Apologizing For Being A Victim

by admin on May 19, 2014

This child, who must have been around ten, hit me when she decided to flail her arms around for whatever reason. She couldn’t have seen me coming, so I knew it was accident. She ran up to her mother without looking at me and I went on my way, not giving it a second thought. A few seconds later the mother comes up to me and demands that I apologize to the child. I thought maybe she hadn’t seen what had happened, so I explained it was her child who had hit me. I also said I could tell it was an accident and it was no big deal. She says, and I kid you not, “I know she hit you, I saw it, but she’s just a child, she feels bad and you should apologize”. I explain that ideally her child should have apologized to me, that she was old enough to do so, but that it was no big deal to me one way or the other. Mother says, “But she’s just a child! You’re an adult! You’re supposed to apologize to her so she doesn’t feel bad”. At that point I realized it’s impossible to win certain arguments against certain people. I told her she was entitled to raise her child any way she saw fit, but that I would not contribute to the kid thinking she should be apologized to when she hit others and left. I’ll give her credit for making her absurd request in a low voice instead of making a scene, but it’s no wonder children behave the way they do these days. 0518-14

Allowing a child to feel bad about certain behaviors is actually a very good thing.  It teaches sensitivity, deference to others and to be careful in future interactions.  Mom should have taken the opportunity to teach her daughter how to approach a stranger and apologize for the unsolicited hit.

{ 201 comments… read them below or add one }

JO May 19, 2014 at 5:31 am

Just…wow. I have no words.

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Margo May 19, 2014 at 5:47 am

Wow. That’s just bizarre. I agree with admin – feeling bad is useful, and the mother should have told her child to apologize, you could then have thanked her for apologizing and confirmed you knew it was an accident, which should have helped the child to stop feeling bad, as well as teaching her appropriate manners.

What a shame mom missed that opportunity, and instead let her child feel she was entitled to an apology when she hurt someone else.

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Alli May 19, 2014 at 6:25 am

The OP was correct here. By ten a kid is certainly old enough to know you apologize, even in an accident.

My two year old nephew accidentally tripped over my aunt’s dog, and my brother had him pet the dog and go “Sorry” (as much as a two year old can apologize). Teaching your kid not to apologize or to expect others to apologize when they did something wrong is crazypants.

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Lo May 19, 2014 at 6:38 am

So she’s subverting her child’s natural inclination to feel sorry for doing something that caused another person discomfort.

That’ll end well.

You responded very appropriately.

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AthenaC May 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm

“That’ll end well.”

Indeed.

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Charliesmum May 19, 2014 at 6:46 am

How I think it should have played out: Child hits you. She is embarrassed and she apologizes. You say, ‘that’s okay, dearie, I know it wasn’t intentional.’ Then she wouldn’t ‘feel bad’ because she asked for, and received forgiveness.

Which I could charitably say is what the mother was going for, but I rather doubt it. It’s more like Special Snowflake Syndrome in the making.

I think you handled it beautifully.

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Weaver May 19, 2014 at 7:17 am

Good grief, what a ridiculous situation! (Made so by the child’s mother, not by the OP, and I’ll give the child a pass here too).

This would’ve been a great opportunity for the mother to bring her daughter over to the OP and have her apologise. If the child was particularly shy or sensitive about doing so, I wouldn’t necessarily have forced the issue were she my daughter, but I would’ve taken the opportunity at least to explain to her that sometimes we hurt or bother other people through an accident, and that it usually makes both paries feel better if we say sorry. And I would’ve apologised to the OP on my daughters behalf.

I think the kid’s mother made a mountain out of a molehill here, and I agree with the OP that this kind of behaviour does no favours to her kid, or to society at large.

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Weaver May 19, 2014 at 8:24 am

*paries = parties.

And does anyone know of a good link to an accurate lesson in the rules of possessive apostrophes? Mine seem to be all over the place!

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goddessoftheclassroom May 19, 2014 at 11:44 am

singular possessive: add ‘s*
plural possessive: make the word plural; if it DOESN’T end in S, add ‘s (men’s); if it DOES end in S, just add an apostrophe (parties’)

*Some argue that a singular ending in S can just have the apostrophe added, but that makes no sense; it’s “Jesus’s tears,” not “Jesus’ tears.” English grammar is determined by syntax and usage rules, not euphony.

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SnappyLT May 19, 2014 at 6:48 pm

When I attended public school in the United States many years ago (in the 1960s and 70s), we were taught to make a singular word ending in an “s” possessive by just adding an apostrophe. So, when I was in school, the correct way to say “the ball that belongs to Chris” was “Chris’ ball”. By the time I was a public school teacher in the 1980s, the rule had changed and our textbook said that “Chris’s ball” was correct.

I don’t know if the older way makes any sense or not, but it WAS the way that was taught in school at one time in the past.

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Phitius May 20, 2014 at 8:58 am

I was taught the older way as well. Then new way just looks wrong to me. It might be correct, but it is rather clunky looking.

Kirst May 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm

The boy’s nose – one boy, one nose.
The boy’s noses – one boy, several noses.
The boys’ nose – several boys, one nose between them.
The boys’ noses – several boys, several noses.

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La May 19, 2014 at 1:05 pm

For a singular noun, it’s ” ‘s ” – the dog’s ball, the princess’s crown.
For a plural noun, it’s ” s’ ” – the goats’ pasture.
For the possessive form of “it”, you use “its” – its handle.

Although yours do seem to be correct in your previous comment. The “it” one always gets me though.

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delislice May 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Visualize personalized towels: Hi’s, Her’s, and It’s.

Its = a possessive.

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Brit May 20, 2014 at 3:37 am

Whatever owns the object goes *before* the apostrophe.

Girl’s ball = one girl

Girls’ ball = more than one girl

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Cady May 20, 2014 at 10:33 am

Grammar Girl has good tips for all sorts of grammar issues. http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl

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HelloKitty May 19, 2014 at 7:18 am

I remember the good old days when you could not only discipline your child, but someone else’s child as well. It’s a very good thing that I was not the one who got hit. I would have said something to the brat that hit me (and been desperately wishing I could have taken my belt to her behind), and something to the mother.
I am not one who takes kindly to parents not being parents to their children. If that “mother” had ordered me to apologize for making her child feel bad, I would make them both feel worse! I would have told that “mother” she was a failure as a parent for not saying something to her brat; that she was creating an entitled brat for not having her apologize to me! And that brat would have been apologizing for hitting me, along with the “mother” for saying I needed to apologize to the brat!
OP, you were 100% in the right for not apologizing to that brat. Brat should have apologized to you for hitting you, accident or not.
Please, please, please, let us bring back the days of being able to spank not just our biological children, but those undisciplined brats as well. It is sorely needed (no pun intended).

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Asharah May 19, 2014 at 11:45 am

Boy you sure seem to like the word brat, don’t you?

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MsDani313 May 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Wait…so not only do you call the child a brat but you want the ability to hit children that are not your own?

OP stated the child hit her accidentally. The child is not a brat. A brat would not have “felt bad” about her actions. The mother was a brat for not offering an apology to the OP. The child did not deserve discipline for accidentally hitting the OP. Mom should have brought the child to the OP to offer an apology and explain that we have to be careful about our actions in public.

And I would not take kindly to a stranger “disciplining” my child. Said stranger should approach me and I will “discipline” my child how I see fit.

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AnaMaria May 19, 2014 at 7:46 pm

My parents would have definitely made me apologize for an accidental bump- by the time I was 10, I would have known to apologize without any prompting from my parents- but, the one time a stranger attempted to discipline me, it did NOT go over well with my meek-and-mild mother. We were in the grocery store and I (being about 5 or 6) asked to go look (I knew how to look and not touch!) at a display a few feet away. My mother gave her permission and I headed over- and, out of nowhere, a store employee is suddenly grabbing me telling me sharply not to touch things that my mom isn’t going to buy. I was thoroughly traumatized at that point and everything is a blur, but I do remember my mother yanking me out of the employee’s arms and having a few words for her.

The OP was absolutely right that it is the mother’s choice how she rears her child. Sadly, she’s rearing a child with a helpless-victim mentality, but, it is not legally or morally the OP’s place to step in, especially over an honest accident. She handled this with grace!!

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Shalamar May 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm

A friend’s mother once smacked the daylights out of my arm. The backstory was that I was at her house playing with my friend while my parents were at work, but I got bored (the friend went to play with other kids, leaving me alone). With a small child’s logic, I thought “I know where my house is – I’ll just walk home.” (The fact that my parents weren’t home and I didn’t have a key escaped me.) I was halfway home when a screeching harpy suddenly descended on me and starting hitting me, screaming “Why did you leave? You’re a NAUGHTY (smack) NAUGHTY (smack) NAUGHTY little girl! (smack)”.

In fairness, I’m sure she was very scared when she realized I was gone, but she hit a defenseless child – not just once, either. My mother was furious when she found out.

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kingsrings May 20, 2014 at 3:47 pm

If your child does something to someone, they have every right to confront your child and correct them – decently and politely, of course. I shouldn’t have to track down the parent for that. You don’t like it, then teach your child right from wrong and it won’t ever become an issue.

