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Saved 10/07/10 to The Mommy Club

What Would You Do If a Stranger Tried to Punish Your Child?

Hello Mothers, I have a story for you! Since I have no children I'm curious about how'd you react in this situation.

This morning on my way to work, I braved the rush hour crush on the bus in the normal way, by tuning everyone out and reading the morning news on my phone. Usually my 20 minutes en route is uneventful, but today I witnessed an all-out fight between an elderly man and a mom with a young toddler.

While the mom was on her phone, the toddler kept himself busy by stepping on passengers' feet. Most people just smiled at or ignored him, but he kept doing it as his mom sporadically ordered him to stop before turning her attention back to her conversation. After a while, an older, white-haired man sitting close to the action shouted, "If you step on his feet you'll teach him a lesson! He'll stop if you step on him." People just laughed nervously until the old man actually started doing it! He would kick at the child and step on his feet again and again, harder and harder, until the mom finally intervened. The incident escalated to a full-blown verbal fight between the man and the mom, with threats to kill and beat up each other. A commuter even had to hold the man back when he tried to get up to fight, and the bus driver stopped us in the middle of the road to mediate.

What fascinated me about this interaction was the mom's behavior as well as the man's. While he definitely shouldn't have called her son a brat or tried to teach the toddler a lesson himself, I thought the mom should've spent more attention to her child and less time chatting on the phone. As someone without kids, I have no idea how hard it is to keep a child on his best behavior in public, so moms, what do you think? Was the mother at fault for not getting her son to behave, or was he just being a normal hyperactive little kid?

Source: Flickr User Seattle Municipal Archives

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amber512 amber512 5 years 7 weeks
1% chance it was an emergency, 99% chance the mom was the typical "I can't be bothered to actually parent my child" mom with a cell phone permanently attached to her head.
lickety-split lickety-split 5 years 7 weeks
The old dude is lucky the kid didn't kick him in the nuts. For all we know the mom was on the phone with an emergency. My god, how hard is it to engage a little boy for a few blocks and turn the other cheek? Little boy verses old man? What an ass. The boy sounds super stressed. When I see stressed people I try and help, not add to their stress. If I saw some old man hurting a child I would tell him to back off.
amber512 amber512 5 years 7 weeks
I also think the mom was mostly at fault. Then again, I don't agree that abusing a child is okay. Especially a stranger's child!
amandachalynn amandachalynn 5 years 7 weeks
The title of this post is misleading. It says punish, but this man abused the kid! If I were the mom (frankly I'm more diligent than that to begin with and my kid knows better than to run around crazy in public) and someone told him to stop I'd be fine with it. I would apologize to them and pull my son on my lap. Someone kicking him and yelling at him is a totally different story! But even if someone did kick him, I wouldn't stand up threatening to kill someone.
Carri Carri 5 years 7 weeks
I think the man was out of line, but the mom is defiantly at fault, too. Like starbucks said, it would have been fine for someone to speak up. I also get very annoyed at people who do nothing to control their kids because it gives us all a bad name.
starbucks2 starbucks2 5 years 7 weeks
Wow! They were both way out of line, but to threaten to beat up someone else's kid? I get really annoyed at parents who don't try to control their kids. The mom should really have paid attention and made sure her son knew this behavior was not okay. She didn't, and I think it would have been absolutely fine for someone to have spoken up. But the man's reaction is crazy.