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There’s a kid I encounter on my rides sometimes who’s an awfully mouthy young twerp. He’s somewhere in the 10-to-12 range, which as I recall are premium years for being a mouthy little twerp. Whenever he happens to see me or Joel, he calls out, “hey, look at that freak on a bike,” with such triumph as would indicate that he thinks he’s said something clever and cutting – a real zinger.

Tonight the kid was actually riding a bike himself, coasting along the sidewalk on a child’s bike many sizes too small when he hailed me in his customary snotty fashion. Tonight, however, there was a witness. A young man who could have been the kid’s dad, but wasn’t (apparently a friend of the boy’s mother) who was unpacking some boxes from his car when the kid sang out. I pulled up behind the man’s car and asked, “hey, is that boy your son?” The man looked confused and taken aback and explained that the kid wasn’t his, but that he was a friend of the boy’s mother.

I asked the man if he’d go get the kid’s mom, because I’d like to let her know her boy was randomly insulting and sassing the neighbors. The fellow went into the house and came back out after a few minutes, stating that the boy’s mother would be along shortly. An older girl, around 13 or 14 came out and fixed her brother with a “you’re gonna get it” smirk and asked what was going on. The boy angrily told her it was none of her business, and the man reiterated more gently that it didn’t concern her. She hung around anyway, in case there was going to be a show.

When the boy’s mom came out, she looked worried. I think she might have thought I was really angry, or that the kid had done worse than just be a mouthy brat. I explained to her her son’s offense, and that tonight wasn’t the first incident. She asked him to apologize, which he did with very bad grace. I explained that I wasn’t especially angry, but that I thought she ought to know what her kid was up to. She gave him a short lecture about respect and not embarrassing her and her mother, with whom they are staying.

He was mostly mad about being called on his bad behavior, but I hope the incident sinks in a little for him, and he gets over randomly insulting passersby. It’s a shitty habit to get into, and too many boys go on thinking it’s an okay way to act, and continue hassling random strangers well into their adulthood.

I’m willing to be understanding up to a point, because the child is at a vexing age, and if he, his mom, and his sister are living with his grandmother right now, it indicates that the family is suffering some condition of hard times which might make him act out.  Nonetheless, it seemed prudent to remind him that obnoxious behavior is seldom greeted with pleasure and acceptance.

3 Responses to “One of those "teachable moments"”

  1. cyndi says:

    Yeah, the ones with the biggest mouths are always the least creative. No worries, his lack of intelligence will serve him well later, when he is working in some low wage job, because he thought his cleverness would carry him through life.

  2. meetzorp says:

    Well, Cyndi, that’s not exactly the direction I was going with this. I personally wasn’t even that upset with the kid. He’s just being a twerp because that’s what you do when you are 11 until somebody catches you in the act and tunes you up. I was just providing tune-up services via his mom.

    Hell, all I hope for is that the kid does reflect that being a jerk isn’t going to serve him well in the future, and he straightens up his act. I don’t wish a sucky life on anybody, least of all some little smartass kid.

  3. cyndi says:

    Sorry, was having a cranky, cynical moment, and should have thought before I commented.

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