Don't Poke the Mama Bear: How to Deal When Someone Yells at Your Kid?

DON'T MESSWITH THE MAMA BEAR I like to keep things positive here on Mamatoga, I really do. But sometimes I have to draw the line, and where I draw that line is when someone makes my kid cry. Not just anyone, a grown man who is working in a position that involves dealing with the public. Not another child on the playground, not over something horrible that my kid did and might have deserved to be appropriately admonished for. When a grown man who should know better makes my kid cry, that line is drawn my friends. And I want to know, how would you deal with this situation as a parent?

My son has been snowboarding for years, and finally one of his boots broke, and instead of just dropping him off at ski school and heading on my way, we had to rent boots for the day till his could get fixed. Sounds easy, right? We go in, I check out the size, and the girl from the counter brings them over. As I'm huffing and puffing with my huge pregnant belly to get the boot on, it just won't go on, and you know how kids can be with using that extra effort needed to squeeze into something, even when it is the right size.

So I politely ask for help, and over comes a middle aged man, tall, big, who promptly and quite rudely points out that I didn't unlace the inside laces the whole way. My bad! Our boots have always been the kind that tightens with a button so I didn't realize there were two sets of laces to loosen, and I politely apologize to him before he stalks off without saying another word. Fine. Rude people are everywhere, I can deal.

I forgot my purse in the car so I had to quickly run back to the car and left my son outside the rental shop waiting for his ski group to come back from their first run, which he missed while we were getting the boots. There was plenty of mountain staff around, and he felt comfortable there, so I didn't need to drag him to the car and back with me. As I come back from the car I see my son leaving the rental place, he must've forgotten his gloves inside, and there are tears in his eyes. Now, this kid is not a crier. He doesn't just lose it at the drop of a hat. So I ask him, worried, what happened? Did he fall? Is he okay? He tells me the man inside the shop screamed at him because he forgot to shut the door behind him and he was a little rattled. The over 6 foot tall, huge older guy screamed at a child for forgetting to shut the door behind him.

This was probably the second time in five years my son had been inside this particular building because we don't usually rent equipment, so he didn't know the drill, as the doors in the main ski lodge close automatically behind everyone. We happened to be the only ones in the rental place, no rush. No crowd. No need to be nasty to a child. This wasn't an instance of a child behaving badly, he forgot to shut the door/didn't realize the door didn't close behind him. But he wasn't acting like a brat, he wasn't harming anyone else, he wasn't doing anything wrong, which in my book means hey stranger don't yell at my kid. This was literally the first time he had walked out of the building and had forgotten to shut the door, since we all walked out together the first time and I shut the door. So he hadn't been reminded a whole bunch of times and ignored it, again he probably was totally unaware it even needed to be shut, SO NO NEED TO SCREAM DUDE.

Well, my blood boiled.

Maybe it has something to do with the pregnancy hormones. Maybe it has to do with my protective instinct as a mother. But if you are a grown man and you make my child cry, prepare yourself for the wrath of the Mama Bear. Something comes over a parent, especially a mother, when someone mistreats their child, and it won't be pretty.

Hey, I get it. People have bad days. Or maybe this guy was just a jerk so perhaps I could just let it go and move on. But after I got my son off to his ski school group I went back in and inquired about the name of this gentleman who felt the need to scream at a child at a family run ski mountain on a Saturday morning. I asked to speak to the manager, who was a college aged girl who casually asked, "Is this because he yelled at your kid?".

Um, yeah, it's because your employee yelled at my kid.

"Well, we have a lot of problems with people not shutting the door behind them."

No "sorry about that". No, "maybe this grown man shouldn't have screamed at a child for forgetting to shut the door". No, maybe we should figure out a way to have the door close automatically because this is a ski mountain and this probably happens all the time but what do I know about common sense solutions?

Now, in defense of this family run ski mountain, which I won't name here, this ski rental place where this happened is operated independently of their mountain, and the woman at the actual ski mountain office was very pleasant and helpful when I explained the situation.

But still, it stuck with me, this grown man yelling at my child for something stupid. Yes, I very much want my children to follow the rules and be polite. Yes I want them to be aware of the situations around them and be respectful. No I don't think everyone in the world needs to treat my children like they are special little snowflakes that need to be coddled and treated like little angels in every situation and I do tell them all the time that they will encounter people who are just not very nice, that's just part of life. I'm sure some of you reading this will roll your eyes and be like "Jeez your kid doesn't need to be such a wimp, so what if this dude yelled at him", and that's all well and good, you are entitled to your opinion on that, but I firmly intend on raising my children to be respectful of other people and pointing out when they are disrespected as people and how to handle the situation, how to safely stand up for themselves (i.e. tell an adult) and make sure they aren't mistreated.

BUT, when I'm in a place of business that quite often caters to children, where I am paying for a service (in this case to rent snowboard boots) you can bet that I won't take it easy when you scream at a child, mine or anyone else's.

Times I will yell at another person's kid:

  1. If they are about to get hurt or there's an emergency situation ("Hey watch out!" or "There's a car coming!")
  2. That's actually about it, unless they have seriously hurt another child and it is a high stress emergency situation, but even then I would probably just be making sure everyone is safe and okay first before reacting with anger or aggression especially directed toward a child.

I'm going to end the story here, because rather than share how I have decided to handle the situation, I want to know how YOU would handle the situation. Has a stranger or even another parent ever reprimanded or yelled at your child? How did you handle it? Do you think there are situations where this kind of behavior is acceptable?