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The Daddy Switch

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This was the first time in Luke's life that someone had had physically threatened him.

angry old geyser
Paul Starke: The story about that horrible jackass who slapped a kid in Wal-Mart was oddly timed to something that, unfortunately, happened to me the same week.

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.

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53 comments so far | Post a comment now
Mrs. Priss September 4, 2009, 4:00 PM

This is SO great. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to react. :)

shey September 4, 2009, 4:50 PM

lol that was a good one not a mature move i might say…but a funny one! they wanna b bluntly honest so will i..i hate it wen ppl go out 2 resturants an act like that so wat he was throwin rolls on the floor i would of been like and this is ur problem because..mind ur own seriously!!

Lisa September 4, 2009, 5:14 PM

LOL! I can’t stop laughing! Good for you!

Melissalynn September 4, 2009, 5:38 PM

I was shopping at TJ Maxx with my sister and her two year old daughter. Her little girl had enough shopping and was ready for lunch. She was whining that she was hungry, not loudly or screaming. Just whining. This lady walks up to my sister and says, “Can you shut her up! She is ruining my shopping trip!” My sister stood there with her mouth open completely shocked that this woman was so rude. So I stepped up and took my nieces hand and said, “Well now you ruined ours, so we are even. Go fly away on your broomstick.”

liz shivers  September 4, 2009, 6:23 PM

i had no problem with my son when he was that age maybe you should light her back side up she want pull that crap thats the problem now kids do what they want the parents do nothing but i will send you to your room what is that they go in there an play an as they get older they get worse an you will say icant do anything with them

Amy  September 4, 2009, 6:44 PM

Honestly I would lose it if someone threatened my 2 yr old daughter. I probably would of thrown a roll at that old man’s head.
All I know is if someone slapped my kid in a Walmart or in any store there would be a clean up on aisle 7. I would of grabbed anything I could of used as a make shift weapon and I would of seriously hurt that old man. As a parent it is your job to protect your child, and even though I might be a 130lb sweet looking Blonde woman I know I would of thrown a shopping cart or anything at that old man’s head.
People should mind their own business and be careful about what they say and what they do to total strangers especially when it involves children. You just don’t know how someone will react when they are pushed too far.

Jenny September 4, 2009, 7:11 PM

OMG I am cracking up over here…I might need diapers myself I’m laughing so hard.

CB September 4, 2009, 7:44 PM

I don’t think that was harsh enough. What the man said is criminal assault. Making a threat, let alone against a helpless baby is unconscionable. I would have had THEM kicked out or called the cops on them. That’d teach the old bas turd. I would have thrown more than a roll at them! September 4, 2009, 8:28 PM

I LOVE your reaction! I always like to picture the other side retelling the story to friends and family…and this time it’s even more enjoyable. Can you imagine the guy telling family and friends (I know he probably doesn’t have any, but perhaps he’s friends with the WalMart guy?), “And then he called Joyce (for some reasons that’s the name I picture the wife of a monster having) ugly.” Love it!

Can Can (Mom Most Traveled) September 5, 2009, 5:12 AM

I can’t believe that WalMart story, it is totally making me sick. HOW can someone slap your child FIVE TIMES??
Oh man. No way.
I have a mommy switch too you know!

I’m so fed up with kid haters.

Jen September 5, 2009, 5:22 AM

I think that was the perfect response. And I can’t stop laughing because I keep picturing the whole thing in my head.

Sharon September 5, 2009, 5:46 AM

I just love that people think that toddlers are supposed to be perfectly behaved little angels. The purpose of toddlerhood is to express independence and that also means whining and complaining when they are told no and dropping the same thing over and over off the high chair. At home you may handle it differently but in order to prevent the tantrum sure you’ll pick it up and keep the game going cause your baby is happy and you get to enjoy your well deserved meal.

Kathy September 5, 2009, 5:57 AM

I love it! Needed a chuckle this morning…thanks.

