It’s OKAY to Not Always Be the Nice Guy

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Life gives us great opportunities to live, learn and grow. Sometimes, those lessons are taught by happy moments and sometimes, they are taught through moments we wish to never repeat. Today, I learned a powerful life lesson through a moment in time that I wish had never happened and I wish to never happen again. But, life can’t be that way and we can’t wish back the hard moments. So we live, learn and grow from them. (Or at least we hope we can do so.)

I sat with my best friend at the local McDonald’s catching up about the weeks that had passed since we had last seen each other. We sat smiling as we listened to our three boys playing happily in the McDonald’s play land. It was a quiet day with only two other families with a few young kids each. We had been to that play land plenty of times before without problems from any other families or children.

The moment came quickly and unexpectedly when I heard my two year old screaming for help with sharp screams of panic, fear and pain. My heart instantly sank as I jumped up to try to find him. I yelled to my friend that it was Camden but I couldn’t see him anywhere. I frantically searched the few visible places of the play land and yelled for him up the slide. My friend spotted him at the top of the play place and reassured him that I was coming.

I began to climb the tiny swirling stair case that led to the top of the play land. (This was a slow and very hard process seeing as I am almost 8 months pregnant.) It felt like forever trying to squeeze my way up as I heard my precious baby boy continue to scream for help. I knew something must be very wrong. He never cried. He was so tough and got up and brushed most things off. This was different. Something was very wrong.

When I got to the top I yelled for him and he slowly stumbled around the corner. His face was red, swollen and covered in bloody claw marks. His ears were bright red, his hair disheveled. Those perfect, chubby little cheeks were tear stained with his kissable lips quivering. I pulled him down to me and cuddled him as tight as I could. Tears began to sting my eyes as I snapped at a few older children to tell me what happened. They quickly told me, “That little brother over there grabbed his face like this [showing me] and wouldn’t let go”.

With my sweet, screaming child in my arms I somehow managed to get him any my pregnant self down to the bottom of the play place. He was frightened and shaking and had wet himself in his moment of fear. When we got down to the bottom another Mom was urgently yelling for her son to come down. She quickly came over to me and said, “Did my son pinch him?” Thoughts started swirling in my head. Thoughts like, “She instantly knew it was her child…this must not be the first time something like this had happened…..does this look like a pinch to you?…..How long had he been hurting my child before I could get to him…When she heard my child’s screams, she went running for her child…she knew her child was doing something” I quickly responded with, “Well he has bloody claw marks covering his face.” It was all I could muster. I wanted her out of my face. She picked up her son and nonchalantly said, “Tell him sorry”. The child didn’t respond so she let him down to go back and play.

I wrapped my son up in my arms and sat down at our table. He was sobbing uncontrollably and kept saying over and over , “my friend got me, it hurts, he got me”. My heart was breaking. The Mom came over and uttered a quick, “Sorry about that” before rushing back to her table. Not knowing what to say I muttered, “It’s okay, we’ll be okay”. She sweetly called for her children that it was time to go and left in a rush as I sat there with my whimpering baby. My poor innocent baby who called his attacker his friend over and over.

I sat in shock and awe as the mother hurried her kids out of the play place and into the parking lot. She never once asked if my son was going to be okay. She didn’t tell her child once that it was not right to hurt somebody else. Not once did she reprimand her child for hurting another child so badly. This wasn’t a small push or a shove or even a bite. This was an attack. My child was attacked by another child. He had bloodied cheeks, welts on his neck and face and scratches covering his little ears to prove it.

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And me, as the mother of the child who was attacked by another child could only say, “It’s okay, we’ll be okay”. I was too afraid to say anything more. I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of the other Mom. I didn’t want to embarrass her or make her look bad. But the truth is, it isn’t okay. Yes, we will be okay but at that moment in time it wasn’t okay. And HE wasn’t okay. And he wasn’t okay for the rest of the day. His little spirit was down. His joy for life was broken for an instant. Each time he saw his little refection in the mirror he touched his swollen scratches, cuts and welts and repeated the story about his friend scratching his face, arms, and neck and pulling his hair.

