Written and Contributed By: Tahjma Hall
I am currently in lockdown mode during the COVID19 Pandemic with my 82-year-old mother and 17-year-old son, and these 7 months have been nothing less than eye opening. I was always so busy trying to make sure my son was prepared to make a good living and be a contributing member to society that I’d forgotten to teach him to how to create a rich life.
Since my child was born, I’ve done many things books and “experts” shared to raise a successful Black male and child. I did baby massages and played Classical Music to him; I read to him daily until he was a rising 6th grader (it also became our special bonding time); put him in classes to learn to invest in the Stock Market, create Video Games, Classical Music Lessons, Mandarin Lessons, Tennis, Soccer, Baseball, Basketball, Fencing, Film Making, and Tutoring, to name a few; made sure to travel nationally and internationally always layering the experiences with tours wherever we landed to make sure we didn’t leave the city without seeing and learning about the most important sites and culture of each locale; and made sure he attended church and had supervised play dates with other children. This is what this generation of Mama’s do.
The way we all ended up living together was I was divorcing and my step dad passed. It only made sense for Grammy, Josh and I to live together as a family. I realized my child was selfish and entitled when he asked “why does she have to live with us? Can’t she stay where she is?”. I explained how important it is to love on, respect and learn from our elders and this one in particular since she was MY MAMA. It’s been 3-years and we haven’t looked back. My son recently said how happy he was to have his grandmother living with us, although we’ve had our share of “special moments”. I believe all of his friends have seen Grammy either braless, toothless, or just in the process of getting dressed, because my son would forget to let her know his friends were over. Grammy has also caught him trying to sneak girls into the house (as I slept), has found a girl hiding under our glass dining room table when he was on punishment, and she’s unceremoniously kicked them out using lots of expletives, as she is quick to remind us that age has it’s privileges. She loves on him hard and watches him play his video games and cheers him on; we watch the Presidential Debates and he asks her opinions about current affairs. She shares her history, always providing life lessons and Black history.
Shortly after lockdown, my son decided he wanted Tuna Fish and he had to open the can. My kid is smart (as are all kids), a MENSA member who’s iq is in the top 1%, and to my horror after giving him the manual can opener, he had no idea how to use it. He fumbled for over 30 seconds until I showed him how to use it properly. This was all more a reflection of my parenting than on him. Once taking responsibility for my parental shortcomings, I taught him how to mop a floor (he hated the feel of wringing a mop) and was amazed that when you put the dirty water in the toilet, it would automatically flush. I asked him to clean out his grandmother’s tub, and I discovered he didn’t know how to do that and had paid a friend to do it for him. We have all made a lot of progress and have become closer in ways I never knew were lacking including my culinary skills. My son asked me one day, “Mom, how come you never cooked when you and Dad were together? I love your cooking”. Good question and I shared with him I worked at least 9 hours daily plus had a 4-hour commute while his dad had lots of free time.
This time together has turned my son around in such a beautiful way and he needed his Grammy and me. My son can now cook, clean, and has turned into one of the most compassionate, thoughtful and loving people you will meet. None of us take anything for granted, but I’m quite proud of his many professional accomplishments musically, with the Stock Market (he has turned a $4,000 investment into $10k and he was the youngest intern at Ariel Capital last summer), has real friends for the first time and learned how to take time to really think and dream about the life he would like to achieve.
I’ve been significantly hit financially since C19 and a lot of things I used to do, like having housekeepers come once every other week, eating out, mindless shopping, etc. are non-existent these days. While I crave pre-COVID days where you can visit, hug your loved ones, give folks a big sloppy Chicago kiss on the cheek, attend a movie, I wouldn’t trade the lessons we have all learned or the quality time we have spent together during this period.
I knew I was on the right path with my son when he wrote the following in a birthday card to me recently:
“Happy Birthday, Mom! You’re the most loving and sweetest person I know. I know this won’t be the best birthday you’ve had but when I make it, I will always provide for you financially, but for now, I’ll do my best to make you proud and as happy as possible. Love you, Josh”.