Saturday, July 13, 2019

I Wonder

My husband was charmed. As we sat in the courtyard, eating our summer treats from Rita’s he watched a little boy zooming around on his little bike. Soon his smaller sister appeared, on a much smaller bike that had no pedals. She was managing it expertly, using her feet to move herself along. Then came a mom, or perhaps a nanny, with a baby in a stroller.

“What a great mom, bringing them here to be able to have this big, safe space to ride around in. It’s wonderful,” he remarked.

It was quite hot. We had each gotten our favorite Rita’s offerings: chocolate custard for him, watermelon ice for me. A few other folks sat at tables enjoying cold treats. Every so often the little boy would pedal past, helmet on securely, a bit of a wobble as he rounded the corners. Now and again a patron for one of the courtyard shops would pass through.

It was pretty darned near idyllic.

One little thought nagged at me, though. As we went back to our car I checked the posted rules for the Village Center common spaces. As I had suspected, no bicycles are allowed. No bikes, scooters, skateboards.

I wonder if they ever enforce those rules. I wonder if they have them posted so they can police the behavior of people they feel are undesirable. I wonder if it matters what age they are. Or the color of their skin.

Sometimes I wonder. Does privilege look like taking your children to ride their bikes at the village center and never thinking to read the posted rules because “posted rules” just aren’t a thing in your world? When one can say, “I just didn’t know,” if challenged and one will be believed, no further questions asked?

Not everyone gets that benefit of the doubt. Not everyone’s children are looked at with a kind and benevolent gaze while doing the things of childhood. Some children get a smile. Others? “They’re probably up to no good.”

Rules are there for a reason, you say. There are safety concerns, issues of making sure that customers feel safe accessing the shops. Of course there are. There always are.

There are also rules written in between the lines. Nuance in how they are enforced. Right now, when my mind and heart are full of images of children who some would say are “not our children”, I wonder how good we are close to home when we deal with children who don’t look like ours.

I don’t know. But, I wonder.

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