This morning I watched a young boy, perhaps 8 or 9 years old, with his mother and her female companion on the subway. It was a distressing scene. The mother looked exercised. She was arguing with her companion while her son was flailing and shrieking, trying to get her attention. She suddenly grabbed him by the arms and pressed her face close to his.
She yelled, “It’s not your fucking business!” My heart sank. I knew that this was going to get worse.
He continued to flail about and then the female companion got up from her seat. She was a tall imposing woman and she swooped down and grabbed his arms and strapped them to his side. He screamed, “Stop!” He tried to shield his face to no avail. She was too strong for him. She delivered a sharp slap on his face. He started to wail.
She sat back down and reported to the child’s mother that she had slapped his mouth.
He continued to cry and he put a hand over his mouth to let his mother know what had happened to him. She sat motionless and silent. She continued her conversation with her companion.
He laid down on the subway seat across from his mother and continued to scream.
I could have taken the child and tried to soothe him; I could have taken him to the next subway stop and tried to call Child Protective Services. His mother and companion could have beaten me up. I could have called for help.
Instead I did nothing and cried inside. This is why my classmates had told me that working with children in social work is so difficult. How many parents in this city are incapable of parenting? Because they have so many problems and issues in their own lives that they cannot care for a child? When you are poor, uneducated, not white, and unemployed, how do you raise a child in this city?