You Say Sexagon, I Say Hexagon

Published Date: November 15th, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

It all started so innocently. On a brisk, Sunday evening. While we were doing his homework at the dining room table.

G’s assignment? To make shapes using toothpicks (or, in our case, cut up straws since I don’t know where our toothpicks are post-fire).

His first shape? A triangle.

His second shape? A square.

All pretty standard shapes, pretty humdrum homework. Our eventual goal? To realize that you cannot make a circle out of toothpicks.

But then he pulled out the sexagon.

As I sat there drinking my wine, I noticed him busily arranging his straws into a more complicated pattern. And I asked,

“Honey, what shape is that?”

And he answered,

“My favorite shape. A sexagon!”

I cannot explain how difficult it was to not choke on my wine and to not burst out laughing. After I looked away so I could compose myself and wipe the wine that had dribbled out of my mouth, I replied,

“A sexagon? Don’t you mean a hexagon?”

And then he became stern. And bossy. And very set on his sexagon.

“No, Mom. It’s a SEXAGON. Because there are SIX sides. So that makes it a SEXAGON.”

Like I was some sort of shape recognition moron.

So now I had a choice—did I continue to correct him? Or, did I choose the probably down-the-road embarrassing choice and just let him think it was a sexagon because come on, that’s just so damn funny.

Well, looks like G will be in therapy over this some day, because he still thinks it’s a sexagon. Just like he thinks Chicago has a “Buckingtail Fountain” and that lines are on a “dinangle.”

Let’s just hope I’m not with him when he is with a bunch of friends in the 7th grade and says something like,

“We’d better cross the street dinangaly to go see the sexagon formation of lights at the Buckingtail Fountain.”

A Rogers Park Zorro, I am Not

Published Date: October 22nd, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

Fantasie-Impromptu in C-Sharp

As I sat listening to Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu being played BEAUTIFULLY by a Juilliard-trained piano soloist at the Fourth Presbyterian’s Friday noon concert series today, tears started rolling down my cheeks. At this moment, I had a glimpse of having faith in humanity again.

And yes, I know in my last post, I still had faith. I had faith in my neighbors and in that wonderful woman who would not stop knocking until I opened the door to find out my house was on fire. I had faith in our friends and family, and it was that faith that was going to get us through this time, this thought that all people are not evil, that yes, bad things do happen to good people and that we could rise from the ashes, Phoenixes from the Flame, and go on.

Until last Saturday, when we found out that all the remaining valuables we had saved from the fire, had been stolen. Our computers, all of our cameras and iPods, my son’s lemonade stand money, my hand-designed diamond earrings that John had given me when G was born. And the totally sentimental Tiffany abstract Madonna and Child pendant my parents had given me once G turned one. The few things that had meant something to us were now gone, thanks to a group of cold-hearted, greedy, dead-in-their-heart thugs who were looking to continue on their path of contributing NOTHING to society and instead, do damage.

They damaged our hearts, our souls, and most importantly, our faith. Because really—who was horrible enough to steal from a family who had already been through so much? A family who watched their house catch on fire in a matter of 3 minutes? A family with a 5-year-old son who hurriedly gathered all his stuffed animals into a pillowcase, knowing that if he didn’t, they might be gone forever?

Turns out lots of people are this horrible. I just did not know this for the past 37 years.

So now we find out time split between getting our house back in order, and attempting to deal with our $10,000 worth of stolen goods. We went through the miserable motions of checking local pawn shops, and I saw these same people again. The same thugs with the dead looks in their eyes, staring at me beneath their low-slung black hats and pierced noses. The same ingrates who believe that THEY are owed everything, even though they contribute NOTHING to society and actually steal from the very society they feel should take care of them.

And for the first time, I felt such an inappropriate wave of violence and hatred in me, a fury towards this group of people that I knew existed, but that had never dared to cross over into MY WORLD. I wanted to be the renegade, the Rogers Park Zorro, the one who MADE a difference and brought these bastards to their knees and drove them from my neighborhood and home that I had loved so much for the past 8 years.

