The Darkness Set In at Zozo’s at The Sugar Mill

Zozo's Restaurant, St. John,-USVI

I usually write about the positives in my life. I’m blessed with a healthy family and a beautiful home. I have a dream job with regular travel and extreme adventures. Sure I have good and bad days, but with all of that happiness, I don’t usually have time to focus on the negatives. Something happened at Zozo’s restaurant in St. John, USVI, though, that had such a deep impact on me, I have to share. 

I was traveling with a small group of journalists and PR and Zozo’s at The Sugar Mill was our last dinner together in USVI before parting ways. Everything was magnificent. Surrounded by a setting sun, deer grazing in the field, and lush mountains, I was feeling especially grateful for my time in the US Virgin Islands.

I was enjoying the company of Rachel Rudwall, Host/Producer/Editor of How 2 Travelers and Rachel Roams and my 9 oz beef tenderloin was one of the best steaks I’d eaten. Life was good.

Mid conversation with Rachel, I was distracted by a woman staggering toward the kitchen in an expensive “romper”. She pushed her back against the wall and started to do what I can only describe as attempted karate moves. The movements weren’t directed at anyone… just the air. Around the corner was the curtain-covered entrance to the kitchen. Listening carefully, she waited until the waitress approached. She aggressively grabbed the curtain, twirled around it, and ended up behind the waitress. Stalking behind her, she said, “I wanted to tell you about the ice cream”. The waitress continued walking and returned to the kitchen without addressing her.

About the time the lady pushed herself against the wall, I nudged Rachel to show her what was happening. The lady returned to her table after the encounter with the waitress and we nervously laughed about what just happened. I assumed she had a little too much wine and we joked about what we thought really happened.

I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve put on a drunken show a few times in my life, maybe not in a restaurant during dinner but it still happened, so I wasn’t really judging her. I just thought it was bizarre and funny.

We finished our dinner at the same time as her table and as they made their way outside, I curiously followed a few steps behind. It was entertaining and I was interested.

She continued the show outside, dancing wildly with her two children and her husband. They were in a large group with several other adults and a few kids. No one seemed annoyed with her behavior and she passionately kissed her husband several times while waiting for a taxi.

Ok. Fair enough. She’s having fun. No harm. No one is driving and the kids are having fun with their mother. And that man is definitely getting luck tonight. 

Then, the situation started to go from funny and entertaining to a little scary and sad. My heart broke for her, her husband, and her children.

The husband asked her what she did with “the money.” She started yelling at him and saying that she didn’t touch it.

He said, “We’re talking about thousands of dollars here. Where is it?”

Again, she yelled back, “I don’t have the …. money!” She cursed, yelled, and walked away.

Just then, the taxi arrived. The other adults and the yelling couple’s children got in, but the two parents didn’t. He started to walk away. She stomped behind him yelling and cursing.

The young boy yelled, “Daddy, don’t leave us. Please Daddy” as he started to cry.

My heart is breaking. I want to run to the children. I want to shake the mother for creating this situation or the father. I don’t know if I’m mad or if I just feel sorry for everyone involved.

That was it. Our taxi arrived and we were driven back to the hotel. The rest of the group decided to go downtown and find some nightlife. I said I had work to do and that I was going to call it a night.

I went back to the room and cried. Was this woman hurting to the point of drinking… or worse? Was this a regular occurrence? What happened after they left? Did the kids get back safely? The parents? I was greatly affected.

Darren and I fight. We’re not above having arguments. Is anyone? I really don’t know. Sometimes Athena is around when it happens. Have I ever, inadvertently, made Athena feel that way? Have I yelled at Darren in front of her? The whole situation was a grave reminder of the affects our relationships have on children and ourselves.

Mixed with sadness for what just happened and joy for my relationship with Darren, I’ll think about this family, particularly the children, the next time Darren and I have an argument. I will draw on that young boy’s cries and instantly be reminded of how it’s my responsibility to protect Athena even if I’m struggling with something myself.

