One of the things that I often tell my children is how important it is to choose good friends and to be a good friend.
I know for now they don’t “get it”; but I hope that my repeated focus on it, seeps into their DNA and sticks. My friendships are and have been a critical factor in my ability to get through life in any sort of graceful or healthy way.
A couple of weeks ago, we had one of our first really nice weather days since the start of Spring. Ace, Jay and another friend were outside playing. The boys wanted to bring their Nerf guns outside to have “an epic war”. Ace asked because we’ve had “the talk” with him. That one that the parents of white children don’t have to have. The one where the rest of us have to tell our black sons about racial bias and perceptions. The one where we have to warn them to be careful because they may not be assumed to be innocent children playing games. If any of you doubt the truth of that statement please let me know. I’ll point you towards some stories. They are plentiful.
Below is a conversation I had with someone who has been a very dear friend to me for 25 years. We mostly joke around, tease each other and share funny meme’s back and forth, but I knew that if I shared something that was in my heart, he’d step up – and boy did he deliver.
(Me: Right aligned ; Him: Left aligned)
I hadn’t mentioned it in my texts, but in addition to Tamir, I was also thinking about the shooting of Charles Kinsey. Kinsey was taking care of an autistic man when he was shot by police, while lying on the ground with his arms in the air; his disabled client was sitting next to him.
Any time my boys step out into the world they each face dangers beyond what many other boys face. Watching them grow up and become more and more independent is too wonderful to explain. I marvel at them. But, I worry about them.
Their blackness isn’t ever going away.
Ace’s ADHD and associated poor impulse control or social awkwardness isn’t going away.
Jays autism isn’t ever going away.
Those things unfairly put them at risk – YET – there are times when I must let them face the fire. I can’t let them see all MY fear. I do want them to be careful. I do NOT want them to live fearfully.
My friend wished for his loved ones “Time, health and courage.” Those are great, but I think my main wish for my boys and all my loved ones: To have people in your life with whom you can be real and honest and true and loved anyway.
We can make all the money, or plans, or take all the precautions in the world, but in the end the only thing we can be sure of – when the chips fall – is our own truths and the honesty with which we lived our own lives.