As a mother I silently vowed to protect my daughter from harm the day she was born. As an adult I vow to be mature and handle situations with the most integrity possible. I am a role model, after all. Those little eyes watch every move I make and listen to every word that comes from my mouth. However, what happens when those two situations combine? It’s time to elaborate.
We live in a small town outside of St. Louis, Missouri. It’s quaint and I absolutely love the atmosphere. We’re a short drive to the city and live in a place that is peaceful. The advantages of living in a small town are obvious – we know just about everyone and who we don’t know… someone else does. The crime rate is low. I know every police officer, employee of area companies, etc.
Knowing people, on a more personal level is a plus and from what I learned the other day…a downfall all the same. My daughter & I frequent this small town convenience store about 4-5 days a week.
My daughter often goes behind the counter while we’re in there. It’s something she has been welcomed to do since we started going in there four years ago. Behind the counter there are cigarettes and liquor that she has never shown any curiosity towards at all.
However, on one particular night I was talking with one of the clerk’s, Diane (name changed to protect ‘the innocent’), who we have known for about a year and a half. Diane is going through some medical issues and has a lot on her mind. She has always been nice to my daughter, offering hugs, tells her she loves her, etc. when we frequent the store. I knew my daughter was behind the counter and I had heard Diane tell her, “Okay Lexi stop messing with those” and all was well.
Unfortunately, curiosity got the better of Lexi and she touched a cigarette pack. Diane turned around and said, “Okay Lexi I told you already….” and that’s when Diane grabed Lexi’s wrist with one hand and smack Lexi’s hand with her other. I stood frozen. How could a store clerk ever feel justified in smacking a customer’s childs hand?
Instinct was for me to hurdle the counter, pin Diane down to the ground, and tell her to never lay a hand on my daughter or a child again… but I digress. Lexi had walked towards me with her big, blue eyes filling with tears and her bottom lip quivering. I immediately forgot about Diane and held my daughter. It was also my silent message of, “I do not approve of what you just did” and a few sorted other words, but I’ll leave that alone.
Diane was watching as I held her close and asked her if she was okay. She even offered up an apology, directly to my daughter so I didn’t say much, but I did leave the store. I was trying to keep in mind that perhaps Diane’s medical issues had caused her to react the way that she did opposed to asking me to please tell her to stop. I couldn’t see what Lexi was doing as Diane was blocking my view so that, too me, seemed like the logical reaction. Unfortunately it didn’t play out that way.
We ran into her again and my very brave four year old told her, “I’m disappointed in you for slapping me” and in return a grown woman & mother of two responded, “I was disappointed in you too”. I spoke up with, “I’m with her. She’s four. You’re a grown woman”
It was upon Diane’s words to my daughter after she smacked her hand over something so trivial that it came to my conclusion she wasn’t sorry and didn’t feel she was in the wrong whatsoever. It was now unexcusable. Mistakes are never learned from if we don’t realize what we did was wrong.
I could no longer allow Diane’s medical issues to dilute my thought process and over-look the obvious. I did what I felt was best and reported the situation to the owners of the store. They were far from happy. In fact, I would go as far to say that they are extremely upset. They are very partial to my daughter and often look forward to her visits there. I did tell them that I didn’t want Diane to lose her job over this as time’s are tough and she’s going through enough. Albeit, some action needs to be taken. I suggested a slap on the hand, but all I got were giggles in return.
This woman, whom I once thought would never do anything to upset my daughter, has now crossed a fine line that can not be restored: my daughters trust. Once a little girl whose eyes would light up upon seeing her stand behind the counter are now filled with anxiety and fear when she says to me, “Do we have to go in there anymore, Mommy?” Perhaps Diane can find a way to realize what she has done, and maybe someday Alexis can forgive her, but for now… I have to find a way to show my daughter that not everyone is like that. That there are people who take things too far and never realize that they tear a small part of a childs innocence away every time they do something to break their trust.
It’s by far not the worst thing that could have happened and there are children who suffer much worse at the hands of those they should be able to trust more than anyone. Regardless, I’m her mother and much like most mother’s out there, I take my silent vow of protecting her very seriously.