The Strangers’ Children
A troubling incident happened yesterday. It still bothers me 24 hours later. I’m interested in feedback and opinions, especially from those of you who have raised children.
Eating a late lunch, Marieta and I were seated outside at a local restaurant. The place was really busy, so there was a waiting list for open tables. We were seated off to the side, when we noticed a large party (est. 10-12 people who looked like a family) mulling around outside waiting for their table. I’m not sure this matters, but the party was ethnic–meaning most were not American-born (accents, clothes, mannerisms). Perhaps 5-6 of the party were kids, including two boys, aged around 10.
The boys spotted a wounded bird off to the side in a corner (remember, this was outside). They instantly started taunting the bird, running towards it and yelling, as the helpless animal tried to flap its wings and fly away. It floundered around, in obvious agony. I couldn’t tell if the bird was a pigeon or a dove, not that it matters.
This went on for a minute or two longer, and Marieta and I became increasingly agitated by what we were witnessing. Marieta said something to the effect, “why would parents raise their kids to behave like that?” Then, we saw (presumably) the parents watching the boys, somewhat amused, and otherwise indifferent to what was happening.
A short time later, the wounded bird was spotted by the boys behind a bush. That’s when the two boys picked up rocks and began throwing them at the bird. And that’s when I totally LOST IT.
I’m really bad emotionally when it comes to managing confrontation. I hyperventilate. I have zero anger management skills, nor any common sense about things like this–which is something I’m not proud of. The one other incident I remember very similar to this was years ago at the Desert Shores park when we saw kids throwing rocks at ducks at the lake, and we pulled over and I got out of the car and gave the kids an earful of profanity that left the little shits stunned and speechless. But at least they stopped and ran off. No parents were around. I really don’t know how to handle things like this, especially in public with parents present.
I said some inappropriate things (that I *don’t* regret). The father came over and basically told me to mind my own business, and I provided some juicy commentary on his parenting skills. I’m sure the party thought my attack on them was racially motivated (it wasn’t). I have no idea how animals are treated back in their home country, in their culture, and frankly, I don’t give a fuck. This was tantamount to an act of animal cruelty and it needed to be stopped. At the very least those kids needed better supervision. I would also be remiss were I not to point out that most serial killers, mass shooters, and other malcontents start off in childhood by torturing animals. You can look it up. It’s a fact.
One of the other patrons sitting at the next table joined in the argument, echoing my sentiment about the children acting inappropriately. Fortunately, that pretty much defused the situation that otherwise might have escalated and gotten worse. Still, our lunch was ruined and we found ourselves discussing what happened on the way home.
I admit to having no experience dealing with kids, and certainly no expertise in parenting. I understand that most parents are very protective of their kids. But just as there are lots of bratty kids, there’s just as many shitty parents.
Upon reflection, I wish that I could have been more reasonable and taken a calmer approach, but I’m not sure that would have mattered much. Perhaps others who have confronted incidents like this in public with strangers’ children can advise how you handled uncomfortable experiences. Question: When is it justified to get involved? How do you deal with parents?
There aren’t any protocols on this. I’m interested in reading and learning your thoughts.
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You did the right thing by speaking up. If more people did speak up, maybe more people would be held accountable. Even if they don’t, you can be proud that you took a stand for civility.
Hope you and family had a good Thanksgiving.