the jerk in the airport foodcourt

To the jerk in the airport food court:

I’m not a parent, and I won’t pretend to know how hard it is to travel with kids, but I cannot believe the way you just yelled at your daughter for spilling a smoothie. An hour later, I’m still in a foul mood and feeling guilty for not standing up to you. The fact is, I was intimidated by you and the way you behaved and you’re a complete stranger; I can only imagine how your little girl feels right now.

What is she? Three or four? She’s adorable. And I think that you forgot that when you screamed at her in a way no one in my life has ever addressed me. You forgot that you brought this child into the world and that she depends on you for everything, most importantly her sense of self worth. You forgot that she didn’t do it on purpose, and that all children spill things. And you forgot that life has far more serious problems than having to wait in line for five minutes for another smoothie.

She spilled a smoothie, you know; she didn’t shoplift or shout or act inappropriately. She’s likely tired too, and didn’t need to be shamed in front of a bunch of strangers for an accident. You yelled so loudly that everyone, even the food court employees, paused to stare.

I get it, you’re overwhelmed and exhausted and this was the last straw. THE LAST STRAW in the never-ending odyssey that is child-rearing. But you need to chill out. Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Do whatever you’d want someone to do to you in a similar set of circumstances. Do what you’d teach a child to do when she feels upset, because that’s how you acted.

A little girl gains a sense of what is ok, what isn’t, and how a man can treat her from the men she interacts with as a child. At the center of all of that is her father.

I presume you’ll calm down later and apologize, and when you do, you’ll be setting an example that it’s ok for a man to get mad and react inappropriately, in a way that borders on abusive, as long as he makes up for it later. This will impact her for years to come as she enters relationships with men. Her sense of what’s right and wrong comes from you, first, so be careful.

Again, I’m not a parent. I can’t tell you I’ve been through a similar situation, but I know that my parents never would dream of addressing me that way, even as an adult or for a serious offense. One day, when my future kids spill all over a public place I’ll likely want to yell and flip out…but I won’t. I won’t because I know better, and because I saw the look on your daughter’s face just now.

I’ll never see you again and that’s ok. I just hope you get a grip on what really matters in life, and what’s worth getting upset over, and that spilled beverages don’t make the cut. Be happy, dude. You have great kids.