My mother raised me. As a young boy, life was music, noise, joy, anger, pain, and fighting. My passions were sports, video games, and winning spelling b’s. I was fun, nosy, and the eldest of 12 children. I watched movies with my mother and grandmother. This contributed to me growing up faster than some other youth.

We were poor, but I didn’t know that at the time. I knew mom deserved more, though. I assumed we had the same as others, but we had less most of the time. I was a leader, yet I didn’t know how to be one. I wanted to take care of all of my siblings and mother. When asked in 3rd grade what I’d do as P.O.T.U.S, I said I would buy my mother a new house! I was sad most days, but I replaced it with fun, fighting, and time with mom.

I felt joy when my father came around, but soon I was immune to his absence. In the projects I’m from we had a community in each age group. I copied mom. She was god-fearing, educated, aggressive, bilingual, and a fighter. She fought her exes, her neighbors, and the police if need be. She was good to me. We got whipped for everything, especially for not fighting back. So I made it my business to defend my family and defend anyone I love.

I was loud, and outgoing, but I didn’t argue. I was either peaceful or chaotic. I fought men, dogs, raccoons, etc. I felt that even a lion didn’t have a chance against me. I never disrespected females, nor my mother, even to this day. I feared nothing or anyone except my mother.

All that I did was to help her, even when I made it worse. I wanted her to have less stress, and hardship. By the time I could see there was more to life, I was distracted by what I was seeing up close. Mother was a great mom, but she supported anything I was drawn to, which caused me to never finish anything. She should have pushed me to do the things that would benefit me in the long run.

Today, I would tell that child that he’s Black, beautiful, and intelligent. I would tell him to enjoy life, to  focus on basketball and school, and to be better than his father.