Do the Right Thing

I’ve been thinking a lot about Octamom’s post from Monday and trying to figure out if I wanted to share my tale of standing up for something. I finally decided in favor of writing about it, not because I’m looking for validation or affirmation but because I think it’s important to see that there are opportunities to do the right thing — it’s just up to us to notice them.

About two weeks ago, I took my two younger kids for ice cream at Bruster’s after picking up my son from cross-country practice. We went to the counter instead of the drive-through (Miss L likes to order her own) and, as we turned around to walk back to the car, we saw this kid punch his mother in the shoulder. Hard. My son said she had been talking to him about trying a sample before committing to whatever flavor; I can’t imagine how this led to him hitting her.

When I saw this, my mouth literally dropped open. There were two people sitting in a truck right there and I could see them talking and gesturing, too, so I know I wasn’t the only person just taken aback. This woman was not that big — maybe 5’2″ — and the kid was not quite her height but not far off from it.

The kids and I just kept walking over to the car (which was right there, not far at all) and I listened to the woman talk to her son. And it became obvious to me that something was … different. I don’t know what was wrong with her but she definitely seemed to have some type of impairment. I asked G to buckle in his sister, turned around and did the unimaginable.

I walked up to that kid, asked him if that was his mom and — when he said yes — told him he was to never, ever again hit a woman and especially his own mother. He apologized and I told him he didn’t need to apologize to me; he owed his mother an apology. (She, in turn, apologized to ME for the three of us witnessing her son hitting her. I told her it was OK and not to worry about it.)

“You’re, what, 12 years old?” I asked. He said yes. I told him that in another year or two, he’d be bigger than her and if he pulled that kind of crap again, I’m certain someone would call the police and report him for assault. Seriously, he looked at me like no one — especially not some strange woman with crazy hair — had ever told him not to act like a jerk to his mother. And then I again told him to never, ever hit his mother or any woman ever again, walked back to the car and told my kid I hoped I hadn’t embarrassed him too badly. (“Just a little,” he said.)

I still can’t believe I did that but that poor woman just seemed completely incapable of defending herself. My heart just broke for her, to be abused like that in public by her own child. I don’t know if it had any lasting effect on that boy, but I hope it at least made him think about what he’d done and how utterly, totally wrong it was. What I am sure of is that it had an impact on my own son, who maybe one day will know that it’s OK to speak up for someone who has been wronged.

26 Replies to “Do the Right Thing”

  1. I got the chills just reading this! Good for you! I certainly hope that if I’m ever on the short end of the stick, someone will stand up for me. And I hope I will have the courage to do what’s right, too.

    On a lighter note, your delicious looking cupcakes prompted me to bake a chocolate cake!

    Lis Garretts last blog post..Follow Me

  2. You did a good job standing up for what is right. He needed to hear that from someone and I am sure he won’t forget it!

    After having a child I truly believe that IT TAKES A VILLAGE. We all need support in parenting and this poor woman needed support.

    Who knows what the future holds for them…but good job.

    arianas last blog post..New Presidential Candidate!

  3. This made me teary-eyed to read. Good fo you for sticking up for her. I think I would have done the same thing. I’ve gotten feisty in my old age and especially since becoming a Mother myself. Imagine what he does when no one else is around. I hope it made an impact on that kid, but even better is the example you showed to your own children. You deserve the good Mommy award!

    ~Angel

    Angel/TaDa!~Creationss last blog post..Its…uh…my collection!

  4. We might be twins separated at birth. I would have done the exact same thing, except it would have been my husband that would have been a bit embarrassed.

    I commend you for speaking up… it’s nice to hear some people still do.

    Amandas last blog post..Sick and sick

  5. I’m proud of you too mary! I definitely wouldn’t have had the guts to do that, but I’m certain that you did the right thing in that situation.

  6. Yay, for you, Mary! I’m with some of the others, I would be too chicken or worry I had it all wrong lol. I have said things to kids when they talk down to their mothers. I have stopped kids from being in danger. But I’ve never really confronted an older one. I may get braver the older mine get 😉

    Christis last blog post..A Post with Pics 😉

  7. Thank you for doing that. If we don’t all act like we know what is right, and stand up for it no matter the consequence, we’ll never achieve it. You are the rare person brave enough to do it.

  8. It takes a village to raise a child. Thank you for being a villager and not a spectator!

  9. I wonder if some deeper issue is going on. Why would she allow that type of behavior? Maybe she is abused by her husband, and the abuse occurs in front of her son. What that young man did is a learned behavior and possibly negligent role models in the home … or he has some type of disability himself. Whatever the case, years from now I am sure he will remember you with fondness for setting him straight. The impact of a total stranger telling him that is worth any second thoughts you may have had! You did a good thing!

  10. I think that’s very brave. It’s hard to know, sometimes, when to speak up and when to walk away. When such a clear moment comes I think it shows a person’s true character to seize it.

    Angelinas last blog post..

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