He opened his driver's side door and was slightly startled to discover that a woman had approached his car. Her cell phone was dead. Could she borrow his? My son was uncertain of what to do, but he noticed she had a small child, and he took pity on her.
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As he was dialing her home number, he noticed her little boy bending over and picking up some rocks. As my son handed his phone to the woman, her little boy hurled the rocks right at my son's car. As the rocks bounced off the paint that had been applied just a few months earlier, my son stood by, incredulous.
"Oh, no, no, don't do that," the woman said as she started a heated conversation with her husband.
Before my son knew what was happening, the little boy picked up another handful of rocks and threw them at the car again. This time my son told the boy to stop.
As the mother was distracted with her phone conversation, my son positioned himself between the little boy and the car. This was not going to happen a third time.
Then the boy got a handful of rocks and threw them at another car.
The mother ended her conversation and offered this explanation, "He kind of has a problem with this," she said, shrugging off the behavior as something she could not control.
My son said it all happened so fast, he wasn't sure how to react.
I think he did fairly well, considering the shock factor.
What do you do when a child causing damage to your personal property refuses to listen to his parent?
Standing between the child and your property, like my son did, is one option, but it could prove to be painful.
Typically what children in this situation need the most is attention. I told my son if something like this happens again, he could try to communicate directly to the child.
Get down on one knee and calmly talk to the child at eye level. Tell him to gently drop the rocks. Then ask him questions about himself: "What's your favorite place at this park? I play soccer. Do you like soccer?"
Perhaps the distraction of someone who cares about him will cause him to stop seeking attention in destructive ways.
Some people will never understand the hours of work and sacrifice required to maintain a vehicle, but they might relate to compassion shared with a little boy who just wants someone to notice him.
From one mother to another, that's a message I'd like to send, especially if it is delivered through my children.
Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at email@example.com.