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.