Stepping Up

In recent years I have noticed that my parents don’t appear to be as effective with my younger siblings than they were with me and my older sister. As they’ve gotten older, they don’t seem to have instilled much respect for themselves into my younger brother and sister. They say and do things now that I would never have dared saying, and yet seem to get spoilt a lot more. Some of this might be the sour grapes of age, but my mum and dad agree with me.

Yet, there is almost nothing they can do. In my mind, some of this is down to money. My mum and dad definitely have more money now than they did when I was younger. I knew we were quite poor, so I didn’t ask for much. Now, with peer pressure being much higher now than it has been, my brother and sister are exceptionally demanding. I sometimes wonder if the rise in presents and other things they get is related to the fact that both of my parents work now (in the past, only one of them did) and so these free gifts, no strings attached, are a way of making up for a lack of attention.

The reason why I write about this now is that it’s putting me in a different situation. I disagree with what I see. Yet I am now a responsible adult (allegedly) and I feel I am beginning to take on more and more “parental” responsibility with my brother and sister. I know that they look up to me, which is a bit daunting. But I know that the pressures of modern existence, where it’s impossible to escape through mobile phones, MSN, web cams and such, really need parents to be more watchful than ever.

Yesterday, I stepped up the pressure on my brother. He was orchestrating a number of friends to go and “play football” via MSN and the phone. He never does this. Then, he was caught red-handed on MSN bragging about how he was looking forward to “the fight” and how he was going to “bang” someone. I really don’t know who he thinks he is. My brother obviously feels he has to impress people in school, yet given his featherweight qualities, I feel the only person who would have been “banged” is himself.

So it was stopped. He wasn’t allowed out. My dad was going to let him go out, despite all the evidence. It was only because my mum put her foot down that it didn’t happen. I had some cross words with my dad later on about how he’s gone far too soft. My brother stormed upstairs, tearful, but pretending all the time that he was just joking, and that they really were going to play football. In fact, the tears were because he was, alas, going to miss out on watching some kids assaulting each other for no good reason.

A few hours later, my mum and dad were out, and I was the only adult in. Cue my brother trying to sneak out, obviously thinking I’m a complete idiot. I literally watch him leave, but wait to get more evidence. Along comes a gang of his mates, all laughing and joking (including several friends who are equally shitrips themselves, but are also being carried along with this desperate need to impress their mates) … and all huddled around together. Huddled around a mobile phone. Looking at the pictures of people beating each other up. Quality entertainment.

Never mind the fact my brother was out the house, and slowly sloping away (while my sister, who was at the doorstep anyway, earwigging, but is now the provider of useful information) … he was now taking part in what is truly one of the more horrifying things in today’s society, the mobile phone photo /video culture, which is seeing the mass trivialisation of brutality, reduced to a mere spectacle to be shared openly, especially on the internet.

I had no choice but to go out the house and shout. Loudly. I roared at my brother, demanding him to come inside. I didn’t care, and still don’t, about what people may think. I don’t care about embarrasing him. I will not sit back and watch my brother slip into a world in which life is nothing but a dead-end, existed in because there is no other option.

Not content with roaring at my brother, I shouted at the little bastards, giving them a piece of my mind about what they were doing. I hope they’re shitting themselves now, because the parents of many of those there will be informed very soon (as my mum knows them) and I’m sure that they will be horrified when they find out what their precious little darlings have been up to. You can understand when bad kids and bad parents go together. But it’s far far worse when bad kids come from good parents. We all make mistakes, and I’m not writing anyone off… but when they are made, a good parent will be there to set things right again, and to explain that things like this really aren’t something to be proud of.

Kids have been doing things like this since the dawn of time. But never before has this kind of behaviour been trivialised and distributed in such a way with technology. There are real changes in society today, and the challenges they throw up are immense. It’s critical that parents keep on top of them.

As I said, I, for one, will not let my siblings go down these routes. If it means I have to “step up” to be more like a parent than a brother, then I will…

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