“Get ya’ll bad asses in this house and shut up all that damn noise in there! I’m sorry Miss Mary, I appreciate you bringin’ the boys home for me. They’re always into somethin’, wit they bad asses. I don’t know why these kids is so damn bad or where they get it from. I need ta whip they ass more.”
Tamara took a drag off her Newport and blew the smoke in the air out over Miss Mary’s head. She stepped out onto the porch next to the woman and took a seat in one of the plastic chairs.
“Please Miss Mary take a seat.”
“Thank you, but I can’t stay long; I got some neck bones in a pot on low. It’s about time to add my beans. I usually make my butter beans with a left over ham bone and scraps or some ham hock but I decided to make ‘em with neck bones this time. I ain’t done that in years.”
“You sure can cook Miss Mary.”
“Well thank you sugar. I’ll bring you down a bowl when it’s done.”
Tamara threw her cigarette butt to the red concrete porch and stomped it out. Then she sighed hard and looked to her older wiser neighbor and asked a simple question.
“How you do it Miss Mary?”
“What you mean child?”
“How you always stay calm and got three kids, two in college and one about to go to school on a football scholarship. Your husband died when your kids was young and you ain’t got no more money than everybody else around here but you stay doing good. You live good your kids do good and you always got what you need.”
Miss Mary smiled then chuckled at the young girl’s statement before responding flattered.
“Well the first thing is Jesus; trust and believe in Jesus. He’ll give you peace and help you to make wise decisions. Invest your time and energy into what’s important, your children. Show the babies love all the time ‘cause sometimes it’s tough.”
Tamara took a second to grasp exactly what Miss Mary was trying to tell her.
“Well Miss Mary it’s hard to love these bad kids I got, they take after their daddies. No matter how much I holla, scream or beat, they still gonna be bad. Just like their daddies.”
Miss Mary took a moment to choose her words carefully before replying to Tamara.
“Well if it were me the first thing I would do is stop telling them that their bad, ‘cause eventually they start to believe it. Then they start being bad. I would make sure that they had plenty of positive activities to get involved in. Things they love to do, sports, clubs, drama, karate or something. Then instead of beatin’ on ‘em you can take away their special thing until they can behave themselves. Love them; tell them how much you love them everyday and encourage them to do good in their activities. Were their daddies good or bad?”
Tamara frowned up her brow as she tried to think about each of her baby daddies’ and their personalities.
“All four of them ain’t… nothing. They all bad Miss Mary, all of ‘em.”
“Well baby if all of them are no good then don’t keep tellin’ your children that they are just like them. Don’t continue the drama in their lives. If you used to fight and argue with the fathers and the children saw it then you are teaching them the wrong love lessons. When you yell and fuss at them all the time it teaches them bad love lessons. We should want our children to learn that we show the most love and respect to family. We need to protect not hurt the people closest to us. When I say hurt I mean physically, emotionally, spiritually or mentally. Baby you gotta stop being addicted to chaos; it’s not good for you or your babies.”
Tamara smiled then giggled.
“Addicted to chaos? Miss Mary you sure got some way of talkin’ but I hear you. I do like a lot of drama; maybe it’s time to stop all that. I’m gonna start being sweeter to my kids and maybe I’ll go to church with you sometime if you’ll take me.”
Miss Mary rose from her chair with a grunt and a stretch.
“Whenever you want to go to church honey; just let me know. I’ll be here bright and early in the morning to pick you up. Well you just think about it baby, I gotta go tend to my beans. I’ll be back with a bowl when they’re done.”
“Alright Miss Mary I’ll see you when you come back and thank you again.”
Miss Mary winked and smiled at Tamara. Tamara winked and smiled back in an attempt to start being more like Miss Mary as she watched her turn and walk down the road. Tamara turned and walked inside her house to prepare dinner for her boys. She decided that night she would ask her four sons what they wanted instead of just making whatever was the easiest. She summoned them.
“Boys, what ya’ll want for dinner tonight.”
They all ran to her feet from different places in the house with different requests for dinner. Tamara stepped back from them and silently looked down into their little faces. She realized how different and special they all were. She brought joy to their little hearts when she announced that she would make each of their meals and they would all eat them together. A group hug was had then they all told her of how they loved her and how she was the best mama in the whole world. Tamara had taken the first steps towards breaking her addiction to chaos.
Addicted to Chaos!