By Jo Hackett
Honestly and regrettably, a hand connects to a boy’s face. No, two boys. They were reprimanded for God knows what. The hand, becoming more and more confident in its capabilities for violence, perhaps discipline, perhaps authority, connects again. While this confidence is turning toward blind rage, the hand stops and takes a minute to reflect on its actions. Has it hurt the ones it loves? Has it been using itself wrong? The hand has been used for love, and this is love, right? Violence is love. Discipline is love. Authority is love. The hand connects one last time.
One boy, who is four at the time, thinks, Why must it connect so many times? This hurts. This boy, at four, taking in crying sobs as if he were fighting for final breaths after being shot to pieces, thinks, Where is my momma? He is only four. Must he withstand such violence, such discipline, such authority? In his cotton shirt with a stain on the shoulder (how does a stain get there?), loose blue jeans with a loop on the side, and one white sock on his right foot inspired by Lulu’s left one in the book, the four-year-old stops caring, becoming silent to many voices as time went on. He hardened the way into his heart, opening to a select few, if any.
Earlier this day, the other boy who is burgeoning upon six, plays a video game. Multiple video games, actually, he lies to get away with playing as many as he can whenever the voice of reason wants him to get off the screen and enjoy the world, with all the faults that it has. He will say, I have only just started on minesweeper. The voice of reason, having never played the game, will reply, All right! Let me know when you are finished. I’m pretty sure there’s someone who wants to play with you outside. He ignores this but keeps it in the back of his nearly six-year-old mind. With one, two, three, four, five, almost six years of existence, the boy plays one more game, taking into account the green number on the gray square indicating that there are two bombs near, maybe even three, please don’t let there be four, like his baby brother who is struggling for air at this point, asking for five more minutes as he loses for the sixth time that day; the exploding bombs laugh while the yellow face frowns at the top indicating the loss that has ensued, or perhaps the loss to come.
The voice of reason interrupts the hand as it connects one last time with, What are you doing? The hand descends down to the boys again; the six-year-old cowers in fear of the violence, takes the discipline in stride, and finds authority himself all at the same time causing an anxiety attack, procuring him to take short breaths like his brother. He is supposed to be strong for his brother: Stand up to the authority, Toss discipline out of the window, Combat violence with non-violent protest.
The hand still descends until the voice of reason stops it in its tracks declaring, NO! The hand ascends promising to take its violence elsewhere. The promise is not kept. It is kept by no longer finding its way to the boys, but not kept by no longer doing violence at all. The authority of the voice of reason is too strong for the hand to resist. The discipline falls on the hand. The hand is reprimanded by the voice, You can’t do that. The hand still waves in the air threatening the violence of discipline, knowing its authority is waning. The hand makes one last stand, but the overwhelming voice of reason says, Is this what God would want you to do?
The hand falls. The voice of reason tells the hand to take a walk. The boys continue to cry, perhaps tears of joy behind all the ones which befell in the name of discipline. The hand leaves for good after his walk, not without pain and sorrow and regret and remorse and tugging and pulling and love and hate. The voice of reason takes the boys away from the hand further. The hand follows changed by the experience of being away so long. It misses its boys. The voice of reason becomes the voice of change and lets the boys and the hand connect in a better circumstance.
The hand finds a new hand to hold, becoming more malleable. The hand finds a way to love its boys. The voice of change becomes the voice of reason again, knowing the hand has been changed for the better. The boys, now 20 and 21 going on 22, pray and pray that the hand remains loving and the voice of reason becomes softer. They lost their innocence but are stronger because of the love they have gained. They continue, even to this day, to figure out what they have lost and gained.