He has been begging all day for me to let him ride his bike to the store, the neighborhood, anywhere. I keep telling him there are things that need to get done, putting him off. I can't understand my hesitation, at his age I was biking all over, why am I not able to be brave and let him do this simple thing. I finally call John. He's always good about helping me brave, knowing how to quiet my fears.
As I start to tell him tears come flooding out and I can hardly talk. I suddenly realize why it's so hard, why I can't let go. My son has no idea what can happen. He has been raised in an environment of safety, love, and respect. He doesn't know the injustice that can occur just because of the color of his skin. This isn't about a bike ride, it's about my inability to protect my children from the cruelties they will face in the world. How can I shelter him from this ugly truth? Is sheltering him good, but how do you prepare someone for the cruelty of humanity?
I want to warn him, prepare him, but how do I that without scaring him. I want him to be independent, to be strong, and to see the good in people. I don't want him to walk around being suspicious to people, I don't want him to live in fear. Where is the balance? Why does there need to be a balance? Why can't we live in love and respect? We are all more alike than different, so why do we focus on the differences when we should be building, helping and supporting one another.
John patiently listened through my tears and said it would be okay and to let him go. He assured me that everything would be fine.
We live in a great place, yes it's a predominately white suburban neighborhood, but kindness and acceptance has been our experience. I am also not so naive to think that they will always be accepted. I worry about the time they start to drive or act like stupid teenage boys. I worry about a million difference scenarios, but for today I will not lose faith in humanity. I can't. I can't live in fear. I can't because my son won't let me.
I sit on the couch in tears trying to explain to him the fears and concerns of my heart, he just smiles and says, "I'll be fine mom. There are cruel people in the world, but I'll be fine and I have hope that people will change. Don't worry mom, I'll be fine." He understands more than I have given him credit for. I know he has had similar thoughts and yet he is still willing to be hopeful and press forward.
As they ride away I decide that I will occasionally track their progress from the app on their phone. I know they call it spying, but for today I am okay with it. This mama is taking baby steps.