It Had To Happen Sooner Or Later
I've spent years wondering if maybe I'm overprotective of my son. If maybe I do too much for him, and let him stand on his own too little. Today I found out what kind of man my 16 yr old has grown into.
He went two blocks away to the local 7-11 to buy some soda. On his way back, he encountered 6 teenagers. One asked for a soda. My son said, "No" and kept walking. Another said "Just give us the soda". My son turned to say "no" again, as he kept walking.
And was punched in the mouth 3 times.
At some point, he dropped the bag of sodas. The kids grabbed the drinks and ran off.
Next thing he knew, there were hands helping him up and people expressing outrage and a willingness to identify the attacker and his friends.
L realized he was bleeding a lot and tried to cover his mouth with his hand. Then he calmly walked back to 7-11, blood running out of his mouth and covering his hand, and asked to use the phone. Then he wished the kids wre still there, so he could flick his bloody hand at them and stain their clothes. He also wished he'd thought of it sooner.
Someone offered him their cell phone. L thinks that was an amazing gesture, considering that he'd probably get blood on the phone. He says he was very careful to hold the phone up to the non bloody side of his face.
Several people went and put ice in napkins for him.
And a lady in the store bought him more sodas.
L was overwhelmed by their kindness. He still had money in his pocket, he'd planned on buying his own soda again. And he got that everyone there wanted to do something to make it right. They all thought 6 teenagers ganging up on one was unfair, and hitting him over a few bottles of soda was very wrong.
So he let them help and thanked them all.
When I arrived in the truck, shaking and furious, I asked him 4 questions. Are you alright? Do you want to call the police? Do you want to go find them? (my personal preference, there) and Do you want to go home?
He rolled his eyes toward me, and I knew he wanted to go home. Not to be safe, but to be in a quiet place where he could review what had happened.
Taking him home was a real struggle for me. I wanted to hunt those bastards down and hurt them. I wanted to make them feel as powerless as I had felt when I got that phone call. That moment of knowing that he'd been robbed and was bleeding, but not knowing anything else... I felt powerless. Then I wanted revenge. Not for L. For myself. For that moment of helplessness.
I had to fight that urge down. And I remembered my mom, walking me around the neighborhood when I was 7 or 8, looking for the kid who'd beaten me up and broken my new glasses. I remembered how I just wanted to go home and deal with what had happened. Instead, we walked until we found him and mom started screaming at him. The kid ran into his house, which was exactly what my mom wanted. Now she knew where he lived. She screamed at his parents too, waving my bent and broken glasses at them.
As we left, I heard that kid crying, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Don't beat me!"
And I felt awful.
I remembered those glasses, my first pair that I got to wear for maybe a month. And I drove my son home.
Afterward, we sat on the sofa and watched recordings of Ninja Warrior and I listened as he talked out what had happened. He knew they didn't target him for any specific reason. He was alone, and it was something to do. That was it. Then he said something that made us both laugh. He said,
"Taking my Pepsi was adding insult to injury."
I couldn't help myself and burst out giggling. There is no more apt quote in the English language for what happened.
As upset as I am over my son being injured and insulted, I'm also very proud of him. He didn't break down and cry. He didn't go chasing after them. He did exactly what he should have done. He calmly went to the nearest phone and asked me to pick him up.
He kept his head.
And not once was he afraid.
So I know now. Thank God, I finally know. That no matter what life throws at him, my son will be ok.