I got together for lunch with two acquaintances. One of the women brought along her 3-year old son, Randy. It was a beautiful summer day and we chose a table outside. Andy’s mother got a bottled root beer with a twist off metal cap like the cap on a bottle of beer. Randy took the bottle cap from his mother’s tray, put it in his mouth and jumped down from his chair and started running around the concrete patio area. He entertained himself by spitting out the bottle cap, shooting it as far as he could, then running to retrieve it, popping it back in his mouth, running to another spot and spitting/shooting it again.
While his mother sat there talking and eating, unconcerned about her toddler running around with a dirty, sharp bottle cap in his mouth, I watched him out of the corner of my eye, nervous about all the things that could go wrong, like him choking or falling and cutting his mouth and contemplated whether I should say something since I didn’t know this woman very well and it’s hard to know when it is okay to comment on someone else’s child or someone else’s parenting. I decided this really was potentially dangerous and was just about to say something when a businessman walked by and interrupted my plans.
He approached a table near us and asked if the child belonged to anyone at that table. They also expressed their concern about what the child was doing, but told him that the boy was not with them. He approached our table and asked if the child belonged to any of us and his mother said that he was hers. He was extremely upset and said, “Oh my god, he’s running around and he’s got something in his mouth!”
She responded, very calmly and sarcastically, like she was counteracting his concern, “Um . . . yeah . . . I know. It’s a bottle cap.”
His concern seemed to turn to disgust as he said, “So you are aware that your child is running around with a bottle cap in his mouth. He could choke. Nice parenting.”
She screamed back at him, “My son has never choked on anything in his life and when I want your f-ing opinion on how I f-ing raise my f-ing son, I will let you f-ing know, you son of a . . .” I was suddenly relieved that a stranger had interrupted my plan to speak up and had gotten the tongue-lashing that would have no doubt been mine had I said anything.
I did nothing to encourage this acquaintance to blossom into a friendship and I have since lost touch with this woman, but often wonder how Randy, who would be about 20 now, turned out. 1106-09
Let’s Hope Randy Survived
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