Little Girl, I Need You To Step Back Right Now!

The commercial block of national radio currently runs an item about an institution offering fast-track private education to parents of children who have dropped out from the regular school system. A pretend-parent (a mother) admits that she’s a little uncomfortable to enroll her son, because, well, that it had to come to this isn’t the thing one is most proud of as a parent, is it? But then this parent, this mother, in a sudden, miraculous reversal of her negative thinking, says: “But parents always want what’s best for their children.

Well, not this parent, not this mother of three. Already as a young girl I was frightened to death by families, by the way they raise walls around themselves, fortify themselves and lock out other people, like me. I was not just frightened, I was angered by families. They made me feel like I was a hostile, an alien, an intruder. Families made me feel a blemish and a stink. I remember a time when I was in Paris, in a museum, when I was no longer a young girl, but a mother of three. In that museum was a group of American children, I think early-grade middleschool, hunkered down in a circle, with a teacher, a woman, in the middle. I was alone. I walked right up to the group because I wanted to have a closer look at an exhibit they were assembled close to. The woman teacher shouted at me: “Madam, I need you to step back and keep your distance!” I felt humiliated beyond words. I was extremely angry at the same time. I was not just angry because of this woman claiming territory which clearly wasn’t hers to claim, but because of how dirty she made me feel to myself, and because of how she had unwarrantedly created a moral highground from where she felt she was allowed to shout down potential criminals and lepers like me.

We do not need to want what’s best for our children. We need to want what’s best for our fellow human beings. Children need protection because they’re vulnerable, irresponsible and unable to think straight, not because there’s any enheightened morality involved in taking care of them. Children need protection from adults locking them out, because they’re liable to be wounded for life by the murderous intent with which they are chased off their neighbor’s turf.

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