Friday, November 07, 2008

worst moment of motherhood

I read an article this week that educated me about something: the worst moment of anyone's parenthood experience is relative. Relative to your own experience, how yo lived and what you learned while growing up with your own parents, your daily life experience as an adult and a young parent, your understanding of what makes an acceptable choice and what makes an unacceptable choice, and your own unique view of the world at large and your place in it.

The story I read described what I hope is, in fact, the worst moment in the mother's life, and her daughter's for that matter. (But somehow, I don't think either one of them is thinking about it quite like that.) The daughter and one of her school mates (another teenage girl) were arguing at Allen High School and decided to shelve the disagreement until after school hours and settle it with a fight in West Park.

Somehow, the mother of one of the girls heard of the plans to fight, and met her daughter after school. Thank God. Except she didn't take her home, which would have been the acceptable choice. Instead, she accompanied her, and a large group of students, to West Park to meet the other girl for the fight.

Got that? The mom heard about the fight, met up with her daughter, and instead of intervening and stopping it before it started, she walked her to the fight. Just like some moms walk their children to the school bus, or the library, or the park - (the one without the fight going on.)

Once they were at the park, the adult - the mother - told her to "hurry up and hit her." And then, once the fight was underway, the mother herself joined in and punched the other girl in the face and kicked her at least twice.

People watching the fight pulled the mother away; both girls sustained injuries, and the mother was sent to Lehigh County prison under $10,000 bail.

I don't know quite what to make of all this. I keep coming back to the idea that all the choices we make are relative. I don't understand any of the choices that went into how this story unfolded. Not one of them. Relative to my own life experience, it's completely foreign.

But regardless, can we agree that any mother who encourages a fight, then jumps in to "help" while the fists are flying isn't raising her daughter to be a compassionate mother? My instinct is yes but maybe I'm wrong - at least from her point of view. Maybe she thinks she was being compassionate. And helping her daughter solve a problem. Maybe I have no idea what it's like to raise a daughter who fights other girls.

And that's really what's on my mind I guess. If this is seen as "normal" and "expected" and "understood" by any part of our community, and written off as just the way things are done, I fear for that mother, her child and her grandchildren to come. And honestly, for the rest of us who will never understand it.


Anonymous said...

I am truly frightened by this. If you don't know, the 3 men who killed Kyle Quinn in Kutztown attended Allen HS. They do not understand their level of guilt or culpability in his death and now i read this. Their family and friends also do not understand their level of guilt, all they keep saying is that the Klines did not him so they are not reponsibile for his death. What exactly goes on in the community in that area of Allentown? Why do they not understand how our society works? Can someone enlighten me?

renee said...

Thank you for your reply and questions about the situation I described.
I don't have any answers, other than to say that this does not represent our entire communnity. I know plenty of people - including people who send their children to Allen High School - who are as horrified as you at the Kutztown murder and at this school-girl fight.
But your point about participants in crimes not understanding cuplability is the most disturbing part of your comment. If that's true, we have bigger problems than the obvious ones we face. If we (or our children) stop understanding the right and wrong of the choices we make, no one will spend much time on the consequences of their actions.
And they'll be standing in front of judges, unsure of their crimes or why they should be held responsible for their actions.