Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thanks, Stranger

"Blessings and strength!" says the woman in the grocery store. She grabs my arm as I pass. "I have four of my own! And a boy! Blessings and strength for you!"

The girls had already nearly upset the empty shopping cart when they both tried to climb on the back at the same time. "Whoops!" I sort of shout. "That's why we don’t ride like that! Now, who needs to go pee-pee?"

I'm loud in public. I narrate the shopping list, ask the girls questions, rally with "okay, here we go!" The chatter is my own cheering section, a foghorn warning of our approach and a veiled call for help, if you have the desire and fearlessness to answer. Today this woman's blessing was exactly what I needed.


Ann said...

Yes, yes, yes to all of this, to your narration, to the clamoring children, to the perceptive stranger. Yesterday, after my 5yo cried because I wouldn't switch seats with her on a moving bus, because I was tired and grumpy after a full morning at the zoo, after I'd scolded her for twice running full-sprint away from me into a crowd, I finally picked her up by the armpits and dropped her roughly into my seat. In front of a busful of staring onlookers. I apologized to her quietly, and then more loudly explained how frazzled I felt, how I'd worked so hard to have a happy morning, and I felt worn out and sad. I wish I'd had that stranger sitting next to me.

Cindy Fey said...


Blessings and strength from me to you, sister.

2KoP said...

I've been thinking about your camping trip ever since I saw you at the grocery yesterday. Hope you had a blast.

My twins were born very prematurely and did not talk until they were four (at least not English as we know it). I had been instructed by speech therapists to keep up a running patter with them to encourage their language acquisition. We were quite a site in the grocery store, one small baby in a backpack, one in a car seat hitched to the shopping cart and two portable oxygen tanks in the well of the cart.

My grocery patter would sound something like this:

"Here's the yogurt aisle, guys. What kind of yogurt should we get today? Should we get the blueberry yogurt or the vanilla yogurt? …"

OK, bad enough to sound like a blithering idiot running off at the mouth about yogurt, but I can't tell you how truly embarrassing it was when I found myself doing it when the twins were home with a sitter and I was alone in the store. Sad to report, that happened many times. I was sure the manager at Dominick's was going to try to have me committed.

Fortunately, I ran into only a few grouches during those years. Blessings and strengths to the good Samaritans who have rachmones (Yiddish for compassion) for mothers of young children. Paradise holds a special place for them.