Sometimes being a parent is hard for unexpected reasons.
was storming around in the street with her friends Z. and C., and a friend of C.'s whom we shall call A. It's a short dead-end street, so they're allowed to fool around in what would normally be a lane of traffic. I happened to be popping out of my cavern in the bowels of Rancho Lake to discuss pizza when I heard an adult yelling. There was a very angry man in a big black Suburban dropping f-bombs at the kids.
Never one to step away from injustice (well, rarely, but those are stories for another time), I booked it out into the street, to realize this was A.'s dad, and he was ripping A. up one side and down the other, all from behind the wheel of his large SUV.
This pretty much stopped me cold.
If it had been anyone other than a parent of one of the children, I would have been on 911 and
on them like stink on a stool sample. But I have a lot of trouble, socially, morally and legally, with interfering with another parent. I also didn't know the context -- had he been out combing the neighborhood for A., for example, frightened for his son's safety?
A. got in the back of the Suburban, Dad backed it up, fast, nearly hit another vehicle, began cursing at the top of his lungs out the window at the other driver, and shortly thereafter departed the scene. the_child
, Z. and C. stood around staring at their feet for a minute, then got back to the serious business of skateboarding.
I have this near-absolute sense of parental privilege. But this wars with my sense that some parenting is abusive -- coercive behavior, many forms of physical punishment, religious extremism, social isolation. (Hence my strong feelings against home schooling, for example.) Any
adult treating any
child the way A.'s dad was treating him would have got a big fat piece of my large and burly self, along with a side order of police officer, except that he was the parent.
I still don't know what would have been the right thing to do.
To deepen my sense of queasiness, when the pizza was around, C. (who lives in a setting I am virtually certain is abusive, but have no conclusive way to prove) ate a couple of pieces, then said he wasn't sure he should eat more since he had to go home soon. I quote, "My dad might let me have some food tonight."
What the hell do I say to that
? This child is always very hungry, and he is very lean. All I could say was, "have some more pizza."
In slightly better news, another financial gift is being delivered to the Neighbor today or tomorrow, when next I see her. (See http://jaylake.livejournal.com/tag/neighbor
for an explanation of this, if you weren't reading this blog last August and September.) I've got $100/month pledged through next September from several sources -- all of them anonymous to her. It's not much, but in her world it makes a huge difference.
It's fun to fight Chinese submarines and mount giraffe calvary charges in my head, but back in the real world, some people have really sucky lives. There's not much I can do to fix that, sadly.
In more better news, the_child
's party is tomorrow, and her actual birthday is Sunday. Hooray for 9!