy being a boy? Ok. I see. So what time are visiting hours for Ray-Ray? You go on out and get the car cuz I got Ray Ray Jr’s diaper bag and baby mama number one is gonna meet us up there with Rayeshia and Ray’kelle.”
In our society, if you have dreams that go beyond just making sure your children graduate sans having babies of their own, raising a child is hard regardless of the gender. A good parents goes beyond just making sure they don’t become grandparents before their time. A good parent makes sure that by the time their child is in high school they are sidelined to coaching because everything that needed to be said about character, morality, values and tenacity has been instilled before the age of 13.
Technically I am not even raising a son anymore because now J2 is officially an adult. He’s over 18.
Well, chronologically because mentally—maybe 12. Ok, 14, 16 on a good day.
J2 is not a bad young man. He’s not violent. I don’t think I have ever seen him angry, although he can be moody and pouty.
He never skipped school.
But, over the years he has done some stupid things.
Some really, really stupid things.
Example: when he was in junior high he got in trouble at school for being involved in a food fight. And then there was that time an older kid tricked him and a friend into stealing bikes (the friend said the bikes belonged to him and asked them to help him walk the bikes home and when the police came the older kid ran off). Then there was the beginning of his senior year when he played a prank on his wrestling coach by taking a shit in his shoes.
Yep, you heard me right. He defecated in the man’s shoes.
He did it on a dare, as if that is an excuse or a reason. Why hasn’t one of his friends ever dared this boy to read a book? Build a robot? Take a higher level math class? Why do boys only dare one another to do stupid, reckless shit? Is this a way of herd thinning?
scene: 8000 BC. Brrrguh and Smishay are standing on a cliff overlooking prehistoric antelope. They are 500 feet above the ground.
Brrrrugh is the first one to speak in prehistoric language of course which is more than likely simplistic but translated here into English for us in the 21st to understand.
Brrrrugh: I dare you to leap from this cliff and land on the back of that big antelope.
Brrrrugh is actually pointing at the smallest antelope in the herd off to the side.
Smishay: Yeah, ok.
Smishay takes a running leap and lands face first onto the field below. Stiffly he begins to show a few signs of life but the antelope that didn’t run stay to kick him to death for scaring them.
Prehistoric antelope are gangsta.
J2 wants to be the cool kid, in high school he was a kid that slipped easily between social groups. I would say that he is a follower, but not really. He doesn’t follow any one person but he is completely invested in this image that he has of being the cool, crazy, Black kid. And to be that kid you have to do some cray-cray stuff.
Which brings us to college life.
This boy got drunk one winter night and then decided to go down to the computer room and sprayed everything with a fire extinguisher.
(Ugh, I am so ashamed. For me and for him.)
Why J2? Why did you do this? WTF dude? For real.
I was drunk and bored and feeling existentially disconnected from my projected image by attending a college that’s over a hundred miles from home and needing to re-establish myself among a new community of people which made me feel insecure and sometimes constipated.
Ok. The third thing I made up especially the constipated part. But not really.
“What are we going to do?” I ask J every day since it happened. I estimate 65 times. “What are we going to do to get through to this boy, no man. He’s a freaking man now. What can we do to get him to grow up?”
“Nothing,” my husband answers me back 65 times the same way. “He’s grown. We’ve done what we needed to do. He’s going to have to learn the hard way.”
I look skeptical. The hard way might be really hard for J2. Like calculus hard.
We all make mistakes, especially when we are young. Hopefully we learn from them and become a stronger smarter person who lives to tell the tale of what a fool we were when we were younger.
One day J2 will be a professional and his own man. He will be far above trying to get the approval of peers or coworkers or acquaintances. He will think before he does things although he will retain a bit of the sweet boy he used to be.
I look forward to the day J2 has a son of his own. This son will undoubtedly do dumb things, following in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather. And when this child does, I will laugh at J2, say something like chickens roosting and nuts falling from trees and twisted metaphors.
A few weeks ago a teen girl came into the library chanting, “Girls go to college to get more knowledge; boys go the Jupiter to get more stupider.”
Daily I am surrounded by stupid boys. Mid-teen boys who think by skipping school they are outsmarting everyone around them, but they are just making it harder for their future selves. Boys in their early twenties who are trying to figure out the way to go; should they follow the straight line or hook up with their boys to make easy money. Middle-age boys I have to tell that their chess game is not that serious or they will be asked to leave the library.
Encountering “men” during the day is very few.
We are a culture that worships the “boyness “of men. It’s in all the popular movies and music. It’s in our saying, boys will be boys when actually no boys will be men.
And so is my young man.
Raising a boy, especially a boy of color, is not an easy thing. I don’t think it’s completely the XY chromosome that makes them several beats behind their female counterparts. As a parent, you do your best and wait for the man to appear.
Although, if he does mess up again a trip to far reaches of outer space may sooner be in his future than grandchildren.