Today I went to the park with Maggie and Will. It’s #fieldtripfriday so I packed a lunch and we headed to Maryland Heights to see if a previously unfinished portion of Vago park was indeed finished.
When we pulled up and saw other kids playing on the playground Maggie actually squealed out in delight because she knew the construction was done and we could try out the new toys.
We played for hours. Hours. There was a zip line and slides and tons of things to climb on and monkey bars. I even took a video of Maggie and Will on the zip line because they couldn’t get enough of it. It was an amazing morning/afternoon.
We got there about 11am and just after 1 pm I told the kids that we would need to leave at 1:30 because I’ve got some drawings I want to finish. Around that same time a mother and her 3 year old son showed up and started playing. There had been other kids there when we had first been at the park but they had all since gone so it was just us and this mother and her son.
I started packing up the trappings from our lunch and throwing things away (I hate litter) and as I looked over at the playground (about 10 feet from the bench our shoes and lunch bag were on) I saw that the other mother and her son had gone over by Maggie and Will and were playing with the xylophone that’s part of the playground. I was done cleaning up lunch so I observed. Will was on one side of the xylophone and the little boy on the other. For a few minutes they were both running their hands over the instrument and making a glorious noise when the other mother suddenly grabbed her son away forcefully yelling at him “I said one at a time!! I said one at a time!”
I stood shocked as she dragged her son over to the roller slide and began to try to force him to go down it. He was fighting her and crying and the two were talking. I could not hear what they were saying until the mom said loudly “that bad boys mom should have told him to stop!”
At this point Maggie and Will were standing by me watching and listening as I was. I turned around to scoop up our items while I went over the scene in my mind. Maggie and Will went back to play on the toys but I told them it was almost time to go (which they didn’t protest since I’d already told them it was getting close).
I was about to scoot them out of there when I decided to say something to the other mother. The old me would not have said anything but would have hurried the kids out of there and cried alone in the car because of the harsh judgement from the other mother. The new me is not as afraid. So I stood there for a few minutes thinking about what to say. I finally decided to just state it flat so I told Maggie and Will to get their shoes on (they always take them off the minute we arrive at the park) and I approached the other mother.
“Excuse me,” I said “I would appreciate it if you didn’t call my son a bad boy when he’s standing right there and can hear you.”
“I didn’t” she scowled at me.
I then held up my phone and told her I recorded her outburst.
I’m not proud of that lie but it was the first thing that came out of my mouth. She did not like the idea that I maybe had recorded her (which I didn’t).
“Well aren’t you special?!” She practically spat the words at me. “I can say anything I want.”
“Well, that is very true, it just wasn’t very kind and my son could hear you.”
“Well your son is hyper and he shouldn’t be yelling.”
“My son is 3 too and you don’t see him running around yelling. Your son needs to be taught a lesson.”
At this point I turned around and decided to leave. I called to Maggie and Will and they followed me to the car. When we got a few feet from the playground I realized the other mother had gathered up her son and was following us and recording us. I ignored her and got the kids buckled into the car. I then heard her on the phone describing our car and giving our license plate number.
She stopped talking for a minute to yell at us from across the parking lot “I just called the cops and my friend Tim who is a cop is just down the street and he’s going to come down here to make sure you had a nice day at the park.”
“Um, okay” I said and then decided to sit in the car and wait for the cops. I waited for ten minutes or so and no cops ever showed up. The entire time the lady was standing across the parking lot recording me and watching me. I finally drove away.
I have since been thinking about this little exchange and realized some important things. First of all, I’m so proud of myself for saying something and for doing it in a kind and controlled manner (albeit not perfectly). I have reinforced to myself that it’s not okay for someone to treat me that way. And more importantly, I showed Will in a very real way, one way, to stand up to a bully without getting violent.
I also realized that I am not mad at that woman. I actually just feel sad for her and especially her son. I am certain that her outburst and passive aggressive name calling say a whole lot about her insecurities and absolutely nothing about Will’s goodness or badness. I hope that she finds herself and that her son knows that he is loved. I also hope that others don’t put up with her trying to control them or their children while at an outdoor public place.
Will did absolutely nothing wrong.
I sure am tired of people calling the cops on me though (5 times in 5 months people, FIVE). It sort of feels like they are after me and I would love for that target to be removed from my back.
What would you have done?