Spare the Rod…At Least In Public?


I can recall several times when seemingly poor parenting skills caused an irate mother to openly and loudly scold her child in a public place. There was the blonde, middle-aged woman in Wal-Mart in Texas who was accosted by store security after her episode. Then there was the young, African-American mother in Maryland in the shoe store whose language made me, a grown woman, blush. Oh and I dare not forget the mother of three little girls who caused a riot in my favorite North Carolina Target store when an onlooker reprimanded her for her exaggerated instruction.

Seemingly poor parenting.

I cannot recall ever having such episodes. I remember chastising my God-son for stealing a band-aid around age four or for speaking disrespectfully to me around age six but even that was discreet and contained. I cannot recall a time when I jumped outside of my introverted self to discipline my sons in an extroverted manner and chance public scrutiny.

That is until yesterday when I became a victim of seemingly poor parenting.

My sons and I, along with my mother, were enjoying one of our favorite pastimes and strolling through the flea market aisles. I was gawking over Nehi peach sodas (which are not on my current diet but reminded me of my childhood days in Tuskegee, Alabama) as my mother reminisced over the “penny candy” section (which coincidentally no longer cost a penny). My sons were joking and laughing as tweens do when I noticed the younger holding what appeared to be a bag of candy under his shirt.

In a speed that would shame light, my arm reached across the row of peanut butter bars and chick o sticks and pulled him into me by the collar of his shirt as he held up his hands in defense and to show me that no crime had been committed. Fear held my voice hostage as I thought of young black boys shot and killed out of mere suspicion. Fear paralyzed my legs as I remembered young black boys murdered for walking down streets and whistling…or not. Fear held my hands hostage as I remembered young black boys whose hands were bound by silver bracelets and whose minds remain in iron shackles.

I choked the life out of his threads as my voice escaped and fear unleashed itself.

I became a seemingly poor parent, yelling at my child in front of strangers. Strangers who would have thought I was a poor parent if I had yelled or if he had stolen. Strangers who would have whispered about my lack of ability to control my children or control myself. Either way, I am a seemingly poor parent. Stares scorched my back as my mother and first-born stood by watching and fearing; my mother for my truth, my son for his brother.

When my voice escaped, unrecognizable and shaking, I reminded my son about Trayvon Martin, Emmit Till and Brian Banks and how close he is to becoming a statistic, a case, a victim, a point of reference every time he seemingly does something wrong.

Seemingly poor parenting became a fight for survival and I care not what anyone else thought in that moment, only that my son understood the severity of his actions and the sincerity in mine.

Tonight I’ll pray an extra long prayer for the mothers and fathers fighting to save their sons even through seemingly poor parenting and I’ll reward myself with a few extra mary janes because I refuse to let myself or my sons become a statistic, a case, a victim or a point of reference no matter how hard I have to fight or how crazy I appear to be. I am not a seemingly good mother…

I am.

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Spare the Rod…At Least In Public?

  1. Hey Sissy!
    Rearing children is the hardest yet most rewarding job there is. And when you’re using Eph. 6:4 as a guide it’s even more challenging. But you are doing a fantastic job with your sons. Keep it up.
    I’m sure I would have done the same thing you did…ok maybe I wouldn’t have been as calm but that’s a different article. lol! Since the day they were born I’ve always tried to steer them in the right direction. Although they are older I share the same fears you spoke of in your article. And now that they are driving the fear of driving while black is ever present in my mind whenever they are driving especially on the commute between home and college.
    I pray for all of our sons on a regular basis.
    Phyllis

    • Thank you for keeping my sons in your prayers and being such a strong example of motherhood done right in my early years as a mom. I guess now wouldn’t be the time to tell you I tried to convince your youngest to take a road trip to NC for summer break…I miss those young men! Thanks for reading.

  2. Its a “rite of passage” to steal, leave dem angels alone! Of course you are an excellent mother and be prepared to have this episode a few more times!

  3. Well, we as quality parents know when to deal with these issues such as spare the rod. Be firm and talk and share life with your kids.Continue to love your kids.

  4. This was GREAT and I don’t blame you! The fact that you had the fear of him becoming a statistic made you an excellent parent ,because some people don’t care what happens to their kids.

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