The Baltimore police commissioner, Anthony Batts, praised this mom, saying she was “embarrassed” that her son was participating in the Baltimore rioting.

Is it embarrassment? Or anguish? The fact is, no one really knows (yet). Frankly, I watched this video and got upset. I am upset at the fact that she feels she has to hit him to get a point across — a feeling that I’m sure is justified. Like life-and-death justified.

I have frustrations as a parent. But my frustrations are comparably laughable.

I took a breath this morning, thinking of Baltimore as my sons walked into a school (note: school was open where we live) where the library is overstocked with gleaming new Caldecott winners and copy upon copy of the “Wimpy Kid” series. Where parents greet each other, hot cups of fresh coffee in hand. Where they popped into the school gym to vote this morning. Where we all know the crossing guard’s name, and he knows us. Where our neighborhood market is stocked with organic food, fresh fish and penny candy. Where moms and dads volunteer at the drop-off line before they head to work – or head back home because some can afford to do that. Where homework is tucked into backpacks filled with healthful lunches, because parents have time to make sure that happens. Where cleats are stuffed into bags for after-school activities at clean fields, and play dates are arranged at houses that smell of cookies and have “homework stations.”

And then this mother. Or maybe I should say this woman who’s being held up as a symbol. We don’t know. One says she’s “embarrassed.” Others say she is the mom of the year. I can’t imagine what her life is like — we don’t yet know, in fact. But what I see? Maybe she’s a mother who has spent the past 15 years or so (again, a guess) trying to keep her kid out of trouble. Trying to keep him from being another Freddie. Trying to make sure he has as much as the other kids.

This wasn’t funny, as so many people’s first reaction to the video is. This isn’t a time to praise her as mom of the year. This is upsetting and should be for all of us.

When I saw this video? I just got sad — and frustrated right along with her.

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