What would Supermom do?

I was walking around downtown Oakland, CA today, trying to get some blood flowing out of my ass and back into my brain after the cross-country flight, and I saw a mom and son have an argument.

He sneaked a cookie out of her bag and shoved it in his mouth. She turned around, saw him with the evidence, and whapped him one, sending him flying down the three concrete steps (he landed on his feet), and then screamed at him: godDAMNIT I told you not to eat any more of those FUCKING cookies! And on and on.

I’d guess he was 3. Four, maybe? He didn’t act surprised, so I’m guessing this is the usual MO. She had a tiny baby strapped to her in a Bjorn.

What I wanted to do was grab him and bolt. Here’s what I did instead: nothing. I was worried that if I said something to her it would make it worse for him. But it’s haunting me.

Crap. What would you have done in real life, or if you were Supermom?


5 Responses to What would Supermom do?

  1. techie says:

    The hard thing is that walking by, you have only seen a small snapshot of a whole afternoon or whathave you. It’s generally not fair to judge anyone one watching them for at most a minute. If the kid wasn’t surprised, he was probably doing it to get a rise out of her. We’re a crunchy dykey quaker family, but my son has a good grasp of what all of the major swear words are. As they get older they get oh so much better at pushing buttons and testing limits. And every parent I’ve met snaps occasionally. Whether that means that your kid has a time out while you calm down or you say “Dammit, just eat your dinner.” or what have you. It’s ok.

  2. roundisfunny says:

    Thanks, Techie. You have a good point, and she did have a very small baby in addition to this little boy. I have no idea what stress she’s dealing with. But I would definitely characterize her behavior as abusive – and believe me I say this as no model parent.

  3. shirky says:

    can you fake sympathize with the adult. “Oh man, he’s three? I have a six year old. They are so difficult at three! Hang in there! he’ll grow out of it!”

  4. dawn says:

    What Shirky says is what we were trained to do at the shelter. Because if you side with the kid it can sometimes make her angrier and she’ll take it out on the kid later. Offering sympathy to mom can sometimes defuse the situation.

    That said, in a lot of states it’s legal to spank your kid so there’s nothing you could do as far as reporting it (like calling 911). I just looked up California and you’re allowed to “reasonably” spank your child. Although this doesn’t sound reasonable, it also doesn’t sound like you could get CPS involved based on this one incident.

  5. pinkpoppies says:

    Hmm Dawn makes some good points re: responding to Mom. I would say if the mom had a small baby, then she’s probably stressed and then the older child may be acting out their jealousy (ie negative attention is better than none).

    However, there’s spanking (which I don’t agree with, BTW, but I do see a range) and then there’s smacking the child so hard they are knocked off their feet. While I would like to think it is one incident, could this in fact be an open challenge for someone to “see” what is happening?


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