Thursday, June 21, 2007


Yesterday I rode the 500. I have said before that I think the 500 is more filled with babies than the 71A. Wednesday afternoon was no different. There was only one available seat: in the very back in between 2 toddlers yellowed with Cheez-it. They were super cute. They each had little Yankee hats and matching polo shirts. The older one stared out the window and picked at his Band-aid. The younger one burbled and kept pointing at my arm.

I was smiling so much my face hurt, because this kiddo was so cute. He thought my watch was really interesting. He kept trying to play peak-a-boo. He kept clapping his hands and then laughing hysterically, as if to say "I know you wish you were covered in Cheez-it, too. You're silly!"

Then, out of nowhere, his grandmother spanked the crap out of him. "Don't you bother that lady!" she said. The kid, being 2, forgot and started poking my watch again. I had the timer running to see how long my journey was taking in the traffic. I think he liked the flashing seconds. But the grandma kept spanking him each time he flirted with me.

I got so uncomfortable. I wanted to move seats, but I didn't want the grandma to think I was upset with the kid and spank him more. I didn't know how to indicate that it was her corporal punishment and not the Cheez-it crumbs making me antsy.

I just sat there judging her, old and gray taking care of three children under 5 (she had the third baby asleep on her lap) after a long tiring day. But she was spanking that little boy who was just bubbling over with child joy. Should I have said something to her on that crowded bus? Should I at least have said "He doesn't bother me at all"?

When they got off the bus, I saw the two toddlers holding each other's hands to cross the 4-lane street because the grandmother's arms were full of the sleeping baby and the diaper bags and packages. I know I have absolutely no comprehension of their difficult life. But I don't think I'll ever understand the amount of despair it must take for someone to hit a small child like that.


Jane said...

That makes my heart ache.

Laura V said...

I think it's always worth saying something like "Oh, he's not bothering me" or "Oh, I don't mind." Only crazy people are going to take exception to that, after all....