Imagine a woman, standing outside, fighting with her extremely cute little girl to stay in the stroller. There’s another baby in the back of the double stroller, luckily sleeping soundly while her sister kicks, screams and pumps her arms.
You see her. What would you do? How would you react? Would you have sympathy, ask whether she needs help, or would you judge?
Almost exactly two years ago, I am that woman. And, unfortunately for me, the Woman in the Black Dress chooses the latter. She suddenly materializes before me. I never saw her coming. I only see her when she asks: “Are you the babysitter?”.
I stand straight. Even though my girl is having her first full-blown temper tantrum, I am still proud mom. “No”- I say, and even manage a smile- “I am the mom”.
The smile soon disappears from my face when I hear what she is saying: “I saw you from my window. You are abusing your child.” My heart stops for a moment. I manage to tell her to mind her own business and hope she will go away.
She doesn’t. Instead, she says: “I am going to call the police. You are abusing your children. No child should behave that way. My children never did!”. I can’t believe what I’m hearing. The police??? I hope she doesn’t mean it, but she gets her phone out of her bag and dials.
She speaks on her phone, in Dutch (which I didn’t speak then), and then she tells me that the police will be here shortly. By this time I am trembling and am close to tears. No, actually I am standing there, crying. Klara notices my confusion and suddenly stands still.
I call my husband and he can’t believe me. He says that that woman is just trying to threaten me. “No”- I say “she actually is calling the police right now”. My husband promises to be there in a few minutes.
In a stroke of luck, the ladies from daycare are getting ready to to go home. They are tired after a whole day with a bunch of children. They see me crying and ask what happened. I tell the story, and they are absolutely shocked by this woman’s behaviour.
-“Do you have children on your own?- they ask her.
- “Yes. I have adult children, and they have never behaved like that. Never. And children need to be protected.”
The nannies from daycare look at her. She is standing there, hands on her hips, in a triumphant gesture. She tells the ladies that I am a young mother (I am petite and never wake makeup, and look younger than I am), and that I need professional help- a shrink.
The nannies tell her in return that she is very quick to judge, and that maybe she has forgotten that children this age do have temper tantrums. At this point, we present a unified front against her.
The police arrived, and with the nannies help, I tell my side of the story. She tells hers. The police don’t really know what to do, they write down my name and address, and tell me that the lady thinks I was too harsh on my child. The nannies vouch in my favour, telling the police that they know me and Klara really well, and that I would never hurt a child.
My husband arrives, wants to talk to her, but she is gone. I swear I hear the sound of a flying broom hissing by. Klara is confused, Julia is still sleeping. The nannies bring juice for Klara and water for me.
Then the police leaves, the nannies go home. My husband takes Klara on his bike, I walk home with Julia, still shaking and in shock.
In the night, I can’t sleep. I toss and turn and think. The Woman in Black, or as I have started calling her, The Witch, has made a point: I did need help, but not the way she thought. I needed friends. I needed a support network of likeminded people. And, I needed a platform to vent and to tell my stories. In short, I needed a blog.
This happened almost exactly 2 years ago. I am still somewhat traumatized. But I contacted expats organizations and made friends quickly. I started a blog, got interviewed, my articles were published on several websites. I am now a happy, if not slightly sleep-deprived mom of three beautiful children. Klara continued to have temper tantrums but even they got better. With Julia, we applied for more daycare days, allowing me to rest and enjoy some time for myself. In your face, Witch.
But I think I have to be thankful. If it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t have met my wonderful friends. I wouldn’t have started this blog. I wouldn’t have dared to have a third child. Thank you, Witch!
Photo courtesy of http://szkolatecza-wordsclub.blogspot.nl/2012/11/and-winners-are.html