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Had an argument with another mother at playgroup today - very miserable and embarrassed

(35 Posts)
playgrouppariah Fri 17-Jun-05 13:25:08

I am a regular poster but have changed my name for this, as I am so embarrassed and I'm sure I will get a lot of comments that won't make pleasant reading

I was leaving playgroup today when another mother came up to me and angrily said I had not taken enough care bypassing her little boy who was standing in the doorway. I honestly had no recollection of bumping into him or knocking him over, as far as I was concerned I had gone round him OK. She then angrily said I should have waited for her to move him. Now, since I was completely unaware of having discommoded him in any way, at that precise moment, what she was saying felt like an unprovoked attack, and so I said "Well, you shouldn't leave him standing in the doorway". Of course this then escalated the situation, with her saying, "You should have taken more care" and me saying, "No, you should". How childish and pathetic is that? Of course everyone was staring by then. She ended up following me out of the place saying I was a bad mother who didn't know how to look after children.

I am honestly not the sort of person that goes around trampling small children willy nilly and looking for arguments. Of course if I accidentally bump into a child, I immediately see if they are OK and apologise. I have kept replaying the scene in my mind and honestly can't remember bumping this child, but as I was leaving, I was a little distracted, so maybe I could have? In any event, whether I did or not, my response was not what it should have been - I should not have responded so defensively or at least should have ignored her further comments. Even if someone does leave their child in the doorway (and anyway they always go for the hazards) it doesn't excuse other parents from taking care, of course not. I do normally take care when children are in the doorway, in fact, the whole ethos of the playgroup is one where everyone looks out for all the kids - and this is one of the reasons I like it so much.

Now I keep thinking what if I did bump that little boy and didn't even apologise but got into an argument instead? I wouldn't be too pleased if somebody carelessly bumped into my kids either. BTW the little boy in question seemed absolutely fine, not crying or anything, so I don't think he was hurt.

I have just signed up to become a volunteer at the playgroup, but maybe they won't want me now.

Anyway, I have written this to get it down and to ask M'netters what I should do the next time I see this other mother. Should I apologise or let it lie? I'm leaning towards the former, but with some trepidation. Based on what I saw this morning, I don't think she is the type of person to be gracious about it.

Thanks for listening.

NomDePlume Fri 17-Jun-05 13:27:56

It sounds like a whole lot of fuss about nothing, TBH.

Yes, maybe you should've apologised and said that you genuinely hadn't seen him and left it at that, but don't stress about it. WRT apologising now, I wouldn't bother.

starlover Fri 17-Jun-05 13:29:33

hmmmm... difficult! Please don't feel bad about it. I am sure you would have noticed if you had bumped the little boy... and if he had fallen, or hurt himself then he'd have said something, or cried.. or whatever!

I think however I'd perhaps be tempted to just say to her "i honestly don't remember bumping into your son, but if I did then I am sorry"... just for the sake of peace!

I am sure they will still want you as a volunteer, although this other mother may think otherwise!

I think that even if you did bump him the other mother overreacted! if he was hurt then i'd have maybe said something... but otherwise what's the problem? and if bumping into a child makes you a bad mother, then so does leaving your child in a doorway and not watching him!!

tamum Fri 17-Jun-05 13:30:17

I can't honestly see how you could have done any more than brush past him without noticing- you can't knock small children down without either you or them noticing! She sounds neurotic; I would just try and forget about it. Chin up

MaloryTowers Fri 17-Jun-05 13:32:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Blu Fri 17-Jun-05 13:45:17

oh, poor you - it sounds as if you got caught completely off guard - she started the aggression, and whereas your response wasn't ideal, as you admit, you were too taken aback to gather your thoughts for the 'considered' response.

I don't think you need to be more embarrassed than her - and I don't think you need to be embarrassed to go back (unless you were screaming 'you slimy ingnorant pile of spinach' at her whilst pulling her hair).

Perhaps next time, say 'I'm sorry I snapped last week, I was just so taken aback because I didn't realise what you where talking about'. Apologising ALWAYS puts you way out in front in the 'right' stakes, IMO!

binkie Fri 17-Jun-05 13:50:43

Do you know the other parents at playgroup, can you talk it over with any of them? I think in these circumstances whether you apologise or do a water-under-the-bridge actually very much depends on what this woman is generally like - you may find she has a "rep" for starting fights, and in that case I'm afraid I think an apology would make her think she was justified, so could escalate things rather than resolve.

By the way, you should definitely keep on with the volunteering thing.

binkie Fri 17-Jun-05 14:03:46

Or you may find people say x, she's lovely but did you know she's having a bad time at the moment ...

I'm an automatic apologiser too, must say. But I still feel cross about the time a nasty person abused me for bashing them with my shopping trolley (and of course I knee-jerk apologised) only to notice afterwards I only had a basket & it wasn't me at all

Cam Fri 17-Jun-05 14:05:24

I wouldn't speak to anyone else about it, I would let it blow over completely (as it will). Next time you see her just say hello as normal and carry on your business.

Caligula Fri 17-Jun-05 14:09:58

I wouldn't apologise to a silly ole bat who goes around shouting the odds.

