When your skin can kiss the sun
and your smile can crack the sky
and your walk is made to stun
every normal human eye
and your laugh can dim the moon
struggle-magic in your dance
and your voice can serve as tune
for both riot and romance
When you’re born as heaven’s sake
with God nesting in your hair
When you’re born too strong to break
When you’re born too cool to care
I ask you
what difference would it make
if we had some crystal stair?
my biggest fear in this here time
is that success will be a crime
by which my ego on a spree
will murder who I used to be
whenever God snuffs out a flame
and someone really special dies
my family plays an awful game
and makes up all these silly lies
the lights that flicker the phone that rings
a dream’s a visit in disguise
i never once believed these things
until last night when by surprise
i dreamt of you and felt your breath
and learned for sure there is no death
(My first time writing a parable. Bear with me.)
A man stands on a big rock in the midst of a river. The current is extremely aggressive, pushing large pieces of driftwood, large enough to carry him, downstream to the mouth of the river where the rapids relax, and the man can find comfort and safety.
Naturally, the plan is to wait for a big piece of driftwood, then jump on it and ride it downstream to refuge.
So the man prepares. He makes sure that his backpack is strapped firmly to his back, that way he doesn’t lose any of his food or water. He does his squats and lunges to make sure that when it’s time to jump, he won’t fall short. He stretches his arms to make sure that if he does happen to fall short, he can swim fast enough to catch the driftwood before it’s gone too far. He’s even said a prayer (can’t hurt.)
As he’s waiting on the edge of the rock, the water crashing all around him, he looks up and sees the most beautiful bird. He’d never seen anything like it, and as he stares he loses focus on the river and by the time he looks back at the water a big piece of driftwood has floated past him and is now too far to catch.
The man is disappointed. That was his shot! The man starts to stomp, and cry. He throws his arms around and curses the bird. He drops to his knees and bangs his hands on the rock.
“Why?” he cries. “What am I going to do now?”
And just then another piece of driftwood, bigger than the last, comes flying past.
But the man was on his knees crying. He was busy cursing the bird and stomping and throwing his arms around. He was not prepared this time to jump on the new piece of driftwood which would take him to his place of refuge. Had he just been patient and waited, focused, ready to jump…
I’m learning that the concept that opportunities come around once is usually false. I think that what happens is, once we miss one, or blow one, we allow that experience to rock us, and knock us off our square. WE change, not the amount of opportunities. If you mess one up, hold your form, and be ready to make another jump — a better jump — next time.
OKay, okay, before anyone hits me with the “you don’t know because you don’t have kids” rebut, let me be clear. In no way am I saying that I know what it’s like to have children. What I do know, is what it’s like to have parents. So this is what’s been deduced from watching my mother grow as a parent, in relationship to my siblings and I.
So here it is. (A rant indeed.)
I believe the thought process behind “I’m your mama, not your friend,” is a bit underdeveloped and misguided. I recognize that as a child is growing you need that child to respect you, but not just because you’re a parent, but also because that child has to learn respect in general. But there has to be some sort of balance between parenting, and actually allowing yourself to be a friend to your child. Parents are overseers. Managers. They instruct, and teach, and discipline, usually out of fear that there child will step out of line, and do something to terribly affect their lives before having a shot to live. This fear is normal, and it’s healthy, but parents really have to keep a handle on it or their child will grow up to fear life. This is when the parental friend has to step in. For balance. The parental friend understands that they were once young, that mistakes HAVE to be made, that their child’s life doesn’t belong to them. Once parents humble themselves, children begin to listen more, and a discourse, an honest one, commences. It’s in this discourse that a different kind of trust (from I trust you with my life, to I trust you with my emotions…way different) is formed and a true friendship blossoms. It has nothing to do with a parent “acting young,” just “remembering young.” It’s about empathy, and courage to let your child be an individual. Courage to let your child take a risk. Courage to let your child express themselves no matter how uncomfortable the conversation. Courage to let your child fail, and learn on his or her own, that way he or she can develop their own wisdom to bring back to the friendship table and compare. The parental friend is non-judgemental (or silently judgmental) and selfless enough to not always impose their insecurities onto the child in some perverse form of discipline masked as love (the fear always shines through.)
Like I said, this takes humility. The child has to be taught it, and the parent has to exercise it. Though there was drama in my house, my mother did this. She didn’t smother my thoughts with her ego, or stifle my dreams with her fear. My mom was terrified when I told her I was going to be a professional writer. But she worried in private, and rooted for me in my face. She let me say what I wanted to say as a kid, as long as it was respectful. I could voice my opinion, and it would be taken seriously. I could disagree with her, and we could debate without escalation (she never said, ‘because I’m your mother, that’s why!’) She respected me as a child, and still does as an adult, no matter what I do with my life. We can laugh together, cry together, share secrets. She takes my advice the same way I take hers. We can gamble together and drink together (not sure why I added this, but it’s true, and it’s awesome) and hang out arm in arm as homies for the rest of our lives.
I know every (good) parent has kids and says “I want them to contribute something to society,” and I’m with you 100%, but along with that, have you ever thought about how amazing it is to think that you may have possibly birthed your best friend(s)?
What an opportunity.
I wont pretend that I don’t bend
to fashion’s funny game
Like I don’t strut for perfect cut
and color cloth and name
Though black and poor my mother wore
The silks and linens too
My father known for custom sewn
and tassel on his shoe
But what they taught besides what’s bought
is all I’ve truly got
They’d say fabric tears with many wears
but baby you must not