Monday, December 10, 2007

Mama lion instinct

I intended to start a blog after the first of the year, but what the hey--why not today?

This'll be an ideal place to do some top-quality venting. Session one: OTHER PEOPLE's BRATS

I was thinking about something that happened a couple of days ago, when my children and I opted to spend lunch at our local Chick-Fil-A. It's an ideal haunt for the young family types, since grownups have a flying shot at a little peaceful noshing while their tots scramble thru the play area. Everybody wins. So this day I packed up my babies and we headed there. Mia slept in her pumpkin seat the entire time, dragging noisily on that thumb of hers. Connor reluctantly choked down his obligatory three nibbles of chicken nuggets before bolting for the play area doors. Life was good.

That was when I watched my little fella round the door frame and stop short. Blocking the entrance to the slide was a big kid, about four, with a wicked little smile on his face, who then proceeded to charge Connor like a rhino. My hackle rose, but I kept my seat. Connor was bewildered. Briefly I thought perhaps the kid was just a rough player, so when my son came to me, begging me to stand behind him as the big kid neared, I encouraged their interaction. "He's growling like a monster, Connor. Can you growl too?"I said. So Connor obliged. The other kid got right in his face and bellowed menacingly. Connor tried to get out of his way. The chase ensued. I was getting fairly ticked by this time. After all, my kid hadn't stepped on any toes. What was the deal? Connor came back to me and clung to my legs. After much encouragement, he headed back to the play area, where he was met with more harassment by this huge kid who seemed to take pleasure in intimidating another child half his size and age. Aloft in the tunnel slide, I heard my child trying to sidle past "Mongo" up there, hoping to avoid a confrontation. I'd told him, "If he bothers you again, just tell him to stop it. Tell him you don't like that." So Connor did. There were scuffling sounds, a yelp, and my kid descended the slide with a bump on his head. I was done white-knuckling the "mommy bench" and was poised to march thru the dining area until I cornered this brat's maternal unit. She saved me the trouble. In she came with her purse tucked under her arm. I hoped she had seen something, but it was clear she hadn't. "Dalton, Sweetness, you want to go get some ice cream? Get your shoes on, Angel." "Angel" came, and pranced out with his mom.

I thought the terror was over. Connor decided to explore the toddler play compartment, and as he crawled in, he was met by yet ANOTHER child, a girl this time, who flung out her arm and shouted "Get OUT OF HERE!" to my son. I glared at her as hard as I could and told him he could play wherever he pleased, but he trudged back to my side. He'd clearly had enough of the Chick-Fil-A Playplace for one day. We left.


Perhaps I'm influenced by the fact that I was victimized by bullies in my own childhood, but at that moment, I was entertaining thoughts of thoroughly tenderizing the hind quarters of somebody else's kids. I mean I wanted to rip those little snots a couple of new exit ramps. Of course, Connor was over it by the time I buckled his seat belt. I thought about all the times in his life when he'll have to deal with creeps and bullies and heartbreakers, and suddenly I wanted to just keep him fastened in that little car seat for good. Nobody's going to mess with my kid! Now I understand why my mom visited the principal's office so many times on my behalf when I was little. I also remember how embarrassing that was. What's a mom to do?