The wind sounds cool, whistling outside the car window as I realize my arm is waving in the wind, like I am crazy or something. Why does mom do this to me? I can’t keep anything from Daddy. Should I tell him? He told me to always be honest, but what do I do now that mom told me not to say anything before we get to Dad’s house?
We pull up and I can see Dad and Uncle Ray sitting on the stoop.
“Hey Sabrina. Jordan! Baby girl, I am so glad to see you. How was your weekend?” Dad greets us as I close the car door.
“Hi Dad. Hi Uncle Ray.”
“Hotep, Jordan. Hotep Sabrina,” Uncle Ray greets us.
Mom continues looking at her phone as if she doesn’t hear them. I might as well get this out the way now. Here goes nothing.
“Daddy, I stole something,” I whisper in his ear so mom doesn’t hear me.
“Stole something? Don’t be looking at me with those innocent Bambi eyes. What are you talking about?”
I whisper, “Yes, but promise you won’t tell mom I told you! She told me not to say anything. While at mom’s this weekend, she got into a fight. Some lady I don’t know knocked on the door screaming something about them twitter beefin’ over some fake purses she sold mom. The next thing I know, mom and Auntie Cheryl pushed her down the stairs. They were beating her up in front of everybody. Her hair came out. She was bleeding bad, Daddy. She just laid there on the ground not moving at all. Aunt Cheryl called her the B word. The lady slowly got up. She stumbled to her car and tried to leave. Auntie Cheryl pushed her down and mom took her keys. They popped her trunk and took all the ladies purses. Mom forced me to grab one. She kept saying to pick one I liked. I didn’t want to do it, Daddy; I promise! I grabbed one because she kept yelling at me and calling me a punk.”
“What in the hell is going on, Jordan. I’m so sick of your mother doing this nonsense with you around. I don’t know how I got mixed up with such a trifling woman! This is ridiculous! All this for a night I keep trying not to regret. If it wasn’t for you, I swear I would curse the day I met your mother.”
He storms up to her driver-side window, dragging me by my arm, demands her to get off her phone and roll the window down.
“Hey Daryl, this is a surprise. Why don’t you ever call me?” Mom says as she turns the volume down on her stereo. I hear Aunt Cheryl’s voice briefly through mom’s car speakers. Her and her other friends get quiet. They are probably huddled around Cheryl’s phone. All they ever do is talk about how fine my dad is and it makes me want to throw-up.
“Sabrina, what the hell you got Jordan involved in? I mean, what is this I hear about her stealing purses?”
“I told that little heifer not to say nothing. She is just as square as you’re. I’m gonna whoop that ass later.” She stares at me. “Anyways, it’s nothing. Some dumb bitch came through the salon selling purses. I find out they were fake and blasted her ass on the internet. She tried to get all extra so I had to beat that ass!”
“Look, I don’t care what you and your friends do. That’s not my place, but I must protect my baby. This two parent household thing isn’t working. I don’t feel like I can trust you around my daughter anymore.” Some of Daddy’s spit just landed on my face. Ewww. I think I am dying. I might have to mop my face later.
“Your daughter, D? You act like you the one that carried her scary ass for 9 months. You didn’t even want anything to do with us while I was pregnant. So as far as I am concerned, you don’t get to say shit bout what goes on in my house!”
“I’m right? Huh?”
“Yep, you’re entitled to do whatever you want in your house. I just need you to know, that I can’t allow Jordan to be around that nonsense. Would you please, consider signing over custody?” Darryl remembers what Uncle Ray told him. He refrains from arguing. He clearly states his expectations of when Jordan is over his mom’s house and listens.
“You jus’ tryna to get out of paying me what’s due. You ain’t slick! You better have my money, D. I ain’t playing with you! Hell no, you can’t take my daughter anywhere. And you damn sure ain’t getting out of paying me.”
I hate when they fight over money. Why can’t my mom be more like Chelsea’s mom?
“Sabrina, please stop. I apologized for knocking you up. I apologized for not being there for you during the pregnancy. I told you I wasn’t ready to be a father in college! Just please keep the ghetto activity to a minimum around OUR daughter.”
Ugh, I hate when they speak as if I am not here!
“You think just because you got a degree, that makes you better than me? You ain’t better than nobody! You just like the rest of these niggas! All you want is one thang, and when you get tired of it, you bounce like a check on the 31st. You wasn’t calling me ghetto when you was creeping over here after the club back in the day.”
