Tonight my husband and I went on a date. Our daycare had a special evening for the kids (a pizza party) so that the parents could have an evening off. It was wonderful and the kids had a blast. So did we.
After a lovely dinner Mike and I decided to grab coffee and go for a walk by the lake. It was a perfect night. We had a great time.
The way our lake front park is set up is that there is a boardwalk and then there is a lower walk by the water. There is a ledge between the upper and lower boardwalks.
As we were walking along we saw a family. I heard them first. The father in particular. He was yelling to him maybe 5 year old son not to lean over the ledge (from the upper to lower boardwalk). I totally get that. I looked because I was close enough that if a kid was going to fall I would have run over.
But the child stopped as his dad shouted "if you lean over the ledge I'm going to tan your hide."
Okay, not my form of discipline, but whatever. It wasn't so much the words that stopped me, it was the tone. It was chilling. I stopped.
We were maybe two feet away.
The child stopped. Dead in his tracks.
The father came over to him and started to shout. As he shouted the little boy didn't cry, but his younger sister did.
And the the father picked him up. And he pretended to throw hom over the ledge. The whole time he was shouting "this is what will happen. this is what will happen."
The boy was hysterical. His sister was hysterical. The baby his mother was pushing in the stroller was hysterical. I was almost hysterical.
The mother stood quietly by. Watching. Waiting.
I was horrified.
I didn't want to intervene because by the end he was holding his child with one hand.
I was frozen to my spot.
Mike wanted to go. I waited until he put the child down. And then in the loudest voice I oculd muster I said "what was that? who treats a child like that?"
They heard me. I did nothing else.
I wish I had. I felt for those kids. And I was angry. How do you treat kids like that?
I know this is judgemental. I really do.
But really. I could not care LESS if you breastfeed or co-sleep, if you give time outs or count. I wouldn't blink an eye if your child ate ice cream for breakfast and wore mismatched clothes. All of that is inconsequential.
But this - chilling.
And I wish i did something else.
Mike told me to leave it. He said that the wife would probably say something later. And, he said I was just probably shocked because parents don't do that now. Twenty years ago it wouldn't have shocked me.
But I wish I'd done something. Said something.
Truthfully I don't think it would have done much. I would have angered the dad, and in fairness, he didn't hurt the child. Just scared him.
But still ...
And then I reminded Mike that if he EVER did something like that the repercussions would be huge. But, in all honesty, I think that's why I married who I did, because I know with every fibre of my being that he would never ever do such a thing.
But, if I ever see something like that again I will say something.
And, tonight I'll hug Matt just a little tighter just so he knows he safe.