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.