On most mornings you would find one bleary-eyed mother trailing behind a chirpy 2nd standard boy all dressed up and ready for the day while she is busy fighting back sleep. Unlike the other mothers who are animatedly sharing the latest gossips of the school and the apartment, this mother is usually trying hard to stay awake. They try to include her in their conversations but she is too disoriented to contribute and makes do with a smile and a nod.
For the last three days, Ro has been the first to board the bus and the bus being practically empty he settles himself on the first row. As the rest of the kids get on the bus, one particular child insists that he wants the seat that Ro has taken and howls like a maniac refusing to sit down anywhere else and delaying the entire pick up schedule for the bus. The bus leader trying to manage the situation asks Ro to move on and find himself another seat. He obliges with patience. I have been watching from far this scene repeating itself for the third consecutive day this morning.
Today, I saw the child’s mother asking Ro to move from that seat so she could settle her brat without any ensuing ruckus. He does so but as the bus starts to leave I see the tears filling his eyes. Alarmed I wave at him. Through the window, he looks at me, his eyes full of hurt and swollen with injured pride. Ouch! Something sharp hurt inside. I ask the bus to stop and get on the bus to give him a hug. Drying his eyes he says,
“Why can’t you fight for me Mommy?”
Like a few occasions before in my life, I am beyond words. I hold him for a while kissing his now wet cheeks.
“I love you baby” is all I could squeak.
By then another girl, same age as Ro, calls him to sit with her and offers him her window seat. He smiles at her and goes and sits next to her. My little boy and his saviour start to chat immediately and the bus finally leaves and alls well.
But his question haunts. Did I do the right thing? Should I have confronted the offensive mother and got Ro his rightful place in the scheme of things? Am I failing him in a certain way? Am I teaching him the wrong values? I was aware that what they did to Ro was unfair. He is no different from the rest of the kids and this was definitely within his right. By not taking an aggressive stand, am I turning him into a wimp? I have always hoped that he learns to choose his battles and not fritter away his exceptional talent and spark on irrelevant issues. But…