In the early days there was a concerted effort made on my mother’s part to be not only a parent but a friend.
The thing is, as a child that young, I had nothing to compare our relationship to. So calling her my best friend is ignoring that she was my only friend. Calling her a friend was ignoring the fact that she was also my teacher, my English/baby garble translator, my cook, my diaper changer, my dietician, and my wardrobe consultant.
Everything I knew anything about I was going through her filter.
That is why I think it is so important that I take my time picking the woman that I will eventually settle down and have children with someday.
If she is going to be to my children what my mother was to me, I feel I have a responsibility to these unborn children of mine to make sure I do my best to make sure their mother isn't just some woman that can screw my brains out and meets my dick limits.
Many mornings I would go through a socialization period where my mother would set me straight on the rules of being a black man.
My mother would tell me things over a bowl of Cheerios like, “light-skinned black people usually end up marrying dark-skinned black people and vice versa. Since you are dark-skinned Nkrumah you will probably end up with a light-skinned woman.”
I tried my best to look interested.
I really did.
And I guess it was interesting enough for me to remember her doing this till this day, but I also remember it wasn’t as interesting as Ultra-man, Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot, the Marvel Super heroes Hour, my toy trucks, my big wheel, my action figures or my smiley face toy box, but hey, if you think making sure at two years old that I am compliant with societal expectations as to what type of woman I am supposed to be attracted to when the time comes for me to be thinking about those sort of things, then by all means knock yourself out.
I remember at the time I seemed like I was her only friend.
My father was always having friends over. No one ever came by to see my mother that I could remember.
Apparently before she dropped out of college to indoctrinate me, she had met my father while he was actually visiting another girl named Regina that lived in the same apartment my mother was living in at the time.
One day Regina was expecting her boyfriend over roughly around the same time that her ex-boyfriend, my father, had decided to stop by. To avoid any unnecessary machismo over flowing into hurt feelings she had asked my mother if she could take my father into another room and keep him pre-occupied while she kept her "man" entertained.
Well while my mother was playing decoy for REgina her and my father apparently hit it off. And well, since my father wasn't technically dating Regina anymore, she had a new boyfriend my mother got this swell idea that she would ask Regina if she minded if she went out with Gene and Regina said she didn’t care, but as soon as my parents got serious with each other Regina apparently reminded my mother of the unspoken rule that you don't date your friend's ex, got jealous and turned everyone in the sorority against my mother by claiming that she stole her man.
I believe my mother’s side of the story, not just because she is my mother but because I know her.
She avoids confrontation like she is stepping over duck shit on a sidewalk. There is no way my mom would have done anything to jeopardize having the entire sorority house turn against her unless she had thought she had been given the all clear.
Well my mother and I had a routine going.
She and I would eat breakfast. We would do Jack Lalanne workouts together. I would watch cartoons. She would wash up. I would eat lunch while she would again tell me all about how the girls in her sorority did her wrong and I should hate some woman named Regina that turned everyone against her.
I promised her that I would hate Regina as long as I lived.
I would then go take my nap, wake up, watch some more cartoons and then try to preoccupy myself until my dad came home and spanked me for whatever I did wrong that day.
At this time my mom was so into being “my friend” that she had decided that she would let my father do all of the discipline.
Apparently she didn’t think being a narc would have any ill-effects on our friendship, but somehow I would never find it in myself to forgive her if she ever gave me a good whap on the butt if she caught me misbehaving.
During these days if I was going to catch a spanking for something that I did or didn’t do it was going to come from Eugene when he came home.
My dad was the kind of guy that seemed to care more about how things looked than how things really were. It was all about appearance to him. Its not that my father ever spanked me when he didn’t think I deserved it, he just didn’t want to look like he was the only one dolling out the spankings.
The problem was that my father had no interest in being the villain.
Well, at least not the only villain.
I will never forget overhearing an argument between he and my mother after he tanned my butt one night after coming home from work. The argument between my parents was over this very issue of perceived brute-ship.
He was insisting that he had no interest in being the bad guy all the time.
The new rule from here on out was that if I do something wrong my mother needed to take care of it, right then and right there, not wait until he comes home and then have him deal with it.
He didn’t want to be that kind of father.
Protocol changed after that night because my dad insisted that my mom had to start taking care of business herself.
She couldn’t use my father as a crutch anymore.
But in my mother’s defense that was how things worked in her house when she was growing up. My grandfather JD, her father, he was the one that brought the hammer down. And I don’t think he particularly minded if he was seen as the bad guy.
In fact, he might’ve even liked it.
You didn’t mess with JD.
My father on the other hand, growing up without a father in the house, he wasn’t so eager to take on that kind of role.
I don't want to speak for him but I doubt that is what he envisioned as fatherhood.
I mean, he never backed away from his duty in that regard but his heart wasn’t in it.
And since he wasn’t into it he always tried to make his spankings ones that would hopefully leave an impression so he wouldn’t have to do it again.
So, at least from my perspective it seemed like he would put a little extra sauce on it.
The problem is that the things that I could potentially get in trouble for were too numerous to count.
My parents kept their house like there wasn’t a kid living in it.
Some people have kids and when you go into their house it looks like the kids took it over. There are toys all over the place, crayon writing on the walls, pieces to things that you don’t even know what they are a part of laying all over the place.
Not my parents' house.
All of my stuff was sectioned off to a particular area of the house and that’s just how it was.
I could pretty much do whatever I wanted with my own bedroom, everywhere else belonged to them.
You could come over to my parents' house and not even know they had a kid.
One thing my father benefited from that my mother never did as a direct result of my associating with him and spanking was that "evil eye" he had going on.
My father had patented a look that had so often preceded a spanking that it got to the point where he never had to lift a finger to get me to act right.
Just give me "the look" and that was all he needed to do. No further instruction.
It was lazy parenting.
He got it down so well it was practically telepathy.
One look from him and I would immediately cease doing whatever it was that I was doing take a seat and shut up.
99% of the time that would make it all better. Sitting down and shutting up would ease the tension in the room a lot faster and it would last a lot longer than doing what I wanted to do which was to sit there and wait for further instruction.
If you look at me like your crazy the temptation was to look at you like you're crazy back but showdowns with this big man living my house never ended in my favor.
For whatever reason, now that the discipline responsibilities were being split between them, the spankings all but went away completely.
I just got a whole lot more talking to than I ever did before.
Part Three Coming Soon