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Ryo'sGirl May 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm

I don’t see the need for corporal punishment here. OP says the hit from the child was clearly unintentional. I agree with admin that the child should have apologized or the mother on her behalf. If my child had done this, I certainly would expect her to apologize. However, characterizing a child as a brat for an unintentional act isn’t helpful, and a child who felt remorse (according to her own special snowflake mother) deserves some credit here, even if her rambunctious behaviour did result in someone accidentally being hit (but not injured according to the OP). And the desire to hit a child with a belt because of an accidental hit that did no real damage seems like an extreme reaction which makes me sad for any children who may have been in your care.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm

I don’t think that smacking random children is the way to cure social ills. Adults shouldn’t have to live in a culture that’s so child centered that we see the kind of thing OP experienced- but most parents wouldn’t allow others to discipline their kids either by hitting or even yelling. And that’s a good thing. There are a lot of crazy people in the world. Discipline should come from those in a child’s life whose responsibility it is to raise them. It should also be based on the idea that the goal is to produce a self-disciplined person who has integrity and who can exhibit compassion, altruism and courage. A belt is a hasty solution to a long term challenge. I wouldn’t say that it’s NEVER appropriate to discipline a child physically- but I’m much more “agin’ it” than “fer it” in my old age. And God help the person who touches a child in my care in such a manner. Indeed- they will need divine assistance and a miracle to survive.

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YersiniaP May 19, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I’m not sure if you are a troll; I sincerely hope you are.
But just in case you are serious:
You honestly want to “take your belt” to a kid that hit you by accident? Really?
When an adult accidentally bumps into you without apologizing, do you also punch them in the face? Because that’s more or less the same ludicrous overreaction.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that the mother was way out of line and the kid a special snowflake entitlement brat in the making.
But making a kid, who is already cursed with an unable parent, feel worse just because her mother is an entitled idiot is not really helping anyone, except maybe your own feeling of entitlement.

If you would really react the way you described if it had been you in the above situation, I don’t think you’d be any better than that entitled mother.

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Kendra May 19, 2014 at 12:26 pm

I think that’s a rather extreme response. Yes the child should have apologized, but it wasn’t a spanking offense. Also, can’t really blame the child since it is pretty obvious that parent isn’t teaching child how to behave in polite society. Children don’t know what they haven’t been taught. While I was reading your post, I could hear……Thwap! Thwap! “This will teach you to hit people on accident!” Thwap! Thwap!

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Lisa May 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I really hope this is sarcasm.

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Ripple May 19, 2014 at 12:31 pm

No. No. No. It is not okay to spank another person’s child unless the child or other people are in danger or you are in charge of the child. The problem with spanking other people’s children is that some will go too far, thinking the child “needs” punishment. And as for calling the mother a “failure”, you just escalated the situation far beyond what was needed. You don’t know the mother at all, how can you say she’s a “failure”? The OP did exactly the right thing in refusing to apologize and explaining why. Nothing more was needed.

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Calliope May 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm

This is terrible. The child hit the OP accidentally. Yes, the mother handled it very poorly. But your repeated referring to the child as “the brat” comes across as truly nasty. As for your desire to hit other people’s children, well, that is just beyond the pale. There are more effective ways to discipline children than to hit them. “Hit children with belts” and “do not discipline children at all” are not the only options.

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Kirst May 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm

You think taking a belt to a child is appropriate punishment for an accident?

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Tracy P May 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Holy cow are you going over the top! You might want to talk to a therapist and get some of that anger out before you end up actually trying to hurt someone. Seriously, taking a belt to someone else’s child because they accidentally bumped you?! Are you out of your mind?! I wish the internet wasn’t so anonymous – then I would know who you are so I could avoid you at all costs.

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La May 19, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Please don’t, when I was a kid I was rather clumsy, and whilst I always apologised and tried to help if I’d caused an accident, there were a lot of people who didn’t think this was sufficient and would yell.

I don’t really want to think about what could have happened if it had been socially acceptable to spank children as well.

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Denise May 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm

A ten year old accidentally hits you and you’re desperately wishing that you could take a belt to her behind? Please tell me you’re joking.

A 10 year old is a child, flailing her arms around (likely out of boredom) and hitting you, accidentally does not make her a brat.

Your response actually scares me for what a real treat you must be in real life. I pray that my “brats” and I never encounter your negative presence.

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H. Vane May 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Wow, wait what? You’d like to beat/berate a ten year old kid who accidentally hit you? Even though it didn’t hurt and it was a genuine mistake? You are a terrible person!

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Luna May 19, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Your solution to a child accidentally bumping into you is to beat the child with a belt? While the child and her mother were in the wrong, this is really over the top.

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Mer May 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I don’t know, I hardly see anything bratlike in the kid based solely on OP’s post. What we know that kid had an accident and is now feeling bad about it. That is actually quite opposite of brat. Now the mother, that is a different topic there. And I agree with you that it takes a whole village to raise a kid, but I cannot understand how you can speak at the same chapter of getting angry at kid accidentally hitting you when all you want to do is hit the kid yourself, in purpose. I do hope you are exaggerating.

On that topic, I believe many here have read Laura Ingalls’ books. I always found it funny, that in Farmer Boy (the book about Almanzo’s childhood) story goes in lengths talking about how you can never raise a good animal if you hit it or be mean to it. I wonder, why somebody would think hitting human raises a better human.

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JO May 19, 2014 at 3:14 pm

“Wishing I could have taken my belt to her behind” really? Doesn’t that seem a bit extreme? Op clearly stated that the child hit her accidentally and then felt badly; it’s not as though she was running around punching random people. That hardly seems deserving of a beating. (Not that I believe ANY child EVER deserves a beating with a belt). And the mother seemed like much more of a brat than the child.

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Kimstu May 19, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Mm, no. While I completely agree that the OP was entirely in the right and that the mother should have made her child apologize, I don’t think the current state of civil society will be improved by allowing random strangers to spank other people’s children whenever the stranger decides the child “needs a lesson”.

The OP did all that was needed in politely refusing the mother’s ridiculous demand. An etiquette conflict that can’t be satisfactorily resolved by a polite spine is not going to be better resolved by a rude fist.

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Kaymar May 19, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Did you miss the part that this was an accident, according to OP, in your fervor regarding hitting other people’s children?

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Meegs May 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Eeeek! Really?

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Joni May 19, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Reading the letter, the OP hardly seemed to think that the child was a ‘brat’ – it was clearly an accident. Deliberately hitting a child you’ve just met in retaliation for accidentally being hit by same seems a bit over-the-top.

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BoogieLights May 19, 2014 at 4:19 pm

“…desperately wishing I could have taken my belt to her behind”
“Please, please, please, let us bring back the days of being able to spank not just our biological children, but those undisciplined brats as well. It is sorely needed (no pun intended).”

Well you’re a strange one, aren’t you? This is an etiquette forum, not a child abuse platform.

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DannysGirl May 19, 2014 at 5:38 pm

I’m not sure spanking a child is appropriate for the accident the OP described. It seems a bit OTT. I also don’t agree that the child is a brat. Mom didn’t handle the situation well at all, but there is no reason to speak so cruelly of a child. Yes, some children behave like brats, but simply hitting someone accidentally isn’t bratty behavior.
For the record, DH and I teach our four year-old DH to watch where he’s going, and if he bumps into someone, we apologize. By the way, no stranger should be hitting another stranger’s child for any reason. It’s one thing to call a stranger’s child out for her behavior, and another to spank her. I’m pretty sure that’s always been illegal. DH and I determine who spanks our son, and it’s not strangers.

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DannysGirl May 19, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Oops I meant DS, not DH!

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crebj May 19, 2014 at 8:55 pm

If you ever try this, HelloKitty, I’d love to hear how it works out for you.

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LizaJane May 20, 2014 at 9:03 am

Me also.

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Michelle May 20, 2014 at 6:58 am

Um…what everybody else said.

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Phoenix May 20, 2014 at 9:36 am

Um, yeah. Smacking a random child is considered “assault”. I don’t think back in “the old days” they would have accepted a random stranger hitting a child either.

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Markko May 19, 2014 at 7:26 am

You were very kind, OP; the problem I forsee with this child is that one day she will flail about and accidently strike someone who has been raised by a parent similar to her own. The result will not be in a low tone of voice or pretty. This indulgent parent is paving the way for her child to become socially inept and avoided.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 2:36 am

You’re right. The result will be similar to the first breakfast scene in the famous Harry Potter fanfic, “My Immortal.” Only, if the child who causes the accident isn’t “drop dead” gorgeous, the screaming and swearing will continue long beyond the initial outburst.

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FLlawgal May 19, 2014 at 7:45 am

Wow, just, Wow. The mother wanted the LW to apologize to the kid for something the kid did? I think they have a term for that, something along the lines of turning the child into a “special snowflake.”

