Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Painful Lesson for Me

I am ashamed of myself, disappointed in myself. I try not to ever have to say such things but today I am saddened over my failure to react.
I was waiting for my vegetable fried rice order at our favorite Chinese take out place, and there was a young mother of two, one child was probably close to 2 in age, the other one, probably about 4. The 4 year old was a brat, plain and simple. Crying and screaming because he wanted the chair his mother was sitting it, but the mother was making it worse, she was nasty, plain old ugly with this child. Finally her order was ready, she paid and got up to leave, the smaller child in her arms. The 4 year old grabbed the chair and started saying, "my chair, I got my chair." the mother then said, "fine, you have your chair now keep it" and walked out the door. The little boy of course ran crying after his mother, fearing she would leave him. He came within a centimeter of being squished by the big heavy door of the business. He ran across the busy park lot towards his mother who at this point grabbed him by the arm and how that child's arm did not become dislocated I will never know. Anyway she then threw him in the car and proceeded to slap him, hit him and scream at him.
What is almost more disturbing than this is that I stood there in the shop, doing nothing. I thought about how if I had a cell phone I would have called the police, but why oh why did I not walk over to her in while she was waiting for her order and tenderly and calmly ask if there was anything I could do to help. To explain to her I understand the stress of having two little ones etc ? Why then didn't I just tell the people in the take out place I would be right back, they know me, so its not a big deal and go and help this young woman with her children, to calm the situation down ?
You see, this one is not a do over. Some things in life we get to do over. But this is not one of them. This little child had to experience all this anger without one single calm adult watching this incident unfold without offering to help. Sure, this child no doubt experiences this type of anger regularly, it showed in the way the little one behaved. But what if I could have prevented this one time of violence for him ? Isn't one less beating better.
I am ashamed of myself. I failed to show compassion. Please don't tell me I am being hard on myself or to not beat myself up over this. I am not beating myself up, just disappointed in my lack of help for an innocent. I should be, we all should be when we pass by the opportunity to spare someone from being attacked, be it by a parent, a spouse, or a stranger. If I don't realize my own mistake, I will make it again some time. If I don't share my mistake, then the pain of this lesson goes on without a purpose at all.
We are to be merciful and compassionate


Jessie said...

Had you gone over there, it would have made matters worse. She probably would have screamed at you for "telling her how to raise her child" and she would have taken her anger at you for interfering out on him. Its a bad situation all the way around, sadly.

nancyr said...

Why do people like that have children, when so many long to have them, and would love them so much?
It is one of the mysteries of the universe. If she treats her child like that in public, how does she treat him at home?
This happened where I live, in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and it was captured on camera. The mom was arrested for child abuse, because her license plate was on the video. There is some justice!

Sharon said...

I think that the mother was in such a state that there probably wasn't much you could have done. Unfortunately for the child, this is probably not the only time this has happened or will happen. My heart goes out to the child and to the mother, too, because obviously she is either at the end of her rope or has no idea how to mother.

Carrie J said...

Such a difficult situation. I stopped once to help a young woman being abused by her boyfriend. I drove by and happen to see him pull her up from a sitting position by her hair. I offered her help and she yelled at me. I think in retrospect maybe to prevent him from taking my stopping out on her. She was old enough to help herself so there was only so much I could do. Where children are involved it is a much more difficult and tricky situation. I can't help but feel sorry for the mother. Can you imagine what must be going on with her to have her so strung out? Maybe it is just bad parenting but maybe she is holding on by a thread. Who can know? I believe all our life experiences are meant to teach us something. I know you are feeling bad about what happened but next time you will be more prepared to address the situation. God Bless.

Sian said...

I agree with Jessie. Things would only have escalated. Some things we cannot fix.
What helps me at a time like that is to do something extra nice for my kids, to love them hard in order to make up for the little ones I cannot help.

Sandra said...

Unfortunately this is becoming more the norm these days. My hubby intervened and he got a tirade of abuse hurled at him for his trouble. I observed a father yell and slap a small child for walking too close to her mother's legs (!!). An elderly lady said something to the man and she got yelled at too in the middle of the shop. If you decide to do something next time, be prepared to be yelled at too. Prayer for these families to be healed and overcome this abuse is sometimes all we can do.

Shellie said...

It's difficult to act "right" in such situations. Maybe she was having a horrible day or had recently lost her husband. (It could explain the behavior of both mother and child.)

Not too long ago the national morning news had a segment on about the beating of a 91 year old man by a car jacker. It was caught on surveillance tape and tape showed a group of people standing around just one parking space away and doing nothing. It seems that no one quite knows what to do in situations like these now. I'm not sure what I would have done in either situation but I hope I would do my best to help out.

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