A few weeks ago, I wrote a post titled, “Ugliness” on witnessing an “ugly” parent at the playground near my house. I watched him assault his children, verbally and physically, and against the advice of my governing voice inside, I approached him.
I didn’t feel courageous in that moment of confrontation but I knew I had to ignore my hesitation, or else I couldn’t have acted on what I knew was right. Some commenters said I should’ve befriended him. Others declared that I was being self-righteous in asserting my opinion about his parenting.
And then I heard about a mother who strangled a 14-year-old boy who was bullying her daughter.
Debbie Piscitella made attempts at going through all the normal channels to no avail, and after the boy flatly refused to stop, she lost it. My heart sank reading about how she attacked him. I’m wrestling now with an intense personal debate, especially following the encounter I’d had: Should I have unconditional empathy or completely reject this woman?
Was this mother acting courageously when she assaulted the young man who cyber-bullied her daughter?
My son is only two and half years old, but I imagine someone bullying his existence into a living hell and it enrages me. I wish I could chalk it up to male aggression, but I don’t think it’s localized to men. I understand Ms. Piscitella. It’s easy to throw out some conjecture about how you think you’d react if something happened, but it’s not always that simple.
Violence and abuse are sticky subjects, and not just for their controversy. They can actually cling to you like dog feces, tracking its stank over every waking hour.
My ugliness, my rage glows inside me too but I’ve worked on myself to chose words over weapons. I’m no pacifist, as saintly as I wished I could be. However, I don’t want to teach my son that his first and only option is combat. Force has a necessary place, I suppose, and hopefully I can teach him balance, that we can choose our reactions.
And that is where this mother lost her battle in my opinion.
This bullying boy probably had his reasons for crowning himself as her this girl’s bully, more than likely stemming from the same treatment I observed at the park, but this mother lost control. And yet, didn’t I lose some self-control in order to do what I knew was right? How different is that from Ms. Piscitella?
I’m left questioning whether telling a stranger to stop hitting his kids was right. Moveover, I’m being told to mind my own business and get off my high horse by faceless internet readers. It’s frustrating. I don’t want to be that judgmental parent, but I can’t ignore my sense of integrity.
Ultimately, I do know this:
The first time I heard my mother’s voice go low and loud, I learned that mothers aren’t suitable opponents. Dangerous stuff. Perhaps, this boy knows that now too.
:: Charlie ::
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