Crazy KidsSo here I am, sitting on this freezing cold floor in this freezing cold cell with pizza sauce all over my bright blue t-shirt and my hair sticking out of my scrunchie like a stegosaurus’s horns waiting for my oh-so lovely mother to come bail me out. She’s going to be so pissed when she gets here, no lie. Ha, that’s actually pretty funny, considering I lied to her about how I even got here in the first place. I hate when I do that. Lie, I mean. It happens quite often, if you want to know the truth. Well as I sit in this metal cage, I am surrounded by two other girls who are staring at me like I’m the only one messed up enough to end up in jail on a Friday afternoon. I swear, whoever’s in charge of the air flow must have set this frickin’ thermometer at 30 below because the cue-ball sized goose bumps on my pale arms and neck are getting me a lot of attention. I hate when people stare at me. It makes me really nervous, like I’m a crazy animal at the freak show with an extra eyeball or something. When I get nervous, my hands start to sweat, and that’s definitely starting to happen right now, even in this arctic of a room. I can feel my face turning watermelon-red and I know I’m about to cry. Great. Now these girls who think they’re badasses because they just got arrested are going to think I’m a wimp. I hate when people see me cry. But you know, I guess that’s okay. For them to see me cry, I mean. Because when you do something stupid and get arrested by the cops and then are thrown into a freezing cold cell with other delinquents who are also waiting for their dear mommies and daddies to come to the rescue, you kind of have to show your true sensitive side, even if it’s embarrassing. We’re all in here together. We’re all the same. But the truth is, I’m not anything like these girls. I’m not the one leaning against the cell door, arms crossed, wearing fishnet stockings, black boots tied up to her knees, a long sleeved white dress shirt with the top 3 buttons undone and a solid purple tie sloppily hanging around her neck who probably just got busted for playing angry music too loud in the garage with her Indie band. I’m not the one sitting on her size 0 bottom on the farthest edge of the scrawny white mattress with her badly highlighted hair and excessive black mascara, constantly fidgeting in order to cross her legs enough in that skimpy red skirt so no one sees her lack of panties. No, I’m not like them. Not at all. You see, this whole stupid thing started today in CiCi’s Pizza when I tackled a little kid to the floor. Eh, I lied again. It didn’t start there because that’s basically the ending. But before you go ahead and assume that I’m some crazy crack teenager who goes around tackling little kids in restaurants, allow me to explain. I should probably tell you what I was doing at CiCi’s Pizza at the time when I tackled the little kid to the floor. We were there for summer camp with my karate studio, myself being one of the counselors. Okay, it’s not my studio exactly but for the sake of this, I’m claiming it mine. I’ve been going there since I was eight, which is even more than half my life time and that’s a frickin’ long time, if you ask me. So we went to CiCi’s Pizza for lunch after watching a movie at the run-down theater about a mile up the road. It was an old movie, like one made in the 1800’s that the kids even had on DVD back at the studio, but we got free popcorn and a grape flavored Capri-Sun, so I couldn’t really complain. Anyway, we hauled our kids from the movies to CiCi’s Pizza in our giant, white, rapist-stalker van. There’s no color on it, not even the name of the studio, so it looked exactly like a rapist-stalker van. We did have a magnet sticker on the passenger door once with the name and number of the studio, but one time some crazy lady called and told Mrs. T, my boss, that none of the kids in the van were buckled in, so we took it off. What a crazy lady! Who is she to tell us that the kids aren’t buckled in? She’s not even in the van! I hate people like that. I think she just wanted Mrs. T to get fined or arrested by the police or something. People do that and I don’t know why. Some people are just that crazy. Mr. and Mrs. T are the owners of the studio, by the way. Mrs. T is pretty nice and treats me like a close friend, even though I’m younger than her daughter. With long black hair and soft brown eyes, she’s constantly being asked on dates by random guys she meets online and it’s so amusing when she shares stories about her dating life, apart from Mr. T of course. You see, the two of them untied the knot a few months ago, but luckily they still get along enough to run the studio together. Mr. T is tall and intimidating which is perfect for owning your own karate school, but he’s also got gentle icy blue eyes like a white tiger, so you have to know he’s a softie. He’s like a father to me in the way that he always asks who I’m currently dating and then puts on a serious expression and a deep voice, saying he’ll kick their ass if they ever hurt me. Stuff kind of like that. Sometimes I feel like he’s more of a father than my real father, which makes me kind of sad, so I don’t like to think about it much. So