I was at a community event recently when I witnessed a teenager acting quite disrespectfully to another adult (who happened to have been a friend of mine).
I was struck dumb by this teenager’s audacity and impertinence.
How could such a child in our community speak back to an authoritative figure in our community?
How could such a child in our community deliberately roll her eyes and scoff at an adult figure in our community?
How could such a child in our community have such confidence to believe that he can even act this way in the first place?
I really couldn’t believe my eyes.
And, as I stood there incredulously, I found myself being stuck on “your kid’s got an attitude, and I’ve gotta do something about it.”
I didn’t “S” stop and pause and breathe.
I didn’t “T” tell myself what I was feeling.
I didn’t “U” see what may have been underneath this all.
And, I certainly didn’t “C” consider a different perspective.
I just reacted.
And, I got myself involved in something to which I wasn’t even invited.
I went straight up to that teenager and told him what I had just witnessed.
And that I saw him speaking to that adult in that way.
And that he had no right to speak that way to any community member.
In other words, I put him in his place.
And his reaction?
After a little huffing and puffing and rolling of the eyes, he just walked away.
And, in that moment, I felt really good actually.
I felt like I did a good deed.
The right thing.
That any other responsible parent would have done.
But later that day, when I finally did take a moment to pause…
And speak to my own child (who was there at the scene),
I found myself regretting my behavior.
That I didn’t just stop and pause at the time.
And recognize what I was feeling (frustration).
And acknowledge that probably what was underneath all of this was the struggle of living in a small community where there are some parenting styles which I don’t endorse (which of course leads to children’s behaviors which I don’t endorse).
And consider another perspective, such as:
- Maybe this child actually has a real problem
- Maybe his parents are dealing with this said problem
- Maybe the response by the adult at the scene was enough
- Maybe you don’t have to get involved in everything that you see
- Maybe you don’t know everything
But, that was the past.
And, this is the present.
And, while I wish I had stayed in the framework of “S.T.U.C.K.” and avoided that confrontation, I can only be compassionate to myself and remember that it’s o”K” that I got stuck there in the first place.
And now that I’m in a different mindset, can consider whether or not the right thing to do at this point is make an apology.