But then I would feel the tug on my pants, and look down to see a little boy looking up at me, someone still thinking that I was able to keep him safe in what I now know is just a really bad world. A little boy who upon entering a hotel room for the first time, will now quickly lock the door, check for fire alarms, and wonder where the fire stairs are.

So for my little boy, every day I wake up and try and hide this fury. I try and put this mask on of still loving this world, this city, although all I really want to do is buy a gun and learn how to shoot it. I want to wrap us all in bullet-proof-armor, never leave the house, and for God’s sake, NEVER run into these cold-hearted people I now see every day. Every person I encounter I now size up as,

“Would this person try and burn down my house? Would this person steal from me?”

And I walk around tense, constantly ready to lash out, constantly ready to quickly get out, constantly going through my mind of what and who I need to save.

Until today. When I went to a simple free concert at a local church.

As the music took me to a calm place and my son silently feel asleep in my arms, I looked around at the people surrounding me. People who had decided to listen to Chopin instead of eating lunch. People who like me, had their eyes closed, slowly smiling at the crescendos they knew were coming since they had, at one point of their lives, played the piece they were listening to.

And I had to. I asked myself my questions. Would these people burn my house and steal from me? And finally a sense of peace came over me as I realized, no, they wouldn’t. Yes, I had unfortunately come in contact with the devils of society, but not all of society was like that.

Some people just like a quiet moment with Chopin.

So now, when I have my moments of fury, I will remember this solitary hour I spent with my son and a handful of good people, and hopefully it will keep me calm. Or at least, give me back some faith.

The Heroics of Humanity

Published Date: September 24th, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

 

I never thought I would pull my son from our burning house.

It was a normal, slow Monday morning. We were running late for school (as usual), my son was taking about 5 minutes just to brush his teeth (as usual), and all of a sudden, I heard urgent pounding at the front door.

At 7:50 in the morning.

Now, I should add that we live in the city of Chicago. In a very “diverse” neighborhood that we love, but that has some very interesting individuals. So let’s just say someone pounding on my front door before 8 am on a Monday morning was strange, but not too strange. When I finally made it to the door, a harried-looking, professional mother yelled at me:

“The apartment building next door is on fire. Call 911!”

And then proceeded to grab her son’s hand and run next door to alert the apartment building’s tenants as well.

I jumped onto the front porch and that’s when I heard it: the sounds of flames lapping at the basement decking and stairs next door. I could say that my heart stopped or that I went into fight-or-flight mode or that I tried to put out the fire with my garden hose but in reality, I just stopped for a moment and thought,

“Oh God. Really? This isn’t happening to me.”

But it was. And so I did yell to my son that we had to leave our house because the apartment building was on fire and I did phone 911, where a calm lady answered my call and tried to keep me on the phone  to calm me down, but once I heard,

“Please ma’am, I hear you. The firemen are on their way.”

I slammed the phone down and shouted up to my 5-year-old son, who was frantically trying to grab every stuffed animal he could find and shove them into his pillowcase. And then I looked out our window and saw orange flames and black smoke and realized that it had indeed happened, that in the 2 minutes it had taken me to call 911, our house was now on fire.

Now, this is where the fight-or-flight did indeed kick in because I flew upstairs, grabbed my now hysterical child who was clutching onto his stuffed pillowcase with pudgy little hands of steel and ran down the stairs, somehow grabbed a purse, and rushed onto the street.

Where we proceeded to watch our entire roof catch on fire.

For some reason, my husband left early that morning, so he was on the subway to work. Unreachable. This unfortunately was not my husband’s first fire—his fraternity house burned down in college and he had lost all of his worldly goods of 18 years. And all I could think of was,

“What type of voicemail do you leave for someone when their house is burning down?”

I finally just told him to call me right away and proceeded to frantically dial my neighbors.

Thankfully, Neighbor John was home and within minutes was outside, grabbing my shoeless son from me and pulling us both into a strong embrace. I remember watching the firemen pull up and it was like I was observing some sort of slow-motion, child’s version of a Playmobil fire.