anyway, we trucked those kids over to CiCi’s Pizza, got them all drink cups and sat them down all the way in the back. We’ve been coming here every Friday for summer camp since the school opened about 15 years ago. CiCi’s Pizza is an all you can eat pizza joint for cheap money. That’s why we take the kids there. They’re all between the ages of 5 and 11, so they can eat a lot and Mrs. T is too cheap to go anywhere else. The manager at this particular chain knows Mrs. T from high school so they were able to work out a deal where counselors always get to eat free. Woo-hoo for free food! The counselors today were only Ms. Dayna and I because we had about 10 kids and two is more than enough to control them. Luckily it was a light day because I don’t think I could have handled more kids along with the intensely crazy incident that happened. So, we sat the kids down and Ms. Dayna dismissed them one table at a time to go get pizza. The way the restaurant is laid out is that from our section in the back of the room, we can see the pizza assembly line perfectly, just waiting for a kid to push someone out of line or start crying when their pizza falls on the floor. Usually we’ll call ahead to order the most popular kinds so they’re ready when we get here, but there’s always that one kid that wants something random, like macaroni & cheese pizza that nobody ever eats and then Ms. Dayna and I have to hear them whine for 10 minutes as it’s in the oven. I hate when kids act childish like that in public. It almost makes me want to strangle them. But then once they get what they want, they smile and forget about their fit. Kids are crazy. Anyway, as the two of us watch the children walk single-file through the pizza line all dressed in matching neon orange t-shirts, Ms. Dayna started talking to me about how annoying the kids are. We do that a lot. Talk about the kids behind their backs, I mean. All of the studio’s employees do it. It’s written in our job description. There are about 4 of us employees during the summer, and we all switch off days working with the kids. There used to be a lot more of us, but over the years, they all either quit or got fired. We’ve had many get fired. It’s kind of sad, actually, now that I think about it. Like, there was this one guy who was pretty much like family to all of us but he got fired for getting “involved” with one of us younger employees. Some would think he would be like one of those rapist-stalkers who drive a rapist-stalker van, but he wasn’t. He was just a normal human with normal feelings, and then he got sacked. It’s kind of sad when people get mad at you for liking someone. Sometimes you just can’t control your feelings and you just really, really like someone and no one will take your side, even if you are in your early twenties prowling after a fifteen year old. People are just mean and crazy like that. But the good part was, the younger employee liked him back. The fact that they’re still together now, after 4 years of law-enforced separation, gives me hope that true love does exist. That whole situation makes me kind of sad to think about though, so I don’t think about it much. On a lighter note, all of the employees hate this job because we hate the kids, but we love the kids so we come back day after day. It’s one of those love-hate relationships. Well, Ms. Dayna is the mom of Andrew. He’s one of those good-bad kids, you know those kind. He can be such a sweetheart with his chocolate brown eyes and crooked smile, and then turn around to punch some kid the next second. Ms. Dayna must love him at home since she’s his mother and all, but once he’s with all the other kids, she hates him just as much as everyone else. She’s in her early thirties with blonde hair, brown eyes, and a bodacious bottom that would put any black girl to shame. She’s awesome. In the van, she plays rap music for the kids, which they love; my mother used to drive the van and she would play country music, which they hate. Also, in sixth grade I had her as my language arts teacher for a semester when my real teacher got pregnant. She’d make us write stories about pop culture and once had us dancing on the desks. Ever since then, Ms. Dayna and I have been close and that’s how she got this job driving the van in the summer. It’s a good thing she got this job, actually. Because if I hadn’t mentioned it to her on Facebook a few weeks ago, Mrs. T would have to drive the van and I definitely would not have enjoyed that. Mrs. T is fun and all, but when she has diarrhea of the mouth, endlessly talking about her wild nights on the town, I almost pray for two kids to get into a fight, just so I would have something else to listen to. Okay, so back at CiCi’s Pizza, Ms. Dayna started talking about the kids while they all piled their plates with a zillion pieces of pizza. The sad part is that they’re actually going to eat every one of those slices and some of them will retain their perfect figure and some won’t, like Dave. He’s about 5 years old and weighs more than me. Just picture Jabba the Hut, about 3 1/2 feet tall. That’s what’s so sad. When I think about it, I want to cry for hours and hours, but I don’t like people to see me cry, so I try