Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The importance of counting to 10

A couple of weeks ago, at a basketball tournament, a mom from an opposing team called Riley a "thug" to his face after a game in which her team lost.

A team we've played before. A parent we're likely to see again.

Perhaps she saw my baby looking like this. I doubt she had, but even if she did, should it matter?

She called him a "thug" because he played tough in that game. You want to call him aggressive. Fine. He plays hard and, in fact, is working on playing harder. Most kids this age do. They're high schoolers who want to win, who dream of making it to the next level. They have to be tough to succeed in basketball . . . and life.

Riley told us what happened. He didn't say it, but I could tell it bothered him. Of course we reminded him about the old "sticks and stones" philosophy. But inside I was seething.

What is wrong with people? When did it become okay for grown-ups to call kids names? I'd like to tell you this was the first time in sports I've heard a parent call a kid a name. But it's not. It happened to Riley once before, a couple of years ago, long enough for me to forget what was said, but not long enough for me to forget it happened. At best, these incidents serve as a reminder that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. The "thug" in question just happens to be a straight A student taking honors classes. His future is full of promise.

So fast forward to today. I took the kids to Red Robin for lunch as a spring break treat. (They've been looking forlorn, the whole "what are we going to do for spring break" thing. Uhhh . . .nothing?) You'll never guess who was in that restaurant, only a few feet away.

Riley noticed her first, and then my mama bear came roaring out. I wanted nothing more than to say a few words to her, not of the charitable variety either. But I didn't because I understand the importance of being a good example, even when everything in me calls for a smackdown. (I am, after all, an east-side girl.)

So I'll leave it at this: Bad karma, lady. Don't be surprised someday when my "thug" is your kid's boss.

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