Recently I took my two children to a popular new park in the area. It's a beautiful new playground, all wood, divided into different areas of play for different age groups. It's wonderful for me as well, as my children can play at age appropriate areas and I can see/interact with both of them at the same time. This is what makes it our entire family's favorite playground, a well that for many other families in the area.
When we arrived at the park this particular day, there was only one other family there. It was extremely hot, and I told my kids we'd only be able to stay for a small amount of time. I wanted them to wear themselves out a bit, but not pass out. I assumed my normal location on a wooden bench and settled down, knowing that I would be able to see and hear whatever my children were doing. It didn't take long before I noticed a problem.
There's this really neat seat swing that my daughter (4) loves to swing in. She had taken up a position standing by the swing, waiting for it's occupants to finish. After 10 minutes, I saw her run past me saying "no, leave me alone, I don't want to play" to a smaller child who was chasing her. This smaller child belonged to the occupant of the swing. That occupant, was her Mother.
In the Mothers lap was a infant, approximately six to nine months old. There are infant swings right next to the red chair swing, but the Mother was enjoying the chair swing with the infant in her lap. When we had first arrived, I didn't think too much about it. Unusual, yes. A problem, no. Until now.
Now this Mother is glaring at my daughter, who is running away from her daughter, because the Mother is still in the swing my daughter is waiting for. Everytime my daughter walked near the swing to continue to wait for her turn, this other little girl followed her. Her Mother was alternating her glare between me and my daughter, so I suggested that we play somewhere else until they were done. My daughter said firmly "No". The Mother turned and fixed her death stare back on me, as if to say "what kind of parent are you?!". I replied to my daughter "That's fine, but you need to be nice to the other little girl". Now she also glared at me. I just couldn't win.
She stood there, waiting her turn for the swing another 5 minutes before the Mother got all huffy, grabbed her daughter by the arm, and dragged her and the baby off to another side of the park. Once again she was glaring at me, keeping her eyes fixated us as she walked away. Cursing at me I'm sure. I apologized to her, because obviously, she thought we'd done something wrong. She didn't respond, kept that evil stare on us, and continued walking.
I wanted to cry, but instead I grabbed my daughter, told her that she shouldn't have been so rude to the little girl (after all, that's what little girls do, follow bigger girls around) and put her in the swing. I pushed her for about two minutes, called for my son, and headed to the car. In order to get there, we had to pass the other Mom on the way out, so once again I apologized, thinking naively maybe she hadn't heard me the first time.
Again, I got the stare of death and no response.
In the car, my son wanted to know what had happened. I wasn't even sure. "What had we done wrong??? Why was I apologizing to this strange, bitter Mother?" I thought to myself.
Then the answer came to me. Because I'm a nice person. That's it, pure and simple. I don't like seeing other people upset.
So, I told my son (and daughter) that what the other Mother had done was wrong. Instead of asking my daughter if she'd like a turn, or even addressing her with a simple "I'm not done yet sweetie, it's going to be awhile" she just kept swinging. Ignoring her, as if she didn't exist. She put her needs in front of not only her other childs, but she broke the cardinal rule of Motherhood; she turned her back on another child. You just don't do that.
I personally don't feel she should have been on the swing at all. That as soon as we arrived and my daughter walked over, she should have offered to get up. However, just because that's what I would have done, doesn't mean that's how everyone should feel or act. That said, I won't budge in my belief that she was acting childishly, not only because she didn't address my daughter in some kind of friendly manner (after 20 minutes of waiting), but by the glaring and pouting she kept carrying on with. Shame on her.
A couple of days later, I wished I had done things differently. I wished I had approached the Mom and asked if we could have a turn on the swing. I wish I hadn't apologized for something that I don't feel was our fault. But most of all, I wish I'd never met her and her bitterness.
The moral of this story is, don't expect a parent to do the right thing, they can be just as selfish as children. Maybe even more so.