It is blackberry season and I took the kids to a garden on an empty lot that a friend cultivates. It’s just across Hastings from our house and adds a bit of hope to the neighbourhood. My daughter got to pick a carrot right out of the ground, wash it off, and eat it. We picked some zucchini and kale and also almost overdosed on berries. The boy couldn’t help himself and ran right into a bramble getting stuck by the thorns. Unfortunately, there is no protein in the garden that is acceptable to my son’s digestive system so we left the garden before lunch to go to the grocery store.
The placement of the garden in the neighbourhood made for a different route to the store. Instead of going through the park, we went by its west side. I had not considered that this is where much of the drug dealing was done since the renovation of the playground. It used to be that I could sit on the porch of one of my neighbours and observe several deals over the course of an hour, but since we’ve returned from the UK, the activity has switched sides because of the new fence and swing set.
I’ve mentioned before the strange respect people in the neighbourhood have for small children, as if they do not want to corrupt young people in the way they had been corrupted. I was speaking with a psychiatrist recently (not for myself) about addiction and my observation that several addicts I’ve known have tendencies, often emotional, similar to people much younger than they. She affirmed my observation, noting that addiction is often a self medication by someone dealing with trauma from an early age (I think that’s what she said).
As we walked on a sidewalk that seemed so familiar but upon which we may never have walked as a family, we heard the common announcement of the kids’ arrival by those lining the wall. This time, however, it seemed like we were setting off some mechanism, for each of the 7 or 8 people we passed seemed to yell out louder just as we reached them: “Kids!”
“Kids!” the next one yelled.
“Kids!” as we passed the next person.
They all yelled the same thing until one man, standing rather than sitting, blew out a breath of pot smoke, looked at us, turned to the last two people sitting against the wall, and yelled at them, “Kids! Hey, put that f***ing s**t away!”
Someone from behind us then yelled, “Kids! Watch your language! There are kids!”
As we passed the man who swore, I finally said, “thanks,” though I suppose I should have said so before. But I also realized that though I appreciated the concern over my kids seeing drug paraphernalia, I’m much more concerned that my daughter will somehow pick up on the language before she ever thinks of picking up a needle or pipe.