Just yesterday, a 6-year-old I have known since he was a babe in arms was introduced to a world none of us would want our own kids to tumble into.
Frankie (not his real name) has an amazing smile and a trusting nature. His family is Asian. He was born in Dallas and he’s never lived anywhere else.
As with most boys that age, he thinks the coolest thing in the world is to run in the wake of the big guys. For parents, there is always a sense of security in that. You expect the big guys will be protective of the little guys.
At the day camp that Frankie attends (it’s spring break here, and his parents are working people), he was running with the big boys until it went into a ditch.
“You’re not a real Texan,” someone said. “You’re Asian.”
There was no physical abuse. There was no shunning. This was simple textbook bullying. The big guy knew the little guy couldn’t do anything about it, so he went there.
Frankie’s mom mentioned this to us in a Facebook post last night and she nearly broke Facebook. Her post engendered nearly 150 reactions, 58 comments and too many replies to count. She received heartfelt wishes, condolences, advice and forceful statements of support.
Of course, while most of us were bathing in outrage, Mom was taking control. Notified of what had happened, the day camp staff apologized and instituted safeguards to keep this from happening again. Frankie now knows he has a safe place available the moment he thinks he needs it. And he can call Mom if he feels at all uncomfortable.
Parents of the other campers have come forward to apologize and promise the bullying will not happen again. One of the older boys sought out Frankie and apologized. He invited him to play, and I’m betting that Frankie will remember that above all else.
This is all a roundabout way of referencing something that has seldom been off my mind since Nov. 8. In light of what happened on that date, I now have deep suspicion of my fellow Americans. But if those boys can own up to what happened yesterday and learn from it, then I guess there is hope for our nation.
People of good will are standing up every day in broad daylight for what is right and good about our country, even as the racists and homophobes and xenophobes and misogynists rally under the cover of night. Americans lambaste the acts of a mean minority in Washington, even as that minority caters to the lowest common denominator of our fellow countrymen.
But it is clear that we shall overcome.
It won’t be soon enough to avoid the damage the Russian-backed junta is going to inflict, but America is too strong to be brought down by those people.
I’m thinking of people like Frankie’s mom. She, and a whole lot of other moms, including the moms of the big kids Frankie was playing with, will lead the way. In 15 to 20 years, I can see Frankie and his friends out there doing what is right. I hope to be there with them.
* Sacramento Observer illustration