The mother who was just too bothered

I went to the post office today to pick up a package. I took a number from the machine and prepared to wait.

A mother looking about 45 years old came in with her son, who appeared to be about 7 years old. She seemed annoyed with him the moment she walked in, as she scolded him in Spanish and took a deep sigh….as if he was such an inconvenience to her existence. She sent him to take a number.

He seemed to be a typical kid….curious, restless….there was something sweet about him. A good kid. Just trying to have fun while he was in a long wait at the post office.

He was whizzing around with piece of paper in his hands that contained their number….then he went to the machine, took a few more numbers, you know, nothing that was detrimental to society.

His mother demanded him to bring her their number. But he couldn’t find it. Somewhere between the whizzing around and playing with the other pieces of paper with numbers on them, he lost it. And the mother lost her patience. She ranted and raved in Spanish for a bit, and I clearly understood, “What are you, stupid or something!? Now we have to wait SO MUCH longer!!…etc,….” And another deep inconvenienced sigh.

The little boy looked ashamed, grabbed another number and proudly gave it to his mom, who grumbled as she snatched it from him. Then we went back to whizzing around. He went to each waste basket collecting pieces of paper with numbers on them. As I was already at the counter, I made sure to give him mine with a smile. He was so happy when he came back to show the stack to his mom, looking for her approval. She just rolled her eyes and sighed.

I couldn’t believe it.

The little boy sat on the floor, close to his mom, but with some distance, and laid out the pieces of paper, seemingly going into his own world.

My heart hurt. And I wanted to punch that mother. In my mind, she was evil.

Okay, I know she probably isn’t evil. And she probably doesn’t know that she is doing irreversible damage to this poor child! I understand that we all have our bad days. And I understand that the heat can make us cranky. I’m no saint. I can definitely be moody. But….to call your child “stupid” and to continuously make it seem that he is the biggest inconvenience on the planet is EXTREMELY damaging to his being. And right now he may seem okay….he didn’t lash out or cry…he just kept going happily back into his world.

But those “little” things are going deep into his self. What kind of self-esteem or self-worth issues will haunt him as he gets older? These tormenting feelings get ingrained in us…they are not easy to release.

During the rest of my wait, I rehearsed several different things in my head to say to this mother. They started in anger. And I realized, that definitely would not work. I decided on, “Your son deserves your patience.” Something simple and non-attacking.

But I didn’t. I hurriedly walked out the door, not even making eye contact with the mother, for fear my look may kill her.

Is it my place to say something to this woman I don’t know? Is it ever any of our places to make these proclamations to others?

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Originally published at www.mariajenellnicholas.com on June 8, 2015.

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