Rock : ME : Hard Place

I have been anxiously awaiting the warm weather which has finally graced us with its presence.  I am in a new home for this particular season and this new home has a pool.  Granted, I have to share this pool with every other resident of the community but it is still mine and I am going to use it as much as possible, neighbors be damned.

I woke up on Saturday and ripped open the curtains to find gorgeous sunshine waiting to cancerize my skin cells.  I was elated.  I threw on a swimsuit, filled a cooler up with beer and made my way outside to my happy place.  Only once I got closer did I realize that I would be sharing the pool with my nemesis, the redneck.  Extra bonus for me!  Redneck children accompanied her.

I claimed a chair on the other side of the pool, trying hard not to make eye contact.  I poured a beer, plugged in the ipod and settled in for a day of baking.  All was well for about fifteen minutes until I heard the yelling.  I opened my eyes and removed one earbud just in time to see the redneck yanking her barely walking toddler out of a chair by one arm, screaming obscenities at him while I looked on in horror.  She glanced at me quickly but I was able to look away just in time.

This cycle continued for about two hours.  Child would play.  Child would do something redneck wouldn’t like.  Child would get ripped off the ground by a limb.  Child would be scolded, sometimes spanked.  Repeat.

I was most certainly uncomfortable but, even though I thought the child’s behavior may not have warranted her reaction, her reaction was also not harsh enough to warrant me standing up and saying something.  That changed, however, the next time the child crawled up on the chair he wasn’t supposed to be on.  The mother ran over, spanked the child hard on the butt and screamed ‘I’m gonna get my belt if you don’t stop this shit!’

I sat in absolute horror, unable to contain my disdain for this person who called herself a mother.  I do not have a problem with spanking.  I believe that is up to each parent.  I was spanked and do not hate my parents for it.  However, when you start bringing objects into the spanking and using the term ‘beat’ which this particular ‘mother’ used repeatedly, then I have an issue.  The mother and children quickly left the pool after this particular incident.  I believe she could feel the tension mounting as everyone at the pool was now staring at her with daggers in their murderous eyes, waiting for her to cross that line she had been so carefully toeing all afternoon.

I didn’t see her for the rest of the day, nor the next day.  Do I believe she abuses her children?  I honestly have no idea.  However, considering what she deemed to be okay public behavior, it horrifies me to think about what she does behind closed doors.

When is it okay to say something to someone who may be crossing a line with their child?

Are you okay with spanking?  Were you spanked as a child?

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60 Comments on “Rock : ME : Hard Place

  1. Given the belt once, accompanied by the utterly ridiculous: “This is going to hurt me more than its going to hurt you.” No emotional scars from it, though…. blowing up nearly 50% of our family homes electrical outlets with a piece of wire tied to a stick (i knew sticks didn’t conduct electricity) probably deserved a good whack.

    But you’re right: if that is how she performs in public then we can only shudder to think what goes on behind closed doors.

    • Awww man, I never got the ‘This is going to hurt me…’ comment. Granted, I never blew out all our electrical outlets either 🙂

  2. My husband talked about using the belt on our kids and I blew up!! My mom used a fly swatter with a metal handle. Sometimes she would miss because I jerked and I would have whelps on me from the metal. I know a belt can do the same thing. I am totally against the belt. But I do spank my oldest if he does something he knows he’s not supposed to. (He’s three.) My youngest who is ten months get a tap on the hand (not a hard one but enough to make him look at me if he isn’t already) if redirecting doesn’t work. Or he’s grabbing at my face.

    And I did get the “This is going to hurt me…” comment. I got it a lot! Ha. I was a bad kid (:

    • Haha!!! Yeah, I never got the belt and figured since spanking is so frowned upon nowadays, I figured the belt had gone away as well. I was mistaken. My friend used to have to pick a ‘switch’ off a tree in their backyard. Their dad never actually hit them with it but the torture of picking it out was enough. I thought that was great (when I got older of course!).

      • My father in law did that to my husband and his siblings. The sheer terror of not getting a good enough one kept them in line!! If they got one that was to small/hard/thin/thick/whatever they had to go cut another one and got in even more trouble because they knew which ones were good and which weren’t.

  3. I have been occasionally spanked, but it was more or less the “norm” in Ukraine at the time. Don’t have any hard feelings about it whatsoever. I am not plotting any delayed revenge or anything. This knife and ninja stars collection? Oh no, that’s nothing, that’s just a hobby.

    As for when is it OK to interfere – that’s always a tough one, isn’t it? I’d say I would definitely interfere if things got more physical than that. It’s generally hard to have a constructive discussion with someone who is too busy being enraged at the moment, so I doubt you’d have any positive outcomes if you tried to reason with her.

    • That’s what I figured. Plus, I’m pretty sure she could easily kill me with her redneck ninja skills so I would just cowardly call the police/child services instead of actually saying anything … I’m passive aggressive like that…

  4. Ugh, scary. I think there is a huge difference between spanking and “the belt.” I think, although I was never spanked, that spanking is supposed to hurt feelings and maybe hurt pride. Hitting with a belt or something else is meant to physically harm, and I’m pretty sure if there is a line, that’s it.

