But I Imagined….
Shane and I were in the car on a glorious summer’s day. We stopped at a red light and heard thumping, blaring booms from the car next to us.
“I wonder what song that is,” Shane said. “Try 95.5.” I dialed the radio accordingly. It was not 95.5.
“Must be a CD,” Shane said.
I looked over to see who insisted on deafening their mobile neighbors with the subwoofer volume maxxed. Two young guys sat in the front seat, baseball caps turned backwards, jammin’ out. All the windows were down – explicit lyrics for all!
And in the back seat sat a girl, blond ponytail sticking straight out of the back of her head, somewhere between the ages of 15 and 25. Next to her sat a rear-facing infant seat. She glanced over and tugged at it for a second, so I know there was a baby inside.
I almost vomited right out my window.
If the baby wasn’t already been born deaf, it certainly was losing its hearing. No thought had been given to the baby’s safety or happiness. Heck, maybe the baby was sleeping. If those teenagers actually lived the way they drove down the street, the baby would have to sleep whenever it could.
I don’t know those people, so I literally can’t judge them. For all I know, they weren’t even the baby’s parents.
But I imagined….
That the young mom thought, I’m not going to let any dumb baby slow ME down! I’m going to live my life the way I want to live it! I’m only young once and I’m not gonna miss it!
I imagined her getting up in the morning (ignoring the cries in the middle of the night). I imagined her lighting up a cigarette and heating up the formula while the baby screamed from its cardboard box in the living room. I imagined her eating toast with jelly before bothering to pick up the baby, then moving it straight into a high chair, never making eye contact or even saying hello.
I jumped straight from that conclusion to the child starting kindergarten, not knowing the alphabet or how to count to ten – like so many of the kids I knew when I taught kindergarten. In an instant, I gave that infant zero chance for a future, other than prison or a career in fast food.
And then I thought, hey, there’s still hope!
That young mom could wake up anytime she wants, hold her baby close and start treating that baby the way all children deserve to be treated. She might start with a quiet moment in the early morning, watching the sunrise and realizing that there’s more to life than rebellion against society.
She might decide her baby deserves more than what she’s offered. She might just turn down the car’s CD player and sing to the baby instead. She might invest in a stroller and walk through a forest, pointing out trees and birds and squirrels to the baby. She might teach the baby to count, to read, to be a loving human.
Or that young mom might overdose on drugs and let the baby starve to death next to her corpse.
There’s a tremendous likelihood that I am utterly wrong, having only glanced at the car for 20 seconds.
Either way, I am trying hard to believe, today, that there is hope.