Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Saturday Night's All Right for Fighting

Screaming arguments just aren't my style. I am more likely to fume and scowl and walk out of the room and recount the injustice later along with all the reasons I was right. But I'm not sure how I will react the first time there's a hint of harm toward my child.

Our supermarket has an attached multistory parking garage and friendly signs designating parking spaces for families near the store entrance. We're used to seeing moms and dads and kids loading and unloading their cars, hauling plastic bottles to the recycling center and climbing in and out of strollers. When we returned to our car after shopping on Saturday evening, we could hear the shouting even before we saw the fight. Two couples, two children, one stroller, and a barrage of screams had taken residence in the family parking area. A thin mother in a yellow trench coat held her infant under one arm and shook her finger in the face of a scowling mom in a black sweatshirt. A tall husband yelled in the ear of a burly dad whose school-age daughter hid behind a car. There were accusations and there was anger. Someone had driven too fast in the parking garage, almost hit someone else's stroller. Someone shouldn't have had their stroller in the middle of the garage. Someone's child could have been killed - Killed! No one had a cool head. All of them, except the kids, were red-faced and seemed on the verge of physical violence.

Our station wagon was parked next to the fight and I scurried to pull Theo out of the shopping cart, sliding into the backseat and strapping him safely into his carseat. Jeff and I didn't make eye contact, we just hauled grocery bags and jackets and bottles of water swiftly into the back of the car, paying no attention to whether the eggs were safely stowed. The woman in the yellow coat retreated then returned, then ran back to her car, then surged back again toward the scowling family across the garage, and we could hear her high-pitched shouts even with the car doors closed; her face was wild with fright and anger. We waited for the clutch of people to move out of our way so Jeff could back the car out of our parking space. The burly dad stepped between the two women. The tall man carried the baby away from the shouting. The young girl looked up at her mother, who glowered angrily and silently.

We sat in our car and waited, hoping that everyone would climb into their cars and drive safely away. I wished hard for the little girl to crawl into the back seat and shut the door, wished her parents would follow her lead. Finally, one car pulled away from the other, its windows rolled down, shouts flying toward the angry gestures behind it.

If a careless driver almost hit our stroller, would I scream and shake my fist and yell out the car window? I think I might just cry and hold Theo tight and write down the license plate number. But maybe that's what the parents in parking garage thought, if you'd asked them last Friday, if someone almost hit their stroller, what would they do?


Carol said...

Wow... great post Blythe! Well-written and thought-provoking!

A few months ago, a woman with a stroller and an adorable infant son came up to me as I was working in the front yard, demanding to know whether we had a Golden Retriever. She was red and fuming too. "Yes, " I answered and pointed to Shasta who was watching (sweetly!) from the living room window. The woman insisted that Shasta had "scared the shit out of and almost bitten" her baby in the stroller. She was absolutely furious and terrified!

Knowing that Shasta would NEVER, ever hurt a flea (and adores children), but also that she is VERY portective of our place, I knew that the woman could be right in the sense that Shasta probably barked and ran toward the stroller.

I decided not to refute the woman, only to assure her that Tahoe would never hurt a child, but that I can see how her behavior would have frightened a child. I apologized profusely, assuring her that, as a mom I understood the fear.

A mother is MEANT to be THAT protective of her child and to become a person you'd never otherwise encounter when she feels that her baby's life is in danger. That's the way it's SUPPOSED to be (I told myself), and I have a feeling you might be surprised to see a side of yourself you didn't know existed if your child's safety had been threatened.

I can't imagine you angry either, by the way!! But I bet you have it in you! :-)


ChristinaG said...

Yeah, I'm not an angry, screaming type either, but I don't know what I'd do if Oliver was in danger. I'm sure there's a little bit of psycho-mom hiding out inside me somewhere. ;-)

Thanks for the exersaucer comment. I'm going to update the post with a few more websites in the next couple days. I looked for exersaucers in Germany, but they just don't seem to have them. I found them in the UK, but I don't know what shipping would be like.

jen said...

I am the screaming type. Endanger a loved one and watch out.
However, I learned to shut my mouth when my sister, who was really little at the time, told me I scared her more than the car. That pretty much shut me up.

The thing that really upsets me is the driving too fast thing. 30 km/h is set that way for a reason. It should be snail paced in a parking lot. Its just too big of a risk.

EuroTrippen said...

I think the knee-jerk reaction will always be to want to beat the other person to a bloody pulp...

But i'm also a big believer in the fact that most people are inherently good and would never intentionally hurt or endanger anyone, let alone a child. When someone does something stupid I try to remind myself they're probably just as shaken up and upset as I am.

So yes, I'm a cry & cover my baby with a bazillion kisses & not want to leave the house for a week kinda mom.

Kathy said...

When the boxboy spilled the bleach on Gianna, my mind was split in 2 ways...a) Get Gia to water and help her (the part that won), and b)beat the stuffing out of the clueless kid that didn't even know why my child was screeching at the top of her lungs.

I am a passive person, but had Gia not needed immediate attention, I would have been a screamer that day.