I was just turning out the lights last night when I heard her coming down the stairs. It was really late and I was tired and Elli had big fat alligator tears running down her face.
I knew what she was going to say before she said a word.
Yesterday afternoon, my four oldest children came running into the house in a frenzy, all talking at the same time.
“What in the world is going on?” I asked. Even as I asked the question, I knew the answer. This same event had happened for three weeks staight.
All four children added their parts to the same story and the more they talked the madder I became. Like crazy mama mad. I’m good at that.
Afer a few moments, I got Elli to tell me the story from beginning to end. While the kids were playing with Nickie, one of my porch swing kids, another young man walked in front of our house. His pants were down so low that the kids could describe his underwear and the young man was talking to himself rather loudly. Nickie told my kids that this young man had been to their house on several occassions and shared the stories of his gang activity. Nickie has 2 older sisters and she is privy to things that no child should ever know. This man’s lastest conquest included locking a man in the trunk of a car and attempting to set the car on fire.
I calmed the children and then I did what mamas do. I walked out into the yard and spoke to Nickie. We have had the same conversation 3 times in 3 weeks and once again she apologized. And then as if nothing at all had occurred, she hopped back on the swing to swing until I sent her home at dinner time. I went back into the house feeling as though I had not connected with her.
Is this story true? I have no idea, but my kids have learned all about Chucky, the ghosts that live on Avent street, and now gang activity that they will think about each time a young black man walks down our street. And we have no less than 30 young black men that walk down our street everyday.
So here’s the rub: What do I do with Nickie? At what point do I no longer allow my kids to play with her? If I can’t control her tongue and I can’t possibly monitor everything that comes out of her mouth, how do I keep my kids safe and still provide her a safe place to play while her mom is at work?
Can I still be light if I forbid our kids a peek into the dark?