There is nothing more heartbreaking than witnessing a small child being humiliated, mistreated and hit in public by his mother. No child, no matter what he has done, deserves to be disrespected and hurt, both physically and emotionally by someone who is supposed to protect him. This is not the first time I have witnessed something like this and it saddens me to think children everywhere are being raised in a family environment where such behavior is considered okay and normal. You may remember a post titled, “Minding our Business or Butting In” that I wrote a long time ago about another incident I witnessed at the mall.
As I headed to a store yesterday with my 11 month old on my hip, sounds of our laughter were interrupted by screaming, the sound of someone being spanked, and overall mayhem. As I got closer, my jaw fell to the floor. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in the parking lot and was appalled that this mother didn’t even care that her behavior was on display for all to see. At the center of this all was an adorable little boy, I’m guessing around three years old, who was running around his car, away from his mother, afraid of what she might do next. The mother was yelling at him to “shut his face” and proceeded to threaten him with further physical damage. If this is what she is comfortable doing in public, I can’t imagine what she views as acceptable discipline at home. The grandmother, who was also present, just sat in the car with the door open and watched, as if this was no big deal. She was obviously comfortable with how her grandchild was being treated, which lead me to believe that these types of actions have been passed on from one generation to another, and will continue to do so. I scanned the parking lot to see if anyone else was witnessing this horrid event and it was as if life had stopped for a moment. Everyone was frozen and couldn’t look away. I heard one women say, “That lady is beating the crap out of her child,” and I then watched her walk away as did the others, continuing on with their day. I wanted to break up this terrible scene and talk some sense into this woman but it was not the smartest idea for many reasons. This woman is obviously deranged and who knows what she is capable of. Does she have a gun? Is she going to hurt me and my baby? Is she going to take her rage for me out on her son when she gets home? I walked away and had a terrible pit in my stomach.
As I entered the store, I realized they were close behind me, also heading the same way. It was hard not to turn around and look at her in disgust while shaking my head. I started my shopping as I heard the mother continue to berate her child in the store. I stopped and pretended I needed items close to where this poor boy was because I almost felt like I had to protect him. In case she started to hit him again, I wanted to make sure I was nearby as I was not going to let that happen again. This beautiful little boy was of course crying and completely inconsolable. This angered his mother even more. “Stop crying and wipe your face, do you hear me?”, she yelled. What the hell do you expect from a three year old who just got spanked several times in a parking lot, was threatened that you were going to get him, and was verbally abused? By now, they had a new crowd around them. Once again, onlookers were shaking their heads. I finished up getting what I needed to purchase and as I went to check out, I noticed the grandmother standing with the little boy and his sister, as the mother walked away.
I forgot to mention during this whole scene and the one in the parking lot, the mother had her newborn baby draped over her shoulder. I seriously doubt if this baby was more than 3 or 4 weeks old. I felt sorry for the baby and what would be ahead for her in life. This woman’s children didn’t ask to be born into her family and certainly do not deserve to be treated this way. As these thoughts were stirring in my head, I became angry. My heart was pounding because I wanted to say something so badly. I will admit I was even scared of the mother so I could only imagine how fearful and intimidated the children were of her. I needed to take the opportunity while she was shopping and approach the grandmother who looked slightly more sane, or so I hoped. When she started to walk away, my voice took over and the words just fell out of my mouth. “Excuse me, are those your grandchildren? (of course already knowing the answer). They are such beautiful children.” Her response was, “Yes, and there is another little one with my daughter somewhere in the store”. This was my chance to say what needed to be said. “I couldn’t help but witness what went on in the parking lot and as a mother, I have to say I was both disturbed and saddened. I apologize for not minding my business but children are a gift and should not be treated that way.” She got angry and said, “He was not listening and running around a parking lot. A little spanking was necessary”. I almost choked as she said “little”. I responded with, “That was not a little spanking” and as she walked away, she said, “You let your child get hit by a car then”, followed by mumbling which I couldn’t make out. As I looked around, I realized I now had an audience. One father with his newborn child was shaking his head as he witnessed our conversation. I found myself talking out loud to anyone that would listen, saying, “Who does that? That poor little boy. When is the last time he got a hug or was told he was loved? Absolutely disgusting behavior. She should be ashamed of herself!” The check out lady then added, “Now we know why we have crazy people in this world who do crazy things. They are raised to be like that!”.
I was happy to leave the store and quickly find my car. I was extremely proud of myself for saying something and while I doubt my words changed this woman’s ways, as a mother, I could not standby and just watch, like everyone else. We all get frustrated and feel like yelling and getting out our aggressions, but our children are not targets. Give your child an extra hug today and try to me a more patient parent. I can’t urge you to speak up if you witness something like I did because every situation is different and of course safety comes first. I do however want to leave you with this thought. Children are a gift and we should appreciate them, love them and cherish them, even when they drive us nuts!
Thanks very much for stopping by and reading!
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD™
Ellie, The Mommy Master®