Monday, August 24, 2009

Yelling at Strangers

We were at the mall this past weekend doing a little shopping. I had Miles in the Ergo and Oscar was riding in the stroller being a very good boy.

We stopped in the middle of the mall where there is a seating area that's also designed to be a sort of play area for kids. We let Oscar out to run around for a bit and burn off some energy before we went back to the car.

Oscar was running around and he started shrieking. Not prolonged, sustained shrieking, just shrieking "Mom!" and running to me every once in a while. Now, I realize that shrieking as a behavior is unpleasant, but with Oscar we just let him do it and he stops after a minute or two. If we call attention to the problem, he just start shrieking more. Also, we were in a children's play area in a mall, so I think loudness is par for the course.

So, Oscar running and shrieking. All of a sudden, I hear, "SSHHH!" Oscar and I both stop and look and it's this random guy sitting in the child play area. He says to Oscar again, "SSHHH!" His intonation was very nasty.

I turned to face the shusher and said, "No. You do not tell my child to shush. It is not your place to discipline my child."

He responded, "Well, he's being loud."

"He's two, and he's playing."

"It's annoying."

"I don't care if it is annoying. You do not talk to my child. If you are annoyed, you can leave."

(I'd just like to remind you again that this is in a CHILD PLAY AREA.)

"I can say what I want."

"Not to my kid you can't."

At this point Nelson (ever clueless, see sidebar) caught on to the exchange and said, "Okay, now sir, this is getting a little silly. This is a mall, okay? It's not a quiet place."

And then the guy sort of muttered something and shut up and Oscar had stopped shrieking anyways because, like I said, he only does it for a minute or two and when we ignore it he stops.

Granted, shrieking is annoying. But, we were in a play area and if the guy didn't want to hear kids, he shouldn't have been hanging out by the play area. And isn't that weird anyway? A lone guy hanging out by the play area?*

I want to be clear, I do not feel like this was an instance of community parenting. The guy obviously had no children, and also Nelson and I were RIGHT THERE monitoring Oscar's behavior and his behavior was not out of line or uncharacteristic for a child of his age or inappropriate to the situation. Now, had Oscar, say pushed his child or something and Nelson or I had not responded I think he'd have been in his right to say, "Okay, no pushing please," or something like that. But this not what happened. He just though my kid was being to loud in the play area and took it upon himself to shush him in a very nasty way.

I feel like if that guy had a problem he should have said something to me, or to Nelson. He should not have been addressing my toddler. He does not know us or Oscar so I feel like he was being inappropriate. I also think it's unrealistic to expect children to be quiet when playing in an area designed for play in a place that is already quite loud.

I recognize I'm being a little momma bear here, but what do you think? Did I overreact? Would you have just ignored the guy or would you have confronted him?

*Nelson thinks there was something wrong with the guy, like he was mentally disabled or something. I disagree. I think his only disability was being an asshole.


Strawberry said...

I'm not fond of children shrieking either, which is precisely why I shy away from areas filled with kids!

Putting myself in your shoes, which I know I will be in in a couple years, I would've said something to the guy, too-- probably along the lines of "If you don't like the shrieking, you can LEAVE! This area is meant for children and young children sometimes shriek."

So good on you.

Cara said...

overreacting? not at all. I think the majority of mom's would have responded the same way.

what was the creeper doing in the kid's area in the 1st place? I get that the mall is a public space & you cannot restrict people from going into certain areas but that is really odd. I wouldn't have been the least bit comfortable with him being there while my kids were playing.

Sprite's Keeper said...

You did not overreact at all! He's around the children's play area! If he doesn't like it, he needs to leave. The area is designated for shoppers to let their kids blow off some steam.
I got shushed by some random lawyer in the kids section of Barnes and Noble when Sprite was being loud and told the guy off there too. Screw him!

Maybe its me said...

Oh on he didn't!! I call asshole. You did good girl!

Maybe its me said...

What I meant to say is "no" he didn't. Damn I suck at trying to make a point. :)

Sarah's Blogtastic Adventures said...

I can't believe you didnt call him a fucking asshole. Cause you know thats what I would have done :) Not the perfectly rationaly stuff that came out of your mouth. Good for you Jenni.

Just Breathe said...

I'm not sure what I would have done but I do like what you did.
I think you were right. I love the Mamma Bear in you!

Cameron said...

Your kids shrieks!?!?! OMG, I SO would have 'Shushed' him too. Kids are SOOOO loud and annoying, it drives me nuts!! Oh...wait.


Becky said...

Oh my god! I would have been so angry. What an a-hole. Sounds like you guys handled it perfectly to me.

Kelsey said...

Totally deserved. Way to tell him what's what!

Stimey said...

I say kudos to you, mama bear.

Keely said...

Yeah, I would have said something, too. Uh, how DARE your child act like a child in a children's play area? The nerve.

Or I might have just rolled my eyes pointedly. Depends on how lazy I was feeling.

Captain Dumbass said...

I think you should have whacked him with a diaper bag, but that's just me.

Veronica said...

I don't think you overreacted at all. Did he have a kid in the play area too?

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

OK, that would NOT be cool with me. NOBODY talks to my child that I don't know, especially not to tell them to be quiet. What an asshat that guy was! Seriously, you are right, if you don't want to hear that sounds of children playing, don't sit by the play area! Some people!

Susanica said...

I think you handled it perfectly. There are some scary people out there and sometimes they need to be told in no uncertain terms what you need them to hear. Great job Jenni. -M

Casey said...

Yeah, no. That dude was out of line and I'm glad you said something. Asstard.

Anonymous said...

You go momma bear. You were absolutely in the right. No-one has the right to tell off a child except it's parents and really, as everyone else has said, if you don't like shrieking then go to the library (or something).

He was a berk and you didn't overreact in any way.