Monday, May 18, 2009

Maybe Don't Ask Her to Watch Your Kids

Ooh, I forgot to tell y'all this the other day. One afternoon the doorbell rang, and it was Rebel Yelling Mom's little girl J. She is in kindergarten, and she had two older girls with her. I didn't recognize them, but one was maybe ten, and the other was seven-ish. J asked if Laura could play, and I said that she was finishing her homework, but would be outside in a few minutes. They went away.

A little while later, Laura got up from the table and said, "J and some girls are in our backyard, can I go out there with them?" I said sure. I wasn't surprised that they had made their way around back--we have a couple of hammocks, a sandbox, a zipline, and some woods back there--it's nothing fancy, but it's one of the few yards that isn't a steep hill, and kids seem to wind up in it. I figured J's mom had told her she could go play in the cul-de-sac, and this was close enough. Laura went out back and Hank followed her, so I went and sat on the back porch to keep an eye on him. I asked J, "Who are your friends?" And she said, "They're my friends," and then she mumbled their names. So the five of them played while I sat there drinking coffee and looking at the trees.

I heard the doorbell ring, and when I got to the door, nobody was there, but I saw Danica's--Rebel Yelling Mom's--car in the driveway. I went back out to the porch, and there was Danica yelling at J, "I have been looking all over for you? You didn't tell me you were leaving!" So she was understandably annoyed. She looked at me. "Where is Tyler?" she asked. I said, "Who?" And she turned to her daughter, "WHERE IS TYLER?" J and the other girls said, "I don't know." Oh my lord, then she REALLY started screaming, "THEN WE'VE LOST HIM AND HE CAN'T BE ALONE, AND HE COULD BE DOWN THERE ON THE ROAD HIT BY A CAR!" Danica gestured at the two girls I didn't know, and she said, "Tyler's their brother, he's 8, and he has Down Syndrome." To the bigger girl, she said, "YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO STAY WITH HIM." So then I started to have that panic feeling--you know the one--that you feel when your child is lost. Danica was yelling at the girls to GET YOUR BUTTS IN THE CAR, WE HAVE TO GO LOOK FOR HIM.

They head off back around the house to the driveway, and my kids are standing there in total shock, I think from the yelling. I said, "Come on, let's get our shoes and go help them look." So both kids and I started walking towards Danica's house. I thought we would just look all around their yard and the yards in between--I didn't know. We got out into the street, and here comes a big SUV, driven by a woman I recognized as Danica's friend. Then I remembered, Danica is very close with another mom who has a Downs child (like Danica does), and they are always visiting each other. It dawned on me that this mom--I've met her but I can't remember her name--had left her three kids at Danica's for her to babysit. Oh dear, I thought. So we get to Danica's driveway a minute after this mom rolls up, and she's apparently been told what's happened, and she is shrieking at her ten year-old daughter. I had thought that Danica was yelling, but this woman was holding nothing back. I have never heard another parent lose control like that. Right then Danica came out of her front door leading a little boy by the hand. She said, "He was upstairs hiding under the bed." So, relief all around. Other mom kept yelling. Danica saw me and started yelling, "I'm sorry I was freaking out!" And I said, "I understand! I should have asked the girls if you knew where they were." Then we kept calling out apologies to each other while the kids and I backed away from the place.

The lasting fallout from that scene was that Hank was TOTALLY rattled by it. After we got back home, he sidled up to me and said, "Wh-wh-why was that mama mad?" I explained that she couldn't find her kids, and that when mamas and daddies can't find their kids they get very scared and upset, etc. He thought she was mad at him. Because as far as he knew, everyone had been having a wonderful time in the backyard, and then this mama appeared and started yelling. So I reassured him that he hadn't done anything wrong and he wasn't in trouble. We repeated this conversation for about half an hour, but he could just not compute that kind of emotional intensity coming from a mama.

