Friday, April 9, 2010

A Day at Wal-Mart

The other day I took my car to Wal-Mart for an oil change. I had an hour and a half to kill so I browsed and then went to the waiting room. I sat down and had pulled out my book when I realized that two small boys were sitting in the corner staring at me. First, I performed the self-conscious ‘what’s wrong with my appearance’ check. Then, I smiled politely and went back to reading my book. The oldest boy moved a few seats closer to me, with brother in tow, and began telling his brother stories about his classes and mentioning other bits of information (while repeatedly looking to see if I was paying attention). I am a frequent eavesdropper, which means I learned a few things about these boys.

The oldest is in Second grade and his brother is 2 years younger.

Their mother is a worker in the Auto Department and can’t afford any type of after school care. The boys wait at Wal-Mart till the youngest boy’s father can pick them up and take them home. They like waiting there, but their mom worries that one day a supervisor may get mad or a customer may complain. She worries a lot.

They are getting evicted because their mother can’t pay the rent.

The oldest cannot be beat in math. He is in fact a ‘Math Scholar’. This was proven by him answering math problems myself and several of the workers posed.

At one point the oldest began to talk about one of his classmates, Danny, and how he got in trouble for ‘humping’ a chair. He made a few comments about other things before bringing the conversation back to his friend Danny. The oldest turned to his younger brother and proclaimed that Danny was a child molester. At this point I was more deeply involved in my book and just caught the last bit of his statement. I figured I had misheard something and continued reading. The oldest boy then described a child molester to his brother, in detail. At this point I realized what was happening and interjected before he defined ‘rape’. I told him that this was not the proper place to discuss that topic. His younger brother then told me that he already knew what that word meant.

While my studies have taught me that some children younger than these two know about these topics and worse, I was still taken back.

Then, the boys gave me a greater shock.

They began discussing what the Easter Bunny was going to bring them. The Easter Bunny that they both completely believed in.

It always surprises me how much children can know and still carry these magical beliefs.

I think it speaks to their resiliency, but also to what they are exposed to. So many keep Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy alive, the secret safely hidden, but then allow* children to be exposed to horrible facts of life no child should ever have to know.

*By allow I mean society as a whole seems to be allowing this to occur. I realize that individuals don’t always have control over what children are exposed to.


  1. Oh, ouch. It is indeed painful that children should know about those things so young. I hope, of course, that I can shield my own children from such knowledge for as long as possible (other than the general, "what to avoid" kind of knowledge, of course).

    A sad juxtaposition, that. Well written, good lady.

  2. So sad :( I hate that there are innocent children who are exposed to such awful conditions in life. No child should loose the innocence of tooth fairies and Santa in favor of child molesters and rape.

  3. How horribly sad. :( Sounds like these boys are carrying the weight of worries that are far beyond their abilities to handle. Worrying that mom will lose her job, knowing that they are going to be evicted - child molesters and rape. It's just all such sad commentary on what some children are forced to live through.