I was in Tesco’s the other day picking up a few post-holiday essentials after our fab half term holiday. Minding my own business, as you do. And shattered after a busy day at work. I wasn’t really paying much attention to anything, but a teenage shrill cut through my thoughts. “Well. What about her?” a lanky late-teen boy quizzed his friend pointing directly at me. A bit stumped, I took in the pack of boys. What registered most was their intimidating glares, matching black hooded attire and lack of any light heartedness. Ooh – and zero shopping- since we were in Tesco’s.
They were cold.
Weirdly robot like.
We could have been characters in World of Warcraft* from opposing fractions, each waiting for the other to move. *An online battle game – which I hardly know anything about (whistles).
“Well, would you like to fu*k HER?” his friend pressed loudly, grim-faced. Intimidating. Not in jest.
What the what!?
Needless to say I scurried away as quickly as my little legs would take me. With relief ringing in my ears as the git replied screeching “Naaaa Naaaaa”.
And that was that.
I bumped into them a few times. Them all glares (with no shopping still), though I doubt they remembered me specifically. Me wobbling under the weight of the shopping basket trying to keep away from them.
What would their parents think?? Or perhaps more importantly, what do their parents say!?! This looked like ingrained behaviour. Not an embarrassing one-off dare. Not jolly teens being very silly. It was something different.
The thing that really stuck was that this type of numb behaviour happens a fair bit. It’s actually not that unusual, and I typically end the week with a bucketful of toe curling experiences like this. Some weeks it’s the same old, same old. Some weeks it feels extra tense, like it’s getting worse. Is it a London thing? I don’t know.
Whilst probably not at this late teen age, time and time again I’ve heard parents waving off bad behaviour with phrases like:
He’s going to be a real boys, boy.
He’s such a lad.
You can tell he’s going to be a real boy.
That’s my boy.
He’s made of tough stuff.
Boys always fight.
And my pet hate – Boys will be boys.
I’m not sure there’s ever a right context for saying these phrases, but it’s definitely not for buffering away bad behaviour and pretending something never happened. Because where does it stop? And how far will some parents go in turning a blind eye to it all?
I’m already worried for Little Button for when she gets older. Is this type of behaviour going to be normal in her life, or is it a generation blip that will hopefully skip past her or at least smooth out. Will she have to cover her ears to disgusting comments because ‘boys will be boys’?
I can’t help wonder if this could all be avoided if parents just got their fingers out and well, parented. Because as parents, that’s our job right?