It’s hard to continue. I wish it was my kids bedtime. I wish the dishes were done. I wish the house was clean. I wish America wasn’t racist. I wish Mike Brown was in police custody. I wish Darren Wilson admitted guilt. I wish America admitted guilt.
I post on Facebook “How do you parent on a night like this?” People respond with advice about how to talk to kids about race. Well-meaning, but missing the point. I don’t mean what do you say. I mean how do you go on.
How do you go on.
How do you make lunch for tomorrow and sweep and handle bath time?
How do you parent with a permanently broken heart?
I text their mother. “Hi” I say. She responds. But I stop. She is white. I don’t actually want to talk to any white people right now. I love her though. She is an exceedingly kind, strong and loving person. And I make a note to tell her then next time I see her.
My son is being a dick.
He keeps messing with his sister. He keeps not following directions. He keeps jumping around the house like a…well like an 11 year old boy. My patience is wearing thin. I want to yell at him. Will you calm the fuck down?! Do you know what the fuck is happening out there?! But I don’t. Because he will know way sooner than I want.
Mike Brown kept messing with people.
Mike Brown kept jumping around.
Mike Brown kept not following directions.
But when I tell him to brush his teeth and he bullshits for another 10 minutes. I finally lose it.
“Hey!” I yell. The room grows intensely quiet. “Get your shit together.”
I can see behind his eyes as he calculates how to respond. Another joke? An angry backlash? He does neither. He looks hurt. He fixes me with a sad stare, milking it just a bit, and then mopes upstairs. When he is five steps away, I call him back. He makes a joke of not wanting to get closer to me. “Come here” I say. He moves an inch. “No HERE” He moves another. “HERE!” We do our little routine a few times more. We watch a lot of comedy together.
When he is close enough to touch, I reach out and hold him to me like I’ve maybe never held anyone to me in my entire life. I feel his warmth. The narrowness of his bones. The quick beat of his little heart. I bury my face awkwardly in the back of his neck. I choke back tears. I don’t want tears now.
“Dad. Are you alright?” He knows this is the next funny thing to say.
“I love you” is all I can manage.
From Carvell Wallace’s “How to parent on a night like this”.