It starts out innocent enough. I might be at a park with my kids, trying to give them space to roam while being just the right amount of helicoptery to prevent some kind of injury. Not that I’m averse to my kids getting hurt— bumps and bruises are a part of life— but I’ve got shit to do and the last place I want to spend my afternoon is an Urgent Care with a kid whose arm is pointing in a funny direction. No, thank you.
My main priority during these outings is thwarting any and all attempts my children may make, wittingly or not, to break a bone or require stitches.
But then it happens.
Another child, bigger than my youngest, pushes her to the ground or hits her hard when she tries to play with them. A little kid calls my son a mean name or shoves him out of the way.
My jaw tightens. My muscles start to ripple and my entire body turns green as it grows rapidly larger, ripping my clothing but leaving my pants curiously intact. My rage is Hulk-like and uncontrollable, and this little
turd brat kid who was mean to my baby will bear the wrath of my anger. After wreaking the sufficient amount of havoc on the little heathen, I dust off my hands, return to normal size and color, and find my shirt.
Okay. It doesn’t always happen exactly like that. It may or may not in my mind, but in real life, I usually throw a pissed off look that lets the rotten mouth-breather know that I am watching and give a side-eye glance at their caregiver so they know I know how to fuck up their allotted screen time that afternoon. This usually gets that kid to back off mine while I go back to stewing in my rage fantasies until it’s time to round up my family and head home.
In my rational brain, I know that it’s not doing anyone any good for me to harbor ragey thoughts about these kids in my brain. Kids are universally acknowledged as capable of significant assholery between one another. It’s normal kid behavior, for the most part, and it’s wholly unreasonable for me to expect that every child is going to be nice all the time to each and every fruit of my womb.
But the second my mom senses start tingling that there is dickishness afoot and my babies are on the receiving end? Something primal takes over.
I would never actually go bonkers on a small child. But thinking about it can be satisfying as hell. Maybe as satisfying as slamming the door on a solicitor who won’t take the fact that you are braless, unshowered, and using yourself as a human barricade to keep your screaming children away from the doorway as a “hell no” and still wants to pitch you.
Definitely as satisfying as a well-placed F-bomb. Right up there with telling your mother-in-law to bless her own fucking heart.
Ultimately, I want my kids to be able to take up for themselves. If I think they can handle a confrontation with someone who excludes or mocks them, I hang back and let them deal with it while I think about burning every stuffed animal the other child has ever loved in front of them, one by one. I don’t want them to think that Mommy is going to rescue them from every little thing, even though I could totally take that snot-nosed 6-year-old.
I am also under no delusion that my kids are perfect angels. They can be jerks too. And, if I see that behavior, or if someone alerts me to it, I will deal with the offender posthaste. That’s the difference there. I don’t let them shove someone to the ground, or hurl out insults, and then hum to myself and look up at the clouds to avoid the confrontation. I see it, or I find out about it, and I nip it in the bud.
By bottling my rage and channeling it later on into things like grass stains and barre class and pounding the shit out of some chicken breasts with a meat tenderizer before I bread them, I am showing my children that taking the high road is the way to go. No need to tell them that the low road in my psyche is littered with the tears of their enemies after I have told them that Santa isn’t real and their parents have lied to them their entire lives. They’ll figure some of that out in therapy one day, no doubt. For now, I will remain calm and composed and dreaming of the demise of a preschooler who tripped my toddler on purpose.