All these bulky-looking men in their big boots and hats ran out of their fire engines, wildly looking around for the hydrant, and then started unrolling the hoses. They seemed SO slow. It seemed like the time between my call and the time when they actually had water coming out of the hose was an eternity. I remember asking my neighbor,

“Why is this taking so long? My house is burning down and they are taking SO DAMN LONG.”

I will never forget that he held me tighter, looked me in the eye and said,

“Serena, I know it seems like this is taking forever but please believe me, they are moving very fast.”

And then he gently guided me and my son to his front porch a few houses away. I sat down and noticed I had no shoes on, that my son only had one shoe, that I had an empty purse, that I had no husband by my side, and that it was possible I was going to lose everything I ever owned.

Within the 2 next hours, I witnessed 10 people become homeless, I saw the powerful and really efficient firemen hack through my fence and into my attic. I also saw the dead fear in my son’s eyes and heard his quiet mantra of,

“But I didn’t get all of my “friends” out. Mama—when can you go get them?”

I watched my husband sprinting from the corner and saw him dejectedly put his work bag down and bow his head, knowing that our happy, little life would be changed if not forever, at least for the next few months.

But I also saw my neighbors, who came up and hugged me and told me we could stay with them, they would feed us. I answered my phone to hear that my friends would take my son, give me clothes. All of the parents from our school were just SO worried about us and even though we had only known them for a year, would not stop calling my cell until they knew we were alive and okay. And finally I saw my parents come around the corner and as soon as my Dad hugged me, I felt the tears just gush down my face.

These aren’t great memories, but they are times where I knew I was loved and supported. Where I knew that no matter what, my husband and son and I were not alone. And although we had lost our roof and the side of our house and had major smoke and mold damage, I do feel blessed. Blessed because if God or fate or whatever higher force could not watch over us in time to stop the fire, at least we have friends and family to watch over us after the fire.

What I want to share is this—if you are a fire-survivor, just know that every day is different. One day, you feel like you can get over this and that, great, you get to start fresh with your house and your possessions and the next day, you wake up in the middle of the night with tears running down your face and did not even realize you were crying. I think what is important is to understand that each of these emotions is a valid one and to just ride each wave of emotion and realize good or bad, it will pass. Maybe you lost everything. Maybe you had a kitchen fire and lost just the use of your kitchen, or maybe, like us, you are somewhere in between.

And if you don’t have the family or the friends or the neighbors we had, realize that the people you meet every day will listen. They might not know you, but they will feel your pain. Tell your grocery store clerk why your hands are shaking when you hear a fire truck outside or let the Starbucks barista know why you jumped SO HIGH when you heard a car backfire that sounded suspiciously like the cracking of wood as it falls to the ground. I will always remember that the woman who would not stop pounding on my door was a stranger. She just happened to be walking by and even though she did not know us or anyone in the building next door, she would not stop pounding on every one of our doors until we were safe.

Always remember and hold onto this when you think you cannot make it through the day: the compassion of the human race is not gone and wherever you are, you are not alone.

To Buddha or not to Buddha

Published Date: September 2nd, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

Some children collect Star Wars or Transformers figures. Possibly Barbies or Bratz dolls or whatever those horrid, little rude dolls are. Not my child. He collects Buddha figurines.

Lest you think that we are Buddhists, alas, we are not. I have to admit it is a religion I have flirted with for many years and will possibly convert to. But at this point, we are non-Buddhists. Except for our son. Who thinks he IS the Buddha.

We came to this realization when he was 2 years old. As we passed a local “candle shop” in a small town in Door County, we saw a group of Buddha statues. G calmly pointed to one and stated,

“That’s me.”

and continued walking. At age 2.

Needless to say, that stopped us in our tracks. We, of course, thought he had no idea what he was talking about. Big mistake. Because then my husband asked him,

“What do you mean? That looks like you because it is bald?”*

And G sighed, years beyond his age and said,

“No, that’s me. I’m the Buddha.”

Now at this point, John and I were freaking out a little bit. Because as far as we knew, this child of ours had never seen or even HEARD the word Buddha. Don’t worry—John was going to get to the end of this one. And make sure our 2-year-old was not THE GOLDEN CHILD for God’s sake.

