Monday, July 27, 2015
Gratitude Is The Soft, Deep, Rhythmic Breath Of A Child
She visits with us at bed time, on big, heavy thought days, I lay down with my twelve year old son to narrate his journey to his special inner safety place. Every child navigating a body of shifting of hormones experiences some amount of anxiety and trepidation. This is a territory between two vastly different realms, no longer a child and not quite a teenager this person is balancing who they are becoming while knowing who they were and where they fit in the world.
Add being Black & twelve & American & conscious to life as a Tween and there are times when a parent needs to expend extra effort to make sure your child stays conscious - literally and figuratively - and has the tools necessary not to accept, succumb and self censure.
Imagine being a young boy about the same age as Tamir Rice. You ask your mother what she is typing about so furiously on her keyboard.
"Police in Cleveland," she says.
"The usual thing?" You say.
"Yes," she says.
"Oh. Where were they?" You say.
"Playing in the park." she says.
"Playing in the park?" You ask. Because you are confused. Why would the police kill someone playing in the park? and she tells you about a little boy about your age...
Not giving in to the perpetual state of terror our state sanctioned agents relentlessly practice against us everyday is revolutionary. It calls for efforts mythic proportions. To be a carefree, happy, Black boy is a daily action of bravery, creative resourcefulness and dedication. To be young, Black, self-loving, optimistic and centered takes a kind of heroic level of personal mind control. It takes a parent who is willing to take time.
Imagine being a young boy about the same age as Let's Call Her Angie. It's time to go out, but, your mother is typing about so furiously on her keyboard.
"Oh. Right. We gotta go!" She says.
"What were you doing?" You say.
"Police in New York," she says.
"The usual thing?" You say.
"Stop & Frisk" she says.
"Who was it? Did they live?" You say.
"Yes." she says. "An 11 year old girl."
"Oh. But, phew!" You say.
"Okay, let's go," she says.
"I'm not feeling up to it today," you say.
"We can not let them turn us into prisoners in our home. Mama's got this," She says.
"Okay," you say. But, it's not okay. You don't want to go out. You spend the entire time in the car noticing and informing your mother of every police car.
"I've got this. I'm obeying all the laws," she says.
"Sometimes, that doesn't matter," you say. "But...
"Not on my watch," you both say together and laugh.
You're not sure you believe her.
When the extra heavy, hard reality of being young and Black days happen, I need to lay down with him at bed time. I need to train him to remember that he has the power to shift his reality to his own liking. That he can find within himThe places he can use in his waking times to stay centered. These places often have a magical forest, a beach, a dryad, or mermaids. I invite him to sit in these quiet places in his imagination. I invite him to relax. Listen to the waterfall splashing or the waves swooshing. See the colors of the sky. Bounce in the clouds as if they are a trampoline.self magical places which are safe and wonderful.
One days, like the day 14 year old, Dajerria Becton experienced "the usual things police officers do." On extra weighty thought days, the mermaids are usually busy elsewhere. You've got to be careful about mermaids when the world puts strange ideas in your head. & sleepy makes those ideas more creepy than they actually are.
Those days are when we need Zenobia. She comes and bats at his dreadlocks, romps & purrs when she settles quietly in his lap as he sits in his quiet inner soul place.
As he relaxes, right before his breathing slows down, sometimes, I use my fingertips along his back as if Zenobia is mincing about seeking a good place to sleep also. He smiles. Maybe chuckles and then the weight of my hand slows his breath. The Coltrane Station on Pandora always seems to know what song to play to take him into good dreams.
When I slip quietly out of his bed I am so grateful To have a son. To have a boy-becoming-man who still likes to hear his Mama's voice; feel his Mama's arms; and imagine invisible rainbow butterfly unicorn kittens keep watch over him in the night.
I leave the dark, warm room of steady rhythmic breath, the stark kitchen light startles me. It is late. I remember #TamirRice wasn't put to bed for six months. Nobody lay him down to sleep because he wasnot a boy when racism turned him into evidence that something is very broken.