I can't really write about my fun day with Gerry because it ended on such a bad note and I'm still vibrating from it.
We were at The Moma looking at all the lovely art and I took a pee break. As I was walking into the bathroom I was followed by an angry looking mother who was carrying her fussy son. I watched them as they went into the stall beside me and as soon as the door shut I heard a horrible sound.
She was yelling and hitting her son over and over and over again.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing so I finished peeing as quickly as I could with the intention of knocking on her stall door and asking if everything was ok - but she walked out of the stall at the same time as me.
I stood at the sink and washed my hands watching her interacting with her son. They sat on a bench and she soothed her sobbing son. Stroking him. Saying soft things into his ear. I thought that perhaps what I heard was incorrect but the hairs on the back of my neck were still vibrating so I stood and primped in the mirror for a long time because I wanted to make sure this boy was ok.
She stood up and walked her son behind a partition wall in the bathroom and I could hear her hitting him again OVER and OVER and OVER!
I ran around the corner and yelled at her to stop. She looked at me surprised that I was there and said in broken English that it was ok. He was her son. I said "NO. It is NOT ok. Do not hit him. It is not ok."
Another woman joined me - she had also heard the beating and said "Did you hear the same thing I heard because what I heard was unbelievable and I want to make sure I heard the same thing." I said yes. She was hitting him.
The mother started yelling at us in French. Luckily this other woman beside me also spoke French and we had a back and forth with the mother. We told her it was NOT OK to hit her child no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT!
The woman continued to fight with us and I told my new Sister-Friend that I was going to call security. I ran out and asked one of the maintenance people to call security because a mother was beating her son in the bathroom. He did nothing but shrug.
The mother ran past me and down the hallway so I ran over to 2 other woman who worked at the museum and told them what I had witnessed and that I would like them to call security.
They told me to mind my own business.
I looked at my new sister-friend and said "They won't call security." Neither of us knew what to do next and with no security in sight we watched in vain as the mother slipped into the crowd and out of eyesight.
I wrestled with what to do next? Do I follow her? Do I call 911? My new sister-friend and I stood there and stared at each other. We both burst into tears and hugged each other because we knew that no matter what we did nothing appropriate would be done.
We stood and talked for a long time. It turns out that she and her daughter are from Vancouver (Yay Canada) and we parted ways hoping that our brief encounter with this mother was enough to perhaps make her think next time she goes to hit her son.
I went to the front desk at the Moma to complain about the volunteers who wouldn't call security for us. The counter girl was very helpful and I am going to write a letter to the Moma with the names of the volunteers (I got their names and told them they were assholes). The woman at the front desk assured me that their policy is that someone would get in touch with me in 14 days.
Now that I'm back at the condo I am overcome with sadness for this poor little boy. I wish I could have done more and in hindsight there are a thousand things I would have done differently. I am trying not to beat myself up too much ... we did the best we could in a weird situation.
Listen. I'm not a Mother but I've done plenty of mothering in my day and I know how frustrating it can be to have a toddler. I have MUCHO respect for parents and for how much work it is and how difficult children can be - but I will not tolerate someone hitting a child.
I don't care what your background is or what country you're from or what your family traditions are or if this is the way your parents dealt with you ... It's not ok.