What would you do if another parent slapped your child?This is the theme of a new series called The Slap. I was instantly curious after seeing the commercials for it because not only does it have a top notch cast but it explores a topic that usually leads to very heated discussions. There have been many times, in my own life, where I have witnessed other children acting out, horrendously acting out and wondered where in the world their adult is. This show explores that and many other issues besides the obvious one.
Here’s a quick rundown of what happens in the first episode (spoiler alert).
At a family BBQ there is an altercation between one family’s 4 year old child, Hugo and another child, Rocco who looks about 8 to 10 years old. Hugo has been an absolute bear all day long. He’s broken things, torn up a flower bed, tried to break an iPad, all the while Hugo’s parents are both too busy socializing to keep an eye on their child. Except of course when the mother is breast feeding him, but that’s an entirely different rant. Really lady, he’s four and we know he’s four because they are talking about putting him in Preschool/Kindergarten because he needs socialization and the parents are against it saying they would rather home school.
At this point, it seems to me that Hugo’s parents are just different from the other parents that are there at the BBQ. They are definitely portrayed as being poorer, anti-establishment and free rangers. They even dress the mother’s character in a “bohemian” way to drive that point home that they are “different”.
While the children are in the back yard and the adults are enjoying drinks on the deck, the kids begin playing baseball. Hugo doesn’t want to be out and begins to throw a fit when the kids say his turn is over. During the course of Hugo’s fit, he begins to wave a bat at Rocco’s head and that’s when Rocco’s father asks Hugo’s parents to do something. Hugo’s parents stay seated and “politely” tell their son to stop. When Hugo continues to attempt to hit Rocco with the baseball bat, Rocco’s father gets up and runs over to his son’s defense. He then takes the bat from Hugo, grabs him by the shoulders and yells at him that what he’s doing is wrong. In response, Hugo kicks him in the leg and that is the moment when Rocco’s father slaps Hugo across the face. It is only then that Hugo’s parents decide to leave the table and do something about the situation.
After watching this episode, I wondered what I would do. I was raised in a spare the rod and spoil the child household. I rear my children the same way. Do I think that mode of discipline is right for every family or every child? Absolutely not. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. I do not under any circumstances think that the correct response to this situation was to hit another parent’s child. That’s their kid, they need to handle it, case closed. That said, if your child is waving a bat at my kid’s head and you decide not to get up and intervene, we’re going to have words. The issue is with the parent, not the child. Am I going to get up and take the bat out of your child’s hand? Yes. Am I probably going to come after you with said bat? Quite possibly, but it depends on whether or not I’ve had my Wheaties that morning. Either way, I’m stopping the situation if you don’t.
What is absolutely ridiculous about the entire scene is that Hugo’s parents sat there and did not respond until after the slap occurred. What parent in their right mind is going to let their child wave a bat at another kid’s head? If the roles were reversed and say for instance, I was not aware of what my child was doing at the time and another parent said, “Hey, your kid is waving a bat around”. I’m jumping out of my chair and handling that situation because it’s not okay at all for my child to do that. Sitting in my seat and asking him politely to stop, is not an option. That’s an option when he’s throwing sandbox sand but not waving around a blunt object that has the potential to do serious harm.
If it were me, I would have grabbed the bat, made my apologies to the parent and made my kid apologize to the other kid. I think Rocco’s father was well within his rights to intervene; his child could have been in serious danger. I don’t care if the kid is four and speaking from my forensic background, it doesn’t take much force if you accidentally hit someone in the right place.
The question is, where do you draw the line at protecting your child, especially when the people who should get involved, opt out?
What would you do?