Why I Lost My Mind When A Stranger Called My Daughter “Not Ladylike”
"I don’t like that word. At all. In context, it was like she asking her to be immediately submissive about her behavior. Screw that, man."
Welcome to “Why I Yelled,” Fatherly’s ongoing series in which real dads discuss a time they lost their temper in front of their wife, their kids, their coworker — anyone, really — and why. The goal of this isn’t to examine the deeper meaning of screaming or come to any great conclusions. It’s about yelling and what really triggers it. Here, Cedrick*, a 46-year-old father of four discusses how a fellow parent at his daughter’s elementary school art night set him off.
When was the last time you yelled?
I mean, I yell pretty regularly. I have four kids. I don’t yell at them. I yell to get their attention, which is necessary [laughs] But the last one that I really remember? About a month, month-and-a-half ago.
Well, it had to do with my kids — one of them at least — but it revolved around them and another parent at a school concert. And no, I wasn’t proud of myself.
Where were you?
My youngest is in the first grade. The school was hosting a pre-winter break parent’s night. It was one of those art nights where their artwork is hung on the wall gallery style and the kids grab your hand and excitedly bring you to see their drawings. There was a bake sale and snacks a concert put on by the school. You know how it goes. But it’s always nice to see these things and get to know the world your kid exists in at school.
So what happened?
My daughter was excited to bring us to her exhibit. She loves to draw and it’s an exciting thing for a kid to have your work on the wall. Anyway, it was crowded with parents and kids and she was running ahead of us through people — hopped up on sugar and all that — and she bumped into one of the parents.
Now, it was obviously an accident. But this mother proceeded not to my girl if she was okay but to hold her by the shoulders and say in a very condescending tone how she shouldn’t be running through the halls and how she recently had knee surgery and how would my daughter like it if she couldn’t walk because of what she did? It was ridiculous. Oh, and actually she didn’t say how she shouldn’t be running through the halls; but this, excuse my language, but this stuck up bitch told my daughter that that’s now how that wasn’t very lady like.
And I don’t know about you but one, don’t touch my kid; two, don’t guilt my kid, and three, don’t go telling my daughter that accidents aren’t ladylike. What the heck is that?
What really set you off?
Ummm all of it. That she didn’t see if my kid was okay. That she touched her. That she scolded her. That she said ladylike. Ladylike. I don’t like that word. At all. In context, it was like she asking her to be immediately submissive about her behavior. Screw that, man.
What did you do?
Well, I was pissed. I asked my little girl if she was okay. And she was, but she definitely had all her energy sucked out of her by this woman’s actions. So I was mad. And, I did this to piss her off, I looked at her and said “don’t ever touch my kid” and then I turned to her husband and said, “Why don’t tell your wife not to talk to my daughter like that.” Which I knew would piss her off.
I know, I know. But I was angry. Anyway, that started this whole back and forth of don’t touch my daughter, don’t talk to my wife like that, and so on and so forth. And mind you we were in the middle of other parents so it turned into this whole big thing, you know?
How did it end?
Eventually, we went on our way and saw the artwork and then left. But it wasn’t the night it should have been and I feel badly about that. I should’ve been the bigger man, but when that kind of shit happens you just sorta get mad. I do, at least. When we were in the car on the way home, my girl out of the blue said “but I apologized to her.” So I know she was thinking about the whole thing still. So my wife and I explained to her that we knew that but sometimes it takes other people a little while longer to understand that.
Do you regret making a scene?
I wouldn’t say I made a scene. But I do regret instigating it. There was no need to do it. I could’ve let it go but then also: don’t react like that with someone else’s kid. Just don’t. Be a god damn human being and show some compassion. She’s a little girl. And don’t get me started on that lady like bullshit. God, talking about it still makes me angry.
*names have been changed