I don’t like confrontation and take great pains to avoid it. But even the least confrontational among us can be pushed too far … especially when it comes to protecting our children.
I was reminded of this when reading a blog post recently written by a mother whose teenage son had been the victim of an ambitious Amway-seller. It seems Ms. Amway felt it necessary to point out this boy’s acne in an attempt to sell him products. The author/mother had to battle her mama bear instincts not to call the woman and tear into her.
I suppose it was the mama bear in me that came out in Arkansas in the summer of 2011. We were visiting Hot Springs and a few other places that week with the Divine Miss M and That Blonde, daughter of the Labor Coach and M’s best friend. On July 4th, we had dinner at a restaurant with a patio/deck area on a lake. It was lovely, picturesque even. At some point before we finished our meal, a man and two women, one of whom was a little loud, walked up from the area of nearby docks and chose a table next to ours. I didn’t think much of it really. It was Fourth of July, people had probably been out on the lake all day drinking and it’s not like she was belligerent or anything…
After we were finished eating, Ms. M and That Blonde were walking back and forth between our table and the other side of the deck where they were feeding ducks. They were heading back toward us, passing the loud woman’s table when M started explaining the difference between male and female mallards based on their coloring. Unbeknownst to me, the loud woman had deduced Jodi and I were a couple and began making comments about how sick it was for children to be with us. (Though not all that important, I have never figured out how she reached that conclusion. Neither of us are prone to PDA, I can assure you we weren’t holding hands at a restaurant in the middle of Arkansas and had only even shared the same side of the table when the sun reached a point on its way down that it was shining in That Blonde’s eyes and I’d switched her places.) In any event, I was oblivious and didn’t realize what the woman was saying. But Jodi did.
Jodi began gathering our things and the kids and directing our exit. I finally started catching on when I heard the woman mocking Ms. M for her male/female mallard explanation. I stopped for a second, confused and honestly trying to understand if I was hearing her correctly. I suppose a grown woman mocking a ten-year-old child isn’t the first place your mind goes. Just as the girls rounded the corner and entered the restaurant door, Jodi leaned over their table and I heard her tell the woman, “We may be lesbians, just like you said, but at least we’re not in a public place, drunk and saying inappropriate things in front of children.” That’s when it all finally clicked in my dense head. They’d been talking about us, they’d been mocking our children – who easily could have heard them – simply because those children were with us, a same-sex couple.
And then it was exactly as I’ve heard people describe moments of great anger. There was a definite rushing in my ears and the world shrunk down to that moment and place. I was overwhelmed with the
misguided feeling that I had to DO something in response, like it was an obligation. The only thing near me was the full cup of water I’d left on our table. The loud woman was mid-sentence in her sarcastic response to Jodi and the next thing I knew, the cup was in my hand, my arm was shooting out and water was splashing across their table and their laps. I slammed the cup down on their tabletop and walked away - quickly.
I’ve no idea who was more stunned, the people at that table or Jodi.
That scene replays in slow motion in my head, especially as the water flies through the air toward their table. In the big scheme of things, it was a stupid thing to do. If I’d thought logically for even a second, I would have realized the girls hadn’t heard her and there was no need to take further action. Those people of course followed us as we were leaving the deck and that could have been a much uglier scene than it was. We finally left and the girls’ only comments were M asking why we were talking to those people and That Blonde answering for me with, “I think our family had a disagreement with theirs.” Bless her innocent heart. Thankfully, they didn’t see or hear much.
could should have simply walked away and held my head high. Been the bigger and better person rather than crawled around in the figurative gutter with those people. And if it had been comments directed only at us, I would have been able to do that fairly easily. My only defense is that it was my first experience with someone directing their intolerance at our children. Also, it caught me completely off guard and I felt a little blind-sided. We weren’t at some kind of political event or anywhere I anticipated that behavior. We were simply eating dinner on a lake right before we went to watch a fireworks show.
I swore Jodi to absolute secrecy but I had to tell the Labor Coach on the off-chance That Blonde saw more than I thought. Plus, I felt a little compelled to confess I’d done something that irresponsible while her daughter was in my care. Though her response was something along the lines of, “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard” and begged me to let her tell people. I am torn between chagrin over my actions and laughing at the uncharacteristic nature of it all.
The real long-lasting effect, however, has been that anytime I get mad, Jodi now gets to make quips about hoping there isn’t any water nearby.