A week or so ago, Maggie and I were in a take-out pizza joint on a Friday night.
It was crazy busy, and the place was pretty small. We queued to order our pepperoni pie, then waited against the back windows.
Pretty soon the door opened, and a couple walked in. They looked vaguely familiar, but I didn’t think much of it.
Then Maggie pinched my arm and whispered in my ear that the couple who’d just entered the joint was a former coach of hers and his wife.
Ahhh. I looked anew at the woman, who seemed to have put on a few pounds since the last time I saw her courtside. Her husband’s hair had grayed noticeably. I smirked.
Maggie shot me a sideways glance but didn’t say anything.
Pretty soon, a teen behind the counter called our name, and we picked up the pizza and headed for the door. Just as we got there, the coaching couple turned around and smiled, all Stepford-like.
“Hi, Maggie!” they said brightly.
Bless her heart, my girl has raisings. She smiled and said hello.
I, on the other hand, felt that familiar motherly indignation rise within me. All I could muster was a glare, which probably looked more like a squint since I wasn’t wearing my glasses.
Out in the parking lot, I attempted casual conversation with Maggie.
“Man, she looked fat, didn’t she?” I asked. “Didn’t she look fat?”
Maggie just shrugged and smiled, a little patronizingly, I thought.
“Mom,” she said, “you need to let it go.”
“It” was an incident several years ago where the pizza-ordering fatties – back then considerably more svelte but snotty just the same – had conspired to kick my daughter off a sports team so their little darling could take her place.
But no one bothered to tell us that our girl wasn’t on the team until the season began and games started. Then, and only then, did we find out she had lost her spot on the team.
She cried. She cried and cried and wondered why she wasn’t good enough to play on the team she’d been on for several seasons. We had no reason to give, except that that the coach’s kid gets preference.
Then, adding insult, her new team had to play her old team once or twice a season. And the old teammates she’d joked around with treated her badly, led by the snarky mean girl who took her spot.
I could barely watch when Maggie’s new team played her old. I was so angry, I clinched my teeth until my temples ached.
I was proud of the way Maggie made the best of a sad situation and made better friends on her new team, full of girls she’ll play with in high school. I even softened toward the girls on the other team, who I reasoned couldn’t help being the way they were if their parents were so devious they’d hurt an 11-year-old girl to further their own child’s fortunes.
But when it came to the parents, forget it. I give them no quarter.
I’m not proud that I can’t forgive and forget. I’m all the time preaching that the past is the past, that folks need to build some bridges and get over “it.”
Yet I can’t. I can’t in this instance or a few others where adults intentionally wronged my kiddos.
Mess with me, I can eventually give you a bye.
But mess with my kids, and you’re dead to me.