Tuesday, July 21, 2009

WWJD?

Last night, when I should have been in bed sleeping, I was visiting a few blogs that I haven't checked in on in a while. One of those blogs is Lots of Scotts, which is authored by the beautiful JMom, who is the proud mother of adorable 5-year old BBG (boy, boy, girl) triplets.

JMom is a very strong and faithful Christian. As such, she is one of the most kind, tolerant and compassionate people I've ever met through blogging. Last night when I was catching up on her life with three little ones, I was absolutely stunned at an encounter that she had this past weekend.

I've written on more than one occasion about my run-ins with rude people. But to be perfectly honest, I really have been placing a lot of blame on myself. Maybe I'm saying something - or doing something - that is causing an inflammatory situation? Maybe I am too outspoken and need anger management? Maybe if I was better at practicing the lessons I learn in church every week, I would be more immune and more able to control myself. Or at least, diffuse a situation by responding with love.

But then I read what happened to JMom, a southern woman, with good manners to the hilt, who is infused with the Holy Spirit. And I spent the next several hours wondering what Jesus would do in a similar situation.

In a nutshell, JMom took her children to a restaurant this past weekend. While her husband was securing their boat (they were on a lake), JMom took her children inside to get a table. This is an excerpt directly from her post,
As I was making arrangements with the seating hostess the children were playing a few feet behind me. It took less than a minute.

Just as I had finished with the hostess I heard P crying behind me. As I picked him up he said, "Mama, that grown up was so mean. Why was he so mean?"

"What? What happened, buddy?" I asked.

"That mean grown up pushed me."

"A grown up pushed you?"

"Yes. He told me to move, then he pushed me. He was so mean."

I turned back towards the adults standing where the children had been playing--right in front of a brightly lit arcade game. Realizing that a 5 year old could have misinterpreted a situation, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt and clarify the situation.

"I am sorry, did something happen with my children?" I asked.

Suddenly a tall, salt and peppery haired man stepped toward me and gruffly said, "Yeah something happened. I'll tell you what happened. These kids of yours are over here pushing all over me and I got sick of it. I told them to move and when they didn't I moved 'em."

Not sure what to say, I looked to P, still in my arms and encouraged him to apologize to this man. P was leery.

"I am scared, Mama."

After a little more prompting he apologized.

Hoping this would satisfy the man, we started to walk away until he brusquely said, "Look! They are doing it again." He was exasperated. I got nervous. At that moment I saw K, working her way between the man and the bright, flashing arcade machine again.

"I am sorry, sir. K, come here." As he huffed and puffed I felt such anger welling up in my chest. It was starting to sink in that this man pushed my child. Yet, my children were watching wide eyed as I dealt with a bully. He was over 6 feet tall and angry. And I was alone with my children.

As I gathered my little geese at my feet so we could get out of there I said, "I am sorry. They are 5. Kids do things..."

"Not if their mother knows how to control them they don't," he spewed.

I have to tell you, I really wanted to punch him in the nose at this point...but this would have likely resulted in my being pummelled. I wish I had a great story of how I loved him like Jesus, but instead I looked him right in the eye and said through gritted teeth, "I hope you have a great night."

"I will as soon as you and these punks get out of here," he replied.

There is no doubt this man was angry and he was out to intimidate. And from past experience, I know that I don't respond well to these types of situations.

Why, it's like throwing water on a grease fire.


So chances are, I would have told this bully straight up that he was a jackass. But I'm absolutely certain that would have caused a scene. Although I doubt that the man would try to hurt me in a public place because there are witnesses and I would HOPE at least someone would leap to the defense of a woman with three small children.

When I asked Charlie what he would do, he told me that he'd tell the man, "My kids aren't punks, YOU are a punk. And if you threaten me or them again, I will call the police and press charges for harrassment." Then, he said he would whip out his cell phone, and stand armed to press buttons.

A few weeks ago, we attended a sermon at church that focused on highlighting the warrior that is within all of us. The minister said that all people have it within them to fight and be a part of a cause.

God created within you the heart of warrior.

Every warrior has a cause to fight for.

A warrior without a cause to fight FOR will find the wrong thing to fight AGAINST.


There are two ways that a warrior fights:
Sometimes your throw a punch. Sometimes you take a punch.

There is ... a time for war, and a time for peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8 (NLT)

I've really thought about this over the past several hours, and I don't think that Jesus would have walked away from the bully in the restaurant. But I do think that JMom handled herself very well in the situation and exercised incredible control. When a situation like that occurs, so fast, I don't think that very many of us have on our tongues, and in our hearts, the exact right words to say when you need them.

