the gift of anger and embarrassment

There was the morning (unfortunately not an atypical morning, I must confess), there was the morning our youngest pitched a fit about walking to school. I really don’t know what that was about. It certainly wasn’t that she can’t. It’s not even that she absolutely doesn’t like to walk because on the way home from school, she often chooses to walk back with a friend even when I’m there to pick her up in the car. Maybe she’s just not a morning person (at least that feels better than that she prefers the company of her friends to her family!)

So she threw a fit, and it was a royal fit indeed—a true tantrum—loud—shrill—and oh so very, very public! She screamed her way down the street about half a block behind us. And other parents either quite intentionally did not look our way at all, or passed by with ruefully empathetic smiles, saying, “Hang in there, Dad,” or “Been there,” or some words to that effect.

After, eventually … finally, getting to the school, dropping the girls off, and walking back to the house (so enjoying the quiet!), I saw a neighbor hustle out of her house on the other side of the street, looking at me intently between checking for traffic this way and that way, purposefully crossing the street, urgently headed straight for me.

And she said, “I happened to be looking out the window this morning and saw—”

I nodded, “Yeah, yeah, I know what you saw!”

“No, no,” she went on, “I want you to know it really reached out to me. I had such a bad day yesterday with my daughter. She was so antagonistic. It was so hard, and I felt so alone—like I was the only one—like no one else had to deal with anything like this. To see you this morning …, it fueled me. It was gift. It was just what I needed.”

“Well,” I said, after a moment, “I’m glad it was good for someone!”


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