I was in the grocery store and there was a big guy in line with 3 boys. Two of the boys were horsing around a little and the man shot them a look that made them stop immediately.
After they checked out and were approaching the exit, the youngest boy tripped – not fooling around – he just tripped. The man turned and said angrily, “God Damn it! I told you to knock it off.” The reaction was way over the top. The boy tried to explain that he had just tripped but the man wouldn’t hear it.
As I exited the store I followed them. When they got to their car, 2 of the boys were just fooling around. The man yelled “You just don’t know when to quit!” He grabbed the youngest boy by the shoulders and slammed him hard up against the car. So I started walking towards him. He looked up at me and tried to wave me off and said “It’s OK.” And I said “No, it’s not.”
He put the boy down and started walking quickly towards me and said in a loud threatening voice “I SAID IT IS OK!” He was huge – at least 260 pounds. I repeated louder “No, it is not.” When we got close together, he stopped. He looked at me and said loudly and angrily “You don’t understand, they never know when to stop.” And I said, “I do understand but it doesn’t matter – you don’t ever do that.” With that, he changed -- he got a pained look on his face, rubbed his hands through his hair and said “I am trying so hard to be a dad.” So I said “That is right--you are their dad--they look to you to protect them--not hurt them.” And I repeated – “you don’t ever do that.”
So, we stood there, talking for about 10 more minutes. I explained that hurting a child is never the answer. Finally, he said, “OK, you are right – I am going to change it.” He looked me in the eye for a long moment, extended his hand and said “Thank you.” We shook hands. He walked back to the car, looked at his boys with a smile and “OK guys, you ready?”
Before I started working with One Circle , I don’t think I looked the other way or tried not to get involved. But I wasn’t as aware or knowledgeable. I would not have observed the man and the boys. I would not have followed them to the car. I would not have known how to intervene or how important it is to intervene. But now I know and I intervene when I can. I am not more courageous – I am more aware and knowledgeable. I was expecting the big guy to come at me but I wasn’t afraid -- I remember thinking, “Better me than that little boy.” But he didn’t try to hit me. He thanked me.