Ending the Cycle

10 11 2009

Lately I’ve returned to my pre-pregnancy early morning workout routine. While it may suck to wake up at 5:30am and it definitely sucks to be physically active at that time, it is great to be able maximize my time with Azita in the evenings. This means that I have been able to go for walks with Roger and Azita in the evening after Roger is done with his run.

Tonight, we combined our casual evening walk with a chore and walked to the supermarket to pick up some items that were missing for dinner. It was a pleasant walk. The weather was beautiful and not too cold or hot. All of the street lights were working, so we could actually see where we were walking. Azita was in a good mood. Then the night turned sour.

We heard a child scream and start crying. When we looked towards the racket we saw a man with a little boy, and something in his behavior was clearly not kosher. He was just a little too rough with the child and his tone of voice was just a little too malicious. Both Roger and I had the same thought. We needed to keep an eye on this situation. And, I was glad that we did, because not two minutes later when we had gotten about halfway down the block, the man smacked the child on the head. Not just once, but a few times. The child’s crying just agitated him more and culminated in him yanking the boy by the arm so hard that the boy fell forward onto the ground.

That was the last straw for us. Roger was already calling 911 before I could even ask him to get his phone out. Luckily another good citizen — a man biking home from work — noticed the distressed child and also stopped. He talked calmy to the man and explained that we were concerned about the child and just wanted him to wait until the police could talk to him and clear things up.

Long story short, the police came. They explained to the man, who said that this was how you handled children in his native Honduras, that this was not acceptable treatment of a child in the state of Virginia — “You can spank a child, but you cannot hit a child.”

It wasn’t long before we were back home just a block away from the incident, feeding Azita dinner and drawing her bath. Yet, even after an evening of cuddling and playing with Azita and relaxing conversation with Roger, I am still shaken by the whole ordeal. I mean really shaken. As in, my insides feel like they are being rattled about in a rock polisher.

It is an upsetting situation and one that hits close to home. See, when I was growing up, I was the kid who sometimes prompted people to say something to my mother, but I was usually the kid that people tried to ignore rather than cause a scene. In hindsight looking back on things as an adult, I know that somebody should have stopped and paid attention and done the right thing.

I say this as a person who can understand both sides. Because as much as I still feel the shame and hurt of being the recipient of this kind of treatment, I don’t think my mother is an evil person. And I really don’t think the villain of tonight’s saga is really an evil person either. Some of this behavior may be cultural — different levels of physical violence are accepted forms of discipline in many countries — and some of it is borne of the frustrations of being a stranger in a strange country with very little to your name and a life of very hard work ahead of you. Much harder work than I will ever know. And, I will never really know how hard it is to make it in that situation, because my parents took that on themselves for our sake. I have empathy for them and their situation in life.

Still, sometimes all it takes for someone to realize the very real ramifications of their actions is for someone else to give them a little wakeup call. I hope that tonight we were the wakeup call this man needed.  I hope that I was able to do for that boy what no one did for me or my sister.

Because I really just can’t bear to think otherwise.

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One response

11 11 2009
Michelle Garrison Hough

Very wise words. It would be hard for most people not to judge that man, and you did not judge him. You can recognize that people are not the real problem. That is enlightened thinking.

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