Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Last week, I had to go to the grocery store. It was Saturday, and I had to get something for dinner, and David had taken the girls to an early matinee (the cheap one!) so it was just Molly and I. 

As we got out of the car together, and I took her hand in mine, as I always do in a parking lot, I heard across the way, a string of angry profanities. A man was yelling. Really screaming, some of the most obscene things I have ever heard. The F word was used over and over, and he was screaming what an awful" Fu@%*&^  Bit%!*" someone was.

 I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was appalled. I thought he was yelling at another man, as I saw another person standing a bit away from the car. It was as if he was giving the man who was screaming some space. I then thought that he could be possibly yelling at a woman, maybe his wife or girlfriend. I shuddered to think of any person, saying what I was hearing, to another. It was unreal. 

I hurried Molly along, and spoke louder, and pointed out things to her, so she wouldn't hear the obscenities. It was then, as I neared the car, I saw who this "man" was yelling at. 

It was a small boy. No older than my Molly, who will proudly tell you she is 3 1/2.(That 1/2 is huge you know.)

This man was shouting words to a child that no grown adult should ever have to endure. But here it was happening, right in the parking lot of ShopRite. My first impulse was to cross the street and stop him. Maybe appeal to him that he needed to cool down, and walk away from the small boy, and think about what he was saying. But I glanced at the other man, who was clearly with them, and he quickly caught my gaze, and just as fast, looked away. 

My heart was pounding. I thought that this crazy man sounded like he was escalating, and he was going to hit the boy. I knew that if he laid a hand on him, I would call the police. So, I  walked just a bit slower, watching carefully to make sure he didn't put his hands on the boy. His screams were so loud, and so scary, even to me. I can't imagine how scary it sounded for that poor little guy. I thought to myself that if this is how the man behaves in public, and apparently speaks to children, what must he be like in the privacy of his home. 

What I did next has haunted me this entire week. I keep going over it in my mind, and I don't think that I had many options. I do thank God David wasn't with me, because I  know for a fact the outcome would have been very different. He would have made a beeline across the street, and I know what would have happened after that. 

What I did was nothing. I scooped Molly up, and hurried out of the frigid air, and "minded my own business". I thought that if I called 911, what could be done? Could he be arrested for cursing and screaming at a child? I also was frightened of this monster of a man, and his "friend". What could I, along with my own small child in tow, have done? I was too scared to speak up for the small boy. Me, the adult, let it happen.

I saw them a bit later, as I was choosing pears. The two men were being loud, laughing, and joking around with one another, as if nothing had just taken place moments before. I wanted to say something. I felt compelled to throw the fruit at him. I wanted to tell him that I heard every despicable word he had said. I looked at the small little boy, sitting up straight in the front of the cart, and I wanted to ask him if he was OK. 

But I didn't.

 I didn't do anything, but hug Molly tight, and whisper to her that I loved her. 

The feeling of failing that little boy has still not left me.


  1. I think you did the right thing. It's hard, but what could you have done differently? If you had called the police, they couldn't have done anything unless they witnessed physical abuse. Saying something would likely have just made them more angry and possibly put you and your child in harm's way. And with either of those options, the person is simply more likely to retaliate later towards that child.
    It's so hard. I wish there was a solution that, in these situations, you do X and it's effective. But there just isn't.

  2. That story sucks. But you did NOT fail Molly that day. And that is your job here, on earth, to take care of Molly and her sisters. My heart breaks for that little boy. But you did your job that day. You kept your Molly safe and happy.

  3. You protected Molly during what was a horrible situation that you witnessed. My husband is the same, he would have def went over. But sometimes being a woman with a small child you have to look at what options, if any, are available without putting you and your child in harm's way.

    It is over now, maybe if something similar happens ever again memorize the license plate and place a call into the police. I know there was no physical abuse you witnessed, but you could say what you saw and say you didn't know the whole situation. With parents like that, it is hard to believe physical abuse is not happening at home. Not that is would guarantee him to stop, but a visit from the cops may put the guy in check, at least in public.

    Please don't keep dwelling on the situation. Know that you protected yourself and your daughter and maybe think about next time what options you do have without putting either of you in harm's way.

  4. I've been there a few times myself. Once, I glared at the mother who was demeaning her pre-teen son on the streets of Brooklyn. She told me to mind my business and keep walking. I told her she was making it everybody's business and kept walking, while the woman continued to yell at her son. Another time I saw a woman dragging her 2-year-old (I am guessing) by the hand, yelling at her to hurry up in busy midtown Manhattan. An older woman told the mother not to speak to her child like that. The mother's response was "she came out of me! she didn't come out of you! mind your business." Again, she didn't stop the way she was acting towards her child. Both instances left me feeling sick. I wanted to intervene. I wanted to calm the women down and tell them that they aren't behaving like someone who cares about their children. You are putting your child down, in public no less - - but regardless of what your child did to make you so angry, you are the one who looks like a monster. Take a breath, pull yourself together and pick on someone your own size. I just feel so badly for those children.

  5. You did the only thing your really could do. Keep you and your child safe. Had you had a man or someone older with you, you could have safely done something different. But in the situation you were in there is no way you could have safely intervened. I'm glad you safe and Molly was safe but I'm truly sorry ya'll had to witness that and the boy had to go through that. I hope today is much better for you dear!