"Quit throwing sand or you're in time out" said the distracted mother to her young daughter, in the "I don't really mean it cuz I'm busy talking to my friend here" voice.
The young daughter was playing with what I assume were her older siblings and the child or children of the other woman, but I can't be sure. My son joined them for some good sand piling. He loves building sand castles.
I had the distinct pleasure of eavesdropping. Well, not so much pleasure, but those two women were loud enough that I'd have to abandon my child and the playground altogether to not hear them.
They discussed how much they hated "those other women" who "are quick to discipline everyone else's kids, but never bother correcting their own", and that little girl threw two fists of sand in my son's face. He laughed and threw some back.
And I called him out on it with a stern -- and loud -- "No" in my "and if you don't think I mean it mister... just push me" voice.
They started citing examples, incidents, and a long list of offended parties. That little girl threw sand again. My son retaliated and I reiterated that I'd had enough of it. He said, with predictable child candor "But Mommy, that little girl threw sand at me". I replied with absolute certainty that I was loud enough to be heard by the mother of the child, "I know she threw sand at you, but I told YOU not to throw sand."
The mother of the child did nothing, said nothing about the sand, and kept right on with her list of offenses made against her in the name of parents who do not discipline their children.
It happened a third time. I called my son to me, and informed him we were leaving. He asked "Why Mommy? She threw sand at me..." to which I replied, "Yes, I know honey, but I told you not to throw sand at her, and you disobeyed me. We are leaving because you did not quit throwing sand when I told you to."
To the best of my knowledge, that mother did nothing.
To add, she only said something in the first place because one of her own kids told on that little girl when the sand throwing started. It seemed to me like she was there to talk, and the kids were there to watch each other.
Oh, the inordinate amount of things I wanted to say to her, given her topic of whine at that moment. The things I wanted to say to that little girl, including "go sit by your mom until she finally asks you why you're there, then tell her because you disobeyed her and threw sand anyway and now you're in time out like she said you'd be."
But I have no patience for people that speak out of both sides of their mouth, and my temper is not always the most rational one. So I did what I had complete control of. I took my child, and we removed ourselves from the situation before I said something I'd regret.
As we left and my son continued to plead his case that he had not started it, I educated him on the rules about minding me and participating in things he knows he will get in trouble for, even if he simply follows along. He's young. I'm sure we'll have this conversation many times over the next 15 years. Maybe even longer.
No, I am not a perfect mom. I'm just trying to raise my kid with the attributes I want him to have.. like honor, manners, common sense, kindness, and a real sense of cause vs. effect -- including responsibility for his actions.
For those that think I'm too harsh as it is for making my son leave the park for disobeying me... well, be glad I'm not your mom. For mothers (and fathers) out there that think empty threats are a way to raise your child... you're idiots. I can't wait to listen to all the horror stories by parents like you when your kid is a teenager and has long since figured out that you don't mean one word you say, and you don't do one thing you say you'll do.