As I was panting away at the gym yesterday morning on the elliptical I caught the story of Karen Klein on HLN. As you all might know, she is the bus monitor whose bullying video went viral, causing a shitstorm (thanks Izaak Mak for reminding me of this great term!) of outrage. And while I am appalled and horrified at the psychopathic behavior displayed by these children towards their elder, what really chapped my ass was the Facebook and Twitter comments accompanying the story. The few that made it to the big time airwaves (at least when I was watching it) launched an attack on the bullies’ parents. I can’t recall the exact words but the gist was that the parents suck ass and should be made to suffer the same horrors as the unfortunate Ms. Klein.
I used to be one of those finger-pointing blamers. I’d read about various criminals and degenerate scumbuckets and say, “Wow, that guy’s dad probably beat him when he was little,” or wonder out loud, “That crack whore’s mother must have been a whore, too.” I patted myself on the back for being such a great parent because my little darlings weren’t pregnant drug dealing gangsters. My children were straight A students who were always respectful to their elders and peers. They were a reflection of my values and everything I had taught them had seemed to take root: don’t do drugs, don’t be a bully, don’t have sex, be a nice person, look out for the little guys, mind your manners. Besides the sex thing (I do have children and they didn’t come from the cabbage patch) I walk the talk. Since I am such a paragon of virtue (ha ha!) my children should be virtual mirror images of me and do exactly as I do.
Funny how it must have slipped my mind when I went out and bought a bag of chunky, in front of my kids, and then sold my unused ditch weed to one of my friends on school property. Monkey see, monkey do? According to the wise tweeters of Twitter and a plethora of Facebook philosophers my child must not have a mind of her own and lacks free will. Surely she must have seen me do the same thing and decided that if it was good enough for mother, it’s good enough for her. So I should go to jail, lose my pharmacist license and do two years probation for my child’s actions because surely she never got the idea of committing a crime from anywhere else.
I have forever folded my hand in the parental blame game. It was a difficult lesson for me to learn and I apologize to all the parents I have slandered in the past. I am not perfect and I now expect my kids to falter, just as I do. I refuse to take credit for the bad and the good that my children do. I can only provide a compass and instructions on how to use it. It’s up to them to decide where they want to go. The good upstanding folk spouting naïve judgements on social media have either had outstanding luck or are smoking crack. It is not merely nurture that decides a person’s character, although if it were, I’d now be the proud parent of cursing sailors who do good deeds, recycle and shun all things illegal.
My rant is a slant away from the rest of the nation’s reactions of justified anger and outrage. And those boys deserve some harsh consequences for their actions but leave their parents out of it.