Most of you would not be surprised to know that I have a lot to say. A LOT to say, but lately I think I have so much to say that I can’t get anything out, which is extremely frustrating because my mind is getting very full.
Well, apparently it just takes a little jump-start, because I am so upset right now I am shaking. And when I am this upset, I feel the need to write.
I was just in a store, and a little boy, not even three, walked right outside and onto the street. He opened the front door and walked out onto one of the busiest corners in our downtown. I caught what was happening just as I got to the register, and watched as the very sweet cashier, who is probably not older than 20, raced outside. I knew exactly what she was doing without even seeing what she was rushing after. I guessed it was the little boy because I had already brought him back to his mother three times in the ten minutes I had been in the store.
Twice I turned him around and said "Go back to Momma.” while nudging him in the right direction, since I could see her from where I was. And the third time I actually took him by the hand and walked him back to her. She never looked up from what she was doing when I brought him back. Kids might wander a bit down the aisle you're on, but he was so sad and looking for her, "Momma, Maaaaaaamaaaaaa?", and so short he couldn't find her in the maze of boxes and displays.
When the cashier brought the little boy through the door I thanked her profusely. She smiled and I took the little boy by the hand and marched to the back of the store to his mother. She picked him up this time, but didn't say anything to me.
Life is hard. For a lot of people, life is very hard, so I am not going to judge the woman too harshly because Lord only knows what has happened thus far in her life, but based on her smooth appearance and lack of tear-stained cheeks, and her desire to look at Christmas ornaments, I am guessing not much tragedy had befallen her this morning. Her other child was at one of the display tables with a bag of candy from the store ripped open in front of her.
I told the mom that her son had gotten outside and that the young cashier had chased after him down the street. She just looked at him and said “Why did you go outside?” and that was it...I was so surprised by her lack of concern, that I started to think maybe I was making a bigger deal out of it than I should, so I just said, “I thought you’d want to know because he is strong enough now, to open up a heavy store door and get outside by himself. Maybe that’s a new skill?” She said nothing to me, so I turned around and walked back to the cashier.
I paid for my items and realized I was very upset. I was trying to figure out all of the emotion I was having. I thanked the cashier about 60 million more times... for paying attention, for doing more than her job, for making sure that woman didn’t have anything horrible happen to her today, for saving that boy’s life, because surely with the parking garage and the giant trucks, and the busy, busy light with a turn-right-on-the-green-arrow light, and the boy's lack of safety awareness, he would have been hurt in a matter of minutes. The young lady was so gracious, just saying that she didn’t think he should be out there on his own. She told me to have a good day, and gave me my bag. My hand was shaking.
I realized I was very angry. Sweaty palms, gonna lose it, shaking, sick to my stomach, angry.
Watching my son is a full-time job at home and in public. Spraining my wrist trying to keep ahold of his arm as I try to pay someone, wearing a backpack so I have more free hands, being fearful to go certain places because I’m not sure I will be able to keep track of him…resorting to his wheelchair because I am worried I will lose him….waiting years to take both of my children out together, waiting until Lucy was capable of following directions and walking without holding hands before I ventured to do things like lunch, or the grocery store, or the movies. Jake ripped my rotator cuff dropping to the ground when he was younger, and now we are working on walking nicely and holding hands...eventually walking next to me without holding hands. It is a goal at school. It's something we are trying very, very hard to master because it's very important that he stay with me, and we have the same expectation of our typical kid, because it's important that kids stay with their parents. Right?
and this lady just let her kid, her typical, able-to-talk, able-to-hear, knows-his-own name, walks-without-aide, child walk out of the store. He just walked out of the store, and it took someone bringing him back for her to notice he was missing.
I'm not one for saying "that's not fair." because no one promises us that life will be fair, or even, or equitable, or easy, but I found myself saying it anyway.
It's not fair. It's not fair...I try so hard every single day not to be a burden to others, to make sure my children are not causing problems for any one else but me. Jake tries so hard to keep it together in stores. We leave restaurants when either kid is having a hard time, we leave stores and abandon carts when there is a meltdown. We do not lose our children in stores. Our family works hard every time we go out, the whole time, to do the right thing, and she, she just lets her kid all the way through an entire huge store and out the door....and doesn't even say thank you when he's found alive?
I am re-reading this 7 hours later, and I still have all those feelings, but another one has crept in...that feeling I get when I realize I am not being grateful. I wish sometimes my personality would allow for just appreciating that the child was safely returned to his mother, and not feel like I have a moral imperative to change the world and the way people think, or get them to think when they are obviously not thinking.