Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gang Wars

A peaceful Shabbos afternoon....


I was just drifting off with N and TPH both snoring gently nearby. Suddenly, the  main door flies open and I hear B stumble in sobbing. Before I even open my eyes, somehow BAW is awake, dressed and down the stairs to investigate. B who is turning 9 this week is gasping for air and can't catch his breath. He's sobbing and wailing like I've never heard before. By now I've grabbed whatever sweatshirt and boots (boots?) that are lying nearby and am on my way downstairs. BAW has already run out the door, while B lays looking wounded on the couch. He still can't catch his breath. When he does he wails, "The Arabs! On Tzeilim! Are beating up A!"


With an animal-like roar I scream at whoever is in the house "DO NOT LEAVE THIS HOUSE!" I am out the door and on Tzeilim in less than 10 seconds. No one. Nothing. My heart is pounding, I can't breathe. I move faster than I have in a long time. Hashem has mercy on me and I see friends of B brandishing 3 foot long metal poles. They look scared but ok. "WHERE IS A??"


And suddenly he's there, loping towards me in a way that only pre-pubecent boys can; awkward and growing, light on their feet but heavy all at once. He is not bleeding, he looks fine. Oh thank G-d he looks fine. 


BAW is a step behind and he's looking determined. "A said some kids were beating up B and his friends."


"Arabs??!"


"No, no, just some neighborhood kids." 


And I sigh in relief for only second until my Mama Bear claws come out in earnest. "WHO? WHERE?  HOW?" BAW and A look really scared now because once I am unleashed, that's it, and they both know it.


The story starts to unfold. There have been these "gang wars" (for lack of a better term) going on between my B and his friends and another group of 8-13 year olds in the neighborhood. It started a few months ago with a clubhouse. "Our" boys built themselves a treehouse and one day the other boys saw them and decided to yell at them and threaten them until they left. It was the only other time I have seen B this hysterical. Apparently, "our" boys had found another spot and had stocked it with sticks, poles and piping in case the other boys decided to stop by. Which they did. Insults flew, and some of their boys held our boys' hands behind their backs while others punched them in the stomach. 


Arabs, no. But not good either. I literally chased the kids down. I found one on his porch and yelled up to his father about what had happened. I only stuck around long enough to hear the kid crying and screaming while a very embarrassed father came back to the porch to tell me "it was taken care of and it wouldn't happen again." I tracked down another group who I told that if they touched any kid I know again I'm calling the police. Most of them looked nervous enough and went on their way. 


And then there was the instigator. A little shrimp of no more than 9 or 10. Who got right in my face and told me to call the police, "What will they do to me anyway? They won't believe you. I'll just make up a lie about how they started with us!" This was the one who punched my B while the bigger one held his hands behind his back. It took every ounce of strength I have not to pick him up by his collar and slam him against the wall. In retrospect, I'm sure it was a bit of a scene especially because it was mincha time and every man in RS was on his way in or out of shul. But I don't care. Seriously, you don't mess. 


Once everyone seemed to disperse, (Oh, and BAW magically reappeared after ducking in for a quick mincha, "What? I knew you had it under control!") we took ours home and had many, many long talks. We talked about the type of "friends" who get you into sticky situations like that. We spoke about all being part of one community, one neighborhood, one "Am". 


We closed with self defense lessons. You'd think that there would be a lot of joking around. Not this time. This time the instructions were given clearly and concisely, and were first demonstrated by BAW on A. Then they each had to try to break out of an arm hold or other type of hold. 


A few lessons learned: My gentle, nervous American boys have got to learn the difference between Arabs and 12 year old street fighters. Next time I cannot promise I won't have a genuine heart attack. My sweet American boys have got to become a little more street smart. And I never thought I'd say this, but my peaceful American mentchen have got to step up their game and they have to learn to fight. If not to fight, then to at least defend themselves. Hey, Big Mama K can't always be on the prowl. Sometimes a girl just needs a shabbos nap!

1 comment:

Wendy Bernstein said...

You are my hero. For reals.