I show up at a play area to meet up with a friend.
The friend is great.
The other family in the play area is not.
A boy about five years old purposefully knocks over my daughter. Twice. I could see that his newest sibling had just began to move. E took out his frustration on other little guys when N began to move around and get into his stuff. Now, E was more the unwilling-to-share, not the make-them-cry-by-slamming-your-body-into-them-type but still. It happens.
Both times I say: Sweetie, you need to be careful around her.
But the boy is already walking away.
And his parents — both of whom are there — NEVER SAY A WORD. Even as my daughter bawls in my arms.
I know that by the third time, I will have to call the parents out. Or request their help. Or smack them up-side the head.
But after visualizing the painful argument with them over their son’s intentions, I decide to body-block the entire family. I trail my daughter everywhere and move to man-to-man coverage when the boy is within a few feet of N. Oh, and I glared at that family like they are demon spawns.
Of course, now, I can’t talk to my friend. I can’t play with my son. Because I have to protect my daughter from the boy who decided that picking on her was okay. And his parents who are too busy to care.
Then I look over and my son is standing in the middle of the play area with the I’M ABOUT TO CRY look. As I make my was across the room, I ask twice: What’s wrong, sweetie?
And ANOTHER adult finally says: He bumped heads with that boy. I think it was an accident.
The same boy.
And his parents say nothing. Until I go over to E and glance at the mom. The mom says: It was an accident. But not to me. To her husband.
Without thinking, I go into my normal parenting mode and say to E: When we hurt another person we apologize.
I’m thinking that the boy had gotten hurt as well since E had a huge red mark on his face.
E refuses to apologize saying repeatedly that the boy hurt HIM.
I stop and recall how the boy has treated N and think: E is probably right.
And we walk away from the situation.
When the spawn family finally leaves, I’m so excited that I consider throwing them a party except it would keep them in the same vicinity as my children. But I would’ve valeted their car had it meant that the husband got off his computer to parent that boy.
In fact, the only time the dad steps in is when the boy hurts his own sibling.
I love the life lesson: It’s okay to hurt others. Just don’t hurt your own family.
But I am conflicted about my own examples of life and lessons.
I’ll comfort you but not stand up for you.
I’ll let people hurt you.
I’ll make you apologize before listening to you.
After we leave the play area, I tell my children that the boy was wrong for hurting them and not apologizing. And I offer an apology of my own for not knowing how to handle the situation.
My children seem unscathed. But I’m still thinking of it a week later.
I wonder if I should’ve spoken up. Called them out. Protected my children better.
Then I waiver and tell myself that we all have bad parenting days. Days where we just don’t want to have any more problems with our children.
I get it. My son has hit other children before. And sometimes I want to look away. Let them work it out.
But I never do. I never let it be okay to hit or hurt another person. One of us, and on good days both of us, apologize.
Part of me hopes that mom reads my blog. Because I want her to know how much she sucked that day.
Part of me hopes that next time I can turn to the parents and calmly say: I need you to speak to your son or keep him away from my daughter.
Most of me hopes that I never run into parents like that again.
I understand that we all have bad days and ugly moments. But I’m having a hard time being okay with this. Because I don’t think that we have the right to have our bad days spill into other people’s days. Into other people’s children.
My play date was affected. My children’s enjoyment. My enjoyment.
All because of crappy parenting.
I told my friend that day: I wish there was a place with a big sign that said:
I’d go there every single day.