Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Strangers and Self-control

You know the saying "When it rains it pours."

And "The hits just keep on coming."

And my own personal favorite (courtesy of Ross from 'Friends') that you may or may not know, "Jump into my nightmare, the water is just getting warm."

Anne Shirley (from Anne of Green Gables, duh) calls them "Jonah Days."

I am having a Jonah Day.

My baby sister left today for her long, meandering journey cross-country to California, with stops at the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and others, before finally heading back to Hawaii, where she now makes her home.

My mom and my kids and I took her to the airport this morning. It was not a dry-eyed goodbye. In fact,  the kids were crying so loudly and so hard that every other person in line for the security check was looking at us. More than few had tear-filled eyes at the sight we made, clinging together and crying openly, and at one point Nate whispered loudly "Guys, everyone is staring at us. We have to stop crying."

SO, in an attempt to cheer us all up, we met some friends for lunch at Chic-Fil-A after we left the airport.

After they inhaled their food, the kids skipped happily to play in the sound-proof, glassed in play place, and I breathed a sigh of relief at the silence, and the company of my sweet Jesus sisters.

And then, because on a Jonah Day it is impossible to get 5 seconds of peace, my daughter burst from the play place and informed me that there were other moms in there YELLING at my boys.

I blinked.

"Did they do something bad?" I asked after taking a moment to swallow my french fry.

"No," she responded. "They are just playing, being boys. And those women started yelling at them to stop running around so much."

Oh. My.

I took a very large swig of my Coke Zero, wishing it was regular Coke, or possibly spiked Coke, and then I took a deep breath.

"Okay, Faith, go and remind your brothers to watch out for other kids, just in case, and then stay in there and supervise. And if anyone else yells at them, you come tell me."

Deep breath. Blink back the red haze clouding vision. Deep breath again. Additional swig of non-sugared, non-spiked Coke. Swallow. And repeat.

Several moments after I became aware of the situation, one of the above mentioned moms came out of the play place and walked, smiling, to our table.

"Just wanted to let you know, in case any of your kids says anything, that they were running and jumping around, you know, being boys, and they got fussed at. Okay?" And she walked away. At least, I assume she did. I refused to make eye contact with her, or even turn in her direction.

Not because I was being a jerk, but because I was actively biting my tongue, and I didn't want her to see the blood dripping from between my lips.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

Who on the face of the earth EVER thinks its okay to yell at someone elses' kids? And if they do, what moron then relays what they have done to the parents of the STRANGERS they were attempting to discipline?

Now, in fairness to every mother on earth who has ever seen a bigger kid playing rowdy games near their much smaller child, I have been in that situation and I have said things like "Hey, buddy, would you mind paying closer attention? You are a lot bigger and stronger than these little ones, and I don't want anyone to get hurt." I have even said "Please watch what you are doing, okay?"

But never, ever, ever, would I yell at a stranger's child. EVER. I wouldn't even yell at the children of my friends or family members. EVER.

Oh, the things running through my mind as she turned her perfectly toned self around and walked proudly away.

"If its bothering you so much, get your uptight butt in your pretentious car and leave."

"Lady, you are gonna raise a bunch of pansy, whining brats if you stand inside the play place yelling at anyone who gets close to them for the rest of their lives."

"Regardless of what they may or may not have done, if you speak to my children again ABOUT ANYTHING, my fist is gonna connect with your snobby, snarly, holier than thou nose."

"Ma'am,  I've had a really stupid-y day, and my self-control is hanging on by a thread. Its in your best interest to go back to your table while you still have all your teeth."

Sigh...alas, as previously established, I said nothing, and she left.

Shortly thereafter we retrieved our wild monsters from the pits of hell where they were apparently residing, and left the play place where only two year old girls with giant bows and zero people skills, or three year old boys who have never had to share or hear loud noises in their life, are permitted to play.

Come on now. Really?

Granted, my boys can be rowdy. Admittedly, they could accidentally knock down a smaller kid during a light-saber battle. Absolutely, they are loud. Definitely, they have the capacity for causing stress to others. Yes, they might need to be reminded to pay attention the others around them.

BUT...

Just so we are totally clear going forward: The fact that I didn't cause a giant scene today in Chic-Fil-A had nothing to do with whether or not my sons deserved to be yelled at by a stranger. NO CHILD should ever be yelled at by a stranger.

The reason I held my tongue also had nothing to do with my desire to be a good, southern, Christian lady who doesn't cause drama, or because I was trying to be a good example to my kids of how to respond to conflict.

The truth, the real reason I said nothing to the hateful woman who yelled at my children for being children and then had the audacity to explain and justify herself to me, is much simpler, and much more likely to cause my mother to gasp and my husband to shake his head and tell me I shouldn't admit all my internal sins to the entire blogging community.

At the time, in that moment, the only words I could think of had four letters.

Now, as I sit here blogging out my frustration to cyberspace, my boys are having a very intense battle with pistols, and no one is yelling except them, and I can think of many, many, many things I wish I could have thought to say to that woman.

But, I had to bite my stinking tongue.

The upside is, at least I'm not a hypocrite who rants and rails to strangers about how totally unacceptable it is to yell at strangers...

Oh. Oops.

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