Saturday, September 25, 2010

Help A Mother Out.

I have some serious concerns about the state of our society.
I am fully aware that this ages me and it is true that I find Police officers to be ridiculously young.
I did somewhat recently, on meeting the pilot of the plane I was about to board, ask him when his father would be along to fly the plane.....

That aside. I worry.
I worry that we have moved so far away from the village living mentality that there's no going back.
That our focus is so inward that our sense of community is lost.

Becoming a parent has definitely heightened this for me.
Having strangers that I pay be the primary support for me is very different from how I grew up.
When I was a kid - we went to family or neighbors for help and support.

Yesterday was a tough day. The two year old was testing her boundaries. I know the drill but it's exhausting.
Not to mention infuriating.
When we picked up the seven year old from school we all headed to the fabric store.
The seven year old is in a play next week and I have a costume to make.

Two minutes into the store I saw that it was all going to go horribly wrong.
I was thrown into an all too common dilemma.
The two year old was tearing the store apart - we needed to leave.
If we leave the seven year old feels punished for the two year old's behavior AND we don't have what we need to start making the costume.

I decided to stick it out. I did my best distraction techniques and told the seven year old to make some speedy choices.
She did.
We got in line. The line was 15 or so people long. We needed to wait for everyone to get their fabrics cut to length.
It was going to take a while.
We did OK for ten minutes.
Then, inevitably, the two year old melted down.
Her tantrum was ear splittingly loud.

Two older women muttered about how I should leave. Yet another asked me if I could "quieten her down." (What with - duct tape?)
The counter staff chatted with each customer and showed no sense of urgency to get the long line moving.
I know I was weary and frazzled but what happened to helping each other out?
Not one person in that line offered to let me go ahead.
I had one bolt of fabric - it was clear we would be quick.
Wouldn't it have worked for everyone to get me and the screaming banshee out of there?

I know we all look back with rose tinted glasses but I know that when I was a kid someone in that line would have spoken up.
Maybe they would have simply helped me distract the two year old. More likely they would have said "You get ahead."

It was clear that no-one in that line thought to help me out. What they did find time to do was judge or ignore. Leaving me feeling unskilled and lonely. I know we ALL have busy lives but isn't there time for community? Isn't there time for humanity?
What happened to the warm fuzzy you get from your good deed for the day?

I'm aware it was just a bad day. I'm aware that there are so many people who need so much more help and support but is that where we have got to? We only think about helping when the need is dire.

It's something I've been noticing for a while. I rarely am waved out by another driver. I wasn't offered the available chair when I was pregnant.
I find it sad. Even if that makes me sound old.

A friend sent me this - interesting, eloquent. Worth watching - on this topic.


  1. It doesn't make you sound old. I know exactly what you mean. What bitches those older ladies were, if I may say so. UNBELIEVABLE. Don't they know that they too, were screaming two year olds at one point?! I always lend a hand or at least give an encouraging smile to moms with kids. Or older people who have trouble standing, etc. I think it has to do with where we live. My friend who hails from a small southern town in horse country, Kentucky, says life is different down there. People are friendlier and more sorry you had such a rough day. I'm having my share of them too and they just stink.

  2. oh. my. god. I sooo agree. And, coincidentally was in the exact same boat the other day (though at Rite Aid, of all places). Elijah was throwing an ear splitting tantrum because he saw this bloody (literally, not in the scottish way) plastic dagger (think halloween) and he wanted it. bad. "I want the bloody knife" over and over through sobs. 4 people in front of me, turning around like I was hurting him or depriving him, etc. NO ONE offered to let me go first as I clearly needed to and the best part: (drumroll...) when I got to the counter, I realized that Elijah was playing with my wallet at home and had taken out my credit card. It was laying on the table at home. I was buying stockings to make those bloody (in the scottish way now) felted comets for school. Had to laugh about that as I would otherwise have cried...

  3. Barbara Kingsolver wrote about living in Spain for a year with her toddler, and the "village" atmosphere of how children are raised in Mediterranean countries - courtesy for the mother, and every child is coddled and cared for by whoever is nearest.

    Makes me wistful....


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