Sunday, July 19, 2009

Boatrides and Bullies

After the wedding festivities yesterday Grandmother and Granddaddy took us on a boat ride. It was a perfect relaxing ending to a hectic weekend.
The children giggled and squealed and thanked their Granddaddy repeatedly. It was a wonderful afternoon.
The only difficult part of the day occurred as we stopped at a lakeside restaurant for dinner. As the other adults secured the boat, I took the children inside to get a table for our family. As I was making arrangements with the seating hostess the children were playing a few feet behind me. It took less than a minute.

Just as I had finished with the hostess I heard P crying behind me. As I picked him up he said, "Mama, that grown up was so mean. Why was he so mean?"
"What? What happened, buddy?" I asked.
"That mean grown up pushed me."
"A grown up pushed you?"
"Yes. He told me to move, then he pushed me. He was so mean."

I turned back towards the adults standing where the children had been playing--right in front of a brightly lit arcade game. Realizing that a 5 year old could have misinterpreted a situation, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt and clarify the situation.

"I am sorry, did something happen with my children?" I asked.

Suddenly a tall, salt and peppery haired man stepped toward me and gruffly said, "Yeah something happened. I'll tell you what happened. These kids of yours are over here pushing all over me and I got sick of it. I told them to move and when they didn't I moved 'em."

Not sure what to say, I looked to P, still in my arms and encouraged him to apologize to this man. P was leery.
"I am scared, Mama."
After a little more prompting he apologized.

Hoping this would satisfy the man, we started to walk away until he brusquely said, "Look! They are doing it again." He was exasperated. I got nervous. At that moment I saw K, working her way between the man and the bright, flashing arcade machine again.

"I am sorry, sir. K, come here." As he huffed and puffed I felt such anger welling up in my chest. It was starting to sink in that this man pushed my child. Yet, my children were watching wide eyed as I dealt with a bully. He was over 6 feet tall and angry. And I was alone with my children.

As I gathered my little geese at my feet so we could get out of there I said, "I am sorry. They are 5. Kids do things..."
"Not if their mother knows how to control them they don't," he spewed.

I have to tell you, I really wanted to punch him in the nose at this point...but this would have likely resulted in my being pummelled. I wish I had a great story of how I loved him like Jesus, but instead I looked him right in the eye and said through gritted teeth, "I hope you have a great night."
"I will as soon as you and these punks get out of here," he replied.

I was initially in disbelief. As my shock subsided, anger took over. I have given a lot of thought to teaching my children how to respond to bullies. We have talked about turning the other cheek--and how to protect yourself. But, I hadn't considered how I would respond to such. Aren't I too old for this?

I do feel sorry for this man--how sad, bitter and angry. His behaviour, however, was unacceptable. Who pushes small children around? It frightens me to think of how he might treat his family members. I wanted to stand up to him--but I did not want to put myself or my children in danger. I did not want to respond in anger...but I wanted to tell him it was not OK to do what he did. I know walking away was the safest thing, but I am angry he 'got away with' his behaviour.

I am still not sure I handled it correctly. What would you have done?

29 comments:

MamaBear said...

My heart started racing just from reading your post. I don't know that I would have been able to stay so calm (on the outside) as you did. Living in a public place like our campground where people check their brains at the office on Friday afternoon can get dicey sometimes. I look forward to hearing how others would have handled it - I take it there weren't any witnesses?

JMom said...

It was a crowded place during the dinner rush. The only witnesses were a man and woman who were with him. It all happened so fast, but when I did search for the woman's eyes, just to feel like I had someone else in my corner, she looked down at the ground. The whole situation was just bizarre (and intimidating.)

twiceasnice said...

Exactly what you did...he has a problem, we don't know what happened to get him in the place he is at, but...we just need to walk away and pray for him. His heart is dark, his words are angry and he needs nothing more than prayer. You did the right thing, he taught your children how not to behave. Sometimes they need to see examples of right and wrong, I know that this will forever be in all of your minds, hearts. Way to go Jen to walk away. I shall pray for him too.

Jenny said...

Oh my goodness! That just makes me sick to my stomach when people act that way. I think it sounds like you handled it as well as possible in that type of situation. What else could you do!? What was your husbands response when you told him about it??

Beth said...

My first time here. Wow, this would've been so overwhelming. I think you did a good thing in walking away. Oh, boy, the MamaBear in me would've really been roused.

Keep praying for him. Sometimes, when I learn of someone who is so hardened, I wonder, "Who prays for this person? Who is asking God to save this person's soul?"

Enjoyed browsing your blog :-)

Bailey's Leaf said...

Oh you did a wonderful job. You taught the children to see why exactly someone was behaving in the way that they did towards them. You apologized for your children's excitement (which it was harmless, I'm sure.) In times like this, I chant in my own head, "I'm working for Jesus, I'm working for Jesus."

