As the children went to assembly, I retained D, a young black child, behind to help him with his Maths as he was struggling a bit with it. On the course of the 15-minute session, as we went through multiplication by chunking, we discussed a whole range of topics from his favourite football team, to his favourite film, to what he did on the weekend, to cartoons, etc. And then an unusual subject cropped up:
“I’ll get you a DVD, Mr Said, what film do you want? He said.
“Isn’t it a little expensive, D? I replied thinking how he could get hold of one.
“No, I’ll get you a pirate one,” came back a casual answer
“You watch Pirate DVD’s? You know it’s illegal right D?
“I once stole a DVD from the China-man,” he says with a smile
“You stole a DVD? How?”
“I was looking at it and the Police came after him, so I put it in my bag”
“And you went home and watched it?”
“What did your mom say? Would she allow you to watch it if she knew you stole it from the China-man?”
“She knows I stole it. She helped me steal it”
“What? I say surprised, “your mom helped you steal a DVD?”
“Yeah, we ran and the bus was there and we pretended to be running for the bus and we went home”
“So you think it’s alright to steal, D?”
He shrugs his shoulders, turns towards me, and smiles
“I don’t know”
He is right. How could he, at 9 years old, contradict his mother decision and discern that the actions she approves of are wrong? And could I tell him that stealing is wrong?
A mother is the child’s first teacher, his first insitution where he learns almost everything there is to learn about life. He soon will start to imitate her actions and this lays a rigid foundation for everything he undertakes later on in life. Would he take it from me then, when, at home, his parents consent to such behaviour? Most black parents are very strict with their children and teach them enough discipline to distinguish whats right from wrong from an early age, but the few that condone such beahviour tarnish the reputation for many good black parents.