“The Rules Will Always Be Different For You”

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.

KC WiseK.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.

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8 responses to ““The Rules Will Always Be Different For You”

  1. LeVar Burton’s reading rainbow is attempting an online comeback. He’s most important for kids… his body of work starting with Roots…then in Star Trek and his work with children’s books and as a parent should be hailed. By young and old, rich and poor.

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  2. I agree with this on so many levels. I live in a more racially diverse area, but my son knows, what I say goes. He may debate for a short period of time, but he knows who’s boss.

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  3. I just wondered why these so called lululecrap didn’t help this person to stop the child before going into maybe a car will hit him? Why instead they’re judging how a Black Woman takes care of her own child? It’s not the mom’s fault that the son just decided to run away.

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    • Hi, Omay Farlane… They aren’t just judging black women. They are judging one another and all women and parenting styles. And they are most hard on themselves and so easily critical of others. Parenting is difficult no matter what advantages one has. Often the gentler style comes from desiring a change from what they were use to in their own childhoods. It’s not just mambie-pambie but rather breaking cycles and chains of abuse in families. And while it has lead to weaker parenting and emperor children in many cases… the thinking is we can talk to our children rather than bully them into action. I have vast experience as a nanny, preschool teacher, mentor… blah blah blah… and as someone who raises my loud bellow when necessary risking the judgment of the society at large, I understand the author’s feelings. That same week this article was written I had to yell for a four year old to return at once… I work in a neighborhood where racist, sexist, homophobic people are often disrespecting the children and their families’s my care. I do not tolerate discrimination. I am not afraid to be loud or firm. Not all white women, suburban women, or any other woman should be categorized so generally. Some of us humans care about kids for the right reasons and know how to teach them very well. And we all make mistakes and have to learn from them. There is no perfect parent. If the author is going to have her son attend this school, and at the same time she has a disdain for the people who she places her child with, it will be a hard, sad social road indeed.
      I hope it was ok to respond to you. I am not a black millennial, but Arielle has always been fair and kind in receiving my views. Thanks for the opportunity to express myself.

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      • Hi again, Omay… I just read a white math teachers blog that said when a white person says, “not all white people…” in defense we are denying the experience of the speaker and are therefore saying something racist. So If I am guilty of shutting down a dialogue because Im failing to recognize the experience of the author and other black parents, I am now aware of the language I’m using. It was pointed out white people don’t need to defend anyone or themselves in relationship to another person’s story and we shouldn’t ask for it to be clarified in order for it to be validated. I agree with all of this, but I also think being too careful in conversation shuts it down too.

        I’m going to leave the back millennial’s alone and stop presuming I am in anyway helpful. I don’t mean to just contact and put this on you, but I commented on your comment and wanted to follow up.

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