27 thoughts on “The Darkness Set In at Zozo’s at The Sugar Mill

  1. At least you learned a great lesson by watching these people and let it affect you. So many run on along with their business, they don’t want to involve themselves with what’s going on around them. I’m glad you can use the cries of that little boy to remind you to be more mindful when in argumentative situations with your hub, especially when your wee one is in earshot. Of course, arguments transpire between spouses. Completely normal. And yes, it does affect everyone around us, not just the people having the argument. You’re such a wonderful sweet Mama with such a caring, compassionate heart. *hug*


  2. Leslie, the fact that it had an impact on you shows how much you care and how much you are already aware of these things. What a sad story.
    Another thing….In this case it was a loud scene but sometimes it is the opposite. Silence from tension or avoiding conflict can also have a huge impact on children. In my first marriage, I believed that as long as we weren’t yelling at each other, my kids were not affected. I was very, very wrong. I guess the bottom line is children need to see that we make mistakes but also that we try to fix them. Either that or get out of a situation that will never change.
    Thanks for sharing this. 🙂


  3. Hi Leslie, I feel you. That was sad…as a parent and now grandparent of 5 watching my children parent I think that the good from this is that it made you more aware of how you want to handle any adult disagreements around your child. I remember when I was about 8 listening to my parents fight and getting a knife because I thought I might have to protect my mother ( that was not a routine happening) but anyway I hid the knife under my mattress. Months later we were moving and my dad found the knife and I heard my mom and him laughing and talking about when I probably put it there. Though they were amused by it they didn’t realize how much listening to them that night had scared me… Children don’t always respond to what they see or hear but they do internalize it and it can linger for a lifetime!

    Now…back to your Great adventures!!! Where to next?


  4. That kind of thing is very hard to watch. It’ll stay with you forever. The only good that will come of it is the lesson you’ve taken from it and how you can apply it to your own life for your own family’s good. Very sad how some people ruin their lives and those of their children.


  5. The tragedy is throughout this story. I have great compassion for this mother who perhaps has an illness, perhaps, had an adverse drug interraction. Who knows? The entire family is impacted by poor behavior, choices and actions. Good thoughts to all those involved and to you for reminding us that compassion and gratitude are cornerstones in our lives.


  6. Gosh, what a situation! It can be very hard to watch something like that. Children are so vulnerable and receptive to everything they hear and see. You feel and care a lot so of course you will be upset to see this. I know I would be too. Thanks for sharing.


  7. That’s such a sad story- I’ve seen things like this before and you can’t help but feel uncomfortable, sad and helpless. I agree that when there is tension, it’s not always best to keep it from the kids because they still pick up on the fact something is wrong. It can be a good learning lesson to see the parents disagree/argue, but then also see them resolve the argument and see that they still love and respect each other . That’s what a lot of life is- we don’t agree with everything and everyone, but we try to find a way to resolve the issues in a healthy way.


  8. What might be best for this family is hopefully for someone at sometime to do an intervention. It would bother me too. It is good that you were able to use the experience for introspection though and realize the things you need to do better too.


  9. As a former child who witnessed this kind of behavior, and as a parent, I suggest, perhaps one way to protect Athena is to show her that mommy and daddy disagree AND they work things out and make up, too. I’m so sorry that was the last evening of an otherwise wonderful time; and I commend you for taking it to heart and making the effort to learn from someone else’s actions. xoM


  10. What a great story to share. There is a lesson in it for everyone who reads. I too will be more aware of what I say and how I act. Someone is ALWAYS watching, and when that someone is your very own kids, well….you know the rest


  11. I grew up with a mother that yelled all the time and she never gave us any love. In spite of it all, I was happy. We were fed, clothed, and dragged to church. So, on the really rough days I prayed to Jesus to help me. I promised myself that I would never yell like that. I have 3 sons and they were yelled at on occasion, but nothing like the verbal abuse I took. Also, like you said, my husband and I have had a few arguments, but he would never argue with a raised voice. Anytime I started yelling, he’d leave. That kept our ‘debates’ on a quieter scale. We’ve been married 45 years now. I still pray and keep Jesus in my life.


  12. Wendy and I lived through the 60’s and &70’s in London. What an amazing experience, but our two kids still tell us what bad parents were during that time. Luckily they both grew up normal, and have forgiven us.


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  14. Very good post. I can relate, as I was married to an alcoholic for almost thirty years. We had four children, and at one point things got so bad that I had to kick her out of the house and get the kids away from her. She eventually got sober and rejoined us, after over a year of being out of the family, but our relationship was never the same, and we ended up getting a divorce after the youngest of our kids were through high school. Sadly she passed away at the young age of 55. I think the years of drinking had something to do with that, but who knows? I don’t know if that is what the problem was in your post, but I recognize the behavior and the hurt children having to go through it yet again. Painful memories.


  15. Good story. My mom and dad fought a lot when I was little (before they divorced when I was five), and it used to scare and upset me. It is no wonder they were only married for four years. On the other hand, my husband and I argue, and I now see that raised voices and arguing do not necessarily damage a relationship or lead to divorce. I think when I was a little kid, I didn’t know it was okay to argue, but I also don’t think I saw a strong love between my parents. Funnily or sadly, by the way, I worry about how our arguing affects our pets. Happily, we seem to be arguing less over time (over 11 years now).


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