Friday evening, Mac and I walked to the Park. It’s getting darker earlier and I wanted to get some birding in before the light became poor. We covered much of the park and returned to the Boat Lake to feed the ducks. (Because I have apparently created a little quacking mallard loving monster).
As we approached the Lake from a path that was slightly elevated above it, I caught a glimpse of some finches high atop a tree on the opposite side. We’ve seen these birds before and I’m nearly certain they are purple finches but I really want a positive ID before reporting them to others. . .
I lifted my binoculars, wondering if I could get a good photo of them and that’s when I was horribly distracted by a hot noisy mess rounding the bird garden a few feet in front of me.
I stood there frozen: There was a woman, with about 4 boys in tow. Two of them were on bicycles and were racing in front of her. Another on a scooter. The youngest of the 4 was in the throes of some sort of tantrum and she was dragging him along by the arm screaming something to the effect of “We are going home RIGHT NOW! I mean it, get back here! RIGHT NOW!”
And then the smallest boy must have done something to cause her to swat at him, release his arm, cause him to go crashing to the ground and tell him he was being a horrible brat.
I gasped. Oh. My. Completely Parenting Fail.
The older boys were rounding the lake on their bikes, completely disregarding her pleas to “GET BACK HERE!” The youngest was whining and crying and still half dragging himself on the ground.
I was just a few seconds away from her. But in those few seconds something very strange happened in my head: Instead of being my normal judgmental self, I felt so, so, so much sympathy for this woman and all her currently unruly children.
Our paths literally crossed and I gave her my biggest, most sympathetic smile. She stopped, little angry boy twisting and twitching at her feet.
“I’m sure he’s just tired,” she said sheepishly.
I could tell immediately she and I likely came from very different places. She was in need of a lot of dental work and she just looked tired, hard, much older than me, even though I guessed she was likely slightly younger.
“Probably,” I said, “It’s getting a little late.”
And then she told me how they all had “disorders” and they were on medication and they caused her to have chest pains.
“Anxiety,” I said.
“Yes,” she concurred.
“You only have one?”
I told her I only had one.
“Don’t have any more,” she admonished me.
I laughed. . .Maybe a little too loudly.
“Thanks for talking to me” she said.
And as Mac and I quietly fed the ducks, listening to her trying to wrangle all those kids on their way out of the park, I couldn’t help feeling very fortunate. . .for everything. . .
I also made a mental note to schedule a dental appointment.