When Your Child Realizes How Cruel The World Can Be
Hours before my daughter’s 10th birthday I committed murder.
Call me heartless, call me a bastard but since I don’t own a gun or crossbow–I did it with a hammer.
Trust me, I didn’t want to do it. But, as life teaches, sometimes you have to do things you never thought you would do.
I did it minutes before midnight, when I assume most murders are committed.
I did it in the shadows behind my house, near the trashcans. So the body could be easily disposed.
Before dinner, Haley was eyeing the evening news. She stood petrified before the television, like a child summoned to the blackboard trying to solve some hand-scratched equation in front of the entire class.
On this given night, a crazy man plowed a van through a crowd of innocent people in Germany. A deranged woman shot four people at the YouTube headquarters in San Francisco. And President Trump postured behind a podium, promised to build a wall, promised harsh consequences for any uninvited guest who mouses through cracks of our star-spangled foundation.
Haley frowns at the television. Her little fists tighten to little knots. She looks at me, worried, like she wants to ask big, serious questions–Why are so adults narrow-minded? So bitter? So destructive? What, in God’s rainbowed heaven, is fucking wrong with adults?
Later that night I set traps and went for a beer.
With my elbows on the bar, I received the following text from my wife:
“He’s slowly dying. There’s blood everywhere. He’s still making noises.”
The next day morning, as I drove with Haley tucked in the backseat, we held a conversation:
“Dad, last night, you know how the mouse was still alive in the trap…”
“…how it was squeaking…”
“… well, did you kill it?”
A child’s youth passes uncomfortably fast for a parent.
Sometimes it’s hard to look at my daughter, like I’m keeping a secret from her. I realize she toes the most difficult years of her life. I know she’ll soon be run off her feet by cruelty– the human cruelty that is the star of the nightly news.
The cruelty that a hammer and I are capable of.
“Yes, Haley. I killed the mouse.”
“Why? He was just a little mouse.”
I eyed Haley through the rear-view mirror. She turned away from me, brought her knees up to her chest and looked beyond her window to find a world scrubbed of glitter, void of unicorns and fanged with adults poised to do monstrous things.