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Archive for the ‘raising sons’ Category

Before my son was born, I did not cry much. For instance, I was able to successfully navigate the untimely demise of both Rickey and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas without so much as shedding a tear.

This was partly because I was raised by single mother, so my uncles, afraid I might turn out to be a ‘momma’s boy,’ drilled into me their understanding of the emotional life of a Black man. That is, I was to be quiet, strong and angry about the inequality of Black life. This anger, however, could be channeled constructively with sports or drowned with alcohol, but it was to be never, ever be expressed with tears.

Therefore, for the first 25 years of my life, I seldom cried. When I graduated from undergrad and grad school, I barely smiled. When Bambi’s mom caught an L, I didn’t feel a thing. I even made through Will asking uncle Phil, “How come he don’t want me” without feeling much.

I was, for all intents and purposes, the opposite of a sensitive thug—then something strange happened. On April 17, 2008, my son was born…and the floodgates opened. Now, I rarely get through a day without something messing with my allergies.

From “I never cried until my son was born (because patriarchy), but now I cry at every damn thing” by Lawrence Ware at Very Smart Brothas.

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Mummy, when I’m older I might dig you a little pond – Cormac (aged 7yrs).

(For some reason this really charmed me.. the idea of my own little fish pond, and my son building me things with his strength).

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Quick hi from me to say I will be reading an extract from my article in defence of sexting, that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, on ABC’s Radio National on Monday Wednesday morning.

Hear my voice, trying to speak slower.

UPDATE: Here it is – me on Radio National defending sexting. 

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The sext needs defending. I believe this, as a mother, as they say for bonus authority in op-eds. I say it as someone practicing monogamy in the suburbs, with kids and bills and jobs and housework; as someone who will be talking later today to her partner about fixing the dishwasher, about whose turn it is to pay for the groceries.

If there is something in the domestic environment that, between you, makes your heart skip, your breath pull tight? Seize it.

From here. 

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Many of the fathers I spoke to admit that showing vulnerability to other men can be difficult. Daniel, the divorced dad in Brooklyn, recalls that, growing up, mealtimes with his brothers were a kind of “blood sport”. Even now, he observes an “impulse to snuff out every manifestation of weakness as it’s being expressed”. So it makes some sense that many men set their sights on having a son. Raising a boy affords fathers a chance to be both strong and sensitive, to be powerful yet tender. With a son, a father may believe he has been delivered an adoring male ally in an atmosphere – the home – that often feels like the domain of women.

This profound sense of kinship comes with a similarly profound sense of responsibility. Many of the men I spoke to said they understood it was their job to guide their boys through the choppy waters of adolescence. “It’s just a responsibility assumed,” says Tom, a father in his late 50s with one teenage boy. “Sometimes my wife will say, ‘Hey look, I would like you to talk to our son about such and such’, but really it’s not something we even need to talk about.” Louise, the mother with a teenage boy in London, agrees that “the father’s influence with a boy is absolutely key.” She adds that male friends with sons have confided to her that they are more apprehensive about abandoning their families. “They worry more about the guilt and the damage they may cause.”

This entire article, “It’s a boy thing” by Emily Bobrow in The Economist’s 1843 is fascinating and.. disturbing. The preference for sons by fathers has been analysed from multiple perspectives but I find the one above some of the more interesting for me. Parenting taps into something profound about sense of self. It does not surprise me that men, as fathers, might feel a particularly strong attachment to sons given the opportunity it presents for them to be safely close to another male and to also repair some of their own childhoods as emotionally isolated little boys by recreating them and re-imagining them.

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Jarryd Stoneman’s clip of him and his grandmother is one of the most tender things I’ve ever seen on the Internet.

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On Gentleness

Tell me I once came close, that your body wasn’t
an obelisk, and mine, so much wire wound
around wire. I will always wonder

if I can take you, know you will always be stronger,
and marvel at how you appear even larger
than before with my niece cupped

in your tattooed arms. I know something simple
provokes you to call: a comic book
we’ve both read, a good time

to visit, but my thumb hovers over ‘decline’
and I hold my breath before I press
against the waiting ‘answer’.

••

Before I left for Florida—a week after I tore
the collar of my shirt, twisting out
of your grip, a week after

I disappeared with our shared car, the Venture
minivan we nicknamed Vendetta,
and brought it back to you

empty and smashed—you stopped me to tell me
to never come back. You meant it. I said
I wouldn’t. I meant flinching

is something I’d only do in oncoming light, never
the overcoat of a shadow; being the size of
a threat did strange things to my tongue.

••

Tell me about the night I hurled a phone receiver
at your head and the orb of blood on your lip
that seemed like it’d never fall, how you

bound me by a wrist, bruised my ribs against the floor,
and never threw a single punch. Wasn’t that
a kind of gentleness, Jabari?

by JAMAAL MAY

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