I know that calling someone names isn't the right solution.

I know that small eyes are on me, learning from my every move.

I suspect that in my lifetime, there will be times when I am faced with a difficult situation and I will react without first thinking what the RIGHT THING is to do. The RIGHT THING that will insure I am safe. The RIGHT THING that will insure my children see that I am going to protect them. The RIGHT THING that will insure this individual knows that what they are doing is unacceptable. The RIGHT THING that will insure I handle it in a manner that is ... well, pleasing to God.

So, what do you think the right thing is to do when someone goes after your children?

Do you remind the person that they were once a child and you will pray for them?

Or do you tell them to BACK OFF or you will call the police and a coroner?

24 comments:

  1. "Or do you tell them to BACK OFF or you will call the police and a coroner?"

    You got it Momma! I can't imagine what my husband would do to a grown man if they TOUCHED one of my kids..lets just say I hope it never happens.

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  2. Safety over pride, every time. It's never worth personal safety of safety of those you love to speak your mind over an issue that is frankly, just not that important. He's an old crumudgon, you won't change his mind or change his basic disposition in life. Maybe he hates kids and he's a jerk, but your obligation is to make sure your kids are safe. In case your worried about teaching your kids to be cowards rather than brave, talk with your kids about it and teach them that they don't have to care about what every single person says or feels about them and to find self worth inside, not always on how they're treated on the outside. It's not our job to "mother" everyone and if the guy was raised poorly, point out to your kids how you hope you never grow up to be like that man. They will learn equally as valuable lessons from your restraint and protective flight mechanism as they do when they see you speak out in an appropriate situation. Teach them pride in themselves that doesn't require outward expressions of anger, hate and dominance and teach them to have strength on the inside. If they have inner strength, no external influence or action will be able to shake them.

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  3. No question - I would have kicked his ass all over the place. Have done it before; will do it again. (verbally, of course, but I can STING)

    I think of myself more of the avenging-angel Christian soldier type.

    People DO in fact need negative reinforcement for their bad behavior once in a while - from "society" at large - and this guy isn't too old to learn a lesson.

    If he had, maybe next time he'd learn to be nice.

    I don't actually believe that sociable behavior is somehow innate to the human animal. I think it must be learned and reinforced throughout life. That Boomer dude has likely been antisocial for a good long time, and overly polite people (thinking they are doing good) have been putting up with it and giving him POSITIVE reinforcement where negative reinforcement would have served everyone better.

    While he awaits his final judgment (and nasty souls like that seem to linger on this earth for far too long, likely at the Devil's whim), I'm happy to fill in for Gabriel once in a while.

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  4. Poop in his hand! Poop in his hand!.....sorry, I've been watching too many G-Force movie trailers. LOL:) Seriously Jen, I've found that people who are that miserable with life are not worth your time and energy. I've learned to walk away and don't look back....maybe spewing a few choice words as I go...but walking just the same.

    XOXO

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  5. I've had a similar situation to this and I did this - gathered my kids up to me and told them, in life there are people who are nice and there are people who are not. You can't tell by looking at them and for that reason, in a restaurant, you don't give any-one a chance to get mean with you. Then I looked the guy in the eye and said, thanks for giving me the opportunity to teach my kids that the world has its share of mean and bullying people who are best left to themselves in this type of situation and that they can't expect everyone to behave like the human being they look like. Then we have left, 1 big nose and 3 little noses high in the air! I don't know if was a good response or not but it felt good!

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  6. Well one night I came home from work and found my 15 year old daughter on our front porch with two other girls. I could feel the tension as I went into the house so I stayed close to the door and pretty soon heard my daughter tell them to get their hands off of her. A split second later I was on them like stink on shit, pick them both up by the back of their coats and THREW them off my porch. They took off running and I took off after them. My daughter was a lot older than the Trips and that was the first time I had ever ever reacted like that, really never was faced with many assholes when it came to my kids luckily. Except that night and they weren't getting away with bullying my daughter. She was completely embarassed but I told her to get over it. The girls did not even go to the same school as my daughter so I knew (didn't at the time I reacted) there wouldn't be any problems at school. So I guess it just depends on what the circumstance is. I tend to forget who's watching sometimes when I go crazy!!

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  7. That scares me because maybe the next time that man pushes a (my) child it could result in a a serious accident! I would've nailed that guy to a cross, right then and there! No pun intended!