My K- will ask me why people do things, act in the way that they do, say the things that they do and there are times that I flip and ask why she makes those same choices occasionally. She stops, thinks and realizes that what she has done in the past wasn't so cool. You make mention of this with your three.

In then end, sometimes I just explain to K- that sometimes people have bad days. We don't know what they were dealing with before we met up with them. Maybe that is the reason for their crabby mood. Often, it will stick with her and she'll even pray for them at night before bed.

I'm so sorry. People can be so rude! There was no excuse for him to treat you and the kids the way that he did. Rest assured, Jesus would be proud of your behavior!

k and c's mom said...

I think you did exactly the right thing and diffused the situation. I do not think there would have been any reasoning with the man. I'm sure you debriefed the kids later and had some good teaching time. I'm so sorry this happened to such sweeties.

Brandy Thixton said...

Wow! You have so much self control! I am amazed at how well you handled that situation. What a great example for your kids - on how to behave, and how not to behave. Way to go!

Following Him said...

You did the right thing. Keeping your cool and protecting your children. They are five not teenagers. Some people forget that kiddos get anxious and figety around dinner time with lots of people around. The whole situation was just weird.
~Elyse

Kylie, Jesse and Asher said...

I agree with everyone else....the man has a problem. Who knows how he could have reacted to you. Great job turning the other cheek! What did you hubby say? I would have been miserable during dinner just thinking about what he did. You are a great example!

Love Being a Nonny said...

You did the right thing...for sure! It wouldn't have done any good to try to reason with someone like him. Unbelievable! I would have wanted to go back to the boat and not eat there. My husband would have been furious! I know he wouldn't have handled it quite that way...which would not have been good!:) Another lesson for the kiddos that even if we are having a bad day, we can't take it out on others! Sorry this happened to them and to you. When they get a little older you can tell them what I always told mine *It builds character*.

macmama said...

Well, I was going to comment on your blog with a similar story I had (because I TOTALLY related to the way you felt about it), then it turned into a monologue and got a little out of control, so I ended up just filling out a few details and posting it on my own page. You can find it here: http://fight4us.blogspot.com/2009/07/safe-place.html. I will keep checking back on these comments, because I still don't really have an answer to how I could've handled that differently in the future as far as being a witness for Christ to the offender. But I would really love some suggestions.

Sitesx6 said...

Oh dear!

I wish I had some great Christian response-but I felt very angry when you told your story, why would somone...ANYONE push...PUSH a 5 year old??????

I would have probably done the same thing you did, because safety seemed to be an issue. Walk away but in my head I would have gone over and over and over what I REALLY wanted to say, ALL NIGHT LONG.

I'm doing the Beth Moore Esther study right now, and I learned a few weeks ago, "Mean-ness has a history" so I'm sure he has a history causing him to be a mean, grumpy old man....I hope he thinks back on it and feels regret.....I imagine him to be lonely and angry 24/7.

IT IS A GAME SIR....seriously.

ugh.
Kelly in Michigan

dee said...

I hope this doesn't get too lengthy, but here goes. We had a similar situation happen to our family. Different circumstances, but same adult "making bad decision to shove our child". We were at a ski resort standing in line for tubing. The line was long and very crowded. Some playing in front of our children and our son(he was 10 at the time) accidently backed into a woman and she grabbed him and shoved him. Well, I was sooo shocked, I burst into tears! Thank goodness, my husband was right there and took control. We had the option of going to management there though, so he did and they made the woman leave. We will never forget it and I'm so sorry it happened to your family. I think you handled it very well.

Amanda said...

Punched him in the face!

But, you are better at keeping your temper than I am. You handled it wonderfully and your children will always remember that.

You are a great mommy!

Love you!
Amanda (Aunt Boo)

Jennifer said...

I got angry just reading your blog today! who would dare put their hands on someone elses child and if they would do that to a child they don't even know I don't even want to think of what they would do to their own children! God bless your self control I don't know that I would have had any at that moment!

Mindy said...

I think you handled the situation very well. I don't think I would have have enough forsight to think about this as you did. I fear I would have responded my losing my control also.
I'm so sorry people are so rude!

Sammy said...

I can't believe how angry this makes me! I would be livid if someone pushed my child and spoke to me about my children in such a way. I would have absolutely lost my cool had I been in your shoes. I also would have gone to the management and attempted to get the guy kicked out. I mean, they were in front of an arcade game. Shouldn't that tell us that the place is geared for kids?!

I'm furious. And I'm so sorry. You must have felt awful.

JenniferBuchanan said...

I would have taken the kids to their Daddy and then....lit into him! I don't always make the best decisions though....but don't mess with my babies:)

Ms Vincent said...

