Anyone with half a brain living in an inner-city neighborhood (or any neighborhood, for that matter) knows that at some point their kids will be faced with peer pressure to use drugs. We just didn’t think it would start so early. OK, so I am being a bit dramatic here, but speaking entirely tongue-in-cheek, try to appreciate this scene with me: Iven and I are in front of the largest hourly motel in our neighborhood, talking with some women. Our 9-month old son is being passed around and played with and our 2-year old Izayla is running around the sidewalk with a group of children (all a bit older than her), several of whom lived in our building until recently. The group of kids, including our own, gets to the end of the block and huddles just out of sight around a corner.
My mom radar switches to higher alert and my social-worker-missionary hat takes a backseat as I excuse myself from the conversation and follow after the kids. Thai culture would not require me to do so – the community is to keep an eye on the kids together. I love this in theory but I also know how incredibly rampant pedophilia is in this culture, how many drunk people wander our streets, and how many people tell me over and over that kids are regularly “stolen” (especially from our part of the city, supposedly). Anyhow, expecting all to be well but wanting to keep an eye on my toddler I come around the corner just in time to see Izayla popping something tiny into her mouth. “What do you have? What are you doing?” I ask her, and then turn to one of the older kids who I know well with the same questions. He holds up a pill box with dozens of little pills of several different shades all separated out, as if this should calm my nerves. “Can she have some?” He asks me. “Did she already have some?” I counter, and he nods. “Vitamin C,” is his response to my look of concern and raised eyebrows. Maybe. Probably. Who knows… Regardless, I asked him to not let her have anymore. Out of my sight for 10 seconds and my toddler is getting pills slipped to her. Oie.