Yesterday, might possibly have been the most perfect day. The weather was spectacular. In the 70's, lots of sunshine. We made plans with our neighbors to meet at a local park in the afternoon. The kids had a great time. Running, laughing. Just being kids. My neighbor and I sat on a bench for the majority of the time, only getting up to occasionally help the younger children on the play equipment. Kenny spent his time wandering around with Emmi. He seemed content, though I offered to take over for him often. It was very relaxing until...
A family of five rolled up to the park. In their low-rider. With rap music blaring. Out steps SPM (South Park Mexican, for those of you who need translation). Okay, so maybe it wasn't SPM, but, dude, he is from Houston. It could have been him. SPM holds the door open so his three unrestrained children can tumble out of the backseat. A few minutes later, Momma, squeezes herself out of the car. The woman is very big. Now, I am not one to judge. Your weight is not my concern. I could care less. Honestly, I don't normally even see it, but this was not what you would even call overweight. I am talking near five hundred pounds, and barely five feet tall. Can barely walk. Sweating profusely and white as a sheet (no really, Momma was a white lady) by the time she made it to the bench a total of five feet from her car.
SPM takes the middle child, approximately four or five years old, over to the monkey bars. He wanders around after him, never saying a word, but pleasantly smiling. Momma sits on her bench near the swings, scowling, yelling out instructions for her oldest child (maybe twelve) who has been put in charge of the youngest child (who appears to be about 18 months old). Everything the twelve-year-old does is wrong. "He doesn't like that. Hold him better, you brat. Why the hell can't you do anything right?!" I give Momma the evil eye. Momma barks more instructions. They head to the swings, where Emmi and I are. Momma makes her way to a bench closer to the swings, so she can more effectively unleash her tirade on the oldest child.
Eventually, Emmi starts pointing and yelling, "MEAN!" I know Momma hears. I try to distract Emmi. Eventually even I can no longer stand the verbal assualt. My child has heard more curse words in the past five minutes that in her whole life. I drag Emmi from the swings. Momma, unhappy again with the oldest daughter, yells "Turn his ass around. Can't you hold him right?" As I walk past Momma, I mutter "Why don't you get your ass off the bench and do it yourself, if you don't like how she is doing it." Momma glares at me. What Lady? What are you going to do? I can outrun you. Come on. Come get me. I smirk.
Our group begins to pack up. I was watching a few of the kids with our group who were near the swings, so I have a full view of what happens next. The toddler, now get ready for this, falls. That's right. A toddler, walking in uneven mulch, falls. Down. Trips. And then begins to cry. He has mulch on his hands. A little on his face. He is not injured. Momma? She starts screaming.
"You fucking brat. Get your fucking ass over here. You were supposed to be watching him!" The twelve-year-old, reluctantly walks over to her mother, who immediately grabs her by the shirt and smacks her four times. Hard. She curses her loudly for another few minutes. I take a few steps toward them. SPM shushes Momma. I consider my options. I want to say something. But, honestly, the daddy looks like he is quite possibly going to kill me if I come any closer. He looks like he is packing heat....or whatever (I am not up on my gangsta terms...you know, since I am a stereotypical white girl from the burbs). I am torn. Someone should say something. Do something. If this is the abuse this child receives in a park, in front of at least twenty people, then what happens behind closed doors?
What I wish I would have said was not for the mom, but for the daughter. I wished I would have said, "You deserve a better life than this. You do not have to take this. This is abuse." But I didn't. And I feel like I failed that poor child.
There are days when I am at wits end, and I raise my voice at my children. And I feel bad afterward. Horrible. Sometimes, I feel like am I not a good parent. But then, I see things like this, and I realize that my children have it good. They may not know it. They make take it for granted. When Jill yells things like, "You are the worst Mommy EVER," I can't get mad. She doesn't understand, that in fact, I am far from the worst mommy ever. And she shouldn't have to understand that. I am happy that my child think I am horrible for making them clean their rooms, or not allowing Jill to play outside after she pushed her sister. I am glad that I am a horrible mom because I refuse to cook a second meal, when she won't eat the first I made (For the record, the rule is she can make her own sandwich if she won't eat the meal I cooked.). I am not a perfect mom. My children will hate me somedays. They will not like my rules (I already can tell I am strict compared to other parents). They will yell and me, and I will yell at them. But they will never endure the kind of abuse that children like I saw in the park yesterday did. My children will not be able to comprehend that type of abuse. They will be naive to it. And for that, I am glad.