“I like your hair mommy,” my son interrupts my telephone conversation to tell me. I glance in the mirror, completely unsure that I agree with his sentiments. Yet, his response is always the same. He never comments on my hair – long, short, braids, locs, curly weave, straight weave…nothing. No comment. Ever. Except when I am wearing it natural, when I am looking in the mirror at hair thinking, “This is it, huh?”
His dad taught him that. Some kind of way through his interactions with me, my son learned to compliment me when he sees something he likes…the way his dad does.
So you can imagine how flattered I was when his dad volunteered to write a blog for me to post here, and what better time of the year than when the world is celebrating love…Thus, without further ado, here he is, the love of my life – Brett Bonnaffons himself.
I LOVE my family. My kids go everywhere with me, and my wife is the most important thing in my life. For those of you who do not know, last year my wife and I took in her 4 year old nephew, Jimmie, with full intentions of adopting him. We put him in school, and he seemed to be improving a little bit every day.
One of my wife’s coworkers told her to watch This Is Us because the show seemed to have a parallel story line to ours. I actually had a panic attack watching one of the episodes in the first season. In an episode called “The Pool,” the white parents were chastised by a black women because they were not doing things for the black child that should be done. One of the things was the way they were cutting his hair…
Earlier that same week, I took Jimmie to a softball game, and he was playing in the dugout in the dirt. What made matters worse was that it was cold. I forgot to put lotion on his legs. His legs were so ashy it was ridiculous (the same ashy the black woman warned against in that same episode of “The Pool”).
Watching this show made me scared to death of how I could raise a black boy into a strong black man. I started to question whether raising him with my mindset on race would be good for him, or would I be hamstringing him. All this became moot when, in September, his mother came to sign custody papers to us. She got mad at my wife and took him to spite us.
After he left, I refused to watch This Is Us. I was just too hard. However, through terrible circumstances, he came back to us in November, and we are moving forward with the adoption.
When he came back, I decided to start watching This Is Us again. The second season has been good, but it is tougher to watch than the first. There are scenes that absolutely scare me. In one of the scenes the family goes in front of a black judge that denies them custody of a black son, Randall, to a white mom and dad. He talks about the fact that a white family cannot raise a black child. Though my family is not a white family, I am still a white father.
Then, there is a scene where Randall visits Howard University. He talks about seeing all black people at school, and even appears embarrassed to introduce his white father. That kind of freaked me out a little bit.
The thing that really freaks me out is the way that race can play such a role as to whether or not Jimmie will be a successful person. No matter how much Jack Pearson (the dad) did for Randall, he never felt comfortable until he was at the visit to Howard. I am quite scared that with my background, I am not going to be able to help Jimmie become a strong black man. I know that because of society’s focus on race, Jimmie is going to have to go through things for which I cannot prepare him.
I thought that my job would be tough enough trying to maneuver my other kids, Braden and Mya, through life. I have to make sure that they know and are proud of both sides of their cultural heritage, and make sure that they are treated with respect by both sides. I am still wrapping my head around trying to help a child who has been through more than most adults have become a strong black man.
Sometimes God interrupts our regularly scheduled programs with important updates. Sometimes He hands us more than we know how to handle. Yet, here we are. I want you to note that you started this entire section of writing with the statement, “I LOVE my family. My kids go everywhere with me, and my wife is the most important thing in my life.” There were not but’s…no except’s…no if’s. Just a period at the end of a matter of fact statement. You taught Braden that he is brown and white in a society that could not tell just by looking at him. You let Mya believe that she is a princess, and you took in a black son without blinking an eye – no hesitation whatsoever. You even asked if we needed to take in his sister also…because that is who you are.
You love unconditionally, and you are scared to death that your love is not enough…that you are not enough. We are programmed to believe that unscheduled interruptions are bad news. We think of interruptions that tell us about 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina. We think of OJ Simpson verdicts and local shootings. No one ever interrupts our favorite tv shows for good news. BUT GOD does not work the same way that everyone else works.
“Sometimes the interruption is the assignment” ~ Steven Furtick
So God interrupted your life to hand deliver a beautiful boy, as handsome as they come; Because as successful as he was on This Is Us, Randall needed Jack Pearson; Because all good things come in threes.
Jimmie needs Brett Bonnaffons. He needs unconditional love. He needs someone to teach him that “mommy’s hair is beautiful” without ever saying a word. Your interruption is your assignment…
…because who you are is more than enough.
P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day
What are some interruptions that you have had that you later recognized as assignments?
Leave your e-mail below so I can update you on the progress of my undone straight to your inbox: