Innocence, Paranoia, & Urban Survival: Fatherhood In 2012


Words by Tony Grands

Children are blessed with the gift of innocence. This innocence gives them the “ability” to not be effected by the grown-up problems & mature dilemmas that the adults around them have to tolerate daily.

Kids have no idea about the bill-paying & debt-collecting that goes on behind the scenes of most family units, & rightfully so, because it’s not their problem. Our job – as the village – is to raise & nurture & provide & protect & teach. Not necessarily in that order. If we adhere to this simple template, collectively, society wouldn’t be this pitfall-ridden mouse trap.

Now that I’ve graduated freshman fatherhood (I’m in my 11th year), the job is much easier. Not only are my kids able to communicate with me, but I’m now able to incorporate my experiences as a child into my experience as a parent. & in case you didn’t know, let me be the first to tell you that it’s terrifying.

The obstacles that I had to navigate – via my parents’ instruction – were nowhere near the size of the obstructions today’s kid faces. I talk about this sort of thing a lot on Twitter because, at some point, young people become parents, & without parents to tell you parental shit, where else would you get the information? The Internet.

Good parenting in 2012 is fueled by a healthy dose of paranoia, & a ton of common sense. Since said sense doesn’t seem to be common these days, it’s important to provide accurate knowledge for survival. Urban survival, so to speak. Without it, life can be a difficult field to traverse. For example, my pops often showed me ways of how to deal with the police. & damn it, it worked. I was pulled over twice on the same $5000 warrant, & not only did the police not impound the vehicle, but both times I was advised to hurry up & clear my record because all the cops aren’t as nice as them. Imagine if I hadn’t learned the fine art of chilling & remaining calm, one of the stronger points of urban survival. Between homeless animals, hungry hooligans, & irritated policemen, remaining calm can be the difference between making it home & being taken to the hospital. (Or worse.)

Today, however, with the world being so callous & predator-friendly, it’s hard to hide the ephemeral attitude of the real world. That means I have to explain things to my kids years before I planned on doing so. That – in a nutshell – breaks the chain of innocence that a child should be attached for at least the first 11 years of their life.

& even in places like schools or with relatives – gray areas where our children should be safely removed from harm & worry – lie derelict teachers, child molesting “family members,” virtual dead-ends, & random desensitizing violence piercing our lives, daily. As a father, the least we can do is equip kids with the necessary information because we can’t & won’t always be there to save the day.

Dads are protectors, & I learned long ago that information can protect you as well as any shield or shelter if wielded correctly. Dads are also the first line of offense, which we all know is just as important as defense, especially when you’re playing a game that’s not a game at all.

Words by Tony Grands


5 comments on “Innocence, Paranoia, & Urban Survival: Fatherhood In 2012

  1. Loki says:

    I love reading your pieces on parenting, its such a relief from the normal bullshit that permeates the internets.


  2. Soulrise says:

    Grands, I’m not a parent yet but this is something I’ve often asked myself when the idea of having kids has come up & I’m curious what your take is. How do you pass along survival skills/knowledge to your kids and scare them of the real dangers out there enough to get them to take it seriously but not enough to paralyze them with fear and mistrust of everything?


    • Tony Grands says:

      My pops kept it as real as he could, & some of it did paralyze me. Stopped me from having sex at an early age, from trying drugs, from joining a gang, etc. That’s healthy fear. & it’s necessary in 2012. A litle fear never hurt, but getting shot, stabbed, beat, or killed does. & it all boils down to the level of communication between parent & kid. Somebody you “don’t know” can tell you something & it sounds horrific, but someone who you love can say the same thing & it doesn’t sound as bad or it’s understood differently. Who’s to say if I’m doing it right or wrong, you know? But I’m doing it. I hope that counts for something.

      Also, I don’t tell them anything outside of what they see me do. Example, we see/walk past stray dogs all the time. I’ve repeatedly warned them about how dangerous they can be, & as I do so, I’m walking past the dog & telling them to do the same. Same thing goes for undesirable people. I tell them what I want them to know, & show them how to do it. We talk about fear when I tell them my life stories, & they know it’s something to be recognized but not catered to. I talk to my kids a lot, man.

      & I think it’s impossible to go about raising a kid without making mistakes, meaning I may terrify them occasionally, but I’d rather try & fail than to just flat out fail.


      • Soulrise says:

        Appreciate the response homie. I’m still figuring out how to impart a healthy dose of fear/awareness in my nieces & nephews without scaring the shit outta them like I did the other day.


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