Whoa There, Mama Bear!

Have you ever walked by a reflective surface, caught sight of yourself in passing, and wondered — even just for an instant — “Who is that person”? This happens to me more often than I would like to admit. I don’t spend a lot of time standing around looking in mirrors. And I don’t like having my picture taken, so there are few photographic references of me out there in the world. I guess it makes sense that I might ย have a jolt of reality when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or a window. “Who is that woman? What the heck, is that me? Do I really look like that?” All of which, of course, is almost immediately followed with the inevitable, “Wow … when the heck did I get so darn old?” It’s never a pretty experience.

Something similar happened to me yesterday, at my daughter’s basketball game — a sort of jolting glimpse of my spiritual self that left me wondering: “Wow, am I that person?” You can’t see me right now, of course, but, if you could, you would find me making a rather disconcerted, hapless sort of face at my computer screen. Because, perhaps, I’m still trying to tell myself that I’m calm, cool, collected, and totally sane in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

So, the basketball game. It was a tough game. The other team didn’t play nice. They had a habit of celebrating — high-fiving out on the court and congratulating each other — whenever one of them would foul one of the players on my daughter’s team. This was bad enough, combined with the snarky, rude comments from the opposing team’s supporters (all parents, mind you), to leave me with unkind thoughts toward the lot of them.

But then, at the end of a quarter, my daughter headed over to the water fountain for a drink. One of the players from the opposing team (Girl A) broke away from her team huddle just so she could race across the floor toward the water fountain and cut in front of my daughter. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t on purpose. These are elementary-aged kids, after all. And yet, it looked entirely deliberate on Girl A’s part. I watched as my daughter told Girl A that she was there first and as my daughter’s teammates, realizing what had just happened, invited my daughter up to get a drink with them, more toward the front of the line. When this happened, Girl A shoved her way in front of my daughter and another of my daughter’s teammates. My daughter, being the sweet and easy-going kid that she is, shrugged the whole thing off, ignored Girl A, got her drink, and headed back to the rest of her team. It seemed like the whole thing was handled. I was willing to put it down to over-aggressiveness caused by the game, which was tied for most of the playing time. Still, it was enough to make me glare at Girl A and think even more unkind thoughts

Jade bear miniature.But then, Girl A returned to her teammates. And I watched her flouncing around with them, laughing and pointing at my daughter. By the expression on her face and her hand gestures, I knew she was telling them, with pride, all about what she had just done. She was the hero of the moment — seriously hot stuff, and, wow, did she ever know it, too!

I should have felt sorry for that girl. It’s tragic that she could engage in an act of bullying and, then, turn around and take such pride in it. And it’s even more tragic that her parents, who were sitting there on the sidelines with the rest of us, could watch her actions and say nothing to her about it. I wonder what this beautiful girl will end up doing with her life and how she will approach her teenage years, and, honestly, I feel this almost overwhelming sadness now that I’m removed from the situation. And I hope she will realize how her actions affect others and herself before it’s too late.

But, in that moment, watching this child make fun of my own daughter, I didn’t ย have any of those feelings. I didn’t consider that she was just a child, or that it was likely she hadn’t been taught any better. I didn’t consider the fact that her coaches are just as much — if not more — to blame for encouraging her behavior. Nope. In that moment, none of this stuff mattered. I sat there and fantasized about “accidentally” smashing this kid in the face with a basketball. And it seemed like a really, really great idea. Just … the anger and the rage. It took me by surprise, and I had to tell myself, “Whoa there, Mama Bear. Back off.”

Which I did. But it was hard. Really, really, really hard.

In the end, I settled for explaining to my daughter that there were always going to be jerks in the world, even when you’re only nine. It’s too bad this is the way things are, but it’s a fact of life. My daughter was fine with this. She seemed content to accept it all as a life lesson and move on.

But there’s a part of me — a little, screaming, angry part — that still thinks the whole “smash her in the face with a basketball” plan was a lot better. I guess there’s a little Mama Bear in all of us, and, yes, somewhere way down deep inside of me, I really am that person. It’s … frightening.


