It was almost 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The sun was shining but it was still chilly out. I’d gotten off the El at 52nd, stopped for a few groceries then made my way to Spruce Street, listening to Spotify, lost in my thoughts. I hadn’t noticed them at first; I’d only looked up because the sidewalk had narrowed and I caught the sight of three people walking towards me.
I popped out my headphones and sized up the brood for the purposes of deciding whether to stick to my guns and make them move or be polite and allow them passage. It usually depends on who’s coming towards me, how they’re walking, if they’re smoking, smiling – look, I have an entire criteria for the basis of my decision but now is not the time for that blog.
Sauntering towards me was a stylishly modern dressed woman, probably about twenty or so, walking with two little children. They each wore little puffy snow suits. The boy, dressed in blue and girl, dressed in pink. Both looked under 6. Their little feet were pitter pattering trying to keep up with the woman.
For some bizarre reason I always take notice whether little kids are walking in front of their parent or behind them. The woman was walking in front of the children. If you didn’t look closely you wouldn’t even know if they were together. She was texting, or checking Facebook or playing canasta, who knows, what she wasn’t doing was paying attention to the babies walking behind her.
My thoughts started racing about how unloving and uncaring to be so selfishly involved with your own desires that you can’t take the time to hold your children’s hands while walking outside. I mean holding hands is the universal sign for love; it’s the umbilical cord of protection a parent can give to their child.
Yesterday I watched a mother lift her child by the underarm pit and hoist him on the bus. Hoisting a 6 year old little boy by his underarm pit?
In that moment it dawned on me that our children are mentally screwed up because of the tiny choices we don’t make. The decision to hold your child’s hand may seem trivial and inconsequential in the busy, frustrated hubbub of your planet revolving around you even though you have sole responsibility for the health and welfare of the children you’ve spawned into this place —> world. Just fast forward twenty some odd years and realize that you’ve put a grown man into the atmosphere who has no inkling that holding hands is one of the most romantic and secure gestures he can give his woman. But he won’t because holding hands holds no warm and fuzzy feelings for him. He can’t relate because he doesn’t have anything to associate it with. Just like warm and reassuring words confuse him. He’d rather argue and fuss since he has blurred the lines of what showcasing love is due to being raised by a non-demonstrative woman.
I can’t help it; my thoughts typically veer in that direction when I think about crimes being committed by young people, the domestic violence, and the disrespectful attitudes. While it’s true that we each have a personal responsibility to control our behaviors, regardless how we are raised, we still can’t overlook the fact that these behaviors all come from somewhere.
I was full-fledged into the throes of my thoughts when I admonished myself and tried to stop.
I doubt myself sometimes.
I’ve been told time and again that I over react; think “too deeply” and allow things that really shouldn’t or don’t matter to invade and take up my space. I chastised myself a little. “Chill out Iya, so she’s walking ahead of her children, it’s not that serious. Calm down, don’t be so judgmental, and anyway it’s not your concern.”
No sooner than the words scrolled across my mind, I saw it happen.
It was as if it were occurring in slow motion. The little girl was teetering alongside her brother; it looked as if the snow suit was pulling her off kilter. I watched helplessly as one of her tiny unsteady steps caught up with her and she fell face forward on the concrete.
Her forehead hit the pavement with a sickening crack.
The little boy stooped to aid her, with the help of his tiny hands they struggled and as she up righted herself I watched her precious little face contort into a twisted cry of anguish. There they stood, two tiny little human beings stopped by an accident neither of them could fathom. There was no blood, just a grotesque knot rising in the center of her forehead like a cartoon wound.
Unbelievably the woman kept walking. She didn’t look back. As she was walking past me I said “You’re daughter fell and hit her head!” I was frantically pointing to the child and trying to stop the woman from continuing to walk. The woman gave me a bewildered look, cocked her head to the side and pulled an ear bud from her ear. “What?” She turned and saw that the child was crying. There was this look in that baby girls eyes, it was the realization of pain creeping up on her and a wide eyed stare that she gave her mother moments before her screams hit the airwaves. It was disbelief. Disbelief and pleading. Her eyes were pleading for help.
I wanted to pick the child up. My heart was drenched with tears. My only solace being the other mother arms there to scoop her up.
They didn’t scoop.
Instead she, in her embarrassment, turned to this vulnerable crying little girl and said “see that’s why I told you to slow the hell down!”
I kept walking because I didn’t know what else to do and my heart was breaking on a public street. “Shut up! Stop all that crying!” I turned to see that mother-sister-aunt-babysitter grip the little girl up by her armpits, raise her to her face and scream “Shut Up!”
The center of my forehead began hurting. I pinched the area between my eyebrows, squeezed my eyes shut and thought about the woman’s words “see that’s why I told you to slow the hell down” her words made no sense, her actions made no sense and I couldn’t help but think that society would run into this little girl twenty some odd years from now and she would be the girlfriend screaming at the top of her lungs to the boyfriend who wouldn’t hold her hand.
I will not doubt myself again. I continue to fully indulge my thoughts I am not the one who must be admonished.
The decisions we make. The choices we take may seem trivial and inconsequential but each thing we do or choose not to do, our children, or the children we have influence over will relate and associate with them. We are the source of reassurance and confusion. We are the ones who must focus blurred lines of showcasing love. Bad behaviors all stem from careless interactions.
God I wish I could have picked that child up and kissed her swollen face. I’ve been told that I feel things so fully that your pain can actually become mine. My forehead was throbbing, my tears were cresting and I prayed this transference of energy eased that little girls pain for now.
Something told me this wasn’t going to be her last fall.