There is a kid next door. A child about 7 years old. This child screams. He screams at moths and mosquitos because, to him, every mosquito is a monster and every moth is trying to kill him.
“OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! Mom! Come here! MOM!! HELP!”
Those blood-curdling screams were coming from my neighbor’s back yard. The first time I heard this, I jumped from my chair and hurried out the back door to rescue this child. This child was obviously in grave danger as told by the nature of his scream. Also, I’m a father of two boys, so I know the sound of a child in real danger. My heart raced. My chest pounded. I was in full rescue mode.
“Mom! Kill it! A MOTH!!”
I stopped cold in my doorway. My rescue mode now turned to anger mode as my eyes met his. He smiled at me and we shared a moment. A quiet moment. A moment that this child will not fully understand for quite some time. He scared me. He used panic to get attention. And now that unspoken goodwill I had for this unfamiliar kid is broken. I will not be fooled again.
When his mother finally came out, she came equipped with a fly swatter. Immediately set off by the sight of the swatter, he pointed, “Kill it, mom! It’s right there!” His mother swatted at the moth repeatedly until she finally delivered the deadly blow; sending the moth into oblivion.
I turned to walk inside thinking it was over, but no… “There’s another right there, mom! Kill it!” Then they both charged through their backyard slaying moths together. I’d have thought it was a lovely sight had my adrenaline not been abused.
Days later I would hear that scream again, but one mixed with crying, “MOM! OWWWW!! MOM!!” Once again I jumped from my chair and ran out my door; my blood pumping. But, right as I’m about to jump the fence and save this boy, he screamed again, “A MOSQUITO! Oh my god! A mosquito!” Once again, the mother ambles her way outside holding the fly swatter.
This time my gaze is fixed on her. She gives me a smile. I nod and say, “Your boy certainly scared me.” She shrugged, “I’m used to it.” Then I noticed a threatened look in her son’s eye. I had stolen her attention from him. He tugs her arm, “The mosquito almost bit me, mom. You have to kill it. I saw a baby moth on the tree, too. You have to kill it before it turns into a monster.” And with their mission ahead of them, they followed each other into the fray.
I wonder what I’m going to do the next time I hear him scream. Will I run outside? Will I ignore him? What if I do ignore him and he ends up on the front page of the local paper: “LOCAL BOY ATTACKED BY RARE MONSTER MOTH”. And every daily edition of the paper would bring an update: “PARENTS WONDER IF NEIGHBOR COULD HAVE SAVED THEIR BOY”. Until a final headline: “BOY SUCCUMBS TO VICIOUS MOTH ATTACK, NEIGHBOR HELD RESPONSIBLE”.
It’s in my nature to help, so I imagine I’ll still jump when I hear him scream. Only I won’t run to the door, I’ll peek out the window. Unless a giant moth is kickboxing him, I’m not going outside.