I had a series of experiences yesterday that left me a little hurt and a lot annoyed. After learning the news about our Pastor, see previous post, and making it through school drop off I was in a really weird emotional place.
So what do I do when faced with weird emotions? I go to Target to take advantage of the buy $50 in groceries and receive $10 off. I had coupons to stack so this was starting to seem like a really great distraction. My 3-year-old was with me so I decided to buy his silence with a snowman cookie from the Starbucks conveniently located inside the Target. Y’all know that’s a trap right? Starbucks and Target dollar bins within feet of each other? They can now guarantee that you’ll spend at least $10 before you hit the actual store.
As I settled Liam into the cart I heard another small child throwing down and thought “Thank the Lord that’s not me today” because normally… that is me. Liam gets super over-stimulated in stores, he has since the day he came home. It’s just something we deal with. The over-stimulation manifests itself in meltdowns and what looks like pure naughtiness. And people LOVE to comment, just loud enough so I can hear them. Some of my favorites are “I know a way to stop that screaming”, “That kid needs a good spanking” and the classic “I would give him something to cry about.” I’m pretty certain that if I started beating my kid in Target it would NOT make him stop crying, but thanks for the passive aggressive advice fellow Target/Kroger/Aldi shoppers.
But TODAY. Today, we had a cookie. A little snowman-shaped miracle.
As we made our way through the store the cookie went from frosted perfection to a crumbled mess that Liam started to smash everywhere. It was beginning. I took a second to remove the cookie and clean the crumbles out of Liam’s hair. Cookie crumbs and Afros do not mix friends. Then he asked to walk and I reluctantly allowed him to do this. After all, things seemed to be going well today. That lasted a few moments at most, Liam broke free from the cart and literally started sprinting through the Target. I tried to offer him the chance to make a good decision but that wasn’t even on the table anymore. So here I am sprinting through Target, people shaking their heads at me, and Liam enjoying the whole thing. And yes, more of those just loud enough to hear comments.
I finally collected my son and strapped him, screaming, into the cart. And this is how we spent the rest of our time in Target. And no. I did not leave, nor should I. If I started leaving stores every time my son had a meltdown we would never have toothpaste, or groceries or clothes… you get the picture.
Later that day Liam and I were in the car rider line waiting to get the big kids from school. The kids had successfully made it into the car and the signal was given for cars to start moving. However, the car in front and to the right of me was not moving and the door was open. This prevented me from going forward.
I waited patiently, I could see they were still getting the kids settled and it would be dangerous for me to move. A large truck behind me started to honk. I pointed to the car with the open door and the dude honked all the more and gestured back at me. I was annoyed by this time and made a face at him in the mirror and moved my hands around a little. So tough. The car in front finally moved and the truck sped around so it was beside me (remember we are in a school pick-up zone) and the guy again gestured to me and gave me “a face.”
So why am I telling you stories from my day yesterday? And I promise you, the above is a normal day for me if you add in kids fighting and one raging and cooking dinner and someone poking the dogs eye…
I’m telling you these things to remind you, not how hard my days are, but how hard days are for those around us. That guy behind me? Who knows what hardship he is carrying, what weight might be on his shoulders. The people in the store? While I want to just call them dumb and be angry I have to consider that their passive aggressive comments may be a result of deep hurt and pain.
And crap. I kinda feel bad for waving my hands around a little at the truck guy.
The Christmas season just ramps up everyone’s sadness, joy and anger all at the same time. We have an opportunity to be kind this season. KIND in the face of snarkiness, impatience, and rudeness. Not just paying it forward when you order a coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru but really seeing people and the hurt that they carry below the surface. Just try it. Assume that hard battles are being fought, because they are.