August 11, 2014

The Time I Accidentally Pissed Off a Crazy Person at the Playground

The year I started blogging was the same year we bought our house: 2010. Spring, to be more specific. The weather was improving and the kids were playing outside a lot, especially when we were here painting before moving in.

As one of these pre-move-in days was winding down, I walked over to the neighborhood playground to get the kids.

AJ was only 4 years old (Camryn was 9 1/2) and not yet adept at sliding down the pole, so he asked for my help. Other little kids noticed a mom was helping with the pole and a line formed. So there I was, helping kid after kid slide down the pole....

Then there was this one little girl. And then her mother.

I wrote about this incident when my blog was a baby. It had a whopping 10 views, so I thought I'd refresh and re-share because it is something that still sort of bothers me, and I think about sometimes.

A pretty crappy thing happened to me yesterday.

We spent the afternoon at the house doing some work. We had our kids and a friend of Camryn's, who played, going back and forth from the house to the playground. They would go to the playground and come back and report on kids they met and such.

At the end of the day I walked down there to let the kids know it was almost time to leave. They asked me to stay and watch them for a few minutes, so I sat down on a bench. Some more people (adults and children) started showing up to play.

At one point I noticed AJ doing something at the top of the play structure that I thought was too dangerous so I went up there to talk to him. While I was up there, Camryn came up and slid down the tall pole (you know, most play structures have a sliding pole?), and AJ wanted to try. I helped him do it, he liked it and wanted to do it more. But then several kids started up the steps of the structure, so I got off to get out of the way.

I stood on the ground next to the sliding pole in order to help AJ if he needed it. Suddenly all the kids wanted a turn sliding down the pole, so a line formed. There were quite a few kids crowding onto the platform and this one little girl got bumped off. She didn't fall to the ground; she was hanging onto the platform and a handle and trying to pull herself back up.

I was standing right there, so I tried to tell her if she just put her legs down she could let go and drop to the ground, it wouldn't be too far and she wouldn't get hurt. She was scared and seemed unwilling to move, so I stepped forward and offered to help her. She nodded, so I slid my hands under her arms and lifted her down. She was upset and sort of crying so I tried to reassure her that she was fine.

But as soon as I got her to the ground, her mother came flying around the structure, shoved me hard and started screaming at me. I was completely shocked and stunned. I may have said something like, "Whoa, what the hell are you doing??"

She grabbed her daughter and screamed things at me like "how dare you touch my daughter?", "you hurt her arm", "she's autistic" and "you're a crazy bitch for thinking you can just grab someone's child like that!"

I tried to tell her to calm down, that I was trying to help, but she shoved me again, knocking one earpiece of my glasses off. I took my glasses completely off and she got in my face. Her eyes were huge and crazed. She just kept screaming at me. In the background I could hear my kids crying and Camryn telling her to "stop doing that to my mommy!".

Someone who was with this crazy woman came over and moved her away from me. Didn't say anything to me, just got the crazy woman away. But then her son tried getting in my face, pointing at me and telling me to never touch his sister again. I looked down at him and very calmly told him to go away.

My cell phone rang. It was Mark saying he was just about ready to go. I cut him off, informing him there was a crazy woman screaming at me, so he jumped in the car to come over to the playground. But by this time Camryn's friend had gotten the idea to go get Mark and was halfway back to the house, so my kids and I just started walking back too. We met Mark in the street.

I was doing OK at this point, still just stunned by what happened. Mark wanted to go to the playground and find this woman to give her a piece of his mind, but I told him no, that I just wanted to leave.

The kids and I were sitting in the car while Mark locked up, and I started to cry. When he got in the car and saw me crying he REALLY wanted to find that woman, and he did drive back over to the playground, but everyone was gone because it had started sprinkling.

Mark suggested we could call the police because she had physically assaulted me. I pointed out that I had no idea who she was, where she lives, if she even lives in this neighborhood or was just visiting. I rationalized that it was just one incident and I didn't think calling the cops was necessary for a first time thing. He grudgingly let it go and headed back to our apartment.

I cried all the way home. Mark fumed all the way home. I got in the shower and cried some more. I have NEVER had someone do anything like that to me. I finally stopped crying about halfway through my shower, but I was so very down, sad, blue, whatever.

This experience was disheartening and squashed some of the excitement we've been feeling. This morning Camryn's friend said she didn't want us to move there. AJ and Camryn have said similar things, but Mark told them we own that house now and we're going to live there. It really scared the kids! That makes me most angry.

Mark was so nice to me all night. He kept checking on me while I was doing things, and watched me a lot while we were eating dinner. He handed me a glass of wine right after AJ went to bed. Poor guy. I know he wanted to defend my honor and he didn't get the chance.

I told him it wouldn't have helped me if he had been there and started screaming back at her. He said he's "gotten a lot calmer" in his "old age", that he would have let her say her piece then he would have said his. (Somehow I don't think she would've listened.) He then told me he just didn't like that his family needed him and he wasn't there. Ooph. That made tears spring to my eyes again.

Should I have just stood there watching as the little girl struggled? What about the kindness of strangers? If she was autistic, why wasn't her mom nearby in case she needed her? Regardless, is it wrong to help an autistic child? What should I have done differently? Is that woman just a nutter and I should stop letting it bug me?

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