by Harriet Hairston
Check out the title, y’all. Anyone in my age group (born in the late 70s – early 80s) can remember the little chant we used to do when making fun of our friends who were destined to date:
Lamar and Ronnie sittin’ in a tree,
First comes love, then comes marriage,
Then comes a baby in a baby carriage!
Hilarity ensues among the immature little girls who initiated the chant. Lamar reconsiders his parent’s admonition to never hit a girl, and Ronnie–light enough to blush–turns beet red, starts crying and runs home.
But that’s not exactly how it went for them, and in many cases–given the fact that 7.2 out of 10 African American children are born to single parent households–that’s not how it goes for a lot of folks.
But are the days gone when boys gave girls notes saying, “Will you be my girlfriend? Circle YES or NO.” Not hardly. By and large, they’ve just replaced “girlfriend” with “Baby Mama #___” and go on about their business.
Are the days when a girl could “shake it to the east, shake it to the west, shake it to the boy that I love the best”? Not at all! There’s a whole lot of shaking going on amongst younger generations that has very little to do with love and more to do with learning how to gain prowess like Ciara at riding. . .err, umm. . .mechanical bulls or something.
How do we get the days back of love, then marriage, then babies in a baby carriage? That used to be an elementary concept, but now, to mention such a thing is outrageous and “old fashioned.”
Personally, I think we could use some old school values when it comes to love, intimacy and relationships. That old school stuff like:
Daddy/Daughter Dates, where a father teaches his daughter how she is supposed to be treated by periodically getting her dressed up, getting her flowers and taking her out to eat at a fancy restaurant.
Requiring a daughter to bring a potential “beau” by the house so the whole family could meet him. Then creating tension by making him sit on one side of the couch, having the parents sit in the middle, and making her sit on the other side of the couch.
Knocking some sense into the knucklehead boys who didn’t open doors, pull chairs out or stand up in the presence of a lady.
Being ever present in the lives of impressionable children so they would want to engage in honorable, healthy relationships.
My mother has a friend who grew up in the 50s and 60s when this type of behavior was the norm. He had taken a liking to a young lady that lived 18 miles away from him, so one day, in the heat of South Carolina’s brutal summer, he decided to walk to her house. He walked 18 miles, but it only seemed like a small stroll because he wanted to win the heart of this young lady.
When he finally got to her house, he walked up the stairs and knocked on the door. Her father answered and said, “Hey, boy. . .you’re dripping sweat all over my front porch!” and made him go back down the stairs to stand in the grass.
He told his daughter, “Some boy out there asking for you is looking really hot. Go give him a glass of ice water.” She took it to him and stood there waiting for him to finish it. When he was done, her father told her to take the glass and come back in the house.
The young man watched until the inspiration behind his trek disappeared into the house. Her father broke his conversation with a gruff, “Hey, boy.”
His focus went back to the man he would have to go through to get to his prize. Expecting some kind of accolades or attaboy, he gave her father his undivided attention. “Yes, sir?” he said.
Her father said, “You can go on home now.”
And that was the end of that.
Love, marriage, babies in carriages and mean ol’ daddies alleviated the nasty notes and shake-your-booty chants. Add a dose of fulfilling purpose and cover the whole thing with God, and you’ve got a pretty good formula for revitalization of the neo-soul of the African-American community.
BMWK, what ways do you think parents and kids can bring back the “Love, Marriage, Babies” order to the lives of future generations?
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