I’m sure for some that read this post, you will say that I’m overreacting and that is okay. However, until you have walked in my shoes, judge ye not.
I look up from my work and it’s 3:30pm, first day back to school for the kids after the holiday break. Brendan, my 16-year-old should be home soon. I turn my attention back to my work. My little yappy Chihuahua has joined me in my work space. Now I’m more cognizant of the time. I can’t have him barking while I work, and when the door opens, he’s likely to bark. It’s 3:50pm he should be here at any second. Again, I turn my attention back to my work. As I answer the phone to deal with a client, I notice the time, 4:15pm, hum the bus driver must be off a bit, it happens. 4:30, and I text my daughter, to check her location. If she is not on the bus yet, I know there is an issue with the route. Well, she walks in the door at 4:35pm. They ride the same bus. High schoolers get dropped off and the driver doubles back for the middle schoolers. Now, I’m just a little worried. His phone is broken so I can’t call him. He has never been this late before. I check all my phones to see if I’ve missed a call, and I haven’t. My heart begins to race just a bit as my mind starts to allow recent headlines to enter. But, when could something have happened? Where? I began to tell myself just calm down and start calling his friends. As I become a telemarketer of sorts, scanning my call list, I send my daughter to a neighbor’s house to see if he is there. No answer with his friends that I would think he would be with. And as I look out the window I see my daughter walking away from the neighbor’s house and his friend is standing in the driveway as if saying Brendan was not there. My breath comes in quick inefficient gasps, my heart is at an all out sprint, fingers grow cold and my mind flips through the headlines like old school microfiche. Just as I start to descend my driveway to, well, interrogate my young neighbor, I catch a glimpse of the signature red pants. I shield my eyes from the glare of the setting sun and it brings into focus his familiar, relaxed I’m to cool for you gait, faster than greased lightening, my emotions toggle from fear to anger. My fight or flight system has gone into kick his ass. Who cares he is 6’0″ 200lbs and I’m 5’0″ 145lbs.
I called out to him, “Be in front of me in 5 seconds!” His response, “What did I do? I just stopped for a minute.” My response, “4-3-2.”
His pace quickens as he spews excuse after excuse with each trying to remain cool in front of his friend, but get in front of me without running, step. When he is in front of me I want to slap his face for scaring me, and squeeze him tightly in my arms because he is safe.
I said to him, “My first inclination is to strip you of all of your extras, iPod, game system, television, everything.”
Of course his face contorts with protest at just the thought of it.
I asked him, “Do you know how late you are? Over an hour. Have you lost your mind? You know you ALWAYS check in with me first! “I was just 3 houses down. We were not doing anything. I was checking out his birthday loot. Why are you so mad?” He asked. “We have rules for a reason! And when you break them you upset the balance of things and cause undue stress and other untoward feelings, emotions and consequences. And if you really want to know my issue, I was afraid! I was afraid something had happened to you! Afraid I would get that call that no parent wants to get. Afraid you were laying in the streets calling me and I’m not there to protect you!”
And in the midst of me telling him this, my tears fall like I had gotten that call. They fall so fast and furiously one of my contacts rides the rapids to my cheeks. And when he realizes just how serious that is to me, his eye well up with tears and he grabs me and hugs me and tells me not to cry. “I’m fine, nothing happened. I didn’t know you felt like that.” he says. Then he assures me, “I’ll never do that again. I’m sorry.”
I must say I did not expect such a volcanic like eruption of emotions. I really only expected to bestow a consequence on him, tell him not to do it again and head back to work. Such a showing of emotions just makes me realize just how truly frightened I am for my sons. It allows me to realize that I really do have a grip on how our black sons are viewed and how little value is placed on their lives. This is a cold unwelcoming world to our boys. Am I overreacting? I don’t think so. If it seems that way to you, I’m sure you are not the mother of a black teenage male. It is my hope that my reaction to a seemingly innocent detour will make him think twice when he is out. It is my hope that he will use his critical thinking skills when he is out. As well as open his eyes to the reality of the world he must maneuver his way through and he will move accordingly.
Sometimes friends will say nothing ever happens out there in the boondocks where you live. Especially nothing like that. Well it is my hope, that nothing like that will happen here but, I’m not naïve enough to think that it can’t.
This is the fear of a mother in the United Stated of America, in 2015.