My wife and our thirteen year-old daughter went on a girls' date this past summer. Just the two of them. Shopping, shopping, and more shopping. And. More. Shopping.
The rest of us gladly gave them this time, happy to avoid our busy mall area.
Karen and Emma had a wonderful day of togetherness. They had gone to stores they normally wouldn't shop at, trying on different-styled clothes and shoes, and just enjoying their "girly" afternoon immensely. Fashion shows left and right, I'm sure. And at Emma's age, nothing is better than a private day with Mom, right?
At one point in their day, unfortunately, they had experienced a little "encounter."
Last year, we purchased a VW Beetle Convertible to run around town in during the brief but beautiful summers we have here along our great lake. It's not a big car and certainly doesn't need a lot of room to be parked comfortably in a spot. What it lacks for in size, though, "Bumble" makes up for in fun. Can you imagine the added pleasure that driving this car during a girls' afternoon out brought to my family?
So, during their excursion, my wife and daughter decided to stop at Marshall's. My wife, as she tells the story, drove down the main parking aisle near the store and found two spots alongside each other. She put on her signal and turned into the one empty spot. There were no cars behind her while she was turning in, and no cars approaching from the opposite direction, either.
She and my daughter gathered their things, purses and what not, and, as they were each exiting the car, their doors open, my wife said another car zipped out of nowhere, trying to pull into the adjacent empty spot beside her driver's side.
As she was stepping out, my wife said this car kept impatiently inching forward, into the vacant spot, barely leaving room for her. "He even parked outside of his lines, Jim," she said, adding worth to her story. Sadly, as the car got closer and closer, my wife noticed an offensive man, 50-ish maybe, yelling obscenities and flailing his arms at her. She said it was obvious that he was in a rush and was frustrated with giving her the ten seconds time she needed to get out of our vehicle. A car that you can fit three in one spot, no less.
My wife was incredulous at this gentleman's behavior. Behavior that our daughter was witnessing.
"What's wrong with that guy, Mom?" Emma asked.
"I don't know, honey. Stay here for a minute, though, would you?"
My wife was going to have a talk with this gentleman.
She walked up to this gentleman's car door and waited for him to get out. She mimicked for me the look of surprise on his face when he glanced up through the window to find her standing there. I wish I had been there.
He opened his door and got out, cleaning up his behavior and no longer swearing.
"Is there a problem, sir?"
Clearly, she had embarrassed him. He didn't respond and struggled to keep eye contact with her. She just kept staring.
Isn't it funny how a lack of a windshield can turn a lion into a mouse?
"Did I do something wrong to offend you," my wife continued, "because if I did, tell me so I can apologize to you for it."
She paused, giving him a chance to explain himself. He didn't grasp the chance. I can only imagine what being called-out felt like.
My wife continued. "And if I didn't do anything wrong and you were just yelling and waving your arms at me because you were impatient, then I don't appreciate your behavior at all. In fact, you should be ashamed of yourself."
She pointed to my daughter. "That's my thirteen year-old daughter over there. We're trying to raise her to be a good citizen and person. Today, she witnessed your rude behavior and asked me why you were acting this way. What should I tell her?"
The man was frozen to his spot, speechless. Again, he offered no excuse for his behavior.
"I guess I'll just tell her that you're having a bad day and leave it at that. I'm sure you wouldn't want us to think you act like this every day."
My wife, realizing her point was made, turned back to our daughter. "Come on, honey," she said, walking back and holding out her hand to Emma, "let's go do some shopping."
Together, hand-in-hand, they walked into the store.
Hurray! My wife, although steady in her beliefs and convictions, rarely sees the need to be confrontational. To her, that is wasted energy. She has that rare ability to see the best in everyone, often dismissing their ugly side to "They must be having a bad day." Clearly, though, this man's swearing and carrying-on must have affected her to some unfamiliar level.
If you ask me, mama bear was just protecting her cub.
From every perspective, my daughter was fortunate to have learned such a lesson from her mother. Importantly, Emma learned that one can stand up for themselves and do it in a respectable and dignified manner. Sadly, though, not every person is going to have the courteous manners and exemplary behavior that we try to instill in our kids, and we just need to accept the good with the bad. Actually, embrace the good. And, before moving on, learn something from the bad. In the right doses, actually, the lessons learned from these negative encounters may hold more benefit for our children than we realize.
The best thing about this encounter, though, from my view? My daughter was able to see that she has one heck of a cool Mom.
Something she probably already knew.
As always, big thanks for reading. Next post will be Friday, April 16. See you then...