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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is it my judgment, or is it really there?

I hate that I've been too busy to post. I also hate that two posts in a row are about less than awesome experiences on the bus. So before i get started, let me again say that i've been very pleased with how safe, clean, and overall how reliable my bus riding experience has been so far (the washboard streets that are 5th Ave and Lafayette not withstanding).

But since school started back a fwe days ago, i've seen more and moor of what i would essentially call child abuse and i have to get it off my chest. Some things have been more severe than others to be sure, and much of it i think is just my own judgment and experience filter making me see things that aren't there or at least exaggerating them. Certainly nothing i would call child protective services about. But...

Examples: Parents feeding an 18 month old and his 2.5 year old sister Cheetos - which the children first use as crayons and rub on the back of the seat in front of them before popping them in their mouths, with no intervention by the parent. Gross, and nutritionally negligent, but probably not as bad as i judge it to be. Then there are cases like the picture to the right. A little girl that couldn't have been more than 2, allowed to wander the bus by herself and talk to strangers (including me) while her mom stayed on the phone talking to someone. More than once she fell when the bus stopped because she couldn't hold her balance. The mom never flinched.

But other things are severe enough that i can have no response other than to be sad. Sad for the child, sad for the parent, sad for that parent as a child because often times the hereditary nature of dysfunction is so obvious, that the parent might as well stand up on the bus and tell us all about when...

Then there was this morning: A little boy who looked to be about 6 got on the bus wearing a backpack with his mom. Now, first off, school started a few days ago and he was getting on the city bus heading into town with her to the transfer station at about 8:00am - and they had to run to catch the bus. So either he wasn't going to school or was going to be very late. After a while he got a few papers out of his bag and started identifying letters. Not reading, but just identifying letters. His mom helped him, and he got a few of them wrong but most right. While i think most 6 year-olds should be able to identify letters better than he could, it was still great to see her working with him and his clear desire to learn. But then it went bad. He coughed. A rough cough that may have explained why he was going to work with mom instead of to school. But he made a critical mistake and didn't cover his mouth (like most kids his age). His mom then proceeded to yell at him to cover his mouth...and then slapped him. Three times. Hard. In the mouth. Hard enough that i could hear the slaps over the noise on the bus from about 8 feet away. Then the really odd part - the mom started to rock her large frame (she was probably around 250-300lbs) back and forth in her seat, the way you see some litte kids do when they're upset. She did it for the rest of the ride in to the terminal (another 10 minutes). The child didn't say a word and quietly put his school work back in his bag and sat in perfect, still silence.

Was it really that horrible - I guess not really. But watching it happen i was just filled with pity and sympathy for the situation. Prior to the cough/slap i was thinking how this child might be the first of his family to attend college, maybe even graduate high school (they got on at the stop in the projects). This was a picture of hope and a better life. Then suddenly a history of abuse (which is almost always learned and passed down through families) reached out and quite literally smacked the kid in the mouth. This kid may still grow up to be a great person, be successful (by whatever measure) and even do well academically...

But wow... the scene just hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.


jc said...

Man this world is beyond screwed up. People are messed up and are creating messed up adults via their child raising habits.

Its a fact, a sad pathetic fact. A parent should have to take a test or a course before being allowed to have a kid.

Its funny, you can have/produce a kid of your own, but try to adopt 1! You are put threw the grand inquisition, wheres the logic there?

btw you need to post more, even if it is about bus ramblings. we get it, you ride the bus, you are much better human then we are! ;o) jk

Mel said...

Sometimes the only consolation I can think of is that God loves kids very much and the He says "if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." God will avenge those little ones - it just may not be in our timing.

The Musician said...

As for whether or not it was as bad as you think, let me tell you, from the kid's point of view (which I well remember and hated with every ounce of myself) getting slapped in the face is one of the MOST shaming acts a parent can do. It IS as bad as you think. I see grownups do it to each other in the movies and it seems as though culture embraces this behavior. I hate it. I hope that child is able to let go of that and not carry it on. Discipline has the root word of disciple in it. Which in older meanings meant to teach or to train. Funny how it never said: To beat into submission. hmmm

Matt Evans said...

Yes, yes it is that bad.

Matt Evans said...

Doh! My better half ninja'ed me.