Today I was entering a business where you have to take a number and wait your turn. As I was about to get to the back of the line, a boy around the age of 6, sprinted in front of me. I heard his mom and sister walking up behind me and assumed Mom was going to grab his hand and pull him behind me and explain that it's very rude to do that. Instead she looked me in the eye, said "sorry about this" and then proceeded to implement the grade school classic "back cuts" and pulled her daughter in front of me.
I was stunned silent. I was already in a bad mood and thankfully was so stunned, that I didn't start lecturing her on how to be a better parent. I did stew about it as the family of 3 all had to be served before me. I don't want to say where I was but it takes about 5 minutes per person, so this was an extra 15 minutes I had to stew.
As I was about to leave I saw a friend of mine. He mentioned that I looked ticked. I told him what had happened and asked him what he would have done. He said "you just have to take it". Part of me says he's right. But another part of me says this can't be. I calmed myself down with the realization that not being able to make my next appointment because of this delay means nothing in the long term view of my life. But another part thought about this boy, and how he is not being taught that manners are what keeps society civil. Perhaps his mom never learned that lesson. Now she's raising 2 kids who go through life ticking people off. Do I owe to all of us to help these kids learn right from wrong?
Those of us born before 1980 all either have stories, or it was just understood, that if you acted out in public, some adult was going to take care of it. And if your parents saw you getting yelled at by a stranger, their instinct was to ask the stranger what you had done. They didn't bother asking you because you were the one in trouble, hence you had an incentive to lie.
Since the 80's there has been a shift towards believing the child over a stranger. This may be the result of kids never being believed about anything previously. In the instance of molestation or something where the child is making an unprovoked accusation against an adult, I think society used to lean towards it being a lie, and a lot of damage was done. But if an adult is scolding a child for something specific, in most cases the kid did it.
We have now lost a generation, or two, because society no longer feels they have the right to help teach children about proper behavior in public. I'm sad about this, because parents and children can use all the help they can get. Raising kids is probably the most difficult thing a person can do! So they need the help, and we all want the children to do better, for our sake and future generations. So I feel like I let them down today. A simple "hey there partner you can't just start jumping in front of people" would have probably helped that family out even though they wouldn't know it today. Next time I'll be speaking out! I'll let you know how it goes.