I'm sleeping in; I know I am. Can't unwrap from the covers, can't push from the mattress, can't pull from the dream. I'm in Black Lake, or maybe I'm somewhere else, but there are people there from Black Lake. I'm so happy to see one of my friend's sons, who is now a grown man, maybe twenty. I'm reminding him of how cute he was as a little boy. Reminding him of the laughs our families shared. Going on and on, putting him in the box of my memory, and he plays along until finally he looks at me and says, "You don't know who the f--- I am." In my dream I wander off. I want to be sad. I want him to see me walking alone. But as I fight to sleep in, fight to wake up, I know I need to hear something.
All day long, this dream sound-bite gnaws at my heart. The tenderizing hurts. I know this young man would never be so mean, but I also know his dream words ring true. As I look from young man to young man in my classroom, I don't know what each one faces when he steps into the hallway, when he walks home, when he takes the bus out to the reserve, when he goes into the city with his friends.
Tonight we'll have supper with the cousins; then Brian, Angela, Michael and I will talk a little about a book we're reading called Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. It's really been messing with my mind. The premise is that when men and women are in relationship, they both need love and respect, but women are better at love and men are better at respect. I hate cliche, and the premise based on Ephesians 5 sounds so stereotypical, yet as I've read (and listened on tape), I do hear my relationship with Michael being exposed.
If I can dream speak tonight, I will say to my friend's son, "You are right. I don't know everything you face in life. In fact, when I imagine the difficulties of navigating our modern world as a young man, when I imagine what broken treaty has done to the fabric of our communities, when I know you did not grow up with a dad in your life, I know you are right, and I need you to know that I respect you. I respect you for speaking the truth to me. I respect you for going to school. I respect you for taking care of younger relatives. I respect you for holding your tongue so often when you have every right to yell, 'You don't know who the f--- I am.'"