Him. My little moon child. six or seven months ago he asked if we could move to Jamaica. Probably a combination of his sorrow at his Grandad’s passing and a sweet recollection of my wedding on the island the year before.
I explained we couldn’t, but in thinking about how I might nurture his then 5 year old connection to this part of his heritage, the seed of an idea about taking him on an extended trip like no other was sown.
We’d visit the house my dad built and I’d point out the bridge his great grandfather crafted. We’d travel to Bluefields beach where I swam as a child and just for a week, he’d attend school in the parish his ancestors call home – uniform an all. He’d take school supplies as a contribution, learning a meaningful lesson about our western material privilege (and the beauty of island simplicity) in the process.
It was around the same time that Trump made his comment about immigrants from “shithole countries” in reference to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations, and I recall sobbing in the bathroom part shock, part hopelessness at the reality of the world my son was growing up in, given that he remains President of America.
And then something clicked. We can’t control who becomes president and the injustice of the tolerance for racism direct from the Whitehouse, but we can control where we choose to focus both our energy and a significant amount of what our children are exposed to.
Yes they are subject to the messaging and often unconsciousness of the world when they leave our front door, but we can be purposeful in ensuring their sense of self is strong, assured and grounded before they leave. And so the immediacy of the need to take back control of the narrative around my son’s heritage became paramount.
And now we are just weeks away from a mummy/son trip like no other. I can’t wait to switch off my phone and submerge myself into presence with my child. Let the clock tick regardless and let adventure unfold.
Let his questions lead our agenda and watch him deepen his love and understanding of the paradise from which he stems.
The school term may begin in September but this term his curriculum consists of waterfalls and bamboo avenue. History class will come alive as we venture from Jamaica to Ghana and chart one side of our ancestral journey. We’ll be learning together, it’s my first trip to West Africa – and that is what makes the experience even more precious.
And when he returns to school in the UK in October, he will be even wiser. Worldlier.
I don’t believe that our sense of self should be dictated by our past, for who we are beyond our blood line should be a discovery of our own derision. But with broader perspectives and pride in his pocket, my intention is that at six, no ignorance or hate spouted from the mouth of President or otherwise, will infiltrate my son’s pure heart or tilt the invisible crown which nestles upon his head.