    • That’s what I think as well .. I don’t have kids and don’t know if I will spank or not. But a belt? Absolutely not. I’m definitely keeping my eye on that one. One good piece of news is the kid was in a bathing suit and I did not see a bruise on him so hopefully she’s all talk. Horrible talk, mind you, but just talk.

      • Yes! If inflicting actual physical pain or damage is the goal of a form of discipline then it’s a whole other kettle of fish.

  5. I’m cool with spanking. I was spanked. I try not to use it, but sometimes it’s the only way to get my kids’ – especially my son’s – attention. But never with objects. At the very least, she was being verbally abusive to the kid down at the pool. But I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she was exhausted and just completely overwhelmed, unable to cope, etc, especially since you didn’t see bruising. I would say that a pattern of abuse – verbal or otherwise – is what would merit calling authorities. Or something obviously intensely violent.

    • I have to agree with you. While I don’t look forward to spending my summer by the pool with her, I am definitely keeping an eye on her.

  6. I would have had trouble not saying anything, but it doesn’t take much for my blood to boil when it comes to little ones. I have little ones and I know how difficult they can be, but I also know what loving discipline looks like and that “a’int” it.

    • Nice usage of “a’int”! My blood was certainly boiling but I couldn’t bring myself to say something, mainly due to the fact that I knew nothing good would come out of it. If it happens again, I’ll make sure my man is out there because he will have no problem standing up to a dumb redneck ‘mother’.

  7. I just tell my kids that I’m going to send them to space or Syberia or Santa’s elves are going to kidnap you and make you work in the mines if they are being naughty. Verbal abuse is a little more fun when you use your whisper voice.

    • I feel that is how I will handle things whenever I decide to make mini versions of myself …. You have to make it a little scary though … Your kids may actually want to go to space or Santa’s workshop, right? More like, I’ll send you to the seventh level of hell to burn for ages!!!!

      Too much?

      Reason #876 I shouldn’t have children

  8. I’m too much of a scaredy-cat to say something out loud, but I would definitely give her the stink eye…
    I was also spanked as a kid and I don’t think it hurt my relationships or my development. Not sure how we’ll do things with kids, though it sounds like I was way worse than my husband in that regard!

    • Haha — I’m a scaredy-cat too but I have mastered the stink eye so redneck got a lot of it from me that day! I really hope it doesn’t happen again. Otherwise, I may have to recruit my tough looking neighbor to say something if it does….

  9. That’s a good question. I’ve always felt like it’s a bit much for anyone to tell another person how to raise their kids, especially if they choose to say something in a public place. Being ‘called out’ publicly just seems like it would instantly get a negative response from the person being confronted. In this particular situation, I would probably just ask a property manager to ask them to tone it down or leave. No need to make a scene or confront them yourself, since you do live in the same neighborhood, you don’t need that type of worry.

    I feel like sometimes people take it upon themselves to ‘police’ the world, when it’s not needed. Feel bad about the way the child is treated? Then call the proper authorities, never deal with a crazy person like that yourself. (Being from Georgia, I know all about the rednecks and trust me, you definitely don’t want to rub one the wrong way and end up with a disorderly neighbor with a chip on their shoulder.)

    • I agree! I don’t think I would say anything to her. I am very passive-aggressive. I would either make someone else do it or just call the cops. Haha. What bothered me most was that the kid wasn’t even really doing anything. He wanted to run around and instead of following him and letting him play, she wanted to sit on her ass and drink beer. What did she think he was going to do? Sit there politely and wait! I don’t think so. What sucks is he is most likely going to grow up to be just as bad as she is, if not worse. Never-ending cycle.

  10. Redneck sounds like a piece of work. I do not have a problem with spanking a child (no belt, though) in extreme circumstances when other discipline measures have failed. But spanking a barely walking toddler who is trying to climb a chair? No way. My post this week is similar to yours. Sucks to see this kind of thing happen (or almost happen, in your case).

    • She definitely is. Your post was horrifying especially for it to happen in a place filled with children. I feel so bad for their child. They probably don’t even think about the harm it is doing to him.

    • I am too. While I wanted to scream at her to stop being such a horrible human being, I would never actually do it. You never know what someone will be like. I would either force someone else to do it or just call child services if I ever saw something that warranted it.

  11. I was spanked (with a hand only) as a child, but I didn’t spank my kids. I lie – I actually spanked my daughter a few times and I felt horrible about it – the look of pain and shock on her face broke my heart. But I think it’s a personal decision for each family. You are right – if this woman behaves like this in public, chances are she does worse in private. I feel for her son, and unfortunately for his future children.

    • Agreed. I was spanked as well and I don’t have kids yet so I have no idea what I will do. I didn’t see any bruises on the boy which I hope is a ‘good’ sign but the verbal abuse alone will do plenty of damage to the boy.

