Dear mother I don’t know,
I’m writing to talk to you about something that didn’t happen. That’s right. Something that did NOT happen. So this morning I was driving my kids to school and there’s a blind curve on our street and there was a large tree-trimming truck parked on the curve so I had to drive really slowly. Thank God. Because as soon as I rounded the corner, I saw it and slammed on my brakes as hard and as fast as I could.
Someone was in the middle of the road. Your son. On his bike. And I almost hit him. ALMOST.
He was riding down the middle of our street without a helmet, swerving left and right and left and right showing off to his friends who were riding on the sidewalk next to him. I get it, kids do stupid shit.
I saw him at the last minute and I swear it felt like my heart might explode out of my chest I was so scared. So I pulled up alongside him, unrolled my window and said, “Hey honey, if you’re going to ride like that, you need to do it on the sidewalk, okay?” He could have said “thank you” or “okay,” but nope. Remember, kids do stupid shit. So he said, “I’d appreciate you NOT telling me what to do.”
Stupid, stupid, STUPID.
Because here’s the thing. If he had just said “okay,” I probably would have kept driving and left it at that, but this is what went through my head. What would you, his mom, do if you saw all this? The scary bike riding. Almost getting hit by a car. The talking back. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have just sat there and done nothing.
But you weren’t there. We can’t be with our kids ALL THE TIME.
So I had two choices. I could just drop off my kids at school and let my blood boil all morning long replaying the situation in my head. Or I could do what I would want another parent to do if it were MY kid. I could tell you.
When I got to the crosswalk he was getting off his bike because the crossing guard makes all the kids do that, so I walked right up to him and I said, “What’s your name?” He mumbled something, so I asked him to say it again. He did. Then I asked him his last name. Again, mumble mumble. I wanted to be like “Kid, you’re F’ing with the wrong mom.” But I didn’t. I asked him to say it more clearly. He did.
And even after all that, I debated whether to write to you. I mean you never know how parents are gonna react when someone “tattles” on their child. People can be a-holes. But what if I don’t say something, and next week I hear that he gets hit by a car? Then how will I feel? So I’m telling you.
I don’t give a crap that your kid talked back to me. Maybe he was scared. Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he was showing off in front of his friends again. Kids do stupid shit. And sometimes their parents are there to correct them and tell them to knock it off so they don’t get hurt. And sometimes they’re not.
I was there today.
So I hope you don’t mind that I’m writing you a very nice text message to let you know what happened. You’re not a bad parent. You’re just a parent who wasn’t there. And if you ever see one of my kids doing something stupid, please please pleeeease feel free to tell them to knock it off and to let me know. I won’t be pissed. I’ll be grateful.
Today I am your village, and I hope that tomorrow you will be mine, or someone else’s kid who needs it.
A member of your village
What happened after: In case you’re wondering, I sent the parents a very nice very careful text message and they wrote me back right away, thanking me and saying they would definitely talk with their son about it that night. Good parents. Not glad to know their kid did something stupid. But glad to know about it.
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