Today, Aidan and I were together running some errands. The first stop was to the theatre because Aidan is in a children's musical in October, and he had to be costumed. Next, we needed a few items at Target.
While we were there, Aidan and I had our usual conversations about life, middle school, the pumpkin mania sweeping the nation this week. As we turned down the juice box aisle, we caught sight of an older woman with three (I assume) grandchildren in tow. A middle-school aged girl was trying to herd an older elementary boy out of someone's while while a preschooler howled in the cart. The grandmother talked loudly on her cell phone, pausing only to shout, "Shut up!" to the kids. I had to nudge Aidan to stop staring.
After they passed by, he turned to me with a scandalized look. "What is wrong with that woman? Why is she so mean to those kids? You would never be like that to us." I explained that not everyone hit the mom jackpot and got me, so he really ought to start Christmas shopping.
No, wait. I'm paraphrasing.
What I actually said is that it is too bad that those kids (who looked like they were walking on eggshells to avoid being screamed at or swatted) weren't able to talk like us and just enjoy a trip to the store.
We finished our shopping, and wouldn't you know it . . . the same people were in line in front of us. The woman was rude to clerk and told the kids to "shut up" again. She rudely answered her phone while the clerk was ringing her up. The clerk had pretty much the same look that Aidan did back in aisle 12.
I greeted the clerk with my usual, "Good morning!" after the grumpy grandmother departed. She looked relieved to be interacting with someone with manners again. Aidan, as usual and without my having to ask, began to load our groceries onto the belt. Once they were rung up, he gathered the bags and put them back into the cart.
I remarked to the clerk that I was sure she saw all kinds of people in her line of work. She emphatically agreed and said that she felt bad for kids that come through the store like the ones we just saw. I told her that I am a teacher, and I shared with her something our principal had told us at the beginning of the year. He reminded us to be kind. We never know what a kid is going through at home, who is screaming at them, who is insulting them, who is ignoring them. They should be able to come to school and feel safe and like they belong. Scenes like those in Target today remind me of that reality. The clerk said that she figured that I am the kind of teacher the kids want to be around.
(Maybe that's why I set up a "living room" sitting area in the back of my room this year. Yeah, safe to say the kids like to be in B206.)
As Aidan and I left the store, I was thinking about the fact that he (and all of my children, really) is so polite and well-behaved. And I rarely yell at them. I was thanking my lucky stars for either hitting the kid jackpot three times or perhaps being kind of decent at this parenting gig . . . . when Aidan saw a praying mantis.
He (naturally) picked it up as I (naturally) searched in my purse for a ziploc bag. Aidan showed it (biggest one of the season!) to passersby. We stopped by Petco for some feeder crickets on the way home.
Now that the bug terrarium is set up, and I've had some time to reflect, I am ever so thankful that my normal includes treating my children like the miraculous gifts they are, being loved and helped by those awesome children, interacting with polite strangers, and rescuing beautiful bugs from disastrous deaths on the windshields of cars. It might seem odd to some, but it's normal to me.