Translate? Traduire? übersetzen? ?לתרגם Traducir? Tradurre?

Friday, September 2, 2016

I Wonder What That Policeman Is Thinking Right Now?

"I wonder what he's thinking doing right now," my little ones says. "What he's doing." 


"That policeman."

I know immediately who she is talking about--Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who killed Philando Castile. 

"I don't know," I say. "What do you think he's doing?"

The little voice expresses disbelief. "How would I know? First off, I'm not a racist. Second, I'm not a cop. And I'm not even a grownup." 

I drive for a minute. "I would imagine that he's scared. And angry. On that video, he's shouting and he sounds so scared. He's probably looking around for somebody else to blame. That's what a lot of people do--they look for someone to blame. It takes a lot of courage to admit what you've done."

"I don't know why he'd be scared. He's off some place, and he's got his family, and nobody is attacking him." 

"I think," I say. "He would be scared because he knows that he's done a horrible thing. I would think that he's scared to look at that."

I hear a snort. "Well, nobody else shot Phil," says Little One. "Phil was doing what the officer told him to do. He was the one who pulled out his gun. He as the one who shot the bullets." 

"Well, that's true," I say and the conversation veers into what it was like the time this little one forgot a line in a class play, and just stood there. Just stood there, while the kids around whispered the line, just stood and stood, until the teacher finally called out Little One's name and spoke the line. 

"I felt so hot," says my youngest. "Like my whole chest and my arms and my legs were going to burn up with heat."

"Some emotions are hot ones," I say. "Embarrassment. Shame. They can make you feel like you're burning up with heat." 

That evening, we go to the school playground. There is a tiny black girl playing on the equipment. She is fearless, so she is flanked, all the time, by two women who turn out to be cousins, one the little girl's mother. We talk, as moms do at the park. They went to high school with Philando Castile. They express great sympathy for "your school's loss," and I to them for the loss of their friend. One was in a theater class with him, part of a production about teenaged feelings that toured to other schools. They knew him well. I am dreading going back into the school building for the first time, and I know that some of our kids are struggling, including my own. But these two women seem so calm, so happy to remember him with love.  It's better to be together, to grieve together, I think. 

So, I begin to repeat the conversation with my little one earlier this morning. "I wonder what that police officer is doing today?" I mis-quote. 

"He's alive," says one of the young women, bleakly. "He's alive. Which is more than Phil is." And we stare into the distance. 


  1. Profound. I love that you encourage your kids to ask questions and to openly discuss their thoughts. What a wonderful world it would be if we all learned to do that, regardless of our age.

  2. Thanks, Marcia. Most of the time, the best response to a child is, "What do you think?" Or "Why do you want to know?" I try to give the kids room to work things out on their own.

    And yes, I think you're right. The world would be much better if we would give one another the listened to space to work things out.