12 Aug 2016

Park

Every Friday we visit a local park with my two Mum friends and their boys.  I met these women just after having the Mushroom and I now consider these two ladies to be my closest friends.  We've been through so much together on our Motherhood journey and we are still seeing each weekly almost four years on.

When we visit the park we let our kids roam.  We visit gated playgrounds for a reason.  Once we're in the gate, they're off.  They have their bikes, their scooters, sometimes trucks.  We go to the park so they can expel their neverending stores of energy and we sit and drink coffee, sneak pieces of cake and intervene when required.  These boys, never stop, but they can mostly work out their dramas on their own.  If they can't we step in. 

This morning we were chatting away happily and supervising the three youngest who were all on the mat with us.  I had just put Miss Molly in the pram for a sleep when we were approached by an angry woman holding a small boy. 

"Is this child yours?" she asked the group in general. No hello. Just an angry woman eyeballing all of us.  

Mushroom and his gang were lined up next to her looking sheepish. 

I said smiling, "Yes they are. Why what's happened?

"This boy" she said, gesturing angrily to my son, "just pushed my son off the turning thing and he won't say sorry."

Mushroom at least had the good grace to look at the ground. 

"Max, did you push this little boy off the turning thing?"

Mushroom looked at me with a half grin but he could see from my face that this was no laughing matter.  He looked back at the ground. 

Angry Mum is getting really indignant now.  

"He just pushed him off and didn't say sorry.  I know kids are kids but you know, he should say sorry don't you think?" she continued to look at me accusingly.

At this point I'm thinking wow.

"Max," I say, "please say sorry to this little boy.  We don't push our friends, we don't push anyone.  Pushing is not okay." 

He mumbles something into the ground and is looking really dodge but no sorry escapes his lips. 

Angry Mum continues to eyeball me.  I'm standing there in awkward silence.  Is this really happening?  I can feel my friends horror at the situation unfolding.   

Angry Mum shifts her weight from foot to foot, She's not giving up. 

"I think he really needs to say sorry,  He should say sorry.  I know kids are kids but he should say sorry I think.  Don't you think?!"

I start panicking a little. She keeps repeating herself.  This woman is genuinely angry and Mushroom will never fucking say sorry. Especially when he's forced.  He's a total shit.  He's almost four.  I'm wondering how I'm going to deal with Angry Mum who clearly wants some sort of resolution and obviously thinks my parenting skills are severely lacking.  Are we going to have to throw down?  Am I going to get into a confrontation with a woman wearing active wear and thongs in the park?

I look helplessly at my son who looks defiantly back at me.  

I look at Angry Mum, standing there, waiting for me to do something and I'm at a loss. 

In my head the following monologue has started.  Please my headstrong, aggressive, pushing of small children son, PLEASE SAY SORRY so I don't have to deal with this stupidly angry woman and she can go away and leave me in peace.  Bribery, bribery has to work!

I walk over to Mushroom and pick him up.

"Max.  Please apologise."

"No."

"Please say sorry. We don't do the pushing.  We don't push our friends.  We don't push anyone."

"NO!"

FUCKKKKKKKKK!!!!

Angry Mum is still standing there.  I'm wondering what will happen if he won't.  I pull out the big guns.

"If you don't say sorry right now for pushing, I'm packing everything up and we're going home."

He must sense my desperation because he looks over at Angry Mum and mutters "Sowwry" in her general direction. 

It's not much but I'm taking it.  HALLE-fucking-LUJAH.

I turn towards Angry Mum about to speak but she cuts me off.   

"Thank you" she says looking pointedly at me.  "I mean I know that kids are kids, but they have to say sorry if they hurt someone."  And just like that, she stalks off.  

Let's be clear, her son wasn't crying.  There were no injuries to speak of. First Aid was not required.  Ambulances were not called.  I don't know what happened.  I didn't see it, I can only take Angry Mum's word for it and I know that my son is a bit aggressive sometimes.  I mean, he's almost 4, but yes, it's not an excuse.  I'm not saying that my son didn't push her son off the turning thing, (what the f is the turning thing?!) and yes that was a shitty thing to do, but I also know that I would never approach another Mother in the park and make her feel like piece of shit who can't parent her children.  

My friends and I just sat there flabbergasted. 

I've seen kids push my kid over at the park.  I've seen them hit him, I've seen them try and push him over to take his bike.  I've never ONCE gone over to that child and asked them where their Mother is, followed them to the parent and then forced them to make the child apologise. 

I was so embarrassed.  Other Mum's were looking.  I've not been having a very good time of it lately and when you're already questioning your abilities as a parent, something like that only cements those feelings of uselessness.  I just stood there, like a big lump, pushing my daughter back and forth hoping Angry Mum would go away so I could melt into the grass. 

Thank goodness my friends were there with me, otherwise I probably would have packed up and left.  I know I'm not winning any parenting awards but they assured me that I'm not a crappy Mum, because far out, that's how she made me feel!  

Am I overreacting?  

Was that a totally normal thing for a parent to do? 

Is my son really a horrible monster and I'm a terrible mother who just lets him run riot?  

I don't think so, deep down, not really.  My ladies confirmed that I definitely CAN parent my children, that I'm not a crappy Mum, that my son is not an aggressive child beater.  They were astonished that he did actually apologise as generally all of our boys button up like clams if forced and getting them to say anything remotely resembling an apology is an absolute miracle.  Thank goodness!  Mushroom must have been feeling suitably remorseful otherwise what would she have done if he didn't?!  

Molly finally went to sleep so I ate another piece of cake and lay down on the blanket while my friends proceeded to make me feel better about myself and my crappy parenting skills.  

Writing about it now, I don't want to say that Angry Mum was wrong but I think she really went about it the wrong way.  She could have been friendly, instead she was indignant and aggressive. If she'd approached our group, said hello, told me what happened calmly, I would have been able to speak to my son, instil a little discipline and ask him to apologise to the little boy.  

I understand that she may have been angry but her son wasn't crying, he didn't appear hurt in any way, he was just a bit put out as a bigger boy had pushed him out of the way.  

Maybe she was having a bad day. 

Maybe her son gets pushed around a lot at the park and this was the last straw.  

Or maybe she is right and I'm a shitty parent, either way, one things for sure, we won't be visiting THAT park again for a while....

Friday Boys Club