All mothers have a certain look in which their children instinctively comprehend to mean stop and desist NOW. I do not care how “no mannered”, “fresh”, “no home-trained” et cetera the children may be, all instinctively understand the most powerful wrath short of the Lord Almighty’s is about to reign down upon their little souls and behinds should they continue with the offending activity.
There are the mothers whose look will only work on their own progeny. There are the mothers in which the look not only works on their children, but other family members’ children and sometimes the neighbors’ children. And then there are the mothers. Those special mothers who can utilize the look with such force, that even the children of complete strangers will take heed. It does not happen often, for I realize I have to be in a certain mood and the child involved must have seriously crossed my invisible line of intolerance for it to be at maximum force, but I am definitely among the last group.
That being said, while all mother are capable of that look, not all mothers have the ability or the desire to use to its full potential and that is a shame. Mothers who cannot put the fear of Mom unto their little darlings at a very early age are soon victimized by the tiny terrors they’ve brought forth unto this world. I ran into one of those unfortunate types this morning.
I heard the mother already pleading with the child the moment the subway doors opened.
“Sweetie won’t you please sit down.”
“You’re going to hurt yourself!”
“Didn’t I say sit down, Sweetie?”
“You’re going to get a pow-pow.”
The mother did not say “Sweetie” I’m using it instead of the child’s actual name to protect the little hellion more so than the parent. I also cringe when parents of young children use cutesy names for things. If you are about to discipline your child, the child should fear it. It is not a “pow-pow” it is a “spanking”. Children do not fear the cute, especially when spoken in that sing-song sugar coated speak most adults reserve just for young children. Sweetie was not that young and I’m guessing having heard such idle threats all his young life, this child was no exception.
I partially read my book, partially listened to my music and partially watched as I sat across from them. The little boy climbed up and down from the seat, swung on the pole and yelled back at his mother in turns. Several people were giving the mother the stink eye as Sweetie ran among them nearly causing one passenger to spill her coffee and causing another to trip. Mother would apologize, yell at her child, the child would be still for all of two seconds and then the boy was off again. Even as the train became crowded he still misbehaved, just contained his mini-mayhem to a smaller area.
At some point a woman who had had enough touched Sweetie on the arm and nicely suggested that perhaps the child should sit. Sweetie turned around, screamed at the woman from the top of his lungs on how she is not his mother and hit the woman with the plastic bat he had in his hands. The mother grabbed the bat from him and apologized to the woman. This was twenty minutes after I first embarked and now even I had had enough. I took off my ear buds and put my iPod and the book I’m reading in my purse and stood just as Sweetie turned around and started to run. Right on cue Sweetie accidentally ran into me. He spun around and raised his hand as though to hit me and I’m guessing that was the moment it happened.
The Look had made its appearance.
I raised an eyebrow at him and whatever he was thinking about doing, he rethought it as his hand slowly came down to his side.
“Say ‘I’m sorry. Excuse me.’” I looked down on him.
“I-I’m sorry, excuse me.” He echoed contritely, taking a step back. I heard someone exclaim “Daaaamn!” as I pointed at the boy and then at the seat next to his mother. Without another word exchanged, he picked up a toy that was on the floor and sat down close to his mother looking at me penitently. The mother looked at me balefully as though she was about to say something and I looked at her waiting for it. She thought better of it also, putting a protective arm around Sweetie as I returned to my seat. There was a small bout of applause as I sat down, put on my iPod and returned to my book. The man sitting next to me looked from me to the kid and back “How’d you do that? And can you please teach my wife?” I just smiled, shrugged and returned to my reading.
A chapter or so later I realized it was still quiet. When I looked across the aisle from me Sweetie was fast asleep. The mother still looked like she wanted to do me bodily harm, but I was not worried about her. A few stops later, she and Sweetie disembarked.
Someday, someone is going to be there when I give some unfortunate soul “The Look” and have his or her cell phone camera ready to capture the moment. Obviously, I have no idea what I look like when I use this unique expression, but it apparently has some mystical power in it and I would really like to see it for myself.