A Lesson in Compassion
Sometimes in life we run into awful people. However, for me, lately awful people have been coming out of the woodwork in mass. First it was the horrible neighbor, then it was the drunk girl at the wedding, now it’s this…
After having a cooped up sick kid, all Claire wanted to do was to go to Eat ‘n Park. What can I say? The kid loves the free cookies. I made plans to meet Carly and Ben at the Eat ‘n Park off the turnpike for an early dinner. Luca wasn’t really having it. I never want to be that Mom who has the unruly kid, but oh lord, I was. He wasn’t being obnoxious, more or less he was just being wiggly and slightly disruptive. I brought him with me everywhere, to the lobby, to the salad bar twice…I was trying. I was already embarrassed enough. Then Miss Nasty Pants came in with her husband and sat in the booth behind us and started reading a book. We were just finishing up and Luca was ready to go. He turned in his high chair and his elbow knocked over his chocolate milk and it spilled all over the floor. He didn’t mean to. I tried my best to clean it. Ben did his best, too. So wasn’t I a little put off when Miss Nasty Pants said rather loudly, “Get that KID out of here.”
Very quickly and silently, I packed up my kids, handed Carly my Discover card and left. She almost made me cry. I mean seriously. I … I just didn’t know what to say with that. At first I didn’t know what she was talking about, but then it went click! in my head and I understood. She was talking about MY kid. In my mind I wanted to say to her, “Really? What do you want from me? I’m doing the best I can. You’ve been here for all of 5 minutes and briefly discussed bombings in Afghanistan. You’re in an Eat ‘n Park. This isn’t a Ruth Chris steakhouse. This isn’t Manhattan. This is Route 8 in Pittsburgh at a family restaurant. You make me sick.” Instead, I just left. I hate confrontation. I mean, really, really hate it. So I left.
That’s when Carly took charge.
I was (and still am) pissed. Let’s set the stage here. The woman was with her husband and they were around 55 or 60 years old. She had a puffy just-came-from-the-hair salon-and-I-think-I’m-important hair do. She was reading a book and discussing (one sided, as her husband was silent) world politics. It was about 6:45 p.m. Dinner time. At a family restaurant. A restaurant where kids come to eat. So, when she said “someone get that kid out of here” I was far more appalled at her behavior than my nephew’s. Yes, Luca was a bit fussy, but he did not once scream uncontrollably or cry or in any way directly impact the other table. Poor Cassie, she was near tears and walked out with the kids. As Ben and I waited for the check, I just stared at the woman. First of all, how dare she call my nephew “that kid.” And secondly, how dare she hurt my sister. One look, and anyone could see that Cassie was doing the best she could, and one look anyone could see that she was a caring mother. But this woman refused to look. Not once did she look up from her book, and not once did she open her eyes to see the situation in front of her for what it really was.
We are all guilty of making rude remarks or judging those we do not know. I’m guilty of this because right after Cassie left, I made my own loud comments about the woman. Who knows, perhaps she was having a bad night, or bad week. The point is, we should all be more mindful about what we say and be aware of our surroundings. The next time we see a struggling mother with two small children, give that woman a break. Perhaps we don’t have kids, but that does not give us license to judge harshly. A little compassion goes a long way.
So, to the mean woman at Eat ‘n Park tonight, I hope you had a pleasant meal and are able to sleep tonight knowing your careless words hurt a young mother. Cassie, you are a wonderful mother and your kids are beautiful. You never need to change a thing.