Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mom's New Rage

It was a short encounter.  We strolled down the street, hand-in-hand, my then two-year-old son and I.  It was after a fun mommy-son date, a yummy lunch at a neighborhood pan-Asian; Mr. R had just discovered a love of pad thai.  We walked eastward, on the right side of the street.  When we came close to our parked car, I pulled R to the left side for the last few strides.  A stout older man wearing a trench coat and crepe-soled shoes came walking, make that barreling, toward us.  I said “Excuse me,” thinking he’d step aside, like any civilized pedestrian would do for a mother and child.

He wasn’t going to stop. 

I jumped back to the other side of the sidewalk, jerking Riley with me, just before this rhino-man trampled us.

“You nearly knocked us down. I am with my SON, sir!”

“People usually walk on the right side of the street ma’am!”

“I had to get to my CAR!”  I hollered at his retreating back. “You rude fat …”  It was all I could do not to call him a fat f--k. Screaming fuck at strangers (no matter how much they deserved it) while holding the hand of a two year old just seemed not okay. I wanted to throw something at him. If my kid had not been with me, I might have done a running tackle. I wanted revenge. I wanted him to BLEED.

We continued to our car. I put Mr. R in his carseat and began fastening him in. In my side view mirror I saw the man get in his car, a beige mini-SUV of some sort.  “Unbelievable! What a rude fat animal. Absolutely disgusting.  Some people are so rude, Riley.  Just so rude!” I seethed aloud.

“What a rude fat man!”  Mr. R said, gleefully identifying with my outrage.  “That man was so FAT!”

Now I had made my son into a fat bigot, when I never wanted him to judge people superficially. But “fat” was a trifecta.  It satisfied the need I had to insult; it used that initial “f” consonant; and though un-P.C. and very wrong, it was still G-rated.

“Many fat people are wonderful, you know.” I responded feebly.

“Rude fat man, rude fat man, rude fat man,” Mr. R sang, laughing. The man’s car sped past.

"Don't say that, sweetie," I admonished. 

After letting two oncoming cars go by I raced out of my spot after him. I would follow him, and then… And then what?  What did I plan to do?  Act like a Mel Gibson character and cut him off, drag him out of his vehicle and then choke him with the strap of my diaper bag?  And I had my child in the car.  I needed to calm down.  The man’s car was now too far away – I couldn’t catch him without doing something unfathomably stupid and dangerous.

Game over.   

I’d experienced Mother Bear Syndrome before, but nothing like this. Previously it had been a wild or mean kid at the playground, or a rude adult unable to smile at, or otherwise show kindness to, one of my kids.

As a mother, I had never felt so disempowered.  I’d like to say emasculated, but there is no feminine equivalent of this word, which is a huge problem, one extremely revealing about our culture, as well as beyond the scope of this little essay.

The only way to describe this rage borne of the desire to protect my kids was temporary insanity.  Where did it come from?  Human nature?  Intense love? Survival of the species?  Pent up anger over the various sacrifices and concessions of motherhood?

Whatever the cause of this fury, it is shocking to find adults uncivilized enough not to have a soft spot in their hearts for a mother and her child, especially a mom and her kid quietly enjoying their day.  I guess I expect everyone to show basic decency, if not be doped up on kumbaya where kids are concerned. 

When we encounter these miserable individuals who have made the choice to be cruel to mother and child, after we’ve imagined what we’d do if we could, after we’ve talked ourselves down and swallowed our impotent rage, all we can do is feel sorry for these people.

And then dismiss them in the style of our good friend Susie Greene from Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The sick f—ks.  


  1. that is really unbelievable. it's so hard to take the high road sometimes...and the high road is overrated anyway

  2. I had something similar like this happen to me about a year ago. It was in the mall playground, and I totally let loose on some older guy who let his grandson SIT on my daughter's head and then yelled at me when I picked said grandson off of my kid. Perhaps this would best be described in a post. But I dare any man to get in the way of a woman and her child! And goodness, I love me some Susie Greene. Best lines of the show.


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