Tuesday, March 26, 2013


"What are you looking at?"

I nearly jumped out of my chair at that.  I'd been alone in my office late in the day and had just finished my last report when I began browsing the headlines.  And I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for a good headline.  This one read "Boy Charged With Killing Baby is 1000% Not Guilty."  I mean, would you leave that news story unread?

So of course I was reading it and Marcus, as he is wont to do, walked silently in my office and was staring at my computer screen before he announced his presence.

No, I said.  Just no.  You can't walk in my office and scare the bejeesus out of me, Marcus.  Go back out that door and knock.

"But you know I'm here," he said.  "What's the point?"

The point is it's polite.  You can't scare people.

"You was scared?"

Knock, Marcus.  Knock.  And I gave him my best teacher look.  Just because I'm not in the classroom anymore doesn't mean that they don't still know it when I mean it.

So he did, because he enjoys it just a little too much when I scold him.  Then he came back and made himself at home. "We good?" he asked.

Yes, I said.  But only kind of.  You need to knock every time.

"I really scared you?"

You were silent, and you walked up behind me when I thought I was alone.  What do you think you did?

"I didn't think I was silent.  I really scared you?  You're scary."  He laughed.

Now, when kids at my school announce that I'm scary, it doesn't mean that they think I'm a monster.  It means they think I'm scared and I'd better get over it.  The last thing I am is scary, I said.  I just don't like silent people who walk in without knocking.

"So what are you looking at?" he asked again, and I showed him the article about the kid who shot the baby who was 1000% not guilty.  "Oh, yeah, I heard about that one.  They shot the baby in front of the father."

No, I said.  I knew exactly which one he meant, because everybody was talking about it, but this one was in Georgia.  The one in Chicago was where they were changing the diaper in the car and they did a driveby to get the dad but hit the baby instead.  Georgia was the mom and the baby in a stroller.

But he was fixated on Chicago.  "So they was after the dad and not the baby?  That's not so bad."

I just looked at him.

"It's not.  They didn't mean to hit the baby.  That's different than aiming for the baby and shooting it."

And I supposed he was right.  I mean, if you discount everything about precious lives and sweet-smelling feet and toothless smiles lost, there was a difference.  A driveby is different than deliberately aiming for the baby and shooting him in the face.  It's a long time since I thought to myself that anywhere was worse than Chicago for violence, but we may have found a winner.  Georgia.  Who knew?

But Marcus was still thinking.  "Did the dad die in that one and the baby lived?  That's messed up.  They should shoot that dad.  He should have died, not the baby."

Then again, perhaps not.  I couldn't make him walk outside and knock again for that one, though.  Some things you just can't redo.

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