“Sit down in my thinking chair and think. Think. Thiiink.” – Blues Clues
Do you ever have one of those moments? Those moments that make you stop and think hard, and you keep thinking about that moment long long after it has past? I have had three of those moments this weekend. I thought I would share.
At Target, I ran into a couple moms I know. I know them through my children. We are not particularly close but it’s always good to see these moms, say hello, chat a bit. And so that’s what we were doing. We had not seen each other much over the summer, our kids were in school, starting playgroups, bladdy bladdy blah… there was lots to catch up on.
I am not sure what we were talking about but suddenly, one mother lowered her voice to a whisper and said something like “that’s what a black person would do.” Before I could even think at all, I said “Well, gotta get going, I’ll see you ladies later!” And turned and left. Just like that. It was a gut thing. I just reacted. I didn’t like what I heard, I was offended, and I bolted.
I will admit right here, that has not always been my reaction either. In the past, I have ignored statements like this but carried on the conversation like nothing happened. Or changed the subject. Or tried to find an out for my friend – surely they didn’t mean it the way it sounded – and have allowed them to use the famous disclaimer “not that I am racist or anything”. I have never been proud of myself in retrospect – where I try to smooth over and actually normalize the moment. I may as well have said it myself.
This time I couldn’t ignore it. But I didn’t say anything either. I didn’t say ” I found that remark offensive.” I just bolted. I guess the message may have come across that I didn’t like what she said. Or it could have come across that I just had to go. I dunno. I am not sure how I feel about my reaction and I can’t stop thinking back about it.
We went to Busch Gardens this weekend. We have “fun passes” and go fairly often. Theme parks are to Florida what the Smithsonian is to Washington D.C. We take for granted what people travel for miles with families to see and do.
Anyway, my 5 yo son T. and I were in line for the Flume. You know which ride this is – the log ride – with the big drop at the end where we get all wet. T. is dying to be old enough for roller coasters and this was his first time on a ride with a big drop. So we were really excited – giggling and chatting, we were all wound up about it.
As we were only a few people away from jumping onto our own log, I heard a violent thump from behind me. I turned and saw a woman, slumped back in her husbands arms, eyes rolled up in her head, and an enormous gash – maybe 6 inches across – on her forehead. She had fainted and hit her head on the stairs. Blood was everywhere. We yelled for help, the Busch Gardens attendants were unsure – radioing managers, grabbing paper towels, running, whispering, clueless. I saw the hands of the girl with the paper towels, she was shaking.
Since we were ahead of the woman who fainted, they ushered us onto the flume and off we went. My heart in my stomach: for T. who had never done this before and for this woman, and all the blood, and the moment she was in.
After an exhilarating splashdown, squeals of delight and “let’s do it agains” from T., we pulled back around to get off our ride. I then heard the announcement that the Flume would be closed due to “technical difficulties”. I stepped off and carefully helped T. off too.
And thats when I saw the two boys. They were maybe four and seven. They were huddled together on the stairs, quite a few feet away from the woman lying on the ground. Obviously, they were her sons. They were crying quietly, the older boy had his arms around the younger boy; now and then he would pat his cheek or rock him gently. Like Hansel and Gretel, holding onto to one another, in utter shock, their world had just turned upside down.
I looked to see who was helping them. No one. Their father was too consumed with helping his wife and talking to the paramedics arriving on the scene.
And we were being pushed along and asked to exit on the right.
But those boys. There was a large fence separating where T. and I were and those boys. If only I could have stopped and stayed with those boys. If only I could have offered them some comfort. They were alone, they were too young to know it was going to be ok, they were utterly distraught, they had seen their mommy fall, they saw so much blood. All I can think now is how they will remember that horrible moment for the rest of their lives. Their mother was fine, all would be well, children have seen worse, but my heart broke for those boys in that moment.
I was in Wal-Mart this morning. (OK, ok, I know. I hear your booing. I’ve already said my piece on that place before. With our meager, pathetic, shoe-string budget, it is what it is.) I can’t believe it’s September already, and naturally, my mind is starting to gear up for the holidays. So we were wandering the aisles in the toy section. C. was starting to feel impatient for lunch and I knew my time was running out.
Suddenly C. said “Oooooh, Mama. Baby. Toe TOOT!” (Translation: Oh, mommy, that baby is so cute!) He saw a doll haphazardly left behind on the wrong shelf. C. adores babies. He can hardly keep his hands off any of my friend’s babies. They light up his world, I mean it.
Well, a lightbulb went off in my head. How can it be this child does not have a doll when he loves babies this much?
So off I wheeled in search of a cheap, small baby doll for C. Where could they be?
Oh. Right. The “pink” section.
I have two boys. I don’t get to the pink section often. And I gather all dolls are in the pink section, the girl section. So, into the pink I wheeled. And bingo. There, between the hideous Hannah Montana dress up crap and the Bratz dolls (What the HELL are they about! Ah!), there was a small section of dolls. He played with a few. We picked one out. It has a little hat and a pacifier as accessories. And as excited as he was, he shocked me by being so gentle with that doll. Carefully cradling it, jibber jabbering little comments to the doll, giving it the pacifier, hugging it, patting its head. He played with it all the way to the register, had the doll sitting next to him in his car seat home, on the floor next to him during lunch and, currently, the doll is tucked in T.’s bed across the room from C. as he takes his nap.
So I am glad we found that doll. It’s perfect.
But I couldn’t help but mutter how crazy it is that the only dolls to be found were in the PINK section.
WHAT. BOYS can’t EVER have a doll?
WHAT. BOYS aren’t ever NURTURING?
WHAT shouldn’t I be encouraging my boy to nurture small babies, to be a good parent some day, for crying out loud!?
Cleary, dolls are for girls. Found only in the PINK section. UGH. GAG.
I should probably mention one thing, however. You know, that the baby we got? He’s dressed in blue. I assume he is a boy doll. And who picked that color out? I did. What was my point? Did I think that having him play with a boy doll, assuming he is a boy because he is in blue, makes boys playing with dolls THAT much more ok? Like “It’s ok, its a DUDE doll.” The blue doll assures that C.’s masculinity is still intact?
So whats that say about me?
Clearly, this Monday, I am lost in my own thoughts. And once again, obviously thinking way too hard about stuff going on around me. But I am guessing these kinds of moments will happen again. And what better home for them but here.
I hope you have a wonderful and less “over thought” start to your week.