“What do you mean you’re the Buddha? Like from a past life? Like right now?”

And this is the one that stopped the conversation flat,

“No, Dada. I’m the Buddha EVERY time.”

So after that conversation, we don’t really talk about his Buddha-ness. We do however, succumb to his annual Buddha figurine acquisition from that same “candle shop.” And this year we added one more awesome, normal, 5-year-old need:

A meditation bell.

Therefore this year when other children rush home from school to watch cartoons or play mind-numbing Wii, my child will be sitting in front of his mini-Buddha collection (I REFUSE to call it a shrine) and meditating.

And I’m fine with that. Or will pretend to be so I don’t come back as a fly or a can of spam in my next life…

*G unfortunately resembled Caillou as a toddler.

Books and Rubber Snakes

Published Date: August 18th, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

For those of you who are tired with all that is wrong with Chicago: 10.25% sales tax, those stupid parking ticket machines, Rod Blagojevich, let me throw out one life saver—The Chicago Public Library. In my 15 odd- years of living here, CPL has never let me down. I remember how I proudly entered the Lincoln Park branch at age 22 with my first electric bill so I could obtain my library card. And now 15 years later, my son did the same thing.

Except instead of being an original Lincoln Park Trixie dying to shed her suburban roots, my son is actually GROWING UP in the city and so will hopefully never have to get another CPL card.

So a doubly proud moment for me!

I think for us readers (i.e., those of us who juggle 2-3 books at a time and have piles upon piles of books beside our bedsides and strange little scraps of paper in our purses and wallets with hastily scribbled half-titles), the moment we are able to transfer our love of reading onto another human being is quite a moment.

Or in my case, FORCING it upon my little human being. But whatever—he’ll love to read eventually. Especially when my reply to his “reading is boring” was that “stupid people think reading is boring.” I’m sure that will TOTALLY make him want to read. Regardless, the day G got his library card, I had tears streaming down my face. I was prouder that he had a library card then the day he accidentally made a goal at soccer. Most people have pictures of their children in Little League uniforms. I have a picture of my child holding up his first library card.

And let me tell you, these special library moments keep on coming! He signed up for the Summer Reading Program*. I know you all remember those programs with fondness. Rainy days spent at the library curled up in a corner with your favorite Frog and Toad book. The pride felt when awarded with a scratch n’ sniff sticker to put on your book chart. Well, CPL’s program is EVEN BETTER.

G had to read five books a week and then come back into the library and “report” on them to a charming 15-year-old volunteer who would ask sweet little questions like, “Did you have a favorite page? Do you know this word? Was this part scary?” So not only did G learn how to read better, he also learned how to respond to questions about these books.

Plus, he got stickers, a rubber snake, 3 free books he won in the weekly lotteries, and a t-shirt.

I tell you—it just doesn’t get any better than that for a 5-year-old.

So the next time I am annoyed that I end up paying $20 alone for tax on a nice dinner out or that driving my car down the street is like some sort of urban video game with all of those damn potholes, I’ll think back with fondness to our summer spent at The Chicago Public Library. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll at least jam that rubber snake into one of those stupid parking ticket machines when once again, it eats my change…

*Well, truth be told, I actually signed him up and told him if he finished it, I would buy him ice cream…

 First of all, yes, there is a version of monopoly called “Horseopoly.” And no, you don’t need to rush out and buy it. Not only is it confusing, but the horses on the box look slightly demented and creepy. But when you are staying on a Dude Ranch in Montana and your 5-year-old son finds it in the game closet, you clearly need to play it.

What was surprising to me was that he somehow “wrangled” all the professional wranglers into playing it with him.

