family & parentinggetting older

I was waiting for a moment, but the moment never came…

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I never thought I’d write a “kids today” blog — especially not in my 2nd blog out for this site. In fact, I had another blog practically written, one I anticipated polishing up once I got home last night until I happened to catch the earlier train  from work and happened to sit next to a group of high school boys so insulting, so incredibly ignorant, that I spent the rest of the commute composing this very blog in my head.

I am familiar with and accept the notion that “boys will be boys” — in fact, I sometimes am willing to let downright not-nice-crassness go because of it (with a blue velvet Virgin Mary perched above the toilet in my guest bathroom, who the hell am I to judge on crass?), but these kids went beyond even my limits.

It started innocently enough, ragging on each other, finding ways to push each other’s buttons. Of course this led to questioning one another’s masculinity by way of their sexuality. I don’t appreciate this kind of banter, but I get it. In the mind of a boy (or, sadly, many grown men), if you’re going to low-blow, go right for the nuts. But this wasn’t about fucking around for the sake of fucking around — this was about going for blood and spewing a lot of hatespeech in the process:

“You’re a fucking faggot–you know that? A fucking faggot. You tried to kiss my cheek. What kind of nigger are you, anyway? I don’t kiss other niggers — I kiss bitches!”

And no matter what this alleged cheek-kissing kid said, no matter how temporarily the conversation veered, the Boy Who Cried Striaght kept at it:

“Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with? What kind of nigger are you? Why the fuck are you such a fucking faggot? You realize you’re a fucking faggot right? I just wanna fucking beat your ass.”

Now, I’m not going to debate the use of gratuitous cursing or  the N-word. I feel by disallowing any word, you give it a greater power than if you accept it, which is why I have no problem having a potty-mouth of my own, and admittedly, freely use the slang terms for my own ethnicity at leisure. So, I don’t judge them for that — but it was  the emotion behind it that railed against every part of my being. Every time one of them called the other a “nigger,” there was such a palpable, hateful force, I caught myself flinching.

This also made me realize the anger and hatred they felt was not just reserved for others: their lips didn’t just snarl when they talked about the “faggots” or the “bitches” they had “one-and-done”d. No, this anger seeped into every bit of their life, in every part of them — for others, for themselves, for all the things they didn’t understand and didn’t want to.

More interestingly was the obvious discomfort their presence brought to the other passengers. No one dared question them or asked them to quiet down or stop saying such offensive things. Everyone averted their eyes and shifted uncomfortably in their seats, scurrying quickly past them on their way to the exit when their stop had finally come. I understand this spoken rule; it is the rule all commuters know: keep your head down, your eyes averted. Don’t make contact on the train. Don’t engage in the crazy.

But at the same time, this gave these boys more power. With every passing moment, they realized their hold on the other passengers and knew they were free to engage in their animosity more loudly, more aggressively. The more time passed, the more obscene they became, and the more the rest of us pretended to ignore it. By the time they exited the train, I was angry — angry that I had to listen to that for the majority of my commute, angry I didn’t try to do something about it.

There are plenty of logical reasons that I didn’t, reasons that I am comfortable with accepting: trying to talk down to a large group of riled-up half boys/half men is no small feat — and considering their view of “bitches,” hearing anything out of my mouth probably would have been dismissed before half the words were even out. Beyond that, I was intimidated by this group — afraid of their energy, afraid of their complete lack of respect. Maybe it’s justification, but being aware of that disconnect made me feel like this was truly a crew of Lost Boys, unable to be saved by me — or anyone else.

Admittedly, I could have  put on my headphones and tuned them out. I could have shrugged them off and chosen not to subject myself to the 40 minutes I listened to their self-inflicted hate speech. But a part of me wanted to listen — a part of me was waiting for them to reach a redemptive moment where I could still see their innocence, still see something relatable, or human, or compassionate. Sadly, that moment never came.

If anything, they found a way to attack my senses on a deeper, more fundamental level.

As the Boy Who Cried Straight continued to verbally defecate on the alleged cheek kisser, as insults about hairlines, clothing choices, word choices, bodily function, and physical appearance flung back and forth, peppered liberally with “fucks,” “shits,” “niggers,” “assholes,” and other crudely constructed phrasings, one particular mudsling stood out:

“Look atch your ugly face — you look like Herbert the Frog or some shit.”

I did a Google search to be certain there was not another famous frog out there of whom I’m unaware. And unless this little homophobic shit stain was showing the one remaining soft spot left in his heart by way of referencing a beloved book from his childhood or a random YouTube clip (which has nothing to do with “kissing bitches”), I’m pretty sure this little prick managed to make Jim Henson roll right round in his grave.

After today, I understand whole-heartedly why so many children, gay or straight, feel even more uncomfortable being themselves than what’s normal for puberty, why depression drives so many kids who shouldn’t even think about suicide to hang themselves in their bedroom closets, why the horrors of middle school or high school truly are horrific. If I had to endure this kind of hate-fueled mental rape  for  8 hours a day, 180 days of the year instead of the mere 40 minutes to which I was subjected to it, I don’t think I could make it without breaking either.

The experience had a two-fold effect on me: all at once I could feel my ovaries recoiling, reluctant to ever want to release any egg that could potentially spawn into a human being so devoid of respect, love, or consideration as the ones I witnessed yesterday afternoon. I never want to have to accept the possibility that good parenting be damned, my child could somehow be swept into that awful mess of a mindset.

But, at the same time, I felt a new-found desire to procreate — to do my part to raise the next generation to be the antithesis of those boys, to raise the child who understands the importance of respecting others, who wants to make sure others are accepted, who wants to somehow champion for others when they’re not really even sure how to champion for themselves. I don’t want my children to have to be exposed to such ugliness, or to live through it, but I want to instill in them the things they need to survive it, to prevail despite it. I will teach them to accept others, no matter who they are or what their color is or who they choose to love, to never use words that are driven by hate, to respect women, to treat others with kindness, to know — and be mindful — of other people’s breaking points and sensitivities, to speak in indoor voices on the train, to not keep their feet in the aisle while other passengers are trying to pass by. My children will be the beacons in a bleak night. They will be the ones who restore hope in the older generations, who are polite and listen and say things worth listening to — not because they are so sensationally bigoted, but because they are thoughtful, and funny, and kind. Most importantly, my children will know who the fuck Kermit the Frog is and will never use his name in vain.

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3 Responses to “I was waiting for a moment, but the moment never came…”

  1. “But a part of me wanted to listen — a part of me was waiting for them to reach a redemptive moment where I could still see their innocence, still see something relatable, or human, or compassionate. Sadly, that moment never came.”

    Hope. That’s good. Painful, at times, but good.

  2. haha i love this despite how it makes me feel like my skin is crawling. ‘ovaries recoiling’ should be the title of its own work.

    i can deal with a lot of namecalling, but ‘faggot’ is among the short-list of ultimate taboos. and herbert the frog…i weep for the here and now, let alone the future.

  3. We live very close to one of the local high schools and I see these kinds of goofballs quite often. And when I take the dog for our nightly walk around 10 or 11 p.m. I see these thugs and dorks driving around like homicidal pinheads — screeching their tires; going 7,000 mph down residential streets; screaming profanities and more or less acting like sentient garbage. To a lesser degree, I see them on the bus too, although they seem to gravitate more toward our light-rail system.

    I generally ignore them as best as possible. There would be no point in engaging them. And my guess is that most of them bark much louder than they bite. So it’s fairly easy to laugh them off.

    Most of the time.

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