There are these moments when it feels like everything going on in the world is upsetting and scary. I know that bad things happen all the time at all points in history. Some days I either must be more aware or more sensitive or the media is just in my face more than usual.
Case in point, this weekend. I crawled into bed Saturday night. Rob opened one eye and asked "What's up?" I replied "Well, George Zimmerman got off and the washer flooded. I'm surprised you didn't hear the cussin'. Oh and they shut down Rt 28 because a cow is running up and down the highway." Rob rolled back over and went back to sleep. I have to admit, after being so upset over George Zimmerman, Caroline and I had a good laugh at the idea of police chasing a cow on the dark highway for over an hour. Was it funny because we were upset or because we have a sick sense of humor? Both probably. Mopping up gallons of cold washer water was a nice distraction as well.
I have been following people's opinions about the case via my Facebook and Caroline's Twitter. My frustration is that the man was told not to chase the boy in the first place. It feels like vigilantes have been given the go ahead. Think back to you as a teenager. Were you always approachable? Always polite? Did you look normal (come on '80's folks)? I can remember all the hassling that my long haired "hippie freak" brother got when he flew down the country roads driving his car covered with Grateful Dead stickers. That same "delinquent" is now a wonderful husband and father.
Teens tend to go through a period of flat out "dumb-assery." At times they seem like frightening alien beings. The fact of the matter is they are still children. Sure, they think they have all of the answers. No one has stronger convictions and opinions than my 15 year old daughter. Sometimes she is right, sometimes she is not. This is her time to form herself and develop her opinions. Rob and I provide her the guidance and safety she needs for that, but every time she leaves our house I am so afraid for her.
My child hardly looks like a threat. She is a self-proclaimed "blond-haired, blue eyed bookworm." However, she does have quite a mouth. If I recorded one of the many heated conversations that have occurred here behind closed doors, you would think that she is a willful, spoiled rotten brat (she would use a different b word). We live in an amazingly diverse area. Consequentially, Caroline friends span various classes, cultures, and races.
I am very naive. I thought that living here, it would never be a problem. Such a dreamer, am I. Caroline's boyfriend is from Bolivia. He is a sweet, bright boy. He makes stupid "boy mistakes" that piss Caroline and I off and make Rob laugh. Whenever, I share his latest stupid move, Rob laughs and counters "rookie mistake." However, he clearly really cares for my girl. She picked him because he listens to the same indie rock, watches sci-fi and action movies, and loves super heroes. Together, they move along through the suburbs waiting for the day to spread their hipster wings.
When she first told me that they were catching flack about being a couple, I shrugged her off as being dramatic (she is a 15 year old girl after all). Then came the 7-11 day. Her boyfriend has a very dark complexion and a "Roman" nose. I guess I can see how an idiot would make assumptions about his racial background (notice the word idiot). They went to get Slurpees at 7-11 and the clerk had to make a point of asking where he was from. He is used to this and politely responded "Bolivia." Then the clerk had to look at Caroline and make a loaded point "Well, I guess you aren't from Bolivia." Remember Caroline's mouth? Remember what I said about our guidance? Well she knows enough not to use that mouth against adults because she simply replied "You're right." She was upset, but her boyfriend is used to it. I am glad that she knew enough not to show it because then he would have felt the need to defend her honor etc. Just recently, one of her friends grabbed the phone from Caroline when she was talking to him and yelled that he should go back across the boarder to his own country. Caroline was outraged, I was three kinds of pissed, and he let it roll off of his back. He told her he's used to it and doesn't let it bother him. I have decided that he is a pretty good kid.
Both times, I wasn't there. According to Caroline that's a good thing. "Mom," she says "you need to calm down. Getting all pissed only makes it worse." I guess going through my "hippy phase" during her formative years payed off.
I am not sure what all the answers are. Rob isn't as upset; he can list a dozen or more worse things going on in the world. He's right, but I can't turn a blind eye to a teen who was killed because of assumptions and wrong headed perceptions. It is our job to protect and guide our teenagers. To see them into adulthood. That opportunity was stolen from Trayvon Martin's parents. They will never get the chance to see him grow up and all of the possibilities that were there.