While the mother gets a tiiiiny amount of credit for not making a huge scene in the store, she was still way out of line. Mom should have marched that kid over to LW and required the child to apologize. Now, Bratty Betty is under the mistaken impression that it’s ok for her to act out and hit total strangers without a hint of a consequence for her behavior. Is this child in grade school yet? I’ve a feeling this issue will come up more often as she gets older and has to interact with peers.

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AS May 19, 2014 at 7:57 am

I liked what you said, OP. I am glad that the child heard it, and hope it makes at least a small impression on her. I wonder how her relatives put up with the mother. If I had a relative like the mom, I’ll not come within a few kilometers of the child, lest I keep being blamed for making the child feel bad for something that is her own fault.

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Wild Irish Rose May 19, 2014 at 8:08 am

Several years ago, a neighborhood kid was riding his bike and scraped against my FIL’s car, putting a big scratch in it. FIL, who is a stickler for going by the book, later presented the kid’s father with three repair estimates. The dad, who had insisted that his kid apologize at the time the damage was done, was actually dumbfounded that FIL would expect him to pay for the damage because his son “is just a kid!” After several weeks of back and forth, the parents did finally pay FIL about a third of what the smallest estimate was, and FIL ate the rest.

What is so hard to understand about making your kid assume responsibility for his actions? Well, it starts with taking on your OWN responsibilities, like ponying up when your kid does serious damage to someone else’s property–or compelling your kid to apologize when she inadvertently hits someone. The mother in this story is well on her way to rearing a spoiled, insensitive, self-centered adult.

It is to weep.

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Dee May 19, 2014 at 1:51 pm

In this case your FIL was expecting the parents to take responsibility for the scratch, not the child, who had already taken responsibility with his apology. Other than that, the boy could maybe have worked off some of the cost by helping your FIL around the yard, the house, etc. But that’s not what your FIL wanted; his demand was for money, which leaves the child out of the argument. While it would be nice if parents paid for all the damages their children ever make along the way to adulthood it may very well be impossible. Children are separate from their parents to a certain degree, and that increases as they become older and more independent. Just because a child has an accident or is careless does not mean a parent can automatically pay all the costs. There’s not a perfect solution for situations such as this if children are allowed to have some freedom to learn and make mistakes. I think if your FIL is really that keen on never having a scratch on his vehicles he might want to consider keeping them in his own yard at all times and making sure his insurance covers such accidents. And I think the child’s father should have offered, right off the bat, to try to at least pay for the deductible, if he could afford it, and all parties could have come up with ways for the child to have worked off the debt for your FIL. But just presenting a bill to the parents for something that kids do every day – riding a bike inexpertly, and bumping into things? I can see why the parents got their backs up so quickly.

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RC May 19, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Agreed!

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Cat May 19, 2014 at 9:15 pm

I have to disagree. If your child damages someone else’s property, it is your responsibilty to pay for the damage. Why should your neighbor have to foot the bill for damage your child caused?

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Shalamar May 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I agree, too. A few years ago I came out of Safeway with my eight-year-old daughter and found a very angry lady waiting for me. She said “YOU HIT MY CAR!” At first I was all “… what? No, I didn’t!” Then I found out that my daughter had opened her passenger-side door into the woman’s car, leaving a visible scratch. I promptly handed over my contact information and promised to pay for the damage, which I did. I wasn’t very happy about it (and Daughter got a lecture about being more careful in the future, believe me), but it was the right thing to do.

The funny thing is – I’m pretty sure that by saying “Yikes! I’m so sorry! Let me pay for it!”, I really took the wind out of that woman’s sails. :) She sputtered furiously for a few minutes, then when she phoned a few days later with the repair estimates, she was VERY belligerent. (She probably expected me to say “You thought I was serious about paying for it? HA HA HA! Bill me! *click*)

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Reboot May 19, 2014 at 9:48 pm

I tend to disagree. Kids play with balls every day; I’d still expect the parents of a child whose ball smashed a window to pay for the replacement. Just because it’s an accident and just because it’s a child involved doesn’t suddenly mean responsibility is removed from the equation.

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Rayner May 19, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Well, that’s a little unfair, to be honest, to expect the FIL to eat the cost of someone else’s mistake/accident.

I think it’s correct to ask the parents to pay for damage that a child has caused, whether or not it’s on purpose. If they put a ball through your window, or damage a car, or break a vase – whether or not it was deliberate – it’s unfair that you have to eat the cost, and potentially cause things like increased insurance premiums if it’s claimed for on insurance. It might not even go over the excess level – some are as high as five hundred dollars, and then the FIL would still be on the hook for someone else’s bad judgement, and a child won’t have that amount of money to hand.

It’s the FIL’s responsibility to find out the cost of the damage. But it’s the job of the parents to suggest a payment plan that fits their budget, or to suggest alternatives like having the child work off the debt. How rude would it be for someone to hand you a bill and say, “I’d like the boy to pay half from his allowance, and then half by working it off. I’ll expect him on Monday after school.”

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Ange May 19, 2014 at 11:32 pm

The child didn’t just bump into something, they caused damage to property that wasn’t their own. Why should the FIL have to eat that cost? The parents should have paid for the damage and then the kid could have worked off the money in chores at his own home which is a much nicer alternative than him doing chores for an adult who isn’t a relative and who may not want the responsibility of supervising a child. If the parents were unable to offset any potential damage their child might do while riding their bike they should keep the child in THEIR yard.

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Brit May 20, 2014 at 3:40 am

Wow. If YOUR kids damage MY stuff, you are indeed responsible, and if you get angry when you’re expected to step up to that, you need to grow up.

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Michelle May 20, 2014 at 7:25 am

Boy, Dee, I hope you never try an argument like that in front of Judge Judy! She’d have you for breakfast! LOL!

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Abby May 20, 2014 at 9:49 am

I understand to an extent what Dee is saying- that Mom and Dad writing a check for the damage doesn’t teach the kid anything. That said, it’s not the car owner’s job to teach responsibility. Mom and Dad should cover the cost of repairs upfront, and then if they want to recoup their loss by withholding allowance or demanding extra chores from their kid, they can do so. But the owner of the car shouldn’t be out the money. If paying for the scratch is out of the question for the parents (perhaps living paycheck to paycheck and really don’t have the funds) they should work out some kind of deal with the owner. But just to throw your hands up and say, it was an accident, I shouldn’t have to pay, is appalling.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 2:40 am

Yep.

Kendra May 20, 2014 at 10:10 am

This attitude of “it’s not my fault my kid damaged your property” is why we have two generations and working on a third of “Special Snowflake” mentality. Yes, you are responsible for all the damage your child does until at least until they are 18 years old. The FIL did it exactly right, the parents fell down on the job. By not taking responsibility, the parents taught their kid that he doesn’t have to take responsibility for his actions. Yes, the kid could work it off, but that is up to the parents. It’s the parent’s job to pay for the damage their kid caused, then decide how kid is going to “work it off”. It’s not FIL’s job to discipline other people’s children.

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A different Tracy May 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm

You know, I get so tired of people who say “these kids today…” as if this were the first generation of children to ever be rude or destructive. And then I read something like this, saying the parents shouldn’t be held responsible for damage caused by the child because it was an accident, and I think, maybe society IS, in fact, going downhill.

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Elizabeth May 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm

No, Dee. Parents are responsible for the damage their children cause. Intent doesn’t matter here – just pay for the damage.

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m May 20, 2014 at 1:14 am

Legally, a child is your responsibility and you are responsible for ALL damages caused by your child until he or she turns 18. The car was parked in the FIL’s property where he had a reasonable expectation that nothing would happen to it. It is not the FL’s responsibility to park his car out of sight in the eventuality that some kid might damage it. It is however the parent’s legal responsibility to foot the bill for any damage inflicted by their offspring. See the difference there?

A I’m amused at your righteous indignation over the fact that the FIL “just wanted money”. What was he supposed to ask for, a warm hug? His car was damaged, he needed money to fix it so he asked for money. The world doesn’t have to foot the bill for parents who want to teach their children a lesson in responsibility. If the parent in this story wanted to educate their child, sure, it’s their prerogative, but they should have done so AFTER the bill with FIL had been settled.

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Dee May 20, 2014 at 11:53 am

Nowhere does it say the FIL’s car was parked on his property. It can be assumed this accident happened out on the street. You are very imaginative if you can detect righteous indignation from my statement that the FIL only wanted money out of the situation. The fact is, the FIL’s goal was not to teach the kid a lesson, as the OP stated, it was only to recoup the cost of the repair. He DID only want the money. I did state that it would be perfect if the parents just agreed to pay for the damages, but that this would in no way impact the child or prevent him from growing up to be a “special snowflake”, thus paying for the repair has absolutely nothing to do with teaching the child a lesson. It is also possible the parents cannot afford the cost. That is reality. I don’t know where all of you are from but wherever I have lived it is a reality that a car on the road will become scratched and dinged from normal use, and trying to maintain a perfect exterior requires never letting it out from under wraps. If I demanded repairs to my car every time something minor happened to it because of a child’s accident, or a pothole, or a shopping cart, or to my house, yard, every time a child or pet did something to it, or if someone accidentally bumps into me when I’m drinking red wine and it spills on my new dress, I would be spending all my time suing everybody else. Oh, wait, that is the great American pastime, isn’t it?

