Sunday, November 30, 2008

Innocence Lost

My kid's lost a tiny bit of their innocence today. I didn't mean for it to happen, but it did. You see, CPA said he needed some bad polyester clothes for a 70s-themed management meeting this week. I'm sure you're thinking I'm going to write something light-hearted and up-beat based on that information. And I wish I could. But unfortunately, that's not where this story is going to take me.

It was after church this morning that we went to Goodwill to find a perfectly awful outfit for that meeting. As we were browsing through the racks, my attention was taken away from the clothes and to a mother and her four small children; two of which appeared to be twin boys not much older then three.

As all kids do, they wanted to play in the toy section. And one of the twins started to head in that direction. Instead of the mother asking him to stay by her, she grabbed him by the ear and pulled him so hard his feet left the ground for a moment. I was horrified. He started to cry because he hurt. He really hurt. She told him to shut-up and if he didn't she was going to 'whoop' him.

My kids looked at me in complete horror. But at that moment my concern wasn't for them. It was for that little boy. My heart raced and so many thoughts ran through my mind I didn't know how to process them all. Should I say something? Should I walk away? Should I call someone? If so, who? Who should I call to protect this little boy? Lord, help me, what should I do?

I stayed close pretending to look at infant clothing. But I really wasn't. What I was doing was trying not to wrap my arms around that little boy. I was trying not to reach inside my purse for a Kleenex to wipe his tears. What I was doing was trying not to cry.

Once again, she pulled the boy's ear so he was right next to her. Those tears that had started to dry up now re-appeared. And again, my kid's looked at me in horror and with fear-filled eyes. And my thoughts turned to them. Because in their world, parents don't do that to children. In their world, a mom loves, comforts and protects. A mom disciplines in love and always gives a hug followed by an 'I love you,' after a punishment. In their world, scenes such as this aren't played on any stage. Scenes such as this aren't even written.

The tears began to flow. They poured outwardly from the little boy and inwardly from me. The mom looked at all four of the kids and said, 'Come on, we're leaving. You kids cry everywhere we go!' She began to march them toward the front door. And that's when I said it. ' You know, it might help if you didn't pull them by their ears.' 'EXCUSE ME?,' she said. I repeated myself. 'They probably wouldn't be crying if you weren't pulling them around by the ears. No decent mother does something like that.' 'Well,' she said, 'they my kids and I can do what it is I want!'

My kids got really close to my legs and I realized I had opened Pandora's Box. In a loud, booming voice, she told me I better mind my own business or else. At this point, I felt scared and the kids and I went to find CPA. As we walked away, she continued to mutter expletives at me and told me just where I should go with my comments.

I've replayed this scene over and over in my mind today. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut and walked away. Maybe I should have whisked my children away so they wouldn't have witnessed such behavior. Maybe I shouldn't have let my attention escape from the clothing racks.

But the reality is, I did say something. The reality is I questioned something I thought was wrong. And I can't regret that. Because maybe it was the first time someone had stuck-up for those kids. And maybe they'll always remember the lady who dared to question their mom's right to pull their ears.

Do I wish some random mother at Goodwill hadn't robbed my children of a bit of their innocence? Yes. But at the end of the day, I think I did what God expected of me. I think I showed six little children - her four and my two - that no one has a right to treat a child that way. I think I showed six little children what it means to stand-up for what is right. And for that reason alone, I'm okay with the innocence my children lost today.



aletha :: pearls events said...

WOW--that's a crazy story, Jodi! I am glad that lady didn't kick your butt. Sounds like she might have in a dark alley. I most likely would have said the same thing--and you're right, I think you did what God expected of you.

Dawn Davis said...

That is a crazy story and I'm sad you had to witness that.

~ Dawn

Ben + Laura Harrison said...

I think you definitely did the right thing ... by how defensive she got its probably the first time anyone has told her that behavior isn't acceptable. Don't you hate that how you keep replaying those events in your head ... this is what I should have said, this is what I should have done, etc ... everything happens for a reason and hopefully next time she goes to rip her sons ear off she will think twice.