Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What would you do - part 2

So you thought about my scenario, Person A getting hit by Person B on the bus. But what assumptions did you make? Did you assume that Person A was female? That this was a married/dating couple having a public disagreement? Did you picture Person B, the "hitter", as male, possibly bigger, stronger and more dominating then Person A? Did you picture a young couple or an older couple? Did your mind assign any race or socio-economic status to the 2 people?

It is really quite fascinating how our minds will fill in the blanks based on our own lives and experiences when not enough information is given in a story.

This specific situation was an unusual one however. It was not a married/dating couple, male/female or gay. Nor was it 2 strangers or 2 friends.

Who could it have been then, you ask? What kind of coupling is left?

It was a parent and child.

Oh the outrage, you think! Of course you would speak up, get involved. Parents can't hit their children like that, in public and think they can get away with it!!

Yet, that is not the whole story either.

Person A, who stoically sat there taking the abuse, being hit and poked was the mother.

Person B, who refused to sit down and then showered Person A with the physical abuse was the daughter, maybe 10 years old.

Hilary and I were sitting close enough to hear the what the daughter was saying to her mother. In a nutshell she was having fun doing what ever she had been doing before getting on the bus and didn't want to leave to go home.

This was not a temper tantrum, at least not like any I have ever seen. This was a child exuding anger and using violence to get her own way. I have never seen a parent look more defeated. It was obvious that this was not the first time that this mother had endured this type of abuse.

Hilary and I debated what to do. We both agreed that if it had been two adults we would have intervened immediately. By approaching them directly if we felt that we would not be in danger or by going to the driver. We could not sit by and watch someone hit another person. But the lines are much more blurry when it is a child and parent. Is it our place to "parent" the child? As a parent I would not want a stranger interfering in a situation that involved Liam and I. But this woman wasn't doing anything. And what exactly do you say to the kid? "You're a horrible, spoiled little girl and you need to stop that right now?" She probably would have kicked me in the shins! And then there is the embarrassment factor. Bringing more attention to the situation by getting involved. Already people on the bus were aware that we had Liam with us who was sitting quietly and behaving (luckily he was sitting in the seat behind Hilary and I and could not see over us to see what was going on. If he had, I'm sure the situation would have been much different as 6 year olds don't do a very good stage whisper and he likely would have said something about the girls behavior at full voice). How would that have made this mother feel? The parents with the "good" kid have to step up and help the parent with the "bad" kid.

So we did nothing. We watched in awe (how could you not?) while trying not to stare. Then as we got off the bus, Hilary leaned in to the woman and told her quietly "you have the most patience of any parent I have ever seen. Good luck." Hilary felt that some acknowledgment to the woman might help her not feel so defeated, even if for only a second.

Have you ever gotten involved in a parenting situation? Had someone try to get involved in what you were doing with your child? Is there a socially acceptable line? Share you stories either here in the comments or on your own blog.
Post a Comment