Wednesday, June 04, 2014

His grandma's watch

My nephew graduated from 8th grade yesterday. He was in the top 10% of his class, National Honor Society and got a commendation from Barack Obama. We were all (Mom, Dad, Uncle and me) very
proud of him.

I was amused by how different he is from his sister. She so enjoyed the (literal) pomp and circumstance, the ceremony, the last moments in the school with her favorite teachers and friends. She insisted I take her picture with her posse in front of their favorite stairwell, their favorite entrance, their favorite restroom, with their favorite teachers … I offered to do the same for my nephew, but I had to suggest it. And he was only comfortable doing it once we were far away from his friends.

In his "memory book" (an 8th grade project), he wrote about finding his own voice. His style is more sophisticated than his thoughts. In one essay, he took on stereotypes but seemed to feel that in today's world, white men are victims. People don't care if fathers don't ever get custody of their children, while women's pay inequity in the workplace is a cause ("Matt Lauer will host a rally on TV" for the women). Likewise if blacks are verbally abusive to white, "no one cares," but when the opposite occurs, the media pays attention.

I was more than a little shocked to read this. But then I remembered: he's 14. We've had an African American President for almost half of life, so he doesn't know a world where white males were the law makers and law breakers. He doesn't understand what he's seeing in the context of centuries of inequities. And I think he's feeling vulnerable -- about his own entree into adulthood, his own masculinity. So I didn't say anything. Besides, he's 14. The point is that he's learning to think for himself. He doesn't need me telling him that, when he thinks for himself, he's wrong.

His memory book also listed his favorite things in reverse order -- a sailor cap from his beloved older cousin, a coin that once belonged to my uncle (his great uncle), a small red towel that Bennie the Cat used to sleep on, and his grandma's watch. He misses my mother so.

Last night I went to bed hurt that I was listed nowhere in the memory book. I woke up this morning over it. For while I wasn't IN the book, in a very real way I was on the cover. The artwork he chose was a photo of Stewart and Colbert and The Beatles. That's my boy!


3 comments:

  1. Funny how siblings are so different. Good perspective on his rant.

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  2. Good luck to your nephew as he starts his high school career. It's a big step, and it's good that he's finding himself as an individual, since peer pressure will be a big part of the experience.

    I love the idea of a memory book. You not being in it just means that he doesn't need to write down your name to remember you. You're written in his heart. :)

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  3. Good luck to your nephew in his next step in life.

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