Words.. Words these days are thrown around carelessly sometimes without understanding the full meaning of them. Sometimes they are meant to burn, maim and/or cut so deep that there’s no chance for healing. And sometimes, that healing can take a long time.
I remember this particular time my little cousin was at the mall with me. He was running around playing on this giant, ceiling to floor, honest to God Jungle Gym. That was its theme, the jungle. It had a tight rope bridge, the sliding bars on the ceiling of one floor that you could run and push yourself over the ‘lava pit’. A small rock climbing wall et cetra.
Well one day we go there, and I watch him meet up with a few children and begin playing with them. It was some kind of cross between Predator meets Indiana Jones, and I remember being amused by all the parents just staring at that group of kids like they were aliens themselves. But there’s one other thing I’ll always remember, the look on my younger cousins face, the look of anguish that no child should ever know. And it was all because of words that kids these days throw around without knowing their full weight.
Now I won’t post what that group of kids said to my cousin, it was vulgar, disgusting, things said that kids their age should not even know about and quite honestly. It made me want to give those ten year olds the wallop of their life. Still does to this day.
One of the lessons I teach my cousins, pseudo nephews, is that if you think you can talk big you better be ready to defend what you said. No one is going to go easy on you. Not even me.
Now when my cousin came and told me what was said, that lesson was all but lost in my mind. You see, I may try and teach them to do things on their own, to be independent. But I also tell them, there’s no shame in asking for help. In this case, he didn’t ask for help. He just wanted to go home. But those tears in his chubby cheeks, those soulful eyes filled to them brim with hurt made my blood pump, horns spike out of my skull and steam to rise. There’s one rule that I allow no one to break.
Don’t under any circumstances, hurt my boys and girls. That goes for nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters and cousins.
So I guess the look on my face as I got up and stared those little tot’s down must have been a bad one. Because each one ran to their ‘Den Mother’ for the day, hiding behind her moat of designer shopping bags and probably praying they were somewhere else.
The story ends with the Den Mother and I having a rather long discussion on just what her boys said to my boy, and just how much it hurt him. Among other things. I think she could understand where I was coming from, because all women have that innate feeling to protect their young, or rather any young that falls victim.
But I could also tell that she thought I was going to reach behind her and skin those children alive. No, not at all. While I may have wanted to give those children a spanking with that switch Grandma made the kids of my family go out and pick. Or maybe one of the many cooking spoons she had. Or that belt that could send fear straight down my spine and make me cry at the mere sight of it, I had no intention of doing so. Those are her kids, her responsibility.
This isn’t the small town where my Gram grew up, where just anyone could give you a whipping if they caught you doing something wrong. Sometimes I wish it was, just like in that case. But people now a days are getting so touchy on that subject.
While walking away, I knew my little cousin was angry and embarrassed by me. Probably, because when I said among other things, I meant almost on the verge of turning into a hungry wolf. I could understand how embarrassed he must have been feeling, which is why I didn’t say anything to him as he practically threw a fit on the way to the exit.
Not even when he said something that put a knife in my heart, just as those kids had put one in his. “I wish you weren’t my cousin!”
I knew by the same flush in his cheeks, chubby arms crossed in stiff positions across his chest, that he didn’t realize what he said. And definitely didn’t know how much it hurt. So when I got him some cookies from the workshop, that put that dimpling smile on his face, not once did I let on what I was feeling. I was just happy he was happy again.
When I didn’t pull out of the parking lot right away, I guess my cousin had time to understand and think about his words. He also guessed what was coming, when I unbuckled my seat belt to turn around and speak to him. Because all I got was one look and the words of a lesson I taught him.
“There’s no way I’d replace you.” When I gave him a slightly confused look and a grateful smile, he grinned. “You’re the one that told me there’s no such thing as replacement.”
And now pictures of some of 'my' kids.
This is Bradan and Steve Michael. Two of my cousins.
Luna and Jenna.
And finally Blaize. (I seek to embarrass him.)