Damara Hutchins

Knowing where to draw the line

In case I haven’t made it clear before now, I’m not close to being a perfect parent. Some days I don’t even feel like I’m in the ranks of an average parent.
Kids learn from us when we aren’t paying attention and these are usually not our best moments. I know my children are skilled in sarcasm and anger projection at other cars on the road. They even know when other drivers have failed to use their blinkers or changed lanes illegally. I’m so simultaneously proud and ashamed.
Even though they pick up my bad habits, they retain basic kindness toward humans. I try not to judge other parents because it is so hard and there are influences on kids now that we often don’t comprehend.
Then something happens that blows my world apart.
My son was at the YMCA practicing basketball and my daughter was getting antsy so I took her over to the park nearby. She immediately made the little train area her personal realm.
Things were fine until the middle school girls showed up. There was a set of two and a group of four. The pair went to the train and kept to themselves. They talked to my daughter and appeared to be acting friendly. I kept a watchful eye to be sure it stayed that way.
The four pack sat on the swings and I heard foul language spewing from their mouths. No young children were around them so I rolled my eyes and tried to gauge whether or not I should say anything.
I realized that one of the four girls was shouting at one of the two girls when, suddenly, she stands up and announces that she is going to call her mom and ask if she can fight the other girl because she hates her so much and didn’t like what the girl was saying about her. She did exactly that.
Yes, I was surprised too.
Apparently the mom gave her blessing to go fight, as was joyously relayed by the girl, and she marched over to the train to start her business.
I was upset. I took off my flip flops and followed her. She was already talking nastiness by the time I got there.
I said, “Hey girls, I couldn’t care less what either of you is saying about the other, but I will tell you there is not going to be any fight today. There are young children around, one of which happens to be my daughter. If you do try to fight, I will call the police.”
Then I recognized one of the pair as a friend of my son’s. I asked the two girls if they wanted to sit by me. They did.
The other girl who wanted to fight so badly got on the phone with her mom. “Hey, mom, I just wanted to let you know I didn’t fight that girl. An adult got involved.” She said adult like someone would say “booger.”
It amazed me that, not only the child, but a parent would be so eager to come to blows over a perceived injustice that was probably a rumor. I’m glad I had a hand in stopping this one.
Hopefully, my kids know, as I have told them numerous times, fighting rarely solves anything and if someone is talking about you behind your back, at least they are taking time out of their day to think about you. It isn’t worth worrying about it beyond that.