If you’re a mom who yesterday got called “a slut” by your son, I was thinking of you yesterday, and I still do today.
You’re probably not that mom, though, as a matter of fact – I don’t believe it actually happened to anyone (I really hope not).
Yesterday, Viktor and I went for a walk around the block. We sat next to the basketball court in our very block to take a small break. He really enjoys watching other kids play. Sometimes I take him out of the stroller, too, if there are kids his age around, so he can practice walking.
Yesterday’s experience was a bit different.
We were actually out during the time when kids typically get out of school. A group of youngsters, not older than 8 or 9, came to the playground. They seemed to have been arguing about something.
At first, I didn’t pay attention. Then it became impossible not to.
I was reminded, again and again, of what kind of society we live and raise our kids in.
There were two girls and a boy. One of the girls seemed like she didn’t want to be there at all. She seemed shy and actually kind of nice – I guess she just ended up hanging out with them because she lives nearby, too.
The other girl told the boy: “She’ll look after our bags”, meaning the shy girl.
I didn’t really understand what was going on, but it quickly became clear. The boy and the girl were in a heated argument about something.
Then it became nasty. For their age, I guess.
The boy hit the girl on the head. Not too hard, but enough to manage to pull her hair in the process and make her feel dizzy.
The alarm in my head went off and I got up to do something. I didn’t really know what do do – I had a baby of my own next to me that I couldn’t actually leave there unprotected, but I didn’t feel like what I saw was right.
I quickly realized that, even though I was an adult, I was there with a child of my own and I was vastly outnumbered. More of them came by and, I hate to admit this, but they were almost my size. I couldn’t possibly be the judge and jury here while on duty of my own.
Was this also my duty as a citizen, though?
It quickly became clear that the girl knew how to not only protect herself, but be more vicious than the guy who hit her. She grabbed him and spit in his face (ew!), then turned him around and kicked him in the butt. Really hard. I saw particles of dust reflecting in the sun that came out of his sweatpants and jacket. He stumbled.
“Youuuu sluttttt!!!!!”, he yelled at her.
I mean, they were both to blame, for sure. But it made me think about how little these kids actually know.
Does any of them really know what the word means?
Are they not capable of putting into words something that’s actually true when they try to offend someone?
Or would I be surprised to hear that they know what it means and have a reason to call someone that at the age of 9?
Honestly, I was afraid to find out.
I felt super guilty, but I sat there and watched. This time, I was ready to jump in if things escalate. I definitely didn’t want anyone to get hurt “on my watch”. I couldn’t possibly live with myself.
Then, the girl said to him: “Why don’t you go home and call your mother that?”
Now, as a mom myself, this hit home for me. I pictured some mom, somewhere, making a lovely lunch for her family, being frozen in her footsteps in her shiny kitchen, listening to her own son offending her. After all she had done for him. After the pain she had to go through to even get there.
I pictured another mom, watching TV when her little guy came home, grabbing a bag of chips on his way to the bedroom, not even saying hello.
Whichever mom that would have been, it doesn’t matter. She is a mom. She deserves more than that.
Maybe this mom the girl was referring to is aware of her child’s behavior and the peer society we live in. Maybe she’s at a loss and has no idea what to do or where she made a mistake in raising her child. Maybe she is aware, but has given up, thinking it’s normal for kids their age. Maybe she is blissfully unaware of her perfect little angel’s dirty encounters on the playground.
They were still arguing when we got up, ready to go home. At least they stopped hitting each other. There were no parents in sight whatsoever, and they’ve been here for a very long time. I thought that was strange, too.
Now, is this the society we want to raise our child in? Am I okay with knowing that, one day, some girl will kick my son’s butt on the playground? Am I okay with him actually starting a fight by hitting some other kid in the head? Do I want kids like this to be his friends, or bullies, in a few years?
I don’t think so.
I doubt things are perfect in other countries. Kids will be kids, no matter what. But it’s difficult for me to imagine societies that live in somewhat of an order, to allow this type of behavior.
This is not the only case I’ve witnessed around here. In Serbia, this is normal. Kids swear like grumpy, old men that hate the whole world. They hit each other. Say awful things to each other, to their teachers, their parents. No one seems to know how to get out of this hellish pattern.
Filip and I talked about this a lot. Are we going to try to get rich and enroll Viktor into private school so he gets off the streets?
That’s not going to do it.
The streets are everywhere. These kids are everywhere.
And I’m not about to sit and watch my child turn into a playground monster, or be bullied by one – since violence is one of the things we won’t be teaching him.
We’re getting out of this forsaken place.
Somewhere, where parents feel the responsibility to get involved into their kids’ lives. Where this type of behavior is talked about. Prohibited. Looked down upon.
Our family is not meant for this place. Now I know.