Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cord-i-Fied, and Really Frustrated/Disgusted

Went to Best Buy just now with My Lovely Mother and bought myself an adapter ... just didn't want to be unplugged.

Before I picked up Mom, though, I had gone to Walmart for some dinner fixin's ... while standing (endlessly) in the checkout line, I started hearing some amazingly foul, amazingly LOUD foul, language coming from about 6 checkout lines down the way. Looked up -- all I could see were 5 really cute kids, the oldest maybe 9, ranging down to 3 that were still on wobbly legs ... and behind the cart, a very large, very grim-looking woman holding onto the cart handle and just verbally shredding those children.

"I told you twice to get that out of the cart, you dumb-ass punk!"
and
"What the fuck are you doing, Stupid?"
and
"I'm gonna beat your damn stupid ass if you make me say it again."

and so on.

Everyone, and I mean EVE!RY!ONE! in the store kinda stopped, turned and looked, but it was as if in slow motion -- none of us could take it in, could make our minds hear it and understand it, or comprehend who was on the receiving end of it.

I wasn't close enough to say anything. I couldn't see around other registers and displays and such to discern if anyone nearer to her attempted to say anything. But I could see those kids well enough, and they were oblivious to it, or used to it, and that upset me more than anything -- they were so used to it that they were capable of ignoring it, which is what they were doing, which is what was causing her to amp up in volume and level of expletives.

I pushed my cart out to my truck, put the groceries in it, sat down, and started to cry. I thought of those little faces, I thought of them looking and sounding like her in 10 years, I wondered who brought HER up and how ... I mean, subtracting judgment and quelling my feelings of repulsion & anger, there remained the very obvious question: what had been done to her in her youth, that she was so naturally, unselfconsciously, horrible like that to her own kids?

All the way home, I asked myself what I could've said. If I'd been direct and said anything like, 'Hey, that's a really crude and abusive way to talk to your kids," she more than likely would've directed a stream of it at me for meddling. So I pondered. What if I'd said, gently, 'Hey, are you all right? Could you use some help?' How would that have gone over? Would it at least have interrupted her for the few minutes from check-out to her vehicle? Would the little ones have had some mental breathing room, some clean-aired silence? Would they know the difference?

FUTILITY IS NOT SOMETHING I'M GOOD AT.

7 comments:

JonesMoore said...

I'm glad you wrote about this. We've all witnessed something like that in our lifetime. Tough situation, very upsetting...and we're all way too polite. Perhaps, if we do stand up to verbal abuse and stay committed, maybe someday something will 'shift' in the abuser. Unfortunately, those kids will probably 'give what they get' in the future. A very sad thought...

beth said...

after working with CASA and child services I know lots of tricks nobody tells you !!

Next time {and it probably won't be her but could be someone else}...wait for her in the parking lot and get her license plate number and the car model... even if she sees you blantly getting that information, who cares.... and you can then call child services or the police and tell them what you just heard and what happened in the store.
MOST states are in the position to follow up on ANY call in regards to any form of child abuse !!

Laurel said...

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with beth's suggestion. I think that anonymous reports to child services are so invasive and disruptive (and usually inaccurate) that they should be illegal. While I certainly don't agree with threatening and berating children, I'm much more inclined to believe that there is something going on in that poor woman's life that is making her so miserable. If someone really wants to "do good" then befriend her and help her out. Wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone did that?

Anonymous said...

I really think we've all seen parents who treat their kids like sh*t. I've called them out on it too.

Holly said...

Toni,
You said you aren't any good at intervention, but I disagree. You wrote about this and people will read and take a moment to mull it over. So, you did exactly what you can do. I'm equally impressed with your moment of clarity when you wondered if you couldn't change this situation by showing kindness. It is so easy, when you're assaulted like that, to immediately go into judgement mode. Which, serves no purpose. Trust that Spirit put this woman in your path today for your benefit, and through you, for our benefit. The children, besides having her for a mother, will also meet good people like you and a balance will be struck. We cannot know what experiences they will have. Perhaps they asked for her as a mother so they will have a point from which to walk away, and not toward. Some of us have parents who teach us what to do and be as Human Beings, like your mother did for you. Some of us have parents who serve as examples of what not to be. We all, despite our behavior, serve a Divine purpose. Our sight does not stretch as far as Spirit's so we should not judge. Trust. Believe. Hope. And, proceed with a joyful heart for all is well.

Veronica said...

Oh honey this happens every day, every week every month at my job. If we do say something the mother is like I want your name and your bosses name yada yada yada.. it is now that we can't say anything. What I do is start talking to the child in a very calm voice..... how old are you? what are you doing today? etc... I totally ignore the parent and the next thing you know the parent is calming down and talking better to the child. Now outside of my job T, I actually will say something out loud like .... ARE YOU SERIOUS do you talk like this all the time.... usually I hear F off bi*ch and at that time I usually say something like.... you know what lady I will pray for you and for your children. THAT usually leaves them speechless!!!!!
It is always tough I am so sorry you had to deal with that as well as those poor kids.

Sarah said...

You tugged at my heart! I have been in this situation. I witnessed a father drag his daughter by the hair in the store because she "really had to go to the bathroom, daddy!" I walked right up to him, took that little girl by the hand, knelt down by her, and asked, totally unmoved, if she needed help. She wouldn't answer me, so you can imagine what I said to her father. I wanted to call the police SO BAD and explain what I had witnessed.

I think about her often whenever I see a mother being short with her child or a father cursing a little one out. I wonder how she is now.

Sad. Isn't it? I can't imagine EVER saying cruel things to my son. He would break down. And I would break his spirit. That would be the biggest loss of all.

Hugs,

Sarah