Tuesday, July 31, 2007

5/4/2006 - Half a Peace Sign

May 4, 2006
Half a Peace Sign
One day on my way to work I was driving past a kid waiting at the corner bus stop. He looked to be about 13-14 years old, well dressed, and in a nice neighborhood. As I passed him we made eye contact and he gave me the finger. I turned into the next circle and turned my car around. I pulled up across the street from him and rolled down my car window.

“What was that for?”

(Red faced and sheepish) “What? What? What was what?”

“You know what I am talking about. The finger. Why did you give me the finger?”

‘I didn’t. I didn’t. I swear.”

“Yes you did. I saw you. I just want to know why you did it.”

“I DIDN’T do it. I don’t know. I mean, I didn’t.”

“Don’t be a jerk. First you give me the finger for no reason and then you won’t even admit it.”

End of conversation. He refused to look up or respond so I rolled my window up and pulled away. Not terribly exciting. But I happened to mention it to my male co-worker later that day and he was aghast at what I did. Admittedly I shared it with him because I was somewhat mixed on what my point was in confronting the kid. I guess internally I was pissed off at getting an unwarranted bird, irritated that kids just tell any random adult to F off and get away with it and frustrated thinking that one of my kids might do that someday. My co-worker said I had no right to “use my adult authority and position of physical and mental superiority to terrorize a kid”.

Whaaaa…? Physical and mental superiority and adult authority? I just pulled up in my Mom car, with two sleeping infants in the back seat, to ask him why he flipped me off. He started it. I didn’t get out of the car. Hell, I wasn’t even on the same side of the street.

My co-worker said that if he were the boy’s parents and saw me he would have called the cops on me. Why? Because I was approaching an unprotected kid waiting innocently at a bus stop as an adult in a position of authority.

I could argue the “innocently” point. I think not. However I will agree that as a parent I wouldn’t want to see a car with any adult pull up to my kid at the bus stop and start chatting him up. But wasn’t that the risk that they took when they let the kid take the bus anyway? Not that I am against a kid waiting for a bus, especially in this kid’s nice neighborhood, where the biggest “risk” his parents took by sending him out alone was the possibility of getting shat on by a robin or stung by a bee.

I asked him what he would have done if I had just pulled over and asked the boy where the nearest gas station was. He said that wasn’t the same, because I wasn’t using my authority over the boy, I was asking for his help. So I guess it is OK for me to ask a kid for directions, but not ask him why he chose to express himself so ignorantly at my expense? According to my co-worker, yes.

This really chaps my ass because this is exactly the kind of irresponsible behavior that is waved away by adults who eventually have to call in Super Nanny and Dr. Phil to intervene because they just don’t understand why Johnny slaps them and cusses them out when they tell him to clean his room.

My co-worker and I argued this for well over an hour, and in fact it came up again several times later that day. My point was that I think I did nothing more than ask him why he did it, and my co-workers point being that I had no right to ask him. I ask you, dear readers, was I wrong? Please be honest, because this happened months ago and it is still bugging me. I need closure. And if I was wrong, then what does that say about our society today that kids can do whatever the hell they want and we can’t say anything to them unless we are their parent? I am going on the record. If one of my kids ever gives you the finger, demand a retraction.

