Assaulter vs. Swim Victim -- What It Is to Be 12

I know that twelve is no longer a child.  But I haven’t felt it in my gut until two things happened in Stamford in recent weeks.

One, a sixth grader, violently beat a Hispanic man so badly he almost lost his eye. Then, sadly, a sixth grader drowned at Cove Island.

I guess that, more than anything, shows the betwixt and between of this strange age.  How a child, yes, a child, could so assault a man – could want to assault a man – that the victim could almost be blinded, made me I realize how far I have to go, to truly understand this age.

Allegedly, this child was in a gang but he was still in sixth grade, my son’s grade.  I’ll admit I hurriedly tried to find out what middle school he went to. But, as a friend said, he probably didn’t go to school.

Then I thought about the young man who thought he could beat the current at Holly Pond where it flows down over the rocks into Long Island Sound.  I could see him, laughing and happy with his friends, and maybe underestimating, just a little, his ability to swim.  Who does that but a child?

I watched the news all afternoon to see if they found him – maybe he just wandered off to get a snack and no one knew – but at 5 p.m., his body was found, down deep under the water, by a police diver.

I did what any mother does.  I went to find my own son (safely playing soccer in the backyard).  And then I cried a little.

I see it in my son, too.  Some days he doesn’t “hear” me (of course, there are the ear phones – er buds), and others, I’m still “Mommy.”

And I struggle whether to feel guilty about loving to make him breakfast in the morning, or forcing him to deal himself with the kid who stole his homework, and the teacher, who gave him a zero. 

Twelve is, indeed, a difficult time for kids trying desperately to separate from Mom and Dad while also not really wanting to stray too far.  I just hope my son can find himself somewhere between -- those two poor kids -- getting too physical and imagining himself something he is not.


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