I know both of those moms were feeling desperately afraid--even writing this, I can feel a little of that panic--but the one time I couldn't find Hank (he thought it would be a fun game to hide in the backyard, back in the underbrush, and not answer when I called him), I sure didn't waste time yelling at Laura, and it's not like it was her responsibility to watch him, even if I had said, "Keep an eye on Hank for a second." I felt like that mom should have been a little angry at her friend, Danica, who lost track of four kids at the same time, one of them a special needs child. I hate to sound this judgmental, because we all have bad parenting moments--see above where I lost Hank in our own yard--but the whole event was so very scary, and the stakes couldn't be higher. I don't have any tidy narrative closure for you, but I like to keep you up-to-date on any drama in the 'hood. And I know that anyone who has kids knows that terrible feeling.

25 comments:

Bex said...

your hood has a lot of drama!its like desperate housewives - only WAY more interesting.

A Day That is Dessert said...

scarey and sad story! You are lucky to have so many families close by - I wish we had more kids around as playmates for my boys.

Cassie said...

Oh my. Danica sounds like she could use a little yoga or Tai Chi or something.

Poor little Hank; those tender-hearted kids take everything so personally. I hope he feels better after your reassurance.

Sara said...

what a bummer on several levels.
i hate when people scream and speak at their children in a way they'd never dream of doing to a stranger or hell, a dog. or maybe they would. but it's dehumanizing either way.
poor Hank. i can just imagine how foreign that whole deal was to him. that's kind of how my kids react to the families on that show Nanny 911. but it always serves as a nice reminder for me to be just that much nicer to my rugrats and my old man.
jeez, why ya gotta be so mean, ya know?

Jen said...

I wonder if the other moms were mad at themselves. I know I would be! And I know the mama bear reaction is normal, but like you said.. yelling at the kids isn't going to help. So it makes me think they were pissed at themselves.

(How's that for analyzing people I don't even know??)

Amy said...

Wow--that is quite a story! I've had the rising sense of panic when you can't find your kid--it's the worst.

It's a shame though, that they had to heap so much blame on the older kids. That makes me sad. But I was thinking: who KNOWS how much stress these women may be under--that kind of constant, grinding stress, and then when an outlet comes, it just ALL comes pouring out at once. Not good at all, but understandable.

And now I'm analyzing people I don't know!

Becky said...

Yep, good point, y'all. I've never walked in their exact shoes. This is my thing with RYM--she is doing so much, and she must be under a lot of strain. I shouldn't judge her. I have thought before, too, that it was good for those two women that they have a close friend who has a child with the same challenges their kid is facing--they probably understand each other's lives. The whole thing was kind of traumatic though!

delaine said...

Why do you suppose the little guy was hiding under the bed ? Wonder if he was not comfortable being left there ? Sounds like it was a scary moment for all concerned, including Hank.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Well, I'm sure glad everyone was found.

I know a mom with an autistic little boy. She has a rough time of it, and she does rely on her older son to keep an eye on the little boy when they're scooting around the neighborhood.

And I understand why. Sometimes it's the only way for both of the boys to have a "normal" childhood, and the only way for mom to steal a few moments of sanity.

Still, a tough spot for you to have been in. I hope Hank is fully recovered.

Wendy said...

Poor Hank. Poor everyone, really. I hate that panic feeling. Yikes.

Camp Papa said...

We've all had parenting moments that we wish we could take back and have a "do over". But, I'm not sure that's what's going on with this cast of characters. I will now begin to sound like an old guy lecturing: With parents, as with teachers, you have to have the capacity to keep your own emotional house in order to have sufficient resources left over to be of any value to the children you're responsible for.

The Dental Maven said...

I think it's obvious to little ones when parents/adults lose control. It must be horribly scary when the people who are normally in charge no longer appear capable of being in charge. I'd imagine it makes our kids feel unsafe and vulnerable. A good lesson for all of us.

Casey said...

Poor Hank! I snapped and yelled at my kids the other day (something I try to avoid) and they thought it was hilarious. I'm in trouble.