Posted by Michele at 5/04/2006 09:23:00 AM
11 comments:
macboudica said...
You were totally in the right to say something to him. If the kid is adult enough to flip someone off, than he is adult enought to answer for it. Having teens around myself, I see a lot of their lack of a sense of social responsibility. They tend to be very self-centered and they need to learn that others have feelings, needs, and are *there* too.
May 4, 2006 11:06:00 AM
Sharpie said...
NOT WRONG! NOT WRONG!!!!!! NOT WRONNNNNNGGG!!Does this co-worker HAVE kids?Not only were you not doing anything wrong - you were well within your rights!!ALL HAIL MOMMYCAKES!! As I bask in your glow and hope that I would do the same some day if it presented itself. AND I am going on the record that if either of my kids flips you off - you can drag them to my house where I will kick their asses in front of you!
May 4, 2006 11:27:00 AM
Rebecca said...
Dare I assume your co-worker is childless? I have to applaud you for what you did! I have 2 boys and would be embarassed if one of my sons ever did something like that! I wouldn't call the police on the adult who set them straight, I would thank them. I know from experience that kids don't always listen to their parents, but sometimes "other" people can get thru to them, and it sounds like you might've gotten this one - you confused him by confronting him, and maybe next time he'll think twice before "flipping off" another car.GOOD FOR YOU!!
May 4, 2006 11:34:00 AM
sherry said...
You were absolutely in the right my friend, and that co-worker deserves a bit of a flip off himself.Asshat.I'll join the rest of your lovely commenters and go on the record to say; my kids flip you off? I'd expect you to demand an apology and then drag them to Sharpie's house so she can kick their asses. She's so much better at it than I.
May 4, 2006 12:25:00 PM
Rachel said...
You were absolutely right to do what you did. Look, it's not like you got out of the car and started chasing the kid - you simply called him on what he did. He probably thought he was being so cool and didn't even really think about the person he was actually doing this to. Hopefully he will think twice before he gives the finger again. :)
May 4, 2006 1:53:00 PM
Irish Divinity said...
I so completely applaud what you did!!!! Maybe next time he goes to give someone the finger for kicks he'll remember it and realize he might have to answer for himself! Your co-worker should really pull his head out -- if a child is disrespectful and noone ever calls him on it, how will he know he's wrong.
May 4, 2006 6:04:00 PM
Anonymous said...
As both a parent and someone who still is techinically a teenager, I think you without a doubt did the right thing. And I know some kids that it would have helped, even if it was just slightly, to have anyone, especially a Mom (even if it was not their own), call them out on being disrespectful like that. I wouldn't let it get to you too much that your co-worker doesn't agree; you know you did the right thing and that's all that matters. You definatly get my approval if it means anything.
May 5, 2006 11:21:00 AM
HomeFireBlue said...
WHAT?My co-worker said I had no right to “use my adult authority and position of physical and mental superiority to terrorize a kid”. What the Blue F*ck sort of modern pseudopsychological crap is that?I am an ADULT. It is my social responsibility to BE an adult. If I see a kid behaving badly (what if the boy was kicking the crap out of a dog or harrassing a littler kid or throwing rocks at my windsheild?) then I have a responsibility to address it.At what sick point did kids become 1) more important and more worthy than adults, and 2) so psycologically delicate that they can no longer be addressed by an adult lest it be construed as 'terrorization'??!AAAgghh!I'd like to kick you co-worker's arse at Sharpies house. let's make it a party. i'll being the Jack and Diet Coke.-Blue
May 5, 2006 1:24:00 PM
Contrary said...
I realize I'm a bit late on this, but I HAD to comment. 1) The kid is lucky if the worst that has happened to him when he pulls that stunt is a Mommy talking to him. I assume he wouldn't do it to someone he'd be afraid of, but if he keeps it up, he's going to get his ass kicked. You did him a favor.2) Your co-worker is an asshat. I have a nice anecdote that illustrates how far we have come (in the wrong direction) with teaching our kids personal responsibility, but it's much too long for this space. Maybe I'll use it as a post over at my place, with credit going to you for the idea, of course.
May 9, 2006 10:40:00 PM
Ruth Dynamite said...
And that well-dressed, 13-14 year old kid will not be flipping off passing cars again any time soon, thanks to you. There should be a name for this: drive-by motherhood? Well done!
May 10, 2006 6:57:00 AM
Johannah said...
My DSalmost16 did this once, at that same age. He was walking behing me into a convinence store and gave a propane truck driver the finger. The guy he did it to whipped it around and followed us into the store, and basically asked the same question you did. I was so glad he was called on it. I really doubt he ever did that again, and it served as a cationary tale for DS-at-the-time 11. You absolutely did the right thing.
May 23, 2006 1:54:00

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