Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Who Owns the Streets

Oh, there's so much to tell you about my rambling life. Nick has another bully. This one has been bringing a knife to school. The days of the elementary school bully, the skinny neglected child who couldn't hurt a fly with a fly swatter are over. Many of the boys are the size of men.

Nick's the size of a man. He has his brown belt in karate. But I wanted to tell the principal of his school that it's all theoretical knowledge. I wanted to tell him that Nick sparred with his friend at a tournament and lost, even though he knew he has beat him sparring many times, because he didn't want to hurt his friend's feelings. I love that about my boy. He could look like a thug, a bouncer, a security detail, a bodyguard, but his mind is still a boy.

I wanted to tell Nick's school principal all that, but I had to keep it simple. What is happening now. What happened last month. What Nick saw with the knife. And the simple fact that I don't want my son to be forced to defend himself. He's a big puppy. He can wrestle in the grass with the best of them, but when it gets serious, he doesn't know how to react.

I got bullied the other day too. I was walking with a friend from church to get coffee. It wasn't even one city block to get there. But at the bus stop, the hair lifted from the back of my neck when I saw people standing there. I knew who these people were, the drug dealer and a drug addict.

"We're going to cross here," I quietly interrupted my friend's rambling. Couldn't she see what was going on? If she hadn't walked a bit to the right, I was willing to shoulder her into the road. I bumped her elbow and she crossed the empty road.

The drug dealer saw us cross. I thought we were casual. I thought we were obviously going to get coffee. I was sure he couldn't hear what I had said. I was sure what I had said was not offensive.

"What the fuck! Are you afraid of us? Do you think we're going to come get you? We'll get you," he yelled. "We're going to get you."

He went on, but my friend continued her story and didn't look up. I tried to focus on her words. I couldn't focus on his words either. I was planning what to do next in case he crossed the road after us. All of my hair was standing up at that point. I was in battle mode. We were almost to the coffee shack. There was a line of cars at the coffee shack. There was safety at the coffee shack, relative safety.

My friend continued with her story. A police car queued into the line. I could finally breathe a little deeper. I interrupted my friend and went to the police officer's window and tapped, smiling as he rolled down his window.

We were safe. I could report the harassment. I could relax walking back to church through another route. I could breathe more deeply in my car as I rolled out of that neighborhood that has deteriorated so quickly that drug dealers believe they own the very streets on a Sunday morning.

Thank you for listening, jb

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