If you’re a parent, you’ve had them. They are the moments where you’d wished that you’d handled things a little differently. They are not your proudest moments. I’ve had many of them over my life, and I’ll probably have more. Here’s the one from today. Mostly because it’s a two-fer.
Let me preface this by saying that I have been doing a lot of soul searching as of late and I have discovered something about myself. I have anger issues. I’m not walking around angry all time. In fact, I’d say that on any given moment, I’m a pretty happy dude. But, just below the surface…it’s there.
I remember watching The Avengers when it came out and there’s the scene when Bruce Banner comes riding up on his motorcycle and Captain America is all “Now would be a pretty good time for you to get angry.” (paraphrase) And Bruce looks at him and says, “That’s my secret. I’m always angry.” Then, he hulks out and saves the world.
That line always stuck with me. It resonated. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been labeled as a ‘hot head’ or ‘quick tempered’ etc. After several months of really digging into this, I’ve finally discovered why I’m so angry. And, I’m beginning to work on it. But I’m not there yet.
So, fast forward to today: We had started our trek home from school. We ride bikes, so my oldest (8) takes the lead, my youngest (6) rides next, and I take up the caboose in case anything happens along the way. We made our way through the throng of kids and parents as they scatter out down the sidewalk. My kids are studious about using their bells to let people know they are coming.
Then, my youngest (who we have been trying to work on about his shoe laces) managed to have a shoe come untied, and not noticing, his lace ended up wrapping around the pedal until he couldn’t ride anymore. As I stop to figure out what was happening, he just picked his other foot up and ended up falling to the concrete with his bike on top of him. *sigh*
Now, I had to hold the bike up and try to get his shoe off and was getting very frustrated by it all. And in the first of what would be two of today’s ‘not proudest moments’ I barked at my son. I mean, not literally, but I was a little mean with him in my frustration with the situation. *double sigh*
One of the dads walked up and asked if we needed any help, but I had just got his shoe undone, so I told him no, but thanks for the offer. They walked on. Then, as I’m getting his shoe back on this old lady, her grandson, and another boy walked past us.
When I got his shoe back on him and we were ready to ride, I made sure to remind him to ring his bell. Why? Because this old lady has already barked at kids several times this year for not ringing bells when they passed. So, my son rang his bell. They kept walking three abreast blocking the entire sidewalk. So, he rang again. This time, the two boys stepped aside and one of them even apologized as we were going by. To which I replied, “It’s no big deal.”
That’s when she decided it would be a good time to pop off to my six year old son. She refused to move, but instead bent down and yelled “EXCUSE ME! COMING THROUGH!!!!” as my son rode past. Then, as we got about ten feet past her, she yelled out, “HE COULDA SAID EXCUSE ME!!!”
I hit the brakes. This has been the third time she has made a smart aleck comment to my kids’ backs (remember, I ride caboose so I’ve seen them all) and I was sick of it. So I turned and said, “He rang his bell to let you know he was coming. What more do you want from him? He’s six!”
“HE SHOULDA SAID EXCUSE ME!”
Again, I’ve been replaying this through my head about a thousand times since it happened, and I can see the moments I should have exhibited grace. I can see the moments I should have just let things be and rode on. I can see those moments clearly as they passed right by me…ignored.
I finally shook my head and said, “What is your problem? He rang his bell.”
Then, she started walking towards me really fast. “WHAT’S YOUR FUCKIN’ PROBLEM?” (Okay, just for clarity sake here, I cuss. I cuss a lot. But, I rarely ever cuss in front of the kids…and almost NEVER in public. So, this caught me off-guard and pretty much ensured that I was going to ignore pretty much every opportunity to walk away.)
I raised my voice. “YOU YELLING AT MY KID. THAT’S MY PROBLEM! This is the third time, and I’m sick of it.”
“WHATTAYA GONNA DO ABOUT IT? YOU WANNA TRY TO SHUT MY MOUTH??”
Holy crap, guys…I was about six inches away from getting into a freaking fist fight with an angry grandma! I’m still shaking my head over all of this. So, I did my best to extricate myself from the situation after she dropped another f-bomb on me. I got on my bike and said, “Way to class it up in front of the kids.”
She then called me a fat-ass (which, I’m not going to lie…I’m fat) and then as I was riding away she said, “Whattaya gonna run away now? YOU BIGOT!”
Folks, I’m stymied here. There wasn’t a single person involved in that entire situation that wasn’t white. I just…I got nothing. I’m speechless.
Now, the point of all of this is that I know that I didn’t react properly to all of this. I know there were much better ways of handling myself. And had she just been yelling at me, I could have laughed it off. But, when she leaned in on my kid, I snapped. And all of that anger that’s been sitting quietly under the surface came out and made me madder than I should have been.
I have a lot of work to do. I’ve talked to the boys about how my reaction wasn’t a good reaction to have and that I could have handled it better. My oldest told me that he’s been afraid of her since she yelled at one of his friends earlier in the year and the he’s been trying to avoid her because she’s so mean.
My biggest fear out of all of this? That someday I’ll end up like that broken mean old woman who is so angry with the world that she feels the need to yell at strange kids and then bow up on people who call her on it. I don’t want to be like that. I can’t. Not for my family. Not for me.