I was talking to an older black man today—not that much older, only about 6 or 7 years—when the topic of children came up. He let on that he had three daughters. He told me that one of them is 20 years old, the other one is in middle school, and he has a newborn. I said, “Damn dude, your kids are really spread out.” He then smiled and explained his philosophy:
“Yeah man its like this. At the point in their life when they start wanting to go out and liking boys and all that crap man, that’s when I be like its time to have another one. Its like I gotta be the number one man in at least one girl’s life.”
And then I laughed. I laughed really loud and genuine because I knew exactly what he was talking about. For my one and only daughter is about to start middle school in a matter of months and this frightens me.
I know that she’ll do well socially and she’ll definitely maintain a high academic standard, but what about my baby? What about the little girl who used to run into my arms when I picked her up from school and scream “Yayyyyyy” when I held up a bag of McDonald’s? She’s just too cool now and bound to get cooler. No holding hands when we cross the street, no kisses goodbye when I drop her off at school, she’s just way too chill and it hurts. It hurts because as her identity continues to transform my identity will be thrown into question. The reality is my whole idea of manhood is wrapped up in showing her that I love her but now that her adolescence has descended upon my world I must keep such things to myself.
I can’t replace my oldest child. I mean she knew me when I was still in college. As a matter of fact I carried her across the stage when I graduated. However I would only be lying if I told you I hadn’t thought about bringing another life into this world based on the sheer notion that I am rapidly loosing my baby girl to adulthood.
This is foolish talk. I’m not married and I still owe Navient (AKA the devils assistants) over $30,000 in student loans. This just isn’t the proper time to have another child. Not to mention I’m a man. Men don’t desire to have more children. We just want to have great sex and watch the game. We’re not supposed to want added responsibility.
I’m scared. Scared because that brotha’s comments resonated with me so thoroughly. And I’m scared because I have to start preparing my beloved daughter for how to deal with being the subject of boy’s lewd fantasies. And I’m scared because there will be dances, there will be dating, there will late night phone conversations, and there will be heartbreak. I don’t want to release my child into a world that will not see her as my baby but rather as just another black girl to be made to feel like somebodies hoe and to be constantly reminded not to have dreams beyond a stripper pole in a rap video.
I’m very apprehensive. I honestly wish that I could press my two forefingers against one another like Evie in that old sitcom “Out of this World” and freeze time. I just want more time to prepare her and nurture her and buy her happy meals and hold her hand and tie her shoes and carry her inside the house when she scrapes her knee outside and remix the hottest new rap song and put her name in it and watch her smile. And not smile all cool and patronizing like teenagers do but smile like she did when I would blow on her belly or tickle her underarms. That uncontrollable smile followed by laughter and screaming and absolute joy. But of course all of these things will remain in the past tense.
It took me a little while to accept my role as a father and now my role is changing. All I can do is sit back, be strong, and be there if she needs me. The baby girl is gone and the lady will soon arrive.