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  8. I have noticed that the scenario usually involves a man (grumpy, older type) and he is attacked a MOTHER and her children. Haven't heard many anecdotes of a man attacking another man. Which basically means that he is a COWARD. I mean, how courageous do you have to be to push a child? Challenging him (while it might feel good) probably won't be productive.
    You can't change him, but you do want to use this as a learning opportunity for the kids. Let him know that his behavior was wrong and will not be tolerated. Speak firmly and as calmly as you can. And then get away from him.

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  9. I can sympathize with being outnumbered in public. Sometimes the kids do get away with something you’d rather they didn’t but that’s not an excuse for someone getting physical with a child.

    While I've never encountered bullying on a physical level, we have definitely encountered mean spirited people. I also struggle with how to handle such situations. I agree that it's important not to tolerate such behavior because tolerating it is akin to approval. At the same time it only makes the situation worse to confront the person or say something within their earshot and escalate that person’s temper. Taking the high road and setting a good example isn’t easy.

    So far, I’ve operated on the concept of kill them with kindness. Hopefully, they’ll feel badly later for not showing the same kindness and act better next time. At the very least I save myself agonizing over my own bad behavior and that’s something worth striving for.

    I’m not sure I could have done that with someone who’d manhandled one of my children or made them cry though. I guess it’s time to think of an appropriate response now to have it ready if it’s ever needed. Maybe something that focuses on how that person should have behaved “S/he’s a child, you are an adult. Next time please take it up with an adult – not a child.” Of course exiting the situation immediately is key before risking anyone getting hurt or a verbal battle.

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  10. I am a total hot-head. I would have read that man the riot act, then called the police for him assaulting my child. I know that the words streaming out of my mouth would have earned me a time out from my kids, but you just don't touch other peoples children, especially in an aggressive manner.

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  11. I'd like to think I would have said something. Even just, "Do not touch my children, if they bother you, tell ME." But I wouldn't. I'm too chicken but I've always respected people (esp girls) who could stand up for themselves.

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  12. Calling someone a name out of anger is not the same thing as speaking the truth when you're angry.

    The man was a bully and physically abusive to a small child.

    I wouldn't have threatened to call the cops. I would have stepped away from the man, headed for the the restaurant manager and ask him/her to take me and my children to a safe place while I called the police. I would have asked the restaurant manager to keep his eye on the man (or get his license number if he left) until the police arrived.

    Also? I think I'd go back there and file a report with the restaurant, too. The restaurant ought to know that one of their patrons assaulted a small child on their property.

    Jesus spoke of righteous anger. He turned over some tables in a temple, right? And Jesus was huge on taking care of children most importantly.

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  13. Hi, i dont ever post but i have been reading for a very long time....My parents told me a similar story to yours a couple blogs back about how they were riding their bikes on a bike path minding their own business and some guy passed them and shook his fist at them and told them to get out of the way.

    I have found that the world is very rude and yes there are those except few out there who are are nice but in general people only care about themselves

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  14. Guess what Alaska still has...no concealed weapon law...so guess what I always have?! Yeah...

    Anyway...Amen and God Bless for Jmom, but I would have taken the closest thing that would have inflicted harm on the dude, and hit him in the face. Then I would have told him that since HIS MOM didn't teach him any manners, that I would teach him FOR HER.

    Cause I'm a ninja like that...heck with the police. If they were called, HE PUSHED FIRST, right?!

    I wish we could all be like JMom and Michelle Duggar, but dude...push my kid and DIE.

    But you know how savage Eskimo's were raised. As a matter of fact, here's a story...

    Before AK was a state...and the mean people came around, my grandfather lived with his family. He was very nice, very caring, but didn't hesitate to protect his family. Ever. At any cost.

    So, when my ex-husband came to town, threatening to snatch my child away, my grandfather did was he would have done for anyone. He took his gun adn shot him. He had NO idea that it was wrong. He simply stated that he was trying to take the baby, and hurting me...so he protected us. Charges were NEVER filed, and the Police told the Ex that he got what he deserved, trying to take a baby away from its mother. Shoot...he was lucky my grandfather just shot him in the leg.

    So, aside from the hilariousness (and it WAS funny), he had no qualms about protecting his family. And neither do I.

    (Now, lets hear it from all you granolas, come on...I can take it!)

    I wouldn't shoot him...but seriously...don't mess with my kids. I'm sure there's a lesson to teach your kids there, but I'm not that great of a mom! I'da kicked his ass.

