Where: East 86th Street near 3rd Avenue (what is it with this corner?)
When: About 1:00 p.m. on Sunday
Who: A mother walking two tween daughters. The mother is solidly built, about 5'2". The older daughter, maybe 12, is already taller than her mother, and lanky. The younger daughter, probably 10, looks like she has their mom's body type, being short and rounder than her sister.
What: The younger girl is crying, her face the picture of abject woe. Her sister is apologizing, "I didn't mean to call you the F word."
As I listened, walking alongside them in the same direction, I got the distinct impression that the girls had been having some kind of run-of-the-mill argument, when the older sister was at a total loss for whatever reason, and pointed out that, well, her sister was fat. The point had nothing to do with the argument, which I think was about who got to go to some event the following weekend. The mother was silent, and looked positively queasy. As they walked on and the younger sister kept crying, the older girl's face sunk more and more deeply into the certainty that she had really stepped in it.
I'm not a parent. (Except to a kitteh.) But I wanted to throttle these girls' mother, fairly or not. I get letting siblings work things out, but I'm just going to hope and hope and hope that this older kid didn't get that crap at home. That "you are fat; your argument is invalid" crap. That brand of crap only works as an Internet meme. I hope she picked it up from her friends, not from her father or mother, and I hope her mother will have a nice, frank discussion with her focusing on the fact that someone's size has nothing to do with your disagreements with them.
I know this older girl is just a kid. I know it. But I really wanted to knock her and her mother's heads together and take the younger girl to the bookstore with me.
I was kind of busy, though, since my head had just exploded all over 3rd Avenue. Again.