Friday, September 4, 2009

There but for the Grace…

We decide that, thirteen and entering 7th grade, he’s plenty old enough to ride the bus by himself.

So, we arm him with a cell phone and instruct him to call upon reaching the bus stop three blocks from school and upon exiting the bus three blocks from his tutoring appointment.

I force myself not to ask for him to check in upon leaving school, upon embarking on the bus, upon disembarking from the bus, upon reaching the math tutor’s, upon leaving the math tutor’s to walk the five blocks home. Don’t want to worry the kid unnecessarily.

I come home. So does the dad. The big brother drags in from high school. It’s Friday afternoon and we’re – uncharacteristically – sitting in the living room chit chatting. We’re speculating about how the younger son is doing with his bus trip.

I’m checking the Chronicle’s website for a movie listing. And there’s the blazing headline:

A boy's horror on his
first solo Muni ride

Sure enough, a darling eleven year-old boy – riding the bus alone for the first time – was stabbed by a crazy man. The kid was on his way home from baseball practice.

According to the report, the boy’s mother “made sure her son repeatedly called her from his cell phone to give progress reports on his ride home.”

“Oh my god,” I choke, “Can you believe this?” I read the lead paragraph.

The dad has the bad taste to ask if it’s our son in the paper. I can’t help but almost laugh.

There’d be no almost-laughing if Hatim, the sixth grader who was attacked, hadn’t undergone surgery and wasn’t now listed in good condition at the hospital.

“It was like something you see on TV – only it was in this life with my child,” the mother was quoted as saying.

I hugged my boy extra tight when he got home.

They haven’t caught the creep who did it yet, and the surveillance tape on the bus came out blank.

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