As I write this I am sad. Sad and still a little bit in shock. I live in a peaceful neighborhood full of young children and hard working, dog walking parents. Everyone decorates for everything. Everyone takes care of their yards. There are block parties. It is one of those kinds of neighborhoods.
Except for one house...
The family that lives in this house does most of the living in the front yard. It is one big fishbowl. The neighborhood historians…or busy bodies if you will, tell me the house was purchased many years ago by a family and it has stayed in that family. The oldest daughter never left. She married, they had three children, two daughters and a son and they all have children living in the house. Or, weather permitting on the front lawn. Winter has been non-existent where I live so I see it all as I faithfully walk my own two dogs each day or go jogging. There as a table on the lawn with several chairs where they all gather, a BBQ that gets a lot of use. A wade pool in the heat of summer. There are always children running around. There is a big dog and several cats. They drink a lot of Gatorade which seem such an odd drink of choice for this group. I have also heard in passing that no one in the house works. They seem to be collectors. Collectors of junk. And every couple of weeks they load up a big trailer and haul it off somewhere. Whatever they don’t haul they store on the side of the house.
The other morning as I headed up the street on a jog I witnessed a whole new level of living. Two men (the older patriarch that lives there and one that does not) came barreling out of the house and proceeded to get into a violent fight in the driveway. There was loud cursing and threats and arms flailing and finally the larger man threw the smaller one to the ground before two more occupants of the house came running out. It was hard to witness and it stayed with me my entire 45 minutes out. By the time I arrived home there were several police cars on the street and as I passed one of the cars, I saw the smaller man, looking smaller than ever in the back seat.
This smaller man who was heading to jail I know to be the on and off again boyfriend of one of the daughters that lives in the house. It is hard to say how old she is, but they have a child together. He is a dwarf, not 5 feet tall, with a mental disability and no education after middle school. In reality, he will never be a man, but he is a father. And now he is behind bars for breaking and entering with the intent on doing harm. I add all of this because I think that is relevant that of all the men in the world, this girl chose to have a child with this one!
This boy was born with the odds already stacked against him and he had no support system to help him succeed in any way. This girl was born into a family where it appears building self esteem with education, getting a good job, and finding a man with goals and aspirations BEFORE having kids were never topics at the dinner table.
This has nothing to do with the “haves and the have not’s”. My parents were not rich. They actually struggled tremendously, but I never knew this until I was older. They still had style and grace and my siblings and I had values and knew right from wrong. They were not college educated but they worked hard and passed these qualities on. As an adult I have had my fair share of financial struggles as well, but you would never have known it because I have always had style and grace and a rock solid value system. I learned to color my own hair, wash my own car and nag the hell out of my children about the importance of an education. They can attest to this.
The tragedy of the family living in the fishbowl is that there are more, young and impressionable children involved. And now one of these children has a parent behind bars. When I spoke to one of the officers he said to me, “This is what happens when violent people associate with other violent people.” I had gotten the impression that he had dealt with them all before.
I hope someone in that family decides to change the conversation around the dinner table really soon.
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