Urban planners of the 21st century: take note.
I was going to come here tonight to tell you about our wonderful long weekend; about the kazallion hours spent near, but not in, the pool I pumped full of a kazallion gallons of water; about the sun-fading found-objects construction paper collages we made; about how we've finally settled in a routine with a regular babysitter, and the glorious dinner out that the lovely husband and I enjoyed, sans-children. I assumed I'd tell you about tonight's fireworks, because fireworks are one of my chief joys and tonight's were spectacular; but I can't tell you any of those things because I'm rankled.
We stopped on the way to the fireworks for some emergency noodles, which it seems must be obtained at least weekly for our children, not unlike putting gas in the car. You don't want to get stuck with three kids whose noodles tanks are empty. As we walked in a family walked out. At first I thought, how cute. The three kids were dressed in red. Both parents had on blue. Families of five make me look more closely. Is that how we'll look in a few years? But they had two boys and a girl. The girl looked like she was shivering, which is strange for a 90-degree days. She wasn't shivering. She was trying not to cry. None of them were speaking.
They passed us and didn't do the friendly hi/smile that you do in suburbia when you're two families dressed festively and stocking up on franchised-carbs as a means to a celebratory end. The dad evaded my smile. My girls ran past, oblivious. The lovely husband went ahead with them. I was holding G, and that girl started to cry. She looked me right in the eyes, the first of her family to do so, and she burst into tears as she stepped off the curb.
The mom had a vacant, empty look. She walked past, didn't notice her daughter's sadness, or didn't have the energy to address it. The dad started yelling. He grabbed on boy by the wrist, hard, and started yelling. The girl cried harder, and wouldn't walk closer to their car. The dad kept yelling, and pushed the other son. He pushed him right into the car. The girl cried harder. The mom just kept walking, just another day in paradise. The girl cried in the middle of the parking lot. The boys were now crying from inside the car. The dad kept yelling.
I wouldn't go inside. I stared at him, hard. I wanted him to know someone was watching. I wanted to yell out, but didn't.
Hey! Real men don't hurt their kids. You're 150 pounds bigger than him. That's not teaching, that's bullying.
I've got your license plate number and I'm calling social services tomorrow.
hey, poor thing, I'm so sorry you're scared and I want you to know not all men are like this.
I didn't say anything, though, because I didn't know what to do. Would he be more angry, and take it out on them? Would he come after me as I held my own sweet baby in my arms? Would anything I say make any difference at all?
So I just stood there, and watched him hard. And when they were gone and there was nothing I could do I got some noodles, and watched some fireworks, and celebrated freedom from oppression and thought about that girl crying in the middle of the parking lot.
What would you have done?