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."
"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.