A stranger yelled, “SHUT UP!” in my baby’s face tonight.
We were at a very crowded dollar store and I was checking out. Kai was sitting in the cart and getting restless so Luca walked him up to the front of the store to wait with him. He was fussing a bit, but it was a fake bored cry, not screaming or sobbing and it wasn’t even very loud.
I dropped some cards out of my wallet and as I bent to pick them up I hear a very loud and angry voice yell, “SHUT UP!”. I look up and see a woman with her face inches from Kai’s stunned little face. I didn’t get a good look at her, but I remember that she looked angry and her face was red.
The front section of the store went silent and I heard several gasps. Three of those gasps were my other young kids that were standing near Kai at the time.
My adrenaline kicked in and the woman was already walking out the door as I yelled, “Excuse me!! That is MY baby you are talking to!” I could feel my face get hot and my heart started pounding in my ears. I was mad.
“Then make him stop” she yelled over her shoulder as she walked out the door.
“He is TWO years old!” I screamed at her as the door shut behind her.
I am not a screamer. I hate confrontation. I hate fighting. I hate drama, and I especially hate to be a part of drama.
Kai was surprisingly un-phased by the whole incident. He did get quiet, but he didn’t get scared or sad or upset.
My other kids did.
“Mom! Did you hear that lady tell Kai to shut up!?”
“Mom, that lady was mean! Why did she yell at Kai?!”
“I am glad you yelled at that mean lady mom!”
“Is Kai okay? I don’t like that mean person!”
They had worried looks in their eyes. I don’t know if it stunned them more to see a stranger yell at their baby brother or to see their mom yell back.
The checkout lady in the next aisle looked over to me and quietly said, “I think she wasn’t all there” as she pointed to her head.
It hit me pretty suddenly that she was exactly right and I calmed down rather quickly. In fact, I was shocked at how easily I got over it and I actually felt rather stupid for yelling back and not taking a minute to assess the situation.
The woman clearly had some mental health issues. It didn’t give her the right to yell at a two year old, but if I had taken a moment to think or if I could go back I would do things a little differently.
I wish I had thought to run over to her and gently tell her that I didn’t appreciate her talking to my child that way and ask her to apologize to him. He knows what “I’m sorry” means.
I could feel everyone looking at me as I quickly gathered up my bags and my kids and hurried them out the door to the van. They were excited and loud and telling me I should call Brett right away, call the police, or go find her and beat her up. I buckled them all in the car and we shut the doors (and locked them) and we had a little talk about how people are different and some people, even adults, have a hard time knowing just how to act around other people and sometimes say and do things because they are uncomfortable or nervous. I don’t know that they really got it, but they calmed down a bit.
The kids were all anxious for Brett to get home tonight and as soon as he walked in the door they fought about who got to tell him about it.
What did I learn from this unsettling experience?
-My kids love each other and will stick up for each other when needed.
-Don’t mess with my kids. I may not like confrontation, but…just don’t mess with my kids.
-Sometimes if we wait a second before reacting we might gain enough new information to handle things better. I would have.
-Someone yelling in a baby’s face can silence a store crowded with holiday shoppers. Good. It should be shocking.
-I get over things a lot faster than I used to.
-I know now that if anyone lays a hand on one of my children I will not be afraid to beat the living daylights out of them. For a second I thought she might and I was ready to charge.
-Kai is one fearless little guy.