I joke about a lot of the parenting scenarios I'm faced with on a day to day basis because it is the little things that make your hair stand on edge you will remember when you're in your rocking chair and laugh your ass off until you need to gulp down mass quantities of oxygen to keep going another day. And to be quite honest, most of parenting, while stressful at the time, in hindsight is pretty amusing once you calm down a week later. Some parts of parenting are not fun though, no matter how much time passes. And usually those parts are when your child is in danger or is hurt, or is scared, and you are called upon to be their champion. Because there is nothing funny about seeing a child in pain, either physically or emotionally, especially at the hands of another adult. I had one such situation occur last week and I still bristle and snarl under my breath when I think of it. Yes, I snarl.
Without getting into the minute details of the scenario basically I took my kids to a museum on Veterans Day and while they were playing at the water table, splashing and spraying and having a good time with a ton of other kids, Ashe came over to me to fix his water smock. When I turned away I missed something major and it was probably a very good thing I did not see what happened or I'd most likely be blogging from my shiny new jail cell. I turned back after helping Ashe to notice Xavier backed in a corner not playing, and warily watching a woman (another mom) who was standing roughly 5 feet from me, glaring at the whole table. After pondering the scene a moment I beckoned to Xavier and asked him what was the matter and why was he looking at that woman so oddly?
Tears started welling up in his eyes (which is completely NOT normal for my boy) and he whispered that that woman had come over to him, grabbed him by the wrist, ripped the toy he was playing with out of his hand, and yelled at him to stop spraying at the water table.
Now before I continue I will take a moment to say I did talk to him about not spraying the water too much but I will also say a ton of other kids were doing it too and there are no rules about not doing it. I just told him to stop for politeness sake.
It's hard to explain to a person who isn't a parent what happens to you when you're faced with a situation where your child has felt scared and threatened by a strange aggressive adult. If you're a parent though, you nod your head in sage understanding and begin to bristle on behalf of that child, whether said child is yours or not. Basically your eyesight gets hazy and red, you begin to feel the surge of adrenaline coursing through your body and it takes Every. Ounce. of inner strength to hold on to your sanity and to think clearly. This phenomenon is called Mother Bear syndrome. Most people hear tales of not getting caught between a bear cub and its mother and if you do find yourself in this awkward situation the best thing you can do is to lie flat and play dead until the Mother Bear has ripped your body to shreds and leaves you. A Mother Bears instinct is to protect her cub from any potential harm and will do so in the most vicious and thorough manner possible. There is a definite correlation to the Mother Bear, and what a parent goes through when they feel their child is threatened. One who is not a parent may think that our thoughts and reactions are extreme but it is not really something that can be rationaled away. It's biology, pure and simple. You are biologically programed to protect your offspring and if your offspring are threatened you will do anything you can to keep them from harm. Hence why I said (and was not joking in the slightest) that if I had seen this woman touch my son as he claimed I would be blogging in a new jail cell.
The fact I didn't see the actual occurrence was the only thing that allowed me to hold on to some sort of semblance of sanity and rationality as I slowly stood up and made my way to the woman. I took a deep breath, threw a fake smile on my face, introduced myself to her as my sons mom, told her what he told me and asked her what happened. She had a real nasty disposition and said my son was spraying water at the water table and kids were wet (uh yeah... its a water area... people get wet). I told her that I had already spoken with him about that and it would not happen again, but that in the future she was to find me and let me know so I could handle the consequences and to not touch my child. She then went on to say there are rules at the water table. I looked for the rules, didn't see any and asked her to point them out to me so I could brush up on them and teach my kids.
She then ignored that request and said my son was a liar and that she never touched him only asked him nicely to stop. It was at this point I was pretty much at the end of my sanity in dealing with her. For the first part Xavier doesn't lie. Hes actually brutally honest. Also, he's not the kind of kid to begin crying over something small. Thirdly, when I first mentioned her touching my son she didn't refute my comment. To me it looked like she was now back pedaling and trying to make my son look bad and her a victim.
With a frozen smile on my face and a glint in my eye I said with quiet venom, "If I have to choose between believing my son and a total stranger in a situation like this I will always believe my son. Don't you Ever. Touch. My. Son. Again."
The rest of the time at the water table she stayed as far from me and my children as possible and left fairly quickly after. I talked with Xavier later and let him know that no matter what, unless he was in imminent danger of being hurt or hurting another child through his actions, if anyone who was a stranger touched him he was to find me, or his dad, or whoever he was with and let them know immediately, because that is NEVER ok. He hung close to me the rest of the day, searching through the crowds for that woman, and always making sure I was right there in case she was, to defend him. And I was. I gave him a lot of hugs that day to comfort him and let him know both verbally and non verbally that no matter what I would protect him and keep him safe. I hope he believes me.
Everyone parents differently and I think that's very cool. But there are some boundaries no matter how you parent that everyone knows you just don't cross. Touching another persons child unless they are in imminent danger can result in loss of limbs, hair, and broken bones. No joke. I brought this scenario up to a bunch of moms in a forum I am a member of and after 4 pages of responses, not one mom thought the other mom had any right to touch my son, and thought I actually acted very tame considering the circumstances. My only response for the tame aspect is again I didn't physically see it happen and there were children in the ares when I confronted her. I try to behave as best as I can when there are little kids around. But the outside appearance of my actions and my internal struggle were two very oppositional. I'm both proud that I stayed so cool, and ashamed as well. Proud because I was the better person in the situation. But ashamed because I look back, and while I know I championed my son and protected him and made him know I would always be there for him, there is a primal part of me that wishes I could have let go and ripped the woman to shreds, both verbally and physically. A piece of me feels that my son is still in danger because that woman is still standing. It's not rational, I know, just pure primal. It's the Mother Bear Instinct.