Luckily, Friday is followed up by that miracle of time known as The Weekend.
Our weekend was healing. Other than a Sunday we dedicated to fun, I think the thing that stands out most are three women who contributed something along the lines of restoring my faith in humanity.
Random Acts of Kindness
The woman was behind the Starbucks counter at Target. She was probably ten years older than me, at most. I'd been dragged into the Starbucks by a wailing Persistence, and I was exhausted straight through my spirit by incessant creative parenting, power struggles, and daughters on the edge.
"That milk!" Persistence shriek-wailed, "THAT MILK! Nilla MILK!"
Our circuit through the deli-produce-bakery area had been going badly. Persistence is always hungry and thirsty, and a carton of milk will keep her happy through the store. The cooler by the front entrance usually is stocked with milk, but that day, of all days, it was empty. Persistence took this as a personal insult. These days, nearly everything is a personal insult to Persistence, and personal insults require meltdown tantrums. We were one centimeter away from that. I was eager to move on, telling her we'd look at the end of the bread aisle for animal cracker boxes.
However, with no explanation, she belligerently kept running back and pointing and shrieking at the deli case area. I finally walked back over with her, and she finally communicated that she thought we ought to check Starbucks for the milk.
And there it was.
I was so irritated. If only I'd stopped and stooped down to ask her why earlier, rather than engaging in pleading with her to come on and annoyance when she didn't. If only she'd used her words to tell me why. If only Target hadn't moved the milk inside Starbucks.
I plucked a milk from the case, thought twice, and grabbed a second one for Patience. I plunked down the milks on the counter, trying to juggle my attention between the lady behind the counter asking me questions and taking my money along with a persistent Persistence who doesn't take a one second break between finding things about life, the universe and the world that make her unhappy right now.
"What's that?" I asked the lady, who had already repeated herself twice over the din I call daughter.
"I said, she's really cute!"
"Huh? Her? Oh yeah, right, she's very cute, and sweet, sometimes," I said, pausing to ask Persistence to chill out for a second so I could pay for her milk, then I muttered, "Not that anyone could tell right now."
But the lady heard me.
"Ah. Yes. She's in a transition phase, huh?" she said. Simply. That's it. Just those words. She didn't say them with pity, sympathy, infuse any meaning, or judgment.
The world seemed to stop and calm down. I didn't hear all the noise.
I looked at the lady and asked, to be sure I heard right, "Excuse me?"
"Transition phase, she's in one of those transition phases. Mine always acted just like that when they had a transition phase. They're 18 and 21, now, and they still do, a little bit," she said, then smiled, one mom to another, when the age of your child doesn't matter a bit.
"Yes, both my girls are," I said, "In a transition phase, I mean. And yes, it's just like this, every time. I never know who or what will come out the other end, but it's usually pretty amazing. Once you get through it, of course," I said, then smiled too, one mom to another.
"Here you are," she said, handing me my change, receipt and both milks, "Have a nice day."
I smiled and thanked her, and thanked her for understanding. I felt immensely grateful---I, who am so used to either being ignored or sent censorial glares (or worse, told what I ought to be doing) when in my mom role in public, was so grateful that this person didn't judge or pity me, but simply understood.
She looked down at Persistence, and in her calm voice, she said, "You too, big girl, you have a nice day."
Persistence, who is so used to either being ignored by adults or sent scathing looks, also froze, and, I think, in gratitude, stopped whining, and smiled at the lady.
I'd like to say that our shopping trip and day were perfect and lovely from that point forward, but that'd would be what you call taking artistic license.
However, I can say our day was better.
All of this is to introduce this week's Hump Day Hmm topic, inspired by Andrea of garden of nna mmoy. She asked that we discuss fate---we have discussed fate from a couple of angles already but it's been a while (one last April, as it happens! Also in June of last year, and maybe another time I don't recall...) and there are so many angles to fate.
Consider these questions: does the universe (God) prescribe an order? do things happen sometimes too coincidentally to be coincidental? is there a design? how is it that sometimes things come to us, just when we need them most?
Tell a story, discuss theory...whatever you'd like.
And check back here later for Act II of Random Acts of Kindness!
Then, because my humor can be puerile, but also because my friend Jenny encourages this sort of thing, and I know she'd enjoy this:
It will probably not be a shock to anyone that my title is from Robert Browning's poem/drama Pippa Passes.
I used the most famous part:
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!
But. When I pulled up the quote, I ran across a tidbit I had completely forgotten!
Besides the oft-quoted line "God's in his Heaven/All's right with the world!" above, the poem contains an amusing error rooted in Robert Browning's unfamiliarity with vulgar slang. Right at the end of the poem, in her closing song, Pippa calls out the following:
But at night, brother Howlet, far over the woods,
Toll the world to thy chantry;
Sing to the bats’ sleek sisterhoods
Full complines with gallantry:
Then, owls and bats, cowls and twats,
Monks and nuns, in a cloister’s moods,
Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!
"Twat" both then and now is vulgar slang for a woman's external genitals. When the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary inquired decades later where Browning had picked up the word, he directed them to a rhyme from 1660 that went thus: "They talk’t of his having a Cardinall’s Hat/They’d send him as soon an Old Nun’s Twat." Browning apparently missed the vulgar joke and took "twat" to mean part of a nun's habit, pairing it in his poem with a priest's cowl.
Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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