Thursday, June 14, 2007
OK, today I was that other mom – not the mom of the ill-behaved, tantrum-throwing child, but the mom who told someone else’s kids to cut it out.
Braeden made a very sad commentary on the world today -- he said there are more bad people than good. Isn't that awful coming from a 9-year-old?
I understand his perspective, though, as I think the bad/misbehaving sometimes stick out more. Braeden and I have been dropping Thane off at school and going to do things. On Tuesday, he was upset because some people let their soggy wet dog pounce on him while we were having a picnic. His main complaint was that the people weren't obeying the sign saying no dogs in that area of the park, nor the rule to pick up after dogs in other areas. It sure doesn't help him with his fear of dogs to get pounced on by something that weighs more than he does.
Then he was walking on the beach a little bit and started to rub his nose. I asked him about when he came back and he asked if we could leave because the teenagers were smoking weird cigarettes and it was making his nose itch. He pointed out the sign again that also says it is a smoke-free, drug-free safe zone.
Today we went to the skatepark and there was only one boy there, probably about 15. He was very nice to Braeden and showed him some tricks and encouraged him. It was really nice. It is also a smoke-free, drug-free safe zone, yet it was the one place I expected the rule to be ignored . . . yet it wasn’t!
Then after school I asked Braeden if he wanted to go to a playground on our way home. He said yes . . . and I have to say the kid can be so totally amazing and patient with his little brother. He even helped him wipe his nose (way beyond the brotherly call of duty, in my opinion).
Braeden really doesn't respond well to other children being less than kind on playgrounds. After they were done swinging, we headed for the slides and there were three kids there -- two older brothers and a little brother maybe 2 years old. They were trying to get away from their baby brother and were yelling “Baby Alert” and then shrieked that there was a second baby (Thane) to escape from. Thane didn't even remotely acknowledge them, or go near them, so Braeden came over and commented to me that he didn't like that, could they go for a walk instead. I said yes with certain restrictions (line of sight, stay close to Thane on the bridge, etc.).
Thane doesn't really understand fear. It is exciting to him and rather than backing off, he tends to explore the adrenaline rush. He was scared of the bridge and needed Braeden to carry him over the middle. They went back and forth many times before Thane could get to the other side without asking Braeden to pick him up. Meanwhile, Braeden looked down at the river bank and some boys about 10-11 had killed something. Braeden was so offended -- saying they murdered the poor harmless thing, whatever it was (they were smashing it with rocks). Luckily, Thaney was concentrating on the bridge because he would have vomited if he saw.
One of the mothers must have heard him as they called the children up and spoke with them. When they headed to the water next, they were told to "make good choices" . . . which included throwing stones at the side of the foot bridge that Braeden and Thane were crossing. One small stone hit Braeden in the leg, and the sound made Thane scream. Braeden suggested to the boys that they stop, but they ignored him. One mother called a few times, but they didn't even turn and kept tossing rocks. I was closer, so I told them to "stop throwing rocks, you're defacing public property and might hurt someone!" Braeden and Thane were next me and the mom of 2 of the boys said she had it covered as they continued throwing rocks, when there were some old people coming across the bridge. I was kind of pissed and said it sure didn't look like it. Honestly, it wasn't fast enough. She was busy chatting and not correcting, and when she did it was useless because her kids didn't listen and there was damage happening and people at risk of being hurt.
Then she put one child in a time out and did nothing about the other one . . . and the other parent still couldn't be bothered with her kid. I actually considered suggesting that they take their children home if they weren't going to prevent them from killing whatever they killed, and throwing rocks.
Braeden wanted to know how I would handle it if he acted like that. I said one time when he was almost 5 he was chasing a smaller boy in the playground. At first the other boy liked it, but then he wanted Braeden to stop. I told Braeden he needed to stop or we'd leave. He did it again and we left. He's never done anything like that again.
Don't get me wrong. Braeden is by no means perfect. He can't pick up after himself worth a darn, is horrible to get to go to bed because he doesn't want to bother sleeping, there are snarky words that pass his lips way too often when he talks with his father, and I felt embarrassed yesterday when he snatched the fish puzzle pieces from Thane at the library while we were working with Thane's DT (I know it is normal sibling stuff, but I like the better behavior!). As frustrating as he can be at times, his kindness, good manners, and his incredible patience for his little brother make me very proud of him.
I really hate saying anything to someone else's kids, and when I do, I tend to do it in a more conversational manner – “Do you think that was respectful?” I find that often makes them pause and think and then they do something else without my having to risk the wrath of other adults. But this whole scene today just really made me mad. The moms who weren't watching their kids were both sitting there smoking – right next to a town sign saying it was a smoke-free, drug-free safe zone. I was taking pictures of my kids and I thought about taking the mothers' pictures as they smoked right next to the sign, sitting in front of their pretty SUVs with license plates showing.
Kim says I should have taken the pictures, but I was afraid of being that antagonistic I guess. Maybe I could/should have done it inconspicuously.
On one level I am angry that we’ve had several experiences this week that precipitated Braeden’s comment about more bad people in the world, but I also have found all the difficult discussions a bit stressful (and maybe not the best timing when weaning off medications and feeling a bit agitated). I came home and I just felt very tired. We’ve had discussions about smoking marijuana, when to listen to adults and when not to – listening to his sense of what is right and what isn’t – defacing public property, killing innocent critters, foods in moderation, and all sorts of other stuff. We’ve had a lot more time together than usual. I remembered feeling that Braeden’s questions made me feel really stupid when he was younger. These ones I can tackle a little better than the constant “why” of a young child, but there is a different kind of stress and I do find it pretty hard to keep talking about stuff. The other day we talked for five hours about various things. I have sort of mixed emotions about the fact that in this aspect, Thane seems a bit easier than Braeden. Braeden is so intense.
Then I wondered when Thane might ask “Why?” It’s somehow a bit scary that he hasn’t done that yet.