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“YOU weren’t watching your son.”


“Mom, I did it! I made it all the way up the hill without stopping!” My five year old exclaimed with an air of confidence I had never seen in him.

Our bike ride to the coffee shop had been a success. I ran along side the strong little bikers and we made it. I looked at him smiling, so proud of how far he has come in the past year.

The warm gaze on my son, my son who struggled the last two years with sensory integration challenges, shifted suddenly when I heard: “You know, he almost hit me.”

She was in her 70s, at least, using a walker to move her body from the grocery store down the sidewalk.

My son walked up to me.

I helped unbuckle his finicky helmet.

I responded to her, “Oh, I’m so sorry. That must have been scary for you. I will speak with him.”

I was impressed with my ability to shift my focus so abruptly. If only she knew the struggles we had only recently began to overcome, maybe she wouldn’t knock us down. Please, don’t knock us down. I thought to myself.


Shaming by a Grandmother

Here’s the thing: I didn’t have to speak with my son because he was RIGHT there holding onto my leg listening.

“No one was watching him.

She wasn’t done.

I looked at her trying to her know that I ‘got it‘, my eyes were pleading with her to stop.  I needed that moment to pass.

“Ok, thank you,” I fought to end the moment as I shuffled my five and six year olds towards the door.

YOU should have been watching him.” She stabbed into the open air making certain I felt the sting.


Truth: I was watching him. I couldn’t take my eyes off from my sons on that bike ride, for lots of reasons. I saw him come too close to her. I saw her flinch. I saw him notice her a bit too late but maneuver his way so as not to hit her. None of that mattered though, not to her. 

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I looked at her again, nodded, and made my way into the cafe.

We settled at a table, then headed to the counter. I noticed the older woman in line at the counter when I felt my son’s finger poking at my waist.

“Mama, was that woman mad because I almost hit her with my bike?”  He inquired genuinely.

“Yes, sweetie. She was scared. Would you like to apologize to her?” He hesitated and looked away.

“I’ll come with you,” I suggested as I took his hand and walked towards her. Being brave is something we’re working on.

“Excuse me, my son would like to say something to you…”  I said to the woman.

She looked straight ahead and mumbled, “I don’t know if it was him or the other kid,” pointing to my friend’s son.

“You can tell her,” I encouraged him.

Still no eye contact with me or my five year old son.

“Ma’am, excuse me, will you look at my son? He’s trying to speak to you. He’s trying to tell you he’s sorry.” 

Still no acknowledgement.

And then, “I had four children in five years, so I know. I never let them ride bikes on the sidewalk. Too many people. And I was always watching them. No one was watching your child. YOU weren’t watching him.” She shamed me in line with six strangers staring ahead pretending not to hear the exchange.

My son looked up at me waiting and wondering our next move.

I moved my body so that her eyes could catch my eyes.

“So you must know then that there are challenging moments and that doing the best you can in that moment is all you can do.”

YOU weren’t watching him,” she felt she needed to remind me.

Ok, thank you for your kind words,” I snapped a bit and turned to join my friends.

I felt crappy. I was angry. Was she right?


Truthfully, the moment lasted not even 30 seconds. I had to let it go. I couldn’t let the interaction weigh me down.

I couldn’t let the sadness and bitterness crush our sweet small victory of riding our bikes to the cafe.

I am a student of life. I have learned not to dwell but instead to reflect. I take a negative situation and, while taking the next step forward, I make adjustments to better myself on whatever level that might need to happen.

So, I can thank this woman for empowering me, for giving my clarity, and for furthering my convictions. She delivered a life lesson to me and to my son.

I was reminded in that moment that I am raising kind, respectful, thoughtful, hard working boys.

No one gets to tell me: You are failing. 

Now, onto our next bike ride. My five year old sees another hill to climb. I’m going to help him climb, not knock him down.

Thanks for reading.


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