When I first heard about the 9-year-old boy kicked off the school bus for exposing himself to little girls, I could only think as the mother of a daughter. In my mind, I put my daughter on that bus, and I wanted to cry. Then I wanted to race to Pittsburgh and have a long, hard talk with that boy's mother.
He's 9 and already a sexual predator!? What is this world coming to?
Folks, I've calmed down since the story first broke, and I've taken off my "mom of a daughter" shoes and thrown on a new pair.
I imagined myself as the mother of this little boy. Here she is with a son who was kicked off the school bus because he was showing his genitals to a little girl. And he is only 9!
I was still angry, but suddenly, everything shifted. I saw not the monster that was harrassing an innocent little girl but a 9-year-old boy. I saw a kid too young to really understand the consequences of what he was doing.
Should a 9-year-old know that he shouldn't share his privates with others? Of course. My 7-year-old knows that and has known that since pre-school. Fond as she was -- as all toddlers are -- of stripping naked, we had that talk before I enrolled her in any sort of schooling.
But knowing something is wrong doesn't necessarily stop kids, does it? How many times have you told your kids not to drop their coat on the floor, not to eat with their mouths full, not to do 100s of things that they continue to do because, wel, they are kids, and it takes kids awhile before they KNOCK IT OFF?
The problem is kids are still figuring out what is going to happen after they do something wrong. Will they get in trouble? Will they get away with it?
Not doing something wrong just because you want to be a good person is still a pretty nebulous concept for them.
In the case of this 9-year-old, I'm not excusing what he's done. He SHOULD be kicked off the bus. But that doesn't make him a monster. It makes him a 9-year-old boy who really needs to get some help NOW before it's too late.
And if I have to be honest with myself, putting myself on the other side here, trying to walk in this mom's shoes, has really taught me a lot about me, the mom. It's easy to get angry with the kids who hurt our kids. But we have to remind ourselves that kids are still kids -- all of them.
Put yourself in this mom's shoes. What do you think of this little boy now?
Image via wheany/Flickr