The Bay Area gets cool at night regardless of how warm it may be during the day. It’s somethin’ about the mountains, water, and micro-climates; I don’t really know. But locals know that you don’t go out at night without a wrap or a jacket because the cold temperatures are on the sun’s ass like a jealous boyfriend. One night this week, my girlfriend who wanted to talk over some man-issues (isn’t that always the case) and I met for dinner at a local casual Italian restaurant. We chose to sit outside in an area where four wicker, pillowed couches surround a fireplace. It was cool, as usual, but doable. And the intimate, frank conversations that we needed called for that type of setting.
We ordered a bottle of wine and enough gluten to offend the entire state of California and started analyzing personal situations with Dr. Phil vigor; but kept being distracted by the table behind us. There sat two moms, also enjoying a bottle of wine, involved in what seemed to be an equally intense conversation. The difference is they had 6 kids – between the ages of 8-10 (my guess) with them.
I use the term “with them” loosely because these kids were running around the outside part of the restaurant like the chairs were hurdles, the layout was an obstacle course, and the mac and cheese they would intermittently come and scarf down was red-bull infused. These weren’t a bunch of kids playing; these were a bunch of kids turning up and turning the restaurant out!
And I was annoyed—extremely.
I’m pretty patient with children; they are my favorite people. Heck, I’m a former high school teacher. I wasn’t annoyed with the kids (kids will be kids), I was annoyed with the parents on a surface level; but truly (upon a bit of reflection) I was annoyed due to White privilege.
Under no circumstances would my Black children have felt the freedom to run around, by the time they were ten years old, like a bunch of banshees (because by then, they were “look controlled” . . . I could give them THAT look and they knew that they BETTER get in formation). If –let’s suppose- it was a full moon and I allowed them to have too much sugar—and my kids started to get riled up in a public place, I would have immediately checked them. I would’ve asked them since we were in public and we were the only Black people present. Were they not to stop after my feigned politeness, I would’ve probably acted like the “ignorant Black momma” that people go home and tell stories about (Black people tell their children to do things. “Stop running before I run this hand all up and down the back of your butt”).
I don’t have—and have never had– the luxury to let my kids act poorly, while I sit and drink wine with my girlfriend. They don’t have the luxury to do so. Undoubtedly, they, every Black kid, would have been disciplined: other patrons would have given them dirty looks or even complained to the restaurant staff; someone from the restaurant would have yelled at them to “stop running”; or someone would have complained to me. Rarely do Black kids have the luxury to be kids. They would have been thugs, hooligans, savages, etc. So, I would’ve handled it. I would’ve killed their natural impulses to run wild—as children do—before I allowed someone else to do so. Better me; than them.
So, I was angry that evening—for the freedom my kids never had. And for the freedoms they probably never will enjoy.