Another Rumble at the Local Park

At the local park, an 8-year-old accidentally kicked his ball into a toddler. The man supervising the toddler, presumably the grandfather, began screaming at the soccer player’s father. He “got in his face” and told him, among other things, that he wouldn’t be safe in his bed because the angel of death would take him, he would have a heart attack, he was going to die tonight, his mother was sorry he was ever born, etc. He screamed these things at the top of his lungs for about 10 minutes. He was holding the screaming toddler the entire time. Everyone was watching, appalled.

The victim was calm afterward, and took it in stride. He said that his son had tried to go over to apologize. I didn’t witness the incident but it seems there was nothing to elicit such an extreme reaction (although my 5-year-old reported that another mother had complained about the game and the ball had hit a baby). Kids get hit by balls; it’s not a life-threatening event. If you don’t want your kids ever to be hit with a ball, don’t go to the park. These grandparents were probably under a lot of stress watching the children in the crowded park.

When I got home I called my friend, who knows the family of the child who was hit better than I do. She told me that the parents of the children went away for three days. The babysitter is with them until 4, when these elderly grandparents come over to sleep. She gave me the cellphone number of the parents and encouraged me to call them. Before intervening I called another friend for her opinion. She said that the parents presumably are aware that the grandfather is unstable, and they probably don’t want to hear about the psychological damage that has been caused. This doesn’t quite jive with my interactions with the mother (I have had a few conversations with her), but it could be that her husband pressured her into this vacation. Since I don’t believe that the children are in physical danger, I decided not to call.

Would you have called?