This was the first time in Luke's life that someone had had physically threatened him.
We often eat dinner at a charming, family-style restaurant in Brooklyn Heights, usually at around 6 PM before the big dinner rush. Luke never really acts up there, but if and when he does, one of us will quickly take him out of the restaurant to avoid a disturbance, or, just have our food packed to go. This restaurant often has several kids under 5 eating there with their families, and an abundance of highchairs.
OK. So last Thursday, I'm at this restaurant with my wife Melissa, Luke, his visiting grandmother and her friends. Everything was going along fine; Luke wasn't raising his voice or knocking stuff around (although the same can't be said about my Mom-- just kidding mom, but the setup was there). The extent of his rambunctiousness was throwing a tiny roll on the floor, so that I'd pick it up. Not loud, not anything. After about the fourth time, this crotchety old turd sitting about six feet away from us snaps "If he throws that thing again, I'm going to throw it at his head!" We thought he was kidding. When it was apparent that he wasn't, something inside me snapped, like it never has before. This was the first time in Luke's life that someone had had physically threatened him.
Now before I continue, let me add that had this guy just said to me "Your son is interrupting my dinner," I'd have gladly taken Luke outside until he calmed down. But when he threatened to throw a roll at Luke's head (and not a soft one either; this was like the nub of a french baguette-- they can be dense) -- I lost it.
I walked over to the guy and said in a measured tone, "Excuse me? Did you just threaten my 16-month-old son?" His wife, whom I thought would be sensible, blurted out "Your brat keeps throwing rolls on the floor!" At this point I had to be physically restrained. In my head I wanted to pop the guy, but he was about 60 and I didn't feel like going to jail for assault, so I thought I'd use my clever, trademark wit:
"You're just jealous because you're not the only one in here wearing diapers," was what I wanted to say, and that witty rejoinder sadly came to me about an hour after the incident. Instead, for some reason, I just blurted out the rather artless, yet true and effective "Your wife is ugly." I know it was mean, but whatever -- he threatened to throw bread products at my kid. The daddy switch was turned, and I was in full combat mode. You harm my boy, I will insult your looks. It's that simple. Anyway, he shut up after that -- and I think they were both shocked into silence. We finished our meal without a disturbance.
Did I overreact? Is there something that happens when someone threatens your kid? How do you handle it? I want to know before we get banned from every restaurant in Brooklyn heights.