As parents, you have the responsibility to control your own emotion. You are entitled to your emotion. You can be upset at other people’s kids, but you cannot channel your anger on them.
One time, I took the kids to the playground near our house. I pushed Xuân on the stroller. As we walked, Đán picked up a few beautiful autumn leaves. He placed them in the basket underneath the stroller’s seat and told me, “Daddy, don’t lose these leaves OK. I am going to give them to mommy.” I replied, “I promise. You’re such a sweet boy.”
We went to the playground for about an hour. On the way back home, the boy came up to the stroller and took the leaves. Đán told the boy those are his present for his mom. The boy refused to return and took off. Đán chased after him. With the stroller, I could not run. Đán caught up with him and grabbed the leaves. As they pulled, the leaves shattered into pieces. I could see on Đán’s face that those were not just any ordinary leaves. They meant a lot to him. They were for his mom, but they were ruined.
He pushed the boy away. The boy went nuts. He ran right into Đán and punched Đán right on his nose. The anger on the boy’s face I have never seen before. I freaked out. I put the brake on the stroller, ran toward them, and pulled them apart. Blood was gushing down Đán’s nose. I was horrified and I could have slapped the taste out of the boy’s mouth, but I controlled myself. I said to him, “What you just did was really bad.” He cried the whole way home as I pushed the stroller with one hand and tried to stop the bleeding on Đán’s nose with the other.
As soon as we got home, the boy cried louder and told his mom that I said he was a bad boy. His mom hugged him and calmed him down. She didn’t say a word to Đán and didn’t even bother to see if he was OK.
I am not sure why I didn’t write down this incident at the time. The details are still clear in my head. Not his bloody nose, but the devastated look on Đán’s face when the leaves were ripped apart has never escaped my mind. I understood the feeling of something you treasured shattered in front of your eyes. I could never forgive myself for my inability to keep the leaves safe like I had promised my son.