Street Fighting Kids

Saturday 28 March 2009

N and E were fighting again two days ago. When I pulled up in my driveway, the insults were being hurled like stones from hard hurt faces as each rode their bike amongst a group of kids divided into two.

"You're just a black idiot," N yelled, her mouth pouting out in anger. "Black people are coming in and taking over this country." I wondered which relative's mouth she was speaking out of when she said that. The way she spoke it, it had that ring of repeat about it. N lives with her auntie, though her father lives and breathes in the next suburb. I do not know where her mother is. A long line of pain. Woundedness and a quick sharp tongue combine in a girl who is quick to take offence and quick to give it, her words often hurtful or careless.

When you're angry, especially when you're a kid, you'll hurl whatever ammo you've got. It's not so easy these days, however, with an African American in the White House and an Australian government that has at least made the symbolic gesture of saying sorry, to hurl those sorts of abuses with much effect.

"Yeah?" hurled back J in response. "What about you whiteys then? You think we come in and take over the country? You the ones who came and stole this country! Ever hear of the Aborigines?"

I think that's the biggest sentence I've heard J speak. He and E are of Ethiopian parentage, 11 and 10 respectively. I think they came here about five years ago. Bless his heart, after his retort to N he said in an aside to me, "Sorry. This isn't about you."

"Yeah," yelled E. "This is a black country!"

N yelled something in retreat. I could feel the hurt radiating off her like waves, like the green stuff that comes off Sims when they haven't had a shower. I wondered how much of this situation was N's fault, with her crackly exterior? Of course, it could never be one-sided, and most kids are nasty. I imagine E has a high bitch factor of her own going down. Still, I feel a particular empathy for N, irritating and occasionally hurtful though she can be. I pray for her. It's not long before boys and drugs and alcohol will rear their heads as convenient and particularly pleasurable possibilities for assuaging her pain.

I went out this afternoon to return and borrow some DVD's. N and E were sitting, something akin to side-by-side, in the gutter. This is how their relationship goes.

"They're talking to each other again," J offered from his bike, standing with the two little Indian kids who live in one of the houses round about.

I bought them a packet of Pods from Blockbuster. I seem to have this overwhelming urge to feed everything in the street that breathes. I was pleased with them, I told them, "For talking to each other even though you don't like each other." They looked quickly at each other when I said that, their smiles breaking out despite themselves.

"We haven't forgiven each other," E said.

"We just play with each other anyway, even without forgiving each other," N said.

I surmised that you have to have forgiven each other in some form to play with each other. Surely forgiveness doesn't mean you have to forget that you don't particularly trust each other, or even like each other all that much?

We pondered such philosophies in the late afternoon sun and agreed that people really suck sometimes. N had gone into the front yard of someone's house, and returned with some very small little sour oranges. We sucked on them and the Indian boy laughed at my face-making. We ate sour oranges and sweet chocolate Pods in the late afternoon sun.


  1. Tonight I had to help shackle a 16 year old female to a bed who was intoxicated and literally spitting the vilest venom she could come up with at all the people standing around trying to help her. Id be spitting too if i was in her situation.

  2. I couldn't imagine you doing such a thing, Urbanmonk ;)

    I would be spitting too. Actually, in that situation, it would probably be weird if you weren't huh? Poor kid. Poor you, too, having to shackle her to the bed.

  3. I saw my son shackled to a bed once, but he wasn't violent, he was passed out. He had two orderlies that had to take shifts guarding him room for 24 hours. One of them was a nice guy, the other a jerk. It would have been nice to have someone like urbanmonk in that hospital, he obviously has a bit of compassion. Its not pretty to see kids f'd up on drugs/alcohol.

  4. Patti - that must have just rammed into your heart, having to see your son there like that :( Small mercy he was passed out, I guess.

    Yes, I think compassion would be a mighty fine thing to find in the people surrounding you in a situation like that. I don't know how Monk does it. I'm not sure I could.

  5. What a lovely post, Sue. The intricicies of children's relationships, they can be so cruel but they can give out insults and forgiveness in the same breath. Alex and E down the road had a bit of a pushing and slapping fight the other night which resulted in Alex announcing he was never talking to him again. Nexy day they act as if nothing happened! I was the one having to control my anger towards the other kid ;)

  6. and the intricacies of spelling intricacies ;) sheesh Im a shocker!

  7. CB - yeah, I guess when we yearn to be kids, we don't think of the bad stuff, the crazy rollercoaster of meanness, the inconsideration of other people's feelings, do we?

    Intricicies. You know, I much prefer it this way. It looks more ... intricite with an "i" than with an "a", don't you think? :)


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