The whimpering, shaking cry was not the typical “I didn’t get to pick the game we play and my feelings are hurt, or the “Everybody hates me. I have no friends” Kind of cries I’ve come to expect midsummer. This was a “I am in mortal fear.” Type of cry. And I don’t mean mortal fear of grounding. I mean- my youngest was crying like someone had threatened his life. And he believed it.
To say he was hysterical is an understatement. His words flowed out like an avalanche. They picked up speed and lost organization as they flowed. “”****y’s Dad.” (Name with held to protect the not so innocent- but still cared for.) Was the only thing I could make out. (That whole- Mom’s always know what their kids are saying, thing? Total lie. )
Fortunately, I had an interpreter. Unfortunately- he was almost as hysterical as the emotional avalanche in Nike’s. My oldest. Who at 22, is usually pretty much not hysterical. My interpreter told me how he’d overheard a parent (male- 6’4″) screaming at and threatening (a veiled threat- but to a child- a threat- all the same.) my youngest. The interpreter suggested that he’d go out and “take care of” the adult. I didn’t think this would help the situation.
Once my youngest heard his brother lay the ground work- of the story-he gathered his thoughts into (mostly) sentences and filled me in. He was shaking and crying. He also told me he had to change his pants- before telling me the rest- because he was so scared he’d wet them. (He’d not had an accident since pull-ups- he seriously thought this dad was going to hurt him. And he was scared to death.)
The bottom line- The neighborhood kids had done what kids do- they decided that one kid would be left out of a game. (To make life more interesting- or to shoot for a reality show based on our neighborhood- or just because kids can be mean.) The child went home upset- and the parent came out furious.
What followed could have been the pilot episode of “Real Momma Bears of the Cul De Sac.”
As my guys told me what happened- I got more and more angry. It wasn’t just emotional- it was primal. I wanted to hurt that man. At least- I wanted to scare him so bad he wet HIS pants- but- at 5’4″ I knew I didn’t have much a chance at that. I considered taking my oldest up on his suggestion. But, I was pretty sure the police would end up involved- and that couldn’t go well for a college kid- even if he was provoked and protecting his baby brother.Besides- honestly? I wanted to be the one to take this guy on.
I marched across the street and rang the doorbell. (Well- I marched as much as one can march barefoot on hot pavement. Maybe it was more stomping. But, since I felt like I was at war- we’ll call it marching.) I didn’t wait before knocking. (I may have pounded.) Adrenaline coursed through my veins and I’m pretty sure I could have ripped the door off it’s hinges, if needed. (I briefly considered doing it even if not needed. I was ticked.)
I was also a little afraid of my own anger. I honestly wasn’t sure I could handle this situation any more maturely than my oldest. ( I was pretty sure the police would be more understanding of my behavior. Maybe.) I was pretty sure that would just make this worse. Forget the Capulets and the Montagues- this could be an epic- feud. I like my kid too much to let this end the way that feud did.
It didn’t help that when the door opened- I was face to belly button with the reason for Noah’s wet pants. I suddenly totally understood the cause and effect. This isn’t your average size dad. It’s a giant. I felt like a toddler in comparison.(A rabid toddler- but still. I felt: small.) I also felt a bit intimidated-which just added more fuel on my adrenaline soaked fire. If I was afraid- how much worse would Noah have felt?
I threw up a hail-mary prayer- “Lord- keep me from murder and from getting killed- help me control my temper and confront this jerk so he never does this again. Amen.”
I started talking before he could open the screen door. (OK- so I’d been talking to myself all the way across the street…. but this was intentional. and out loud.) Something told me to ask questions…..
- Can you tell me what happened?
- How did you handle it?
- Why did you handle it like that?
- Has this been happening?