My friend Aimee posted several weeks ago about how you don’t mess with a mama bear when she feels her cub has been attacked in some way. It brought to mind one very mama bear moment in my life that I think makes for a good story.
It was, I believe, June 2007. I had quit working in October of 2006, quickly gotten pregnant by December, and by June, well, I was a whale. It was hot. I had 2 small children who needed to be outside.
My friend Kelli was also pregnant with her third baby, and just coming off bedrest after a scare, and not able to get out much yet. We agreed to meet at the park and let our kids play together, and I chased down the renegade children. Mostly, Kelli and I were able to sit under an umbrella and chat.
There was a *slight* issue with a bee swarm (literally, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life), but no one got stung and we let the kids keep playing. Until my sweet little 4-year-old Luke ran up to me bawling and with a bloody lip. Assuming he’d just fallen and hurt himself, I pulled him onto my giant lap and snuggled him up, and then asked, as any mother would, “What happened?”
His response, “A kid punched me in the mouth,” brought one of the most visceral reactions I can ever remember having. Instantly, I needed to know who this kid was. And who his mom was. And I needed to have a talk with them. Unfortunately, Luke didn’t know which kid had done it; he’d been sliding down a slide, and some bigger kids were climbing up the slides, and I think one of the bigger kids just didn’t like that he had to move for a little kid. I was furious, but luckily, Luke’s lip wasn’t injured badly. We headed home after that, of course.
You’d think that was the only mama bear moment I’d have that day. But no, it gets better.
Later that afternoon, the boys were playing outside with some neighbor kids. The mom and I were friendly, despite the fact that she’d made some comments about public education in the past that were totally uncalled for (her kids went to a Christian school, and she was fully aware of our decision to use our excellent local public school when the time came).
Over the fence, I described the event at the park that morning when she noticed Luke’s busted lip, and what she said next left me speechless (which is hard to do) and thinking of appropriate comebacks for the past 4 years, since at the time, I said nothing (do you ever do that? Or is that just me?). She said, “Well, I probably shouldn’t say what I’m thinking.” And I said, “No, tell me, what?” to which she replied, “I was just thinking it was probably a public school kid.”
If I could have recorded what went through my head in that moment and played it back for you, you’d think much less of me.
I immediately called to my kids and told them it was time to come inside. In that moment, I felt the need to protect them from hatred to which they need not be exposed. Because really, how do you deal with someone who acts like that?