My view of the world through words & photos
“Is he the perfect boy? No, he’s not. But he’s mine.”
That’s what a Baltimore mom said after video of her removing her 16-year-old son from the riots in that city, after she had told him not to go down to that area. She had seen him in news coverage of the event, and went down to the site. The video shows her pulling him away from the crowd, swatting at him and telling him to go home.
I’ve watched the video, followed the news coverage, listened to radio talk show hosts and telephone callers comment on her actions. Many want to label her as a hero. Many more say she is a mom doing what parents need to do: teach their children right from wrong. A few, including one host, commented that she shouldn’t have been hitting him as she got him away from the crowd. One caller asked where the boy’s father was and scoffed when the talk show host said he might have been at work.
Let’s focus on what is most important – a mom keeping her son safe and showing him consequences for disobeying her. I applaud her for doing what needed to be done. In the heat of that moment, when people were caught up in the anonymity of the crowd mentality and doing things they might not ordinarily do, a mother’s instinct was to make sure her child was not a part of it.
In another part of her interview, she said she didn’t want her only son to be another Freddie Gray – the Baltimore man who died while in police custody. I hate that this was her motivation – fear of her son losing his life because of an interaction with police.
I am not a person to use, or like the use of, extremes and absolutes in everyday conversations (or blog postings), but I believe all good parents want their children to grow up to live a better life than they lived. One more step up the ladder.
Some of life’s bumps and bruises are unavoidable – the first break-up, a bad grade, not being selected. We all have to experience these and learn that life goes on despite these perceive failures. There are some experiences we do not need to check off our life list – drinking and driving, texting/posting and driving, bullying, destroying property, harming another.
I learned a long time ago, that everyone didn’t grow up like I did. I learned that when some teens’ parents gave them The Talk, the subject wasn’t just about sex. The Talk they got was also about how to act in public so as not to look suspicious, how to ignore the fact that store clerks were going to watch them or follow them while they were shopping, and how more was expected of them because of the color of their skin. I was naive and I was shocked when I learned this from a co-worker who had given this talk to her son when he became a teenager. I have since learned from other friends of color, and parents of kids of color, that this is what they feel they have to do in order to help their kids alive in this world.
So, when I saw this Baltimore mom pull her teenage son out of the crowd that had been throwing rocks, and yell at him for being down there, and smack him because she felt he hadn’t been paying attention to her earlier warnings, I wasn’t upset with her actions. I was proud of her. And I hoped I would be that strong and that courageous to do the right thing for my kids should the occasion arise.
There are wrongs that need to be corrected. There are very hard conversations that need to be held to increase understanding. There are families and communities that need to be healed so they can grow and thrive. And this Baltimore mom showed us one step we all need to take…to step up and take responsibility.