Hissy Fit

Because Everyone Deserves One Once in Awhile

Remember this schoolyard rhyme: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?" I distinctly remember saying it.and actually wanting to believe it. The problem was words always hurt. In fact, I still vividly remember some of those mean words that were lashed upon me-some along time ago, some more recently.  Words are powerful. Not only can they get under your skin; they can permeate your soul and lie dormant in wait. Then, they rear their ugly little heads at the most vulnerable of times.

In all my school years, I don't ever recall being hit by another child. It's interesting that while hitting is an offense that quickly lands the offender in the principal's office, people can pretty much run their mouth without any reprimand.

Now imagine if that offender is your mother.

I recently had an experience that absolutely floored me. I was in a local restaurant ladies' room. As I walked in, a mother and her young daughter were coming in behind me. I held the door for them. The little girl was so cute; she couldn't have been more than three-years-old. I went into the small stall in order to give the mother ample room in the large one to help her daughter. Everything seemed quite normal until the little girl stated that she didn't have to "go potty." The mother insisted, and the little girl resisted in the cutest little girl voice and diction, "I have a 'dipah' on, Mommy." I giggled inside, understanding exactly where she was coming from. The mother insisted, and the little girl gave in as the mother scolded, "That diaper's coming off TONIGHT!"

Apparently (remember, I am only hearing this scene unfold), the mother had placed toilet paper on the seat for sanitation. As the child climbed on the potty, somehow she displaced the paper. This is when things turned for the worst. The mother began to get angry. She screamed at the child about how many "butts" had sat on that toilet. With her voice escalating even more, she then informed the child that she was driving her crazy. Ending by screaming, "I'm going to put you up for adoption!"

I was at the sink washing my hands by this point, not actually believing how this mother had gone from zero to 60 in the anger lane and had no problem making a scene in a public restroom, albeit, behind a closed open-air stall. Upon hearing the remark about adoption, I literally gasped. It was an involuntary reaction. Instinctively, I demanded, "Don't say things like that to your child," and walked out. The mother giggled briefly, abruptly and nervously, as if she was surprised and embarrassed that I had called her down.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for discipline. What I'm not for are scare tactics, false threats, scathing words and general destruction of self-esteem and parental security. I felt sorry for this little girl. I would gladly adopt her, but somehow I don't think the mother actually wants to get rid of her (however, if you do, please call me). I was affected by this experience. I can only imagine how the little girl felt, although I had a feeling this wasn't her first rodeo.

There are so many life lessons in this scenario
that broke out right in front of me and here are a few:

1. Words hurt.forever!
That child will be telling her college friends and her own children that her mother wanted to put her up for adoption. These words will haunt her the rest of her life. To validate that her mother's words were wrong, I also hope she will remember the lady in the bathroom that told her mother to stop. Plus, if the mother is willing to scream this in public, what in the world is she saying at home? This child will either tell her children the same exact thing, or possibly over-compensate to not be like her mother. People, especially parents, teach us both how we want to be, and how we don't want to be. However, you have to be old enough and wise enough to figure out the "how we don't want to be" part.

2. Anger manifests itself in ugly ways!
Something is really eating at this mother, and it's probably not the child. Unfortunately, it's so easy to displace our anger onto whatever, or whoever, is in our path, instead of actually getting real with ourselves and figuring out and addressing the heart of the problem.

3. Toilet seat germs are not worth putting your child up for adoption!
According to Webmd.com, "The toilet seat is not a common vehicle for transmitting infections to humans. Many disease-causing organisms can survive for only a short time on the surface of the seat, and for an infection to occur, the germs would have to be transferred from the toilet seat to your urethral or genital tract, or through a cut or sore on the buttocks or thighs, which is possible but very unlikely." So ease up on the toilet seat paranoia!

4. Mother's are very powerful!
These are our children. We hold the power of shaping how our children see and approach the world. Kids get enough thrown at them without having to decipher their own mother's hateful actions and words. Again, discipline is not degradation.there is a huge difference.

5. You never know who's in the bathroom stall next to you.!
I actually feel sorry for the mother, too. I know she must be hurting in someway, or just doesn't understand the short and long-term negative impact of her words. So, while the old saying definitely had good intentions, I vote we start a new saying: "Sticks and stones may break our bones, but mean words scar us forever."

Illustration by this month's cover artist, Lorrayne R. Harris, taken from the book "Poop, Butt, Booger & Snot," written by L.W. Lewis.

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