Saturday, September 26, 2009

This is how we make friends around here

Last week my son was out riding his Most Favoured Possession: The Awesome BMX Bike his dad gave him for his birthday. I let him ride in the back alley when it's not "coming home from work" time and all the tired people are Just Trying To Make It Home To Have A Martini.

I was in the house, as I don't feel the need to hover around the back alley. He's 8. He can ride safely and it's not as though I'm allowing him to ride on the expressway.

He came home after a few minutes. Without his Most Favoured Possession: The Awesome BMX Bike. That was certainly odd. I asked him what happened and he began to explain how The Mean Man had kicked him out of "his end of the alley". He'd been so scared by this man's menacing arm waving that he left his bike behind and ran home. At this point in the conversation his cohort arrived and explained that he'd moved the Most Favoured Possession: The Awesome BMX Bike into his garage so it would be safe.

I asked the boys what had been going on. I managed to figure out that they'd been eating crab apples and one had rolled "near" The Mean Man's backyard and he'd come out yelling and swinging.


I asked them to show me the yard from which the ogre had emerged. We made our way there and the boys arrived first. They were in plain sight while I had yet to be seen because the bushes in the man's backyard were too high. The three of us were still in the back alley, just to clarify that we hadn't actually gone IN the backyard.

Well. Out of the house comes this, crazed man with arms flying and he's yelling "What the hell do you two want, why the hell are you standing there..." At which point I stopped being the curious mom and turned into Mother Bear from Hell.

He and I "exchanged words".

I determined that the boys had been throwing crab apples in the man's backyard. I paused to glare at the boys who stared at their toes, realizing they had left that detail out. I sent the both of them off home so I could finish my conversation.

The Mean Man tried to say that the boys had disrupted the entire neighbourhood by riding their bikes in the back alley. He had forgotten, of course, that the boys had only started riding their this summer since the back alley had been quite unsafe for the previous few years due to some crazy teenagers who lived two doors down. "Oh yeah, they weren't great..." he admitted when I reminded him. He also had concerns about how fast they rode their bikes. He kept saying he was concerned. Concerned he'd hit one. Concerned they would get hurt. Concerned.... so concerned in fact that he hadn't bothered to mention any of this to the parents. Because when you have an issue with an 8 year old boy, you don't try and solve it with the 8 year old boy... you mention it to the PARENTS.

He was quite upset about the fact that the boys were arrogant. At one point Michael had opposed me sending him home and The Mean Man said "see! see! arrogant!"


I made sure to tell this man that I would be talking to my son about his behaviour and that it would not happen again. But, did he know WHY they did it? BECAUSE HE'S THE MEAN OLD MAN ON THE STREET. And guess what is fun for an 8 year old boy? Picking on the MEAN OLD MAN ON THE STREET. Ooooh, look at how mad he gets. Ooooh, let's throw things in his back yard. Ooooh....

I'm not saying it's Right. I'm saying it's what boys do. And if he'd been a NICE OLD MAN, it's quite likely that they wouldn't have done anything at all.

After he cut me off a few times and I told him I was going to finish my sentence even if he was old, mean, Scottish and arrogant... we calmed down.

Then we had a talk about the neighbourhood and about Michael being Scottish, too and how he was surprised more homes were not selling and how he had been there for 31 years. And then we made like friends and shook hands. And I found out his name is Bob. Bob the Scottish and Not So Mean Man.

After the war had ended, I took Michael around to the front and made him apologize for throwing crab apples. Bob asked him to be more careful on his bike.

Now whenever Michael goes out to ride his bike I ask "what will you say if you see Bob?" and he says "I'll say hi".

That's how we make friends around here.


Anonymous said...


I have been reading your blog for at least the last year and a helf maybe two years. I seldom comment or post anywhere on the internet.

But that post, was the best example of parenting I have heard in a very long time - from the part where you don't need to watch him ride since he's 8 to the very end where you ask him before he goes out what he will say if he runs into Bob.

Thank you for starting my morning off so well - I will go back to the maunual I am writing feeling lighter now.

Skye said...

I don't think I would have been a big enough person to end up being friends. Thanks for giving me something to think about as to what I'd like to work on in myself.

Serenity Now! said...

Aw, thanks Anette, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy!

Though I have to admit (Skye) that if he hadn't been the first to concede and semi-apologize, I would probably still be arguing with him. Sometimes you have to allow them to retreat. He knew he was, uh, more wronger than the boys. :)

Serenity Now! said...

An update: As my son was leaving to go ride his bike yesterday I asked "what will you do if you see Bob?" He replied, "Say hi". His cohort, who was standing nearby, said "why should we say hi to him?" I started to form an answer and my son said "Because it's polite, and he's not mean, just grumpy sometimes."

Sometimes the parenting lessons actually sink in!