not to think about it. It’s not that I feel pity for fat kids like Dave. It’s just that I wish I could help them in some way. But before I start crying – because this topic really does make me quite sad – these kids sit down eating their pizza and when they finish eating, they’re allowed to use their own money and go play some of the arcade games in a small alcove near the bathrooms. The space barely fits an air hockey table, PacMan, and a claw machine, yet somehow all of my kids can squeeze in at the same time. Even though there aren’t many games, there’s enough for the kids to spend all their money. Well, actually it’s their parents’ money. It’s kind of sick the way parents will just throw dollars at their children, knowing full well they’re going to be spending it on crap toys at CiCi’s. I hope that doesn’t happen all over the world; I just assume that Boca kids really are that spoiled. Now, here’s where the story gets juicy. So, there’s this one little tyke that just moved here from Belgium and he only speaks French. How convenient, considering I went to France last summer and stayed at a French boarding school for two weeks to learn the French language. Plus, I took French in high school with a Vietnamese teacher who learned French in Belgium. If that’s not caused by divine intervention then I don’t know what is. To tell you the truth, I don’t know exactly if that sentence makes sense with the divine intervention stuff. I just like the two words together because I once heard a song with that phrase in it and I liked it, so I’ve been trying to find an appropriate situation where I could use it. Well, I suppose it wasn’t exactly divine intervention nor convenient because I didn’t learn enough French to be able to speak to this Belgium kid. The Belgium kid’s name is Ethan, pronounced E-Tah-n. He’s 5, maybe 6. With thick blonde hair cut like a mushroom on his head, this gnome sized child kind of reminded me of a mini Nick Carter when the Backstreet Boys were big in the ‘90s. Man, I miss good music... Anyway, Ethan was with David trying to get change from the lady behind the counter. Not Dave, the fat kid who weighs more than me, but David who is like Andrew and can be a devil at times, but then turn around to be really sweet. Like when he proposed to me with a watermelon flavored ring pop. Of course he’s eight and all, but when little kids do stuff like that, it’s kind of cute and you have to think they’re sweethearts. So Ethan had some money in his hand and asked me a question while shoving the dollars in my face. At first, I didn’t know what he wanted, considering he was speaking French. “Je veux changer mon argent, s’il vous plait.”The only word I caught was ‘changer’ which means ‘to change’ so I assumed he wanted change for his dollar bills to go play the arcade games. I told him that he could go – a simple nod and “okay” did the trick – and he did and was content. A few minutes later, after more kid-bashing by me and Ms. Dayna, Ethan was back with more dollar bills.“Je veux plus de pièces. J’ai besoin des pièces pour jouer aux jeux. ”“Um, what?” I honestly had no idea what the heck he was saying. I hadn’t learned that much in only two weeks of boarding school. The dumb look of confusion on my face made Ethan roll his eyes and hang his head. Really? At 5 years old, kids actually roll their eyes? Ms. Dayna laughed at Ethan’s gesture and walked over to the arcade to check on the rest of the kids. I turned back to Ethan, smiled, and said “what?” “PLUS DE PIÈCES!” Ethan shouted at me, his eyes starting to light up in frustration. Whoa there, kid. I can’t stand it when people yell in my face. It makes me nervous, like I’ve done something wrong. Since it was obvious this kid had anger issues with the language barrier, as did I, calmly I thought about what he said. I assumed “plus de pièces” meant “more pieces” meaning he wanted change again. I didn’t want to tell the kid no because if I did that, he would ask why and I don’t have enough French-speaking knowledge to explain why he can’t go get more coins. Well as I was about to tell him he could go again, the line at the cashier desk seemed to all of sudden fill up with people. Like seriously, there must have been at least 285 people standing in that line waiting for CiCi’s Pizza in just those 2 minutes that I was pondering whether or not to let him get more change. I hate when things like that happen so fast and you don’t have time to think. It confuses me to no end, and when I get confused, I get frustrated, and then I start to cry. And since I don’t like people to see me cry, I held in it and just accepted the fact that those 285 people were standing in line and I had to somehow tell Ethan he couldn’t get change. “Ethan, tu ne peux pas aller,” I managed to mutter. I spoke to him as quietly as possibly because who knows how many French-speaking people come to CiCi’s at eleven in the morning. I sure as hell didn’t want to be raising my voice while I attempted to not butcher this kid’s native tongue. He’s foreign, not deaf. “Comment?” Uh oh. I thought I’d pronounced that at least a little bit correctly. “La ligne est trop longue.” I was pretty sure that was the right word for “line”. Ethan’s