The Boy is going to grow up and not be the worlds first NFL AND NBA star, but he may grow up to be the worlds next great leader of a civil rights organization or the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center, or a civil rights historian. It’s HIS THING. Justice is important to him. His world is divided into right and wrong, black and white – there is no grey, there is no “well, sometimes it’s ok to tell a little white lie.” He is starting to learn if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all, but you still get smacked with a back-handed compliment every now and then. Life with him as a mom who suffers with self-esteem issues is
KIND OF A PAIN IN THE ASS hard sometimes, but I’ve learned to deal with it, and he is getting better at not hurting feelings. Understanding justice and doing what is right and fair is very important to him.
All of this is to say, The Carter kids are kind of obsessed with the ABC tv show What Would You Do. If you don’t know about this show, from ABC:
When you think no one is watching… what would you do? Using hidden cameras, What Would You Do? establishes everyday scenarios and then captures people’s reactions. Whether people are compelled to act or mind their own business, John Quiñones reports on their split-second and often surprising decision-making process.
But then, this group of girls became… aggressive?… strong?…desperate? I don’t know what word I’m trying to use. The Cousin was ignoring them, just working on his jumpshot, ball handling, you know BEING A BOY ON A BASKETBALL COURT. The girl group was yelling “boy, hey boy, HEY, we’re talking to you. Boy, hey, hey, hey, we want to talk to you. Boy, you, And1 (the brand of shirt he had on), my friend likes you…” and on and on and on. I walked over to The Cousin and said, are they bothering you? He just laughed and said, they’re annoying. I encouraged him to go shoot on the other basket, further away. We played a game of Horse on the far end of the court. AND THE GIRLS FOLLOWED US. I mean, I know I’m an old lady, but I’m not invisible. Did they not see he was ignoring them and an old lady was standing there playing with him? Again they started in on him and asked if they could take pictures with him.
We decided to move up to the playground to all play together. And you guessed it, they followed. They got a toddler to come and ask if she could use our chalk. But never did the older girls approach him or me in any way to say, Hi. It was, in a word, GROSS.
We had a “What Would You Do” moment. I talked to my three about how that was not appropriate behavior and they were not to treat people in that way and also not to give boys or girls that treat people that way “the time of day.” As you get older, kids you’re with may act like this, and you are not to. If you think a boy or girl is cute, you try to become their friend. You don’t catcall. (then I had to teach, what does catcall mean. There were A LOT of lessons in one trip to the park. Can’t I just get in a workout?) We talked about appropriate behavior when you see a person that you think is cute at a basketball court. You say “hey, I haven’t seen you here before. Want to play a game of basketball together?” or “Can you help me learn to shoot when you’re done with your game?” or “Want to come play on the playground with my friends and me.” You don’t scream at them “HEY BOY, we want to take a picture with you” and then pretend like you’re taking a selfie but instead try to get pictures with a boy in it with you.
It was uncomfortable, but a good opportunity to discuss appropriate behavior with a six, ten and almost twelve-year-old. While I could talk to my kids about what I find appropriate behavior for them and the people they choose to have relationships with, it made me really think and debate in my own mind – what kind of village do I live in? What kind of mom and woman do I need to be right now? Should I do what some might do and go and speak with the girls myself? Should I have had The Cousin speak to them and say “please don’t talk to me like that. I don’t like it.” Should I have asked “where is your parent, I’d like to talk with them”?
There is a post going around in my group of friends from Scary Mommy that pleads, If My Kid is Being An Asshole I Want You To Tell Me. YES, YES, to all of it YES. If my kid is acting inappropriately you should not only tell me, you should correct them on the spot. “Girl, please don’t throw rocks, you’ll hurt someone.” “Boy, please don’t run up the slide when little kids are at the top.” “Kids, I know you learned the bad words from your mom, but don’t repeat them on the playground.”
But what happens if you see a child, a group of children, acting like assholes and you don’t know the parents to tell. What would you do?
I think we’d like to believe “it takes a village” and it would be ok to speak to the young ladies and tell them that they were being inappropriate and to treat the boys in a more respectful way and present a more respectful way to express themselves. However, I believe we’re all very afraid of getting into a confrontation with anyone over their parenting, so we do nothing, say nothing and ignore bad behavior. But shouldn’t hurtful, harmful or shameful behavior should be addressed. Shouldn’t we be a village that helps young people instead of being afraid that other adults will be angry for overstepping? Right?
What would you do?
I’d love your thoughts on this!