After months of trial and error, we are now on an upswing. I transferred him to a new school. The commute is longer, but he's much happier and lighter. On the way home from picking him up on his first day, I noticed he was more energetic and talkative. It was then I realized that no matter how resilient they can be, no child should have to carry a weight like that. Nor should any of us, for that matter.
In all this, I’m learning to change the way I communicate with him. I’m learning to be more patient and remembering to breathe when I feel things are out of my control. We're both realizing that this is hard, but in Tokyo, we are all we got. So we’re working on being kinder to one another.
Despite the challenges we faced initially, I don't regret my decision at all. I've realized that moving here, at this stage in his development, was the best decision I could have made for us. He's living the childhood I always wanted for him. There is a sense of safety in Tokyo that doesn't exist in the States.
We feel no sense of caution when walking home at night or when taking public transit. We don't flinch or hold our breath when encountering law enforcement. We don't experience any aggression from the citizens here (maybe the occasional staring contest, but I always win). He has a supportive environment at his school now, and he is freer than he has been in a very long time. As a bonus, because of our location, we can explore Asia significantly cheaper than we could back home. Right now, I am content.
Sure, it's possible that by living here he's experiencing a false sense of the reality that we may have to face if we go back to the United States. When he's a man, he may not know how to interact with police officers in a way that doesn't make him seem intimidating or threatening. He may not learn to keep his hands in plain sight at all times and learn the phrase "If I die in police custody, I did not commit suicide."
I do take all of this into consideration. But you know what? I'm okay with that. Because my only focus as a mother right now is to create an environment where my son can be exactly who he should be at nine years old: a child. And I couldn't care less on what continent that happens.
Written by Elmeka Henderson for Mater Mea.