This past weekend, a bunch of us from Declan’s school gathered for a mid-summer playdate at the park. It was informal, just to let the kids see each other and hang out while the parents sat around and gabbed. But since we live in the city, and it *is* summertime, the park is always packed with people doing, well, summertime activities. Saturday was no exception and the tables and picnic area were filled with one raucous party. And dude, there has never been a nicer group of people! They shared their toys and their watermelon with all our little vagrants who came sniffing around the edges of their party. Eventually all our kids were playing together.
As the father of one of Declan’s good friends and I were sitting and chatting, and watching all these kids crawl all over the playground equipment, we were startled when a girl from the party slipped and fell near us, making a huge WHOMP sound as she went down on the platform. We watched for a few minutes, she wasn’t even moving, and no parents were coming. Finally, I got up and went over to check on her.
She was shaking, but starting to move and cry – clearly she had the wind completely knocked out of her. She was about 8 or 9 and I leaned over and started asking her if she was OK, could she move and where were parents were? Suddenly there was a big man to my right, clearly mad as hell, and clearly her dad. He looked at her with such menace and said very succinctly, “Get. Down. Now.” I quickly jumped to explain, “She fell really hard, I think she got the wind knocked out of her.” He silenced me with a glare.
I walked back to my bench and the dad I was chatting with asked me, “He’s not actually mad at her, is he?” And we soon found out he was.
We watched as he berated her at the edge of the playground. So loudly we could almost hear them from where we were. Then he yelled at her to MOVE and pushed her repeatedly up the path away from the playground and yelled at her some more.
For falling down.
On a playground.
Imagine what he does when no one is watching.
I sat there shaking for a long time. Not just because I have seen my share of that behavior from my own dad, but I was just stuck. There was nothing I could do for her.
Nothing I could do.