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Abby May 21, 2014 at 7:22 am

Well you’re right, FIL’s “goal” was to collect money, not to teach Jr. about responsibility, but…why would his goal be to teach Jr. responsibility? He’s not the kid’s parent. It’s not his job nor his concern whether or not Jr. learns about consequences and restitution. *His* concern is that his personal property was damaged by a neighbor. Had FIL decided to take Jr.’s parents to small claims court, the judge would have sided with FIL and ordered the parents to pay. The fact that FIL figured it would be less costly and time consuming to just pay for the majority of the repairs then go the small claims court route does not mean that what the parents did was correct.

Wild Rose was commenting on the lack of the parents’ personal responsibility, not that of their son’s. However, if they are the ones setting the example, the son is likely to grow up as irresponsible as they are.

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Dee May 21, 2014 at 11:32 am

Wild Irish Rose most certainly was inferring that paying for the damages would teach the child a lesson, and it is quite obvious that that would never work. The only thing that does is require the parents to pay money they may or may not have. Two totally different issues.
I certainly do agree that damages should be remedied by the guilty party. Children, however, cannot ever make complete restitution for the impact they have on society growing up. We, as a society, are required to absorb much, if not most, of those costs (it takes a village and all that). Any parent who says they have paid for all their child’s mistakes is either lying or ignorant of all their child has done, and any parent who claims to know everything their kid does every second is either delusional or abusive.
A parent most certainly should offer to try to pay for the damages their child has incurred. And a neighbour most certainly should consider how to approach a situation like this, to make the best of it, not to simply try to get every penny owed out of it. The car was not impaired in any way other than a scratch. The FIL was not sympathetic at all to the parents’ dilemma and showed a distinct lack of interest in the value of a lesson for the child. He’s not interested in good neighbourly relations, only maintaining a perfect car. Equating a scratch on the car with all the other wild scenarios that have been posted – paralysis and death? Really?!? – is just crazy hyperbole. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with people who only see life in black and white terms, and I’m happy to deal with my fellow (wo)man as situations arise, and not in terms of 100% payback. I like people (and other people’s children) more than I like money. If that makes me the odd one out on this discussion, I’m very pleased.

Abby May 21, 2014 at 6:01 pm

“Wild Irish Rose most certainly was inferring that paying for the damages would teach the child a lesson”

I believe you misread the post. Here is what she said- “What is so hard to understand about making your kid assume responsibility for his actions? Well, it starts with taking on your OWN responsibilities, like ponying up when your kid does serious damage to someone else’s property”.

The parents’ son caused damage to a car. It may not have rendered it undriveable, but it did cause damage. Legally and morally they are obligated to pay for those damages. The dad did not refuse to pay because he had no money, he refused to pay because he felt like that wasn’t his responsibility. He shirked his responsibility, and set a poor example for his son. The son, following his poor example, is more likely to grow up also shirking his responsibilities. THAT is what Wild Rose is saying. It’s not that Mom and Dad writing a check teaches the kid a lesson, it’s that Mom and Dad understanding it is their RESPONSIBILITY to pay will teach their son a lesson by example.

Tracy P May 21, 2014 at 8:47 am

So now no one is responsible for any damage they cause?

Using your argument, I can rear end your car and completely total it and leave you paralyzed or dead, but I don’t need to pay anything because it was an accident. After all, if you wanted your car to be undamaged and be able to live, you shouldn’t have gotten on the road.

And it isn’t the FIL’s job to teach the kid a lesson. That’s the parent’s job. So, parent’s pay for the damages, then the kid has to “pay” them back. That can be with extra chores or a summer job like mowing lawns, etc.

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DGS May 19, 2014 at 8:11 am

The mother was absolutely out of line, and the child could certainly stand to feel bad for hitting the OP (even though it was accidental), as it teaches the child courtesy, awareness of her surroundings and politeness.

That being said, I take issue with the statement “the way children behave these days”. I would imagine that every generation of adults resents the way children behave these days and laments modern parenting; in fact, when we look at examples in literature, even Tolstoy and Pushkin reference contemporary parenting and its woes and the entitlement of the young in their writings 200 and 120 years ago, respectively. However, it is wise to remember that there are always parents who raise entitled and spoiled brats and victims and those who raise upstanding members of society that are polite and courteous. Certainly with the recent increase in helicopter parenting, there are plenty of examples of the millennial generation acting entitled and babyish, but I also recall my grandparents generation lamenting my parents’ contemporaries for being spoiled in comparison to them, The Greatest Generation, who had gracefully survived insurmountable horrors. Simply, a point to make that poor parenting and raising of entitled brats is perpetual and not at all, a solely modern-day phenomenon.

Further, while we do not live in a child-centered society (nor should we), it is also not okay to treat children poorly. A very recent example this weekend: my DH, my almost 3-year-old and I, were grocery shopping early Saturday morning this weekend. At 8 am on a Saturday, the large grocery store is dominated by parents of young children with their offspring and the elderly, as most others are simply not up that early (or have better things to do than do their weekly shopping, who knows). Whilst when the store is busy, or when we are in other sections of the store (aisles vs. the perimeter), we put our toddler in the cart for his and others’ safety, given how empty the vast store was, we let him “help” by putting fruit in the bag and carrying it to the cart. It’s a great opportunity to make him feel involved, teach him about healthy eating, counting, etc. There were also two of us adults there to keep him out of harm’s way and keep an eye on him and make sure he does not do something inappropriate (like put a piece of fruit in his mouth, etc.)

My son was walking with my DH, carrying a bag of nectarines to me, who was standing by the cart. The distance between us was no more than 6 feet. A middle-aged woman with a cart full of groceries came barreling around another corner, while chattering on her cell phone, which she was holding with her head and her shoulder, and pushing the cart with one hand, while rooting about in her bag with another. She almost ran into my son and my DH (fortunately, my DH is almost 6’3″, 240 lbs., so he is a lot more noticeable than a 30 lb. toddler who’s not quite 3 feet tall), and she proceeded to yell out, “Jesus Christ! Move your stupid brat out of the way”. I was uncharacteristically, rendered speechless; my startled child started to cry, but thankfully, my DH reacted by looking at her rather menacingly and coldly saying, “Excuse me?” A manager who was supervising the setup of a display case intervened and suggested to the woman that she apologize, at which point, she began screaming obscenities at the manager, my family, and anyone within earshot. My family and I did not stay to hear the resolution of her caterwauling; we simply soothed our child and moved away to continue with our shopping (and put our son in the cart in the deli, butcher and fish market session of the store, which was markedly more busy). In this case, the child in question, was appropriately supervised and behaving well. It was an adult who acted like a bully and a spoiled baby.

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lnelson1218 May 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I have noticed an interesting trend (usually among the “grown-ups”) that the more they know that they are in the wrong, the louder the scream at others.

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Rap May 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Well, I am not condoning the woman shouting obscenities or calling the kid a brat, but I am going to suggest hold your kid’s hand in the store at all times or at least be within arm’s reach at all times. If he was 6 feet away, he was outside of your control. The offending woman is under no obligation to tend to your child’s safety for you, and had she struck the child with her cart, yes, she would have been at fault for not seeing him… and you would have been at fault for not having him under your control.

Interpreted differently, your kid almost caused an accident because he wasn’t under your control, the woman reacted badly, possibly out of being terrified of almost hurting someone else’s child, then your large male husband threatened her and rather than apologizing for your kid wandering about, you sicced the manager on her.

My own interpretation of appropriate supervision of a three year old child in a public place is not out of arm’s reach. Your mileage may vary of course, and I think this woman overreacted, but this wouldn’t have happened if your son had been under your control.

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nk May 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Since the woman almost hit the kid and the father, it sounds to me like the kid was within hand-holding distance of the father, and they were both six feet away from the mother. That seems perfectly acceptable to me–how on earth would parents get any shopping done if they BOTH had to hold the child’s hand the whole time?

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Rap May 20, 2014 at 12:45 am

I’m not getting that from the description, but then I also never said “both parents need to be holding the child’s hand” so I am curious where you got that from.

And no, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for two parents shopping with one toddler for one parent to be holding the child’s hand and or within arms reach of the child. I welcome DGS advising that her husband was within handgrasp of the child because a toddler shouldn’t be more than arm’s length away from a parent in a store precisely because non parent shoppers are not required to be on alert for other’s people kids. As stated, there was almost an accident, the woman was rude, DH made a threatening comment and mom and dad sent the manager to deal with it and perhaps learned that a supermarket isn’t a preschool for the little one to roam without a parent at their side.

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Kendra May 20, 2014 at 10:23 am

Rap, you and I are interpreting this post very differently. DGS said that son was waking with DH and they both were about 6 feet away from DGS. Crazy person came barreling around the corner and almost hit BOTH son and DH. Someone who is going to be careening around a grocery store with a full cart and not paying attention to where she is going is going to hit someone, and it’s her fault whether she hits a child or an adult. DH handled it the only way it could be handled when crazy women went on her “off my meds today” rant; he looked at her coldly and said “Excuse Me?” Then the manager, who saw the whole thing, stepped in, again as appropriate.

