The funny thing about parenting and writing about parenting is that just when you think you’re out of good stuff to write about, you’re handed a big old gift-wrapped package of perfect material. Today was like Christmas and I can only write about it now because I’ve come down from my Mama Bear induced rage to articulate my feelings.
Today is the first day of Spring Break. I picked up my middle daughter from school and decided it would be fun to celebrate with a healthy snack from my town’s newest hot spot. It’s opening day and they had a bunch of fun stuff going on. It’s majorly kid friendly – I’m a firm believer that anywhere with an exposed ceiling can handle my kids – and has relatively inexpensive honey and fruit treats for the young ones. It was crowded but nothing that intimidated me. I’ve been in crazier environments with my kids (think Reading Terminal on a Saturday morning).
I walked in carting the baby on my hip who was super sleepy because it was creeping up on nap time. The 4 year old was cranky as usual and the 6 year old was high on the fact that she got to spend the morning shopping with me at my new found love, TJ Maxx. She was chatting away and not paying attention, as usual. The line was manageable and we ordered quickly having scoped out the menu ahead of time. We parked ourselves at a counter with stools and I proceeded to play Patty Cake with the baby while the girls played Rock, Paper, Scissors and we waited for our food to be ready.
Somewhere between the hand games and chaos of the busy spot, an old gentleman sat down and put his cup of soda on the counter. He turned his back to it and waited for his food. The girls’ got a little rowdier and I gently scolded them telling them to “chill or you’ll knock over that guy’s drink.” What do you think happened next?
The 4 year old, being ever obstinate, decided to be even crazier and threw her “paper” hand down with such force that the man’s drink tumbled to the ground. During its fall, it spilled all over his very nice, very expensive suit coat. Trust me, I can spot Hugo Boss from ten miles away.
He jumped up and started brushing off the offending soda and I shoved my kid onto a stool and told her to sit still and gave her a stare that said “your life depends on it”. I had a roll of paper towels in my diaper bag (don’t ask) and a brand new package of Shout wipes. I had that counter, floor, and stool spotless within seconds. I apologized PROFUSELY to the man and offered to help get the liquid off of his coat and instead of being a reasonable human about it, he did something that flipped me into Mama Bear mode so fast, it was almost as if an actual bear took over my body.
He stooped down to Lucy’s level, got right in her face, stuck out his mean old man finger and literally YELLED at her. His exact words were, “Calm down and stop being such a little brat! Do you see what you did to my jacket?” The instant the word “brat” left his lips I stepped between the two of them and very calmly told him to back off my kids and…maybe to do a few other things to himself, too. He came up to my level, told me I better be prepared to replace his suit and said, “all you young moms are the same thinking the rules don’t apply to you.” At which point, I gathered my brood, threw $20 at his face, and walked out. Without our food.
The moral of the story is, DO NOT CROSS A MAMA.
The only people in this world who are allowed to call my children brats, are me and my husband. We are allowed to call them whatever we want, within reason of course, but the second someone else tries to scold my child, I will throw down and fight you. That is my domain and unless I have given you express permission to discipline my kids the exact same way I do, you have no right. NONE AT ALL.
Child discipline is a fickle matter. It’s such a hot button for people and to be honest, I’m a believer that you do whatever works as long as it doesn’t involve abuse. But one of the widely known facts is that strangers are not allowed to discipline. The end.
The best part about this whole thing was the fact that this man said that I thought the rules didn’t apply to me. I’m sorry, what? What rules exactly? The rule that parental units are not permitted outside the house at any hour of the day? That I am not allowed to walk into a public establishment and dare to let my kids sit on the stools and entertain themselves for a little bit while we wait to consume food that we paid for just like he did?
Let me tell you…I follow the rules. I don’t use my kids to do the douchy things at the grocery store like not return the cart or cut in line. I don’t take my kids to movies later than 2 PM and that are not geared toward them. I don’t take them to fancy restaurants. When we go out, they are behaved and respectful. When they cry or scream or throw a fit in public we quickly quiet them and calm them down so we don’t disturb the environment. We follow the rules. Those unexplained “don’t be a jerk” rules that are out there. But all we ask in return is that the people around us follow some rules, too. Rule number one? Don’t f***ing yell at my kid. Ever. EVER.
I came home from this fiasco disheartened and sad. I was angry and felt so bad for Lucy that I just sat in my driveway and cried for a minute. I wanted to protect her from this horrible man so badly and help her understand that not everyone is that mean. But it’s hard to do that when people these days can be so cold and cruel. I had to remind myself of the kind stranger that paid for our cake pops at Starbucks a while back simply because they wanted to pay it forward. I had to remember that most people stop and tell me how cute my kids are (they really are). I have to remember that it was a chaotic environment and I don’t know anything about that awful man and maybe he was having a bad day, too.
Nah, he was just a jerkface.
So here’s my takeaway from today’s drama: stand up for your kid. No matter what, no matter when, and no matter how. Stand up for them. Lucy is 4 – she couldn’t stand up for herself. She knew she had done wrong and she was apologizing to me through teary eyes when that dude got in her face. She couldn’t tell him to back off so it was my job to do it. And I don’t regret it. We are their protectors, their guardians, and their best friends and we need to act like that no matter what. If they can’t rely on us, then they have no hope.
To the man in Honeygrow, I still don’t like you and I hope your stupid suit is ruined. To Lucy, I will love you always no matter how many times you spill stuff on grumpy old men. And I will protect you, your sister, and your brother from the meanies out there until the day I die.