We started with our usual routine - ballet and then home. Fen took Cate to see Toy Story 3 (again) on the big screen while X napped and I took advantage of my alone time to tidy up and read a little. After lunch, we headed out to Regent's Park to a playground there.
It was a mob scene. Kids were everywhere, so were their parents. I had X and Fen took Cate. For 45 minutes I followed my little guy around, went on the swings, into the sand pit, down slides, and all over. The Fen and I switched and I took Cate. She was on the slides, where there were other kids, bigger, smaller and everything inbetween. She was getting pushed aside, bigger kids, around 8 or 9 were running up the slides and the smaller children were queuing up to slide down them. So cate and I went to another slide.
One boy in particular kept pushing Cate out of the way to make the final three steps up to the slide. I told her it was okay the first few times, then I told her to say something to him so he knew she was there, but he kept doing it. Then I said, "Push your way on, Cate."
Okay, perhaps NOT the best parental advice but the kid was just a bully. However, his father, a short, chubby guy sporting a fanny pack (I kid you not) shouted at me, "Why don't you teach her some manners instead of to push back?"
I was absolutely stunned. His 4 or 5 year old son kept pushing my daughter, and other kids out of the way to get to the slide unapologetically and his father never said one word to him. But the minute I say something to my daughter - to defend herself, he jumps on MY case.
I replied, "Excuse me?" I was so stunned that I was being reprimanded by someone I've never seen before on a playground in front of my child. Meanwhile Cate waited her turn while his son shoved her and another child aside AGAIN.
"I said, 'why don't you teach your daughter some manners instead of telling her to push back?'"
Now, I'm no wallflower and I will fight customer service, airline ticket agents, city hall, etc with vigor. But on a playground with my daughter looking on? I'm not really going to engage someone. So I said the only thing I could think of, "If you had taught your kid manners we wouldn't even be having this conversation, dude." (don't know why I tacked on 'dude' - in the moment thing I guess).
"This is the matter with you parents today..." he started. Cate had just come off the slide. I put my hand up and said, "Whatever, guy. Get over it," and walked away. I walked over to Fen and told him about it and pointed the guy out. But I told him to let it go, which he did.
Cate and I went about our business for another half hour or so. And when it was time to leave. I gathered up X and walked over to our pram to strap him in. Lo and behold there was Fat-Fanny-Pack and his big mouth. He saw me coming and made a hot beeline to a woman standing right next to my pram.
"You won't believe it," he started. "Some woman told her child to push back on a playground. Who does such a thing?" He went on and on as I had my back to him strapping in my 15 month old child. When I stood up and looked at him (the woman was then going on about the downfall of the next generation because parents today were awful) he smirked!! He was taunting me!! So I sneered at him and marched over to Fen.
Fen is a very nice guy, very sweet, gentle, loving and all around wonderful. But he is 6'1" 190lbs solid chunk of Samoan/Kiwi rugby-playing muscle with a scowl to boot. Trust me - you do not want to be on the receiving end of his wrath. He walked across the playground calmly and had words with the guy. I don't know what he said, it was not a scene, but the guy stepped backward and then Fen came back to me. I'm not sure if anyone else even noticed but we walked out of the park. Halfway up Primrose Hill I asked what happened. Fen just said he asked if there was anything else he had to say about his wife or child. He didn't. I'll bet.
Now, I don't know if we handled this right or not. I was content to just walk away the first time, but the whole thing upset me. I don't need strife on a playground. Was I wrong to have told Cate to push back (like I said, not my best parenting moment)? Should I have fought back? Should I have not said anything at all? All I know is the guy had NO right to talk to me, at all. Who was he to tell me what to do when his own kid was the troublemaker? I'm still upset about it. A pox on his house...I say.