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a toddler’s cry

published: 2014-05-23

There is a school behind my house. A Brazilian nanny was verbally abusing a blonde curly-haired toddler. His cry was coarse, animal-like. Her voice was low and raspy. She was strapping him up into his stroller with forceful and jerky movements, as she tried to hold her irritation and failed to do so.
I understand Portuguese and she was saying, “you and your stupid school and your whining. I am sick and tired of all this. sick and tired of you.”
I stood on my balcony thinking: if this were my son, I’d like to know. So I headed over to the school and asked for the teacher. She’s a little girl in an flowery dress and pins in her hair stuck in the body of a 50-year-old. She speaks to me as if I am a toddler too.
I explain what I saw and she stares at me expressionlessly: “but we love this nanny, she’s so great.”
I hear myself saying, “hmm, then perhaps the toddler boy was being really difficult and I guess we all lose our temper sometimes.”
“Well, he does always cry when he has to go home.”
I do add that she changed faces the moment someone else showed up on the school yard, though.
“I’ll discuss this with the other teachers,” said the teacher.
So I left, feeling frustrated. If only I could simply tell the mother or father what I saw, the rest is up to their judgement. Not up to school’s. And in hindsight I realized: but of course the toddler doesn’t want to leave school, does he? I wondered whether he actually spoke Portuguese. Either way, it hurts. I was angry too, at myself mainly. Because it’s none of my business. I shouldn’t care.

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