We had all sort of people in and out of my house as a kid. My parents graciously accepted almost every type of person in their home (for better or worse). I remember at a young age my Father associating with men of all races, backgrounds, creeds, and otherwise good or bad morally acceptable characters. All of this had an effect on me. Some good and some bad. But there is no doubt that my experiences did two things:
1. Eliminated naivety
2. Gave me a unique sense of culture
One day I remember clearly. There was a POUNDING on our front door. It was our neighbor begging my dad for my” urine. He had probation and a random urine test – “needed clean piss”. I was reluctant and a little embarrassed, but gave it too him and kept him out of jail – In the end I was obliged to do so – proud even. Looking back I can hardly believe I was ever in such a situation.
Another time I remember a guy opening a -full of drugs on our coffee table. He called me over and explained which bags were “nickels, dimes, and quarter” bags of marijuana – and how much each cost. He even let me smell “how sweet” his best product smelled. I thought it all seemed pretty normal.
There are good memories too though. I remember my dad stopping to give a rugged looking black man a hand to change his tire. That black man looked at me and said “your daddy’s a good man, son.” I agreed. I remember when I was in middle school and my Father let two “illegals” from Guatemala live in our guest bedroom for almost a year. They were good men and taught me Spanish. ( I think part of my love for Central and South America is directly because of that experience.) He did it just because “they were good men trying to feed their families” and “couldn’t help where they were born”. Those are the lessons in morality and kindness that I think about often.
To this day the lessons I learned via my parents’ associations are second nature to me. For example, I have the uncanny ability to almost instantly judge a man’s character – despite his outward appearance. Also, I remain open minded to various opinions and cultural experiences. And, in general, I find that I am not at all racist (or any other “ist” for that matter). In fact, I love foreigners and learning about their culture. I have no doubt that is due to the type of household I grew up in.
Becoming a Dad
In less than six months I’ll be a Dad too. I hope I can incorporate these lessons into my child’s life – without the negativity. But can you really have these type of lessons without the heartache? Part of me thinks probably not. It’s probably a lot like trying to learn about love from a book. So, I wonder if these are ideas and lessons I will never be able to teach my child?
Read Part 1.