The bear and I went to the mall today with some of my girlfriends and their kiddos. We got to the mall early because sunshine was having the most clingy, whiney morning of the century. She followed me around whining for over an hour, so we left an hour earlier than we usually do for our mall play date.
We pulled up just before 10:00, and we took a tour with the Mall Walkers before settling into the play area. My friends weren't there yet, but there were a couple other moms there, so I chatted it up with one of them whose four-year-old couldn't get enough of Drue. The mom was concerned that I was annoyed, but I tried to assure her I wasn't. (I was a little. A very little.)
Another mom came into the play area and sort of joined our conversation. Then when the first mom left, the other sat with me and continued talking. I'm fine with that. I've always loved talking to strangers. She was kind. She gave Drue a ball to play with, and Drue was having a blast. Where it got awkward was when this mom started disciplining all the children in the play area.
OK, let me not exaggerate. This mom was simply concerned for good behavior. But when another little girl smacked Drue, this mom started talking very loudly so that the other mother could hear: "That little girl just hit your daughter. Did you see that? She just hit her in the face? Why would she do that?"
OK. This made me nervous. In my head I'm thinking, Shut up! Don't you know the othe mom can hear you? How embarrassing. This isn't that big a deal. They're tiny little people. Drue's not even that upset.
But I went back and kept smiling and let her talk and acted like everything was good, because generally it was. Then out of the blue (and I mean out of the blue; we were talking about something else entirely, and she just changed the subject with this), the woman started, in her own way, trying to witness to me. At this point she'd already praised my daughter and asked me, "Do you take her to church? Is she around other children?" to which I'd responded, "Why yes." But now she tells me a story of answered prayer and I feel like she is just wanting to make sure I'm a Christian, because if I'm not, she's going to share the gospel with me right this second.
OK. This makes me feel a number of emotions, two of which are guilt and annoyance.
A little time passes, and I get ready to leave because my friends aren't there yet, and Drue is hungry and getting tired, but then my friends show up, so I come back and give Drue a banana in the play area (against the rules!), and this mom is so happy I've come back, or so it seems by her smile and the way she greets me.
But uh oh. The same little girl who hit Drue the first time (she had actually done it twice at this point) hit Drue again. And again, I didn't see it. And again, when I did look over, Drue wasn't that upset. But the only reason I did look over was because when it happened, the lady got up, rushed to the scene of the crime and started scolding the mom whose daughter hit mine. I am not kidding: scolding. Loudly.
The poor other mom tried to keep this mom from disciplining her daughter and rushed her over to me and Drue to apologize. The whole time I'm hoping she doesn't think I'm with the mom who just yelled at her. We told the little girl we forgave her, and I told the mom she was sweet to do that. That it wasn't the end of the world. (She was upset.)
I didn't say anything to the scolding mom, but when she started telling other children they needed to say please and, specifically, telling my friends that they needed to discipline their children for playing too rough or taking the ball that Drue was supposed to be playing with, I was out of there. In fact, two out of the four of us were out of there. We'd been there long enough, so it was all good. But I'm writing all of this because I'm curious: how would you have handled the situation?