When I say the word “bully” you probably think of bullies on the playground or at school. Today, I am going to talk about a different kind of bully: the mean senior citizen. Over the last few months I have had two encounters with this type of bully. The first time I was at a restaurant with my friend and her child when an older woman sitting behind us began huffing and puffing because our children were giggling. She was visibly annoyed but never said anything to us. It was her choice to be miserable and I let it go. When people are rude I often find myself making excuses for them. I think, “that is just how they are” or “she’s just old and grumpy”. There is no excuse for what I am about to tell you. What I encountered last Saturday was not okay and it impacted me deeply. It wasn’t fair that I had to go through this but it happened nevertheless and I did learn something from the experience.
On Saturday, Spiro, Zelda and I stopped at Mimosa in Milwaukee for brunch. Brunch was fantastic, we were having a wonderful time and everything was going well. We had finished up eating and the owner offered to give Spiro a tour. Prior to this, the amazing wait staff had embraced Zelda. They were showing her where they poured the coffee and where the kitchen was located. They loved her and she became very comfortable walking around the space. A few minutes into Spiro’s tour, Zelda decided she wanted to go find her dad. She marched over to the door to look for him. She saw he was no longer there and began walking down the aisle, giving tables her Ms. America wave as she passed. I was about two or three feet behind her when I saw an older couple in their late 70s give Zelda a nasty scowl.
I didn’t think much of it until the woman turned to Zelda and in a very mean and reprimanding tone screamed, “Little girl, what are you doing? You need to go sit down, NOW. You’re in a restaurant.” At this point, I had reached their table and very gently said, “I’m sorry ma’am. She is three years old.” That was the moment she began dismantling me. With hate in her eyes she spat, “What are you the mother? Or would you even call yourself that? Clearly, you’re not very good at parenting. Three years and you haven’t even learned to control your child.” I was shell-shocked. I couldn’t believe this was happening. My daughter had walked by her table and waved and this was her response?
I instantly began having visions of throwing her across the room, placing my hands around her neck and calling her every name in the book. As I snapped back to reality, I knew all these ideas were wrong. She was a senior citizen, I was in a restaurant and my child was with me. I looked her dead in the eyes and told her, “There are so many things I want to say to you right now.” I scooped Zelda up in my arms as her husband began stabbing his plate so hard it was coming off the table. Their waters were spilling everywhere and I knew I had to remove myself from the situation as they were NOT letting up. Normally, when one half of the couple is crazy, the other half has some sense – not here. Nothing good was going to happen.
My emotions were pouring over. I was angry, sad and so upset. No one has ever called me a bad mother before. Even though I knew it was bullshit, it still hurt and made me angry in a way that I’ve never been angry before. I’ve never been so mad at someone in my life. I felt like I was in a sea of sharks and I was being eaten. All of the surrounding tables were watching us and no one was saying anything. No one was coming to my defense. I’m sure people were trying to process what was happening because it occurred so quickly. I really can’t blame anyone for not saying anything — it went from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. I was still trying to process what the hell had happened. I felt like I was in an episode of “What Would You Do?” except there was no John Quiñones and there were no cameras.
I did what I felt was best – I scurried over to our table, grabbed our stuff and ran out of the restaurant. Spiro and the owner saw me run out and followed me into the parking lot. I placed Zelda safely in the car and then had an absolute breakdown outside. I displayed behavior I am not proud of; it was reminiscent of a six-year-old. I was having a full-blown tantrum. There was no other way for me to express myself — I was boiling over. I cried, I screamed and I called this woman words I have never used before. I knew having my daughter in my arms and getting into a full out brawl would not have been a great idea. I’m still not sure how I got myself out of there without throwing the woman across the room.
I was so hurt because I felt like I was all alone and was left to drown. After the owner listened to my story in the parking lot, I knew he was in a difficult position. What should he do? I was a customer who was very hurt and had been verbally assaulted in his restaurant. As a business owner when do you interject? I get it, it is very difficult. I never expected him to do what he did next. He went inside and spoke with a table sitting nearby to get their account of the incident. After they confirmed everything I said was correct (and disgusting), he approached the offending table. After receiving an ear full from the miserable couple, he let them know that their bill had been taken care of, told them they were not welcome in his restaurant and told them to gather their things and leave because his restaurant would not tolerate their wrath. The couple was VERY upset. (Thank you to one of my followers! They caught their departure on camera and you can watch the video below.)
For a business owner to step up, show that amount of empathy and be so caring should be commended. The fact that he was willing to stand up for what is right knowing he could possibly loose future business says so much about him as a person and the establishment that he is running. I want to recognize this because showing that amount of love in an aggressive situation is very rare. If you ever witness someone being verbally bashed don’t be afraid to interject. Recently, there was a story floating around social media about a woman who was being devoured by other passengers on a plane because her children were crying. Seeing what was happening, another mom stepped in and asked her if she needed help. The amount of comfort she brought to the woman was invaluable.
I’m a strong person and I can handle a lot but this situation broke me. We decided to skip the State Fair and headed back to Chicago. I was mad at myself for letting it take the day away from us and that I allowed this situation to overcome me. Sometimes our emotions are bigger than us and this consumed me. I felt so much anxiety and I realized for someone else this could have been a trigger point. What if I had an eight-month year old baby at home and was suffering from postpartum depression? This stranger didn’t know my situation and had just told me I was the worst mom in the world. She had no right to tell me that. She was wrong and I realized this behavior should never be tolerated.
Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, ages and colors. If you see a bully don’t be afraid to stand up and do what is right. In the moment I was paralyzed and I had lost my voice. Never be afraid to be someone’s voice and stand up when they don’t have one. When the owner stepped up to help it meant the world to me. He wholeheartedly deserves some love, so if you are ever in Milwaukee stop by Mimosa. I also really want to open this incident up for discussion. Have you had something similar happen? Should seniors just get a free pass when they are wicked mean? What did you learn? Let’s talk in the comments below.
Please note we have blurred the faces in this video for their privacy, no further shaming is needed and is not the intention of this video.
P.S. Our matching tees are part of the OMAMImini GRL PWR capsule collection which aims to empower girls of all ages and remind them how awesome they are. (And how absolutely fearless they can be when needed.) Sometimes you need a reminder of your awesomeness because it can be tough out there. Just know that as women we are strong and we need to stand united!
Part of the proceeds are donated to the Alliance of Moms, a non-profit organization whose mission is to break the inter-generational cycle of babies born to teens in foster care. Through educational programs, AOM provides practical tools that empower young moms to give their babies a healthier childhood than their own. While they know their t-shirts won’t fix the world, they are creating positive change which is something we all need to be conscious of and support! They are super soft and will be your favorite tee (I promise!).
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