Rap May 20, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Kendra, frankly I assumed some exaggeration on the speed of the “careening” cart simply because as described, the woman was holding her shoulder and head to juggle the phone, had one hand on the cart, one hand rooting in a purse and was going around a corner at a speed called “careening” – and was still able to stop, didn’t drop the phone held between her head and shoulder, and the manager didn’t intervene with the speeding cart careening dangerously out of control.

Frankly I can barely manage safely walking thru the store with two hands on the cart, let alone do the cell phone and purse thing while the cart is moving at speed. That said, I don’t think I’m saying something outrageous when I say a toddler shouldn’t be out of arm’s reach in a public place.

InTheEther May 19, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Um … he was. In their control I mean. He was walking directly beside his father. DGS directly points out that the woman with the cart almost hit the both of them.

I suspect the only reason she went screaming about the toddler is because it would just be *silly* to scream at a grown adult for walking in the grocery isle. *Please note the sarcasm* Of coarse her nearly running a couple of people down wasn’t her fault.

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monkey's mommy May 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Maybe you should learn to read. She said her husband was right beside her son. Jeez

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Lera99 May 20, 2014 at 8:09 am

Rap, I’m shocked.

You feel fat people are entitled to spill over on their neighbors seats on planes, but have no tolerance for a child who hasn’t been penned up so as to not inconvenience anyone.

I’m starting to think you simply like to play devil’s advocate to create a stir.

From the OP’s description, the mother was 6 feet away but the father was next to the toddler. It is not as though she is sending her 3 year old off to run willy-nilly through the store.

This is a case where an adult wasn’t paying attention, almost collided with a very small child, and then rather than apologize the adult caused a scene.

It is clear who is in the wrong.

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Rap May 20, 2014 at 4:38 pm

I actually just don’t like parents not watching their kids. I’m genuinely shocked that holding a toddler’s hand or being within arms reach of the toddler in a *public* place is somehow an unusual expection. Particularly when the adult who bumps into the untended kid gets reamed by the “mama bear”.

Sorry you don’t like hearing it. I’ve been quite clear that the woman shouldn’t have flipped her lid over it or used the term “brat” (in part because even if a kid IS being a brat, non parents never win these sorts of arguements).

I also pretty consistently in the fat passenger discussion said a) I pay for first class tickets because of my size and b) I feel the airlines should be actively enforcing their passenger of size policies instead of not screening their passengers and letting the passengers fight it out and that the real problem is that the airlines are unwilling to set any criteria for passengers or to enforce their existing policies. I ask you to point me to where I said “fat people are entitled to spill over on their neighbors seats on planes” since you’re intent on making that accusation.

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nk May 21, 2014 at 1:37 pm

It’s not an unusual expectation. THE FATHER WAS HOLDING THE CHILD’S HAND. Multiple people have corrected you on that, and you keep acting like the kid was running around far from his parents and everyone who disagrees with you must support that. Everybody knows that a young child should be holding at least one parent’s hand. In this case, the child was holding his father’s hand, and a woman who wasn’t paying attention to anything but her cell phone almost hit both of them and then tried to blame the child. Do you understand the story yet?

Lera99 May 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm

But the toddler WAS within arm’s reach of the dad.
That’s why your “Hey! Watch your kids better!” attitude seems so weird.

We are in agreement that in public toddlers should not simply be let loose to run free. They are too little. They could be hurt.

It just seems odd that you bring that particular criticism to this story where that toddler WAS within arms reach.

As for the airline discussion it is actually your B argument of “Hey, fat people are going to keep doing this until the airline starts enforcing their size policies” that lead me to believe you are all for the spillage.

Rap May 22, 2014 at 8:05 am

NK – I am not seeing that DH was HOLDING the child’s hand. This is all the description we get on where the kid’s hands were – “My son was walking with my DH, carrying a bag of nectarines to me, who was standing by the cart” – to be fair, that’s not even necessarily indicating that the child was within arm’s reach of DH, but it certainly isn’t “DH WAS HOLDING HIS HAND”. – If the kid was a toddler and he was carrying a bag of nectarines, I think his hands were full.

Lera99 – you said very specifically that I said fat people are entitled to spill over. You’ve chastised me for saying fat people are entitled to spill over and openly accused me of stirring the pot. Please provide the quote where I said fat people were entitled to spill over. Or admit that you were incorrect.

lakey May 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Wow. I hope that woman gets anger management counseling. Where I shop a lot of people have their children walking around. I’ve never heard anyone suggest that they shouldn’t.

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Kimstu May 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Well handled, @DGS. You are right that small children should be kept in strollers/carts when stores are busy, but what you encountered was just a horribly rude person with no consideration for others (as well as some severe anger management issues, apparently).

Grocery stores and parking lots are two places where people often seem to assume that they can tear around at their normal brisk rate and then get aggravated with other people “getting in their way”. I confess I tend to be a supermarket “speeder” myself (I’m buying 8 items and I know exactly where they are on the shelves: gangway!), but at least I don’t react rudely to people who happen to be shopping more slowly than I am.

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Eva May 20, 2014 at 3:36 am

I dare say, that you are also watching the way before you. The woman DGS mentioned most assuredly did not. “A middle-aged woman with a cart full of groceries came barreling around another corner, while chattering on her cell phone, which she was holding with her head and her shoulder, and pushing the cart with one hand, while rooting about in her bag with another.”

Nope. Not watching at all and trying to hide her carelessness by yelling. Not good at all.

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Kendra May 20, 2014 at 10:29 am

I’m the opposite, I’m a browser. A typical shopping trip takes in the neighborhood of about 3 hours, unless we go to Costco, which takes longer. I do my best to stay out of other people’s way, but sometimes people refuse to go around. I’ll be going down an isle, and someone will come up behind me, there is plenty of isle to go around, but they’ll stay on my heels and mutter at me. I’ll even ask, ” am I in the way of something you need?” and they’ll say no but I’m going too slow. I’ve also noticed that how often this happens depends on the store. At Savemart, it happens all the time, at Raleys it sometimes happens and at Costco, it never happens.

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Joni May 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm

I agree that the ‘kids these days’ lament has been around too long to be taken seriously. I do think that with the advent of the Internet, we are a lot more likely to hear and spread around the stories of children (and parents!) behaving badly, whereas the generally well-mannered ones aren’t worthy of note. It’s been my experience that most children are generally good – it’s just that the few bad apples stick out a lot more.

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Brit May 20, 2014 at 3:41 am

So true. I work with kids and most of them are wonderful.

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DannysGirl May 19, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Thank you for this! I cannot stand the attitude some people have towards children. They assume all children are brats, and these people feel that children should never be in the same place as adults until they are adults themselves. How they expect a child to learn without being in public is beyond me. These folks were children once, too. Were they perfect?

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Angeldrac May 20, 2014 at 3:58 am

Here here!
As a mother of two, and someone who has worked extensively with children for many years, I do have a lot of tolerance for children behaving like children in places where children go (eg. a supermarket). My patience, however, does wear thin when I pass the same family aisle after aisle – parent on mobile, children getting increasingly fractious, starting to do cartwheels and whirly arms and darting infront of others higgledy piggledy everywhere and me nearly crashing into them again and again. This is the scenario of a parent not doing their parenting and taking control.

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Reboot May 19, 2014 at 9:50 pm

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers. ”

People have been “kids these days!”ing since Socrates :P

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Kendra May 20, 2014 at 10:34 am

Got a laugh for you. I was watching Frozen Planet, the episode about people living in the coldest places on earth. They were filming a very old inuit building an igloo, and the whole time he was lamenting that young people are forgetting how to make a decent igloo. They are all into their pre-made houses and fancy gadgets and abandoning the ways of their ancesters. So, I guess it doesn’t matter what the culture, you will always find old people thinking the younger generation is going to h-e-double hockey sticks.

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Lacey May 20, 2014 at 1:57 pm

It sounds like she was in the wrong, but I really have a problem with men acting “menacingly” towards women for some perceived slight. I understand that he was upset that someone called his kid a “stupid brat,” but a large man should be aware of his privilege in that situation and not use it to act threateningly towards a woman. She didn’t physically hurt your child and he shouldn’t imply – even with a look – that he might hurt her.

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Cecilia May 19, 2014 at 8:49 am

I am so very tired of this- parents raising entitled children. So entitled that think they deserve an apology if they do something wrong to another person, just so they don’t feel “bad”. If your child feels bad, they KNOW they did something wrong.

By demanding the OP apologize just so little Mary Sue does not feel “bad” is entitlement overkill. When you do something wrong to another person and do not apologize or even attempt to make reparations, you deserve to feel bad.

Can you imagine this mother if her daughter competed in a pageant & lost or tried out for cheerleading & did not make the squad or competed in a science fair & did not win a ribbon?

