He was seven years old, riding in the backseat of his fathers black Bronco. I drove up alongside him happy that I’d come across them at the light. My nephew pointed a toy gun at me that looked more real than fake and ducked back down below the window. When he noticed me his eyes lit up as he turned to his dad. “It’s Auntie NeeNee!” pointing towards my car with a smile.
My brother rolled down his window and smiled at me with a nod. “What’s up baby girl? Where you going?” My only words were,”Take that gun from him! It looks too real! Take it from him!”
This would not be the last time my brother reminded me that his children were his and he knew what was best for them. Their mom had left years before and the five children were placed in his care. He swore that they’d never become wards of the State. They’d been taken before, now all five of them were home.
My brother is a stubborn man and felt his son was okay despite constant calls home from the school. My nephew had a mean arm on the football field and recruiters frequented his games on a regular basis. He was his dad’s namesake and I hoped he would not follow the same paths of other juveniles and short-tempered like my brother. The older he became, he turned to friends in the street to find more of what he missed at home. Rebellion was an understatement and sports seemed to be the only thing that helped him forget about feeling alone. Let’s just say a full house doesn’t make a home.
Age 14 was my nephew’s first juvenile offense and the time served was filled with lessons from older boys who’d used real guns to survive in the game. The game a lot of boys play with their lives when life is traumatic.
Now a ward of the State, the debt he owed his peers was not reciprocated when he took a 10-30 year prison sentence at age 16 for not snitching. He, that same little boy who played with toy guns had learned to use semi-automatics that his father kept in the open.
He served ten of his twenty years, only to come home a grown man mature in knowledge but lacking resources and family support. He now regrets it all. He regrets his past and wishes someone would just look at him and see why he chose that path. The path deemed for doom and jail cells and headstones and judgement that forget to consider that lil black boys experience trauma too big for their dreams sometimes.
I am reminded of the lyrics,
“Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometime I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way from home
A long way from home”
You see the State had also fostered his father and his father’s mother and his great grandmother was found homeless as a teen.
The fourth generation known of to be motherless he only wants to be accepted with love.
His father taught him street knowledge just in case daddy never came home, but he never really hugged him long enough or frequently enough. Today, he just wants some comfort.
A little comfort and peace of mind would be fine and chance to do better this time. He’s hoping to heal from the trauma really soon and find his place in life.