As a parent to a young man, part of my role is to set an example for how to behave in society and another part of my job is to provide guidance when we notice other people that aren't following the code that I've defined.
I like to think that I do an outstanding job with the former, but it's come to my attention that I may not be hitting the mark with the latter.
Anyone exposed to a toddler knows that you are on deck to answer any number of questions every day. Sometimes it can be easier to shoot out a quick response without thinking it through than to answer your little buddy asking: "Why?" another time. I've taken a shortcut sometimes and replied with a general catch-all:
"Well Buddy, some people are just savages".
Here's an example: We find ourselves in a men's room that the previous user had left in a sorry state.
Hudson asks me: "Dad, why it is such a mess in here?"
My response: "Well Buddy, some people are just savages".
Of course, the first time I gave him this answer, there was a barrage of additional questions;
What is a savage?
Why would someone act that way?
Do you know who the savages are?
Didn't anyone show them the right way to behave?
This past winter, we found ourselves leaving an event on a day that the snow banks were melting. We could see the entire winter worth of trash that people had discarded and had collected into the snowbanks by the snow removal trucks all season.
Hudson, appalled at the site of so much garbage, asked: "Dad, why would people throw all their garbage into the snow?"
My lazy response: "Well Buddy, some people are just savages".
I didn't think much more about it as we walked down the street, or as we entered a hotel lobby, or hopped into the elevator with a crowd of people on our way to a parking lot. But Hudson was still pondering.
I watched him slowly inspect every person in the elevator with us, then, with a strong and confident voice, he chastized:
"YOU PEOPLE ARE SAVAGES!"
I got a few dirty looks but, I figured, he probably wasn't wrong entirely. One of those people probably had done something to deserve the title. I shrugged and then hugged him into my leg.
When we got off the elevator, I explained that those likely weren't the same people who left trash in the street over the winter. We talked about what we can do to make sure that the neighbourhood stays as clean as possible: like always using a garbage can, recycling our bottles and cans, and picking up after our dog.
Despite some mild embarrassment, I think it was a good lesson.