* The Village Model


The Scooter
Man, what a day! Sundays are always devoted to housework (what day of rest?) so the fact that I vacuumed the house, bathed the dogs, scrubbed the bathroom, and washed four loads of laundry was nothing remarkable.

However, while I was scrubbing away in the bathroom, Rio was playing with some neighborhood kids. There were three other boys, one Rio’s age and two fourth-graders. One of the older boys was K, who’s a little slow or something. I’m not sure what the clinical term for him would be, I just know that he’s not all there. He’s a good kid, but he completely lacks good judgment. And strangely, he roams the neighborhood unsupervised all the time. He’s kind of the lost puppy on the block, and he ends up at our house quite a bit on weekends.

So today Hercules and K and the other 2 boys were hanging at our place. While I flitted about doing my housework, the boys played cards, rode bikes across the street, played ball in the backyard, and built lego spaceships. In the midst of my chores I would check on them periodically, and I marveled at how smoothly they were all getting along. I was just beginning to fantasize about being the Village Mother, and how I would never have to worry about Rio at other peoples’ houses if I just made our house the coolest place to be in the neighborhood. All the kids would flock to our house, and we would have good, clean fun and I would be a radically good influence on all the little lost lambs in my rather low-income neighborhood. We could plant gardens and put on plays and organize soccer games!

Alas, my little vision was abrubtly shattered just as I was finishing up in the bathroom. I had the window open because the boys were right outside and so I knew immediately that something very bad happened when I heard Rio scream and then wail OH MY GOD OH MY GOD repeatedly. I rushed out the back door and he was sitting on the ground holding his neck and he was covered in blood, more blood than I had ever seen come out of one person. He was wearing only shorts, and his head, neck, arms, chest and stomach were a bloody mess. His shorts were soaked in blood. With all that blood I figured right away that it was a head wound, even though Rio was insisting, between his wails of OH MY GOD, that he was bleeding from his neck.

Sure enough, the oldest boy quickly filled me in on what happened. He said that K had launched a rock at Rio’s head with a badminton racket. He did not mean to direct it at Rio, but it sure did hit him hard. K was already gone, so I ran into the house to get something to clean up Rio.

When I finally cleared away all the blood, I found the cut in his head. It wasn’t really that bad, and it wasn’t bleeding anymore, either. Relieved, I had him lay down on the couch while I fixed his dinner.

So our little Hercules survived his bloody ordeal fairly well, and so did I. But my idealistic vision of being the Village Mother has taken a hit. I mean, there’s a lot kids of in my neighborhood with hard luck stories, and I feel especially inclined to look out for K because jeez, somebody needs to and his mother apparently doesn’t seem to bother. But this is not the first problem I’ve had with K, it just happens to be the most injurious. And my own child’s safety has to be my first priority. I need to somehow reconcile my desire to open my home to the neighborhood kids with the need to set boundaries in my house.

I’ve wrestled with this before, and the answer I usually arrive at doesn’t satisfy me. But the reality of the whole village model of child-rearing is that there can’t be just one Village Mother, but rather a whole village of mothers who are all pooling their resources to keep everyone’s children safe and happy. If there’s just one mother trying to raise everyone’s kids, you may be able to help some of the kids some of the time, but you also get one harried, exhausted, stressed out mama.

Which, incidentally, describes me pretty well when my 5 stepkids come over. Which really calls into question my qualifications for the role of Village Mother, I might add. Hercules plus the four boys and their uptight, control-freaky sister can really, really bring out the bitch in me, at least when I’m pre-menstrual. There’s a reason why the Native Americans had a separate teepee for hormonal women. There’s about one week of every month when I wish I had my own teepee. And so does everyone else.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is the reality, my dear.....a sad one....but so true"! ......But the reality of the whole village model of child-rearing is that there can’t be just one Village Mother, but rather a whole village of mothers who are all pooling their resources to keep everyone’s children safe and happy......."Wouldn't this be wonderful....and really so simple, team work,and what a wealth of diverse learning opportunities...from Mom to Mom, child to child".....If there’s just one mother trying to raise everyone’s kids, you may be able to help some of the kids some of the time, but you also get one harried, exhausted, stressed out mama......."So...till this utopia is a reality in your neighborhood.....keep you focus on the children who are privileged to play in your yard......"head" injuries a just a part of growing up......this Nana & Papa are thankful that is all it was........they sure do bleed though"!
Love ya, Mom

9/05/2005 1:01 PM  

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