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.