As a mother, I have many fears when it comes to my son. I wonder how he’s coping with the absence of his father and I wonder how he is dealing with some of the other struggles of our family. I wonder how he is figuring out his place in the world. We talk but I’m not naive enough to think that he tells me everything. I know that he doesn’t.
As someone who has spent a great deal of time working with other people’s kids, I know how certain emotions are often undetectable. Boys, especially boys of color, often carry scars buried deep within and as much as we would love our kids to see us as their confidantes…they often don’t.
Sometimes those emotions eventually find themselves as the catalyst for mistakes. It’s not that we don’t do whatever is necessary for our children. In many cases…MY case…we do. It’s that our children, like every other human being, have choices.
My son isn’t perfect and at the tender age of 15, he has definitely made some errors in judgement. He’ll make plenty more over the next few years and each day, his choices become more and more critical to determining the man that he will become.
Every day, my son has to choose to do what is right. He has to choose not to drink at 15. He has to choose not to smoke weed or take other types of drugs. He has to choose not to hang around in places where those activities are the norm because he has to choose to be where he is supposed to be and not deviate from it. It’s his choice…always his choice.
I do not take responsibility for my son’s mistakes because I know that even as a single mother, I am doing all that I can possibly do to steer him in the right direction. That doesn’t mean that I do not worry. That doesn’t mean that I do not have fears.
My son has choices and his choosing of the wrong one is my greatest fear.
I teach my son that as he makes choices, I won’t always know. He’ll hide quite a few…much like I did from my own parents. Eventually, what is done in the dark comes to the light and I’ll find out…I always do.
My son is lucky that we live in a community that is the opposite of Ferguson and others like it. Our law enforcement agency goes above and beyond the call of duty to try to help…when they can. It’s not always that easy to do because choices often get in the way.
We are lucky that tomorrow brings a new set of challenges…a new set of choices.
He is lucky…so very lucky.
As much as I fear the finality of my son’s choices, my greatest hope is that he learns something from them.
For his sake…I hope that today, he did.
One more thing…football coaches deserve special wings in heaven because the work that they do for and with so many of our boys is often buried in conversations surrounding differences in pay or pedagogical practices. Many of our boys would not make it through day to day choices without the additional support and accountability that coaches provide. My son is lucky.