Tonight we went to a park. Not just any park. It had a skate park too. I thought, “Hey, the kids could take their scooters to the skate park while I push Riley around the park?” Never actually, personally, going to a skate park, I was a little naive to the skate park ways.
As we approached the outskirts of Maize, it may as well have been Compton, I saw several tween and teen boys on their bikes hitting the ramps (and hitting them hard) and using cuss words in all the wrong contexts, “F-in M F-er get your sh1ttn bike off my hella leg, yo.” GULP! This did not look like a good idea. Are those boys in a gang?! (I felt so white even typing that). Why did I get the kids all pumped up for this ghetto skate park? “Damn you, self and your unbridled enthusiasm!”
We very slowly approached the fenced park. The kids kept saying, “Can we go?” I took as long as possible to get the stroller out of the car. I guess I was hoping that if I stalled enough, they’d forget all about the skate park and go play in the sand with the safe-looking toddlers. Or maybe, the skate park thug wannabes would see my helmet-laden, fresh-faced cutie pies sidling up on their scooters and wander off saying “This place is wack, yo.” (Can you even sidle on a scooter?)
I finally unfolded the stroller, and threw in my Thanksgiving ham (Riley) and pushed it awkwardly through the grass, all the while maintaining my game face. A face I use to intimidate tween and teen boys (it works at the grocery store).
As we neared the gate, my heart raced. Would they bully my kids? Or worse, cuss in front of them and teach them poor grammar?! To my utter astonishment, a hush fell upon the group, one thug in a sideways hat and half-rubbed off neck tattoo, said, “Watch yo mouth, yo.”
We stayed far away from them on one side of the park. But, from then on it was just the sound of wheels on the ramps. Yes, it was a little awkward and we (I) felt a little out of place, but the thugs left one by one. Turns out they were just killing time after school until their moms could come and pick them up for soccer practice (or to take them juvey, who could really know these days?)
Maybe Maize isn’t the ghetto town I once thought it was (remember when I referred to it as Compton? Slight exaggeration). Maybe I should stop judging books by the cover. Maybe tweens should quit saying bad words and sporting realistic-looking rub-on neck tattoos. Until either of those things happen (highly unlikely), I’ll go ahead and keep my game face on.