Monday, July 13, 2009

DON'T mess with my kids!

Seriously. Today was my sister's birthday. Her husband is out of town and Phil needed some quiet time to get some work done at home, so she and I decided to get some take-out and have dinner in the park with our kids. After eating, we headed over to the skate park so that the boys could show us their stuff on their bikes.


It might surprise some of you to know this, but I don't frequent skate parks. Neither do my boys. My nephew Jackson, (who is 6) is a pro though, so he was showing Adam and Noah the ropes while Kelly and I kept a close eye on all of them. Noah tipped over a few times when he wasn't going quite fast enough to make it up a ramp, but each time got right back up and kept going which is typical Noah style. Adam had a couple of stumbles and ended up getting mad and sitting down while he recovered, but each time he got back in the game too (which isn't necessarily typical of Adam). I was proud of both of them for not being intimidated by all of the bigger kids who were zooming past them all over the place. Kelly and I warned the boys to watch for other kids and to take turns going down the ramps and they did a good job (for the most part) of watching out for themselves . . .
until . . .
it . . .
happened.

Adam went down a ramp and before any of us could stop it, another much bigger kid came from the opposite corner and they crashed into each other. Hard. Both of Adam's shoes came off, his bike seat and his handlbars were twisted in opposite directions and he immediately started crying as I ran over to help him up. I apologized to the other kid, even though Adam was no more at fault than he was. In fact, Adam was in the bowl first and that kid was just going waaaayyyyyyyy too fast considering how crowded it was. My thinking was that when you are at a skate park with that many kids you kind of have to accept the risk of something like that happening. I explained that to Adam before we ever started and I think he got it. I didn't like seeing Adam hurt, but I wasn't mad about it . . .
until . . .
it . . .
happened.

Another much bigger kid rode up, called Adam a stupid kid as he and his buddy started to ride away. I then said "If you think that was my kid's fault anymore than your friend's fault, you're crazy." They both glared at me as they rode off. I got back to my sister with crying and scraped up Adam and his mangled bike and she told me that the kid who actually collided with Adam also called Adam a name using some completely over-the-top language. Whuuuut! I was already getting angry, but I still explained to Adam that the boy didn't mean to hurt him and that it was just an accident.

I could feel myself starting to boil as I made multiple trips back and forth to the car to transport both of their bikes and both of their scooters and our chairs. Each time I came back, there was more being said even though none of them were saying it directly to any of us. Finally, on my last trip back Kelly told me that as more and more kids started coming to congratulate the kid who crashed into Adam because they apparently thought he was pretty cool for having done it, he pointed at Adam as Adam was walking to the car and called him a stupid little wimp.

Upon hearing that, I experienced a bit of an Incredible Hulk transformation and turned into the girl who doesn't know how to keep her mouth shut even when all odds are against her. Every bit of evidence was telling me to shut up because I would never win that argument, but my mouth just didn't get the message from my brain. I remember getting myself into similar situations when I was a kid growing up in a house with 5 older brothers, yet I never learned that those confrontations never ended well for me. For some reason it was always more important to say what I needed to say than to consider my physical well-being. The good news is, I learned to take a punch at a very young age and I learned that it would eventually stop hurting. I also learned that speaking my mind when I feel strongly about something came with a certain degree of satisfaction even if it was painful. I'm not so sure that those are the lessons I should have taken into adulthood, but apparently they are deeply ingrained because my 40-year old mouth overruled my my 40-year-old brain again tonight just like my 12-year-old mouth used to do to my 12-year-old brain.

So after Adam and Noah were both safely tucked into the car, out of sight and hearing distance I walked past this group of teen-age boys for the last time (and remember they are skate park boys not chess club boys) I once again reminded them that Adam was no more at fault than their friend was and that Adam is only 7 and they needed to just chill out. Then the group of 4 or 5 instantly turned into a group of 15 or 20 and they were all yelling at me to keep my kids out of there. One kid who was probably about 12 really came at me with all kinds of language and when I once again pointed out that Adam was 7 and they were all much older he kept saying "Oh yeah . . . well you're 40 . . . so go home!" (Sidenote: Is it just me, or are 12-year-olds wayyy more brazen and disrespectful now than they were when we were kids. I NEVER would have talked to any adult like that kid was talking to me regardless of the situation.) I just kept telling all of them (rather emphatically, I'll admit) that I wasn't blaming anybody for the crash, but they had no business blaming Adam either, and they certainly had no reason to call him the names that they were calling him. I told them that we had just as much of a right to be there as they did because they didn't own the park. It wasn't going anywhere good (Really Julie? This wasn't an effective way to make your point???) when finally one of the older kids (maybe 17 or 18) told the rest of them to shut up (in a much more colorful way) and he asked me to talk to him outside of the group.

