We met a stressed out woman and a sweet little boy at McDonald’s the other day. The woman looked like an older mom in sunglasses and faded black jeans. The whole energy shifted once the woman entered the patio. An older couple noted the energy shift immediately and didn’t linger long after finishing their meal. I felt the tension but wouldn’t leave because the children were having fun playing.
Belle overheard the woman and the child’s plan to walk to a nearby park after their lunch. Belle realized her geography and asked, “Wee?” followed by sign language for “playing” and a finger pointed toward the park. We walked over to the other park and joined them. Right away I noticed the woman hovering over the child. She would practically choreograph his play, scolding him for every misstep.
I listened as the woman made excuses for the child to his playmates and their mothers. I watched as she broke up basic physical play. She actually warned the child his new friends didn’t really want to play with him because they didn’t know him. They weren’t his brothers. He had to stay away. I couldn’t believe the expectations and guidelines she had for a boy who had only recently turned four.
I asked the woman if she had other children. I had heard her mention to another mother that the child missed his brothers. That’s when the woman revealed herself to be the child’s paternal grandmother. The child and his siblings had come from a troubled home. She told me a story I could relate to in part. I remembered my own early life and made a few suggestions to help the grandmother relax.