Tuesday, June 11, 2013

One of those days

It's been one of those days. Not a horrible day. Not a tragic day, thank you, grilled cheesus. If I were to be honest instead of whiny, I'd have to say some good things happened today. But it was still one of those days.

You know those days. right? I fired up the grill to cook some salmon and corn on the cob for Coraline and me, and just as it got hot, the skies opened up. Of course I overcooked the salmon because I couldn't keep a good eye on it unless I stood out in the rain.

And I've chased several big, loud black flies around my house all day. They defy me by never landing. Just fucking buzzing .... buzzing ..... buzzing .....

And fruit flies.

And a smelly dead blue jay on my sidewalk that's too far gone to pick up.

I started this morning by running to the grocery store for soup ingredients. When I do big shopping, I go back to the nice Kroger in the nice suburb I lived in for 20 years even though it's a longer drive. When I just need a few things, I go to the closer Kroger that looks nice enough from the outside, but doesn't live up to its veneer. The one where the employees all act like they hate the customers -- or would if they were to crawl out of their own dead-eyed apathy long enough to feel anything. Zombies are more courteous. Where the check-out conveyors are so dirty I'm reluctant to put my food down on them. Where the bedding plants and hanging baskets are kept inside the entryway instead of along the side of the building where they can be stolen. It's a little rougher in the close Kroger. 

And where a woman with three kids found it necessary, after yelling, "I said, 'Fucking keep up!'," to slap her 3-year-old across the face on their way to the pharmacy. And then a few minutes later to yell at her to "get her shit because [her] sister left [her] shit on a chair." Note: a child who is close enough to slap is probably keeping up as well as she can, but probably wants to stay out of arm's reach because she might fucking get slapped.

Jesus. And please. I don't need anybody to tell me I should have called CPS. What she did is loving and kind compared to what they have to deal with. It's not abuse. I have a degree in social work. I know when to call.

And don't tell me I should have said something to Mom. What I wanted to do was stand up to my full super-hero height of 10 feet, slap her, and say, "Bitch, I guess you don't remember what it feels like to be little and helpless and to have somebody enormous slap you up the side of your head in the grocery store. Well, I'm your guardian angel because I'm here to remind you so you don't raise yet another generation of child slappers. Are you keeping up with me or do I need to remind you again?" Because I would bet everything I own she already knows what it's like to be little and feel that slap coming down. And I also know anything I said would only make things worse for the little girl later on.

I couldn't wait to get home and make some soup.

Late, toward evening, my granddaughter Coraline and I took a walk down to the art museum where she likes to visit a giant black steel lion sculpture named Yee-oh (Leo), who gazes with royal imperiousness over the river, which Coraline calls earth juice. We go down there almost every Tuesday now.

Sitting under Yee-oh
When two other little girls about 5 years old showed up, she was delighted and ran over to play with them. They said "hi" and then ignored her like older kids often do toddlers. Shortly after, someone who might have been their mother followed behind them with an older girl and a boy who was maybe 3. The mother was bone thin, blonde and tan, in barely shorts and 5-inch platform wedges.

The girls sat down on a park bench, and Coraline climbed up beside them, laughing with unrequited delight. The mom, who hadn't said "hi" or even made eye contact with either of us, although she was 4 feet away, told the girls to get off the bench. She was obviously uncomfortable. Maybe the rest of her shorts were wedged up her ass with a stick.

They got down and she told them to stay off the stairs, the stone wall, the grass, and the bench again. She seemed to both want them to just stand like statues on the sidewalk and wait with her for someone who was apparently late, and to stay the hell away from her so she didn't have to deal with them. At one point she muttered to herself, "God! I am waiting here with 4 kids. I can't believe this."

She never did make eye contact, but she made sure her kids stayed away from Coraline (and any fun). It reminded me of the "your favorite color is the color of poop" experience I had with Elvira when she was about 3, which I wrote about here.

I suspect this time it was Coraline's many tattoos, her purple toenails and her rock-and-roll t-shirt. Or maybe it was my baggy capris and my utilitarian sneakers, but really, who knows why some people are exceptionally rude?

Also who knows why people do what stick-up-her-ass mom did next. She had been carrying the 3-year-old boy because he kept trying to walk away from her on this wide sidewalk with an acre of grass beside it. Because that's what kids do: they explore. And if you don't want them to because your shoes are too fucking high to follow them around, then you'd better stay home, sit them in front of the TV and put a stop to that running around nonsense. Otherwise, kids are going to play.

I digress. The little boy got about 3 feet from from the woman before she scooped him back up. I didn't see what he did next because I was collecting Coraline and getting her out of there.

As we walked past, the mom grabbed his arm hard and slapped his hand several times. In a low, mean voice she said, "Don't hit. Don't ever hit. Hitting is wrong!" And then she hit him one more time just so he wouldn't forget .... that hitting is wrong.

Again, I did not turn on her. My self-control today has been fucking phenomenal. Also I don't want to have to call my kids to come bail me out of jail. They'd never let me forget it.

However, in a passive-aggressive conversational tone I said to Coraline, who was beside me but ready to take off on the next adventure, "That's the stupidest thing I've heard and seen in a long time. I feel sorry for that little boy." She just ran ahead toward a big orange sculpture and called back, "Orange! Orange!"

I'm glad all she saw today was orange and Yee-oh and a river of earth juice and the wheels on the bus as it passed below on the street and a man walking a dog. And kids who, for all she knew, were her new best friends for a few seconds. That's all she saw. For now. Someday she won't be so innocent, and I'm not ready for that day to come. I don't want her eyes to ever be as jaded as mine are.

And yet, how will she change the world if she doesn't see it as it is?


Yes, it's been one of those days. Tomorrow night I'll be writing from the beautiful Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio. I'm sure I'll have an entirely new perspective by then. For now, I'm going to pour a glass of wine and hunt down that last fucking fly that's been buzzing my head the entire time I've been writing this. That's something I can justify smacking.

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