Something happened tonight that made me so upset, angry, and hurt that I have to write about it. I just have to.
We were out shopping for a new treadmill and decided to stop at a big box store first to see what their selection was like. Baylor knew the store had an elevator and was actively working us over, wearing us down so we'd take him on it. As we approached the treadmill section, Mollie and I were trailing behind just a little bit, when this happened.
Baylor: Dad, um, um, um, um, um ... (he tends to do this when his mind is working faster than his mouth)
Employee: (in a mocking tone) Um, um, um, um, um ... is that all you can say?
Employee: (in a tone you'd use if someone was overreacting) I was just joking around.
I was furious when I heard this, blood-boiling, steam-shooting-out-of-my-ears, on-the-verge-of-tears furious, and then I rounded a display and saw who said it. The man standing there, the man who had verbally hurt my child, was himself handicapped. His legs were uneven in length, his back curved to the left, his hand and arm were clutched up, and I stared at him and wondered how in the world he could have said something so hurtful to my son. Aside from the fact that he was, a) an adult and b) an employee who should be on his best behavior, shouldn't he have some sort of compassion and empathy? Shouldn't he be sensitive to how his words may affect others as I'm sure, given how cruel I know some people can be, he has experienced hurtful words in his lifetime? My mind still sputters with questions ... how could you? ... shouldn't he? ... why? why in the world?!
I didn't say anything at the time; had Baylor left, I was ready to lay into this guy like no one's business. I was ready to treat this handicapped man like I'd treat any other (pardon my French) adult asshole who does that to my kid. (And I could tell Baylor was hurt and confused; he didn't talk for at least a couple minutes, and the kid never stops talking.) I'm still tempted to go back and talk with the guy's supervisor; the guy has no business being in customer service if he can't manage to treat customers (or their children) with even a modicum of respect. At the very least, I know I won't be buying anything from that sales associate EVER; he let us know he'd be there all weekend when they're having a sale on treadmills, and you couldn't pay me enough to go in there and buy one from him.
And I get that stuff like this will happen. I get that kids are mean to each other and say things that hurt feelings and self-esteem, but it's kids being mean to kids and they're still learning the ways of the world, and sometimes modeling other people's bad behavior. (I'm not saying it's okay, because bullying is absolutely NOT okay, but it is sadly more expected and I have some clue how to deal with it.) I get that adults are mean and crappy to each other sometimes; you have a bad day or a bad week or a bad year and it comes out sometimes when you least expect it. But an adult saying something like that to a child? No. Just no.
Now I get to deal with the aftermath of this stupid, hurtful, callous incident. I know my mind will work this over ad nauseum, giving this guy more time in my thoughts than he deserves. I will question if I should have stood up to him in front of Baylor so Baylor will know that I have his back, now and forever. I will question if I should say anything to Baylor tomorrow or if it will just draw more light and questions I won't have much of an answer to. I will feel a sense of dread that something like this could happen again, will happen again because now in my head there are people out there who think this kind of behavior is okay.
And I know, without a doubt, that I will be hugging Baylor tighter and reassuring him that he is okay just the way he is, ums and all.