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|The Accidental Busybody – Part II|
Jun. 27th, 2013 at 11:05 am
In the interest of full disclosure, I decided it was time to tell the rest of the story of my previous post http://www.mormonmentality.org/2013/05/30/the-accidental-busybody.htm (Which was a stellar example of fabulous writing that I highly recommend you peruse just for inspiration’s sake.)
In the first piece, I discussed the ways that I have involved myself in the lives of others at church. In this post, I will tell the story of other busybodies and their effect on my family.
When my son was in high school, he had a hard time with finding friends and fitting in. He decided to hang out with the only group of kids who will accept anyone, the kids up to no good.
One day I was on the phone with a girlfriend and she let something slip. Her kids saw our son hanging out with the hoodlums and they thought they saw him smoking a cigarette. “Ah Ha! Smoking!” I thought “We’re gonna nip this in the bud, right now.” Before I could approach my sweet, innocent boy, I needed more evidence. I watched enough Law and Order to know it’s not enough to have one witness with only vague recollection. I needed credible witnesses, with details. I decided if one kid from church saw my kid smoking at school, there had to be others.
In my blaze of emotion, I picked up the phone and started calling. I talked to the Bishop’s wife who cheerfully concurred that her two children saw my boy smoking, and that they as a family had discussed it at their dinner table. I was confused. They saw my boy smoking? They talked about it AS A FAMILY, including the Bishop? Yes, she said. We had a really good discussion about the ill effects of smoking, she explained. I hung up, more confused than ever. My Bishop’s family used my family as a Family Home Evening topic on the Word of Wisdom?
I tried again, this time calling the stake relief society president’s house. Her kids went to school with my boy, too. Yes, she said. They knew my son was smoking. Her kids came home and told her and her husband, who was the stake young men’s president all about. They too, had a family discussion about it. And then I lost it. I went all crazy on the phone, telling her, “How dare you talk about my family and our son, knowing he was doing something not only immoral under the rules of the church, but also illegal by the laws of the land and you didn’t pick up the phone to tell us! As parents, we can’t possibly know everything our kids are doing and we rely on other responsible parents to tell when our kids are in harm’s way. How could you NOT tell us?!”
She responded by explaining that they have a family policy of not telling other parents when their kids are misbehaving because they did that in the past and the information wasn’t well received. I told her that was ridiculous and I might have hung up on her.
When my husband came home, I told him about our boy smoking and about how the Bishop’s family and the stake ym president and stake rs president’s family knew all about and didn’t tell us. (They were in our ward, which just made me all the madder.)
I was upset at the stupid choice my son made, but I was really, really hot that that the adults that knew about it, didn’t tell us. It felt like the ultimate parental/ gospel betrayal. The Bishop and the stake ym president both had direct responsibility for the welfare of my son. At least, that is what I thought. Apparently, they thought differently.
The next evening I got a phone call from the stake ym president, apologizing for how he and his family handled the situation. He tried to lamely explain how in the past they alienated a family by ratting out their misbehaving child and they didn’t want to make the same mistake again. I told him in no uncertain terms that when it came to my family, I expected him to do his duty as the stake ym president and to protect my son from harm by telling us, his parents, when he was doing wrong. (I might have mumbled something under my breath about him needing to grow a pair. Don’t quote me on that.) After that, the stake RS president and her husband didn’t make eye contact with me at church. I was fine with them keeping their distance. I also didn’t hear from the Bishop or his wife. At least the ym president apologized. The Bishop pretended nothing happened.
I still maintain the adults involved all did wrong by freely discussing our son within their family’s but not telling my husband and I. I expect my fellow saints in the gospel to help me raise my children, just as I would do the same for them. I don’t care if someone gets mad, that is their problem. I am interested only in helping the child, not keeping the parents happy.