Pamala September 5, 2009, 8:54 AM

I don’t know I think the reaction was perfectly fine, as long as you weren’t like screaming, then it’s better than getting in an physical fight.

On a train once back from the fair (the Fair on the weekends would round up Metrolink to shuttle people into the fair) the train was full of families and people coming home from a long day at the fair.

In the car in front of us there was a huge fight, between a nasty old woman and a mother who didn’t appreciate the nasty old woman being rude to her children.

The children apparently left a jacket on the upper deck of the train (the family had moved seats to the lower seat). They went up to the upper deck to get it and it was next to the nasty woman. She wasn’t happy that they came to get their jacket, and said some rather rude things to them and had the balls to go down stairs to the lower deck with the kids and tell the mother rude things.

Well the mother of course didn’t like that, especially since the woman had clearly said some things to the kids that made them cry. The kids were 8 and 10 by the way.

So the conductor was called and he was forced to ride with the nasty woman the rest of the trip. According to another official on the train who was on that train the weekend before, this woman did something similar the week before.

So sometimes you have to wonder why people can’t just mind their own business.

mercaties September 5, 2009, 10:49 AM

I think the parent’s who just keep spouting off about “your child should be better behaved” are just coming accross as self rightous. Any parent in their right mind would absolutly stand up for their child especially a toddler. Personally, I would have told him I was going to call the police for threatening a child. That would shut the old fuddy duddy up. As far as the Walmart thing there is no way he would have even been able to get close enough to my kid to hit him.

Sharon H September 5, 2009, 7:53 PM

I just always wonder when the last time old crabs like that saw their kids - probably when they left for treatment or prison

Peggy Gorman September 6, 2009, 3:34 AM

I was a tiger when it came to my kids when they were little. I may be small but you get this wop temper when it comes to my kids. My FIL once spanked my son when I was at work,finding out and dealing with him. I never had that problem again
Years later my MIL used to laugh at me (in a good way)about protecting my kids

Mmm num num num September 6, 2009, 8:56 AM

That was just too funny what you said. People all know that small children can be a handfull at times, but often forget that since they are not the ones with them at the point and time, that they can just step in and do whatever they want. If the shoe was on the other foot they sure would think twice.

Holly September 6, 2009, 9:19 AM

I’ve had a few run ins with people and my children. Now I have had many, many people comment how well behaved my kids are. Most of the incidences have been on airplanes. I don’t understand people! Do they forget that they were children once?! I’d rather hear a child playing and having fun than a screaming child or the lady 10 rows away cackling the entire time. I swear some adults behave worst than most children I see in public!

Chrissy September 6, 2009, 11:01 AM

Did it ever accord to anyone that this old man might have had several other unpleasant encounters with child that day or week and he just snapped over the dinner roll?
The last couple of days I’ve encounter the folowwing rude children - yesterday at the Gap a mother brought her three children in, all under 7. They were running around, hiding in the racks. The ran into me three times plus other customers. The mother, pretty much tuned out (becuase her kids are like this 24/7?) merely ocassionaly called to her kids and didn’t even pay attention to which ones didn’t show up.
Friday night I was at an upscale steakhouse for dinner and what looked like grandparents and parents brought and a two year old. The two year,most likely overtired, became cranky. Which for a good ten mintues the adults ignored. Then the mother lets the kid out of the high chair and he crawled under an empty booth crying and fussing. The grandmother tried to coax him out. He finally cried himself to sleep and the adults left him there until they were done. Yes, the manager spoke to them but to no avail.
Thursday, I was on a commuter rail, where two five year old(?) cousins were singing at the top of their lungs to their ipod while a three year old was running up and down the aisle. After the conductor accidentally knock the kid over the mother finally did something but the 5 yo’s continued to sign for the whole trip.
And dad what lessons was learned - that’s its not okay for others to be rude but you can be?
And all this over a roll? Both parties behaved immaturely.

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