“Can you please mind your kid?” those were the words that the manager whispered- not so quietly- to one of the patrons dining next to us. I was almost embarrassed for the not so young mother, because I could see her cheeks turning a bright red- even with her dark chocolate skin-as she looked over her shoulder towards the direction of the waiters sight.
Here was her 8 year old son running around and crawling under tables and doing all sorts of things.
The mother screamed out loudly for Bobby to come toward her, but she might as well have been talking to herself. Bobby, looked at her as if to say, “please” and went on to horsing around the room.
While I was embarrassed a bit for her, I was mostly annoyed. Here I am trying to have a nice dinner, and get away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, and this young woman can’t mind her kids. Did she not teach them any manners? And lets say she did, how dare he behave that way, so what was she going to do about it?
In my opinions kids are fresh. They will always push the limits and that’s no reflection on the great work the parent may have done. So perhaps she taught him better, but he just got bold. Maybe he was possessed. Something could have happened. The bigger issue wasn’t his behavior, it was her reaction. So what was she going to do?
Being the Haitian that I am, thoughts of my mom and dad quickly sprung up. The thought of even behaving like that at a restaurant would not even occur to me age 8, and if I lost my mind, and the thought managed to creep into my mind, of course, I would reject it, and lets say I was a bold little one and I went beyond the stage of conjuring and then choosing to act, I’d know that once I was called on to stop, it was a must.
A must that would be followed by god knows what. this “god knows what” is the part I was not brave enough to risk finding out.
So looking at the young boy named Bobby, I saw a bravery and arrogance that never existed in my youth, and I could not help but thank god I did not realize that my parents were really not as powerful as I thought.
In my small mind, the fear of what could be done to me had I done something wrong was enough to keep me on track, even when I did not know what that thing was. “Mwen genyen pou mwen ba’w yon sel kout pye kraze tout dan’w”, that statement is so funny. I mean really, would our parents really go Bruce Lee on us and break all our teeth.
It didn’t matter they never did it, I believed they could and thats all that matter. Thoughts of being smacked into tomorrow, having the black smacked off our skin and lord knows what else, are humorous now, but they regulated me! I truly believed they had the power to do it.
So who was Bobby’s regulator? As a waiter finally caught him, and brought him over to his mother, she grabbed hold of his arm lightly and said in an almost teary voice, “why do you behave like this? that is not the way to conduct yourself young man? poukisa wap fe’m wont konsa?
The litany of questions followed one after the other, pausing ever briefly, as if she was expecting an answer. Bobby, barely paid much attention and finally shouted, you are not the boss of me and within seconds was running around again.
Looking at the scenario, I realized, yup, he won the battle, and as other incidents were sure to follow, she most likely had lost the whole war. As I turned back to look at my dinner plate, I wondered sadly, who was the boss of bobby, since it was not his mother.
Nadege Fleurimond is the owner & business manager of Fleurimond Catering, Inc., www.fgcatering.com, an off-premise catering firm serving the NY/NJ/CT/MA areas.