I’ve been thinking about this all week.  A young man that I went to junior high school with was arrested on gun possession charges linked to the murder of a popular NYC sanitation worker.  The school that we went to was for so-called “gifted and talented” students.  It was small, about eight classes all together, so we all knew each other.  The fact is that I haven’t seen the guy for almost two decades and where I’m from this kind of thing happens almost everyday;  I’ve lost more than my share of friends and former classmates to either prison or death.  Nevertheless, for some  reason this guy’s arrest resonated with me.  We were destined to become the cream of the crop.  We were the chosen ones, and we had the standardized test scores to prove it. 

Yet somehow too many of us lost our ways.  Some of us had children very young and couldn’t keep our grades up and support our children at the same time.  Some of us went to jail for petty crimes and ruined our chances of going to college.  Others of us simply were dragged down by the weight of poverty, and the influences of the street.  A few of us just gave up.  Our parents (lots of mothers, few fathers) did the best they could with what they had, so I can’t fault them, they tried.

I think about my boy and all the ways his life can be derailed.  The thought makes me nervous, and motivates me at the same time.  I know that if I leave him and allow the streets, (or plain old laziness) to swallow him up I’ll never be able to live with myself.  It actually amazes me how many dads can walk away from their children.  To me walking away from my son would be like deciding that I no longer need air or water to live.  I don’t know if my former classmate had a dad that loved and supported him, but I know that my son does.  I hope that it’s enough.