A Tall Young Man

  6 feet 1 inch, 145 lbs. 

By the time my "little" cousin Edward turns 18, he will be a total of 6 feet 5 to 6 feet 6 inches. At 14 he is one of the tallest teenagers in my family, second to my other 14 year old cousin that stands at about 6'4" already. I spoke with him for about an hour today; I do this twice a month so that I can get a status report on his life.
I held him as a baby, then as a toddler. Eventually as the years went by and his vocabulary expanded along with his height I helped in his discipline, mental and emotional growth. His mother a strict woman that basically raised my siblings and me along with my parents is a strong supportive mother. He is an intelligent young man, involved in sports, hobbies and scholastic interests. As a young boy I remember not allowing him to play video games right after school when he came over so I could babysit him until he finished his homework. "Homework first" I would say, "trust me you will thank me later". I didn’t speak to him like he was less intelligent than me. I spoke to him with respect and authority. He would look up at me sideways but would quickly remember his place as a child and obey and respect my words. I am also very strict, like my mother and her mother before her. We are a family of very strong women and raise strong men. I am sure it can't be easy to grow up in a household full of demanding women, my brother can testify to that. But the respect we have for each other as a family is something that is rare now a days.

We talk about girls, we talk about school and basketball, weather and baseball, and we talk and talk about anything and everything under the sun. For a long time it was basketball and not baseball. When he was 10 I told him I would take on his basketball contract as a player in the NBA and manage him for 25%. He didn't understand numbers but agreed to my high percentage. The older he got the lower my agent fees got. He was getting smarter the little snot. Although this was all playful talk, he understood my interest and our family's interest in his future, education and hobbies. We inquired on a daily basis about school and his progress; he always brought home excellent grades. Like my brother, my sister and me before him.

My first cousin, his mother, put all of her trust in us, her family. We are her support system, and she is to us as well. She never questioned my ways of discipline; although sometimes she thought I was being a little hard on him she knew that growing up in the United States is different than in the Dominican Republic. She understood that she didn't have that experience although all motherly skills are the same; culture is a huge part of a child's future. She also understood we had grown up here most of our adult lives and had a better grasp of what children are exposed to. She trusted and didn't question my techniques. 

The question begs; what previous experience do I have on raising a child? Well my mother and father raised me. I grew up with a younger brother and sister and I looked after them. Learning is a process that doesn't stop, unless we chose to stop learning. This is how future good parents are made, the lessons my parents taught me will be the same ones I will teach my children. Just because I don't have any children at this time doesn't mean I am unable to teach or discipline or help raise a child. 

My parents did an amazing job raising us, and they will do an amazing job at helping us with our own children. I put my trust in them, like my cousin has put her trust in me and my mother put in her many years ago.
When I talk to my mother on the phone she still teaches me things, the job of raising a family is never ending. I listen although with reservations at times because of my hard headed nature but I still listen with great attention. I know she has the experience and the years to keep on teaching me. My 14 year old cousin listens to me. He knows I am his elder, he understands that although I am not his mother, I am a concerned participant in his development. He knows I am not just his cousin that played video games with him or talked about girls when he thought they were gross. He understands that I have been raised by a group of people that only want the best for me as they do for him. He loves and respects each one of us individually because we have shown him that it's not just about homework or discipline; it's about Love. You know you are loved when everyone around you makes the effort in helping you have the best opportunities life has to offer. 

Today we talked about his upcoming regions tests. We talked about taking practice ones and studying techniques I used when took my tests a hundred years ago. He laughed when I said I was so old I didn't remember much but I did tell him I scored second highest in my district. I am and will forever be a very studious person. I love school and learning in any form. My sister is an educator and my father made sure we learned mathematics very early in our lives. My mother is an incredible writer and musician. So passing that on to the future generation of our family is an honor and an obligation as a responsible adult. He listened and I listened to him as he gave me his own opinions about school and what high schools he was thinking of attending, he also told me he was growing a little beard. As we talked I couldn’t help but to smile. Smile with pride at the young man I was having a conversation with; the young man that used to bite my fingers as a baby, and head butt me as toddler. He is the same young man that calls me his aunt even though I am not. He is a 14 year old young man that stands at 6'1" in the 8th grade. The one I have helped raise.




Today we talked about tests; tomorrow might be about girls, we talk about them sometimes now they are not so gross. To him, I am not just the aunt that helps with his developmental growth; I am also a friend that is here for him not matter what. We are all proud of how he is turning out and look forward to his bright future. He is his mother’s pride. He doesn't have to thank me later. His gratitude shows in his respect and his actions. I am 3,000 miles away but I am right there next to him through it all. We all are and he knows that. People say it takes a village to raise a child, but the village starts at home. 

DiLaJames DiLaJames
31-35, F
1 Response Feb 9, 2010