For those who don’t know what a wrangler is, let me explain–they are these fantastic people who spend their lives working outside and doing anything and everything that is needed for the horses. Which can consist of:

a)      Feeding, cleaning, brushing, and exercising horses

b)      Cleaning up their poop

c)      Leading packs of people who say they have riding experience and really don’t on 3-hour riding trips in the mountains of Yellowstone

d)      Tirelessly leading your 5-year-old around the ranch on “his” horse Joseph and insuring that Joseph wins the “horse race” (i.e. when the horses run up the mountain to take their Sunday pasture breaks) by personally riding and pushing him ahead of all the other horses that are probably 5 times younger AND faster than him

Needless to say, those wranglers clearly need a break on Saturday nights. And yet, they stuck around after our communal dinner to play Horseopoly with us. How did G accomplish this, I wonder? I like to think it is because he is a good kid that people just like to hang around because they are so unaccustomed to 5-year-old children who don’t whine, throw tantrums, wear silly clothes with Disney characters on them, or glue themselves to some horrid hand-held video game. Or maybe because John and I are SO funny, we were the only entertainment those hard-working wranglers needed that night.  

In reality, it is probably just because they are such good sports and secretly knew that ending our trip with a rousing game of Horseopoly with the wranglers would be the cherry on top of the sundae for G and that it would make his trip complete.

Which it did.

So I thank you Boone, Erin, Chris, and Kirbee (who had to actually get up from the table and do her best galloping impression of a horse in order to not get sent to the “stable” or what us Monopoly players know as “jail) for making the last night of our stay memorable. I am positive it is not how you wanted to spend your night, but it is a night a little 5-year-old boy will remember forever.

And for those of you who have always dreamed of going to a Dude Ranch in Montana like I did, look no further:

http://www.coveredwagonranch.com/

We had the time of our lives and when I asked G if he would rather go back to (gulp) Disney World or come back to The Covered Wagon Ranch, he didn’t bat an eye and picked the ranch. So I guess one could say, “Go to The Covered Wagon Ranch! Children like it better than Disney World!”

Never Underestimate the Power of a Red-Headed Girl

Published Date: July 8th, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

So turns out G is no water baby. Even after the 8 weeks of $15 a pop swimming lessons we made him take. Which consisted of him:

a)      Frantically waving at me to get my attention so he could spend most of the lesson taking a “bathroom break”

b)      Me trying as hard as I could to avoid eye contact with him

Regardless, by the end of his swim class session, he could at least jump into the water while clutching onto a kickboard and “kick” his way to the shallow end. Meaning his swim instructor, Paul, caught him as he jumped and pretty much pushed him to the shallow end.

Whatever. At least he got into the pool.      

Well, his new-found non-aversion to swimming did not transcribe to Lake Michigan.

Big surprise.

I figured this out while visiting my parents at their Michigan house. As we prepared for the beach, G was so excited to play in the sand, go “swimming,” use his new Toy Story 3 raft his friend E had given him. Until we actually got to the beach.

After unpacking all of our stuff I said,

“Who’s ready to go into the water?” to which my land-loving son said,

“Oh, I’m not going in the water.”

Not going in the water? What was all this swimming talk? I responded with,

“I thought you were going swimming.”

He looked at me crazily and said,

“I just did.”

Let me report on what his idea of swimming was—gingerly walking over to the water in his Speedo swim vest, swim shoes, and swim goggles, quickly filling up his sand pail with water, and sprinting back to our beach chairs.

This clearly wasn’t going to fly with me. I was that child who would fall asleep at night still feeling the rhythm of the waves after body-surfing in sixty degree water all day.

After much cajoling, lecturing, and bribing, John and I eventually pulled him into the water, where he EVENTUALLY stopped clutching onto me and stood by himself for 2 minutes. And then was done.

The next day, he was a bit more comfortable, and actually started to enjoy the water, especially since he figured out he could ALMOST walk all the way out to the sandbar. With me holding one hand and my mother holding the other. But whatever—in his mind, this was REALLY SWIMMING! Still wouldn’t go in by himself.

Then pretty, red-headed T stepped into the picture. I did not even really witness this, but heard her approach while I was napping. My mother was making a sand castle with G and from my beachy daze I could hear a little, polite voice comment on what a nice sand castle it was. The next thing I knew, 7-year-old, T (who is a dead ringer for a young Molly Ringwald) and G were busily playing and having a grand old time.

Until T asked the deadly question,

“Wanna go swimming?”

My parents and I sucked in our breaths. Here was where all his bravado and charm was going to fly into the sky like a run-away kite, because we all knew that child wasn’t going into the water without HIS MAMA.