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NostalgicGal May 19, 2014 at 9:40 pm

There was a case like that several years ago. A family moved into a school district after the year started; and the mother DEMANDED that her daughter immediately be placed on the cheer squad and a few other ‘popular kid’ groups and activities. And SUED. Well the kids that had been there and tried out, were going to be usurped by this person? And her parents (especially her parents). The judge in the case, managed to have it last long enough that the NEXT school year came around; and made his ruling contingent on the girl TRYING OUT FOR the cheer squad. She didn’t get on, either. Judge threw case out of court and put the costs on the parents. (I think girl was around 13-14 at the time)

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LadyLelan May 19, 2014 at 8:53 am

My first reaction when I read this woman’s demand to OP was on the line of “wha?”

So… This little girl decides to flail her arms around, which is a bit silly but oh well, children sometimes do silly things, then hits OP, then apparently goes away without a single glance to OP, let alone an apology, and now OP should apologize to the child “so she doesn’t feel bad”???

Hm. After further thinking, please replace my “wha?” by “what the BEEEEEP (insert here some French colorful terms of your liking)?”

Has Earth decided to turn the other way while I was sleeping last night? Have penguins decided to take over New York, and Joan Rivers decided to retire to a convent?

How on earth should OP respond to this severe case of snowflakeness by apologizing to this arm-flailing ambulant weapon and her mother? I must admit I am a tad gobsmacked.

Just in case, I’m going to build a penguin-proof bunker. You never know.

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MichelleP May 20, 2014 at 12:10 am

You.Are.Awesome!!

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staceiam May 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

This reminds me of the time a man tried to exit a store by walking through a check out lane. I was checking out and chose that exact moment to stretch my arms out, elbows bent, to either side. He came from behind and was hit in the face. He stopped and stared at me, I was surprised so for a bit I stared right back. Out of habit, I said ‘I am so sorry’, thought about it for a second, and added, ‘that you hit me!’

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crebj May 19, 2014 at 9:03 am

Where on earth did Mom get that idea?

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Pam May 19, 2014 at 9:31 am

That mom missed such an opportunity!! If she had brought her child over to apologize, her child would have received a gracious response, reinforcement that it was an obvious accident, no harm done and the child could have left the bad feelings behind. Crazy world!!

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MM May 19, 2014 at 9:38 am

I agree with Admin. I can even understand going to the child and telling him or her “don’t worry I’m not mad at you, I know it was an accident, it’s not a big deal.” Sometimes kids feel bad not because the grownup hurt their feelings but because they know they’re in the wrong and are upset or embarrassed. I know I was that way when I was a kid.

But I don’t understand apologizing to the kid. For what? You didn’t yell at the kid or make a scene.

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Sarah May 19, 2014 at 9:43 am

Wow. My mom would have marched my butt right back over there and made me apologize.

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inNM May 19, 2014 at 10:15 am

Wait a minute… Pull up selector!
Her child hit you, and you should apologize because her child feels bad, even after you, the injured party, decided it was no big deal? I’m having problems digesting this.
OP, I support what you did, by not bowing to her ridiculous request. What next, her mother is going to insist that any victims her child bullies apologize to her child because she feels bad after the fact?

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AnaLuisa May 19, 2014 at 10:23 am

I see your solution as flawless, OP.

Kudos to you for not having ceded to such an utterly ridiculous request. I frankly do not think you could have handled it better.

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Margaret May 19, 2014 at 10:28 am

Good for OP for not backing down.

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Harley Granny May 19, 2014 at 10:34 am

Good for you! So many people cave into these guilt trips.

Altho it’s very few children behaving this way these days. I’ve found that most children are delightful and well rounded.

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mark May 19, 2014 at 10:56 am

This sounds like a pretty serious case of “special snowflake syndrome”. I actually don’t like it when people apologize to me when they’ve done nothing wrong. I realize that most of the time they really aren’t apologizing but expressing sympathy but the words are often the same (“I’m sorry”) but. I wouldn’t have apologized for anything but just offered a generic “Are you OK?” if even that was necessary in this case.

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EllenS May 19, 2014 at 11:16 am

The mom in this scenario is also missing an opportunity to teach her daughter how to make HERSELF feel better by knowing she did the right thing/tried to make things right.

If she grows up thinking she is dependent on others to “make her feel better”, she will be powerless in her own emotional life.

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crebj May 23, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Quite right.

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Phoenix May 19, 2014 at 11:21 am

This explains why a lot of kids today seem to have the behavior like monkeys. Parents don’t teach them to admit the kid’s mistakes, so the kids grow up to become completely blameless and entitled.

If this keeps up, we’ll have the “Special Snowflake” generation.

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Kendra May 19, 2014 at 12:23 pm

I thought we already had a “Special Snowflake” generation otherwise referred to as Gen X, followed by Gen Y The Millenials.

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NostalgicGal May 19, 2014 at 9:42 pm

There were SS’s long before Gen X… just that there’s a lot MORE of them. And more being created all the time….

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Alli May 20, 2014 at 6:32 am

Actually, studies have shown that the millenials on the whole are actually more focused on others than other generations. They grew up in a rough time and are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to unemployment.

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Calliope May 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm

No, this doesn’t explain why a lot of kids behave poorly. It explains why one particular child might behave poorly. I’m sick of incidents like this one being used to paint a whole generation of young parents as Special Snowflake Enablers. I’m a parent of young children and I’m friends with lots of parents of young children, and I’ve never seen or heard of a parent doing anything like what the mother in this post did. Never. Most of us are doing our best to bring up our children to be compassionate, empathetic, responsible people.

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DannysGirl May 19, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Thank you!

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JO May 20, 2014 at 5:37 am

Thank you!

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Joni May 20, 2014 at 7:23 am

Hear, hear!

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Susan May 19, 2014 at 11:28 am

OP, you did very well. Frankly, I would have been tempted to tell the mom ‘Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize you weren’t raising your child to participate in society as a fully functional individual.”

And at around 10 years old, that kid doesn’t get a pass from me. At 5 or 6, sure. However, at some point she may discover the hard way that hitting people without being apologetic will limit her prospects and perhaps her longevity.

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Kendra May 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Absolutely, a 10 year old SHOULD know, but if she doesn’t know, then it’s the parents fault for not teaching her, not the child’s fault. Children aren’t born psychic.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 19, 2014 at 11:54 am

There seem to be an awful lot of people for whom the Holy Grail of etiquette and ethics has become “if I feel badly, you should apologize”. They are going to be in for a very rude awakening indeed when they run into someone like OP who declines to play by their very strange rules. Such people often work very hard to maintain the fiction that others must compensate them for feeling badly. The poor child in this case may not ever learn to take responsibility for their own actions and their own feelings. It’s certain that she won’t have to while her mother extorts the rest of the world into compensating for her daughter’s moments of distress. Sparing a child discomfort and embarrassment is a wonderful and noble sounding goal. It just doesn’t translate well to reality if it’s carried too far, as here. Mom has kind of lost it, in my estimation.

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NostalgicGal May 19, 2014 at 9:46 pm

‘I’m not your therapist, I’m not *her* therapist, but… for $125, yes I’ll be a therapist and make her feel better by telling her whatever she needs to hear. How about next Thursday at, say, 3 pm? I have half an hour then I can spare.. oh pay in advance now, cash please’… I’d be tempted. OP you’re in the right and Stacey, you’re right on too…..

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vanessaga81 May 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I’m 100% behind the OP. I hate to read stories on here where the OP caves and does what the boorish stranger asks, because I have caved before myself and I hate the thought that the bad mannered are getting the impression that their behavior or remotely OK. As a counter to “kids these days”, I was leaving a crowded restaurant this weekend, holding my 1 year old in one arm. I was a little far away fr the door and the young boy in front of me (maybe 10) let the door drop shut. His father, who was waiting for him, immediately said ” Hey! What are you doing!? Open the door for that lady!”. The boy turned around, rushed to the door and the he AND his father apologized. I wasn’t the least bit upset that he’d let the door drop because he was a kid but I was pleasantly surprised that his father corrected him AND that he apologized without prompting. I told his father he was doing a great job and complimented the boy on his good manners. Hopefully positive attention will help him keep it up.

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Freq Flyer May 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

The kid feels bad, and you’re the adult. No, you don’t need to apologize to the kid. You could, however, be kind to the child and model good appropriate adult behavior.

(Bend down to her level, with a smile on your face:) “Hi, sweetheart, I know that was an accident and I know you did not mean to hit me. Things like that happen sometime. You did not hurt me and all is well. You might want to be a little more careful in the future.”

If the kid manages to mumble some kind of “Sorry”, then you can go on with your kindness:

“Thank you for the apology. You are a very nice girl and I know your mother is proud of you for doing the right thing.”

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Abby May 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I could *maybe* see if the woman chased you down and said that her special little snowflake felt really bad about hitting you, and could you take a few seconds to tell her that you knew she didn’t mean to do it and you weren’t hurt. That would still be putting you on the spot, and taking overprotective mama bear to the extreme, but it’s nowhere near as bad as demanding you apologize for being hit by her child.

