Why “Don’t Be A Tattletale” No Longer Applies

Photo credit: Ingenesist Project

Photo credit: Ingenesist Project

I have this strange habit of reading really depressing things that have nothing to do with me, especially when I get insomnia (which is far too often). I once got up in the middle of the night and read a bunch of stuff on a fellow blogger who had died and, sadly, decided that we would have been best friends … had she not gone and died on me. I often find myself reading random obituaries off Facebook. And sometimes I read about really hard, depressing stuff, like kid cancer and school shootings. Yes, yes, I know this isn’t the kind of reading that’s likely to send me back into a deep slumber, but it is what it is. The latest example of this was just the other night. I was reading an article about the recent (and bazillionth) school shooting – this one near Seattle. It mentioned that the shooter (who shall remain nameless, as I hate typing it let alone hearing it) had posted some really crazy stuff on Twitter lately. Sure enough, there was more than just one comment, but a host of super strange and some slightly deranged stuff on there. Not only that, but a lot of the tweets contained passive aggressive overtones and some violence against others (or at least against himself) implied. Just a few examples (sans the many, MANY emoticons):

“I Hate Hearin Shit Like That..”

“It Just Continues To Fuck Me Up I Just Feel Stupid Now..”

“Exactly What I Thought Was Gonna Happen Happened..”

“I’m tired of this shit’m sooo fucking done!!!”

“Alright. You fuckin got me…. That broke me”

“I should have listened…. You were right… The whole time you were right…”

“It won’t last…. It’ll never last….”

Excessive use of emoticons aside, this kid was in obvious pain. When he’s talked about on the news, he’s always referred to as the recently crowned “Homecoming Prince” – as if these people are immune to pain.

I try to avoid judging other parents at all costs, as everyone has their own way of dealing with their kids. And the common denominator among all of us is THIS SHIT IS HARD. But (you knew a but was coming), I have to ask – WHERE WERE THE PARENTS OF THIS KID? Weren’t they checking his social media? Did they try to intervene? Why was he allowed to spew such things online? More importantly, why didn’t anyone help and/or report him?

As an aside, I recently pulled into my driveway, only to look in my rearview mirror and find my 4-year-old fast asleep. I hemmed and hawed over whether to try to do the dreaded transfer inside, as he’d been sick recently and I wanted him to feel better. Despite the heat, I pulled the car into the shady part of the driveway, opened all the doors and windows, and let him sleep. I came outside to feel inside the car several times after that, checking on him and making sure the car didn’t feel too warm. Sure enough, however, one of my neighbors (Mr. Buddinsky) came knocking and asked whether I knew I had a “baby” asleep in the car. I was furious, as I’d checked on him several times, and I not only knew he was in the car, but that he was fine. Even when I came out minutes later to leave to pick up my other son from school, he was still standing beside the driveway, glaring at me. After stewing in my juices for several hours (I don’t let things go easily), I decided I was okay with what he did. He saw something he wasn’t comfortable with and he let me know. I had to put my defensiveness aside and respect that.

The thing is that, growing up, we were always told, “Don’t be a tattletale.” I say it to my boys all the time. Lately, though, I’m starting to wonder whether this is a good premise to instill in our children in this day and age. In days past, it was probably relevant. These days, however, we need to avoid being bystanders and, instead, be hi-standers. We can no longer be onlookers, thinking someone else will take care of it, as the consequences are unthinkable. If we see something we don’t think is right, we need to let someone know, and our children need to do the same. Any school worth its salt should allow kids (and adults!) to do this anonymously. No one likes to be the “whistle blower” but what happens if we do nothing? With two kids in school, I shudder to think about the alternative ending.

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