I was on the bus heading home from my graveyard shift. Across from me and a row behind sat a mother with three young children. There were others scattered about. The mother had to switch the baby from her right arm to her left so she could reach around one brother to stop the other from laughing. She did it with a good twisting pinch on his arm and that changed his laughter to crying which made her even madder telling him that people were watching them creating a scene. She said, “Stop crying this instant or you’ll get what for when we get home.” And all the time she was talking, her lips were pursed, and the mother, staring straight ahead, turned into the family ventriloquist and the boy was her dummy. He knew he didn’t want to get “what for” when he got home so he took big gulps of air to try and stop his crying and the mother reached across in front of the middle seat brother again and pinched the crier’s leg saying, “I told you to stop” and I watched him, and he couldn’t. She stage-whispered to him, “Wait till I get you home and I’ll give you something to cry about.” I never understood why laughing was bad and crying was better, and I didn’t even try to stop crying when I was his age, and my mother, who was also a pincher, said the same to me. Others on the bus turned to see what was going on and that infuriated the mother even more, and I watched her snake her arm behind the middle brother heading towards the crier and I knew he wasn’t up for another pinching and another “what for” so when the bus stopped he ran out the door not caring where he was or where he was going, and I realized as I stepped off the bus that he was going to get “it” again for not looking both ways before crossing the street. I saw the tears in his eyes and the fear on his face that kept him from seeing the car that passed the bus and bumped him. I was one of the crowd standing over the boy as he looked up at his mother kneeling over him and he swore on his grandma that he looked both ways and I heard the mother say “Liar” without moving her lips.
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