Not sure what your state laws are, but here in Ontario it's against the law to physically harm a child, even physically pushing a child to the point where he falls down - it is absolutely against the law. If it were me, I would have left the children with my family and reminded the aggressor, politely and professionally, of that fact - he is breaking the law and can be charged. It is NOT OK to inflict physical aggression on a child - for any reason whatsoever. I have taught my children that if they are being physically harmed by anyone (a child or adult) they must, in a loud voice, tell that person to STOP. Make sure someone hears you, say it out loud - do not allow ANYONE to physically harm you in anyway. That man was an aggressive, physical bully and children have rights. Hmmm, that was rather pointed, sorry!! But that type of behaviour drives me insane!

Liesl said...

Oh my goodness! I would be livid! I'm afraid I wouldn't have handled it quite as calmly. Good for you! I'm angry just hearing your story. What is a an older gentleman doing standing in front of an arcade anyway? He obviously doesn't know anything about little children.

Jillian, Inc said...

Very scary. Not sure what I would have done but most likely gotten the heck out of there like you did. And probably if that happened to me my husband would not have been able to resist going in to have a word. I hope you were able to find some place else to eat! I am sure this is still bothering you days later. It's scary there are such creeps out there.

Felicia said...

uh..you probably will want to blackball me from your blog after reading this..but..I would have said quite rudely, "Sir, if you weren't near the ARCADE which is FOR CHILDREN then maybe MY PUNKS wouldn't be bothering you. Why don't you move? And, if you touch my children ONE more time I'm calling the police!"

Uh, and yes I probably would have ended up in the hospital. I don't think I would have handled it "correctly." You are so much stronger than me. I would have blew my top.

carriedbmason said...

We had a very similar experience during our last trip to Disney World. I was both shocked and appalled that a grown man would behave in such a way, not only in front of my children, but in front of his own as well. At the time, I really couldn't believe it was happening, but like you, tried to remain calm. I knew that little eyes were taking in my every move! Though it is very difficult to maintain your composure in that type of situation, I believe we both did the only thing we could do. We set an example for our children to follow. So sorry that you had that experience! (BTW, it was great meeting you at VBS last week! You guys always do such an incredible job and fun was definitely had by all!)

Open mouth, insert foot! said...

From reading your blog for a long time now, I can probably say you did what was right. Not to say I think you are perfect but you seem to try your best to do what is right for your kids and do so with a WWJD attitude. I have a bully in my life also. Her child has been in my daughter's grade for 7 years. I am in constant turmoil over "the right thing." It is NOT God's intention for His children to be bullied. I really believe that but the most important thing for you and your children was safety. I would say pray for him. He is obviously a miserable man that has such low self esteem that he needs to feel "bigger" by literally pushing around tiny little 5 year olds (your kiddos are about 5 months younger than my 5 year old and she is 14 pounds heavier). Anyway..I am sorry you had to go through that and even moreso the kiddos. What did your husband say/do? Mine would have been ready to go a lookin'!

ACC-mom said...

I am sorry that this man acted so horribly towards you and your precious children. I think the way you handled it was perfect....not sure I could have been as in control.

The Amazing Trips said...

Oh JMom. You handled it MUCH better than I would have. In fact, you handled it much better than I DID. Here's my very similar story from a few weeks ago:

http://www.theamazingtrips.com/2009/06/whats-in-you-wednesday_24.html

And here's another story from a terribly rude man just the other day ago...

http://www.theamazingtrips.com/2009/07/call-for-civil-warriors.html

Sometimes I think it's important to keep your mouth shut. But gosh, I have such a difficult time. It's nearly impossible for me when I have an encounter with someone who is rude.

In the case that you describe, I probably would have spouted off and said something directly to Mr. Jerk. Although, it would have been better to say something directly to my children > that Mr. Jerk and anyone within earshot could hear. "Children, let's get away from this man. He is obviously hurt and angry and his behavior is UGLY."

I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. Although, rest assure that you did do the right thing by walking away and those beautiful children of yours are anything BUT punks.

What a jackass. He was lucky that you are such a good Christian.

Scotty said...

I don't think I have ever been so mad in my life. I think you know what I would have done. There would have been a big misunderstanding if I had seen anyone touch my baby cousin. Which reminds me J-mom, call me when you get a chance.

Shannon and Carey said...

I would have punched him in the face. lol. Not really but I would have notified mgt. But did you really even think of that in a time like that. A crisis? He's a bully and has done this before I bet. A grown man getting all crabby about a video game. Geeez. Some people. He needs prayer.
PS: If this man only knew who he had shoved. If he only knew what a wonderful mom you are and what wonderful, precious children you have. And if he only knew how caring you all are. What a shame.
-Shannon in Austin