At dusk, I left my daughter in the care of her grandma at the soccer field and headed back home to pick up two of my other kids. I turned off by the library. As I passed the bus stop, I noticed a boy standing near a boy on the ground. The boy on the ground was curled over his knees, forehead on the ground, apparently crying.
As I drove by, I wondered what had happened to the crying boy. Had he fallen? The other boy just stood there. After I passed, I glanced in my rear-view mirror and that’s when I saw the standing boy begin to kick the boy on the ground.
I knew in a flash that the standing boy had been waiting for cars to pass so he could resume kicking the boy on the ground.
I was outraged.
I turned into an apartment parking lot and drove back to the bus stop. I pulled my car over next to the boys and rolled down my window.
“What is going on here?” I demanded.
Both boys were standing now and just looked at me.
I pulled my car keys out and marched around my van to stand between the boys.
“What are you doing?” I said again to the bigger boy. He appeared to be about ten years old. He stood mute.
“I saw you kick him. That is not cool! You do not kick other people!”
The younger boy–probably five years old–stood on the other side of me. He stared with wide eyes. His cheeks were blotchy from crying.
“You!” I pointed to him. “You go home!” He immediately started running toward the apartment complex behind the bus stop.
I turned back to the kicking boy. “What is wrong with you? You do not kick people!”
Finally, he spoke. “He’s not even supposed to be out here! And my mom isn’t home!”
“Is he your brother?”
“No, he’s my cousin.”
“You don’t KICK him! That is not all right.”
“We, he threw a shoe at me.”
I rolled my eyes. “Are you kidding me? And you kicked him? It’s not okay to kick people!”
He began to move away from me. As he reached the parking lot, I yelled, “Do not kick people! If the police were here, you’d be in big trouble!”
By that time he was running toward the apartments where his young cousin had disappeared.
I realized with a horrible jolt that I had perhaps just made things worse. Now the smaller cousin would be in the apartment, in private, with his cousin who had been viciously kicking him.
I ran for my van and wheeled into the parking lot but it was too late. The boys had both disappeared.
And I am left to wonder. Did I do the right thing?