I attended a funeral today, along with many others. It was a funeral where tears were shed, but no real outward displays of the terrible sadness that you know many felt. That comes from deep faith. That comes from the knowing and understanding that there are more good things to come.
I left that service a bit saddened by the loss of an old friend, but that’s a normal reaction.
I had a completely different emotion that I felt going away from there today. A complete feeling of dismay. It stems from an incident that supposedly happened around 50 years ago.
Here’s the story as told to me for the first time today:
Back in the 60s, a child that is approximately 6 years younger than myself, upon getting off the school bus told his mother that he was crying because I had held a knife to his throat during the ride home on he bus. The mother tore out to school and took the incident up with the principal.
I have no recollection of this happening, nor of being called in to the principals office for questioning about this. You would think that if that happened, and trust me I’m not questioning the veracity of the victim or his mother, that there would have been a pretty big stink raised. An occurrence of that nature would have been reason to bring parents in and most likely an expulsion. Neither happened.
I have excellent recall of everything that ever happened in my early lifetime. That is why I was I so blindsided by this story.
I was told jokingly that I may want to stay clear of Aunt so-in-so, because she still seemed mightily miffed about the incident, when it came up when a bunch of people were visiting last night.
I don’t remember ever meeting the lady, but I probably did sometime along the way. After the service was over I did seek her out and introduced myself. I apologized to be polite, but told her I have no memory of such ever happening. She seemed pretty sure of the facts. So given the time and place, I bid her farewell and moved on.
I looked the son up before I left and apologized to him as well, even though I wasn’t sure what I was apologizing for.
If it had happened, it must have been during my 8th grade year. By the time I started my freshman year I was a driver’s license carrying teenager with my own car and rarely ever rode on the school bus.
My best suspicions lay with him and someone else, most likely nearer his own age may have been scuffling and the story sounded better if a big boy held a knife on him.
If it happened, he was surely traumatized, because my stop was a good 30 to 45 minutes before his.
From other stories that have been told on here about how many times I got kicked off the bus for misbehaving and fighting, you’d think I rode it every day for the 5 years I went to school in Marble Falls.
So if it was during my 8th grade year, the victim was in the 2nd grade. Something just doesn’t seem right.
I once wrote about an incident where I, as an adult, was accused of giving a neighborhood friend of one of our sons a whipping. Something along this line seems more likely to have happened.
Here is that other story:
Don’t Always Believe What Your Children Tell You
It was the mid 80s. We were still living in south Austin on a secluded little street. It was a neighborhood anyone would want to live in, if you have to live in the city. We moved In with on Jan. 1, 1977 and spent a decade there. We had a 2 1/2 year old son when we moved in and by the time we left there our family had grown to a total of 5 sons.
We were having a party. We had lots of parties. There were an abundance of friends and family there. The door bell rang. It was a man, a little younger than myself from down the street. To say I didn’t know him wouldn’t be entirely correct, but I probably had never had a conversation with him. Which was unusual, since they lived only 6 or 7 houses away. I visited up and down the street and what made this odd, we had sons the same age and that played together all the time. The boys were about 7 or 8. Madeline and the boy’s mother talked often and even car pooled some.
When I stepped outside he said “I don’t appreciate you whipping my son, I’ll take care of disciplining him if he needs it”. Well you can’t even imagine how I felt. I was dumbfounded. Immediately I started the denials. I knew his son had been there earlier at the party but hadn’t even realized that he was no longer there. I finally explained that I didn’t know what he was talking about and I was finished talking to him. I went back and joined the party, the best I could. But I think the party mood had left me.
After everyone left and we settled in I told Madeline what had happened. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
A hot topic around that time was the McMartin Daycare case that was unfolding in California. (I’ll post a link to that case to remind you of what can happen to innocent people) and I was feeling like those people must have felt. I slept very little that night. Maybe not at all.
Very early the next morning I got dressed, to go take a walk. Madeline realizing that I was upset, dressed and walked with me. We usually didn’t go walking together, as there were too many little ones in our house to leave them alone. We made the long circle that was more than a mile, talking about what I’d been accused of. When we got back to the house of my accuser, it wasn’t daylight yet, but I could see the flicker of a TV set though the window. I knocked on the door. The little boy came to the door, dressed in his pajamas. I ask him to get his daddy for me. The kid I guess went and woke his dad up and then must have went back to watching cartoons. The very sleepy father finally stumbled out into the front yard. We talked for a bit about our conversation the evening before. I finally suggested that he get his son so we could get to the bottom of the spanking issue.
With the little boy standing in the yard with us, we ask him to tell us again what had happened. He immediately started to whimper. Then he broke down and told the story of being at our house and he and our son Mike had been scuffling and the little boy ran home crying. It sounded like a better story that Mike’s dad had given him a spanking rather than saying what had really happened. He was afraid to say he and Mike where fighting because that may preclude his being able to come to our house anymore. The mind of a child.
We left there with a good understanding that I hadn’t so much as even spoken harshly to the child much less laid a hand on him. I then felt like carrying on with my day. I felt good.
The lesson I took away from this was to never just think what a child says is going to be factual and to never leave business unattended. There is always the chance that a story can fester and grow. Before long, if left alone, I could have been made into a neighbor that beat every child on the block and worse.
This didn’t help mine and the dads relationship because he would always look the other way when he saw me. I guess out of embarrassment. Words to live by: Don’t Always Believe What Children Tell You.
The other part of that story is never leave things unresolved.