While waiting to conduct an interview of my own at the county jail today, I sat and listened as a 40-something woman talked loudly into her cell phone to a child of approximately 10 years of age:
"Hey kiddo..yeah, it's grandma...listen baby, I need you to listen to grandma. Yes, I'm here at the jail. Your daddy saw the judge today, and the judge told your daddy he needs to go to the Bad Boy Jail...Yes, he has to go to the Bad Boy Jail. He has to go to Bad Boy Jail for 2 1/2 years.
No, no, it's not the judge's fault, it's your daddy's fault. Every time he hits someone, he breaks their bones, so now he has to go to Bad Boy Jail so he can learn to be good. He needs to learn to be good, or he is going to keep going to Bad Boy Jail.
Well, baby, I know that - your daddy may not be big, but he's stronger than he knows, so when he hits someone, it hurts. He hit your mom and shattered her eye socket, and he hit Uncle Kiko and broke his jaw, and then he hit that police officers.
Now sweetie, you're just going to come live with grandma, and we are going to live together for however long it takes. First for 2 1/2 years, and then forever, if we have to. You know that grandma loves yuo very much, and I'm not going to let anything happen to you.
No honey, they won't let you see your mommy either, but maybe someday when she gets her things together, you can see her too. Now, I need you to not talk to your sister and brother until I get home, and I'll be home at 5:30, and we'll all go out for pizza like we talked about.
I know, kiddo, but we'll get through this. I love you very much, and we will be fine. I love you. See you at 5:30."
(Me, in head) Damn. That sucks. The violence, the incarcerated (now absent) father, dysfunctional mother - you wonder how much of that this kid witnessed.
I tried to imagine myself as that kid on the other end of the phone, being told concepts and words that no child should ever have to hear - jail, shattered eye socket, etc.
I don't know that kid on the other side of that phone call, and it's not yet a case for my Department, but I made a mental note of the family name in the event that the case does come down the line.
I know it doesn't sound "clinical" or anything, but - Fucking parents, man.