There's a family in my neighborhood who are, how can I say this nicely...real D-bags. We're talking milking the system, cops there weekly, proven to be linked to criminal activity, loud, street arguing, fist-fighting on the front lawn and disruptive types of people. Those who know me know that I say hello to everyone when I am out for walks, especially in my own neighborhood. Though I won't go into details, the adults in this household make it clear that they want nothing to do with us or anyone else in the neighborhood except the house across the street from them in which their relatives reside (the other D-bags but add to the aforementioned list: drug dealers). To each his own but I still say hello, particularly to the kids who are much more receptive to friendly gestures.
In the household, there are three (or four or five depending on the day) children middle school age and under. Over the last year and a half I have witnessed these children start talking and behaving more and more like the adults that surround them. I have witnessed the older one using language that could melt paint off a car. Cursing worse than a truck driver, demeaning the younger ones and ranting with such anger it is heartbreaking. I see glimmers of hope when they are outside simply playing like children. If only they had someone, anyone that would take them under their wing and give them the chance of fostering the growth of that beautiful childlike side of them that still exists.
Yesterday, the middle school boy was outside by himself playing basketball. This poor kid often looks so sad, lonely, and sometimes angry. I had run outside to bring the garbage can out to the curb before the truck got to my street. Still in my pajamas and just focused on my task at hand, I hear an enthusiastic "Hi!" being shouted my way. Looking down the street it was the boy waving with a big smile on his face. I waved back with a "Hi. How are you today?" The boy said he was good and then went back to shooting hoops but now with a slight smile on his face. There was another day that I was working in the front yard and the kids were riding bikes. He went out of his way to bike over and say hi. All I have ever been able to do is say "hello" and "how are you?" with a smile on my face when I see him and the other kids. That little bit of positivity brings out the good in such impressionable children. Sadly, such little gestures are not likely to counteract the negativity that surrounds them, but there is still hope and with proper attention they could turn out okay. I know that the family would not allow me to engage the children any more than I already do but I will continue to show them a friendly smile no matter what. I know that I am planting small seeds of positivity and I want to do that, especially for the boy. I hope that at some level this kid knows I am rooting for him.