face suddenly went blank and just when I thought he had actually processed my efforts into his tiny brain, this midget of a human blew up like Hiroshima. Talk about temper-tantrums! Ethan began screeching, not screaming because screaming can be tolerated considering screaming is just loud and not as an obnoxious sound, but actually screeching in French saying how he wanted change and he wanted it now. Right at that moment, the room froze. Everyone in the restaurant went silent. All eyes pointed directly at the two of us, the American and the Frenchboy in battle. Sweat slowly dripped down my temple as I felt my hands and feet go numb. I could tell right then that this was not going to end well –I don’t do well under pressure. The force of the spectators’ glares and the intensity of Ethan’s screeching crowded me in, compressing me into myself. I remember thinking: Hey, this is what a panic attack must feel like. Fantastic. I was starting to realize that I couldn’t go on letting him screech so frickin’ loud and having all those people staring at me, so I told Ethan to stop and go sit down. Mind you, that was extremely challenging for me, considering my low vocabulary in the French language and my inability to calm my racing heart. “Tu uhh…sit down…(damn it)… assieds!…um, toi…” Well as you can guess, he didn’t exactly go for that. So the next thing I thought to do would be to physically pick him up and sit him down. He’s small, maybe 60 pounds; I could definitely lift him. Of course that idea didn’t go too smoothly either because when I tried to grab his arms to take him to a seat, he began screeching again with his mouth wide open, therefore letting his vocal chords get full reign, and flailing his arms at my face and kicking his feet at my shins before finally throwing himself down right in front of the line. Fortunately I kept the tight grip on his bony little twig arms. “Arrête! … Stop moving!” There was no way I was letting go because if I did, I was sure he’d run right out of that place like a man on fire. The really sucky part about the whole episode up until this point was that people in the line were still staring, intensely. I can’t stand it when people stare at me, no matter what I’m doing, so just imagine how badly I was starting to freak out right about then. One pair of eyes turned into a hundred and soon enough the whispers began: What the heck is she doing? … Is she allowed to handle those kids so roughly? … Holey crap, she’s leaving marks! … Someone call the police. This is child abuse! Uh oh. I couldn’t just leave him there so I decided I would drag him to the corner to try, at least, to get him out of the middle of the line. Desperately, I looked around for Ms. Dayna or one of my kids, anyone that could be of some use. But of course they were all in the game room, stranding me alone in this circle of strangers attacking me with their eyes and not even offering to help when they can clearly see I’m having difficulty. How rude is that!? I mean, who are they to give me dirty looks when I’m the one trying to translate to this kid? If they were at least a little bit decent, they could have helped by translating in French for me. But I guess no one in this spoiled, selfish town of Boca speaks French, or they were just too frickin’ hungry to care. I really do hate people like that. Getting him to stay still long enough to keep my grip on his arms reminded me of this wrestling move we had learned in karate class earlier in the week. What you basically do is get a hold of your opponent’s shoulders, dip one down and flip the other so they end up lying on their back. Then once you get on top, you have complete control. That seemed easy enough, considering he weighs at least half of what Dave weighs and has no wrestling skills to fight back with. That was my plan. Well, the plan ultimately failed because the second I let go of his arms to reach up for his shoulders, Ethan became Forrest Gump and bolted, right for the door. At this point, the people in line were getting ansy and aggravated. Some were still thinking about their stomachs, even with the action scene playing out right in front of them; but some were looking more than mildly concerned at the situation. One woman got on her cell phone and was speaking frantically to the person on the other line. I assumed she was already gossiping this news headline all over town. I didn’t have much time to linger on the people standing in line because Ethan was already nearly out the front door and there was no way in hell I was going to lose a kid – Mrs. T would kill me. So there I go running as fast as my 5 foot body could carry me, in flip flops, after a bratty foreign child. Damn, I hate kids. Mid-run, I thought about what I was going to do once I caught him. Should I actually pick him up and carry him like a baby? Should I drag him by his ears? How the hell do the French discipline their kids!? My very American mindset immediately flew to sports, incidentally football. Right as Ethan approached the door, I lunged full force into the air, arms spread eagle-like, and tackled him right to the ground. Wow. What a scene, I tell you! I can only imagine what that looked like: some crazy crack