We took our five year old grandson to Disney last week. It’s a tradition with us, once a grandchild turns 5 we take them on a trip — he is the third one, and the second to pick Disney as his destination.
I’m not a Disney girl. It often feels staged and pushy, the crowds get me confused and I don’t have the patience to wait for 20 minutes ( with fast pass ) for a four minute “attraction” which may be little more than a loud neon painted carnival ride.
But, it seems to be an American Right of Passage and the grandkids love it, so I suck it up and ultimately get pulled into the pageantry and hoopla. The one on one time with a grandchild is a treat indeed — so I push my cynicism aside and experience the Magic that is DisneyWorld.
Last Thursday evening I sat on the curb, grandson between my knees, surrounded by glow sticks and 5 year olds and watched a High School band march around the circle in Magic Kingdom. And, as I experienced and shared the things a child’s life should be made of — friends and music, adventure and accomplishment, Light Sabers and giggles — I tried to wrap my head around the chaos of the news that had come to me from my home town, hours earlier in the day.
You may have heard of, but probably not, Wilmington Delaware. I grew up here, an iconic place to live, diverse, blue collar, close to the beach, Philadelphia and New York. My friends and I thought nothing of unlocked doors and late night walks and going to dances to listen to the band.
Lately though, things have changed. Plagued by violence, unemployment, heroin gone wild, the city has become dark, dirty, sadness and despair permeate the air. The news paper and television call it “Killmington” and “Murderville”, guns are everywhere, parents scared to let their kids go to the park, or onto their own front stoops.
And, on Thursday a 16 year old girl was beaten to death, TO DEATH, in the bathroom of her school. Good God, her school. There are rumors flying about the reason, as if there could be one, or the manner in which the death occurred, but whether her head was slammed into a sink or she was stabbed, whether there were 2 assailants or 6, whether she went into that bathroom to fight a peer or discuss a problem, one thing is certain, she is dead. All the blue balloons sent to the sky as children yell “RIP AMY”, all the vigils and television interviews won’t bring her back. There is nothing poetic or symbolic about this. It is sick. It is unacceptable that a young person could walk into her school at 7:45 and never walk out. killed at the hands of her peers, beaten to death.
I didn’t know Amy, I don’t understand the anger that could make you kill someone, and I don’t know how to solve this rage that fills so many of our young people. Church? Parenting? Mentoring? Hope? I don’t know, I am so saddened that I just don’t know.
And, as I sat and wondered, my grandson lifted his head and said, I love you grammy. My joy was muddled with the thoughts of a mother that will never hear her daughter say those words again.