By: Kam Huds
When you look at me in contrast to my parents it’s interesting because you don’t always see a parent and child relationship. Why? Well the main reason would be how we talk to each other. Sitting down stairs in my living room I’ll have conversations with my mom about men, love, sex, and random other things depending on what’s on her mind.
“You know, marriage is a beautiful thing. Two people come together and are in love. But you know… love doesn’t last forever. The flame doesn’t burn endless. The fire dies if it’s not fed and kept up by both partners.” I remember my mom telling me that one time. “Well that shouldn’t be hard if they both love each other, right? Then they both should be willing to keep the fire strong.”
She laughs a little to herself. “You’d think that… But the thing about it is, when the flame gets weak, the relationship strains and sometimes one or both people will lose hope in the relationship. They lose the will to keep trying. Then gradually the relationship shrivels up. The flame dies… People can fall out of love.”
With my dad, we cover all the other things like sports, life, religion, racism, society, how people think. With my dad, I’ve shared some of the most interesting conversations ever. The information I get out of them is precious to me but the thing I love about it the most, the thing I love about talking to both my parents, is that most of the time we speak as equals. We’re not child and parent, we’re two intellectuals having a deep educated conversation.
I guess that after living with them for so long, living with this attitude, I’ve grown to think that all adults should be able to talk to me like this. I learned the hard way otherwise though.
My little sister’s godmother and I would be a good example. Large, loud, opinionated type. She’s very argumentive but more to me than many others. We’ve been in many situations where I’ve challenged her intelligence by saying something that she didn’t understand. Then she’d usually get upset and say something demeaning towards or at me. For a couple years now we’ve been in situations where I hear, or see something, comment on it, and then she challenges me as is me having an opinion is a capitol crime. One time I remember I was talking to my mom about what I would wear if I ever went to prom.
“, And we’ll get you a nice dress to wear for your prom” my mom ended her sentence. “I don’t even know if I want to go to prom. Oh, I saw this cool suit set the last time we were at the mall. It’s black with a mint green vest and tie. If I ever decide to go to prom, that’s what I want to wear. “ My sister’s god mother looks at me and with out fail has something critical to say at me. “Now you know you need to stop being stupid. Wearing a suit to prom. What, do you think you’re a dike now?”
On the inside I’d have a variety of choice words I wanted to reply back with but because I knew she would just argue with me I chose not to respond. Into the silence she comments again to herself yet directed at me. “Always saying something stupid. You don’t need to be talking if all you gonna say dumb stuff.” Angry, offended, and ridiculed are the words I could associate with how I felt at that moment.
When we got home my mom said, “Every time we go over there you say something to upset her. Why don’t you just stop talking when we’re there…” My mother found it kind of humorous that this woman always had something to say to me when I dared to speak. “I have the right to my opinion. If she doesn’t like it, it’s her own fault.” I said back. “Yeah… but is it worth starting an argument over every time we go over there?” Without replying I went upstairs to ask my dad to explain to me why me talking and sharing what I thought was such and issues to my sister’s god mother.
Basically he told me that it’s a matter of dominance and respect. When me and my mother talk on the same level in her eyes, it shows that I don’t respect my mother and that my mother isn’t in control. That reminded me of another time where me and my mother were talking in her house and she interjecting. I was trying to pursued my mom to let me go to best friend Jennifer’s house and we were in the process of bargaining because that’s how me and my mother work. If I want to do something and she wants otherwise we find a compromise.
“Why you bargaining with that child? Are you the mother? Look, she said she don’t want you to go so you can’t go. End of story. You need to stop playing game with her Rosemary. And you don’t need to go see that girl anyway. You always want to go over her house, what are you two? Lesbians?” my sister’s godmother barks at us. I noticed that as a pattern she liked to attack my intelligence and gender.
Remembering that scene rose a follow up question for my dad. “So is it like a lack of maturity or is she like too narrow minded?” my dad laughed a little. “It’s a bit of both.”
That struck a chord with me, this realization that adults can be very immature and narrow minded. They get set in their ways and then are too stubborn to talk change upon. I could never have a real conversation with adults like that because everything I would say would be wrong. As James Baldwin would say, “Language, incontestably, reveals the speaker.” In relation to all this, this quote means that if adults like my sister’s god mother took the time to actually listen and process my words, my language, they would see that I’m an intellectual. They would see that my voice was just as defined and meaningful as theirs. They would see that my voice was capable of speaking on equal planes.