Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Point of View

When we lived in Caracas, we seldom took our kids anywhere outside of the embassy, school and church, and almost never after dark.  It simply wasn't safe.  Venezuela is not in the midst of a civil war or anything like that, and there aren't stray bullets flying, well, not all the time anyway.  But, it is an increasingly violent place and no person or neighborhood is immune.  It's possible we may have been overly cautious, but they're my kids, so I make no apologies.  And, they're little and oblivious and for the most part think that everyone is good and kind and will smile and wave at you if you flash them your winningest smile.  And, I'd like to keep them naive for just a little while longer.  They have their whole lives to be wary and worried and the bliss of childhood is far too precious to be squandered. 

Our favorite outing in Venezuela was our weekly trip to McDonald's.  There is precious little for children to do in Caracas and the McDonald's near our house had a secure play area, was patrolled by security guards and guaranteed a good time for all.  It was safe.  A haven from the chaos of life in Caracas.  We could let our guard down, and did.  We spent many happy Saturdays eating hamburgers and nuggets and getting out our excess energy in relative peace and safety.

Back in the USA the boys have missed these trips.  They love play places and are always clamoring for a chance to go to "Old McDonald's."  We don't go very often.  There are too many other wonderful places to go and too much delicious food to consume.  But, I didn't sleep well last night and wasn't looking forward to conjuring up dinner, so, today, after we picked up Caleb from school, the three of us headed to the golden arches for our regular meal of 2 hamburgers for Caleb, one hamburger for Isaac, one chicken sandwich for me (no mayo - yuck!) and a small fries to share.

We were having a lovely meal, just like old times.  Until, we were suddenly and dramatically reminded that even the "safety" of American's favorite fast food restaurant is relative.   Just feet from where we sat and seemingly out of nowhere, two adolescent girls started fighting.  Punching, clawing, hair-pulling, screaming fighting.  They were between us and the exit so we had not choice but to stay put and watch them brawl.  Their friends were torn between breaking them up and cheering them on.  It was surreal.  2 men, customers, eventually managed to break them up, twice in fact, before finally shooing them out the door into the street, but not before they tried to beat the living daylights out of each other right in front of my very naive and confused 3 and 5 year-olds. 

After the fight was over, we finished our meal and talked about what had just happened.  Our conclusions?  Fighting is bad.  Always.  Except, when one is a soldier and in battle (this was Caleb's contribution).  My conclusions?  1) The mama bear in me hovers very near the surface, much nearer than I had thought.  2) The bliss of childhood is fleeting, and despite my best efforts, safe-guarding it is sometimes beyond my control.    


The Songer said...

Good point of view!

i really believe that children should be allowed to be children as long as they can in this current state of the world!

Also i had no idea it was so dangerous in Venezuela. Crazy.

Christie said...

Classic. The Mickey Dees in America is where all the violence happens. Nice.

I hate it when my kids have to learn about things like that. I know it's naive to want to protect them from everything, but I hate losing little bits of innocence.

Lauren in GA said...

Oh, the irony.

I'm so sorry that your boys had to see that.

Z. Marie said...

How sad. At least the fight didn't spread. And at least there weren't guns.

Anonymous said...

we have friends from Venezuela. The stories of people just randomly being kidnapped, scary. But a modern day American mcDonalds? Well, I've heard scary tales about Walmart as well.

Bfiles said...

oh, no. how scary. i'm sorry your kids had to see that.


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