Watching the Baltimore riots unfold was heartbreaking, the failure of leadership unfathomable. Society coming apart at the seams. Those in authority over the city refusing to step up, the mishandling of the facts and justice, so many unanswered questions and then the complete breakdown of the family inside those neighborhoods all contributed to mass hysteria and anarchy.
And then, we saw her.
One mother, running after her son who was dressed in a hoodie and facemask vandalizing and contributing to the destruction of property.
She was NOT having any of that.
She went after her boy, smacking him, ripping at his mask, trying to pull his hood down and throwing him around as best she could even though he towered over her!
Over the next 24 hours she was lauded as an outstanding mother, a child abuser, a woman out of control, even a symptom of the problem. So many labels and judgments in one short span of time and she generated so much discussion I just had to opine.
Toya Graham. That’s her name. Mother of six children, and this son of hers was only 16. I read an interview of her after the fact and she willfully stated when she saw her son and made eye contact with him on the street, she just lost it. She didn’t want her son to become the next Freddie Gray. She said her son knows she “don’t play,” and he admitted that when he saw her, his first instinct was to RUN. He would rather face anything than his mad mama.
After the smackdown, she got her son home and they watched on television as their neighborhood self destructed. He realized his mother was right. She was merely trying to protect him.
And that’s what I want to remind all of you. Our sense of fight as a parent is sometimes all that stands in between our children and their own stupidity or destruction. Our decision to step in and DO SOMETHING (anything) is better than passively hoping they won’t get caught or blaming others for the behavior of our children.
Blaming the schools. I’ve heard that before…”Well the teachers did nothing! They just called me and said they couldn’t handle him anymore.” Mama, it’s the school’s job to educate our children, our job to make them educatable. It’s squarely the parents responsibility to discipline the child, and prepare them for being able to listen to classroom instruction. If the teacher has 20+students and our child is causing so much disruption that she can’t teach 19 others, the teacher has no choice. And neither do we. Do something.
Blaming the coach. “The coach always yells at him so he doesn’t want to come to practice anymore and now he hates the game.” Good or bad, take a clue from the coach and seriously consider the feedback! 20+ kids on the team and little Johnny won’t fall in line, try hard, and follow instructions– the coach isn’t the problem. Do something.
Blaming the other parent, the dead beat dad, or circumstances beyond our control…
The past few weeks my family and I have been watching “Draft Academy” in much anticipation of the NFL Draft. Many of these boys have father’s imprisoned, mothers desperately working two jobs, mothers a lot like Toya Graham. Mamas with so much fight…so much strength. The kind of mama you don’t want to mess with. Even at 250 pounds these NFL draft boys know– you don’t mess with mama.
Our sense of fight as a parent is vital, and that’s why I applaud Toya Graham. It may not have been pretty, but in the interviews following, her son said it was effective. She was willing to be humiliated and she was shameless in protecting her child from his own stupidity…and for that, she gets my respect.