Recently, a group of us moms invaded a nearby park. Now, I realize some of you just got a fresh dusting of snow (whatever that is), but we're a month away from flaming hot monkey bars, and only two months away from having our skin melt off if we remain outside for more than 1.3 seconds, so we're frolicking while we still can. Bless it. Anyway, the park. The moms. The scores of kids. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I just assume that parks are a prime location for kids to be kids, and with that comes the typical kerfuffle between a couple munchkins, who are reveling in their barely-sanctified little souls. We've all seen it transpire, right? Joey threw sand directly in Susie's eyeballs. Katie was hogging the swing. Beth pulled Zachary down the slide. Blah, blah, blah. Then follows the Standard Parenting Protocol. Apologies are issued, kids are redirected, boo-boos are kissed, and so on and so forth. I'm not positive, but I think archaeologists have discovered Neanderthal cave drawings depicting these exact scenarios, because when it comes to kids, there is absolutely nothing new under the sun.
Enters Tantrum Man.
There's nothing quite as sadly amusing and disconcerting as witnessing grow-ups indulge in a class-act conniption that rivals the toddlers at said park.
After exhausting his cache of insults directed at my friend (who is apparently a no-good excuse for a mother. I did not know this!) and her son (who is apparently on the fast track for prison. You know, after Kindergarten and stuff), he decided her friends must be part of the problem. Apparently, by association, we were enabling her non-motheringness, and we must, therefore, also be welfare-abusing, soap opera addicted, lousy mothers. This was all news to me. My friend handled his tirade with more grace than I could have mustered, had I been in her shoes. After he huffed across the sand, I wanted so desperately to stalk over to him and give him a solid piece of my mind. After all, he had assessed my friend and arrived at his ridiculous conclusion all in the span of a few minutes. Impressive superpower. I wanted to tell him of her surprise pregnancy and how she endures severe migraines (so severe that surgery is in her future to address the issue). I wanted to make him feel guilty for making snap judgments, and insulting her so deeply**.
And that's when I heard it.
Speak words of kindness.
Ugh. Of all the times for God to play that card. I double-checked my prepared speech. Nope. No words that passed for kindness. Perhaps if I smiled
Are you not passing swift judgment as well? Are you not judging the whole based on a mere five minutes too?
"Sir, I don't know if you're just having a bad day, or what, but I hope the rest of your day goes well."
I wish I could tell you his entire countenance changed and that we had a little Come to Jesus moment,*** but we didn't. He saw an audience for the encore of his scintillating speech, and seized his fleeting opportunity. I walked away, lest I lose my salvation and have to go to Church Camp to find it again. Perhaps it made a difference to him. Perhaps not...
It's tremendously easy to retaliate by raising the drawbridge and hurling insults across the moat, especially if the entire village participates.**** It's much more difficult to open the city gate, and offer lodging to your enemy. However, if we spend less time judging and throwing temper tantrums, we may just discover new allies along the way.
"If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone."Romans 12:18
Turns out, there's nothing new under the sun for anybody.
Paddling Across The Moat,
*Which you will still find remains of six months later.
**Despite the fact that I'm pretty confident she could have taken him. Never underestimate the power of a scrappy pregnant woman.
***Complete with The Circle of Trust and six verses of Kumbaya.
****Please tell me SOMEONE is reciting Monty Python.