Monday, January 3, 2011

The Benefit of the Doubt?

Hello, most wonderful cyber friends!

Happy New Year! It is 2011. Or, as I like to think of it, only ten months left until my passport expires. Only ten months left to fill up those pages with lovely, beautiful stamps. Sigh. Low guy on union totem pole does not get to do six country tour of Europe this year. Blast!

Ah, well. Always next year. For now I remain rooted to my tiny little pseudo office, occasionally peeking over at a photo of nieces and nephews....pretending that I am working on something really important while I sip this lukewarm mug of cranberry tea and patiently await my peanut-buttered toast.

Ah, creature comforts. There's nothing quite like it in the world. Feeling warm, safe and taken care of. I am most blessed to have Dear, Sainted Husband... not to mention peanut butter toast. There are just some things in life, that no matter how fancy everything else gets, it all comes down to peanut butter toast.

Remember when you were a kid?

You know, back when wrestling on TV still looked real, kids said 'please' and 'thank you' and peanut butter wasn't a ticket to Immune System Apocalypse....

Your Mom packed your lunch every day. It was great. At lunchtime, you'd open up your blue plastic Zeddy the Teddy lunchbox, and there it was: a peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich. Made just the way you liked it; cut on the diagonal, with just enough jam.

It's funny how no one else could ever make it like Mom did. Not even Dad. Bless him for trying. But let's be honest: it could be the same bread, jam and peanut butter- but something just wasn't right. It didn't taste the way it does when Mom makes it for you. And if it isn't cut on the diagonal? Well, you can pack that in my sister's lunch, 'cause that ain't mine.

It's the mother's touch. The secret ingredient that makes broccoli taste good, turns your science mess into an 'A' project and makes you feel as if no one else could make you feel as whole as Mom does.

I thought about that today as I was walking to work. After I heard someone screaming... and upon walking closer, realized that it was a mother, yelling at her crying, and obviously embarassed daughter. She was not trying to hide her anger at all, and clearly didn't care who heard her screaming at this kid.

Disclaimer alert: I know that everyone is going to tell me that 'I don't know the circumstances' and 'I don't know what their relationship is like'. Or, that 'I didn't see what happened before'. I know all of that. And yet, a bigger part of me just can't leave this alone.

No matter what the 'circumstances', their 'relationship' or what 'happened before', there was no need for what happened to happen. At all. And I can't get the thought of this weeping kid, begging her mother to 'stop yelling at me' out of my head.

Apparently, this kid was riding the city bus to school. And got off at the wrong stop (this, I gathered from the mother's screaming), which, in the mother's opinion, makes this kid a 'useless retard' (among other things).

Excuse me?

My objections to your bigoted comments about disabled people aside - what is wrong with you? How can you say such hateful things to your own daughter? There is a time and a place for correction. I do not believe that the middle of the street, at the top of your lungs, is the time nor the place.

What is there for her to learn from this experience? Shame? I think that was pretty well covered. Embarassment? Most certainly. Humiliation? Probably.

I tried very hard not to impose myself on a situation where I had no business...for all other reasons previously mentioned. But I really couldn't help it. I have been the kid in that situation (adjectives aside) and I know what that feels like. I couldn't let myself not say anything.

"What you are doing is abusive".

Her response: An open (actually gaping) mouth, and stunned silence. As if she were surprised that I would say something at all.

Then: "who are you to tell me how to raise my kid? I bet you can't even have any". Points for the rebound, my friend. But you were already in Check.

Me: "My reproductive status notwithstanding, the way you are behaving is not appropriate and certainly not acceptable. I have no stake in telling you how to raise your kid, but I can say that what you are doing is not okay."

I crossed the street fully expecting her to chase after me and give me yet another piece of her mind. But nothing. Just standing there.

Relaying this to a co-worker later, I was told that it was likely I made the situation worse for that girl. Part of me fears that I did just that.  But the bigger part of me fears for what would have happened to her spirit if no one was willing to take a stand.

I was.

Even if you don't know who I am, and we never meet again.

I do not think that you are useless.

I sincerely hope that there was more to that than what I saw, and that I really don't know what your relationship is like. Being a mom is hard. I am sure.

Giving the benefit of the doubt? For me, it's harder.

I will now brace myself for all of those 'You don't know the whole story' comments.

Good night, my beauties. xo