The child of today’s inspiration shall remain nameless, number and genderless. I have been in a tizzy these past few days trying to figure out how exactly to get through to said child. Rather dramatic have been the horrified wringings of my heart and hands. My child has been mean and spiteful to another child on a number of different occasions. I have accepted that my children are not angelic enough at school to warrant the unceasing praise of their teachers. We deal with creative crimes as they are discovered. What I can’t and won’t tolerate is being cruel to others. Such have been the agonies of my, “how do I parent this child,” mentality.
One of the things I hold on to is the belief that when you look for answers, you find them. It’s not an original idea. It feels personal because the truth of it has been so dependable for me.
I was guessing the answer fell somewhere in the way of the right firm consequence, words tender and wise enough to stir remorse, or an idea for restitution. I did my best at all of these. My troubled heart remained. Surely there was something more to do… The fever pitch of my worries gnawed at me.
I remembered my sadness when a girl in my grade three class was teased for her clothes. Now my own child was hurting other. While I waited for the answer, the following memories came to say hello.
Age 8: I tell my brother I have a surprise for him. I refuse to give it to him unless he closes his eyes and opens his mouth. He questions me. I am offended that he doesn’t want my gift. He closes his eyes and opens his mouth. I put a worm in his mouth.
Age 11: We watch a movie at church called, “The Cross and the Switchblade.” It’s about a man who goes to NYC to help kids caught up in drugs and gangs. At the end, the kids find Jesus. My friends and I love the movie so much that we decide to start a gang.
Gang activity one: Chase children visiting in the neighborhood out of the field we don’t own. Throw rocks and them and tell them not to come back.
Gang activity two: Capture young neighbour boy named Toby. Tie him to a tree and dance around him informing him of the power of our gang.
More memories did not seem needed. In the ensuing silence in my head, it was hard to avoid the following realizations: My child was not a write off in the compassion department. I was hardly a paragon of sweetness and light as a child. My offspring had been unpleasantly human not irreparably demonic.
Is it disturbing to know that remembering my life as a gang member left me ultimately hopeful and happy?