So I had seen everyone posting about it online– saw the headlines as I scrolled past; words like “rape” “drunk” “Stanford” and something about a judge that intervened and made people really, really mad. I just couldn’t. Last week was a big week and I was busy. I knew it would haunt me and I would get really angry, so I didn’t read anything.
(Except that’s kind of the problem– we’re all too busy and really it wasn’t about me even a little bit; except the part of me I could see myself in; that too drunk 20-something. It’s about bearing witness even when it’s hard; we are a society that scrolls past and I hate it. We have a choice to scroll past. The victim did not. This is a tangential digression, but I need to check myself here.)
Then this morning, I finally clicked on it. And read the powerful, important, horrifying and beautiful statement from the victim.
A few minutes later I found myself saying “no you may not have that year old Halloween candy you just found” to my 7-year-old for the 5th time. And then all of a sudden I was saying “When someone says no you STOP. You STOP. Do you hear me? Repeat it back to me. You need to know that you STOP. You ALWAYS STOP at the first no. Without permission, you DON’T DO THE THING. Even if you really, really want to, do you understand???”
I don’t think it was about the candy.
See, the father of the perpetrator, the sexual predator, wrote a statement excusing his boy for his “20 minutes” of bad actions. Now, I am not in your shoes sir, but this is the ultimate act of helicopter parenting. He didn’t mean to. He’s a good boy. He likes to cook and swim and play. This is the grown up, horrifying version of parents on the playground going “Oh he’s sorry, aren’t you baby? He didn’t meant to knock you off the slide and step on your face! He was just being silly.”
Parents, wake the FUCK up. Stop this, stop it right now. Our children need boundaries, they need consequences and they need to know that we do NOT actually have their backs all the time. Let them fall on the playground, let them scrape their knees, let them get a time the FUCK out if they hurt someone. You did not give birth to tiny friends who need you to pat them on the back and give them a trophy everytime they poop; you gave birth to small humans who have NO CLUE how to exist on this planet and need you to show them and then let them try for themselves and FAIL. Let them go through the process of trial and error– and get it WRONG now and then. And when they do, swiftly and lovingly PUNISH THEM.
Hear me boys of mine: I will always love you but I will not always agree with your choices. God forbid I find myself on the receiving end of the news that you violated someone because while I will show up to the courtroom, heartbroken and shattered, everyday, I will also allow you to serve whatever sentence is handed down to you. Because at that point, you better KNOW you should have done better.
I will also do MY PART as your mother now to raise you to be a little scared of doing bad things. I will let you fall, I will let you fight it out sometimes, I will allow you to suffer the consequences of the choices you make. You can cry, scream, kick and hate me– but guess what, that’s my JOB.
There will be haters to this post- have at it- but at the end of the day, this is my plea to parents: stop hovering. Stop bubble-wrapping them. This is up to us. Stop this now.