The other day I went to the post office, an errand that always reminds me of a day about four years ago.
Sonny and Ace, then 3 and 1, and I were in line to mail a package. As waited, a woman on her way out of the building glanced down at my sons and then at me and announced in a voice leaking scorn, “I sure don’t miss those days.” And on her way she went.
What? Sonny and Ace were just standing there quietly. They weren’t throwing fits, begging for snacks, running, or kicking the nice man in front of us. They were not having any sort of bathroom issue. They were in no way channeling Caillou. They were not robbing the stamp machine. They were not doing anything that could be construed as annoying, even to that demographic who tend to conveniently forget that they, too, were once children, and imperfect ones at that. They were just standing there. Quietly.
I did not understand what had motivated this drive-by show of contempt. But I refrained from asking Ms. Grouchy Pants what had crawled into her Cheerios and died that morning and simply ignored her—outwardly, that is. Inwardly I was rather miffed.
It doesn’t take much to diminish someone.
A few minutes later, our business completed, we headed back to the car. On the path we met another woman. Her wrinkles had settled in all the right places, mapping out decades of smiles. She looked down at my sons with fondness and then looked at me.
“Well,” she said. “Well. Aren’t you lucky!”
Yes! Yes, I was. My irritation vanished.
The woman smiled at each boy and at me, nodded in emphasis, and went on her way.
It doesn’t take much to encourage someone.
Thank you, Woman Number Two.
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” –Seneca
Great set of stories. That quote from Seneca is perfect.
The first woman probably was actually Caillou’s mother, finally letting out some of that repressed anger after all these years.
Ha ha! 😀 That would explain everything. If it was his mother, I’ll definitely give her a pass!
Miserable old bugger! How could you look back and say you don’t miss those very young years? I already get nostalgic and mine are only 9 and 7!
Agreed! Most people’s selective memories tend to run rosily: “Oh, enjoy every minute because every single minute is wonderful! So very wonderful!” I get nostalgic already too. Can’t imagine how I’ll feel in 20 or 45 years!
Exactly! It must be horrible to get old and be bitter!