Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why I Hate People...

I really try to like them. I have often tried to be that person who never says or thinks a bad thing about another human. I cannot tell you how often my New Years Resolution is to become a genuinely, truly "nice" person, who can get along with everyone, and for whom the phrase, "not a mean bone in her body" would be a fitting description.

But alas, I am NOT that person and today I realized, it's not (just) because of me. I am not simply wired to be a snarky, semi-cynical grump. It's the fact that I'm just far too sensitive to the crappiness and all-around bitchitude of others to be Miss Mary Sunshine.

Never in my life have I striven to be more likeable than right now. I'm not trying to be someone I'm not or anything crazy like that--I know this isn't high school; I've gotten past that angst and I do believe that I am likeable as I am, but I'm definitely mindful of how I present myself to potential friends in this new environment. Which is everyone, basically. All the time. (well, probably not the woman at the table next to me in Panera clipping her fingernails, because....ew.) So perhaps the coming rant is justifiable only in that I was made to feel so utterly unlikeable today that a little piece of me shriveled up in humiliation.

Today was our Music Together class, which has been up to this point a bit of a roller coaster. Lovely to be in a class already; establishing a routine; something familiar for us, since we have taken several rounds of Music Together in the past year. Lovely to chat with some of the moms and realize that perhaps these are the early days of some wonderful future friendships. But not so lovely when your kid is, not the worst behaved in class (because there are some doozies), but at least the most aggressive. This new side of Ethan--the hitting, kicking, throwing sand side of him is really bumming me out, and I have found myself in the past several weeks falling all over myself to apologize to other moms and establish a time-out structure that actually feels like discipline to Ethan without being based in shame or humiliation. He's great at saying, "sorry", but I don't think he has the foggiest idea what he's apologizing for, nor is it clear to him that we're leaving parks and classes because he's just hit another toddler.

For the most part, other moms have been graciously understanding, sensing my abject horror at my child's behavior. That's, to some degree, the wonder of this sisterhood of motherhood (do I get points for how awkward that sounds?). If you have a child, you've either "been there", or you know you're destined for it sometime in the future. When I am groveling for forgiveness when my beast (and yes, I am a bad mother, my child answers to the name "beast" now) walks up to another toddler on the playground and just "thwack!"s him, most moms realize that I am simply them in another form, and that in ten minutes they could be dealing with the same "thwack-y" toddler themselves.

It is very much a "there, but for the grace go I" kind of experience. And most of us recognize that. We appreciate seeing the offending toddler's mom address the situation, because nothing gets our hackles up like seeing our child hurt (bodily or in feelings) without the situation being rectified, but unless the attack is egregious or results in real harm, the mom code says we stay out the game of disciplining another's child, lest we send that mother all kinds of "I'm better than you" signals and we know how we'd feel if sent that message ourselves.

I guess MomBitch in my Music Together class missed that "Sisterhood of Motherhood Memo" and today, she decided to have at me, via her child, during class.

We arrive at class early and with my best intentions to keep Ethan from messing with the window shutters. This was last week's debacle, as he instigated a mass exodus away from the song circle to the window shutters for a rousing game of "opencloseopencloseopenclose" that had many of the mothers looking at me like, "my child would never have done that if yours hadn't given him/her the idea." Joy.

So we sit as far from the windows as we can get without being outside in the parking lot. Perhaps the parking lot would have been a more productive place for us because shortly after we took our place, MomBitch and her Spawn come in and park themselves next to us. Spawn is wearing a shiny new pair of sneakers and the color captivates Ethan. Like a toddler captivated by a color (duh), Ethan attempts to touch the sneakers. Spawn is displeased with the attention and tries to move away. Understandable. Ethan follows him, on his knees, trying to touch the elusive sneakery goodness.

Of course, I call Ethan back, tell him to leave Spawn be, and begin to get up to retrieve my sneaker-stalking son. It's at this point that MomBitch decides to teach her child how to scold my child. "Spawn, tell Ethan not to be a naughty boy. Tell him to leave you alone; you don't want him touching you." Fortunately Spawn doesn't have the capacity for full sentences, and just keeps moving.

Perhaps you might have heard a loud "bang" at around 9:30am PST today. That would have been the sound of my jaw hitting the floor as this woman called my child "naughty". Or no, I'm sorry; told her son to call my child "naughty".

Mind you, this woman made no eye contact with me, nor did she attempt to respond to me when I picked Ethan up and said, "so sorry", having moved internally, in a nano-second from shock, to anger, to humiliation, to complete and utter self-loathing that I'm raising a "naughty" child.

Within minutes I have gravitated back to white-hot anger (because, please, I am an emotional time-bomb these days. shocking). How DARE she?! Right? Right? Thank you.

But that's not it. Later in the class, during "egg-shaker time" (shoot me. seriously.), Ethan decides that Spawn's shakers looked mighty good, and he makes a move for them. CLEARLY not okay, but also clearly toddler-appropriate behavior. So of course, I give it a second to work itself out, then call to Ethan to leave Spawn alone, and when that didn't work, I again get up, go to the middle of the circle, and collect my egg-shaker stealer, returning to our spot in the circle, again apologizing and having Ethan apologize as well.

What did MomBitch do during this? Well of course. Instruct her son once again to let my son know he's naughty, bad and mean. Brilliant. During the rest of class, I am sure the air temperature right around me was about 10 degrees higher than the rest of the room as I contemplated the passive-aggressive nastiness of a woman who would use her son as a mouth piece for her disapproval of my son's behavior. Especially when she can't bother to address me or respond to me addressing her.

