In the laundromat I always have the most intimate experiences with children (no homo). Today a young Hispanic boy jumped onto a wobbly end table next to two red seats. The table was at the same level as the chairs and was connected by a black bar underneath. He treated the seats like an obstacle course or a hopscotch square, planting one foot on each then jumping onto the floor. He looked at me. I jolted my eyebrows in affected awe. He smiled; he was pleased.
He wore black Jordan III’s, orange and brown boardshorts, and had his hair in that subtle fauxhawk that’s popular right now, so that it was a little longer in back and hung down in a short spike on his neck. His two front teeth were missing. He was 5, I could tell.
I sat down after using the restroom and opened my book. He was running around, playing on the floor. I wanted to tell him as I saw his forearms rest on the ground, “Get up – it’s dirty!”Clearly he did not understand the concept of a dirty ground, that you shouldn’t play on it. His tall heavyset sister tried dragging him up. He was stubborn and yelled.
The matron slowly walked over – thick calves, hair in a bun on the crown of her head, a small purse slung across her body. She had big brown eyes and a frowning sullen mouth. She shook her head. The boy stopped, the sister let go. He knew what was coming. The mother took his ear. She walked with him in tow. He looked at me ashamedly, embarrassed, and as he moved his head the pain set in, he mouthed ow, but he didn’t say anything to save some pride.
Oh, how I remember the ear tweak! It was a mild pain that lingered. And how degrading it was. I sat with my naked feet on my slip ons, unabashed, and was glad to be an adult.