Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Lonely Child (Part II)

I can't forget the month of the talent show. T.L.C. talked about it endlessly. Hyper-Boy has stage fright, unlike his mother. Every morning, every evening, T.L.C. talked about it. One morning I hear him coming across the lawn between our houses. I hear him because he is bawling, sobbing. I meet him at the door and ask what happened. His dad lost his permission slip for the talent show. He won't get up to take him to school to sign another one. T.L.C. is angry. I console him the best I can, wanting to go over and drag his father out of bed and tell him his child is worth more than a goddamn 1/2 hour of sleep. I reassure T.L.C. that I'm sure he can still be in the talent show. I almost go in and sign the damn permission slip myself but I know the school knows to call his dad at work and get verbal permission. This is a normal occurrence. When his parents go out at night, they don't really ask me to babysit. They call to let me know that he is home alone and will I be home in case he "needs" anything. There is no difference in this and asking me to watch him. I remind them that I put Hyper-Boy to bed at a certain time and T.L.C. cannot stay here. That's okay, they'll be home at 10. I said TEN. I stay up, afraid the house will burn or I won't hear him if he cries or calls. Most nights it is 11:00 or 12:00 or 1:00. This is neglect. I know this. I am ashamed that I do not turn them in. My other neighbor who watches Hyper-Boy is ashamed too. We are the worst sort of people in the world. We know everything and do nothing. We try to lead by example. What kind of example are we if we do nothing though? Who are we to dictate how another parent treats their child? He's fed. He's clothed. He has a roof over his head. He's not beaten nor abused. Or is he? Do not think I am a saint, for I am not. No matter how sorry I feel for him, sometimes he just downright gets on my last nerve.
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