I’m taking a break from this blog but wanted to share a troubling experience my daughter and I had yesterday while riding the subway.
I saw a family of four get on the train — a mom, a dad, and two children (a girl about 9, a boy about 11). They were obviously tourists, not sure where they were from. As soon as I saw the mom, I knew something was wrong. She looked like she had zero self-esteem: the way she was dressed, the look on her face, the way she carried herself. Literally INSTANTLY I knew something was wrong.
She and the two kids were sitting, and the dad was standing with his back to me, so I couldn’t see him. I started reading something, and then my daughter said to me, “That man just hit his son!”
I hadn’t seen it, but I also hadn’t seen or heard the son do anything at all that seemed inappropriate. He and his sister and mom were playing a little video game. Not even saying anything.
A moment later, the person who had been sitting next to the son got up, so the dad had a place to sit. As he was sitting down, he slightly bumped his head on the bar (that you hold while the train is moving). He swore like a sailor! And the wife and two kids stopped what they were doing and looked scared to death.
They went back to playing the little video game, and the boy reached out to touch it (the mom was holding it) — just to see it a bit better. The dad said to him, “Stop grabbing!” And the boy pulled his hand back. I figured that must have been what led to him being hit a couple of minutes earlier.
The saddest moment for me of all was right after that: The boy tried to nuzzle against his father’s arm. No response at all from the dad.
I wanted to slip that woman a note, like “You’re worth more than this. And so are your children.” I had to stop myself from doing that, and from saying something to the dad which I knew might only get the family into deeper trouble.
I know I can’t help everyone. I should have done something yesterday, though. I could have given that woman a note without him seeing. Maybe it would have been what she needed to wake up to her situation. Next time, I’ll do something.