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Before Popcorn & A Movie...

A mother's thoughts about the recent accident.

Social media is changing us. How we talk to one another. How we share. It makes us braver. It makes us bolder. It gives us the choice to be insensitive or sensitive to others because we don’t always talk to a person face to face. Some of our children are even losing the ability to talk to one another because they are on the Internet so much. I know a kid who would rather play games on the Internet than come outside to play.

We think it’s ok to scroll or text while we walk across the street, drive our car or walk our dog instead of choosing to be present in the moment. What happened to saying "Good Morning!" What happened to looking out the windows? Talking to our dog? (I know you do!) Or just singing with the music?

What happened to those Prescious Moments? Now that we spend so much time on the Internet, where do those Moments go? It seems they are disappearing faster than socks in the laundry! Our daily actions and Internet behaviors are teaching and changing the way our children learn about the world and society.

So are we addressing social media responsibility and how it exists in this world, or our actual community? Do we know what kind of "Social Media Footprint" our children are leaving when they visit and share information and their personal feeling on these sites? Do we ourselves know what our "footprints" look like? How it will it affect the future? What Moments are we missing out on when we are on the Internet? Or on Facebook or Twitter? What smile, or hug or friend are we missing when we are sitting at the computer or checking out our cell?

In reference to the car accident….

I have seen the videos, read status updates and viewed pictures of it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I have actively sought out the stories on Alameda Patch, skimmed the angry statements that pass back and forth under the comments sections.

I have even seen some posts the kids are sharing… It amazes me WHAT some kids are sharing. And what some of the kids are saying and doing is just downright "Not ok!" 

For a moment, I realize… I have turned into my mother! There are days when I look at my child and wonder, "Where did you come from?" (Silly question, of course!) But honestly, when did I cross the line and become an Official Adult?? I don’t remember receiving my Parent Manual when I got promoted to this position? Where’s my raise?

And where did this desire to point fingers come from? I have caught myself doing it more than once. It seems like a new built-in button that came with this new adult body and it has an automatic ON switch! Like other people, I wanted to blame someone for this car accident that happened!

Before popcorn and a movie on Tuesday, I finally had the opportunity to talk to a teenager, Nate,* who has been directly affected by the accident. After observing his actions, his tone of voice or in his facial expressions, Nate doesn’t appear concerned at all. But I can see the worry is in his eyes….

Nate talked about his concerned for his friend, Matt,* who isn't conscious yet. Nate* told me about the firemen who had to cut his friend out of the car, and about how one fireman cried afterwards. I wonder how many APD and AFD visited Matt* in the hospital since that night?

Nate is uncertain about how to communicate his feelings; his words cannot express how he feels. Looking at him, I could feel his pain, see his confusion and his flailing inability to comprehend what occurred. But what else can I see? It’s hope. In. His. Eyes.

As an adult, isn’t it my responsibility to teach the kids about hope? Isn’t it my job to show kindness, friendship, understanding and compassion? Aren’t I supposed to lead by example through my words and actions?

I started to wonder why I seemed so desperate to find out WHO is to blame… That job belongs to the law and the judge. I realize that I don’t want that job.

I have noticed that many of the kids feel the need to defend themselves against the accusing fingers and that they are banding together because it makes them feel safe.

Now making them feel safe? That IS my job. I want the kids to feel safe to talk, to listen, to share, to care, to hope, to be kind, to have friendships, to understand and to have compassion for people. To ask questions and to have a dialogue.

Listening is my job too. I learned how the kids want to sell T-shirts or hold a car wash to help raise money for the families. They have a need to help, a need to be there, a need to feel part of something bigger, a desire to have some control in their world they don’t completely understand yet.  

Did the kids make a mistake? Yes. Was it a bad choice? We all have our own answer.

Sometimes, trying to get passed pointing fingers is hard to do... But my desire to discover how I can “change the ending” is my focus. The solutions start with me. How can I change my actions, my thoughts, my habits and behaviors to make things easier for the kids? How can I help them?

My own small effort is to lead with my heart, because talking to Nate* face to face changed my reaction. It changed my feelings toward the car accident. It mad me less angry and more understanding.

Ultimately, if my child was in that accident, I would want people in my community to send positive thoughts and to care about my son. I would want to see that people are concerned, that we are human and our biggest ability is to love and to show it to each other, especially when we are scared. Especially when we are mad. Even when we are blind to a situation or cannot comprehend it.

So to the families, I am sending you blessings for your children. I am sending you positive thought for your child’s full recovery. I am sending you strength to be present in the moment, because what is right in front of you is more important.

My thoughts go to the team of firemen who had to cut the child out of that car, and to the APD who were present on the scene. I am sending healing to the teens, many who are frightened and others angered by the incident. Because behind all those accusations and cruel words being shared online, there is fear. Fear has created "a need to blame" inside of me. And I will do my best to dissolve it, if not for the kids' sake, but also - my own.

I don't think I paid much attention to the movie that day.

*Names changed.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dana Carey, Ruby Bridges Parent July 16, 2012 at 07:42 AM
I wish there was a way to have better communication about the fundraisers? A FB page would help. (I know the families have their minds elsewhere.) I would like to help? How? And after some more research, I just discovered that I know HIS FATHER. I am broken-hearted even more now. His father has always been overly kind to our family and has always gone out of his way to make my son smile.....
Lissette July 17, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Dana, Thank you so much for your letter. Your ability to communicate what it is like for a parents to watch their children watch, worry and wait for for their friend's complete recovery resonates with many us. Having compassion is vital in helping kids process and learn from what happened. Yes, let's help them organize their fundraising efforts by lending a hand or advice in order to embrace this as a teaching opportunity. A teen mom has met with a police officer to discuss opening a bank account/fund for the family. Another teen will start a group that is inclusive and welcoming for all.
Mark Irons July 18, 2012 at 12:15 AM
wow...wow. Dana, this might be the most powerful and important thing I have yet to read on Patch. I commented early on the accident article in response to one of the kids who responded to finger wagging with a comment about the kids were out at 1:30 a.m. because "THEY COULD BE OUT THAT LATE". My point was supposed to be in support because we have raised two kids to early adulthood without them succumbing to tragedy, but managed to do so by being fairly liberal about things like curfew, but held our breath a lot and tried to build trust. I never went back to see the dozens of other comments that followed because I couldn't deal with it. The social media aspect of this is baffling and even though I am very curious about your research into details because I always want to know for myself, I also don't really want to know because a) just as with the million angry comments which I also didn't read, it's so easy to imagine and b) I'm exhausted by having my buttons pushed. I've been frustrated by lack of information on this boy's condition and I'm bummed to learn the facts. Regardless of one's view on discipline, how could you not have empathy for him and his family. I can't even begin to pretend to have any words of wisdom, but yours are very appreciated. You did the right thing in writing. Thank you. How about this : It takes a village ( of people who can suspend judgement and just care).
Dana Carey, Ruby Bridges Parent July 20, 2012 at 05:54 AM
As of Thursday, he is breathing on his own. Mark, I am glad that mentioned, "It takes a village..." It is my point exactly. Everyone must help to raise this generation, especially in this world we have created for ourselves and for these children--which is quite opposite of Mother Nature's habitat. At times, for us to find balance in life, it will take imbalance?
Dana Carey, Ruby Bridges Parent July 25, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Update: His child is getting better! I am very happy & sending more positive thoughts their way..

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