It was nearly two in the morning when the telephone rang. Startled, I lifted the receiver from the hook, where I discovered a woman’s voice at the other end of the line. She was talking so loud; her words seem to bounce off the walls. "I swear these kids act like they are straight out of hell. They say anything and do anything, and then have the nerve to think they’re smarter than you are." I recognized the voice, it was my aunt Jazelle. And based on what she was saying, it was obvious that her 16-year-old great granddaughter, Wanda, was giving her problems again.
Blinking, to clear my eyes, I accidentally knocked the phone to the floor. Apparently Aunt Jazelle, thought I had hung up on her, because the last words I heard were "Nathan, I know you didn’t hang up on me." Knowing my aunt as I do, I immediately redialed the number. Lowering my voice and speaking directly into the receiver, I detected loud breathing. "Lying brat, and now my nephew is acting like he has his head stuck up his behind," she hissed. Realizing it was not smart to upset her anymore than she already was; I told Aunt Jazelle that I had accidentally dropped the phone. Quickly apologizing, she explained why she was so upset.
For five months, ever since her granddaughter dropped Wanda, her rebellious teen, off at her condo, claiming she had become too unruly to handle, Aunt Jazelle had given the girl $25 a week to purchase personal items. Last week when it came time for her to give Wanda money, she told her she would have to wait another week, because she had to have the car serviced.
Aunt Jazelle explained to Wanda, that she would have to wait a full seven days to get her money. That’s when Miss Hot sauce pitched a fit, and threatened to call HHS (Health and Human Services), and report that Aunt Jazelle was abusing her by deliberately withholding money from her.
"Nathan, she really did a number on me," my aunt explained. "Then when she got through cursing me, she flew into a tirade about how I wasn’t treating her right, and that I was too strict because I wouldn’t let her hang out with her thuggish friends." She continued, "At that point, I was so shocked I could only stare at her. She went on and on about how I was keeping her cooped up in the house. And told me in no uncertain terms that she wanted to take a walk on the wild side. On and on she went, cussing and screaming at the top of her lungs. By now, neighbors were pouring out of their homes to see what all the commotion was about.
Nathan at that point I was so angry, I didn’t care what she did or said. I told her since you don’t like my rules, and have no intention of abiding by them, the best thing you can do is pack your rags and get out. Look, you don’t have to call HHS, I will call them myself." Realizing that she was serious, Aunt Jazelle said she snatched the phone from Wanda’s hand and dialed the number. "I told her since you’re so bad, go ahead and tell them what you want em to know," my aunt recalled. Stunned, and blinking back tears, Wanda told the person on the other end of the line she was being abused.
The next day two social workers came out. They asked several questions and then talked to Wanda. The social worker, sensing that Wanda was lying, quickly left, but not before saying, "Mrs. Kilmer, all Wanda needs is a little love, and she’ll be fine."
"Nathan, I told them, what Wanda really needs, is a good old fashion butt whipping that should have been given to her years ago by her mama." Looking at each other, the two workers walked slowly to their car.
After pausing between sentences, Aunt Jazelle said, "And after all that, do you know what this girl had the nerve to do Nathan?" "What Aunt Jazelle?" I replied. "When this girl came to live with me, I sent her to the salon to have her hair cut and styled. That cost me $50, because her hair was in real bad shape. Too many perms had caused it to fall out in clumps. Every two weeks, I paid $20 to have her hair shampooed and conditioned. For five months I spent over $300 on her hair. And yesterday she came home with these frazzled braids on her head. You should have seen her; she had plaits flying all over the place. All that money I spent on her hair, and she looked like a Whoppi Goldberg reject."
After calming her down long enough to get a word in, I told Aunt Jazelle that she had two choices: she could send Wanda back to her mother, or she could keep being upset by her. She said that she would make a decision real soon.
A week later, I was again awakened by the sound of the phone, it was Aunt Jazelle. She said that she sent Wanda back to her mom. The reason, during a heated argument, Wanda threatened to hit her. "That," Aunt Jazelle said "was the last straw. I told her it was time to go." Suddenly, the room grew eerily quiet. "I’m hanging up now," said the voice at the other end of the line." Click. The sound was unnerving and similar to a killer bee in its finality.
I use this story to explain why today’s kids are unlike any we’ve ever encountered. They are manipulative, devoid of a conscience, incapable of communicating with adults, and they love to lie. In fact, they lie just to be lying. I guess it feels good to them.
And as my Aunt Jazelle discovered, the more you do for some kids, the worse they treat you. For example, if you hand them a $20 bill, they don’t even have the decency to say thank you. It’s as if they think you owe them something, or that you’re obligated to make them happy.
Yes, kids say the shattiest things. Moreover, those words have a tendency to hurt the folks who love them the most. It is at this point, that you throw up your hands and shout "What a selfish, mean-spirited group, kids of the 21st century are." But how quickly they forget, what goes around always come around, again and again. Now run and tell that.