I saw your son on a recent Saturday night. From a friend’s yard I spied him walking just before midnight with his girlfriend. Well, maybe his girlfriend. The spirit of their one-sided conversation posed more questions than answers.
He might be 17, maybe 18. Nice looking kid, probably still in school, maybe a part time job. I’m not sure where they’d been that night, but he’d had enough alcohol to make him more, shall we say, exuberant than most people walking down the street.
I heard him a block away in this quiet residential area. Good pipes, your kid. The problem was the yelling wasn’t the usual joyful whoops and general stupidity that accompanies liquored up teens. He was upset; he was very upset. It seems his girlfriend, walking a few metres ahead of him, was the cause of his despair. His very loud despair.
I understand wounded hearts. While not as obvious as wounded bodies, they usually hurt twice as much. There was no mistaking that this situation was not going well. The girl calmly ignored him as she stared at her phone while she walked, so he cursed more because that always helps.
I yelled across the street, because I do things like that. Your son swore and told me to mind my own business. I told him he’d made this the business of everyone within earshot. I asked if either of them would like a ride home. He swore at me again. I asked her if she would like a ride – no, she said she was okay. I suggested he needed to cool out, head home, give this some more thought in the morning. He made up a new cuss word; pretty good if you can teach me.
Is it my business? In some ways, not a bit. Who needs the aggravation? But pretending you can’t see what’s happening in front of you is wrong. It becomes my business when you open up your circle of conflict and pose a threat, even if it’s only to yourself.
Your son didn’t sound dangerous; the most violent thing in his immediate future was throwing up. The girlfriend could use her phone for help at any point, but I was bothered by something else: that she could take this in stride. If you’re reading this and this is your daughter, you need to talk to her.
No woman, or anyone else, should tolerate being sworn and yelled at by anyone. Your son, regardless of age or emotional state, doesn’t have the right to do what he was doing. I care that he thinks it’s an option; I care that she thinks it’s okay.
I drove past them a few minutes later and the tirade – now hoarser – continued. Once again, the young woman stabbed away at her phone, unengaged in the one sided tantrum your son was throwing. I’m aware she held the balance of power; she wasn’t scared and she had access to help. But I think of the wake your yelling son left behind him on those quiet streets, and while I’d decided not to call police, someone might. He’s too young to understand that his actions have consequences that will make losing a girlfriend feel like a picnic.
Your son, no doubt a kid you don’t recognize in these words, doesn’t need cops involved in his life. He doesn’t need to be dragged home by his collar to face you – or maybe he does. I don’t know him, but I felt as protective of him as I did of the young woman.
Then again, it’s not my business.