My baby's no saint
That is the passive aggressive disclaimer of a parent in denial.
There was a girl I kicked it with in high school who was arrested, charged, and convicted for being an accessory to murder when she was in college. Her parents said she wasn't a sain't. I knew a kid in elementary who liked to hurt things, small animals. He's probably living like Hannibal Lecter somewhere right now. But I remember his parents defending him with the disclaimer that he was no saint. If I'd been wiser as a kid I would have explained to his folks that he left sainthood behind back when he was just stepping on ants. What they should have been saying about him was "Our kid was actually born human."
Last I heard the "no saint" disclaimer, a mother was speaking defiantly in a television interview about an angry letter a Cleveland, Ohio, city councilman had written to the woman's son. The councilman, Michael Polensek, lashed out at Tonya Lewis's GROWN son, Arsenio T. Winston, 18.
Winston was recently arrested and faces charges for allegedly dealing drugs at a convenience store in Polensek's neighborhood. It isn't his first run-in with the law. And according to Polensek, Winston, who doesn't even live in the neighborhood where he allegedly works as a sidewalk pharmacist, has a reputation for coming around that 'hood to hang out with gang bangers.
Polensek told Winston in the letter that he is a "thug," a "moron," a "crack-dealing piece of trash," and more. He also told him to straighten up his life or he would end up in jail or a cemetery.
So here's the deal. Polensek may have missed the class on choosing the best words to express your emotion. But his sentiment in this case is 100% right! I completely sympathize with the man and can't say I wouldn't have done the same in his position. There is nothing more infuriating than someone coming to your neighborhood to do dirt and then going back to their neighborhood to sleep.
I understand that Winston has not been convicted of anything with this latest arrest. But let's drop the pretense for a moment. Do you really need a criminal conviction to be able to ID the "thugs" in your neighborhood...if you have any thugs? I don't. The thugs are the cats who sit in front of other people's houses and bump vile music loudly and not care. They're the guys who will not-so-subtly send scantily dressed women (hmmm, prostitutes maybe?) strolling down the sidewalk next to a park where children are playing. They're the guys who will glare at you, when you give them that look for shadily skulking up and down your block, even though they don't live there.
You know what infuriates me most about this whole thing though? The alleged drug dealer's mother was more upset with the councilman than with her son. She called Polensek's letter racist and life-threatening, and said that the councilman was trying to usurp the legal system by declaring her son guilty before a trial. That "racist" accusation is bogus. Winston should be thanking Polensek for that letter as a dose of reality, because statistically the councilman is right: the average young, troubled, African American male stands a 1-in-4 chance of landing behind bars. And don't write me about how fair (or not) the justice system is. That's a different discussion. But seriously, a 25% chance of going to jail, and this kid's biggest problem is that he was called names in a letter?
And then Winston's mom said it: Her son is no saint.
Do you ever notice that no parent utters those words after their child has been accused of something small like stealing a cookie off the neighbor's window sill, or after their child is disruptive in class, or after their child failed to complete his chores? You only hear that phrase after a "child" has been accused of something really bad. That my friends, is proof of denial. At the point your "child" is accused of dealing drugs or being a gang banger or assault, or murder, etc., you are waaaaaay past "My baby's no saint."
A couple of weeks ago in Palm Beach County, Florida, a woman was gang-raped allegedly by a bunch of teenage boys wearing masks and (some) brandishing weapons. The boys allegedly also assaulted the woman's 12-year-old son and forced him at gunpoint to perform a sex act with his mother. When police captured a couple of the suspects, one of their fathers told a reporter that his son couldn't have done it because he is really "shy." Keep in mind that the boy has not been convicted of anything, but investigators supposedly have DNA and fingerprint evidence linking him to the crime.
Shy? Newsflash, dad. If your kid did this, he's not shy. Wearing a mask doesn't make him shy. And if he didn't do it, what the hell's he doing hanging out with the kind of young men who would do this sort of crime?
Instead of "My baby's no saint," or "My kid couldn't have, 'cause he's shy," how about something more realistic that doesn't make excuses, something that makes your kid take some responsibility? How about "My baby knows better.?" In fact, how about "My baby knows better. And even if he didn't do this, he needs a better set of friends, and he needs to straighten up his life. He's an adult and needs to act like it."
I'm not naive. I realize that admonishing words will just bounce off of many true thugs. They're going to do what they're going to do. But there's hope for some. And for those who still have a smidgen of decency buried deep down in their hearts it would go a long way toward their "cure" if parents would quit making excuses for them.
Forget the courts, forget nice words and mean words. Forget thin skins. If your kid is attracted to the "thug" life go upside his head. And if he resists your authority throw his punk-arse out of the house. And if he will give you the time of day after that tell him again, and again, and again to straighten his life up. And if you're soft-hearted and inclined to help, offer to help steer him to a secondary education and/or a job, provided he works hard. And if after all that he still acts up, denounce him. Speak out against his activities. Those will be the kindest words you ever say to or about him.
This is about heading off your "kid's" troubles at the pass, stopping the "infection" before it spreads.
OK, I'm all out of cliches. But you get my point.