Navigating through life away from the library.
Navigating through life away from the library.

I’d Be Taking Off My Earrings…

There’s an old saying that goes “Don’t make a black woman take off her earrings,” because that means someone is about to get whupped. And, let me tell you, when I read this story about Roger Stephens, a stranger who slapped a woman’s toddler because the child was crying, I wanted to take off my earrings! Mind you, he did warn the mother that if she didn’t quiet her child, he would do it for her. She didn’t and he did.

All I could think as I read the story was I’d be throwing my earrings on the floor! How dare he? Seriously, how dare he walk up to this woman and slap her child? Who does he think he is?

Now, let me say, there have been times when I’ve been in a store and someone’s child has started throwing a full on tantrum and I’ve thought Oh. My. Gosh. Will you please get your child out of here? I’ve seen the looks on the cashiers’ faces and sympathized with them because they have to stay and I can leave. And, there it is….when you are in a situation where a child is having a hissy fit, you (the adult) have options (most of the time):

1. Ignore the child and go to another section of the store
2. Leave the store
3. Offer the child a distraction (sometimes if a stranger says something along the lines of “Awww, what’s the problem?” the child will get distracted and stop)
4. If you’re brave, politely ask the mother if she can leave
5. If you’re not brave, ask a store manager to ask the mother to leave

Moms, that doesn’t let you off the hook though. You know when your child has had enough and you know when your child is beyond soothing, so sometimes, Mom, you have to remove your child from the situation. Just because you can ignore your child’s screams doesn’t mean that others can nor should they have to. But you can’t just take your child out and expect them to be disciplined and practice self control either. Two-year-olds can be disciplined. In fact, that’s about the age when you want to start teaching them self control because once they’re five or six, their temperament has already been set.

Now before you start thinking I’m defending the actions of this old man or that I don’t have children, you’re wrong on both counts. I refer to my statement above: Speaking as a mother of four, I’d be throwing my earrings on the floor. For a period of time, I had four children under the age of four, so I completely understand what it’s like to have tempermental two-year-olds in tow when you’re trying to do some shopping. I also know what it feels like to be that parent with that child (anyone who says they don’t, is lying or has a selective memory). But let me tell you, when my children threw themselves down they came back up even more quickly and all it takes is a few times to let your child know what is and is not acceptable behavior.

Reactions to this story vary: Cutie Booty Cakes feels like she has to be on the look out for random strangers who may try to discipline her child for her, while ColoredGirlB thinks parents ought to control their children before taking them out in public and Maria E. Andreu can “kind of” identify with Roger Stephens. However, they, like anyone who has a shred of common sense, know that Stephens was so far out of line that he ought to be slapped or, at least, put in jail.

How do you feel? Do you think the mother bears some responsibility? What should happen to Roger Stephens?

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