The life lesson came booming into my brain like a speeding train as I watched the Mother with her two happy, laughing children walk to their car. It was NOT okay. And what I did was NOT okay. At that moment in time my son needed an advocate. He needed someone to stand up for him. He needed someone to tell that Mom that he wasn’t okay.

IT IS OKAY TO NOT ALWAYS BE THE NICE GUY. Now, do I think I should have ripped her head off and made her feel as badly as my son felt? Absolutely not. My son deserved for me to stand up for him. In that moment in time he deserved better. He needed someone in his corner, and I wasn’t that person. The Mama Bear flame ignited within me the moment I heard screams coming from my child’s mouth. Yet, to protect another person’s dignity and feelings I didn’t use the Mama Bear protective instinct I was given.

We are our children’s voices when their voices can’t be heard. We are their advocates when they are unable to advocate for themselves. In those [hopefully] rare occasions when someone has hurt our children whether it be another child or adult, our children are counting on us to stand in their corner and fight.

So, what would I have done differently? Stand on chair and scream and shout that my child was hurt? I felt like it, and I absolutely wanted to. But, what would that have solved? Not one thing. Looking back I wish with all my heart that I would have told that Mom that it wasn’t okay. It wasn’t okay what her child had done to mine. She needed to find a way to fix this so it never happened again to any other innocent child. It’s not okay to casually walk your child out of a restaurant when he has seriously injured another child. These are the moments when we can teach our children right and wrong. When a mistake has been made how to correct it. When someone has been hurt how to fix that hurt. When we have wronged, how to right that wrong.

In the moment I was shocked, devastated and scared. I didn’t know what to say or do. But you can bet, the next moment that arises that gives me the opportunity to stand up for my child I won’t think twice. I am his voice FOREVER and ALWAYS. And I vow to be that voice no matter the moment.

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26 thoughts on “It’s OKAY to Not Always Be the Nice Guy

  1. Lisa Wade says:

    I’m so sorry this happened to you and to your sweet boy! He didn’t deserve that, for sure. This took me back in time to when my son with autism was young and he was often the child doing the hurting. I wondered what the etiquette is when your child pushes another one in the swimming pool, or knocks over the kid at the drinking fountain rather than waiting his turn. Do you turn your attention to the child who was wronged and apologize? Do you focus on your child and what they have done wrong? How do you handle it? I’m not saying what this mom did was right – hitting is not ok and there should have been some consequence for the bad behavior – but it is awful to be the mom of the “hitter” too. I know you feel bad that you didn’t advocate more for your son, but being kind is not wrong. You can tell your son that what happened to him was wrong and what the other child did was wrong and now he knows what it feels like to be on the receiving end of meanness. But as a mom from the other side, thanks for not making a scene or chastising her. I recall times I have left places with my son because of his behavior and sitting in the car crying because of what he had done to someone else. Even now, so many years later, I feel the awkwardness and uncertainty of how to handle the situation. I still don’t have the answers. And sometimes my son still injures others. So from a mom on the other side, let me say Thanks for taming your Mama Bear. And I hope your cutie heals, both physically and emotionally, soon! He’s lucky to have such a wonderful mom!

