Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Mommy Standoff

Let me preface the following by saying that, I have a bunch of mommy friends that I love dearly.  Generally, though, I find other moms terrifying.  I imagine them scrutinizing my kids' appearances (why, yes, that IS snot running down my kid's nose!), their comparison of the kids' behaviors and my handling of it, and the totally understandable but completely contemptible "protect-my-own-above-all-else" instinct.

On runaround days, when we have an hour to kill here, forty-five minutes there, I like to try and find a fun non-car ride activity to entertain my little people.  Today, we went to the McDonald's playland, which is kind of like Mecca for kids.  Not surprisingly, it was packed with screaming kids that quickly absorbed my own.  There was an employee patrolling the kids' area and insisting that the sockless tots sit down, as per the "you must wear socks" rule.  Now, I'm so far from a germaphobe that I actually considered protesting the requirement that my four-year old and her eighteen classmates each bring TWO antibacterial hand gels as part of their school supplies, but I'll admit that a bunch of kids with bare feet, around food, and playing at a place like this kinda grosses me out.  So I have a strict "you must wear socks" policy for my own kids, along with  "no fighting/pushing/hitting/pinching/scratching/kicking/generallybeinganasshole" and "when I call for you, DO NOT make me come up there because contrary to perhaps many adults, I WILL fit" rules.

Because of the day's torrential rains, I happened to have two extra pairs of socks for my kids (see above rule re: socks), that two parents thoroughly appreciated after their little people were chastised and removed from the tubes, tunnels and slides of the Mecca.  One mom in particular was very gracious, that is until Mikko's "pinchy fingers" emerged.  We really should call them his scratchy fingers because that's what the gesture is used for.  He flattens his little palm, curls his fingers menacingly and, I swear, magically grows much sharper nails than a nail-biter can possible boast.

So, it's mayhem in there, but all of the parents are pretty alert to their kid's cries, so imagine my surprise when I recognize my own son, usually an instigator, FREAKING OUT.  Now, I'm not about to suggest that my Rapunzel-loving, sister's princess undies-wearing, snuggle bug sweetie pie is a tough guy, but he's not a big baby, nor is he really ever the one getting hurt because he's kind of a pain in the ass when it comes to other kids, sharing and, well, generallybeinganasshole.  In fact, when one mom apologized earlier because her two-year old had hit him, I think I actually rolled my eyes and said it was probably a good lesson, then proceeded to explain to my son what a good lesson it was to my not-then-crying boy.

So, anyway, I get up to see to my sobbing child and he's crying so hard that I can't understand him.  Finally, I get out of him that, "she [gulp] hit me [sniffle] and so I [sob, gulp, sob] so I [sniffle] so I [gulp] so I hit her next."  I settled him down a bit and told him that when someone hits, he should find someone else to play with, that he does NOT hit back.

As I'm rounding the corner to sit him down at the table for a few minutes after the fray, the mom of the girl involved nearly runs into me with some serious fire in her eyes.  I started to explain and she interrupts and says, "Oh, so HE was responsible?"  I shrugged and repeated what Mikko had said and that I was sorry.  Then the mom gets down on her knees, yanks her daughters hand away from her neck and said, "He CLAWED her up there."  So, in all honesty, she did have a bright red scratch, a telltale sign that "pinchy fingers" made an appearance, and so I said, "Okay, I'm going to get him over here to apologize," because, face it, when your kid manages a cat scratch that might put your pet in trouble with whatever government agency "puts down" animals, he probably should apologize.  And he did.  Politely and sincerely.

The mom stormed off after making a scene to the rest of the people in her party about how she had to leave the room to calm down her poor precious child, with a tone that suggested that the devil himself made Mikko use his pinchy fingers, which frankly might be only slightly more unsettling than his generallybeinganasshole.  And I'm pretty sure that lady hated me right then.  She hated me for getting Surprise! pregnant, for growing a boy, for giving birth to him, for raising him with the absolute intention to hurt her baby some day...and generally for existing.  I sure hope that little girl likes her new pair of socks, courtesy of her attacker (yeah, my son wears Rapunzel you're in HIS debt).

As the day has worn on, I have gone back to the "we don't ever hit back" moment.  Sure, the scratches look nastier than a simple slap to the face might have looked, but Mikko has maintained over and over that this girl hit him first and he had the bright red cheekbone of someone who has been hit to show for it.

And dammit, I'm pretty sure I handled it all wrong.  I feel like I should have stuck up for my boy with a polite apology to the mother, but reminding her that it went both ways.  I might have won the mommy standoff when that mom tore around the corner and glared into the tear-stained face that was tucked against my shoulder.  Or maybe someday that little girl will grow up to be a drama queen who badgers her boyfriend and makes a big deal out of everything and my boy will grow up to be the kind of guy who won't take that shit from his girlfriend and he'll take mommy's advice and go find someone else to play with.  Sigh.  Raising kids is hard.