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  15. Well, I would have told him to go straight to hell and if he so much as looked at my children again, I'd have my husband beat his ass. Cuz I married to one crazy mo fo and you don't mess with his kids. WWGD?

    What would Greg do?

    Greg would have pushed him into the arcade and then he would have beat his head against the glass.

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  16. Finnskimo- OMG, you just made me pee my pants. I am so totally moving to Alaska.

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  17. All of these responses are great. I really love Annicles response of telling her children that they have just learned a valuable lesson, loud enough for the bully to hear.

    But ... Finnskimo ... UNBELIEVABLE!!

    Your grandfather SHOT your ex-husband?! Holy crap. You didn't even write about that when I posted the airing of our grievances. Girlfriend, THAT would have won you a cowbell for sure. (Note to self: Must put that post up for vote and select winner of cowbell award.)

    And then what happened?? Did your grandfather flog your ex with a walrus carcass?? I'm definitely with Michele. I want to move to Alaska.

    Can we come visit you??

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  18. Gosh. What a difficult situation. I think I would want to be the bigger person and just walk away... but I doubt I would. It would probably all depend on how hormonal I was.

    Grumpy old men suck.

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  19. I think it might be a good teaching lesson for the children to say, "Oh, children we have to say a prayer for this poor OLD man--he is so lonely and cranky. Poor thing. Then hurry the children away.
    MOM

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  20. Well, I don't think it's between saying and doing nothing vs. being a hothead and upping the ante. You can say that you don't think what he's doing is right and still call the cops if you feel threatened, but the world (and your kids) don't need more grownups screaming and threatening each other, no matter who started it. What would you tell them - that the nasty man yelled and threatened you with violence, so you, umm, yelled and threatened him with violence? Because he started it? What kind of example is that? And what do you ultimately believe is more powerful - love or hate? God thought love--that's why he sent Jesus. Ecclesiastes is from the Old Testament - not irrelevent, but Jesus came along and changed things (and thinking - follow Leviticus much?) He said we are actually to turn the other cheek and move away from the eye-for-an-eye thinking that has led to thousands of years with no peace. You're a good mom - and I struggle with anger too - but you asked, and I don't think it makes sense to conflate passion for what is right with vengeful thinking.

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  21. Finnskimo gets my vote (only because I'm scared...LOL). I am so moving to Alaska!

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  22. Hey Jen!

    I have to tell ya... I've been sneaking around your blog for quite a while. I'm not even sure how I found ya, but I think it had something to do with a friend of a friend who was having multiples and I was snooping around... Anyways...

    I think what you, your husband and your children are doing is pretty amazing (no pun intended) on several fronts. (I'd send this as a message, instead of a post, but I have not a clue how to do so.)

    One, I think the fact that you have such a handle on raising four children within 18 months of each other (not to mention the three that are the same age), is pretty damn incredible. I'm getting married in October, but have been told that it will be exceedingly difficult to conceive because of breast and hormonal issues I've had in the past. I can only hope that we have half the luck you've had (although I think I'd pull my hair out with two, let alone four!!!!)... You guys really are amazing!!!

    Two, I was a product of Montessori education through 3rd Grade! I probably could have used a little more structure, but I was a bright kid who was OBSESSED with reading and it allowed me to work above my "assumed" grade level in a way that was pretty incredible. I have an undergrad degree from Notre Dame and a grad degree from Georgetown, and I'd have been nowhere without the foundation Montessori offered me.

    Finally (and I meant it when I said I'd have preferred to send you a message), I really applaud what you're doing with TNT. I raced in the 2007 Accenture Chicago Triathlon as a TNT team member and it was a truly incredible experience... Since then, my 4 year old nephew has be diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, so I've shifted my focus, but I will ALWAYS be grateful for the almost indescribable things I learned from TNT experience.

    In short, I really hope I don't sound like a crazy, but you really have been a pretty DAMN COOL inspiration for a gal like me.

    THANK YOU.

    (And keep up the CRAZY good work!),

    Amy

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  23. I wish I could say I turn the other cheek. But in reality, I run off at the mouth.

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  24. what kind of a monster is this guy that cannot tolerate a few 5 year olds? I would have said some pretty sarcastic things to him about who he choses to pick fights with, how he must be feeling pretty inadaquate to bully some children. If I was there witnessing this to another woman I dont think I would have been able to keep quiet. Its so disgusting!

    By the way, Ive never commented before but I think your children are such dolls!

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