Laura's blog titled, "But I Really Am Cool When You Aren't Here, Jake" struck a dissonant chord with me. When Jake and his friend mumbled something negative and rude about his mother's choice of sounds coming from her car stereo, I yearned to hear a rock-n-roll riff, and I dreamed of Laura turning around and screaming at Jake, "Shut up if you can't be respectful to your own mother! You two have the right to your opinion but no right to make fun of mine!"
I also heard an angelic note that chimed the message of acceptance, patience and a willingness to listen to her rude son. That is the note Laura played. The angelic note.
Upon reflection, I remember a story about a very similar experience that I had as a young boy. My older brother William was probably about nine or ten which put me at about the age of five. We were riding in my parents' Pontiac, and we drove past a petrochemical refinery that was very busy refining something putrid, removing what little good smell was in it and belching the putrid part out of hundreds of smokestacks. It stunk to high heaven and the car had no air-conditioning, so we were bomblasted with the stench. William screwed up his face and boldly proclaimed, "That stinks!" My mother turned around to face us (no seat belts so she got a good look) and screamed, "Shut up and quit complaining!!" This was a predictable response coming from someone who had been putting up with over twelve years of marriage to my father and unfortunately was the typical response I was raised with.
The story doesn't end there. About fifteen minutes later we entered another refinery area, one substantially larger, and as I recall, even busier belching stink. The powerfully putrid vapors inundated the car, and my brother William timidly spoke, "Mmm. That smells good."
I think if a child speaks their opinion, it ought to be respected as long as it isn't said disrespectfully. As a child, a boy, and as a young man growing up in my parents' household, neither my brother nor I were ever allowed to express any disagreeable opinion. We wouldn't have meant it as rude or mean. It would have been our honest and truthful opinion. When I was growing up, my parents were the only ones who were allowed the luxury of expressing their opinion.
I have blogged that modern parents have abdicated some of their authority. Now I am suggesting they have also abandoned disrespect for their children's opinion. That respect from their parents of their opinion is something I envy in modern day children.
I still think Jake should have returned the respect, though, especially in front of a "friend" who had made a rude comment about Jake's mother's taste in car stereo sounds. Wouldn't it have been incredible if he had stuck up for her?