Tuesday I was on the Bay bus when a middle aged, Middle Eastern woman got on. She had her son in a stroller. He was maybe 3 and a half, he looked mixed with a poof of curly hair and dark skin and eyes. He was striking so I noticed him instantly. I also noticed that this woman was holding up the entire bus because she was trying to help her son put the ticket in. She was trying to lift the stroller and then eventually lift him all the while he was making a huge fuss. There were people lined up outside the bus and finally in frustration the driver yelled ‘get on’!
She sat at the front, close to me. I was watching them as the son’s behaviour was escalating. His fussing turned to yelling and finally he reached over and hit his mom 3 or 4 times. I felt this knot in my stomach and I was fascinated that the mom didn’t even react. In a very gentle, imploring voice she said “be good honey, we will be home soon”. The son’s eyes narrowed and he said “we never go anywhere” and then he hit his mom 3 or 4 more times.
I felt myself move towards them and then I sat back down. I was quickly debating what to say or do… torn… when he raised his hand to hit her again, I said “do not hit your mom’. Both the boy and the mom stared at me without saying a word. It was my stop and I had to get off but I felt so anxious and this image stayed with me all evening. I wanted to say more. I wanted to stare into the boys eyes and tell him he should respect his mother but more than that, I wanted to tell the mother that if she let her young son hit her and disrespect her now, that one day it would be no surprise when he was bullying a kid at school, or beating his girlfriend because she was late. But I didn’t.
I was in that ugly spot of wanting to do something and at the same time, not wanting to chastise another mother for her parenting… because truly, I don’t know her life. Maybe her husband beats her nightly and her son has learned this… maybe she’s raising her son in a culture where boys are superior and it’s all she knows… or maybe that’s what she watched her mother go through.