Random Words Wednesday

IT is considerably unfair that I, while holding a baby girl sporting a black eye, that I cast judgement on a tattooed father reprimanding his boy who had one eye swollen shut and one arm hidden in his jumper. Perhaps in a sling?

But that’s exactly what I was doing while shopping recently.

When my daughter busted her eye on the corner of our coffee table, I spent the next week telling complete strangers what had happened to her. But I was glad to have people actually ask, rather than give me critical looks and say nothing. In short, I preferred people to not draw their own inaccurate conclusions.

With the people brave enough to raise their concerns, I could give them the truth and we could go about our clucking, consoling tones and say how lucky she was that it wasn’t worse.

It was predominantly older people, grey-haired grandparents, who were comfortable approaching me. So I’m guessing younger people also noticed, but were slightly more judicious in their reactions.

As was I when I saw this other young boy.

I wanted to smile and coo and say ‘oh poor thing, what happened?’. But I couldn’t.

What stopped me was the way the father was speaking to him. I hardly heard the boy speak, but I heard his father’s reaction: “when you leave home, you can get whatever you want. Just remember that.”

Even as I’m writing it, I get a little chill. Was it just me, overly sensitive by my own daughter’s bruises, or did I perceive a threat in that father’s challenge?

Was it really little more than his version of my “when you’re older you can have softdrink”? Was I over-reacting or was it a thinly veiled bitch that his dad looked forward to his son – who couldn’t have been more than 10 – leaving home?

I heard another mum the same day, suggesting her little boy get a job, but she was guffawing over the price of cheese and smiling broadly as she announced it to others in the dairy section.

No malice there.

Was it that this man was covered in tattoos? Surely, I’m not that judgemental. I have a tattoo myself. Was it the distinct lack of humour in his voice? His son’s downcast look? The mother’s deadpan expression?

My instinct was to hug this boy tight.

Was that wrong, silly even – especially given my own experience with a battered-looking child on my own hip?

Why am I still hoping someone has reached out to this family? That someone has given this boy the hug that I wanted to give, but couldn’t?

I hope I’m overreacting. I hope I’m dead wrong. The opposite is too awful to consider.



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Glowless
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 15:55:51

    I hope you’re mistaken, too. Not a nice thing to witness – that feeling of not being able to help is awful.


  2. Diary of a SAHM
    Jun 26, 2011 @ 10:36:33

    It’s so hard in these situations. The good parents who occassionally smack their children fir defiance are scared that they will be reported, whilst those who do hurt there kids go scott free, because no one says anything. I’m not saying that’s what happened here; I guess it’s just impossible to tell.
    I had a woman come to my house for a mothers group with a blac eye, and I spent the better part if two hours wondering if I should ask. I didn’t and I still wonder if that was the right decision. What do you do?


    • petajo
      Jun 27, 2011 @ 03:24:40

      *forlorn shrug… Sometimes wish I had the audacity of older people to just come out and say “what happened to you?!”


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