I had a meeting with several friends yesterday. The kids all play beautifully together, so of course two of the friends came up with a plan to continue the fun–lunch at Chick Fil A. I have swore that I will never eat there again. I support my gay friends even if I am a boring ol’ straight hausfrau who doesn’t do anything edgier than licking sweetened condensed milk off the sharp part of the lid.
They wore me down, though, and I abandoned my principals with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Damn those chicken fryers for having the only toddler friendly indoor playground in town.
There was an unsupervised little boy in the play area. Of course. Isn’t there always?
He was the same size as Elsa, so really too young to be unsupervised. He was mean and we were trying to correct him, but just how much discipline can you give to a random kid in a play area? His caregiver, an ancient grandma, was sitting outside the play area talking on a pink cell phone.
He screamed in children’s faces. Pushed a girl off a ledge. Hit a boy. And then he pulled Elsa’s hair. You can bet your ass nice, understanding Carrie disappeared and Mama Bear started roaring.
I took care of Elsa, then I started tapping on the window to get the ancient grandma’s attention. She didn’t care, so I opened the door and told her, rather rudely, that she needed to come supervise her child because he was hurting the other children.
You can guess how that went.
She came in, said something to him for about three seconds (in a language I didn’t understand, so who knows what it was she said) and left.
I was pretty hot under the collar after this happened so kept my eye out. Two seconds later the kid hit another child, so I went and got the manager. It was an exercise in futility. She came in, told the boy to be nice, talked to the grandma for a second and left. She came back about ten minutes later and wanted to know how things were going. Me and three other moms (two of my friends, one stranger) all bent her ear about the kid and she said “well, it looks like he is being fine now.” We pointed out that the kids had learned to run away from him. My friend also pointed out that if you have four moms all telling you the same story it is time to ask that family to leave. She ignored us and walked away.
We all started packing up and leaving. Elsa and the boy were the only ones left up in the play structure and the screaming started. I couldn’t see what was happening and was panicking. Elsa was very distressed. I started yelling “leave her alone, leave her alone! Elsa come down.”
Elsa came down and had tears, but the boy was screaming even more and sounded like he might actually be hurt. I hope that means Elsa gave as good as she got. He was still crying when we left, so as we walked out I told the lady she needed to go check on her kid because he was screaming and was too young to be left unsupervised. I did not say this in a nice or sweet tone.
She informed me that he was not her kid.
I informed her that I didn’t care who she was, if she was in charge of him it was her job to keep him from hurting other kids or himself and that she was failing miserably.
She called me a bitch.
Elsa and I walked away.
One of my friends later told me she was freaking out and went into fight or flight mode. I can see how that would make someone uncomfortable, but when someone messes with my kid I snap. The old me never would have done such a thing, but the new me is tired of being a doormat and letting people get away with crappy behavior just to be polite. The woman wasn’t polite. She was not worried about hurting feelings. She did not deserve consideration of polite society. At first I suppose she could have been excused for losing focus and not paying attention because it is boring to watch a kid play, but after it was brought to her attention she still refused to take responsibility or even pretend to care. Someone had to call her on it. Might as well be me. Maybe I need a cape. I can be a playground superhero.