But turns out like all men, he’s a sucker for an older, red-headed woman because the next thing I knew, off he went, acting like going chest-deep into the water was second nature to him.

Looks like those red-headed girls can get you every time, even when you’re just a 5-year-old boy…

Tears of a Clown

Published Date: June 23rd, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

Last week while my husband was making balloon animals (yes, my husband was making balloon animals) at a friend’s BBQ, we actually got into an argument with one of his patrons.

She was four.

This was how it all went down.

We stupidly thought it would be fun to bring our friends a mini-balloon animal making kit since at their last party, John ended up blowing up about 30 balloons for decorations.

Totally funny. Great idea.

Not.

Because about 1 hour into the party, we saw that a group of children had TAKEN the kit, and were dangerously attempting to blow up the balloons themselves, which we all know, ends in some child choking on a balloon.

Therefore, John stepped in.

Now one thing to know about John—he is an amateur balloon animal maker, in a somehow non-creepy way. It all started when we stood in line for an hour once so G could get a balloon dog made by a VERY CREEPY clown. John said,

“I should learn how to make these so we don’t have to stand in this ridiculous line and hang out with this creepy clown.”

Ergo the balloon animal making gift he received that Christmas.

Anyway, to get back to the story at hand, John clearly had to step in and make some of these balloon animals (just taking the kit away and said balloons would have been too easy and just mean. Little did we know, mean was just around the corner).

All of a sudden, EVERY child at the party was hovering around John, jumping up and down and chanting,

“I want one! I want one!”

Therefore, I stepped in. With these two rules:

1)      You must wait your turn for a balloon animal.

2)      Each child gets one balloon animal so we did not run out of balloons.

And I have to say, most of the children responded well to the rules, quieted down, and patiently stood in line, and some even said thank you (miracle of all miracles).

Until the little girl with the pink tutu showed up to the scene.

As soon as I saw her, I knew this was going to be trouble. You can always tell the high-maintenance children because they arrive at parties in some strange get-up that their parents allowed them to wear so they can express their “creative sides.”

Well, this creative little girl already had a pink balloon dog and was DEMANDING a pink balloon hat.

Over and over again.

Mind you, there were some well-behaved children still waiting for their first balloon animal. So I of course, had to say in a chirpy, sing-song voice,

“Don’t forget the rules! Every child gets one balloon animal so we don’t run out!”

And gave her a nice little smile and pat on the head. Which resulted in her screaming,

“I want a pink balloon hat and I want one now!”

Well, John and I don’t respond well to the Veruca Salts of the world, so then John charmingly stepped in and said,

“Maybe if you say the magic word?”

Pink tutu girl,

“Now! PINK. HAT. NOW!”

John not so charming anymore,

“How about in Spanish? Por favor?”

To which Veruca Salt ran away to her parents, fell onto the ground, and started shrieking.

Meanwhile, all the patient children were staring at us balloon animal Nazis with their mouths agape. Needless to say, some of the parents were watching us, most of them I think on our side.

The mother of Veruca Salt came storming over, and said,

“Could she have one more balloon? Once she gets her mind onto something, she won’t give up until she gets it.”

And then just stood there, glaring at us.

What are two amateur balloon-animal makers to do? Not give in all the way, because that’s not how John and I roll.

I said,

“Well, we INSTITUTED the one balloon animal for one child rule because we are running out of balloons and we wanted to make sure ALL THE CHILDREN got a balloon animal, and some CLEARLY don’t have one yet. But if you NEED to get her one, go ahead.”

To which the mother did.

Now for those of you who have not had the joy of experiencing time around groups of children, you are probably astounded.

Really? That mother just gave in to her child and made sure her child had as MANY balloon animals she wanted while some patient children had none?

You betcha. Welcome to the world of “we don’t think ‘no’ is a healthy word for our children to hear” parenting.

Otherwise known as “hell.”

So for any of you parents who are somehow reading this and might have witnessed this, please know John and I are not evil and were not berating or taunting the child in the pink tutu.