Jenni said...

ooh, i totally got that sick feeling just reading about it.

Michele Renee said...

I feel bad that you and your kids were having a perfectly normal routine and then it all went downhill after the doorbell rang. I'm worried for those kids once they get older and the drama only gets bigger and more serious. With thst being said, if one of my neighbors had a blog they've probably written about my boys yelling at each other while doing yard work and then me yelling at them for yelling so that all the NEIGHBOORS CAN HEAR!!! :)

The Stiletto Mom said...

Can we have a yard party next time I come to Atlanta? BC I need to meet these people. I understand freaking out but the YELLING...oy vey...I so don't do the yelling...

alicesworld said...

Yelling puts me on edge - it makes my stomach tighten up and I feel like hiding. And I'm an adult. Can't imagine what our kiddos feel when they're around it. Good reminder for all moms.

Candice said...

You are right. You are judgmental. You are also pretty lame for posting that story about your neighbors with names and absolutely no point to your story but to show how in control you obviously are all the time.

I hope you never have a weak moment sometime so that someone doesn't post it for all the really perfect all the time blogger to comment on.

Amy said...

Um, none of these names are there *actual* names, which has been made clear in the past. (I doubt anyone would actually be christened Rebel Yelling Mom!) ;)

Candice, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, as Becky has put this "out there" for people to read. And I won't even comment on the irony of being judgmental in a comment about someone being judgmental. I just wanted to voice my disagreement with you. I thought the tone of this post wasn't judgmental at all--it is more like, hey this is a difficult scary situation with some moms who are clearly under a lot of pressure. Becky even shared her own story of losing Hank--if she was trying to project perfection she would have left that out, I think.

Heck, if she was trying to project perfection, she probably wouldn't post half the things she does! (Sorry, Becky!) ;)

I'll be honest--I think you are being a little mean yourself. But that's your right, I guess.

Candice said...

And Amy I really disagree with you. Yes, she admitted to not being perfect - by losing her kid in her own yard?

She was being judgmental. Her children never knew that parents could get upset like that? She certainly would never waste her time yelling. She would never put another child in charge of other kids. And she certainly knows better than to leave her kids with anyone so untrustworthy. Reread her last paragraph.

I am a pretty great mom, but I have my moments and when I admit them it's not equivalent to saying, "my weakest quality is that I'm a perfectionist." I'm not being mean - I'm calling you're beloved blogger out. If she doesn't want to court criticism she should't allow comments on her blog.
Furthermore, if you're going to trash someone's parenting skills, at least have a moral or a point to your story. That and being a good writer would help, too.

BTW: Your original comment I whole heartedly agree with.

crazylovescompany said...

Hey. You are a good writer and I enjoyed the story, which is what it was. An anecdote. A little glimpse into your neighborhood. A look at what could happen to any parent frankly, no matter how good they think they are. I am going to enjoy my little relatively immobile 5 month old bundle for as long as i can!

Sara said...

I think the helpful part of the story, like aliceworld said, was that it was a good reminder for moms. To stay the course of a gentle, secure household for my kids to grow up in. it's my responsibility as their parent.
Of course we all lose patience, get angry, and have to regroup. And we also have to know that there is no excuse for screaming at our kids out of anger. It's just not necessary or productive or hell, polite even. They learn by example right?
Not sayin' that I haven't done it, but hey, repent. try harder next time. and I've gotten lots better over the years.(screaming at them to keep them from running into traffic is another matter.) but again, all that's just my opinion too i suppose.

And Becky *is* a perfect mother, so nah. ;)

Becky said...

Thanks, Sara! Why, of COURSE I'm a perfect mother (like everyone here). Which must be why Hank thinks it's okay to call the dog a "dumbask." That whole learning by example thing is a killer.

Better Than Machines said...

That is a dramatic story. And as usual, Hank is the star.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Umm, Candice? I think you're having a bad day. Taking offense where none is intended is the first sign -- at least for me.