Monday, December 17, 2007

The Bitch with Children Goes to Brunch

We’ve heard from the Childless Bitch (in fact, er, some of us may have been her at another time in our lives, ahem) but have you seen the Bitch with Children? You know the one who publicly / beats / humiliates / screams at her brood, reveling in her power?

I saw her this weekend, which was ironically, my childless weekend getaway. I’d jetted (okay, bussed) to New York City to eat and shop my way through the Big Aple for two days with a long lost girlfriend who also left her three tots at home. Baby and Daddy were home bonding and hopefully, repairing the downstairs bathroom.

We were halfway through our second gluttonous brunch in as many days when we heard a terrible voice hiss, “How am I supposed to spread this butter?!” We looked across the counter. She was redheaded and fatigued, not unattractive. Her daughter, no more than four or five, was breaking apart a blueberry muffin the size of her head (that’s how they serve them at the Brooklyn Diner on 57th Street.) The Evil Mother was snapping her question at the poor waiter as she snatched he muffin from her daughter’s tiny hands.

“What did I tell you?!” she growled at the girl. “If you’re not going to eat it, why did you order it?!” The girl picked at the giant baked item, accessorized with two large squares of frozen butter pads (that’s how they serve them at the Brooklyn Diner). “If you don’t stop it, I’m going to beat the crap out of you!” And she wasn’t talking to the waiter.

My friend and I stared at our smoked salmon benedict in disbelief. The Evil Mother reached over to knock the little boy, who was sitting next to his sister, on the arm, telling him, “And you better eat yours!” The father was seated next to the boy (as far from his wife as the counter seating would allow) and wearing a pained expression and a sweatshirt that claimed, Life is Good! My friend and I exchanged another glance.

By the time I got back from the bathroom, the little girl was crying in her father’s lap. Then I heard him say something hideous. In a soft voice, he asked his daughter, “What did she do to you now?”

How does a family get here? And what should we, the viewing public, concerned parents, do when we witness such a scene? I know, I know - we all have our moments, and all of our kids are uncontrollable brats at one time or another. But to threaten your child that you’re going to “beat the crap out of them?” And it’s not like the little girl was having a meltdown or even doing anything really awful. If I got a blueberry muffin the size of my ass, I’d pick it apart before eating it, too.

Evil Mother and family collected their things and left, jerking on coats and hats and shoving their way to the door. And we thought, what happens when they get home? Should we have said something? Have you ever been in this situation? Tell me this is a rarity and not commonplace. Is the Evil Mother only present in New York during Christmas shopping or does she lurk in all parts of the country…?