Monday, December 07, 2015


Photo description: The word 'TWACK' in capitals in a comic book style font.
Thwack! His hand connected with the top of his son's head. "Do you know why I did that?" he asked.

I did.

It was because of me.

I was rolling into the lobby of a restaurant where we were joining friends for lunch, Joe was parking the car. I spotted the ramp up to the reception area and was headed over there when a boy, maybe about 7, saw me. He looked up to his dad, tugged his dad's sleeve, and said, "Dad, that man is really big."


He was struck.

When asked the question about why it was done, he said he didn't know. "Keep your opinions to yourself. You don't say things like that."

I wanted to intervene and say something but dad's face showed real anger. I didn't want to make the situation worse. Moreover, I have to keep telling myself that I'm not required to be an educational or inspirational moment for everyone, always. So I kept rolling.

What happened really disturbed be though. I didn't like the kid getting hit, even though it was only a bop on the head, even though it looked like it didn't physically hurt, I still don't like kids getting hit. Beyond that, I didn't like the fact that the issue was only the statement that the child made.

He wasn't judging me.

He wasn't mocking me.

He wasn't teasing me.

He had a simple, straightforward tone, a 'hey, look dad' tone. He was just describing me. Even his words, he described me as 'big' not 'fat.' Now I don't really have a problem with 'fat' as a descriptive word but I will admit to preferring 'big'. So he didn't use a word that's really emotionally charged for some people. He used a descriptive word.

And he was punished for it.

He's learned something.

I am unmentionable.

I am to be linguistically euthanized.

I am to exist in reality but not in language.

This scares me.

I am sure that the father was simply trying to protect my feelings. But. Really. I'm a 62 year old fat guy and I probably know that I'm big. So, as long as I'm being described not demeaned, I'm good with it.

I'm afraid that the next time the kid sees a fat person, he's going to duck, and look away, not wanting to see what can't be spoken.


clairesmum said...


Colleen said...

Oh I hate that he hit his kid! Also what might have been a private conversation between father and son about diversity turned into a public spectacle. And as you point out what the kid learned was shame. It could have been so much better. Bad move Dad!

Ron Arnold said...

As a Dad - I have occasionally employed the piff on the head (ala Jethro Gibbs to DeNozo on NCIS) to drive home a point here and there with my boys. It's an attention grabber. He might have considered his son's behavior rude and wanted to make sure the kid got it.

In hindsight, piffing doesn't always work well . . . and quiet correction specific to rudeness is better - but I don't know that Dad's intentions were bad. And honestly - most folks don't go into the thought of making you a person not to be talked about. They just don't want their kids to be rude.

Kelly said...

I usually do say something when I see people hit kids. Whether the reason they are hitting them has something to do with me or not. It's not OK to hit people. I have no problem telling an adult that hitting is not OK. I have also been known to tell kids to stop hitting if they are hitting each other.