This case though, in my opinion, deserves the jaw dropping audacity hall of fame that is occupied by Veruca Salt on the city bus (dad demands the OP- a complete stranger to him- hand over her iPhone to his daughter because she wants to play a game on it and calls her rude when OP refuses) and the Uncle of the OP who invited OP to his daughter’s birthday party, then upon receiving her RSVP of yes, calls her and accuses *her* of putting *him* in an awkward spot because although he invited her, he figured she would decline and send a gift, and he didn’t really want her there. He then further states that OP will be “allowed” to give his daughter her gift at a later date more convenient for him.

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lakey May 19, 2014 at 1:15 pm

‘ Mother says, “But she’s just a child! You’re an adult! You’re supposed to apologize to her so she doesn’t feel bad” ‘

Parents like this, and I’ve known some, are making a big mistake. Feeling bad is a part of life and children need to learn how to deal with it. Have you ever noticed how many children’s books there are that deal with a dog dying? That’s because a pet dying is a part of children learning about death and grief. It’s tough, but you can’t protect your children from everything negative.

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Denise May 19, 2014 at 1:38 pm

We live in an entitled society. I HATE constantly hearing about “how awful kids these days” are. It’s an inaccurate statement that is incredibly offensive.

I’m around a lot of kids. The vast majority of them are kind-hearted, spend their spare time donating their time and efforts in the community, volunteer on their birthdays and make a positive difference in our community.

The entitlement issues come from adults. Perhaps some are passing the beliefs that everything should be handed to them on a silver platter, but that isn’t the norm. I despise the idea that we judge what kind of child someone is based on one instant that lasted less than a minute. She had a moment where her judgement lapsed. We ALL do. We do not know what was said to the mother by the child, we do not know what the child expected to happen.

I have a 9 year old who on occasion has walked into people by accident, or done something she knows is wrong (cheers or dance moves in the store), and while we use it as a chance to apologize and remember why we need to be aware of her surroundings, it doesn’t make her a brat. I’ve seen adults, not paying attention, run into her with carts or bump into her with the idea that somehow she should anticipate their movements and know where they are going while they text and push a cart of groceries. To those adults, she’s likely a spoiled brat. In reality, she does volunteer work with a variety of charities, tutors classmates during recess and has a really big heart that tries to do the right thing.

Children are still learning. Even at 10. They are becoming more self aware, they are learning consequences of their actions and trying harder and harder to control their boredom. Cut the kid some slack and stop making assumptions regarding the child based on the assumption of her mother. Who knows what kind of day either were having or what else could have led up to her statements.

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DannysGirl May 19, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Well said!

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Anna Wood May 19, 2014 at 6:42 pm

The Ancient Greeks were complaining about the bad manners etc., of the younger generation. It has been going on for a long time

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Alli May 20, 2014 at 6:34 am

Yeah, this letter is NOT an example of “kids these days”, considering the bad actor in this story was the mom, not the kid.

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starstruck May 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm

oh, i really hate to believe people like this really exist. but sadly i guess they do. a darker side of me would have thought about slapping her then saying, now apologize! of course i would never do that though. :) how would that apology even go? how would a person apologize for someone else hitting them? agh

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ohboy May 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I have NO idea if this is the case, but I wonder if instead of thinking OP should apologize that the mom, maybe in her immaturity, was actually asking if the two of them could talk a bit. I could see the child being mortified at what she did, ran back to her mother for safety because she thought the adult might retaliate (some adults do), and so the mother thought there needed to be a discussion between the two so she could alleviate her daughter’s fear of adults. Maybe she was actually saying, “could you please talk to my daughter so that she sees you aren’t mad and that she could have talked to you without being scared?” This is very common in families where the child either sees or is the subject of a lot of abuse, where they hide when they do something wrong because of the retaliation it brings. BUT, when OP told the mom the girl should apologize, she was correct….but I just wonder if mom was just looking for a kind gesture, “ok, Susie, I’m not mad, come here, let’s talk” in a gentle voice.

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JJ May 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Ten is way more then old enough to know better and the mother should have been a better example of a parent. She should have told the old enough to be aware kid that well you should’t be flailing around and getting in the way of people if you don’t want to hit someone by mistake. No one needs to apologize to the kid or forgive them for being in the way and hitting people. If I had done that at ten my mom would have just looked at me and said, “you hit her, even if it was mistake, they don’t owe you anything after you hit them. Next time stop doing that and it won’t happen”.

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Marozia May 19, 2014 at 3:37 pm

No wonder the world is in a mess with mothers like that around!!
OP, you did the right thing by walking away from that situation.

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lizza May 19, 2014 at 4:53 pm

My mom would have made me apologize if she’d seen this. I can understand the kid being scared and/or shy – I was too with people I didn’t know – but this would have been a great teaching moment: even if something is an accident, if you hurt or bother someone else, you still apologize.

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Cat May 19, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Her name is Legion. As a guidance counselor for high school classes held in the afternoon/evening, a parent called me to complain about her son’s teacher. He was not learning anything. She was not a good teacher and should be dismissed.
I checked his attendance and asked her why it was so erratic. He had to come to class late because he had a job; he slept in class because he was tired; and he had to leave early because she wanted him home before dark. She could not understand why we had hired a teacher who could not teach.
I don’t know what I would say to this child’s mother if I were put on the spot as you were. Given time to think about it, I might have said, “Well, bring your daughter to me. She can apologize for hitting me and for running away. I will forgive her and her conscience will be cleared.”

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HelloKitty May 19, 2014 at 6:07 pm

To those of you who feel that I am a “troll” or “over the top” for stating that this brat should be spanked, I assure you, I am dead serious. If I had done something like that at age 10, you can bet your life that my mother would have at least taken a hand to my behind, or let the person I hit do it. I would have richly deserved a spanking for acting like a toddler and flailing my arms about.
I was taught from day one that when in a public place, I was to stay beside my mother, and to act like a human being, not like a wild animal. Unlike today’s children, I was afraid of my parents; I respected my elders and authority. If I failed to show proper respect, I got a well-deserved spanking.
It was not child abuse then; it is certainly not child abuse now. It is called discipline; something that liberals want to banish.
I believe in VERY STRICT DISCIPLINE for today’s youth! They need parents, rules, boundaries, and discipline more than they need parents to be their friends. Adults are entirely too soft on today’s children, which is why children have no fear of their parents; and no respect for authority. Adults let children get away with too much! It’s time to stop mollycoddling them and get tough!

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monkey's mommy May 19, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Touch my child. I won’t wait for the cops.

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LeaveMeAlone May 20, 2014 at 9:00 am

And this is why if I see a kid about to do something stupid I suddenly have to do something in the other direction. After the Susan Newkirk incident I made a vow to myself to never get involved in anything involving a kid. Kid about to run in to traffic – I’ll remember monkey’s mommy’s threat to do harm to me if I touch her kid. Too many parents out there like that for me to endanger my life or freedom. Parents can’t have it both ways. They want the village to help raise their kids until it comes to discipline – then the village has no say. No thanks.

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crebj May 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I think you know better than that.

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DannysGirl May 19, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Wow. Just wow. While I agree that children need to be with their parents, and keep their limbs from striking others, the rest of your comment is troubling. I can’t believe your parents let strangers hit you. Your parents allowing that behavior doesn’t make it right. You cannot touch another person’s child. When in the last 50 years or more has it ever been okay to spank a stranger’s child?! As I stated earlier, handled appropriately, I think it’s fine for an adult to address a child that isn’t their own, if necessary. Further, I am not a soft parent because I think your punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Yes, the 10 year-old is responsible for her actions. Short of having a medical condition that makes her limbs move uncontrollably, she should know better than to go flailing through a store. However, I think it is more appropriate for the girl to apologize to the OP than to be spanked. Perhaps a talk later about proper behavior in public, if needed. The message can be sent without force. Yes, I think spankings are necessary. I have spanked my son. I wouldn’t spank him for this.

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JO May 20, 2014 at 5:48 am

Agreed.

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MichelleP May 20, 2014 at 12:14 am

I agree that parents have every right to do that with their own child. I disagree with your assertion that the child in the story was a brat and that you have the right to hit others’ children.

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Kirst May 20, 2014 at 2:25 am

I was also taught to behave in public, but my parents managed that without hitting me, or taking a belt to me for accidents. There’s a big difference between discipline and abuse. You seem to think that one requires the other.

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Brit May 20, 2014 at 3:45 am

Euw. Hitting a child for an accident is not ‘very strict discipline’. It’s just revolting, stupid violence that nobody should respect.

Have you ever read ‘The Way of All Flesh’? Perhaps you should.

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Fraenzidaenzi May 20, 2014 at 5:34 am

Fear does not equal respect.
Having had to fear my mom’s sometimes quite erratic verbal punishment, I grew up learning to be careful around her, to be afraid… And definitely not to respect her.

The only thing this kind of “discipline” teaches is that whoever is physically stronger than you has the right to treat you however they want.
It took me -years- to learn that, while everyone deserves to be treated with respect, actual respect has to be earned. And you do not earn respect through intimdation and bullying.

This does in no way mean that I think children shouldn’t have to learn manners or face consequences for their actions, they absolutely should and even have to. Hurting them and making them afraid of you is not the way to go about it, though (and if this is the only wayyou can think of, please stay away from children).

