I had it out with the boy last night, and then again this morning on the way to the bus stop. When I reflect back on how I came up, it's interesting how "having it out" has evolved. Indeed, when I was young there was no "having it out." Moms and Pops was the butcher, whenever I had beef.
My Moms once busted my lip after I tried to literally look down on her. I was 13 and had recently grown taller than her, and thus thought I could intimidate her. Heh. I was left singing that old Ice Cube riff, "With a right-left, right-left your toothless\And then you say godddamn they ruthless." My Moms came up in the projects and used to walk miles to school, and miles to church. She spent her summers in the country down on the Eastern Shore. She was raised by Negroes who did not play, and she took the lesson.
This is hard for a lot of people to hear, but in my family, in my neighborhood, and in my community this is what part of what parenting meant. If you weren't feeling the edge of the sword on your ass, then you were responding to the possibility of it. One thing I learned, while touring for my book, was that a lot of people consider this to be child abuse. It really was news to me and ultimately unthinkable. Almost everyone I'd ever known had come up the same way. My book editor would joke, while reading, the manuscript about his grandmother coming up from the South and making him go search for a switch. In Harlem.