Inspired by Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”
Crouched by the door, I listen.
Listen up, because I’m only going to say this once. Always hold the door for her, always offer to pay, always make her feel safe, protector not a predator, no means no son, take responsibility for your actions, you choose your actions, consequences too, that’s what a man does. But. No “buts.” Get a haircut. No hats in church, do not loosen your tie until you are behind closed doors, you walk beside your mother, walk closest to the curb, protect your family name because I’m letting you keep it, don’t you dare fall short of it, never keep a woman waiting, she deserves more respect than that, remember no means no son, you make sure of that.
Now, I rise.
But, Daddy, what about me? Well, sweetheart, your job is most important. What’s that? You hold him accountable, always, he never disrespects you, ever, you demand what you want, you hold your head high, don’t drag your feet when you walk, speak clearly, treat your body as a temple, your words, once spoken, are set in stone, no still means no, your crown, although invisible, is your greatest quality, know that, own that, never forget that, it is to the sovereignty of your word that his knee shall always bow, you are priceless, so do not go on sale for anyone, when one is truly authentic, they never give discounted prices, no means no sweetheart, the “no” does not belong to me, as much as I would like it to, it is yours to give or take, that’s what a queen does.
Mommy, why does Dad keep saying that? Saying what? That royalty stuff, and why didn’t he say it to the boys. Sweetheart, their talk was a list of do’s, don’t, and rules, right? A to-do list? Yeah. Well, that’s because they must do before they can be. You must be before you can do. Before they know why they’re doing it, they must get tired of doing it. Every day they will dread it more and more, until they realize, in all the doing they had learned to be. You, on the contrary, will become so engulfed in the being, that doing will come easy to you, compassion, love, protecting your nucleus, your household, teaching your children what being is all about. Woman, you have one head that wears many hats, until your head becomes comfortable on your shoulders, the hats won’t fit. Invisible crown, huh? Do you have one? Yep, well actually, I lost mine for a little while. How? It can easily be misplaced, that’s normal. That’s funny, your dad forgot something very important, men find lost crowns, the fallen off, the taken, and return them to the ones meant to uphold them. Your dad helped me find mine. That is why our heads are held high, never looking down on others. Why? Why, it disrupts the balance, darling. We wouldn’t want it falling off, now would we?