18 thoughts on “Whoa There, Mama Bear!

    • Thank you for your kind comment! I am happy that you enjoyed the post, and I appreciate you taking the time to stop by my blog and read.

      I hope you have a wonderful day, too — and a wonderful rest of the week, as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. It’s crazy to imagine the environment that created Girl A. Kids often do cruel things in the face of peer pressure that they wouldn’t do otherwise. Good for you for keeping your calm even when you were justifiably angry! Calm people win the wars even if they lose some battles.

    • Thanks for reading, and for your comment! I still feel awful that I could even get so angry at another kid.

      Probably, she is only a year older than my daughter (because my daughter has a late birthday, so she’s always the youngest in her class). It hurts so badly when someone is cruel to a person you love so much. I can understand the feelings that make parents go all “mental” on bullies … but, in the end, we are the adults. It’s up to us to teach a better way. The right thing is usually the hardest thing to do — ha, ha!

      It is crazy to think about what kind of environment Girl A must live in. It was clear, from the way she acted on the court, that her behavior has been encouraged. Later in the game, she elbowed one of the other players in the throat and acted as if she had done nothing wrong — and her coach never said one word to her about reining in her actions and attitude. It was sad. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  2. Natural mama bear reaction. My mom is the kindest and sweetest person in the world. Unless… you hurt one of her kids or grand-kids. I’m glad you simmered down and used it as a life lesson for your daughter.

    • Yeah, I think it is a natural reaction — probably for dads, too, but especially for moms. There’s something about carrying that baby around inside of you for 9 months that really hones that “overprotective gene”, ha, ha! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am glad that I was able to salvage something positive out of the situation. And, also glad that I managed to rediscover my humanity before I went all crazy-grrr! on that poor kid. I think she will likely face enough challenges in her life, which is really sad.

      Thanks for reading and for the comment!

    • Yes! It’s like … doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are, if you mess with my kid, you must pay! GRRRRRR! I scare myself a little bit when I feel that way. Yikes!

      Thanks, as always, for the comment and support! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. It’s not an easy thing, dealing with anger, but I’d say you did a great job simply by just recognizing you were angry and reflecting on it. That’s what makes you different from the jerks.

    • Thanks! I appreciate the encouragement and support.

      Dealing with anger isn’t easy. It’s particularly hard for me, as I come from a background where (growing up) anger was not tolerated. At all. Now that I’m grown, I find that I sometimes feel anger very intently,and it’s hard for me to know what to do with that feeling. I know better than to give into impulses rooted in such strong emotions, but I still feel bad for being angry. Not sure if that makes sense or not. In this case, I feel particularly bad because I was mad at another child, as opposed to being angry with an adult. Yikes! I was relieved when I could reflect on the situation and feel compassion, instead.

      • I think you make perfect sense and the fact that you felt bad for being angry makes you human and not someone who relishes being mean spirited. Hope that makes sense. Great thoughtful post.

  4. Once I saw my reflection and thought it was my mom! I turned to face her and ask what she was doing there, when I realized it was really me. That was a disturbing experience!

    Good for you on holding back on the whole kiddo thing. I probably wouldn’t have been so nice, and a little passive aggressive towards the parents in some way. Glad to know there are stronger people out there than I! Glad also that your daughter seems to be so well adjusted she took it in stride. Shows strength of character for both of you.

    • Oh my goodness! That would be a disturbing and shocking experience. It’s weird how I always look very different in my mind than I do in real life: ha, ha!

      Thanks for the words of encouragement on the incident with my daughter. In the end, I’m relieved that I can look back on it and feel compassion for that girl instead of anger. But … I still feel ashamed that I could let myself get so angry at someone else, particularly a child. Then again, life is a continual learning process for all of us, I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I was really proud of my daughter for the way she handled the situation.

    • Hee! Yes, it is really amazing (in a sort of scary way sometimes :P) to think about how much motherhood changes a person’s feelings and perspective on things. I’m so happy you enjoyed this post and that it made you laugh. ๐Ÿ™‚

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