The other day my wife (32F) and I (32M) took our son (1M) with us to a local pub with a beer garden after she got off work to enjoy the fall weather. Inside the bar, there's a kid (M, ~10-12) sitting by himself at a table, messing with what appears to be laser level, projecting bright horizontal lines across the room.
While waiting in line to order, he starts getting careless (or ornery, not sure which), the laser starts going onto us, and my wife politely asks him to stop. He sighs, rolls his eyes, but ultimately stops.
Ten minutes later, we're sitting outside, and I notice the green laser line hitting the wall of the patio, unfortunately right near eye level of my son sitting in the stroller. I look through the window inside, and sure enough the kid is pointing it directly out at us.
Disgruntled, I walk inside, go right up to the kid and say, quite sternly but not yelling, "you're pointing the laser near my baby's eyes, you need to stop it, now." I def wasn't polite, but I wanted him to get that he was doing something dangerous. He responds, a bit flustered, "oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know!" and I walk away.
At that point his mom (F40s), unbeknownst to me sitting about ten feet away at the bar drinking with friends, says in an annoyed tone "um sir, it wasn't on purpose!" Not wanting to get into it, I don't say anything and just walk out (I was already at the door by the time she said this).
About 20 mins later, the mom comes out and starts tearing into me about my inappropriate tone and then my wife, who she apparently recognizes as a local teacher, saying that I/we should know better than to talk to someone else's child that way, that I'm a brute for trying to intimidate a child (not my intent, but okay), and that I should have figured out who the parent was and talked to her instead, because why would a child be at a bar alone?
I tell her we'd already spoken once to him politely, and that I had no idea she was his mom because he was in fact sitting alone. She then starts yelling about how I had no right to act that way, that she and everyone else in the bar (literally just her friends and maybe the bartender, as it wasn't busy) were appalled.
I point out that she had no idea we'd warned him once or that he was even pointing the laser at people in the first place, but I also apologize if I made her son feel scared/threatened. This isn't good enough, she continues yelling about "that's no way to treat or talk to someone else's child!" until I finally yell back.
So, AITA for talking severely to an unsupervised child who was doing something dangerous? Or is she right that there's no circumstance in which one can speak sternly with someone else's kid about their unsafe behavior?
NTA. The mom left her kid with nothing to entertain himself with but a laser pointer. I don't even really blame the kid because he was probably bored as all get out and might not have known that it was dangerous.
But, what were you supposed to do? There was no way of knowing who the mother was and she could have done something about it when your wife asked him to stop the first time.
NTA. The child had already been asked politely. I'm not surprised at the mother's reaction though, particularly if she was drinking.
This is more about her being embarrassed for her lack of parenting than it is about your reaction, she did a bad job watching her kid and got inadvertently called out on it. NTA in the slightest, although I usually defer to letting the staff handle this kind of thing and would have told our waiter/waitress about what he was doing and they likely would have told his mother and maybe she would have dealt with it.
NTA and I hate parents like her. She brought her son to a bar while she drinks with her friends, sits him at a separate table and then doesn't watch what he's doing. Mother of the year over there (and I'm a mom so I get how hard it can be).
Like you said, you politely addressed him once. When he shined it in your baby's eyes, you had every right to go talk to him more sternly. If people don't want their kids to be talked to by strangers they're bothering, they need to do their jobs as parents.
NTA what idiot allows their child to play with a laser in a public place? Were you supposed to be more polite and allow your baby to he blinded? Wow.
She was just pissed because she was caught being a negligent parent. This happened to my neighbor when he had his kids at a concert, one of them almost got the beam right in his eye, he tracked the kid down and there was a bigger confrontation than what you’re describing.