The other day I experienced an emotion so foreign to me that for a while I wasn't sure how to classify it. Which is why I'm so late in getting up a blog about it (well, that plus I was out of town last week and have spent the last three days navigating my suitcase-strewn house and scraping refrigerated Mystery Leftovers from various tupperware containers and down the garbage disposal). I simply wasn't sure how to explain what recently went down at my friendly neighborhood Burger King.
I seriously have not felt this way since the seventh grade, when I, crouched atop a toilet tank in the middle school girls' lavoratory, overheard Heather Everts and Deanna Giordano discussing my inability to fit into my cheerleader uniform. I burst forth from that putty-colored stall, threw the uniform on the floor and stormed out, my chubby little hands shaking uncontrollably.
Rage. That is the emotion. Rage directed at another human being. A complete stranger. And a mother. With a giant ass.
(Side Note: The size of her ass is actually irrelevant, but I am still so pissed that I plan to literarily bitch-slap this woman as much as I can. Yes, it's juvenile, catty, and may take away whatever credence I have as a mature, sensible adult, but f*ck it. This lady's ass was bigger than a keg of beer.)
I had asked a friend of mine to meet me at Burger King so our kids could play together. Her kids are about the same age difference as Rollie and Elsa, only nine months older, so I consider her my parenting guru. The Mr. Miyagi to my Daniel LaRusso of motherhood. Whenever I think I'm about to lose my mind with my kids' latest phases (smothering each other, public nudity, hiding urine-soaked pull-ups beneath various pieces of furniture), my friend will just smile and calmly say, "I remember that one," or, "You are exactly where I was a year ago." And since her kids are adorable, pleasant and well-adjusted, it's nice to have visible evidence that mine won't turn out to be complete a-holes in a few months.
It was hot out, niether of my children were napping, and the only way I could keep myself from speaking in Scream was to bustle them off to Burger King's plastic, primary-colored petri dish of a play place. And since my friend is usually down for a little BK, I called her and asked her to meet me there, STAT.
We sat together and chatted while our children crawled, climbed and hollered to each other through the giant tubes and winding slides. Another pair of moms sat near us, their children older and thus more adapt at navigating the equipment, circumventing Elsa when she was a roadblock and leaping over Rollie and his friends if they got in the way. All seemed calm and happy as the kids played in relative, albeit deafening, harmony.
A few times one of the older boys emerged from the tunnels and said something to his mother (the one with the huge ass). I caught snippets of 'boy in the white shirt' and 'hitting me' but wasn't sure exactly what the problem was. The huge-assed lady shot a dirty look in our direction, said something in response to her son and he ran back to the playground, yelling for his friend to wait-up.
My friend sighed, then called up a warning to her son, who was crawling through a mesh tunnel about twenty feet over our heads. "If you hit, no one is going to want to be your friend," she told him.
He peered down at us through the netting like a cherubic little fish, then yelled, "Here I come, Rollie!" The equipment shook and shuddered as two-hundred-plus pounds worth of kids wormed around within the tubing. And as I mentally calculated how many different strains of ebola Elsa was likely to have on her hands, the older kid leaped from the slide and went over to his mom again.
"Uh-oh," I said to my friend.
She just shrugged. "If he's hitting other kids, they're probably doing something to him. And then he'll figure out that he won't have any friends if he does that."
That seemed reasonable. Her son wouldn't just come at some bigger, older kid like a rabid spider monkey, fists clenched and arms flailing. It's not like he's a heavy-weight boxer or some 'roided-up professional athlete. These kids were literally twice his age, twice his size, and perfectly capable of avoiding the accused hitter if they really wanted to. Besides, this was a good learning opportunity for the kids. Mommy's not gonna fight all your battles for you. Unless Mommy has a giant ass. In which case Mommy is going to start yelling at the younger, smaller, weaker kid's mom and cause a huge scene in the middle of a peaceful fast food establishment.
Finally the other moms corralled their children and collected their things to go. As the gaggle walked by our table, the big-assed lady muttered something about 'no respect.' As soon as she passed through the glass door into the restaurant side of Burger King, she whirled around and started gesticulating wildly at my friend.
What the hell?
I guess because my friend and I were just sitting there staring at her as she went on her tirade, the woman came back and pushed open the door.
"I have absolutely no respect for you as a mother," the lady shouted.
"Your son was hitting my kids, he was shaking the equipment, he was kicking that little girl while she lay on the ground! There's obviously something wrong with him!"
Wait a second. Obviously something wrong with him? So now apparently this woman can diagnose a psychological disorder in a complete stranger's child based on him shaking the Burger King playground equipment and taking a few swipes at a bigger kid, possibly in self-defense? Good Lord, if that qualifies a kid as having 'something wrong with him,' then Rollie belongs in a strait-jacket until he turns 30. Which, come to think of it, wouldn't be such a bad idea....
My friend and I both started talking at the same time, but the woman just shook her head and flounced out, her ass jiggling behind her, the seams of her pants straining with effort to keep it contained. (I know, I know...I am an immature jerk...it's not like I have the World's Tightest Ass, either. But at least I don't publicly question the parenting techniques of complete strangers.)
My friend seemed pretty calm about the whole thing, but I was stunned. I couldn't believe the nerve of this woman, telling my friend something was wrong with her son. Wrong with him. What the f*ck is that supposed to even mean? Was the lady pissed that my friend didn't immediately rush into the play place, haul her son out by the ear and start screaming at him? Has this lady never in her life seen little boys play together? How dare she tell another mother there's something wrong with her child? I think there's something wrong with her, eating Whoppers when she can barely fit into her black dress slacks. Let me tell you something, stupid, mean lady. You have terrible hair, and angry heart, and your black pants aren't slimming even by the furthest stretch of the imagination.
For the next week I went through all the ways I would have handled the situation if it had been reversed. If I felt that Rollie was being wrongfully attacked by a younger child. I realize this would mean a one-year-old would be the attacker, but I guess that's kind of the point. Even if Rollie was sitting there, minding his business, and a littler kid came up, unprovoked, and hit Rollie on the head, I would simply have Rollie go play somewhere else. I would still teach Rollie to remove himself from the situation. Teach Rollie that he always has control. Teach him that the day I condone yelling at another parent and psychoanalyzing her child will be the day I feather my hair and have an ass so large it provides enough shade for a picnicking family of four.
So there you have it. My immature rant. I hope the next time this lady feels compelled to ream out a fellow mom, she makes sure that mom isn't sitting next to someone who's a loyal friend, imperfect parent and dedicated blogger.