Who You Calling A Deadbeat? — Part IV — October 11, 2009
by J.S. Buford
Recently, while relaxing at a cyber café, sipping on some coffee, reading a good book ( Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon is a great book by the way) — basically minding my own business — I couldn’t help but to overhear a heated exchange between a thirty-something year old man and woman sitting at a table across from me.
It was surprising. Both were dressed professionally, and up until then carrying themselves with a calm, sophisticated comportment. On top of that we were in a suburban zip code (would have liked to be in Detroit, however does anyone one know of any cyber cafes that remain open past 8:00pm for a couple hours in the city), and know that the regular inhabitants were straight up clutching their purses and walking briskly as their voices began to elevate.
Before the verbal warfare broke out, I admittedly was angling to introduce myself with a business card and an invitation to lunch next week. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The two were sparring over the circumstances involving the man’s pursuit of his son in a custody case.
I was having a phenomenal day; feeling pleased with the progress of my practice, periodically reflecting on a cute photo of Chookie I had just taken, and texting it up with the woman I intend to spend the rest of my life with in between chapters. So, given the subject nature they were discussing, not interested in anything that would remind me of my own trials and tribulations as a single father, I attempted to ignore them.
Then the woman made a critical error. She asked the following series of questions, “Well why do you think she would do that? Why is she behaving this way? Have you considered that?”
As surely, as I was unaware of the genesis of the discussion, I was well aware of how it would end. The brother simply stood up, put the sista’s coat on her, walked her to the door, and wished her goodbye. He returned to his seat and sat quietly and motionless for at least five minutes staring blankly through the window.
And I understood, what most single fathers understand.
Very few ever will and the super-majority of people are not capable of empathizing with the swirl of emotions and thoughts that entered that man’s mind.
After a period of time, I eventually approached him, exchanged business cards, and commended him for how he conducted himself during the conflict. Then you know how brothers do, we began to trade war stories, tactics and strategies to resume normal lives and insulate ourselves from the insanity, information regarding competency of our attorneys, etc.
Unfortunately, we didn’t need to converse long before the typical script emerged:
- Accused of physical abuse and unabashed ni%$a ishtt: check.
- Accused of grotesque behaviors (sexual abuse, unbridled beat downs, neglect, etc., etc.) towards your child: check.
- Almost go bankrupt defending yourself, just to see your child: check.
- Continual attempts to disrupt or limit time together: check.
- Disruption of familial and cultural traditions, attempts to provide extracurricular stimulation, and dote over child: check.
- Refusal to release unimportant stuff like medical records, health status, birth certificates, access to academic reports, etc.,: check, check, and check………
If you’re reading this, and you still don’t get it, well… I’ll give it a try.
Single fathers (particularly black men) who pursue, love, and care for their children, are inundated all day every day with news reports, table talk, and insinuations that there is an epidemic absence of men who care to father their children. On top of that, those of us who do, still have to deal with the scowls, alarm, and confused looks as we chaperone our children to the park, the movies, to school, the museum, etc, with occasional words of encouragement and support sprinkled in between.
You following me?
Consider the aforementioned. And next time you begin to fix your tongue to query a man regarding the subject matter of this note, know that we — most single fathers — don’t care why women believe it’s okay or acceptable to attempt to deprive sons and daughters of their fathers. After enduring the hell most of us have to endure just to be in our children’s lives, most single fathers concern themselves with simply being good fathers.
And consider it a good thing if single fathers don’t care to think about or discuss why a woman would behave in such a heinous manner. It means they have reached a place of harmony in their lives, and are content on building happy, productive existences having moved on from the negativity and wretchedness that some would like to inflict upon them.
See, here’s the bottom line. If you ever presuppose to pose such questions to a single father, reflect upon whom the question should really be directed to. Should it not be directed at women who conduct themselves in such manners?
Before you assume, dig a little deeper. And know that the idea that there are hordes of men who choose to be quote unquote deadbeats, is nothing more than a myth. They exist, no doubt. But dig a little deeper.
And next time you find the audacity to utter the aforementioned words, think about it, think about “Who You Callin a Deadbeat Dad!?”
Originally published at https://www.catchjsbuford.com.