Mother, mother, where are you?

I live in an interesting neighborhood, diverse in ancestral origins, a mix of low and middle income households: most are single, with children. Lately working third shift, I am at home during the day, day in and day out, evening in and evening out I observe the children who shooed out by their mothers are left to their own ends. There is no parental supervision. For some reason it seems I have become the parent figure/ peace maker for the neighborhood. One young man was a sterling individual just six months ago. Let us call this individual Charlie. All winter long Charlie’s Grandfather (paternal side) was with Charlie everyday. Grandpa was teaching his grandson manners, tracking bunnies in the snow, being wary of snipes, talking about school next year. At least once per week Charlie’s Grandma (paternal side – no longer with Grandpa) showed up: Charlie and Grandma went to the restaurant, the store maybe a movie. Charlie is about four years old. Charlie’s Dad became unemployed last summer. Charlie’s mom moved from the family home last summer to move in with her boyfriend. The boyfriend pimped his girlfriend out (literally). Mom would come around the neighborhood last fall early winter she was stealing from family and friends and generally creating uncomfortable situations. The neighborhood kept it’s eyes open for Grandpa and Grandson, while the Dad attended Truck Driving School. Charlie’s Dad graduated from truck driving school this spring. The neighborhood watched as Grandpa and Grandma were seen less frequently and Mom was showing up more often. Many were surprised when asked by Police where she was. Mom apparently had given birth to an infant – the child of her pimp. The infant has never been seen yet –mom did take a ride in a police car though. Long story short, Mom has returned to the Family home, while Dad is gone for the week Charlie is shooed outside during the day, Mom and Charlie drive off every night to return the next morning. Charlie has : neither Mom or Dad live their, Darrel and Dae are rough and tough enough but actually great little guys, Darrel is learning to throw a fairly decent spiral on the numbers and is catching pretty well too. Darrel and Dae along with their three year old sister spend each day about 9:00 am through about 9:00 PM outside unsupervised . We have a group of Hispanic Latinas poquita about five through eight years old, all day long into the night left by themselves. The young people apparently get upset with one another, more and more frequently as it gets hotter and hotter. Each of the girls are great, they keep themselves occupied, ride their bicycles, play catch color pictures with the boys. At times during the day I am awakened by cries of Mr. Claude, Mr. Claude, so I go to the door. “Missy will not play with Doreen, Jessica took Kisha’s bicycle, Charlie peed on the steps, Cindy called me a bitch, Ava used the F-word, Darrel said we have to leave Kisha alone…” I always advise “walk away tell your Mom”, problem is, the kids say, “they don’t care, they don’t listen” and I believe them. I had a knock on the door a Grandma who speaks a little English and a lot of Spanish wanted me to know “she is crying”, deal was one girl took another girl’s bike, Darrel told the girls to stop fighting, one girl threatened to cut another girl’s throat for getting involved in the fight. Straight up, I have changed the names the rest is true. I found the girl with the bike, made her come with me and make up with the girl from whom she had taken the bike, I took the bike and the girl and her sister to her house – Mom was no where to be seen. Day in Day out, night in and night out, same stuff repeated every twenty-four hours. When I get home there is a bit of a “riot” kids are running from everywhere ”Mr. Claude I drew this, Mr. Claude can we play ball, Mr. Claude are you going to ride your bicycle “? The kids want someone to care, someone to mediate their conflicts: the single Moms in my neighborhood are probably sleeping after their night on the town. I am not exaggerating, cars are gone at night, kids have no one else to turn to… …how many neighborhoods is this repeated in?

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