He and I stepped aside and I explained to him why I was bothered by what had happened and that it really had very little to do with the fact that my 48 pound child was battered and bleeding after a collision with a 14 year old. I asked him if he could help me understand why those older kids had to demean a little boy who at one point thought they were cool and who was there because he wanted to do what they were doing. Although very rough around the edges, he was a decent kid and ultimately told me that he felt badly about what happened and he even offered to talk to Adam. I didn't take him up on that, but told him that I appreciated that he was willing to listen to what I was saying and take it back to his friends. Hopefully he actually talked to them about their behavior, but who knows.

At some point during the yelling match, my sister had her own flashback to our childhood and she had called 911. When we were kids and one of our much bigger brothers told us to shut up or stop doing something, my sister actually would shut up or stop doing whatever she was doing that was aggravating them. She would usually encourage me to do the same, and generally her pleas fell on deaf ears. Mysteriously, she got beaten up by the brothers far less often than I did. She clearly didn't want to see me lose another argument in this way, so she called for back-up. As we were getting ourselves into our cars, two police cars pulled into the parking lot. Since she called them she thought it best that she talk to them, so I hung back while she did that. To make this long story slightly less long I won't go into the details of the discussions other than to say that when the policeman asked me if I wanted to pursue something further I told him that since being a mean little punk wasn't against the law, there were really no laws broken. He asked me to point out the kids who were the worst offenders which I happily did, while they were standing a bit nervously in the distance watching our conversation. I then told him that if he wanted to talk to somebody besides them he could talk to the one kid who was actually decent with me and tell him thanks again. I don't know if that happened or not, but I hope it did. I think that kid needs to hear that he did a good thing by stepping up the way he did.

We drove off in our separate cars and when we were a safe distance away we stopped to debrief for a moment. From the backseat of Kelly's car, Jackson really wanted to know how that one kid knew that I was 40. On the way home Adam told me that if we go back there and he sees the kid who called him those names he wants to punch him in "the front of his private parts."

Happy Birthday, KJ! Hope it was memorable.

8 comments:

Phillip said...

That's my Ju.

shawn rowley said...

i wonder if we were getting the PG version? ;-)

any way you were awesomw good job!

i have had to restrian my self so often from wacking some punk in similier situations. i admire your control and determination not to be intimidated.

Sam said...

Hahaha! Did they have mullets like your last confrontation?

AprilC said...

What to go Julie...I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut too..especially when the kids are concerned.

Renae said...

You go!! You know that keeping my tongue has never been one of my strengths, and picking on little kids is just out of the question!!! Way to go!

KJae said...

Okay, whew! It's over and done. There for a moment I was scared we'd all leave in an ambulance. : )

Ju was a SHE-ro! Just like in our childhood when she'd stand up for the right and I'd be more inclined to not get beat up... so I'd run to my mom's office and tattle. Or hide in the locked bathroom. I was what I like to call a "peace-maker" but in all actuality it was more like a "tattle-telling scaredy cat." I will say that I don't remember even one time getting beat up. Julie?? Quite a different story. However, I think there's some value in sticking up for yourself. I'm sure there's a balance, but she and I have never quite found it. : )

How is Adam? And his poor injuries? That made me all sorts of angry when I saw his chest. I liked his comments about "I think someone should tell that guy that he's just a big ^$&@#*%." I can't remember his exact words, but I'm sure it meant that in his language. Something like "Stupid Ugly Jerk."

Ju - thanks for making a point last night. You scared me; I thought you'd be transported by ambulance; I hated the thought of seeing you horizontal and bleeding profusely - but you did a hard thing. Stupid too - but hard!! : )

Love ya. Thanks for making my bday so special.

mj said...

Nice, julie. That's why I became your friend rather than your enemy at the CCC. I knew you'd have my back when all those <2.0 GPA-ers came through my door.

Allison said...

And you really need to question why I won't let you and Wayne hang out more??? I can only imagine what would have happened had the two of you been together. Oh, and yes, kids these days are way more freakin' disrespectful than any of us ever thought of being! Glad you made it out of there alive!