This mama instinct is nothing to fool around with.
I mean, I’ve always had a protective impulse; kids and animals hold a special place in my heart, and I don’t remember a time when seeing them treated poorly didn’t push my buttons.
But none of that prepared me for the tsunami of emotions that rages through me when someone screws with my kids.
I’d like to preface this with the fact that I am not one of those parents who thinks her precious snowflakes can do no wrong. (People who know me in real life will attest to this.) As a matter of fact, I tend to lean the other way. We have good kids, sure, but by nature kids mess up so expecting mistakes is kind of a given around here.
And that’s okay. Those are the learning experiences. Finding out about the mistakes from other grownups isn’t a problem either – it takes a village and all that jazz. Just ask my own kids if I hesitate to yank a knot in someone showing his rear end at my house.
But here’s the thing. If you’re gonna correct my kid, it better be for something he’s actually done. And I’d better not catch you screaming at him unless he’s about to get hit by a truck. These seem like reasonable ground rules to me.
Let’s take an example. (I can feel BrightSide cringing.) Somebody else’s kid makes a mistake. (Again, KIDS. It’s a given.) It’s a big mistake, sure, but a mistake nonetheless and all of it lands squarely on that kid. Well, unless a parent dropped the ball somewhere along the way…(gee, could this be any more vague?)
Long story short, this kid’s mistake was his own.
Cue mama bear rant.
I get that you’re pissed at your kid. He scared you, and sometimes parents lash out when they’re scared. I’ve done it myself.
But don’t you dare blame my kid for something you know he had nothing to do with. You made T-man feel guilty for not keeping track of your child – he is not your babysitter and that was not his responsibility. You have no right to put the weight of your job onto my 11-year-old’s shoulders.
He was within earshot when you made those pointed comments to a friend. So once again you made him feel like the bad kid, the screw up, the one who’s always in trouble because he can’t do anything right. That not only do you not like him but you’ll give other adults reasons not to like him either.
You may not care, but your words echo in his ears as yet more proof that he’s inadequate. Irresponsible. Unlikable. Even though I’ve done the one thing I never thought I’d do – told my child to disregard another adult – he still feels your displeasure like a thin edged razor slicing away.
It takes weeks to undo the damage from one interaction like this with you, and even then I’m not sure the message has been fully erased. That deep down inside he doesn’t still have the tiniest inkling of being less than. Because you have told him over and over that he is.
What haven’t you told him? Thank you. Thank you for including my much younger child. Thank you for resisting the urge to act like you’re too cool to play with him. Thank you for treating my even younger daughter with patient kindness. And thank you, on the occasions when you do make mistakes, for modeling appropriate behavior by apologizing and taking responsibility.
I guess that sort of gratitude is too much to ask. But I can promise you this – the claws are out. Lay off my kid.