The art of conversation and an invitation in asking

Red Lips of Young Woman with Bottle of Water --- Image by © Crisco/Corbis

A closed mouth don’t get fed-New World African Proverb

When, I yelled, ” I want Penis Privileges, just like your sons, they don’t have to do shit to get anything from you!” My Baba looked at me as if I had 3 heads. “That’s right I don’t want to work for your support or love because they don’t have to!” My father just sat there and stared at me with his head stilted to the side in awe.

I have no idea what took me so long to have a conversation with my brother on how he gets things and the supports he needs from my father. I silently accepted that boys had more freedom than girls from a young age. While my brothers were not spoiled with certain things, I would have traded freedom for a hair salon trip in a heart beat.

Little by little,  my Baba had started to reveal all the things he had been doing for my brothers over the years and I was in complete shock because I would have never even thought to ask for those things, I would only ask for small things, hell let’s put shit where it goes, my ass only asked for crumbs and most times I had to beg for what I wanted and I for sure had to work off any thing my father did or gave me.

I almost became enraged when my brother said, he just hit his pocket when he needed financial help from my father. I asked him if he had to ask my father’s then live in girlfriend for permission to do anything in the house and his response was, ” Why the hell would I have to ask her for permission to do something in the house I grew up in?” That went over my head, so I asked, “Does Baba, say you have to go ask, L for permission to do XY and Z. His response was, ” Hell Naw, is that what he makes you do?” I responded, ” Absolutely, every time!” My brother laughed and said, ‘that’s some bullshit!”

I wanted to behold their sacred dance of asking and receiving and as if  I were a a fly on the wall I watched the child of Oshun hit the side pocket of his cargo pants 3 times and then stuck his hand out without saying a word. My eyes got huge as I witnessed my Baba reach in his pocket and say with ease and no hesitation, ” How much do you need?” My mouth fell open and I almost fainted because he gave the amount and my father gave him more than what he asked for and after he handed my brother the money he said, ” Get your sister something to.”

My brother grinned like an 8 year old kid when he handed me some money, he let out a big Ha and said, “it’s just that easy every time.” I was in complete awe of my brother and bewildered at the same time because it had not ever been that easy to get anything from my Baba. The only thing that soothed me that night was the long wonderful kiss I got from Reggie…. my brother sat there staring at both of us, while a group of guys behind us chanted, “Dam Reg!”

I was going about getting what I wanted all wrong. Now don’t get me wrong I could always go to my father for advise, he knew most of my personal secrets but when it came to me getting something tangible or my father’s time and attention I had to work for it, I had to earn it and I was held accountable for everything I did. I felt like my father had raised me like a boy and my brothers like girls….. fyi, my brothers are not feminine or girly men, they just were not taught that they had to work for love and they were allowed their personal freedoms.

I figured if I couldn’t beat them I was going to join them and thus started my declaration to my Baba…..” I want Penis Privileges!” I can laugh now at the expression on my Baba’s face because for a minute he may have thought I was transgendering, but what I was really doing-was giving notice that the rules of engagement were changing and no longer was I willing to work  for my father’s love, support or time.

It wasn’t all my Baba’s fault I should have been able to set clear boundaries of acceptable behavior from my own father once I became an adult. More importantly,  I wrongly assumed my brothers had to work to earn love, respect and time with my father. They did not and it wasn’t until I asked them both how they got what they wanted from our father that our relationship began to change.  Has it been easy for my Baba to change to treat me better and differently no, however he has shown me over and over again he is committed to having a happy reciprocal relationship with his only daughter and I am truly grateful.

Adupe Baba

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