Suza: Mama, I wish…

Columnist Walter Suza writes of a Black child’s wishes, comparing them to their reality. 

Walter Suza

Child: “Mama, I miss my daddy. When will he come back?”

Mama: “Honey, it will take a while, but your daddy will be back home someday.” 

Child: “Mama, some kids at school were making fun of me the other day because Daddy is in prison. Why is Daddy in prison, Mama?”

Mama: “You know, honey, Daddy is in prison because they said he committed a crime.” 

Child: “Mama, what crime did Daddy commit?” 

Mama: “Honey, they said he stole candy and cigarettes, so he was sent back to prison because he was on probation.”

Child: “Mama, what is probation?” 

Mama: “That is when someone can be allowed to leave the prison, but must never make another mistake. If they do, they are sent back to prison.” 

Child: “Mama, I’m sorry. I was the one who ate the candy that was on the kitchen table. Please don’t be angry with me.”

Mama: “Thank you for being honest with me. I am not angry. I love you.”

Child: “Mama, do you think the police hate us? Sometimes I dream that the police have shot my little brother like they shot that boy near my school. I’m scared of the police, Mama. The sounds of the sirens wake me up at night. Mama, I have many wishes.”

Mama: “What do you wish for, honey?” 

Child: “Mama, I wish my daddy would be forgiven so he can leave prison and come home. I wish that all my friends’ daddies would also get out of prison.”

Child: “I wish we could have lots of gifts for Christmas, Mama, but I also wish that our house would not be dark and so cold like last year.” 

Child: “Mama, I also wish that our water did not taste bad and you don’t have to worry that if I drink it I might get sick.” 

Child: “Mama, I wish that you did not look so sad each time you opened the fridge. I wish that we had enough food to eat and my little brother and I wouldn’t feel hungry so much.”

Child: “Mama, I wish that my head didn’t hurt and the people at the clinic were nice to us even though you don’t have money to pay them.”

Child: “Mama, I wish my friend’s abuela did not catch corona and die. My friend Elena cries all the time because she is going to be taken away to live with another family. Mama, I will miss my friend.”

Child: “Mama, I wish you didn’t have to work late at night so you could be home with my little brother and me. I try to sing him to sleep, but he gets scared when he hears the sound of gunshots. Mama, did you know that he still remembers the day that girl was shot and killed in front of our house?”

Child: “Mama, I wish that my friends and I could walk to school without fear of the men outside the building. The other day one of the men waved his gun at us.”

Child: “Mama, I wish I could become a police officer when I grow up so I can protect you and my brother.” 

Child: “Mama, I wish I could speak to the whole country about those little kids inside cages we saw on TV. I want to help them and their parents so they can stay together as family.”

Child: “Mama, I wish I could become a doctor so I can stop the pain in your feet.”

Child: “Mama, I wish I could learn how to fix the lights and heat in our home and make our water taste better.”

Child: “Mama, I wish our street could have trees and flowers and the playground could have new joy rides and be free of all those nasty syringes and needles.”

Child: “Mama, I wish we had more fun places to go so my friends and I could be happy like rich kids on TV.”

Child: “Mama, I wish I could grow a lot of food and give it away to my friends and their families so they aren’t hungry like us.”

Child: “Mama, I wish we could go live at the place in my dream — a place where many people who look like us live — in houses made of gold and surrounded by gardens of lilies and roses.” 

Child: Mama, when I grow up, I want to learn how to write so I can share the message from the people in my dream that our pain will not be forever. We will all return home where the only language of life is love.”