teenager who thinks she’s a pro-baller taking on some innocent little infant. At that point, I honestly didn’t care. I had Ethan wrapped up in my arms, bound like a raging lion, and that’s all that mattered. His weak attempts at wriggling out failed and I finally managed to pull him to a chair. Once his butt actually hit the metal, Ms. Dayna came out of the arcade, distracted by the commotion going on in the restaurant, and ran over to me. Of course, Ethan decided to stop moving like a wild animal and just sat in the chair with the world’s best pouty gesture: arms crossed, legs dangling, eyebrows crunched, lip out, head dropped, perfectly still. Damn, I hate kids. Once I saw that he was calm, I sank down in the chair beside him and began to relay the recent set of events to Ms. Dayna. Before getting to the part about my lack of French speaking abilities, Dayna’s eyes shot open like a deer in headlights. With my back to the door, I couldn’t see what was going on, but I was starting to get nervous because everyone still standing in line was turning around and whispering some more: Oh snap, no they aren’t! … That girl is done for… I told you this was child abuse! I didn’t even turn around before I saw the red flashing lights through the reflection of the restaurant windows. They better not be coming for me, I remember thinking. I hadn’t done anything wrong. They had nothing on me. I was praying so hard that one of those sketchy characters waiting to pay for pizza had drugs in their pocket or something. Sure enough, those frickin’ cops come busting into CiCi’s pizza, cutting the entire line of 285 people and asked to speak to the manager. Stupid manager. He had been hiding in the office the entire time and had no idea any of this even happened. “Excuse me, we just got a call saying that there has been some unruly conduct delivered unto a child?” The officer put his hands on his hips and smacked his gum like he’d rather be anywhere else. The manager looked around and stuttered sheepishly,“Um. Unruly behavior? No sir, I think you might be mistaken.”“SHE’S RIGHT OVER THERE, OFFICER!” someone shouted.“YEAH! SHE’S THE ONE WHO BEAT UP THE KID!” another chimed in.Did I hear them right? Who the hell called the cops on me trying to get my kid to listen? I work at a karate studio! I’m not a bipolar teenager who’ll be nice to a camp kid one second and then turn around to kill him the next. I didn’t see it then because I was freaking out, but as I recount this story now, I realize that I know exactly who called the cops on me. It was that stupid lady on her stupid cell phone. I bet she’s the one who called Mrs. T about the kids not being buckled in the van too. I swear, people can be so frickin’ crazy sometimes. Sadly the two policemen weren’t complete idiots and saw who the big-mouthed rats were pointing at. I grabbed Ethan’s arms again, strictly out of pure fright, as they approached our table. “Miss, I’m going to have to ask you to remove your hands from the child.” Ms. Dayna started rambling hysterically to the officers – apparently she’d started to cry the second people pointed at me – and told them that I wasn’t a threat to anyone, especially the kids in our camp. They brushed her off and told me to stand up. My cheeks were as red as a frickin’ tomato and I knew right then I really was going to cry. Crap. Stupid cops. They handcuffed me and blandly recited off my rights; they’d done this before. Unfortunately, I hadn’t done that before so I start wiggling and shaking and trying to get the excruciatingly tight cuffs on my wrists, obviously panicking. In the process, I ended up whacking one of the officers in the crotch with my elbow and slamming my foot into the shin of the other. All of the kids had come out of the arcade at this point and watched me assault the policemen in awe; some worried, some excited. Ms. Dayna held them back because some actually tried to get to me, reaching out their hands, yelling my name. How sweet of them… Well to sum it all up, the cops ended up throwing me in their old white Crown Vic. with more force than I would have appreciated; but then again, I did knock ‘em pretty good. I got to the station, was shoved into this frickin’ freezing holding cell containing these two lovely looking teenagers, and used the steel phone welded against the wall to collect-call my mother. So now, I wait. I wait for my sweet, dear mother to come bail me out of jail for tackling a little kid in CiCi’s pizza. I bet they never let me eat there again. I bet Mrs. T fires me for being an abusive counselor. I bet the kids tell that story to all of their friends when school starts and make me look like a real badass. I bet Ethan goes home to his parents who obviously see the bruises on his arms, and never comes back to camp again. Hell, maybe his parents will think Americans are too violent and he’ll never come back to this crazy country again. I swear, I’ll never have kids. They’re just way too damn crazy. It’s funny though, right now I’m thinking about how not having kids would just be too damn lonely. I don’t even want to think about any of this: kids, no kids, crazy kids, crazy ladies, American football. It’s all too much. I’m about to cry.