Mark Atwood (fallenpegasus) wrote,
Mark Atwood

Mark's Stories. "Are you her bodyguard?"

Several months ago, at the start of the local public school system year, I was visiting some friends of mine who have schoolage kids. One of their kids was about to start attending a new elementary school in the neighborhood, and so they had to go sign up for the PTA, meet the teacher, and all that stuff.

They asked me to keep an eye on their other kid while they did so. Kouryou-chan is an energetic little monkey who loves junglegyms, and this new school building happened to have a nice big one. It was swarming with kids from about age 4 to age 10, and ringed about by adults who were very obviously members of the "parent club".

I kind of stood out in the crowd, being garbed head to foot in black, with a duster, workboots, and pigsuede hat. But the other adults there took it in stride, accepting my place there, without staring or comment.

I kept slowly circling the play area, keeping Kouryou in sight at all times.

Once, a boy, about 10 years old, fell off one of the platforms, and his friends gathered uselessly around him, and the other adults all seemed paralyzed with "someone else's problem". After a handful of seconds of seeing this kid gasping on his back, I waded on in. My looming presence and imposing style of dress opened a path for me thru the double circle of gawking boys.

While being careful not to actually touch him (stupid cultural fears parent paranoia etc), I checked him over.

He could focus his eyes? Yes. Is he breathing? Yes. Any blood, or anything at an odd angle? No.
"Does anything really hurt?"
"Can you move your feet? You hands?"
He wiggles a bit, "Yes..."
"Can you get up?" He climbs to his feet.
"Does anything really hurt now?"
"Go find your parents."
And his useless barely pre-adolescent friends scatter, and he walks off.

I went back to circling the playground, watching my charge.

Towards the end of the evening, after most of the other parents and their kids have left, a couple of boys approached me.

"Are you her bodyguard?", one of them asks me, pointing over at Kouryou.

I think for a moment. I'm not her parent, but I'm a guardian in every sense of the term. I watch her, I am to keep her safe from herself, from the local environment, and from others, but allow her the feeling of freedom in safety as she runs around. And if anyone tries to grab her or hurt her, I was ready and willing to open up an enormous can of whoop-ass to prevent it.

"Yes. Yes, I am."

Impressed and satisfied, the boys leave.

A little while later, we rejoined her parents, and we all had dinner together.
Tags: stories

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