Friday, March 21, 2008

Neglect

A couple doors down from us a family of three live in the basement suite; a Mom, a young boy (maybe 7 or 8?) and a little girl (4 or 5 years.)

The kids are often out in the neighbourhood on their own. The big brother takes quite diligent care of his little sister, relative to being a child himself. The children laugh and smile a lot but from time to time a sad face pokes out the window to me and only meekly says hi, barely above a whisper.

The children's mother is never friendly. In fact at a block party last year she was openly hostile but whatever. I am not writing this to judge her, that would be a post and a half, I guess. It is a pot of feelings I don't so much want to share.

What I say today is my appreciation of what good children these two kids are. They are really quite dear. They surprise me in my bourgeois ways. I feel a small measure of shame that it is remarkable for them to be such an attractive pair despite some obvious troubles, like a mother who neglects them at times, a spare living situation and a huge pile of garbage tossed out in the yard on a regular basis.

Such good children? I guess there is part of me that thinks they deserve to be less than good in their less than good situation? Ah, well I won't analyse it to death tonight. But I will count myself lucky for a new outlook on my own family compact.

I have a different perspective these days on my own children's disobedience and impertinence. I am grateful they have the luxury of their odd, idiotic or even foul behaviours. I know at times I shout like I was shouted at but I also know that it is rare. I know that they never shrink from me and I draw a goodly bit of pleasure that they can even tell me when I make a mistake I should have known full well. It is an eerie thing that I feel my little neighbours likely don't have this experience in their catalogue of existence. Their smiles smoothing over some distress.

I know my kids are no more perfect than these kids. Therefore I find that everyday I am managing to forgive myself a little more, and my mother-neighbour too. As the independence of my growing offspring asserts itself and their vessel-nature vanishes into a force of adventure I carefully apportion the modest influence I have. Will I be ready, will I move forward will I choose rightly? Will they be good children or no? Seems a fresh gamble but they know they have my faith if nothing else. I guess I'm just a sucker. But, what you gonna do?

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4 Comments:

Blogger kittenpie said...

I see much of that sibling care at work, but I also see that most of them are really nice kids. Not all, mind, but the ones who don't spend all their days loose and are clearly taught respect and values at home weather even lesser situations and grow to be nice kids.

2:12 PM  
Blogger NotSoSage said...

What a thoughtful, honest post, Mo-Wo. Let me think on it further. We are an anomaly in my extended family in terms of both financial security (haha, but relatively...) and level of...not care, but...attention? So there's a lot to think on.

7:16 PM  
Anonymous cheesefairy said...

I think your faith is an excellent thing to give them. & the ones down the street too.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Mad said...

I think of the girl at day care that hangs off me, always wanting a hug b/c she sees me being so affectionate with my daughter. I've seen her mother pick her up and there is very little physical touch. It baffles me.

8:22 PM  

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