To the Editor:
What kind of neighbors are we?
At this time of year, as I try to think about peace, love and goodwill to all, I was so disheartened when listening to a friend tell me about an experience she had.
Because we all know that every minute counts when it comes to rush hour commutes, my friend has been bringing her child to a bus stop sooner on their same route, in order to get to work on time. They park across the street from the house at this earlier stop, so as to not invade the other family’s space; my friend waits with and supervises her child, who is impeccably polite and well-behaved.
Knowing all of this, I was shocked to hear that, after a week of my friend and her child doing this, the parent of the other child at that stop came over to my friend, with the sweetness of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and asked her to please stop bringing her child there. He blamed it on a gender difference, implying that his child was uncomfortable with a child of the opposite gender, but as these children ride the bus together and are even in the same house at school, I find that reason implausible. While it may be unusual or even uncomfortable to have another family share your bus stop, this reaction really dismayed me and left me with many questions.
Was this really because of his child’s discomfort about something so minor as gender, and if so, shouldn’t we be teaching our children coping skills? Or was it something far more insidious, like the fact that my friend’s middle-class car or skin tone did not ‘match’ with the neighborhood? How can we expect our children to learn tolerance, coping, and acceptance of others if we don’t model it ourselves? When we get upset about anti-Semitic acts at Middlebrook, are we sure we are doing all we can to teach our kids to embrace others?
What kind of neighbors are we teaching our children to be?
It is hard to even imagine how this could happen. I’m so sorry for the your friend and her child.
This is a very sad commentary of the truly disturbing attitudes that we all witness in our town and in other areas of our lives (work, etc). I would hope that anyone reading this would think their response would have been “Wow, here is my opportunity to help out a neighbor. I can let her drop her child off at the stop and I would gladly get her child on the bus. It’s a small thing that I can do. AND, she should park in my driveway so I know she is safe while waiting for the bus.” This is the kind of neighborhood I lived in Wilton.
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