Thursday, May 24, 2007

Of Parents and Children

Of Parents and Children

by Marvin X

A few days ago my estranged oldest child, Marvin, emailed me to let me know my seven year old granddaughter, Jazmin, would be performing in a track meet at San Francisco's Kezar Stadium. I was happy but shocked to hear from my son because we seem to have a personality conflict. And as sons are known to do, he appears to identify with his mother more than with me, although my second son, Darrel or Abdul, now deceased, was indeed my best friend--even though some parents are against children being their friend, and yes, there were times when Abdul crossed the line and became too friendly, forgetting he was the son and I was the father, but we were tight and did some things that bonded us in a way I cannot imagine doing with my son Marvin. This may simply be due to personality differences. Abdul was just a regular kind of guy, but Marvin is more private, even secretive, so things I could discuss with Abdul I know I will never discuss with Marvin.

Anyway, when I got his email about Jazmin, I made plans to be at the track meet. I missed the first day of the two day event because I attended the Malcolm X Jazz Festival in Oakland on last Saturday. On Sunday I called my daughter to find out what time Jazmin was running. She didn't know what time but the meet started at 8AM and was over at 12 noon. Since it was 9AM when I checked with my daughter, I jumped in the shower and headed to San Francisco, even though I didn't know what time she was running, but something told me not to worry because I was going to see her run, and sure enough after parking the car and entering the gate, there she was coming out the blocks for the 200. She led the entire time, with no one close to her at the finish line. It was her third medal, she had won the 100 and the long jump, and is among the top five in her age group in the state. I was amazed to see her give the black power salute as she received her third medal of the meet. Since the event was in
honor of Tommy Smith, I assumed she had seen that famous photo of Tommy and John Carlos at the Mexico City Olympics. I informed her mother (my son was not able to attend on Sunday) that I played basketball against Tommy Smith in high school down in Fresno. Her mother wanted to know if I was going to write about this event, since she said she read my latest books in the bathroom, and the subject of my family had certain shock value in the bathroom. I assured her I was going to write something, so....

While selling my books in front of DeLauer's bookstore in downtown Oakland, (my books are inside but hidden behind a cigarette ad), I took a lunch break at a sandwich shop. As I was eating, a woman came in talking on the cell phone, having a conversation with her son.

"Boy, you don't know who your mother is. I am not going to stand for this foolishness out of you. You better do the right thing cause I don't have no time to play with you and your dumb mess. I'm on my way to work right now to take care of you and here you are messing up in school. I'm not going to stand for it. Do you understand boy--do you hear me--you better listen to me cause I am not playing. Get yourself together and I mean quick--do you understand?"

A few hours later I was out at a shopping center near Richmond. As I got out of the car, a man was on the phone talking with his son.
"Boy, you don't know who your father is. I am not going to stand for this foolishness out of you. You better do the right thing cause I don't have no time to play with you and your dumb mess. I am very angry with you and I want you to know that. Do you understand me, boy. Man, you got to shape up cause I'm not playing with you, boy. I will slam dunk yo ass. Do you hear me. I ain't got no time for your mess, man. You better get it together and quick. Do you understand me? Stop messin up at school and do what those people tell you."

And so it is between parents and children, one day in the life.

1 comment:

Fahizah said...

I'm sorry that you and Marvin have a caustic relationship. He clearly, is still wounded from his childhood.

Certainly, I am keenly aware of other parent/child relationships that are not filled with love forgiveness and tolerance. I'm no Pollyanna .
My antidote to such bitterness is mutual respect and selfless love. It works for me and my chidren and my father. They voice their grievances against me and I cringe and hurt and th en ask for their understanding, forgiveness. sometimes I tell them to shut the fuck up. I did the very best I could with what I was working with. My Dad asks the same of me.

My children beg me frequently to stop telling their business. I try to comply as much as possible.
They have a right to their lives and their secrets.

I suppose, Muhajir, that as a writer, you feel that you can say or do anything that you like and people have to accept it, if they accept you and your mission. That is selfish and too individualistic for one who wishes to have close and loving family ties.
The consequence of such a position is that you force them to reject you.
If you are willing to pay such a price....then keep on doing what you are doing. If not, I suggest that you try to change your ways.
Marvin loves you. I can see that.

-----Original Message-----
From: Marvin X []
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 5:06 PM
To: Fahizah Alim
Subject: RE: Of Parents and Children

Subject: RE: Of Parents and Children
Date: Thu, 26 May 2005 12:12:32 -0700
From: "Marvin K. Jackmon" Well...there in lies our lifelong problem. You, again, were too busy at the Malcom X Jazz festival to come see me on Saturday!!! ...and that is how the story has been for 42 years..... and please refrain from any future mentioning of my relationship with my mother!!!! The word is "Dad", not "father". There is a big difference in meaning.

Also, I'm not interested in being in your short/long essays to the public.... I guess I need to train my family to say, "off the record".

Marvin Jackmon
Genesis Church
Chief Operating Officer
(916) 422-8772 ext.

Fahizah Alim wrote:
Love your children. They love you.
-----Original Message-----
From: Marvin X []
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 4:52 PM
To: Fahizah Alim
Subject: RE: Of Parents and Children

There is no end to the end of ignorance, of parents of children. People, including children, do things for selfish, dirty, evil reasons.

Fahizah Alim wrote: Muhajir.

I am so glad that Marvin invited you to Jazmin's track meet. His overture is as much of a victory as was Jazmin's winning run. Even more so.
He still wants to include you in his life. I hope that you can learn to respect his choices for he is an adult and has every right to make them and live as he sees fit.
What you and Abdul had was extreme and edgy. Erratic and unconventional. Marvin is not that kind of guy and doesn't need to be. He is also your son. But more importantly, he is his own Man. Deal with it. All of us parents have to. Tahirah is a church-going Baptist. And she has a lot more order, discipline and peace in her life than I had in mine at her age.. So I accept her right to live her life as she sees fit as long as it doesn't infringe upon my rights to do the same.

I was also relieved ( were you reading my mind?) to see the subject field "Of Parents and Children" when I signed onto my computer this morning because I am caught up in the throes of parenting children who are becoming adults. And it is so challenging. Especially, teenage boys and no father in the house.

Rashad has just returned from his first year at Morehouse where he has had freedom and plenty of trim, so he wants freedom as an adult, while not having yet learned how to be responsible as an adult. We are doing a volatile dance over here and sometimes I want to end the party and throw every fucking body out!!
But I'm Mother, and I will adjust to keep my children close to me .
I don't know what is more difficult, the young person's transition from child to adult, or the parents acceptance of when and how to accept that transition.