There’s always some type of confrontation or strange activity going on in front of my house, especially on weekends, and you know I love to gleefully spy on this shit through my front window. Look, I’m not standing there waiting for it to happen but when the commotion is so loud, it distracts from my Korean lesson or playtime with the cats, I’m gonna pop my head out that window to see what’s what.
And it’s usually Chooch’s frenemy Larry drunkenly mowing the lawn at 9:30pm or motherfucking passing cars on our street; or maybe it’s Tourette’s ambling home from wherever it is that someone like Tourette’s spends his days, while screaming obscenities at the imaginary foes around him.
So Friday night, when my language studies were interrupted by screaming outside of my house, I was like, “woo hoo, here we go, Brookline weekend!” I wasn’t even going to give this trashiness any of my attention at first, but then I heard “YOU’RE A F*GGOT” being tossed around at incredibly loud volumes and that’s a big nope for me. I leaned onto the windowsill to get a better look-see at what kind of trash was oozing on by this time, and at first glance, it appeared to be a couple arguing. I did note that the woman was taller and hovered over him every time she turned around to get back in his face to call him the f-word again. I was impressed by the guy’s restraint. He just kept standing there, letting this broad pummel him with derogatory zingers, and when he did speak up, it was at a normal volume so I could barely hear him.
One of those times, after calling him the f-word for the fifth time in front of my house, I heard her spit. Now, I wasn’t looking directly at her when this occurred so I’m not certain if she spit on him or near him, but it was definitely her spit.
Then she said something about ruining mom’s night out, so I decided that maybe they were siblings.
Now they were further up the block, but she was still screaming her face off. She stopped and got in his face again, real close in his face, and said, “Look me in the eyes! I want you to see my face when I tell you that I have no respect for you because you’re a F*GGOT.”
I flung the front door open and Henry was like, “Oh no, here we go.”
“GREAT WORD TO BE CALLING SOMEONE!!!!” I yelled as loud as I could. She just kept stumbling along the sidewalk like she didn’t hear me, so I slammed the door.
By now, Chooch was also looking out the window.
“Um, that lady is like in her forties, and that’s a KID,” Chooch said, always the first one to point out how shitty my eyesight is.
OK now look, I was already fucking PISSED that this broad was out there using a homophobic slur as an insult, repeatedly, for the entire neighborhood to hear (there are kids on our street and bitches like her are the reason why kids keep growing up thinking it’s ok/cool/badass to use these kinds of degrading words). But now that Chooch pointed out it was possibly her SON she was saying this to, the rage shot up inside me so fast that I had chest pains and started to tremble with anger.
“We have to call the police,” I said.
“For what?” Henry asked with a shrug, donning his white knight helmet and flinging one leg over his steed. “She didn’t hit him. The police aren’t going to be able to do anything—”
“SHE WAS VERBALLY AND EMOTIONALLY ABUSING HIM, HENRY. THIS IS WHY CHILDREN FUCKING KILL THEMSELVES!” I shrieked. And then, “I’m following them.”
Chooch was 100% on board with this idea because we are the Brookline Vigilantes (remember when we saved a moth and found a lost dog!?), so Henry reluctantly threw on his shoes and followed.
I’m not going to lie, as I bounded down the front steps of my house, it occurred to me that maybe I might die that night. I didn’t know what kind of headcase I was dealing with, or if she was high on something with superhuman strength. This is the problem with Good Samaritanism these days — you want to do your part in keeping society safe and honest, but you never know at what cost. However, if riding the trolley to work every day has taught me one thing, it’s that IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. That recording plays on a loop on the platform so it’s ingrained in me.
Well guess what, I saw something and I said something, but now I needed to do something.
Chooch and I had to jog to catch up to them because they had already made it a block away before we started to follow. My plan was to follow at a safe distance and record her behavior if needed, and then call the police, but as we crested the slight hill on our street, we saw the blue and red flashing lights — someone had either already called the police, or one had pulled over in passing.
When we reached that part of the sidewalk, we saw the boy standing off to the side, away from his mom who was swinging her purse around while drunkenly gesticulating to the cop.
“I’m so sorry about this,” the boy said to us, his eyes filled with tears. HE FUCKING APOLOGIZED TO US. This simultaneously broke my heart and filled my body with even more rage. Chooch and I both assured him it wasn’t his fault and I asked him if he was OK – dumb question, but I needed him to know that I cared.
He said he was OK, but I’m sure he wasn’t. He might have been used to this though, and that makes it even worse. I wanted to rip his mom apart with my words right then and there but…that wasn’t going to help anything and he didn’t need to hear that. He already heard enough for one night!
