While in his teenage years, Paul registered quite a few times for the Yorktown Rotary’s Hole-in-One contest.
He looked forward to this fundraising event each summer, an event where he could test his progress/prowess as a golfer-in-training. One year in particular, Paul’s shot was close enough to qualify him for a prize: a men’s travel toiletry kit (not so useful for a teen, but he did use it when he went to Florida upon graduation).
The kit had been donated by a local bank and we went there to pick it up. Here is the real substance of this column:
As Paul and I waited in the reception area, a mother and her teenage son came in and sat across from us. Mom leaned over and said something to her son. He loudly answered:
“Why don’t you shut up; you are so stupid.”
She quickly recoiled, like she’d been slapped in the face.
“You don’t know anything, you make me sick. Just shut up,” this poor excuse for a kid continued.
Paul and I looked at each other in shock. I wanted to shake that kid, but I’d have been arrested. In those few moments, though, I wondered about their home life: where had this boy picked up such disrespect for his mom, and how and why did he get away with such atrocious behavior.
“Did you hear how he spoke to his mother? How can anyone speak to their mom like that? Doesn’t he love her? We would never talk to you that way.”
To soften and add some levity to this terrible and awkward situation, Paul quipped:
“We’d probably need orthodonture if we did!”
I didn’t have an answer for my son. As we headed home, I did share with him how my heart hurt for this wounded woman. As much as I wanted to shake the dickens out of the kid, I felt sorrow: what kind of a man would he become, would he treat his wife and children the same way?
I still see the mother: a small, timid lady near tears, wringing a handkerchief in her hands and probably wishing she could disappear. The son? He was arrogantly good looking with a mouth that would never have made it in our home.
While they are still a part of your life, treat those who are dear to you with understanding and respect. We must remember that life is not a rehearsal, it is the final act with no do-overs.
Ruthann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.