But maybe I'm an ole curmudgeon.

gothicmama Fri 17-Jun-05 14:10:02

this happened to me but the other way round some lady barged passed me and dd as we were going out through the door. I was very cross more because she had coem between me and dd, anyway if I was you I wouldn't apologise just say hello if you catech her eye and carry on as normal

Gobbledigook Fri 17-Jun-05 14:10:30

It totally depends on a)my mood and b)how the other parent approaches me as to how I react and I could go your way or the apologetic way!

Anyway, I think you probably should have said 'did I, gosh I really didn't notice, I'm so sorry, is he alright?' but if she was aggressive toward you I can see why you got into a barney!

If I were you, next time I saw her I'd say something along the lines of 'look, I was thinking about the other day and I feel terrible about not noticing bumping your little boy and I'm sorry I got into an argument about it - I was having a bad day - not an excuse I know but my mind was elsewhere. I'm really sorry.' Even if she's not gracious it doesn't matter because you'll have done the right thing and you can feel good about yourself for it. You'd be the far better person for apologising than she would be for turning her nose up at it.

Do it for yourself as much as anything.

Hope that makes sense!

SoupDragon Fri 17-Jun-05 14:36:04

I'd just apologise next week, say you really don't remember bumping her son and blame your reaction on PMT and a disturbed night or something. If you're gracious about it, there's not a lot she can do.

AnotherHelen Fri 17-Jun-05 14:51:08

Well i too go to playgroups alot and i have barley been to any that dont have kids playing in every corner and under tables and in doorways and i find when your watching you dont trip over, tread on, or crash into one child, you accidently bump into ar get bumped into by anoher! how can this little boys mum be angry at you just because you bumped into her little boy!! is she mental? its a playgroup for goodness sake these things happen, she sounds bonkers if you ask me, either that or she is just having a really REALLY bad day!!! if i were you i would go back next week and make a point of going over and just try to clear the air between you and explain that you just simply didnt realise you had bumped inot him! if she was having a bad day today she may feel really bad and stupid about it all and may appreciate that you maybe wont hold a grudge, if she is still a cow about it then just walk away, personally i cant see what you did wrong! xxxx

Jimjams Fri 17-Jun-05 15:12:10

She sounds barking!!!

I think I would just ignore her- and keep out of her way- think she's the one who should be embarrassed tbh. Strange woman. She sounds a bit preciousl And you were right- if she's that worried about him being bumped she shouldn't leave him in the doorway of a busy playgroup.

sheepgomeep Fri 17-Jun-05 17:25:20

I with the ones that say apologise to be honest.Just be saying that you didn't realise you bumped into her child and sorry if you did. It'll defuse the situation, raises you to above her level and if she can't accept the apology and move on well it will show her in a bad light. You'll probably find she'll apologise back too

weesaidie Fri 17-Jun-05 17:34:16

I agree with sheepgomeep. The mother sounds OTT but you will look like the bigger person and hopefully feel more comfortable there afterwards.

fireflyfairy2 Fri 17-Jun-05 17:48:34

The other mother sounds like my sister tbh

I actually think if my child was knocked down by someone, my automatic reaction would be to say "J** come out of that ladys way" not blame the other lady

Twiglett Fri 17-Jun-05 17:55:34

agree with Blu - as always

and also if you had really knocked inot the child he would have let you know

just have to ask Blu whether you often call people 'spinach'

JoolsToo Fri 17-Jun-05 18:00:48

I agree with tamum - how on earth could you knock a child over and not know? they'd have screamed their heads off for one!

Mummies always protect their babies - but I think she was out of order and approached in entirely the wrong way - your reaction would probably have been different if her approach had been different - she's the one with a problem, not you.

Guardianangel Fri 17-Jun-05 18:11:37

Oh dear! I have run a toddler group for the last two years and you do hear and see some funny reactions to situations. It is the norm for the Mother who made all the fuss (no matter how interested everyone seemed in the situation before them) to get the critisism for her over reaction. (Hey these postings have confirmed that too)! They will all be thinking what a funny one she is and sympathising with you. As a committee member, I would later try and get you both together out of the gaze of everyone to apologise so that nobody feels awkward about coming along to the group. DONT give up the offer of volunteering, think of the kids, these places never get enough help. Good Luck

Kidstrack2 Fri 17-Jun-05 18:36:47

Yep think the mother of the child over reacted big style! My two have been bumped at some point or another by accident but I would never challenge them if I thought it was an accident! I could def say if someone knocked my child flying and they never appologised I would def challenge them but this woman was def OTT!

daisy1999 Fri 17-Jun-05 18:55:34

apologise. everyone gets anxious if their child is involved. say sorry and then let it pass.

paolosgirl Fri 17-Jun-05 18:58:30

HIndsight is a great thing, but I think you should have apologised at the time. Whether you thought you'd knocked him or not, it would have diffused the situation.
I'm with the others - apologise profusely (through gritted teeth ). If your kids are the same age, you've probably got a few years of facing this woman - so an apology now will prevent any discomfort in future.

marthamoo Fri 17-Jun-05 19:14:33

I think she's off her trolley - but I would go with what others have said about taking the moral high ground. Next week I would apologise, say you genuinely didn't notice her ds, and you are sorry it all got out of hand. If she doesn't accept your apology with good grace then she surely is a nutter and there's not a lot you can do.

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