As a mother, for me the tragedy that permeates our lives these days centers on one son.
I have three children. All three are amazing in my eyes, and yet in order for me to communicate with each one, I engage each as an individual. I communicate the same messages about my expectations for them in the ways their personalities understand.
My younger son is the most intuitive and kind of the three. Until recently, he and I had not spent much time talking about what he wants to talk about. My eyes and ears are astounded at what an amazing and interesting young man he is and how he thinks about life.
I see his 14-year-old frame growing taller every day, as the child I once held now looks down at me. He is the son who will be the most intimidating to other folk, because his body is growing faster than his mind.
He is a soccer player and a football player and an athlete, and yet he is also very shy. The combination of magnificent athletic skills and a frontal lobe that is not at all developed scares me, because he might scare someone else.
I have always told my boys and their friends that they must excel in life. They must look at an adult in the eyes, they must shake with a firm handshake and they must talk and enunciate their words to be heard and understood. I tell them to pull up their pants, be respectful around adults and do their best to avoid an altercation. They must be cautious of who they hang out with and they must be comfortable with walking away from a fight.
I make sure I know their friends and allow them to come over and just hang out and be boys. I also tell them to always have me be the heavy when faced with a situation that they do not know how to handle or would rather not engage in.
There are so many things that we as a culture should do to begin to teach our children that all disagreements do not have to end in a fight, and definitely not in death. Teach a child how to critically think and resolve an issue and I believe you will change the fabric of that child’s life. Ignore a child and ignorance breeds more ignorance and soon a life of poor choices that leads to a life that falls short of its potential.
We must not only find opportunities to expose our children to the amazing possibilities of what life has to offer; we must find ways to expose others to the fact that all children deserve to feel safe in their own communities.
The lives of so many of our sons are tragically cut short every day and in every corner of the United States. Some cities experience more than others, and those that experience the most deaths seem to have become numb to the atrocity of mothers and fathers burying their children.
Some children are killed for some infraction of the penal code and some children are killed for reasons that are just stupid. We must do something.
- Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears every so often in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.