Thursday, May 19, 2011

What is it with me and the park?

Yesterday was beautiful.  The kind of day that is warm but not hot, cool breeze but not cold.  Perfect and sunny and beautiful.  I should know that this is a recipe for me to get in fights with other parents.  I should have stayed home and minded my own business.  But I didn't.  I took two cute boys to the park, I sat in my chair and called my sister on the phone, and let them play.

Is that where I broke the helicopter Mommy rule?  Just watching and sitting and letting myself enjoy a conversations and not micromanaging the park play?  I really need someone to explain these rules to me, because they certainly don't come naturally. 

I saw Jack playing with 2 boys that looked to be about his age.  There was a little girl following them around.  No big deal (to me, anyway- I just don't get all the rules).  They came back to the playground, the girl went to her mommy, and then the mommy approached Jack.  I was watching, but still not doing anything.  I heard her getting onto Jack about something, and I heard him saying "It wasn't me, it was him" and pointing to the other boy.  The 3rd boy also pointed to the same boy and said "yeah, it was him".  This still wasn't a big deal to me.  I had no doubt that Jack was involved in some way, and I'm sure the other boys were involved as well.  If Jack did something to her daughter, she is well within her rights to get onto him for it, and he should apologize.  The end.

Except, this mommy was way more worked up than I realized!  She asked Jack where his mommy was, then made a beeline for me with her daughter in tow.  She starts yelling at me that Jack put dirt in her daughters hair.  Okay, that isn't nice.  He shouldn't have done that.  I instructed Jack to apologize, which he did, and then I was done.  But she wasn't. 

How is she ever going to get DIRT out of hair?  She has DIRT in her HAIR!  It is IN her HAIR! 

Apparently I am all that is wrong with the world today, and Jack is destined to be a criminal.  And I really should raise him better than that and she can't believe a boy would do such a thing.  And on and on.  I mean, there was DIRT in the hair!

I just sat there, watching, and listening.  I really was trying to figure out why she was so upset.  I considered telling her that the dirt will come out with a bath and shampoo, but I thought it would only make her madder.  I didn't say anything, except a very short and simple "sorry" (which is all I felt the situation warranted, but apparently wasn't enough).  She finally finished, and with a huff loaded her daughter in the car.  Then she called to the two other boys, and they jumped in the car and all left.

OH!  Those were HER boys!  No wonder she didn't believe it when one was accused of doing the *dirty* deed!  (pun intended)  After she left, I looked at Jack.  He was staring at me in wide-eyed disbelief.  I said, "Jack, you shouldn't put dirt in people's hair".  He turned around, showing me the back of his head, and said "Mommy, they did it to me first!"  His hair was CAKED with dirt and tiny rocks.

I did what any annoying parent would do.  I laughed, and told him we would give him a bath when we got home.

Then I drove to get Abigail from her friends house where she had been playing.  I took one look at her, and laughed again- they had been playing (outside!) in the (messy!) dirt!  She was covered in dirt and dust from the top of her mangy head to her clothes, hands, shoes and feet.  I took one look at her and said "looks like you need a bath too". 

I'm going to give the mom the benefit of the doubt.  She must have had a really bad day.  Maybe she was in a fight with her husband, or just lost someone she loves.  Maybe she was overwhelmed with motherhood and one more bath put her over the edge (I've been there myself).  I've seen her at the park before, and if I see her again, I'm just going to smile and wave.  I know that other people find me annoying at the park, but this time I'm not taking it personally.


Valeni said...

Everyone does look at things differently. I believe it does take a village to raise a child. I'm glad you're out there with the kids letting them learn life's lessons.

Jen said...

WOW. I don't think I would have been able to be so calm in such a situation. The only reason I can think why she could be so upset about dirt in hair is if the kids were black because then it IS really hard to get it out and takes much more than just simple bath. I admire your patience and kindness in such a crazy situation.

Shanna said...

The child was a pale caucasian, with thin blonde hair (which made the gray dusty dirt look all the worse!) :)

Kayleen said...

Hilarious! You are so stinking funny. I love your stories. At least you held it together. Way to go super mom.

Katie said...

Well, I was outraged from the very beginning of this story. I thought surly I was reading it wrong or something. You let your children PLAY!?! Really? And I won't even get into the dirt issue. These are young children Shanna, they should be polished until they shine, always dressed in their Sunday best, and NEVER run around or make noise! What kind of a parent are you?


erika said...

You are a much better person than I am Shanna! You responded much kinder than I wanted you to! :)
As I was reading this story I was thinking, "And this is what is wrong with our (entitled) society!" They learn it from their parents!!! Talk about annoying! (Them, not you!)

Dumb Mom said...

Wow! She yelled at you? I don't think I've ever yelled at a complete stranger in my entire life. Perhaps you are right. Maybe she was having a bad day. But what if you were too? What if you'd just received some really horrible news and the very last thing you needed was to be yelled at by some insane park mom?! I wish people would think about how the way they interact with others affects them as opposed to thinking only about what it does for them in that moment. You were so nice and understanding about it though. I would have cried. On the spot. I don't get yelled at well. I'm like a 4 year old. Came

Dumb Mom said...

Was going to say that I came over from the SV moms blog. I'm a fellow former SV Mom from the DC area!

Shanna said...

Welcome Dumb Mom! I miss the SV moms group! :) You had me laughing when I clicked over to your blog!