Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Yep--I'm THAT mom
I often catch myself saying things that I always hoped would never come out of my mouth. You know the phrases: “Because I said so” and “This is the last time I’m gonna say this” and the worst ever, “Just wait til your dad gets home.” All things I immediately regret, but they just seem to flow off the tongue so easily.
Today, the girls and I met a friend and her daughter at the park. We actually went to 2 parks. At the second, there were several kids—including a group of middle schoolers. I noticed the middle school students immediately—as a mom, you subconsciously look over all the people at a public place your kids are going to be running around in. They were sitting in a circle and were sticking to themselves and not paying any attention—good or bad—to the other kids playing around them.
Due to the wind, my friend and I moved to another spot, on the other side of the play area from the students. After we had been there for a while, my 9 year old came over to ask me about the students. She said they were sitting in a circle, spinning a can and kissing each other. She wanted to know why they were doing that. Oh-Uh. I don’t think I ever imagined myself explaining Spin the Bottle to my child.
So, I tried to describe it in basic terms and told her it was not a game I ever wanted her to play (gotta throw that in there). My friend said, “That’s pretty gross, huh?” Hope said, “Not if it’s a cute boy you get to kiss.” Double Oh-Uh! I think I have a new prerequisite for friends for her—no cute boys or friends with cute brothers (wonder if there’s a box I can check for that on her school enrollment card, as well???).
So, my friend and I talked about going over there to say something to the students, but I decided I would just sit closer to them and observe. Hope decided to sit right beside me. After about 30 seconds, she got bored and ran off to play again. Just in time, too. One of the girls spun the can and then proceeded to say the f word before she reached across and kissed the boy.
I couldn’t sit still any longer. I tried to be polite, but I explained to them that this was a playground and while I knew they weren’t bothering the kids, they were using language and playing a game that 1st and 3rd graders didn’t really need to be exposed to. I apologized to them for being THAT mom, but I also just wanted them to understand that these kids were listening to them.
They immediately apologized and left. I truly think they felt bad. They were just a bunch of kids themselves, hanging out and didn’t mean to cause any trouble. But it made me sad. I don’t regret saying something to them. I wasn’t rude or hateful or angry. I stated facts. But, I started to wonder if their parents knew what they were doing. Probably not, but if they did, would they care? Would they think this was just a harmless, rite-of-passage game?
I will probably never see any of those students again and even if I did, I don’t think I would recognize them. But, I have prayed for them several times since I last saw them. There, but for the grace of God, go my kids. I prayed for them to have courage to make the wise choice. I prayed that they would have candid conversations with their parents. I prayed that they would think back to my words to them and realize the leadership role they play in this world.