If I wanted to write a blog entitled Parenting: What NOT To Do, I am often convinced that I could gather ALL of my material at the local mall play land.
Here's the deal: Our mall has a...hold on while I pull up merriam-webster... Tae Kwon Do... uh oh! It's not in there! Let's call it a SCHOOL. A place. Ok.
Ok. So there's a place where Sugar takes classes. As if the fact that is is located inside the climate-controlled, Diet Coke-stocked mall is not AWESOME enough, it was also strategically placed right next to the play land area. I love that because then I can take the Little Ones and wear them out while I watch Sugar practice. (It has a big window so you can watch, which is great 'cause you can make sure there is no funny stuff going on... not that I am paranoid, but...well... I am.)
Let me just say that I LOVE the play land! What I don't love is some of the parents in town who like to drop their kid off there so they can pretend they don't have kids while they do a little shopping. Ugh!
If you are frequent flyer here, you may have noticed I am a rather big fan of children. (Some say too much.) Especially Little Ones...like the ones in play lands. I have a hard time when I see children who are seemingly ignored or unkempt. Don't even get me started on the 14 year olds running through there knocking down the 2 year olds!
As much as I try not to judge, I may as well wear the black robes to play land some days. I'll admit it. It bothers me. I judge.
(this all has a point... stay with me!)
Last Sunday I was in church. I went alone with just my Turkey (yeah, you read that right!), so I sat in the CRYROOM OF DOOM (just kidding! sort of.) There was a little boy in there who is like 5. He was with his mom. Just him and mom. As Mass went on, he began to wander. He knows me because I am the Room Mother x 2 and Daisy Scout Leader (a.k.a. school busy body) So he ended up at my feet playing with Turkey and a too-loud-for-church-toy that someone had generously donated to the CRYROOM. (notice it is not called a PLAYROOM, but that is another story...) Since the boy knows me, I had no qualms about putting my finger to my lips to indicate we should at least try to be quiet and listen. It didn't faze him at all. And he quieted down every time I did it.... Every time I did it.... Every time I did it... you get the point...
Meanwhile, "Momma" has no idea he is gone. None. She has not even noticed. This goes on for a while. (like 15-20 minutes) I was not at all annoyed cause frankly, this kid is pretty darned cute. ( for once I am really not being sarcastic!) and it's sort of what you expect from the
Suddenly, Momma gets up, looks around, comes back to my row... to say she stormed back would be an exaggeration, but there was purpose in her step and a SERIOUS look on her face. She was not panicked. I actually thought she was mad at me for "shushing" her kid.
we interrupt this story to note:
This is a mom I see all the time. And I have tried to smile at her, or say hello, but she completely acts like she can't see me. I have never seen her with a man, husband, father type person.... I do not know her name.
now back to the program:
So I tried to catch her glance. Was she mad at the boy? Mad at me?
What I saw stopped me in my tracks.
There, my dear friends, is the reason why I will not be writing an entire blog called Parenting 101.
In that instant, in that one look I saw the frustration and yearning of a younger version of myself. I remember feeling like I just needed a minute when someone would sit still, when I could offer up a prayer, go to the restroom...whatever ALONE. Without someone NEEDING something from me.
I still have those days.
That one look changed it all.
We do not know why people do the things they do. Act the way they act.
As much as I hate it that every child is not raised in a warm loving home with plenty of food to eat, they aren't. And some parents are just trying to survive. To drop the kid off at play land so they can catch their breath and get through one more day without taking it out on the kids; without getting to the end of their rope. The frustration of a single parent... The fear of a sick parent... The exhaustion of a parent whose spouse works too much, travels too much, spends too much, drinks too much... You might think that is extreme but this is what I found in that woman's eyes, in the CRYROOM that I loathe, in the church that I love, in the town where I grew up.
I think they call it CLARITY.
***edited to add, if you know me in real life, do not even ask***