Tonight I had an experience that was less than peaceful. I was in the parking lot of a store and a woman was walking out with a small girl who was maybe 2 or 3 years old. The child was crying loudly and the mom was clearly frustrated. First of all, they had just come out of a costume store that has many scary displays in it, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she had been frightened by something in the store. For a small person like that, the large displays of monsters and blood covered babies would be frightening I’m sure. Obviously I know nothing about the Mom or how her day was or what her life is like. I do know she had the girl by the wrist and was dragging her along. She leaned down and said something like, “Stop crying or I’m going to smack you in the mouth.” I don’t remember if the word was smack or not it was something forceful like that, not slap, but I do remember that she threatened to hit her in the face. This of course did not stop the child from crying. So she leaned down again and said, “Do you want me to smack you in the mouth?” If it hadn’t been so sad it would have almost been comical. What kind of question is that? Who on earth would say yes to that question?! But it was too sad to be comical. Now trust me, as a parent I understand frustration and your children pushing you to the edge of your patience. We have all been there as parents. But her threat to hit the child in the face carried a violence with it that I could feel from 20 feet away. Our words carry energy of their own. As I heard someone say recently our words are create-tive. We create with them. I didn’t want to imagine what was being created for that little girl. My hope is that it was just a moment of frustration rather than and action waiting to happen.
The other difficult part of it was that I honestly didn’t know what to do. I wanted to intervene in some way but I feared that if I spoke to her I could make things worse for the girl. I didn’t even think particularly peaceful thoughts in the moment since I was worried about the child. How do I bring peace to a moment like that? I certainly don’t feel like I did tonight. I’m not sure what the right thing would have been to do. I wish I had thought of something brilliant in that moment to diffuse the situation. I think the best I can do at this point is to continue to send love to the little girl and should I come across a situation like that again, remember to stay in my own peace so that I can, at the very least, radiate it to them both.
And as I’m reading back through this I can see and feel the judgment I had toward the mother. Like I said I know nothing about her life – not that it would excuse hurting a child, but surely they both are deserving of peace. Maybe it is she who needs it most of all and yet in my judgment I’m sure I would have offered it to the child before the mother. Maybe if someone had offered her a little peace and understanding somewhere along the way she wouldn’t have been in the emotional state she was in to start with. I guess offering peace to all every moment may have an impact I can’t even imagine. Yet another reason to keep practicing. Clearly I’m still learning.