We’re one week away from the end of school, and I’ve given my toddler his first “talk.”
Two little boys ran out of my son’s very lovely, pretty exclusive, so very White preschool toward a very busy street in my suburb on Tuesday: One of those little boys was my bi-racial son. The other? One of the 5 blondes in my son’s all-White class. The situation was intense, with me screaming my son’s full name (all four names), taking off my shoes and sprinting to catch him before he could make it into the busy street. A couple, walking their dog on the other side of the street, had chosen to stop and gawk and (I assume) stop the boys (or traffic?) just in case they didn’t ‘round the corner to follow the sidewalk. The other little boy’s mother, dressed in her Lululemon finest, decided to power walk instead because “he’s going to turn the corner!”
I knew that my son was going to turn the corner. That wasn’t not why I was pissed.
Because that couple on the other side of the street? They needed to stand there for a moment, yelling at me, while I crouched down to discipline my toddler right there on the sidewalk. I couldn’t hear the words but I understood the tone. I’m pretty sure that they couldn’t tell if I was a babysitter who couldn’t control the kids under her charge or just a mother who didn’t know what she was doing. When the other mom walked up with her own sprinting son in hand (no discipline done on her part), she crouches down next to me and says, “I don’t understand… what did he do?”
We’re one week away from the end of my son’s first year of school, and I’ve given him his first “talk.”
“I don’t care what your friends are doing! I don’t care. When I tell you to do something, you do it. When I tell you to stop running, that’s what you do! Do you understand? The rules are different for you, [Ursa Major], the rules will always be different for you!”
When you are raising two little boys in the all-white suburbs northwest of Boston, home trainin’ takes on a whole new meaning: The culture and values that I teach my boys at home cannot be flexible because that when they leave my threshold, the rules may look the same but they absolutely are not.
So I had to give my eldest son his first “talk” after school this week, because he’s watched his friends follow a different set of rules. I’ve been fighting against that easy-breezy suburban parenting culture for an entire school year, and it has resulted in my kid bolting to the street rather than slowing down and following directions. Yes, it was dangerous and I admonished him for that. Yes, he could have been hurt, and I informed him of that. The biggest violation, though, was that he was out of control in public for a length of time, and I know that, at some point, the forgiveness for toddlers will melt away and the attachments of bias, fear, and bullshit will be put on him instead. I won’t let my sons ever think that they live by the same set of rules as their rich white peers, as such belief could be downright dangerous to their person.
How do Black moms raise bi-racial (Black/White) boys in the suburbs? Well, I’ve setting up some golden rules. Rule number one: When I give a command, you follow it.
K.C. Wise is a married Millennial Mom raising two bi-racial (B/W) boys in suburban Massachusetts. You can find out her thoughts about mothering, homemaking, writing, renovating a 100 year-old farmhouse and other musings at her blog: blackbunchedmassmom.wordpress.com.