I totally get teaching your child to advocate for him/herself--I think that's important and appropriate. But teaching your child that they have the power to label another child as "naughty" or "bad"??!! Step OFF, bitch.

And can I tell you what MomBitch did for most of the class? Let her child run around like a lunatic, ignoring it when herefused to hand in sticks and egg-shakers when the teacher asked, and she herself had to be asked several times not to talk during song time.

So I know the type of person I was dealing with, and over the course of the day, I've let my anger subside for the most part. But seriously. This is why there's a little part of me that just hates people, and has to start making peace with the fact that I will never be that "not a mean bone in her body" person; I said nothing to her (except for the attempts at apologizes that fell on deaf ears), but the thoughts about her that ran through my head for most of the rest of the day completely take me out of the running, I'd say forever, for "Miss Mary Sunshine".

Oh, and in "Sarah's First Earthquake" news...didn't even feel it. How is that possible??!! I was on Hollywood Blvd, being all touristy with my parents and Ethan, and somehow we felt nothing. 5.4 on the Richter scale. 0 on the Sarah scale.

Ah well.

13 comments:

SSU said...

Yeah, that mom has issues. It is okay to have your child tell another kid you don't like what he/she is doing, but labels should not be placed! (sorry for the upcoming psychology) If we label people with names, they are more likely to live up to those names. Smart, stupid, naughty, good... what ever we call them they will live up to!

Tress said...

You have more self-restraint than I do, my friend. There would have been a smackdown, Music Together style.

If she keeps it up, I'm coming out there.

Becca said...

WHAT A CRAZY BITCH SHE WAS! Seriously. You did exactly the right thing. You just can't win with some people. Unfortunately for Spawn he's gonna get his ass kicked in a major way one day for all the "social skills" he's learning from her. I thought about you when I heard about the earthquake. I thought your next post would be from somewhere over the US because you were flying back to DC! I'm so glad you didn't feel anything. That would have been really scary.

Amy said...

Lunacy, pure and simple. What a nutjob. You know I have been there and done that with the hitting and aggressiveness, so I can relate. It will get better; Jack's peaked around this age and we're on the downside of it now.

I totally was looking forward to your EARTHQUAKE!!!!! post. I am so bummed.

cicadalady said...

You know what you should do? When the mom says that to her son "Tell Ethan he is being naughty", you should say, "Ethan, tell Spawn's mom (ok use real name here) that she is being very naughty for teaching her son to say such inappropriate things that totally went out of style in, oh, let's say 1974." Of course that would probably backfire terribly. But I'd love to see what she said.

Kayla said...

I applaud you for not punching her in the nose. What self-control! And by the way, you are very likeable.

Anonymous said...

The next time that happens, I would seriously look right at her and say, "We don't call names in our house and would appreciate it if you wouldn't teach that to my child."

I don't hold my tongue very well, but there is not way I could have bitten my tongue!

Good luck!

Bonnie said...

Oh NO she didn't!

I think I would have thrown an egg-shaker at her head for that one. No way is she to call another child, or instruct her child to call another child, naughty. Are you kidding? That is just not in the realm of mother-coolness.

My son was always the one leading the kids to find the hidden instruments in the cabinet that were not to be used at that time. It's part of being a child.

Sarah said...

First of all, I HATED our Music Together. We only went twice because I sweated through my clothes both times trying to keep Harry in the song circle/ from breaking things/ from stealing the g-d damn egg shakers and rain sticks-- you get the idea.

Second-- what an idiot mom!! Yuck!

Third, don't be embarrassed of toddler aggression because we HAVE all been there. At freaking Music Together.

KMW said...

Um, that woman is a bitch. I thought that Ethan was going to have done something that embarrassed you (based on the first section of your post), but it sounds like he acted like a normal two year old (which is what ALL if his behavior sounds like to me-we could pow wow over the hitting issues). And, uh, he didn't even do anything bad. At all. You should see Music Together where I go. Lots of waaay worse behavior. But they make you take your shoes off at the beginning of class:)

Alice said...

People are jerks. (they are actually worse, but I'm editing myself) You have way more self control than most. And you did the only appropriate thing you could do in that situation. Well done. I don't know what I would've done, but I'm sure it would've made me look almost as bad as that idiot mom. What a nightmare.
It sounds like Ethan is a perfectly normal 2 year old. She was probably just jealous of how cute he is.

V said...

Craziness. I hope I don't come across one of those mother types. Jamie says english people use the word naughty a lot (remember austin powers :) Does mother of Spawn have an accent? ...On another topic, speaking of non conforming toddlers - When we are in Chloe's ballet class and all of the other "good little girls" are doing plies in a circle, Chloe is hanging from the ballet bar in the back of the room chanting "I climb like monkey" "I climb like monkey". Looking forward to our little ones getting together soon ;)

TheHMC said...

Yeah, ditto what everyone else said. And she knew that in the way she approached it, that you probably wouldn't say or do anything(especially with a bunch of kids around).

I'm the same way with people. I don't mind people so much, but it's the jerks that lurk around every corner that keep me closed off a lot of the time.

Your son did nothing wrong, you know that. Hopefully the next class will go better. And if she next to you in the future, you should quietly get up and move. But do it so that SHE'S aware that you're moving because of her, but no one else is. I know that could be construed as bitchy in and of itself, but that's how I roll.
Good luck at the next one.