    • Momsbagoftricks says:

      Lisa,
      As always you have such greats words of knowledge and advice! Thank you for your comment. It is very true, I have not been the other Mom in the story yet. And I’m sure one day I will!!! I can only imagine how that Mom must have felt as well. Thank you so much for giving me a whole other side and perspective on the scenario. Love you as always. Thanks for reading! xoxo

    • Momsbagoftricks says:

      Thank you! It is definitely such a hard situation to handle! I only hope I can handle it in an “okay” manner anytime it happens! Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Kristi says:

    You probably should have gotten her contact info and demanded she pay for an ER visit or at least doctor. If her child did that now, imagine how it could be in the future? Physical abuse (any abuse)should not be looked over. Also report to the store manager while the other mom was there

    • Momsbagoftricks says:

      Ya know, That is interesting…a few other people said that same exact thing. And for some reason it didn’t even cross my mind in the situation! Looking back, I definitely should have! I will definitely know for the future. (Hopefully there isn’t an opportunity in the future-but just incase!) Thanks so much for your comment! Have a great day!

  3. Jelena says:

    I’m so sorry that this happened to your little boy. I probably wouldn’t know how to react in similar situation. We all get paralysed when something like this happens to someone we love so much. But you are right, we have to stand up and say if something is wrong. Society teaches us we are good people only when we don’t argue and agree with everything, but sometimes the right thing to do is to confront someone.

    • Momsbagoftricks says:

      Thank you, Jelena! Paralyzed is a great word for it! That is exactly how I was in the situation! Physically and mentally paralyzed! I couldn’t agree more, we can still be good people and stand up for what we think and know is right! Thank you so much for reading and for your comment!

  4. Nicole says:

    What a terrifying moment! I don’t see this as a missed opportunity to stand up for a child because you were taking care of what needed to be taken care of at the moment – him! I’m sure it would feel great to yell at her for raising a bratty child, but I’m sure your son appreciated you being there for him. Keep fighting for him and I absolutely agree that you can’t always be the nice guy.

    • Momsbagoftricks says:

      Nicole, Thank you so much for your comment! You made me feel so much better about the situation. And you are completely right, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else but cuddling and comforting him! Thank you for putting my mind in that perspective! Thank you for stopping by, have a great day! xo

  5. Janene says:

    Wow! That is sad and scary. I don’t know what I would have done. And apparently this mom knows her son has some behavior problems. I guess our job is to teach our children how to stand up for themselves and protect themselves (do you have a post on that? ?). Not that we want them to hurt another child but man your poor kiddo was attacked! I hope that never happens again

    • Momsbagoftricks says:

      Janene, My husband and I were discussing that very thing! “Good Ways to teach your child to stand up for themselves” Sounds like a thought bubble forming! I might just have to get on that πŸ˜‰ It is such a fine line between teaching them to be gentle, caring, compassionate and kind…but to NOT get walked on or taken advantage of! Being a mom can be tough! πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading, and your comment xoxox

  6. Sarah says:

    WONDERFUL post. I think I would have been in shock too. Or my mama bear side would’ve come out and that wouldn’t have been pretty. I love the idea that we are our child’s voice when it can’t be heard. That is an important concept for parents of toddlers.

  7. Roxy says:

    I can’t believe this happened and I’m so sorry that it did. I do not have children, but have had the opportunity to babysit for families whose children I’ve come to care for like my own. I am ferociously protective of them and have literally had to approach parents/other sitters to tattle on their kid. That mom has no excuse for letting her kid behave that way and it’s a shame that she didn’t take that moment to teach her child that what he did was wrong.

    • Momsbagoftricks says:

      Thank you Roxy, It was one of the hardest things we have gone through! You are right, no excuse! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Shannon Peterson says:

    I had something similar happen to my son, and the parent was NOWHERE to be found. It was extremely frustrating that they weren’t being held accountable for their actions, and obviously the parents couldn’t care less! You go, mama bear!

  9. Vi Dotterv says:

    What an awful experience. Those children live in an environment where they think its okay to do something like that to one another — I blame the parents and she should be made accountable and feel guilty. It is not right and she should not be anywhere near “nonchalant” about it. The most frustrating and heartbreaking thing about being a parent is watching your hearts hurt and you can’t do anything about it. Your baby boy is incredibly sweet and you let him know what is right and wrong and he’ll stay sweet and it will resonate and make the world a wonderful place.

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