“Get the f**K out of the car!” was what I heard coming through my living room windows as I sat at my computer. I tried to ignore it and continued working, when I heard it again, this time even louder. Not wanting to be nosy, I continued to focus on my screen. Then a car door slammed and I heard, “Get you’re a** moving! Don’t f**king look at me like that! Move!” More yelling and swearing ensued, and finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to see what was making some guy so mad.
I walked over to the window and there, hovering over what appeared to be a four or five-year old boy, was the person with the filthy mouth. I immediately felt my neck hairs bristle, but I knew that if I said something, it could turn ugly for everyone. (I have a bit of a temper myself.) Trying to escape my own anger issues has been a life long struggle, so I turned and sat back down at my computer. I looked at the keyboard, but hate-filled words continued to flow through my windows and up my spine.
Finally, I had had it. I wasn’t sure what to do. I was afraid that if I did or said something it might make the situation worse for the boy. And yelling at a child isn’t against the law. Verbal abuse is horrible, but not illegal. So unless a physical action was taken against the boy, there really wasn’t anything to do. But I had to. I had to do something to save the boy.
As I opened the front door to my house, the man stopped yelling and looked at me. We made eye contact and then I opened my mailbox and peered in. It was still early morning, so the mail hadn’t come yet. I waited and looked inside my empty mailbox for a long moment as the man and boy stood on the sidewalk in front of my house. I closed the lid and turned once again to look at them. The man stood straight with his chest puffed out and fists clenched at his side. The three of us stood still as though we were having an old west standoff. He expected me to say something and I expected him to say something. But no words were spoken. My eyes went from the man to the boy and I smiled at him and nodded. The boy’s face didn’t change and I wondered how he could stand before his father, hearing such horrendous speech, without shedding a tear.
The man started off down the sidewalk and shouted, “Let’s go.” And the boy followed behind him. I watched them walk down the street and I hoped the boy would turn back to look at me. I wanted to wave at him or something. Something to let him know that his father’s behavior wasn’t right and that I heard. That it wasn’t a secret. That his value wasn’t measured by his dad’s words.
There was a part of me that also wanted the dad to turn around so I could let him know that it wasn’t right. I wanted him to approach me so that I could say everything that was going through my mind. But he didn’t look back and as I have learned in the past, fighting anger with anger never wins.
My heart broke for that child and I can still see his tough, hardened, little face looking at me. I hope that the father someday will bend down and hold that boy and tell him he loves him. Tell him he is sorry. And that the boy’s whole world will be brighter then it appeared that morning.
All of us have encountered a similar situation at some point in our lives. We see it at the playground, store, or right in front of our homes. When you witness parents bullying their child, how do you respond?
I respond by pretending to check my mail.