a letter to a little King
In the 38 weeks and one day of waiting, I've wondered about you. I've dreamed of who you'll look like, if you'll have dimples like your sister and me. I've waddled around eating ice-cream and sipping tea, curious to know if you'll be laid-back and shy, dynamic and rambunctious, tender and kind. (All of them, I hope.)
Before we get to your adorable smile and the billions of kisses you'll get from me, I must apologize to you. Your sister got more belly pictures, more songs sung to her, more yoga. And with today being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I remember something I wrote in December of 2014. A post was shared that contained these words:
After the [Eric Garner] decision was announced, my husband, in his sadness and frustration, turned to me and said: “I’m so glad we’re not having a son.” Though taken aback, I understood.
These words - and the sentiments behind your father's words and my understanding - have haunted me. Because I never thought I'd have a son. I knew we wanted another child, one day. But I never thought God would knit you together in my womb so soon, that just months later a plastic stick would plant the possibility of a little boy on my heart and in my world. We thought we'd have two little girls running around, but in my deepest heart of hearts, I'd hoped you'd be a boy. And you are. And now I must - I want to - face the beautiful and imminent reality that yes.
We're having a son.
This fact means a few things:
- We're [more than likely] done with having children. My body thanks you. I'd like to run and kickbox and bend over frontwards again, and not take six minutes to put on socks. This is huge.
- Your dad gets a golfing buddy. Brooklyn will probably tag along, as she's a curious and adventurous kid, but I'm straight on golf. Have fun!
- Mimi can put away the rest of my clothes and toys and such that she was saving for 28 years. Brooklyn got the brunt of that. You're in the clear.
- You get to be your sister's date and/or chaperone to all dances, proms, homecomings, etc. This delights me. (Elliot Potter, we love you. But just in case...)
- Dad will get a wedding dance - and now, so will I! Let's do something funky.
This also means other things, too:
- Although you'll be raised a gentleman, we'll need to have a discussion about how to conduct yourself in a grocery store and other public places to reduce the chances of people thinking you're stealing. Or how to act if you get pulled over by the cops, to go above and beyond "acceptable" behavior just to prove you're not guilty.
- We'll probably have to explain to you why there are so few kids in our neighborhood and at school that look like you. This may not mean much to you in the moment, but later on, we may have to explain terms like "Oreo" and "token," (hopefully, not worse) and help you navigate why being one of a few - if not the only - can be both normal and make you feel like you're under a microscope.
- We'll need to explain that "free," doesn't always mean "equal."
- Your dad will need to teach you about how to dress in public, even if you're just going for a run.
- You will always be a beautiful, strong black boy. Hopefully not always in a racialized society. You're being born into one of the most tumultuous times in American history, and everyday life will not always be as easy or thoughtless for you as it will be for some of your friends.
All of these things are true. But so are so many other things. I'm excited to teach you how to play basketball and pray. Your dad can't wait to teach you how to grill and play the guitar. But as you grow older, I also hope you develop a sense of love-driven justice and resilience that cannot be shattered. As you learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (who my friends always said resembles your Papa), I hope you realize that as a black man like him, you're also a King in your own right. You can have dreams. You can speak transforming words. You can spark a movement with your life.
I hope you're more brave and intolerant than I am. I hope you love more radically than I do. I hope you read the words of Dr. King, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Maya Angelou and Jesus Christ and decide to rise - and not sit down - for something you feel deeply in your bones. If you do end up in jail, I hope you end up there because you were humbly inspired by these greats and their words. (For that reason, and that reason alone, I will bake for you and be so proud.) I hope you link arms with others who both look like, and nothing like, you and see God's image in each face. I hope you understand that His Kingdom is coming, and that THAT - not the 5:00pm or CNN or BBC - is the best news there is.
I'm so glad we're having a son.
You're not here yet. But I believe to my core that a little King like you could birth huge dreams that inspire, that challenge, that save the likes of me.