I imagined her saying I don't need your help. Truth be told, I didn't have anything to help her with other than maybe talking to her kids while she zoned out for a while.
My daughter and I got on the bus, our first day of catching it together. Our first day of her getting off and transferring to another to go to school; me staying on to get on the subway, me staying on to watch her walk to a bus stop that leaves a lot to be desired as far as safety. Please pay attention to your surroundings. Please.
The mother of the two children across from us was yelling at her son, grabbing his face, telling him to look at her. "Shut up before I give you something to cry about on this bus." It's one of the lines used in parenting that I despise. If your kid is crying, he already has something to cry about. "Finish it, now." He was holding a piece of paper with letters on it. He was about four, and this was his homework, maybe? He looked so sad. He started to cry again. She grabbed his face again and squeezed, knocking his head against the seat. He cried harder. I winced. I wanted to cry with him. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to smack the absolute shit out of her, see if she felt like I'd given her something to cry about. I wanted to wipe his tears, hold his hand, rock him in a warm blanket. I wanted to offer her something -- a kind word, a compliment, an ear. I said nothing. I sat there and took the abuse. Just like her son.
She snatched the paper from him, grabbed the pencil and hit him on the leg with it, saying, "You won't go outside or watch tv or anything later." He cried harder. She said shut up. Wipe your face now. He had no tissue. His nose was running. I had no tissue. If I did, would I have offered it? Would she have said get away from me? She wasn't high. This was a different kind of anger. This was frustration and tiredness and maybe hunger? This was life is hard and I have to be responsible for them and they're so small and why can't they get their own shit together, get themselves to school, finish their homework by themselves, let me sleep? BECAUSE THEY'RE TWO AND FOUR. And nobody made you have these children, nobody made you. But somebody should make you take a fucking parenting class because, this right here? This is not parental judgment on my part. This is abuse. I've been tired. I've been unjustifiably angry. I know how it can spiral out of control. I have spoken sharply to my children. This was different.
And I said nothing.
I want to hug her.
I want to knock that smug look off her face. She's bigger than them. That's all it's about. It's all spanking is ever about.
That is such an over-generalization. It's unfair to people who were spanked and who believe in it, people to whom you haven't spoken to get why they spank. You were spanked. You are fine. You were beaten. You are fine. He's crying again. Now the little girl is crying too. "Shut up, both of you. I will break both your hind parts on this bus right now if you don't shut. up. now." She puts on headphones and turns her back slightly. The boy and girl lean their heads together. I want to lift them up and away. I want her to see how hurt they look, how sad they look, how tired they look.
And I said nothing. I sat there and stewed as she grabbed and pushed and pulled. I sat there with my daughter and pretended I didn't hear, pretended their cries weren't affecting me, grinding my teeth to keep from saying something. Saying what? What would you have said? Were you prepared to fight at 7:30 in the morning over the treatment of children you don't even know? I should have been. I should have been willing to fight for them. I said nothing.
She snatched one headphone out, turned to the boy, "I'm going to tell your teacher not to let you outside for recess today, too. Watch." It was like she was a child herself, thinking of more ways to hurt him, punish him. I don't know what happened before I got on the bus. I don't know why she was so upset. He's crying again. I want to cry too. It hurts. I feel his hurt. I feel it. In my stomach, my chest. It's an ache. I want to help him. I want to help her. I have nothing to offer her.
I have nothing.
And I did nothing.
Except get up and move when my daughter got off.
Arnebya, What Now and Why
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