Presumed Guilty

An incident happened at the pumpkin patch the other day and I can’t get it off my mind. In fact, it has made me a little glum thinking about it. Here’s what happened:

Hapa Papa, his mother, and I took the kids to a local farm/pumpkin patch. They had a pit filled with dried corn kernels and Cookie Monster and Gamera were just getting in to play. A few minutes in, a woman comes and asks me if Cookie Monster is my son. I said, “Yes.” She said that Cookie Monster had lifted his shirt full of corn kernels and poured it down her daughter’s mouth, choking her.

My immediate reaction was to apologize and then called for Cookie Monster to come over. Thank goodness my MIL was there and she said, “I don’t think he did anything.” When Hapa Papa heard as well, (he was in the midst of getting Cookie Monster to come over, presumably to be punished) and also said, it couldn’t have been our boy. When I stopped to think about it, I, too, didn’t think it was Cookie Monster. After all, he had just gotten in the pit and I was pretty sure I didn’t see him go anywhere far or be gone long enough to cause mischief. Plus, it didn’t sound like something he’d do.

Well, that mother was indignant and huffed, “I have it on film. I have a picture of it on my phone!” So, I asked politely if I could see the picture. She said, “I have it on the phone. I saw him do it!” I responded, “I’m sure you did. But I would just like to see it.”

She shows me a picture of a kid in a blue shirt almost the same color as Cookie Monster’s but I don’t see him anywhere. I said, “I’m sorry, where is my son? I don’t see him.” She points to the shirt and says, “See! That’s his pony tail right there!”

Cookie Monster does not have a pony tail (or whatever little mullet pig tail thing the kid had). “Oh, that’s not my son.” The woman says, “Yes it is!” and points to the same boy playing in the pit. “That’s not my son.”

“Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry!” And with that, she slunk away.

Now, I’m not upset at the woman for thinking it was my kid. Shirts are the same color and there were a lot of kids. I’m just glad she had a picture so I could “see” it for myself. I don’t think it was racially motivated (you know, all Asians look alike) because the “guilty” kid was a white kid and Cookie Monster definitely does not look white.

No, I’m upset with myself for so quickly assuming that Cookie Monster did something bad. I’m upset that I didn’t stop to think whether or not the incident was plausible or in character for my son even though I was pretty sure I had been watching him and didn’t see him do anything wrong. I am upset with myself for assuming Cookie Monster was the bad guy even though he wasn’t. I am SO GRATEFUL my MIL was there to call BS.

I get it. I know why I immediately apologized. Who wants to be the parent who thinks their little monster can do no wrong? But the opposite is no better. I don’t want to be the parent who always makes my kid out to be at fault even when he isn’t. I want to think better of my own son and to defend him when appropriate. I don’t want my default to be, “What did my kid do?” Because Cookie Monster is a good kid. He can be a pain in the ass and disobedient, but in general, he’s a very good boy.

Thank goodness I didn’t get a chance to yell at him and ruin his good time before asking for proof. I’m also grateful that I wasn’t a complete jerk to the woman and asked her politely to see the pictures. I’m even MORE grateful Cookie Monster proved to be innocent.

My boy is a good boy and I should do well to remember it. My heart hurts that I was so quick to forget.