In this country, anyone wanting to operate a car, truck or motorcycle must pass a test and be licensed. If you don’t have a license, you are not legally allowed to drive. You may spend years in schools obtaining a medical or legal degree, but if you don’t pass the tests for the bar or for the medical specialty of your choice, you cannot call yourself a doctor or a lawyer and if you are caught trying to deceive people into believing you ARE a doctor or a lawyer, you will go directly to jail neither passing GO nor collecting $200.
BUT, any one man and one woman can pair up and, as long as they possess the correct anatomical and God-supplied equipment, make a baby and bring that baby into the world. In doing so, they often deceive people into believing they are, in fact, PARENTS. They are not. They are a sperm donor and a very sophisticated incubator. Making and / or birthing a baby doesn’t make you a parent any more than putting on a lab coat or a powdered wig (in England at least) makes you a doctor or a lawyer.
Therein lies the source of a huge amount of the problems facing the country today. Too many people are running around PRETENDING to be parents when all they are really doing is playing a cruel version of “house” just like kindergartners.
If you want to know whether or not I am talking to you or if you should be giving me multiple loud “amen, preach it, my brother” outbursts is simple for me to ascertain with ONE question. Have you ever worried that you were not being a good parent or actually thought you were being a poor parent? If you have dwelt at any length on those statements, you are NOT a bad parent or — at the very least — you are trying. Just the fact that you CARE if you are a good parent or not says volumes.
Two of my favorite former students married, in due time, produced a gorgeous little tow-headed, blue-eyed girl just as pretty as her mama and as much of a smartass as her daddy. Her daddy has gone from being a favorite student to being a dear friend and he has said to me on more than one occasion, usually with tears in his voice, “Coach, I just don’t know if I’m being a good daddy to Lisa.” I tell him every time what I just told y’all, “Mike, the fact that you CARE whether or not you are a good daddy means you are trying really hard to be a good daddy and that is all any man can do.”
Entirely too many incubators and sperm donors today seem –by their actions at least — to view their offspring as accessories like a watch or a chihuahua, or maybe the next logical step in some middle class fantasy plan. Others actually see their children as INCOME producers and keep having them until the government says they won’t pay for any more. Worst of all, however, are those poor fools who see their children as “friends” and not “children.”
Here is a story I have told often and it still flabbergasts me more than ten years later. It illustrates the perils of poor parenting.
My second year as a teacher, I was in on a meeting with a 16-year-old tee-tiny white girl, her mama, the AP, the guidance counselor, and a few other assorted teachers. We were trying to explain to mama that baby-doll wasn’t doing so hot in the academic realm. When it came time for the mama to respond, she didn’t get three sentences out before her daughter spun around and unleashed a torrent at her that turned the air of the conference room a Smurfy shade of blue. This 16-year-old slip of a girl called her mama every name in the book and actually worked herself into such a rage that she had to be restrained and taken from the room.
Mama’s reaction? She put her head in her hands and started moaning about, “I just don’t know what to do with her. I’ve tried so hard to be her friend and get her to like me.”
Even then I was not known for having either volumes of tact or great reserves of self-control so while everyone else in the room (the older, more experienced ones) sat staring at the table, I got up and sat next to the poor woman. I put my hand on her shoulder and she looked up at me with red-rimmed eyes and I told her, “Ma’am, my mama is my best friend in this world. I love her like I love no other. She is 5’2 and weighs 110 pounds in a full winter suit of clothes, heavy boots, and soaked in a swimming pool. She has bad lungs from smoking for years and working in cotton mills. She is a bit past her physical prime. I am 5’10, 250 pounds (I was then anyway) have wrestled, coached wrestling, and fought in full contact karate tournaments. I’m in the prime of my life, but if I — TODAY — let alone when I was 16, said HALF of the words your daughter just said to you to MY MAMA, I know EXACTLY what she would do. She would walk over, pick up that nice heavy metal stool and proceed to disfigure the metal of the stool seat with the bone of my head. Once she had beat me unconscious, she would call Bull Street in Columbia and tell them to come get her son because he had OBVIOUSLY lost his mind. Ma’am, your daughter doesn’t need another FRIEND. She needs a MAMA.”
Well, she got all pissed off and I got another letter in my file, but I stand by what I said to this day. My mama has said many things to and about me and we’ve had our disagreements over the years but at NO TIME has my mama EVER uttered the phrases “I can’t do anything with him” or “I just want him to like me.” Mama never gave one tiny tinker’s damn if I LIKED her or if she was my FRIEND or not, but let me assure you she ALWAYS knew SOMETHING to do with me and it was the thoughts of what she COULD do that kept me on the straight and narrow most of the time.
Remember this — You are a PARENT. You RAISE the child. Teachers, pastors, day care centers, and TV stars don’t RAISE your kids. It’s not their job; it’s YOUR job and if you didn’t want it, you should have given little Johnny or Jill or LaKwisha or Jaquan up for adoption to one of the thousands of infertile couples like me and Budge who would love to have a child to raise but can’t. EVEN BETTER, if you didn’t WANT the responsibility of being a parent because it might CRAMP your style, you should have stayed off your back or out of that hotel room or out of the back seat of that car. As I have told more than one young person over the years when they were facing choices about sex, drugs, or rock ‘n roll, “If you don’t want to go to Atlanta, don’t get on I-85 South!” Stay on that interstate long enough and eventually you WILL end up in Fulton County, Georgia. Guaranteed.
Hope I didn’t terribly offend anyone, but I’ve just seen some stuff this weekend that has made me question how our species has made it this far! Unfortunately, the ones who need to read this the most will never see it! ***sigh***
Love y’all anyway and keep those feet clean!