Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Justice Mom

My son, pictured above in a moment of Halloween happiness, (and the only kid who doesn't care if his picture is here), nicknamed me the Justice Mom about three years ago when he was 11.

"It's like as soon as I tell you something happened in school, you have to fix it and tell people about it. All the other moms just let it go." He grumbled this, but he still told me stuff. (Okay, maybe there was a little prying).

But I knew what he meant. I did call the principal about busy work built into curricula and teachers who read newspapers during instructional time; I talked to bus drivers about fighting and asked a group of cafeteria aides why they sat chatting at a table while a boy was clearly being bullied. I did all those things. And I wasn't nice and relaxed and happy when I did them.

So, with all three of my kids, we had conversations like this more than once:

Child: Ok, Mom, I'm going to tell you something but only if you promise not to be the Justice Mom after you hear it.

Me: I can't promise that. But why don't you tell me anyway?

Child: Well, if you're the Justice Mom about this, I'll get into big trouble...

Me: Go ahead and try me. Look, am I holding the phone? Do I have keys to go anywhere?

Child: I better not. You'll go up to the school tomorrow when I'm not home.

Me: I have pizza rolls. Why don't you sit and talk to me while you have pizza rolls?

Child: All right, I'll have some pizza rolls. But I'm only telling you the beginning...

The Justice Mom has been quiet for quite some time. But on Halloween night, she rode again, with her kids (well, two of them) watching. She couldn't help it.

A man came down the street wearing a sheet. He looked over at a two or three year old Cinderella and ran toward her. She screamed.

Now, I don't get what's funny about that at all, but he was being egged on by a bunch of beer-fueled adults who thought it was really, really funny that the little girl was running down the street, clearly terrified.

But the "ghost" wouldn't stop chasing the little girl - who was by now sobbing.

So I walked over to the "ghost" and said, "Look, why don't you just stop now? She's scared enough."

The adults made fake booing noises at me.

"And why don't you folks go back inside and let the kids have the fun tonight?"

They did; my daughter kept trick-or-treating with her friend, and a little later we caught up with Philip.

"As soon as I saw that guy do that to that kid," he said to his sister, "I figured Mom would say something. God, he was a jerk!"

Emma laughed. "I know,right, Philip? I was thinking how it's taking Mom a long time to be the Justice Mom tonight."

Then they talked about some great costumes they had seen and the rumor that there was a house on the next street where they gave out full size candy bars.

I don't know if they've accepted the Justice Mom as a Mom characteristic they can't change, or if they've internalized something about how the world should work. I like to think the later, but I guess I have to wait a few more years.


Marcia said...

Probably a little of both. :)I think they'll appreciate the Justice Mom in years to come, and probably do now, too, mixed in with the inevitable embarrassment. Back in the stone age when I was a kid, adults didn't stand up for kids, and that could be pretty scary at times. And I think that's why Boomer parents stood up for them a lot; we want the pendulum to swing the other way.

Tabitha said...

Great story. I would have said the same thing to the guy in the sheet. I mean, come on, the girl was sobbing!! In what universe is that funny??

I think that your kids will interpret your actions as how the world should work, if they haven't already. They see you standing up for unfairness, and it makes some kind of impact.

Anne Spollen said...

Yes, Marcia, I think you are right. I do remember my parents telling me to withstand a particularly bizarre and unfair grade school teacher (looking back, he was most likely bipolar). Their reasoning was I would have to learn to get along with unfair people when I got a job. And I remember thinking I would change jobs if I ever got a boss like Mr. H. Of course I could never express that back then.

And as far as those adults -- I know I sound judgmental and crabby about their beer party, but why are they out on the street during Halloween? That night really does belong to the kids. The under 12 crowd never goes out in the dark, and they never get such unlimited access to candy. So it's kind of their only night to do that. Beer parties belong indoors.

And right, Tabitha, like an upset kid is EVER humorous at all. There were a lot of other adults giving the beery adults dirty looks. But my kids expected me to say something. They are either going to grow up and never want to be in the spotlight like that - or they will do exactly what they saw me do. Time will tell. (But in the interim,I doubt the folks on the next block will be inviting me to any parties...)

TerriRainer said...

I think Justice Mom should have opened a can of whoop ass on the idiot scaring a toddler.

I think if more parents got involved, kids wouldn't be the disrespectful vandals and bullies that so many seem to be now days.


:) Terri

Marcia said...

Wow, Anne! When I said "adults didn't stand up for kids," I was thinking mostly of my 3rd grade teacher. She was absolutely Draconian. I don't know if she was bipolar, but mental issues of some sort --- OH yeah! Looking back on her behavior, combined with some rumors, I also suspect a guy dumped her big-time. I feel bad about that part, but the lady was too cruel and too ill to be with kids. The parents never knew the half of it. In my kids' school, parents were all over the place. And they say parents today aren't involved in education . . .?