Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How By Shutting Up, I Let My Daughter Down

Lady A before all hell broke loose.

One of my closest mommy pals recently joked that every time we are on the phone, I get in some kind of altercation with a stranger.

So, in an effort not to be Confrontational Carlotta, I kept my mouth shut.

And I wish I hadn’t because I let my little girl down.

We were at the Museum of Science and Industry, a world-class, interactive institution in our neighborhood.  My two children and I were in line to sit on a huge John Deere combine that enables you to simulate threshing a cornfield.

The family before us had begun their turn before we got in line, and we waited for several minutes for them to finish.  Soon thereafter, another mother with her son and daughter got in line behind us.

While my children might have been antsy, these two children were like soccer hooligans on the verge of stampede.

Finally Family #1 ended their time in the cab, and moved on.  As it turned out the lady behind me knew the exiting family’s dad. 

Mister R and Lady A climbed up the stairs and into the cab for their turn.  The lady's children climbed the stairs and stood right behind me, so close they could have initiated a colonoscopy.  

Even though protocol was to wait at the bottom of the stairs, the mom never said anything.

I tried to make my children aware that others were waiting.  Mister R sat in the driver’s seat and Lady A next to him.  R steered, enjoying the screen showing his path in the cornfield.  Hubs/Dad caught up to us and joined me at the entrance to the cab.  Mister R decided he’d prefer to go with his Dad and left Aria to finally have her turn.

This had taken maybe 2-3 minutes.  Time that my children deserved. Time that also, was interminable to a waiting child. 

As soon as Mr. R was gone, Kid 1 and Kid 2 rushed into the cab where Aria was still having her turn.  As far as I could tell, their mom never restrained them.  She never apologized or asked, “Do you mind?”

“Don’t get in the little girl’s way,” she said from behind me to her son, who was all over the steering wheel.

Um, how about wait your f--king turn, and get your kids the f--k out?  But getting all Queens on her, as my bestie and the children’s godmother says, did not seem a good choice.

I was livid. My little girl looked at me with her big brown eyes as if to say, “Why, Mommy?”

Maybe I could say something sarcastic, yet subtle like, “Wow, they REALLY couldn’t wait to get in there, could they?”

“How old is she?” Clueless Mom asked.

“Almost two.  And your son should be careful because she bites,” I offered feebly.  At that point my overwhelmed daughter was as likely to bite as the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Even though I was pissed at her, I had to admit that Mommy Clueless was a nice woman.  Why didn’t I just say, “Listen, as you know from having two kids, and a younger daughter, my poor little girl has to share everything.  She constantly has to defend herself from a strong-willed, mischievous and rambunctious older brother.  Please. Just let her have a turn of her own.”

I’m sure everything would have worked out fine if I had said just that.  But I didn’t.  I stewed for a minute before grabbing Lady A from the drivers’ seat and taking her to see something else. 

Yes, the mom was clueless, and while I’m 99% sure that I’d have handled the situation differently, I’ll cut her some slack.  Maybe her son had emotional and behavioral issues. Maybe she wanted to avoid a discipline-induced meltdown. 

Or maybe her kids were brats and she was a wimp.  Who knows?

But I was just as much of a wimp, for not standing up for my kid.

This time Lady A was little, and I’m sure it didn’t really register.

But if it happens too many times, or when she is a little older, it will.


  1. Great post! I get so angry at myself when I don't stand up for myself, particularly when it's at my daughter's expense.

  2. Thanks, Laura. Standing up for myself has been a lifelong issue for me, and in many posts on this blog, you'll see me still trying to figure it out!


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