I was leaving the library after weekly story time with both my kiddos. After pulling out of my spot, I briefly stopped at the exit to the parking lot having realized I needed my sunglasses and my daughter needed her headband.
As I turned out of the lot, I looked across the street to see an older woman shaking her head at me with a look of disdain in her eyes.
Apparently this woman disproved of my pausing for a moment to collect myself. In her mind, this may have seemed unnecessary, though I’m fairly certain I was not endangering nor inconveniencing anyone.
I wonder if this stranger would have reacted with any more sympathy had she known I’d been retrieving my sunglasses to prevent myself from getting a headache and my daughter’s headband to prevent her from having a meltdown?
I was already out of sight when I considered gesturing at her in return. But if I could go back, I would instead ask her some questions.
Do you know what it’s like to raise a spirited child? Do you know what it’s like to raise MY spirited child? Do you know what it’s like to raise a child? Do you know what it feels like to get chronic headaches? Do you know what it feels like to be me? And who are you to judge me?
Unfortunately, I know the negativity directed at me was minor compared to what some experience. I know a beautiful (drag) queen who has hateful words carelessly thrown at her when she walks down the street. I know mothers with children with special needs who are the recipients of ignorant looks and comments when trying to get through the checkout line.
There is far too much ugliness in our world. There are the big, blatant kinds of evil and then there are the many, smaller evils that band together to create a general attitude of intolerance and injustice.
Maybe I’ve been watching too much ‘Once Upon a Time’, but I would rather be the good. Whether that means refraining from acting unkind or, even greater, through promoting acts of kindness.
To combat those who direct demeaning comments or actions towards others, lets offer up more signs and words of affirmation to each other. Even if, or maybe especially, in the case of complete strangers.
My one and a half year old extends a smile and wave to every person he sees in the grocery store. I always marvel at how he fails to get discouraged even when nothing is given to him in return. I can’t read his pre-verbal mind, but if I had to take a guess, I think spreading the love makes him feel good.
I will likely never have the opportunity to ask my questions of that woman who shook her head at me, and maybe I don’t want to. Sadly, it is pretty hard to combat hate. But thankfully, it’s just as easy to spread love.