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Trapped in the bathroom

January 7, 2008

I don’t know why but it has happened two times in the last month. I don’t see it regularly but it seems rampant right now and it is freaking the fuck out of me and it always happens when I am with Chica.

We are in the bathroom of a well known cafeteria style restaurant and I am in the stall with my little darling girl ChicaPoo. We hear a mama start yelling at a pretty big girl telling her to “Come here now, come into the stall with me…”…hear dragging sounds, sobs and screams of protest by the girl. Mama continues to try to drag girl into stall. She gives up and beats her kids ass right by the hand sinks as we are trying to wash our hands. It is small and cramped and filled with people trying to pee and wash their hands. ChicaPoo looks at me with worried eyes and is afraid. I hug her and we leave and she asks me what is wrong with that Mama and girl? I say that girl has a mean Mama who doesn’t know how to use her words to talk when she is mad and is using her body to tell her little girl she is mad. Chica says that is a wrong thing to do and asks me if that Mama will be in trouble for doing that. Sadly I say no she won’t.

Two days ago we are in our local grocery store and as I crouch down to help Chica with her tights and skirt a woman walks into the bathroom with a tiny little person probably about 2-3 years old. The small person is wailing and crying uncontrolably as the Mama tells her in a calm voice that she was not allowed to stick her fingers in things and now she has to pay for something she didn’t want and that she told the little person over and over again not to do and then says sternly, “STICK OUT YOUR HAND.” I don’t think the little person complies because she shouts louder now, “I SAID STICK OUT YOUR HAND!” and I hear a small scuffle and a smack, smack, smack and more screaming and crying. She warns the small person to stop it and be quiet or else. The little person quiets and is crying very softly.

All the while ChicaPoo is looking at me with giant eyes and I hug her until they leave and we exit the stall to wash our hands. ChicaPoo looks at me and says, “That poor little girl. Does her Mama love her? Poor little girl that she doesn’t have a nice Mama.”

We teach our children it is not okay to hit another person unless you are a grown up, frustrated and can think of nothing better to do. We want our children to be respectful of us and others but continue to show them disrespect for how they feel and how they react to how they feel.

I feel frustrated by my children all. the. time. ALL. THE. TIME. I want to bash them silly sometimes. I feel those same things.  I have lost it one time, one time only and will never ever forgive myself. Luckily it was isolated, a minor occurrence but was the most traumatic thing ever for me as a parent and the worst moment of my adult life. I am ashamed of myself and will feel guilty forever for it. I saw in that moment the horror I created in my children. Spawn especially was terrified and scared even though I was reacting stupidly to his sisters behavior. How can a parent feel good about instilling fear and terror into their child as a means of discipline?

I don’t understand how my darkest moment as  parent can be routine care for another. I don’t want my children to fear me I want them to trust me. I don’t want my children to feel they have no other recourse when they are angry except to hit someone when they don’t get what they want. I want my children to be empathic to others who are sad and crying and to not be afraid of choosing to comfort someone rather than lash out.  

I don’t know what to do when I see this happen. I want to reach out to that mom and tell them I know how they feel. I feel so frustrated too. I loathe my children sometimes too. I feel like I could just freak the fuck out and loose my mind. But why I don’t. Why I don’t want to and how I try to keep it in perspective. I don’t think it would help. I don’t think it would help at all.

Would you just do nothing?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2008 5:32 pm

    This is an excellent question. Would we stand by and do nothing if an adult was beating the crap out of another adult? No, we would call the cops. Anyone who is acting that way in public is for certain acting MUCH WORSE in private. That said, children are still treated as possessions by the laws of this society. Hugging your daughter perhaps provided a good model for the other mother. If you tried to help out by offering advice, of course you’d be told to fuck off. Empathy often helps, if the mother is clearly embarassed but not actually spanking, like saying “I’ve been there too.” But once there is physical violence in a public place? I might say: “You look like you need some help. Is there anything we can do?” Or, give the mom some gum to chew or something: “Poor you. Here, take a break, calm yourself down, it’s not worth it, choose your battles.” That’s what I would do now, as a grandmotherly type, knowing that I’m risking the rage directed at me. But better me.

  2. TracyAnn permalink
    January 8, 2008 3:15 am

    I want to say that I would speak up though I know in reality I probably would not. I think they would lash out at me (not physically) but they would take it out on their kids. It’s horrible. I know how utterly frustrating it can be. What is the right thing to do? We experienced a similar situation this summer camping in CO. A father raised his fist to his 2 yo sons face right in our site, right next to us, he didn’t touch him. I still can not believe that happened and still think of that little boy and hope he’s OK. I hope he doesn’t raise his fist one day at his son. It’s very, very sad sometimes. You did great with Chica!! Good job Mom!!!!

  3. January 8, 2008 8:28 pm

    This is a tough one. I’m like TracyAnn in that I’d like to think that I would say something but in reality I would probably just glare at the woman and shuttle my kids out of the bathroom as quickly as possible. How horrid of me to think that I’d rather save myself some harsh words versus standing up for a child.

    It’s just so hard – it’s such a fine line between trying to be helpful/supportive of the mom who is having a rough time (because we’ve all been there) and looking out for a child who was only acting like a child. As much as we’d like to think we can make children behave I think we loose sight of the fact that they are basically little cavemen with lots of feelings without a lot of words and sometimes they do things that just give them the release they need.

    You did great by Chica and set the best example possible given the situation.

  4. January 9, 2008 10:48 pm

    You won a blog award! Go visit my Postcards from Bloggerville and retrieve your prize and pass it on.

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