Uncle Ray, pretending not to hear their loud argument, walks up to them.
“You’re right. I’m not better than anybody. Just go. Clearly, you don’t want to listen to a voice of reason.”
Uncle Ray speaks up, “Listen now, you two. First, you are extremely loud; you don’t want the neighbors all up in your business! Stop behaving like this in front of your daughter; you must always protect her. Remember, the kids should always come first. Our ancestors must be rolling in the grave at such foolishness. I told you about acting like those kinds of folk.”
“Uncle Ray, you wouldn’t believe what my psychotic baby’s momma did. I want to choke the shit out of her, but she keeps threatening me with child support and taking it out on Jordan; It’s not her fault we brought her into this world,” he says. Thank God; they needed a distraction. Daddy tells him everything. Great! Now everybody is going to know.
“Those kinds of folk,” daddy says as if he asked a question.
“Yes, those kinds of folk. And it is Jordan’s fault for y’all hooking up. You see, I believe the soul of a child manifests as chemistry between a man and a woman. The moment I felt a genuine connection with my wife, the soul of my seed was acknowledged. It wasn’t until we had sex, after marriage of course, that my son physically existed. Those kinds of folk are African too, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. All of our sisters deserve to discover their Godly natures. She just needs more knowledge of self and understanding.”
“Uncle Ray! This is none of yo’ concern. Don’t tell me how to raise my child! That’s why I quit going to yo’ bourgeois church years ago!” Mom gets out of the car like a mad woman.
“Don’t you talk to my Uncle Ray like that. Woman, are you crazy? Ray, I don’t understand all that metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. You still think all Black men are Gods, huh? What happened to you? You used to be one of the most popular pastors in the city!”
“ Never mind all of that; just listen. The key to getting along with your baby’s mother is to communicate, son! You must always share expectations with one another. You must always actively listen and actively express what she should expect from you. You can’t save everybody.”
“But Uncle Ray, that shit is hard. I mean stuff. Sorry. We don’t speak the same language and I can’t get through to her. She gets me so upset. I just want to lose it with her sometimes.”
“Trust me. I understand. It took me a while to learn to allow a woman to fully express herself and get to the point before opening my mouth. Once she finishes, I repeat back to her what she told me, so she knows I heard her. I always wait patiently to hear her meander her way through a conversation. All of them are like that! Show her patience. When it’s finally your turn, tell her what she shouldn’t expect of you. It’s all about compromise, son!” Uncle Ray let’s out a scratchy laugh. His breath probably still smells like raw hot dogs, like always.
“You’re right, Unc’. Maybe she deserves to tell her side of the ratchet ass story.”
“Exactly! Just shut up and listen. Drink some water while she talks. Remember to always actively listen as well as actively express. Even your bible says to keep your cool. Proverb 15:18 reads, ‘A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.’ Use it!”
“I told you Uncle Raaaaaay, don’t be coming over here with all that nonsense,” she screams obnoxiously. Mom stares through me like I betrayed her trust. The next time we are alone I will fully learn the lesson of keeping her secrets, again. “Uncle Ray, you been crazy ever since you stopped working at the church!”
“Peace, y’all. I don’t have time to meddle in your affairs. I’ll be on my way. Just remember to listen to each other and keep Jordan the priority. Take your emotions out of this. Focus on the problem. You can reach an agreement amicably. D, I will talk to you later. Hotep.” He jumps in his car and drives off.
“Daddy, what does ‘Hotep’ mean,” I ask.
“Look it up. Stop trying to change the subject Jordan. I’m getting to the bottom of this foolishness.”
“Check it out Sabrina, Uncle Ray is right. Let’s take the emotions out of this situation and address the problem. The problem here is Jordan is being exposed to situations that are damaging to her teenage mind. We both want her to grow up to be better than we did. Right? Please tell me why you’re so upset with me.”
“Look Darryl. I gotta go. But we can talk soon. Okay? I’m sorry for having Jordan all up in my mix. You’re right. She shouldn’t be seeing all of that. But I gotta dip. I have a client meeting me at the shop. Call ya later?”
“Sure Sabrina. We will talk later.”
Mom hops back in her sky blue ’85 box Chevy Caprice. She turns up her system setting off a car alarm nearby. “Bye Jordan. We will talk later.” She gives me an evil look and thrusts her two-fingered peace sign out the window.