It was the last day of Christmas vacation, so my granddaughters and I decided to go to a nearby fast food restaurant for a a treat. It was midafternoon, not too many folk about. I needed to use the bathroom, and given their current ages, didn't think I needed to take them. When I exited, I heard a small girl crying loudly, the "I hurt" cry, not the "my feelings are hurt" cry. I saw an older woman comforting her. The girl appeared about 3 or 4.
My oldest granddaughter told me, "something bad happened while you were gone." I asked her to tell me and she said she would tell me in the car. I told her if it was bad, and I needed to do something to fix it, I needed to know before we left. Her eyes slid to an older, heavyset man waiting for his order about 10-12 feet away. He wore a pleasant expression and a navy blue shirt. I turned around to look at him, so he probably was aware we were discussing him.
She said the little girl, whose sobs were subsiding, had just been sitting in a chair. "She was just sitting there!" my granddaughter said. "She was sort of singing to herself but she wasn't really making any noise. She wasn't doing anything!"
And the man came up and walloped her, she said. He hit her so hard her head snapped foreward and hit the edge of the table. And then he walked off when she began to cry.
The man continued to wait with a pleasant expression for his order. His wife came up and offered him a sip of her soft drink, which he refused at first but then accepted. The little girl calmed down, but it seemed to me the woman was rather stern with her. Hmm.
My nine-year-old granddaughter looked at me wide-eyed. "He must be the worst daddy in the world!" she told me. "She wasn't doing anything, and he hit her!"
Just then, the man's order was delivered and they all left. The little girl was with the woman. The two were on their way out the door when the man called to the girl. Oh, yeah. She heard him. and whisked out the door ahead of the woman. She was sucking her thumb.
No, it wasn't something I would interfere with. It was borderline. My granddaughters and I finished our snacks and left a short while later. But I thought about what the older girl had said. It reasonates. At nine, she is beginning to find out some people aren't so nice. But at home, she is safe and can trust the people she loves.
"He must be the worst daddy in the world."
Yes, it reasonates.