We just said “no.” And will say it the next time to the next child who runs up in a fancy get-up and wants something she shouldn’t have.

Does that make us bad people or parents? We don’t think so. But if you do, feel free to get your balloons animals elsewhere…

How to Effectively Report Public Child Abuse

Published Date: June 3rd, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

Today I witnessed something that was just horrible. And please know that there will be nothing funny or endearing about this post—it will be a sad post. It will be a post that might make you mad or make you cry (like I have been doing all morning), but I felt the need to share it with anyone who still reads this blog in case you witness a child being repeatedly hit in public and want to know how to handle it.

I was at the Dollar Store. Shopping for last-minute items for my Avon walk weekend and buying G his summer pair of flip-flops. Now the whole time, I heard a child crying and whining in the background and a mother yelling at her. Which was sad, but unfortunately, not something that I hadn’t seen before. Until I passed the check-out line and saw this woman back-hand her 2-year-old across the face and say,

“You better shut up, or I’ll do it again.”

To which the child, of course, did not shut up because her mother had just hit her HARD across the face. So the mother did it again.

And I stopped in my tracks. And sat there for a few seconds. And then turned around. This is the conversation we had:

Me: Did you just hit your child across the face?

Mother: Yes I did, and I’ll do it again cuz she’s getting on my LAST nerves.

Me: Please don’t hit her again.

Mother: Why don’t you mind your own business? I’ll hit her again if I want to.

To which I then asked to see the store manager (pointless) and then proceeded to call 911. While I was calling, the mother became even MORE agitated and swore and yelled at me and said:

Mother: Go ahead. Call the police. I don’t care. I’ll do it again. You don’t know what I go through. I have three other kids at home. You don’t know my business.

I paused my dialing for a moment to tell her:

Me: Don’t know your business? Let me tell you, I’m a mother. I know. And I know you shouldn’t hit your children. If you didn’t want children, you should have used birth control.

Which definitely did not help the situation. When the 911 operator (who I would like to add was a WOMAN) picked up the line, I explained the situation and the operator said nonchalantly:

Operator: Well, is she hitting her child or beating her child? We cannot do anything if she is just disciplining her child.

Which stopped me in my tracks. You can’t do anything if a child is getting physically harmed? In public? I was so shocked at all of this, that I unfortunately said,

Me: Well, she hit her child three times in the face.

And this went on for a while and in the meantime, the abusive mother left the store. With her child. Who I am sure she will hit again. And again. Which made me cry all the way home from the store because in the end, I felt like I did not make the situation better, but exacerbated it because now the abusive mother was REALLY angry.

Therefore, if I had to do this over again, I think I would have done the following:

1) Ask the mother if she was okay and if the child was okay.

2) If the mother started yelling and getting worse, I would have calmly moved to the side and quietly called 911. If other people were witnessing this, I would quietly inform them to do the same thing, because the more calls 911 received, the quicker the police would have gotten there.

3) When asked if the child was being beaten, I would have said yes.

4) I would not have yelled back at the woman who was either drunk, on crack, or both, because in the end, that didn’t help the situation.

There is no witty wrap-up for this post or I wish I had something meaningful to say, but I don’t. I truly hope that you don’t witness something like this, but unfortunately, I bet you will. And I just felt that maybe if I shared this, you could deal with it in a way I wished I had.

Life’s a Bitch

Published Date: May 21st, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

 

My son has figured this out at the ripe age of 5. His big epiphany came last night when I told him he needed to stop clomping around our bedroom in my favorite shoes.

G: Why can’t I wear these (red, shiny, stiletto) high heels?

Me: Because you are a boy and boys don’t wear high heels.

G: Well, that’s not fair.

Me: Nope. It’s not.

And then he was quiet for a moment. Finally he said,

G: Well, I guess some people get more than others.

That only took me 37 years to figure out.

And it didn’t make him mad or sad or anything. He just said it in a matter-of-fact way, calmly took off the shoes, and went to play in his room with legos. But before he left the room I called out to him,

Me: Don’t worry. Although women get to wear high heels, you’ll get better jobs and get paid more when you are older.

His response:

G: I’d rather wear high heels.

Right.