I wasn’t sure what to do at this point — was I allowed to insert myself and tell the cop that I was a witness? Would that escalate the situation? WOULD IT BE ME GOING TO JAIL THAT NIGHT?? You have no idea how angry cops make me. When Henry finally aught up to us later (lol, you didn’t think he jogged with us, did you?), he admitted that he was afraid I was going to get into it with the cop because UGH COPS.
We lingered several yards away from the scene, trying to figure out if there was anything else we could do. One of Chooch’s friends walked by with her brother and they were like WTF IS HAPPENING so we filled them in and they were like OMG and then right after that another one of Chooch’s friends (an older woman who walks her dogs around the neighborhood) paused on her way by and we filled her in too so she stayed with us for awhile and we talked about how awful it is that parents could act that way and then I realized at this point that I was starting to cry so I guess maybe deep down I don’t really hate kids that much, who knows. But this whole event really had me shook.
I couldn’t get that bitch’s screaming voice out of my head all weekend, so imagine how much worse it sounds inside that boy’s head.
Eventually, we kept walking around town. Henry said that by the time he caught up to us and passed by the scene, the mom was going on and on to the cop about how much better she is than everyone else. Yeah, you keep telling yourself that, HUNTY. We started coming up with scenarios, like maybe Dad told Son to go to the bar to get Mom and that’s what set her off. Obviously some TRAGIC thing happened to spark her shrill comment about how mom’s night out was ruined. Or maybe he had the “audacity” to come out to her, or she found out from someone else, and her vicious name-calling was aimed directly for his heart.
In any case, I don’t care what sparked this incident, no child deserves to be spoken to / screamed at that way, whether it’s on a sidewalk in Brookline or behind the closed doors of their house. I just kept looking at Chooch, imagining myself going off on him like that, and I couldn’t. I could not picture myself, in any situation, attacking his sexuality or his self-esteem or confidence or TRUST IN ME. The safest place for a kid should be with his mom!
Do I ever yell at Chooch? Sure I do! BUT NOT LIKE THAT! It’s always over something like his shitty attitude and I never insult him or degrade him — it’s always me screaming about how I can’t stand the way he’s acting or something. And it’s not very often.
Henry NEVER yells though. He’s afraid of us, lol.
By the time we circled back to our street, a female cop was also on the scene. She was standing off to the side with the boy, both of them watching as the first cop was straight yukking it up with the “mom.” Honestly, they were carrying on like they were bar buddies, exchanging stories, and the “mom” kept doubling over in laughter.
It was…it was so fucked up.
Back at the house, Henry turned on his police scanner app, or whatever old dorks with cop fetishes like him use, just in time for me to hear a male cop say something about how he was headed back, it was just a “mom trying to parent her child.”
OH I’M SORRY, A WHAT NOW?
IS THIS WHAT WE’RE CALLING THAT?
“TRYING TO PARENT?”
Because what I saw and heard was classic emotional child abuse.
No, I didn’t see her hit him, but abuse comes in many forms.
Abuse is abuse is abuse. And what I witnessed was abuse.
And thus began my nightly hysterical rant about how cops are worthless while Henry tried to hide his toy sheriff’s badge down the back of his pants.
“Look, she probably didn’t give him any just cause to take her in,” Henry reasoned. “And the boy probably didn’t want to say anything against her.”
And deep down, I know these reasons are probably accurate, and that there really isn’t a happy ending in a case like this. He’s either going home with an abusive mom or being taken away from his home. I just kept feeling like I didn’t do enough though!
Finally, last night, I said to Henry, “Can’t I like, email the police or something?” At first, he seemed scared to answer me. But he ultimately agreed that giving my witness account of what happened might be beneficial, so he diligently looked on the Pittsburgh Police’s website for an appropriate person for me to email. I ended up emailing someone whose title I already forget, but she’s a woman so I have hope that maybe she will actually read my email and take it seriously. I explained in detail what I saw and that I strongly disagree with it being written off as a “mom trying to parent her child,” like he had just stolen a pack of gum and she slapped his wrist.
That’s how that sounds to me.
I also said that I would like there to be some record of this on file in case it happens again, and if possible, I felt that a wellness check would be appropriate here.
It’s been about 24 hours and I haven’t received a response, and maybe I never will, but I couldn’t in good conscience let this one go. I hope he’s OK. I hope he has people in his life telling him he’s loved and that he has worth in this world. I hope he has a good best friend or a teacher he can confide in. I hope this isn’t every day for him.