Dear man in shop
Im not sure if you remember me, frazzled 30 year old with two children, trying to post her letters at the village shop? I’m not sure if you remember my screaming 3 year old, who wanted a magazine? Anyway, I just wanted to write to you and explain why I didn’t hit you!
I was embarrassed by you and your judgmental comments, knowing everyone had heard, and were staring at me to see how I would react and deal with you… I dont know who they empathised with but I certainly felt in the minority, I could have hit you! But I didn’t, instead I turned around and looked you directly in the eye: I didn’t scream or shout or cry, I asked a simple question, ‘you think I should slap my child?’ I didn’t curse or throw my weight around, I wanted you to respect me see, not fear me. I wanted you to take responsibility for your own actions.
I could have hit you, but while it would act as a deterrent in future when faced with a similar situation, it wouldn’t stop you thinking those words. I didn’t want to scare you into silence! Instead I wanted to gently set my boundaries and for you to reflect on the situation.. so you could change your own thought processes in future.
I would not have been human if I didn’t consider hitting you, if only to relieve my frustration of the situation and show you I was boss, but I didnt know how long you had been standing in that queue, or how important it was that you post your parcel, I dont know if you have health problems which make your ears sensitive or if you needed to get home ASAP. What would give me the right to hit you without understanding the mitigating circumstances behind your actions.
I gave you a chance to air your frustration, repeated back your comment to check I had understood your reasons. And I waited, took my time. Let you think, gave you the opportunity to open the dialogue between us.
I don’t know if it worked, if when I walked out without a magazine and a slightly teary toddler, you changed your attitude?! I guess the test is the next time? If you respected me enough to think twice before commenting again on someone else’s parenting.
But I do know that hitting you would only have got me in trouble, hurt you, and perpetuated a culture of fear rather than one of respect.