Local mom, Jenny Castle, shares an unfortunate experience at her children’s tennis clinic- and the lesson she learned from it! Jenny is the mother of three beautiful children and keeps herself busy with PTSA, catching up with friends in the carpool line, and driving her children to endless after-school activities. Thank you Jenny Castle for guest writing for SMB!
What would you do?
That’s the question posed on the infamous TV show of the same name. “What Would You Do?” challenges unsuspecting, regular, ordinary people who have been placed in uncomfortable situations and forces them to decide to intervene in a situation or not. I often watch the show and automatically just know that I would step to the plate and defend some poor abused waiter, correct an overbearing mother, or throw myself into defending some meek person being heckled.
But would I really?
It is easy to sit in the comfort of your home, lounging in your PJs, Cheetos in hand and lecturing the TV screen with such eloquent words! But would I really be able to listen to my gut in a real life situation?
Well, that was the question was posed to me as my daughters and I waited for their tennis lesson to begin Friday evening. Kids of all ages gathered at tables, gossiping about school and what the weekend would bring. My 7 and 5 year olds listened to all the commotion around them. They were enamored by the older kids (tween age girls and boys). Whether saying hello to them or complimenting them on their hair or outfits, my girls were beginning to look up to the older kids and enjoy the attention. As the “tween age” group settled at a table they seemed to forget that younger age children and adults were among those tables too.
That is when it happened…the “F” word.
The word that brings the power of all bad words together into one awful “4 letter word”! The first time I heard it I raised my head up, surprised at how loud and bold the word traveled to all the tables. My gut began to tighten, but then relax, as my girls were oblivious to what had happen and continued to argue over some trivial drama! But then it happened again…and this time my 7 year old’s head raised high, eyes bulged out, and began to dart side to side. She had heard the word, knew it was bad, and pure panic had set in. She leaned in close and said “Mommy, did you hear that?”
Now my gut twisted up in a knot. We had just discussed with her that this word was unacceptable, even if other peers were casually using it on occasion. We had explained individuals who used this word lacked manners, were looking for attention, and would be judged as rude boys or girls. Her voice said it all…she was looking to me for guidance. Pressure building I looked at the other three adults in the surrounding area. All were glancing at each other knowingly…then the worse thing happened…that word was spoken again! Two women went back to texting on their phones, happy to avoid any confrontation. The only man quickly walked away. I was alone. My child’s eyes even wider with awe!
I decided then, these tweens needed some parent to step up and say something. I casually walked to the table. I used my manners and politely said, “Excuse me. My daughters look up to all of you at this table. They are 5 and 7. I believe your parents would be proud to know that a simple “hello” from you makes them smile. But I do not think they would be proud of the language you are using. It is not acceptable in this situation. As a matter of respect to the adults, the younger children, and above all YOURSELVES please refrain from using “bad words”, I know your parents would be expecting this of you. “
I turned and walked away.
I did it! I actually followed my gut…even when other adults shut down and walked away….I set an example for my girls!
As soon as the lessons began…ALL of those adults who were witness to the situation approached me and thanked me for what I did. I felt great!
Bring on the cameras; I am ready for the show! But I just wonder, and have to ask… What would you do??