My brother, Noah, has lived in prison for the whole time I’ve been a parent.
I’ve never been one to hide the truth. I especially do not hide what our real life is from our kids.
I brought my firstborn, Greyson, behind prison walls when he was just months old. We continued our visits for months after that and months after that. It has become a new normal for my boys, our family.
Since Greyson is older now, I bring up his Uncle Noah anytime I get the opportunity. I explain to him where he is and why he is there and what kind of person he is.
There are no filters. No pretend. We’re real and raw.
I want to teach my dudes that life is hard and when the time comes (and it will) that they are feeling insecure, or didn’t quite get that grade or make the team… that I’m here. And if I’m not, there are good people out there that will be there to help get them back up or point them in the right direction. I want them to know that when the bad stuff comes along, they need to turn to the good. Because if they don’t, they will turn to the not so good and it’ll quickly spiral into poor choices. These poor choices may lead them to a dark place in life.
I’ve always felt like Greyson “got it.” He knew where his uncle was and why he was there.
Tonight we were playing Legos with Greyson. He built a jail with a gate and said; “Only bad people live in here.”
I immediately corrected him and said, “Just because people did naughty things and got locked up, doesn’t make them bad people.”
What was I thinking… he is 4 years old. He’s never “got” what I’ve been talking about.
What am I thinking? I don’t even fully understand this crazy life sometimes and I’m 34!
Living life behind prison walls through a child’s eyes has been life awakening.
There are so many different journeys with families, friends, and loves living behind those prison walls. And we get to see each every time we go and visit, watching and listening to all the children during visitations. The last time we went to visit Noah, a little girl was telling Greyson all about why her uncle was there. Sometimes you can’t help but laugh at the perceptions kids have. Even though those walls cause so much heartache it gives me so much perspective on life.
Kids ask the most thoughtful questions and say the funniest things. Which is sometimes all we need to hear to put a smile on our faces when times are sad and to really think about what certain things mean.
Noah and I were talking on the phone last night and he was telling me the things his daughter is now starting to ask my mom, (who is caring for her). She asked, what is an addiction? And questions following to make sure she doesn’t choose “addiction.”
… I don’t even think I knew what addiction was until about last year… let alone, how to control it…
As we were leaving our most recent visit my oldest said, “Mom, prison is so much fun!”
Ok… I don’t know if I ever want my kids to call prison “fun” (ha!) but… when all you can eat is out of the vending machine, I guess I would think that is pretty cool too.
I read somewhere that 1 in 20 kids have a parent in prison. And I’m sure that number is continuing to grow. Even though the kids make us laugh this prison thing off most of the time, it’s been interesting to hear and watch our children’s perspectives on life behind those walls.
Noah has started to write on our business’s blog regularly. An 8th-grade teacher is now starting to incorporate these letters into her curriculum. When I heard this news, I cried. It took my breath away. I can’t wait to hear these 8th graders’ perspectives. I also am very thankful to this teacher for talking to her students about choices that they will face and how to make the decision that will not lead them here. Let’s try to help reduce that 1 in 20 stat!