Saturday, November 12, 2016

Your Nine-Year-Old Boy

What would you do if your nine-year-old boy called little Suzy a "fat pig"? Would you buy him an XBox? Or would you tell him that nine-year-olds should know better?

What if he walked up to a girl on a playground and called her "ugly"? Would you laugh? Would you high-five him and buy him a a Snow Cone from the ice cream truck? Or would you teach him to respect women?

What if your fourth-grader mocked a disabled boy in his class? What if, in front of everyone, he flopped his hand around and sputtered loudly in a crude imitation of the boy's disability, and what if he lied about it afterwards? Would you cover for him and say he wasn't actually making fun of his handicap? Or would you take him aside and tell him that all people deserve respect?

What if 11 girls in your son's school accused him of touching them inappropriately? Would you ask him if it was true? Would you allow the school to look into the girls' claims? Or would you categorically state that all 11 of them were lying and conspiring against your little boy?

What if your son stood up in front of the whole class and bragged about the size of his genitals? Would you be shocked? Appalled? Would you consider a full psychiatric evaluation? Or would you just tell everyone to stop being so sensitive, and that all boys talk like that?

DO all boys talk like that?

What if your nine-year-old told all the other kids that students from Mexico were criminals, and that we should build a wall to keep them out? What if, when you asked him about it, he said, "Oh, I was only talking about the bad ones"? Would you remind him that that isn't what he said, that, whether he was trying to or not, he convinced a lot of people that all Mexicans were bad, that words are important, and that he should watch what he says and how he says it? And would you remind him that we are a nation of immigrants, and that the people who were here first had their land taken away from them, so we need to be accepting of everyone? Or would you proudly state that your son is simply saying what everyone else is thinking?

IS that what everyone else is thinking?

What if, after doing all of the above, your son refused to apologize, denied that he was wrong, and instead blamed others for what he had done? Would you punish him? Would you try everything you could to get him to learn empathy and respect? Would you apologize to his victims? Ground him? Take away his iPhone?

...or, would you vote for him for President of the United States?