I was out for a walk with the dogs today, around a beautiful and quiet Vancouver neighbourhood when I heard the sound of screaming kids that actually startled me because they were screaming at me. I can’t call it yelling, it was shrill, the sound of over stimulated children who are losing any sense of propriety. No problem, it’s Saturday afternoon…I smiled to myself and felt lucky not to be in the car with them.
Until the next block when I heard the screaming again and then saw the van pulled up in front of a house. An adult male was loading what looked like trays of food into the back while these 2 kids kept screaming at the tops of their lungs, still directing their rude and highly inappropriate comments at me. I heard him make a feeble attempt to quiet the boys, to no avail. I have no idea who he was to them, but he made no further attempt to rein them in. The dogs wanted to stop and enjoy life in the park that was right there so I was kind of stuck, listening to these kids get further out of control. I wasn’t offended because it didn't actually have anything to do with me, but it was offensive, inappropriateand disrespectful nonetheless. After a couple of minutes a woman came out and asked the boys to stop, again to no avail.
But she didn't let them get away with that. I couldn’t hear what she said, but the noise stopped as I kept the dogs moving up the block. I didn't look back. Then suddenly the van pulled up beside me and the woman got out. She was calm, but resolute. She said “Boys, what do you have to say?” I heard a quiet “Sorry” come from the back seat. But she didn't let them off the hook. She made them get out of the van and stand and look at me, and apologize. They looked about 10 and 12 years old, and I was astonished that kids so young would have been using the words they were using. I was also impressed, mostly because the woman didn't look sheepish. She wasn't ashamed, nor should she have been. She did nothing wrong, it was the boys, and they looked very ashamed.
This was an important moment, for me, for that woman, for those 2 boys, and for the man in the drivers seat who did almost nothing. In the wake of the Brock Turner rape verdict, and the rhetoric of Donald Trump, it is more important than ever to teach our kids (both boys and girls) what is okay, and what is not. We need to teach kids how to be respectful of others, and how to take responsibility for their impact. We need to teach our kids how to be good humans, and this woman was not letting that opportunity go by. The cost of letting it go is simply too high.
And when I say “we” I mean all of us. I have no idea if the man and woman were the parents of those kids but the old saying ”it takes a village” is true, Every one of us is a leader and can choose to step up and help others learn how to make better choices, or stand by and watch. To the woman who refused to stand by and watch, you are a leader and I thank you, your courage and strength are inspiring.