Point Blank: I Am My Child’s Bodyguard
I am a father, and my philosophy on fatherhood is simple. I’m my child’s bodyguard. As you know, a bodyguard isn’t able to slip at any point or else that could mean the demise or harm to his client. As I see the world spiral into seeming chaos, I have no recourse but to assume the the role of the bodyguard. So serious is my creed, my daughter once believed that my truck was bulletproof. My daughter is a pre-teen that loves life. She’s one that feels completely safe when with her Daddy, in the vehicle or outside of it.
In many respects, she’s my boss. As her bodyguard the clientele is the most important facet of the job. The security leads the way, always on the look out for trouble. They are keenly observant. They listen and see all around them. And, frankly, even when you don’t see them, the bodyguard is often in the back just in case some foolishness pops off.
This approach doesn’t mean that my daughter will somehow be deprived of life’s experience or not be permitted to overcome her own adversities. It simply means, I am there at all times and I’m ready for whatever.
Sadly, I lost my “bodyguard” far too soon.
My father’s death is the ultimate paradox. While, I miss him with every fiber of my being, I am certain as the sun is hot that I would not be where I am had he lived. When my father died, I wasn’t even close to being a man mentally – the ultimate late bloomer. I thought I knew how I would respond to his dying (when we didn’t know if he would make it), which was succumbing to various forms of insanity. Insanity ensued but not like I figured. My ship found a sail and a direction after Dad died and I went crazy with ambition. I internalized lessons that had no meaning before. But more than anything, I found the motivation to strive towards my own greatness.
But as I reflect on my father, I’ve come to know him more and more, because I see him in my maneuvers with my own child. My father was the ultimate protector, even when I didn’t know he was. I do remember vividly my dad sleeping in our station wagon car with his rifle to fend off racist vandals. We were one of three Black families that broke the color barrier in a well-hidden, back woods neighborhood in suburban Newark, Delaware. There were those that resisted these bold moves back in the late 1970’s. In other instances, we may have ended a scuffle with other neighborhood kids yelling to them,”Go ‘head and get yo’ daddy.” My dad was a pretty big man, standing a solid 6′ 2″ and weighing 250 pounds. Those kids’ daddies didn’t want that problem. Their dad never showed up.
But, it wasn’t about silly fights. My dad was a great man, one of the millions of unheralded, unrecognizable Black men that America has failed to acknowledge. Reverend Russell, formerly of Simpson United Methodist Church in Delaware, once told me, “You’ll be lucky to be half the man your father was.” This was well after I had received some measure of success and notoriety with AllHipHop.com. He wasn’t talking about that success. He was talking about father, husband…the man.
Like bodyguards, being a man – a real father – is often selfless work, where your job is putting somebody else’s life before your own. It means the sacrifices you make in life will be rewarded based on the deed itself, even when acts of good will are overlooked. Furthermore, it is understood that one may not even bear witness to the affects of such benevolence.
If I raise a princess, then the theory is that she is going to create a prince or a princess. I’m going to pass along all that I deem positive and exceptional to her and she will too – and so on and so forth. Conversely, if the youth are debased, the cycle will likely continue for generations. Sadly, 64% of African American households are headed by single women, one statistic says. What many fathers don’t conceptualize is the effect their actions have on their families and their future families. We always apply this notion to inter-generational wealth, but not how we rear our children.
These days, I maintain the opinion that far too many fathers of our generation want to be the “client” and not the bodyguard. While most of us want adulation, attention and respect, we’ve got to prioritize and understand that the fruits of “grind” are not worth the price of the youth we raise. Moreover, a real father and a real man, can manage the personal with the professional so the kids (and the rest of the village) can be proud. If you aren’t there, the money or the prestige is meaningless.
I’m far from perfect, but as the bodyguard of my only child, I will forever be armed to the teeth. Armed with education. Armed with the experiences of my father. Armed with passion. And armed with unconditional love.