He grabbed her. They were at the Mcdonald’s playground. She came up to the table. “I have something important to tell you.” “Wait a second until we are done talking.” Miranda continued her animated story. Three minutes later, “Okay what is it?” “A boy grabbed me on the slide (she pointed at her tiny breast) and ran away!” “Where is he?” I demanded. She looked around. She pointed to an empty table. “He’s gone.”
“Why didn’t you say something sooner?” I asked
“You told me to wait.”
She was right. “Interrupt next time, please interrupt. This was a different important. Normally, your important is like your sister did or did not do something.”
“There they are!” She exclaimed.
They were walking outside.
I bolted for the door.
“Excuse me sir, one of your sons grabbed my niece’s boob.”
He looked at his sons. “Which one of you did it?”
None of them confessed. Two of them looked quite small. “I have an idea that it might be that one but let me go grab my niece so she can point him out.”
He waited. He was still. A slender black man with lovely dreads.
Miranda shook his hand and introduced herself. The great tension releaser.
I walked back outside with my niece. “Which one was it?”
“Him!” She pointed her hand the way kids point at people in movies. A straight arm with a matter of factness.
“Apologize now!” The dad said.
“Sorry!” He mumbled.
I pushed my niece closer to him.
“Louder so she can hear.” The father whispered.
I moved my niece out of the way.
I got close to the boy. He was probably nine or ten. His eyes said he was full grown. There was no air of remorse or fear. I wondered about him. What had he seen? How was his mind being formed?”
I got so close to his face. My heart was so concerned for him. “Look I don’t want anything bad to happen to you when you get older. You look like you are going to be a good-looking man. I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.” My adrenaline was pumping. I didn’t say all the things I wish I had said like, “Your job is to protect women.”
I looked at the father, “Please don’t beat the complete shit out of him.”
I’m not sure if I heard him correctly but I feel like what I heard was, “Oh I will.”
That made me sad not because justice shouldn’t be served but because this dad of three has a weight on him. A responsibility. I hope within the beating there are conversations. God bring up the conversations.
On the ride home my niece said, “Okay where were we?”
I laughed,“What do you mean?”
“Okay, do you want to talk first or me?”
“No you!” I said.
“Well first of all, he probably doesn’t get enough attention at home. And two he probably sees things on TV.”
“Yes but how does your body feel?”
“It feels angry.”
“And it should. It absolutely should. I have my own stories, I have had things happen. I am so glad you told me.”
We high-fived each other.
It was silent for a moment.
“Did you tell?” Her sweet voice filled my ears.
My eyes immediately filled up with tears.
“Grace, Grace, Grace?” Her voice was so sweet. Innocent. It was the Grace voice she likes to use when she sees my eyes water.
I caught my breath.
“There was no one to tell.”
I smiled, “But you will never have to go through that. You will always have someone to tell.”
She pressed further. “No aunt, no mother, a grandma?”
She let it go. There are some things this wise wonderful ten year old will have to wait to know. When you are a child who hasn’t even formed words yet all you know is that you are wrong. You were created for darkness. Your body is the definition of shame. There is no vocabulary. There is only pain.
I was so young that parents and people became the untrusted enemy. The great lie. They could only come so close. But not for her. She has me and one day when there will be no me, this beautiful little lady will have herself. She will be able to give what I give to her to others.
And that is worth everything.