OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn article I read on the internet prompted this post.  It was Jada Pinkett Smith speaking out about a controversial picture of her daughter Willow(fully clothed) lying in bed with a shirtless Moises Arias.  The picture did not depict sex, however what makes it controversial is the fact that Smith’s daughter is only 13 and Arias is 20.  What is she doing hanging out with a shirtless guy on his bed by herself!  Smith essentially was saying that the media was making it out to be something it’s not  and I’m sure that is true but lady your daughter is 13  – she should not be hanging out with 20 year old men.  Further along in the article there is an earlier comment from Will saying that he and Jada Pinkett don’t believe in discipline – they don’t send their children to their room and they don’t take luxuries away for punishment.  As a matter of fact his fifteen year old son said he wanted his own house and Will said that he is a big believer of letting his children make their own decisions.  I can’t agree with him more, I do believe that  eventually you have to give your children the freedom to make their own choices and support them, however, you really need to offer them guidance and direction.  You can’t just say “oh – ok so you want to live on your own now at 15, let me go buy you a house.”  “oh you want a car, let me go buy you that car.”   Children need to learn how to be responsible and that means they have to learn that things don’t come easy.  We are building characters, not robots.

When our family first moved to this neighbourhood I found it a little too cozy for me.  We live in a double cul-de-sac and it seemed like the neighbours just opened their doors and let the children run.  The problem with that is young children need direction when things go wrong.  Yes they need to squabble, yes they need to solve their problems and figure out how to get along, but there is a time when parents have to step in.  When we first moved here my children were five and three years old.   Way too young to be out on the street by themselves, but so many parents did just that.  Consequently, I was outside watching all the time and it didn’t take long for problems to arise.  Once the boys were a little older I wasn’t out watching them as much and I remember one time when my oldest was around eleven years old,  I was dusting the front room when I heard an argument between my son and a boy in the neighbourhood.   I don’t know what the argument was about but I looked up in time to see the boy from down the street take a run at my son and kick him right in the crotch.  My son then grabbed the boy and threw him to the ground.  The boy got up and ran home crying and then  my son came in crying and was worried he would be in trouble.  I said “you’re not in trouble, you defended yourself and quite frankly I’m very proud of you, with your temper, I’m surprised you only threw him to the ground.” He told me he wanted to beat him up but restrained himself from doing so and ended up just pushing him to the ground.

Within minutes the boy’s mother shows up at my door screaming that my son pushed her son to the ground.  I approached her calmly and told her that both of our sons had an argument and her son chose to attack my son by kicking him in the crotch and I reminded her that this was not the first time her son had struck out at my son.   What happened next astounded me, she said, “yes I know my son told me what he did, but your son should have taken it and backed off.”  Wow,  my son should have taken her son’s abuse and backed off!   I was floored and I said to her “I don’t know what planet you live on, but here in my world when someone kicks someone else in the crotch, they are looking for trouble and they better expect some reaction.”  She then calls my son a bully because he threw her son to the ground.  I repeated the fact that her son kicked my son in the crotch as hard as he could and that I witnessed the event.    She then says to me  “it doesn’t matter, your son should have backed away.”  To top things off  she said ” I also question your parenting ability as you let  your children play hockey.”  “You must question most of this town’s parenting abilities because a lot of kids play hockey,”  I said.  My son has a bad temper and there have been quite a few times when he was younger I asked him to go to his room, not so much as punishment, more so as a cooling off period during some of the struggles he and I have endured as he is a very stubborn and determined child who doesn’t always want to listen or do what his parents ask him to do.  During those episodes there has been yelling and doors slamming due to the height of his anger and frustration coupled by the fact that I won’t put up with crap from my children.  Let’s just say where this neighbour’s house is located, she most surely has heard some of our family squabbles.  I don’t really care and I’m not about to change the way I do things because she’s a nosy neighbour.

During the argument about her son kicking my son in the crotch and in her opinion my son should have lied down and taken it, she brings up the fact that she has heard our squabbles and then says “we don’t believe in disciplining our children.”  I said , “good luck with that honey, tell me in ten years where that gets you.”  She then went on to make more comments about our squabbles and I abruptly stopped her and told her that it was none of her business how my husband and I choose to raise our children.  She then had the nerve to say “that since we call ourselves Christian she thought that I would teach my children to walk away.”   Exasperated I blurted out ” I don’t see what your son kicking my son in the balls has to do with my religion and furthermore, our religion teaches us to forgive your son’s actions not take it.”   Finally I ended the conversation by saying  “that since this wasn’t the first time her son attacked my son (the first time my son didn’t defend himself) that for now on when he comes onto my property and he touches one of my boys, my boys have my permission to defend themselves and if you or your son has a problem with that then keep your son the hell away from my property.”  She took her son and walked away but eventually  she did what cowardly people with no discipline do, she spread lies about me and my children around the neighbourhood.  I really couldn’t have cared less because I’m not really interested in people who stand around and talk about other people all day and besides I’ve got enough friends, I don’t need more. The situation worked itself out, her son moved on and so did mine.  We are different people with different lives and I accept that we are not all the same.  Interesting as I don’t make any judgments on how she raises her children with no discipline or direction but she is judgmental of how I raise my children.

God has a way of revealing things to me and his revelations always come when I least expect them and in the most spontaneous way,  yet they speak volumes in making me understand that there is a greater purpose in life and not everything is as it seems.    A year after that incident, I was picking up my recycling bins after the recycling truck had gone and as I was walking toward the house to put the bins back in the garage, an envelope flew out of one of the bins, literally up in the air in front of my face and fell  to the concrete in front of my feet.  I bent over to pick up the envelope and as I turned the envelope over, I realized it was addressed to my neighbour. The envelope was empty, but the return address listed on the left hand side of the envelope clearly  told me that not all was well in that woman’s house.  I’m not saying our family life is perfect nor do my husband and I always make the right decisions as parents, but we don’t pretend to be perfect and we know that we don’t have it all worked out.  Clearly trouble in paradise – only her family doesn’t yell or scream and slam doors.