So I'm really torn here, as I have a ton of positive, happy stuff I want to share with you guys this week, but had a totally icky experience this weekend that I kinda need to get off my chest. So bare with me as I kick this out of my system and get your guys' brilliant feedback, and then tomorrow I'll catch y'all up on how awesome my life really is. Ready? Break!!
I'm out to lunch on a perfectly sunny day, hanging with a good friend of mine, J., his beautiful wife, and their newborn daughter (not even four months old!) of pure gorgeousness; and one of my best friends, Summer, her husband, and THEIR almost year old baby who is just the cutest thing on the planet. So much cute is at this table, the ketchup bottle is gonna explode.
And in walks two huge guys with a baby, not so unusual, as maybe it's Dad's turn to take the baby for the day, or hell, maybe they're domestic partners and adopted, who knows, but it's two men and another baby.
We're ordering food as the two guys and baby park themselves in a booth about ten feet away from ours, and no sooner had we finished our orders and were playing Make the Baby Dance on the Restaurant Table (you know you've done it) with the older baby when some sort of commotion happens at the guys' booth, and as I am facing the booth I get to see what happens:
The guy's baby at some point must have made a fuss, but must have done so quietly, or maybe I didn't notice or hear because I'm at a table with two already fussy babies, but one of the men (who is clearly the father) puts his head down on the table to the baby's eye level (the baby is in a high chair) and screams at the top of his lungs, "I'M TRYING TO ORDER YOU A FUCKING HAMBURGER!!"
And our table goes dead silent. There is no one else around on this side of the restaurant, so we just have each other to confirm, did that really just happen? Surely this must be a joke, nobody says that to a kid who's not even two years old yet, do two year olds even know what HAMBURGER means, and before we can even assume that the man is just playing around in some awful stupid joke, he roughly yanks the now wailing baby from the high chair, holds him high in the air, gives him a few shakes(?!!) and then plops him just as roughly into the baby stroller, then walks a few feet away muttering to himself about how all he wants to do is order lunch, can't he just order lunch in peace and quiet?
And J. looks at me, and I look at him, and we're both boxed into the booth by our respective family and friends, and J. says, "My entire body just went numb," and I say "I can't believe he just did that," and J's beautiful wife says to J., "You are NOT going to fight," and I turn to J. and I say, "If you are going to fight, I'm fighting with you," and Summer's husband says quietly, "It's not our kid," and I contemplate how to best get out of the goddamn booth so I can bludgeon this man to death and J. says to me, "That's right, I forgot you have a first degree black belt," and I say, without a touch of irony and in total utter seriousness, "If you can hold him down I can punch him in the throat" but I'm telling you, the entire time I'm seeing red and wanting to crack my cell phone against the bridge of this guy's nose I'm still arguing with myself mentally, like surely this can't be real why would anyone who is that angry have a child maybe he has mental issues if I attack the dad is his huge friend gonna come up behind me and flatten me do I really have a chance I swore to myself I'd never get in a fight if I could help it don't I have an obligation to stop this son of a bitch from hurting his kid is it really going to do any good he might just hit the kid again later if I get my car keys into his eyes then he won't be able to see-
-when the guy packs up everything, marches out of the restaurant with his baby and baby stroller, and his friend, obviously embarrassed, skulks out a minute later, and they're gone. They ordered no food, the waitress had no names, I chose not to follow them into the dark and isolated parking garage where the restaurant patrons park, and I did Absolutely.Nothing.To.Stop.Him.
I did absolutely nothing to stop him.
And I'm wondering, where do you draw the line? We've all heard stories of a woman who swatted her kid on the butt in a supermarket and then got a visit from Child Protective Services later that day, or stories where there was obvious, blatant abuse in public and nobody did or said a damn thing. Are we really in the business of telling other people how to raise or discipline their kids?
Then there's this whole notion of It's Not Our Business, it's Not Our Kid.
But don't we also have the right to step in and stop someone? Surely we must...and then what? What would have happened if the men had stayed, and we'd called the cops? Does the baby get taken away and put into foster care, into some worse situation? Or do we just throw up our hands and say, "I called the cops, that's the end of my responsibility."?
And then I remember the time while I was in college when a neighborhood kid jumped into my mom's minivan as we were leaving for the store and pleaded with us to help him, because he was getting bad grades and his father was going to hurt him with the scissors again.
Scared and unsure, my mom and I called the cops and refused to let the furious father and hysterical mother into our home as we sat that kid down on the sofa, got him some water, and waited for an officer to show up.
And I remember, after the cop thought he had the kid alone, I hid behind the couch and listened to the following exchange and this is actually word for word what was said, because I will never forget it, as long as I live:
Cop: Why do you think your dad hits you and hurts you with scissors?
Kid: Cuz I get bad grades.
Cop: Does your dad hurt your sister as well?
Kid: No, cuz she gets good grades.
Cop: So do you think if maybe you studied harder he wouldn't hit you?
Kid: I guess so.
Cop: Good. Because I have real bad guys to catch and this stuff? This stuff is just wasting my time.
He actually said all of that. So we had no choice to give this child back to his family, and a few months later, the family moved out of the neighborhood.
Gone. Just like that.
So let's turn the microphone on you guys: Ever had an experience like this? What did you do? And I won't ask you whether or not you think I did the right thing, because I already know I didn't.
And my nightmares have started up again.
Here I Am
3 weeks ago