Until this afternoon, I don't know that I'd ever been sworn at. Not that I'd ever heard, anyway. But I guess there's a first time for everything.
Doing some Christmas shopping at Kohl's, Elynor & I approached the women's underwear section. Though I could not yet see any other customers, I heard a child's voice say what sounded like, "F*** you!". As you can imagine, I was startled, but figured this was simply a case of the child struggling with pronunciation and pitied the parent who was surely mortified.
But when we rounded the corner, and said child came into view, I quickly became the mortified one. That's right, this was no case of poor pronunciation. Nope. This 4-ish aged boy, showing no signs of mental handicap, now pointed at me and again yelled, "F*** you!". Shocked, I kept walking, doing my best to avoid eye contact with him or his somewhat scary adult male companion, and giving thanks that Elynor is too young to understand him. As we walked by, he shared these sentiments a few more times (not directly to me, but apparently to the entire store) while said adult companion simply stood by. It was at this point that I hear a female voice yell from behind a rack of underwear, "Slap his mouth! He thinks that's funny.". Said male companion does as he's told, but this only prompts swearing little boy to shout out a few more F.Y's! I now have to hide behind some racks because I'm torn between laughing at this crazy situation and not wanting to make eye contact with the scary male companion. I was also so disappointed that I did not have my phone to call someone else to hear this scene (or possibly the police). After several more random F.Y. shouts and a few more commands to "Slap his mouth!", said group finally leaves this section of the store to the sound of one final, more dangerous threat, "I'm going to pound your face!".
Wow! Just reliving that scene gets me all riled up again. It's hard to even begin to dissect the appalling/sad aspects. Let's begin with the obvious - Hmmm, I wonder where this child learned that phrase, including the tone with which to deliver? And then the threats! Do you think they ever accompany that phrase in his home? I didn't get close enough to see any bruises, but I did observe at least one forceful slap in the face. And finally, the fact that these 2 adult supervisors (I don't know if they were both the parents) felt it acceptable to both keep the child in this public space while he continued to share his favorite phrase, especially during the day when many other children were present AND felt comfortable repeatedly threatening and using physical force. Honestly, it was as if this 3-some thought they were living in their own bubble!
I know situations like this exist in our world, but I guess it's rare that I see and experience one first hand. It breaks my heart that this would be reality for anyone, much less a child. It also breaks my heart just how helpless I felt to influence the situation. All I could do was hide behind a rack of underwear and observe. Could I or should I have done anything? And even if I had, what difference would it have really made?
When facing situations where I feel helpless to influence or fight evil or injustice, I find comfort in the promise that our Heavenly Father loves each of us more than any human could ever imagine and, though we don't always understand His ways, His word promises that He rules in and over all earthly matters, big & small. Tonight, I lift this little boy and his 2 companions up to our Heavenly Father in prayer. May he bring peace to their home & hearts.