It takes a village right? Of course, now-a-days, people seem afraid to address other people’s children, particularly if you are a man. Wonder why that is!
Last night we were watching Sarah perform at Bearden High School along with several other bands. It was a great show! But at one point I snapped. I watched 3 younger boys, 11 or 12ish, tossing an empty 20 ounce beverage container back and forth like a football. They pause and one of the boys rips the label off, tearing it into 3 pieces in the process, and threw them to the ground. I spoke instantly and instinctively. "Gentleman! I need you to pick up this trash and throw it away." The guilty boy responded, "Oh that just fell off." I had to continue firmly, "Now you are lying to me. I saw you tear it off. Pick up the trash and put it in that trash can over there." They did and I am sure they had some words for me or perhaps gestures when my back turned. I saw them playing later and made a point of kindly thanking them for doing the right thing, "Thanks for throwing the trash away. I really appreciate that." I received a polite response, "No problem."
Should I have ignored it? I don’t think so. In bygone times, it would have been expected and appreciated. I am not sure what parents think or expect today. Maybe those boys will think the next time they or someone with them litters or thinks about vandalism; maybe it will make all the difference. I hope that when my children step out of line, someone steers them back onto the right path.
Update: Be sure to read Barry’s post on Disciplining Other Children! I like that Barry reminds us to let the child’s parent do the disciplining if the parent is nearby.