  12. I think it’s okay to say something anytime you feel uneasy about a child’s safety in a situation. Negotiating that is super tricky though. I’ve worked a lot of really crappy Social Work jobs, and my state (Washington) has a mandatory reporting law, so if I witnessed that, I would have been legally bound to call child services. Would it help? Probably not. Maybe though. It sounds like she’s pretty stressed out and lacks some of the basic tools necessary to be a good parent. Sometimes those calls to Child Services result in parents receiving a mentor or some other kind of skill-building resource.

    • That’s good to know. I’ll have to research my state. It made me feel a little better that I didn’t see any bruising on the boy, but to me, the verbal abuse was still horrible. Thanks for the tip!

  13. I spank, but not with objects. Luckily my kids learn quickly and I don’t have to do it often. As for the scenario you described…were I that kid’s parent we would have left a long time ago. I get embarrassed if my children act out in public and I don’t want to cause a scene or disturb anyone else with our antics.

    • Hah — I feel that’s how I will be when I have kids. I probably won’t even leave the house until the kid is 10 years old.

      • If that were an option I might not have done so either, but there’s school and groceries… Evidently it’s good for the kids to go outside every once in a while, too. I don’t know who comes up with this stuph.

  14. I was spanked occasionally but I don’t spank my kid. I think time outs are more effective in our case because of the whole “monkey see, monkey do” aspect to parenting.

    Speaking up in public is always a tough call because creating a scene puts people on the defensive… That redneck lady sounds like a real charmer. Yeesh.

    • She is definitely special and not in a good way. I’ve received some good advice on what to do if it happens again and speaking up is definitely not one of them! I feel it’s always better to have the professionals handle it.

  15. I was spanked as a kid and only remember one time being wrong — because I was spanked for something my sibling did. I do not spank my children and being in that situation would have been very upsetting to me.

    • I can imagine that being extra hurtful considering you were being punished for something you didn’t even do. It was very upsetting. I hope it doesn’t happen again but the summer is young and I have a feeling I’ll be seeing too much of her.

  16. That situation is wrong on so many levels then what are you to do as a bystander. It would be so hard to say something and so hard not to say something. This is extremely perplexing!!!

    • I was certainly torn but have received some great feedback on here so I think I know what I’ll do if/when it happens again.

  17. Gah, what a horrible situation!! That makes me sick to my stomach. 😦
    And no, we don’t hit our kids. Even if my son wasn’t special needs there is no way I would hit him, as I know there are so many more effective ways to communicate your displeasure in a behavior or action.

    • It was very unpleasant and I hope it doesn’t happen again although I would bet that it probably will. Fortunately, I think I know what I will do if it does.

  18. Horrible and I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach. I don’t know where that line is and it’s agonizing watching something like this happen anywhere in public. In a store, at the beach, at a park. With other witnesses or not. When to say something? Who will say something first? What happens behind closed doors, indeed.

    • I don’t think I will ever say something directly to her but if I see anything like that again, I’m going to figure out what building she’s in and the professionals may just get a call from me….

  19. Continuous spanking in public and threatening to use a belt on a toddler is child abuse. If she has no problem doing all that in public, I shudder at what she does in private. I think a call to CPS is warranted. 😦

    • I plan on calling if I see it again. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about her (where she lives, her name, etc.). I’m going to have to do some recon before I call…..

  20. That’s so awful. I’ve seen that kind of thing before and whether it’s just (JUST?) the verbal berating, or that mixed with hitting or yanking by the arms, it’s really hard to know when and how and what to say/do. I think of spanking as a totally different thing than what that mother was doing. I think spanking can be okay–but it should never be done in anger or because of annoyance. I know some people argue that any kind of physical striking is not okay, and I get that, but I do think there is something distinctly different (to me) when someone is striking in an uncontrolled and emotionally fueled way. Ugh.

    • I hadn’t really thought of it that way but you are certainly correct. There is a difference. It was horrible to watch and I believe a phone call will be in order if I see it again…

  21. Ugh, SO uncomfortable to watch scenes like that! I was spanked as a kid, but what you describe was not discipline – just a frustrated parent.

  22. Wow you really were in a tough spot. I probably would have approached her and said you seem a little overwhelmed, is there anything I can do to help? That usually lets people know their behavior sucks ass, but when they see kindness instead of judgement, they’re more apt to take a breath and settle down than get defensive and blow up entirely…I also think it’s just as appropriate to notify the office that you’re concerned for the child’s welfare.

    Personally, I chose not to spank after the second time because I couldn’t reconcile telling her it’s not okay to hit people, and then hitting her. To me, it’s not okay to hit people. Any people, regardless of their size. That said, every parent and child is different, and I’m confident each of those parents is making the decision that’s right for them and their family. Great post – thanks so much for sharing it with us!

    • Thanks for reading! I’m definitely keeping an eye on her as I’ve noticed she seems to be by the pool almost every day. I worry this won’t be the last time I have to make a decision. I just hope I make the right one.

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