No consideration, he shouts, nodding to his friends. A little quiet, please, kids. Quiet! Thye don’t even apologize. His gaze fixes on me. Aren’t you even going to apologize? You’re not going to say you’re sorry?
I’d really only just tuned in to him. He was sitting at a table at the Boloco we’d just eaten at, with three other moms and 5 other kids, outside, looking at the little town square our kids had been tearing round. I recognized him–Lily and Wyatt had cut him off, earlier, racing across on some mission, and I had apologized, although probably a little perfunctorily. Frankly, I’m tired, and I’m not really at my public best just now. That was about forty-five minutes before this encounter, and the kids had been racing around the square, not quietly, the whole time.
Truly, I don’t know if their behavior was atrocious. I’m usually pretty sensitive. And I had stopped them, several times, and finally persuaded them to stop running right in front of people and to either walk or stick to the grass. Beyond that–other than the shrill group shout that had greeted the news that we were adjourning to someone’s house and prompted the complaint about the noise–I hadn’t really thought about it. We were outside, in the middle of the day…I don’t know. It hadn’t been that long or bad a morning, but it had been a whole morning, and I finally had a couple of adults to talk to.
I just looked at him. Wyatt was asking me something, and Lily pestering my other side, and there he was, angry, glaring. Aren’t you going to apologize? And I just couldn’t deal.
Nope. I shook my head and said it. Nope.
And then I asked Wyatt to throw his cup away, and he did, and we left.
And that was that, except that it’s still bothering me. I’m tough about public behavior–maybe I lapsed. We were with a group of friends, in a very familiar place, and there was a game going on that I didn’t like, but one of the other mothers had started it, and it was funny, that was making them run across the square. One the one hand, I didn’t get angry, or defend them, or shout or curse at the guy–all things I might easily have done. On the other, I do wish I’d just…apologized. No skin off my nose, after all. I’m sorry my kids disturbed your lunch, I could have said. And that would have been that. That would have been the answer that turneth away wrath, the accepting, absorbing thing to do, and probably the thing that would have enabled me to just let it go. I don’t want them to disturb anyone. I suspect their behavior was on the borderline, and I don’t really want that, either.
So I feel bad that my kids weren’t good citizens today, and that I barely noticed, and that I didn’t just deflect the anger directed at all of us. I didn’t do too badly, I guess. I didn’t absorb it and turn it back, which would have been so easy to do. So, a day of semi-spiritual growth. Sort of.