I think of my own neighborhood, how people do not know each other. How quickly we go out to get our garbage can. As we nod our heads briefly so that we might understand, that there is something more important going on inside, than to chat. Maybe a pot of something boiling for a recipe. Another meal is always being prepared. Something is always too important than to share.
I say to my girls, put up your hands high and block. Bend your knees there so that you can’t be pushed over and stopped. Kick them in the balls if you have to. Scream till their ear drums pop. I speak to my seven year old as if she’s going to war. I think of my not being here to look out for, the men and boys that she will encounter. I think if I train her now, she will not suffer. She will remember what her dad said ten years ago. As he tried to pass down a little Aikido. A little karate. A little boxing. Keep strong and flexible. Roll when you fall. Get up quickly and always stand tall. And most importantly, RUN.
There is a wildness in all of our hearts, that remembers deeply the pain inflicted by others. It goes deeper than photo albums or family horror stories. It is scarred into our genes by villages pillaged and raped by mounted horsemen hundreds of years ago. Homes burned down in a flash as lifetimes flickered out. This past haunts us and dwells in our hearts. I might worry more because I want them prepared if I leave in a hurry. Because of the mortality I know I carry.
Anything to make them tough. To harden them up. I am a man and I know how deeply flawed men can be. How our culture objectifies women while worshipping violence. As adults, with this training and talking to, I hope to not steal their innocence. Only to prepare them for the worst. I do not wish to scare them so, they do not notice the goodness in others. That if love is walking by they should grab it.
As I prepare them for adulthood, I also teach there is a humanity full of love, not hate. Right under their noses as they seek happiness. They might pass Jesus. They might pass Buddha. They might pass themselves and not recognize they are lost. Because they are too scared to talk to neighbors, while preparing to defeat strangers.