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Fraenzidaenzi May 20, 2014 at 5:39 am

ETA: And this was only verbal punishment. I’m very, very glad she didn’t spank or hit me often. The last time she did, though, made me lose pretty much all of the (little) respect I had for her by then.
She has since regained a little of it, but I will never trust her.

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JO May 20, 2014 at 5:47 am

Fear is NOT the same thing as respect. I sincerely feel sorry for any child who ever comes within 100 yards of your presence. You clearly have unresolved issues and need to get yourself into some counseling. Maybe those issues stem from being unnecessarily punished as a child?

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ketchup May 20, 2014 at 7:12 am

I wonder. Do you have children?

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Joni May 20, 2014 at 7:27 am

I don’t want my children to be afraid of me.

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wren May 20, 2014 at 7:28 am

I believe in punishment for an intentional, stiff-necked rebellious act by my child. But for an accident or childish irresponsibility? It’s time for discipline, as in teaching. Time to teach the child why it was wrong, and have him or her repair the damage, in this case with an apology. Maybe a talk later on about why keeping her body under control is especially important in public. Save the punishment for out-and-out deliberate bad behavior like throwing rocks at houses, hurting other kids, or being a sass-mouth. Those behaviors are not accidental.

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delislice May 21, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Gold Star, Wren!!

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 3:11 am

THIS!!!!

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Meegs May 20, 2014 at 8:13 am

Please say you don’t have childen. Please?

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Lera99 May 20, 2014 at 8:22 am

” It is called discipline; something that liberals want to banish.”

Actually it’s called Battery.

Just as you aren’t allowed to punch an adult who exhibits poor behavior, you aren’t allowed to put your hands on another person’s child.

Also, I was raised by a hippie – as liberal as they come. But for life threatening behavior (running into the street, playing with the stove, etc…) she and my dad believed in spankings.

So get out of here with your Liberals are trying to turn children into undisciplined monsters who hate authority inferences.

Also, parents who have no other methods of punishment than striking their child lack imagination.

I was never afraid of my mom’s wrath because she’d hit me – that would only sting for a second. Should my behavior really disappoint my mother she could do SOOOOO much worse than simple physical contact.

Frankly, I was never spanked once I was older than 4 or 5. But I certainly knew it was in my best interest to behave.

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Michelle C Young May 23, 2014 at 3:08 am

Running into the street – I got an immediate spanking for that, and it wasn’t delivered calmly. It was my parent acting out in terror.

But I did learn not to run into the street, and since spanking wasn’t the punishment for every infraction, I REMEMBERED that spanking, and what is was about.

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Kaymar May 20, 2014 at 8:57 am

Yeah, the diction here (use of exclamation points, “mollycoddling”) is starting to say troll to me. Nice work, I was taken in by your first post.

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Angeldrac May 20, 2014 at 9:01 am

You need a hug.

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nk May 19, 2014 at 7:29 pm

I think a 10-year-old is definitely old enough to know that she should apologize (without being prompted) when she accidentally hits someone. I’ve had kids around the age of 5 or 6 apologize to me when they accidentally bump into me–it’s just an automatic reaction when you do that, like saying “You’re welcome” when someone thanks you. That being said, with a mother like that, it’s not surprising that the girl was never taught the polite behavior that many children are taught at a much younger age.

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Saucygirl May 19, 2014 at 8:22 pm

My five year old daughter gets very upset when I reprimand her and usually ends up crying. I do not cry. She then tells me that I need to apologize first because she is obviously more upset then I am. I explain to her that apologizing has nothing to do with who is most upset, and everything to do with who is in the wrong. This mom and her daughter need to be taught the same lesson.

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Rosie May 19, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Some of the best lessons I ever learned as a kid involved doing something wrong, apologizing for being wrong and learning from it. There is no substitute for this; kids need to learn wrong from right. Parents that think their little snowflake is special are going to be very sadly “rewarded” down the line when these kids start growing up.

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InTheEther May 19, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Wow, what is with the extremes when it comes to kids?

There’s the mom in the OP’s story who’s opinion seems to be summarized with: *wailing* But my baby’s so DELICATE and SENSITIVE! EVERYONE needs to cater to my little darling!

And Then you have Hello Kitty’s post which (whether s/he really meant it like this or not) comes across as: *screaming* I’m tired of these &#%$ parents not seeing to their little brats!!! Let me straighten the little &*$# out, s/he won’t do it again! They’re just lucky I have to worry about the cops.

Option 1 produces (I) an adult who can’t handle a life where they’re NOT treated like delicate china, and who thoughtlessly trample other people’s feelings without noticing, or (II) a psycho who does everything they can to make people cater to them.

Option 2 churns out adults who (I) hide away from life and flinch and cower when they have to come in contact with people, or (II) decide that they need to get their hits in first and so long as they can kick everyone else’s butt that they’re in the right.

(These are broad generalizations and should really be termed as a tendency rather than an assured event. There are plenty of people who’s parents frankly dropped the ball but they still manage to turn out as healthy, well adjusted adults)

I think that it’s been long proven that extremes are never a good option.

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ketchup May 20, 2014 at 7:13 am

I agree with you. Neither attitude does the children any favours.

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Rosie May 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm

That being said, I do not favor corporal punishment. Talk to your children about what happened, and use appropriate consequences. Time-outs, taking away privileges, etc., whatever works. They do need to know what they did wrong, but they should never have it “beaten into” them, ever.

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MichelleP May 20, 2014 at 12:21 am

Totally agree that the mother was absurd. OP handled it beautifully. I am raising an 11 year old daughter (alone ) who is polite, well spoken, mature and has manners. I’ve never taken a belt or anything else to her. I have, for safety reasons, taught her that she can say “NO” to an adult if they are asking or telling her to do something she shouldn’t or feels uncomfortable doing. (I can’t stand it when I see a parent forcing their child to hug or kiss a relative when they clearly don’t want to.)

When I was a teenager, we had a neighbor who had a toddler. While they were delightful, the mom let him wander all around and do whatever he wanted. She told my mom we should “babyproof” OUR house to accommodate him. My mother politely informed her that she had no babies and had no obligation to do so. Once, our cable went out, and my mother paid a technician to come out and check it. Turns out that it was just a loose cable not plugged in properly. Neighbor comes over with toddler and he heads straight to cable and starts pulling on it. I instinctively yelled, “No!” I didn’t scream or approach him in any way. He started whining but almost immediately stopped. Neighbor mom demanded I apologize to him, which stupidly, I did. I was raised to do what adults told me. If my mother had been there it would have been different; she had plenty to say about it later.

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AngePange May 20, 2014 at 2:39 am

I’d be so tempted to say to the child: “I’m so sorry your mother is incapable of teaching manners and that, as a result you’re more likely to grow up spoiled and entitled”.

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Kate May 20, 2014 at 6:10 am

That is exactly what I would have done as well!
And I would like to defend the children of the world, I live in a tourist town whose population grows by 20 times in the summer. I see many many kids that I’ll never see again. The polite well behaved kids far far outnumber the brats. (Just like the adults!) It’s just that the bratty ones are so much louder, and their behavior is so much more noticeable, it just seems like there are more of them.

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NostalgicGal May 22, 2014 at 12:17 am

[Like] < made my own button

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HelloKitty May 20, 2014 at 6:25 am

Oops, first sentence in last paragraph should read as follows: So for all you parents who are failing to properly discipline your children by NOT spanking them, I just want to thank you in advance.

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Joni May 20, 2014 at 9:54 am

HK, my kids have been spanked plenty. (Spanked, not whipped with belts or other objects.) I can’t guarantee that my children will never bump into you in a grocery store on accident. I will make them apologize (actually they will probably do it on their own without needing my prompting) but that does NOT mean you get to take your belt off right there in the store and teach them a lesson.

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Alli May 20, 2014 at 6:39 am

I want to be clear that there’s no reason to drive to extremes on this issue.

First of all, a kid doesn’t have to be severely punished, or really punished at all, for an accident. I mentioned my brother has his kids apologize when they accidentally hit or trip over something (and kids do that all the time, they’re growing and don’t know where there bodies are).

Also, try to remember, the kid wasn’t the one acting abhorrently or selfishly in this situation, the mom was. The kid didn’t say anything and we have no idea what she said to her mom.

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DGS May 20, 2014 at 8:37 am

@Rap, my husband was walking right next to my son. I was 6 feet away by the cart. I apologize if my description above didn’t make that clear.

Also, we did not sic the manager on the woman. The manager witnessed the incident and intervened. My husband made a threatening comment in response to the woman yelling at us (if saying, “Excuse me?” can be constituted as threatening).

Provided children are appropriately supervised (and our son was), they are as welcome in most public arenas as adults. Children are people, also. And grumpy grown-ups were children once upon a time.

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Brit May 20, 2014 at 9:51 am

The woman sounded nuts, but your husband – you said yourself he looked ‘menacingly’ at her (all 6’3″ and 240lbs of him) before speaking ‘coldly’. Menacing looks from a man twice my size? Yeah, I’d take that as threatening. Not that I blame him.

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