I was madly in love. That was no excuse for my behavior.
Frank was making a play for full control of my body and soul. He already had power over me. I was so in love I did not question him. To gain total control, he needed power over my son. He almost got what he wanted.
I briefly wondered why Frank wanted me to put my child in what I have dubbed the “Gangster Daycare.” The arrangement I had with my mother was that she would watch my son for me while I went to work and I would pay her phone bill and give her a little cash. Mom took him to daycare twice a week. We both got something out of the deal. He loved being a grandma’s house. He was her first grandchild and she treated him as such.
Why did I call it “Gangster Daycare”? First, it was in the Henry Horner projects. Second, the old woman running the daycare had “pain” tattooed across her knuckles. And because although these children were little two-, three-, and four-year-old’s, they looked rough, like little gangsters.
How in the world could children that young look like they were up to no good? How could a little kid be a gangster?
Their little faces were dirty. Their noses were running. They had on mismatched outfits. Their pants were hanging down around their cheeks. Not even one of them looked happy. They all seemed old, somehow. They looked sad. But they were well-fed and playing together.
To keep Frank happy, I put my son in that daycare. It was the cheapest daycare I’d ever had — five dollars a day, cash up front. You dropped your child off, and you would hand a five-dollar bill to the old woman. She would watch your child until you returned. Some kids seemed to stay all night, but not mine. I picked him up every day at 5:30 p.m.
“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” — Thomas Sowell
I signed my child up for this ghetto daycare, and I put him into it. He appeared to be okay with this arrangement for about two weeks. One day I came to pick up my polite and well-behaved three-year-old, and I couldn’t tell him apart from the other children. He was dirty, nose running, wearing mismatched clothing he was not wearing in that morning when I dropped him off. He looked as unhappy as the rest of the children.
Another little boy had on his matching outfit, Wait. What?
I walked in and confronted the lady about what had happened to my son, and her only response was that she paid no attention to who had what clothes on. During the day my child had been undressed and redressed, and she had no idea when or why?
Because Frank was there, I grabbed my son’s hand and ushered him out with a pretense of getting ice cream. I made my way to public transportation and took it to 72nd and Stony Island. I walked into my mother’s house and apologized fiercely, literally begging her to keep him for me again. Because that babysitting place was not a good environment for my child. That place was not a good environment for any child. I believed that the situation would have produced a child that lived a tough life due to his early life experiences.
After I dropped Joey off at my mother’s house, I got right back on the bus and went back to the Henry Horner projects to where I had picked him up. When I walked back in without my son, Frank was not pleased. He questioned me about our agreement that Joey would stay at this daycare. I was quick to think of a lie and explained that my mother had begged me to let him stay with her because she missed having him around.
This upset Frank. He sat down on a couch and crossed his legs — staring at me. His hands were clenched.
“I asked you to keep the boy here,” he whispered.
In my naivety, I did not understand what he was saying. He was trying to tell me I was violating some unspoken rule. He was trying to imply that if he wanted it, that’s the way it would be. That went straight over my head. I did not understand what the problem was.
He was my child, and I took him to my mother’s. Why was that a big deal? But it was a big deal to Frank.
Frank knew that after I removed my boy from this delinquent daycare there was no longer any reason for me to come back to the Henry Horner projects. My trips there became further apart. I spent a quarter of my time at my mom’s house where my child was.
Frank was always waiting for me when I picked Joey up at the Henry Horner projects. Frank had more control over me if my child was being taken care of in a place that guaranteed I would come to where he was every day. It was a good ploy.
I was too naïve and silly to see that I was naïve and silly. Because I believed everything that Frank told me I was not thinking or paying close enough attention. I did what he asked, most of the time without question. Remember what I said about contemplating and thinking?
As I think back now, many years later, what was my rationale for those two weeks? I let my child stay in a bad place.
If I had taken a moment in my busy life in reflection, it could have given me insight into my behavior. Every day I was up and out doing unimportant things — unimportant compared to the future of my child.
I shudder to think of his path (and mine) if I had not removed him from that old woman’s care. Thank, goodness I loved my son enough that the impending situation penetrated my boyfriend love haze and shook me up enough for me to act.
I can be reached at https://www.tonicrowewriter.com/