Sunday, October 26, 2008

The cruelty and kindness of strangers.

Late this afternoon I needed to run to the grocery store to buy some fresh mozzarella for homemade pizza. Vivian had not left the house all day so I asked her if she'd like to go with me. Initially Vivian didn't answer me, but then she returned with her shoes and said, "I am ready to go to the grocery store."

After we parked, Vivian grabbed the box for her Dumbo movie and climbed willingly out of the car. She held my hand and walked with me almost to the store before stopping and saying she wanted to go home. I tried to convince her to come in with me just long enough for me to pick up some cheese, but she insisted on returning to the car. We walked back to the car, climbed back in, sat there for a few minutes, and then she announced, "I am ready to buy some cheese at the grocery store now."

We walked back to the store. I decided not to risk my luck by having her walk but instead got a grocery cart and lifted her into the basket. She was quite content in there. We found our cheese, waited our turn in the express lane and checked out. Right as I was finishing paying, though, she climbed out of the cart, darted out the door (which fortunately was only a few steps from me) and laid down on the sidewalk right outside the door. I hurried to her side and tried to coax her into standing up and walking to the car. She just repeated, "I am lying on the floor. You don't want me to lie on the floor?"

I know from experience that trying to force her to do something when she's acting like this does not work; it merely escalates into her really throwing a fit and fussing and prolongs the misery for me. Usually if I can wait it out, after a minute or two, she'll just stand up and walk with me like nothing was ever wrong. I can't always see these episodes coming nor can I tell with certainly what triggers them, but rest assured, they are not rational and attempts to reason with her or even bribe or threaten her have never been successful.

We weren't blocking the doorway, were off to the side a bit. I sensed people looking at us as they exited the store, but that didn't really bother me. I just calmly kept saying to her, "Come on, Vivian. Let's go to Mama's car and go home. Don't you want to go home? You don't want to stay at the grocery store, do you? Let's go home and see Percy." None of this was working, but neither was the situation worsening. I wasn't in any hurry so I figured I would just wait for her to come around (it wasn't like there was anything else I could do - she's too heavy for me to lift when she's lying on the ground and not cooperating).

I'm not sure how long she'd been on the ground, I'd guess maybe three minutes, when a man walked by and said to me, "This is ridiculous. You need to get that child off the ground and make her behave." I began to say to him, "Sir, I'm doing my best. She's mentally retarded..." when I just lost it and began to cry. He shook his head and walked away.

Immediately two nice ladies stopped and asked if they could help. At this point I had dissolved into sobs. I tried to explain that there wasn't really anything they could do, that I was just upset because a man had made a mean comment to me. One lady rubbed my arm, while the other told me not to worry about the man. Someone from the store came out and asked if everything was okay. Vivian, meanwhile, was oblivious to all this and continued to lie on the ground. One of the ladies brought a cart over and put my grocery bag and purse and Vivian's Dumbo box in the basket. Vivian finally agreed to let me carry her, and the sweet lady pushed the cart to my car for me. Vivian kept saying, "I am so tired. I want to go home." I wanted to scream, "Me too!" but I refrained. Vivian climbed into the car without incident, I thanked the lady profusely for her kindness and help, then I got into the car myself. I sat there and cried for several minutes before I composed myself enough to drive home.

It's sad that though the number of strangers who responded compassionately to Vivian and me way outnumbered the one mean man, it's the ugliness that is sticking with me right now. Hopefully as I calm down and reflect on things, the gestures of kindness will override the singular act of cruelty.

So much for homemade pizza, though. I lost my appetite and ended up ordering in something for the rest of the family.


Anonymous said...

Oh, sweetie, I am so very sorry that you had to deal with that ugly man. I just have this huge lump in my throat. Sending a hug your way. You are the best.


Hopsy said...

You are such a wonderful person and an amazing mother! I am so sorry you had such a horrible experience at the store and I am glad Vivian was not hurt. It is so hard to look past the bad at times and see the good in every situation. You work so hard each and every day and are more patient than most people could ever be. The kindness of those we do not know is something that always stands out- your story today and those from the fair attest to that. Hang in there and tomorrow is a new day!!

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

He just didn't know. He wasn't in your shoes. He wasn't in Viv's shoes.

Keep being a wonderful mom. You'll meet him (and his) again, No doubt. Keep your faith, your strength and keep moving forward.

I know. Trust me, I know.

We made homeade Pizza tonight, too.

KK said...

I know you feel horrible. We had an awful experience with a real jerk on a plane once I when I think about it I can still remember how he made me feel. I still get upset about it to this day. I am so sorry you had to go through this.

Mary Alice said...

Some people just can't see past the end of their own self-centered nose. Bless those that helped you. Kindness is so important.

Debra from Bungalow said...

The kindness of strangers can be amazing, unfortunately there are others who are not so nice too. The ladies who helped you were wonderful and probably were mothers too and recognized your pain. You must be an amazing mother....I can't imagine how much patience it must need to cope. Bless You!

If you have time stop by my blog & join in the favorite products post. I'd love hearing from you.
Take care, DebraK

cherry said...

I there...this is my first visit have a lovely blog..and wanted to sorry for that rotten man. I am soo glad that God sent the other two ladies your way though. I am glad you share these trials with must be an amazing Mother! Cherry

annechovie said...

Thank you so much for your kindness and the comment you left on my blog! I am very sorry that guy was such a jerk to you - I feel your pain. You deserve kudos for being so gracious in response. I admire the great mom you obviously are! I hope your week gets better!

Erin said...

So sorry this happened to you and Vivian! It is hard to understand. I can only tell you that I admire you and I know that you and Vivian will be blessed for your sweetness, your love for each other, and your perserverence. You are such a good mother!

Tyne said...

This is my first time to your blog, I am so sad about the way that man treated you. You sound like you are a great mom, with a heart of love and compassion.

Tickled Pink And Green said...

You are a saint!

3 Peanuts said...

Okay, this makes me so sad. I know that this has to wear on your heart sometimes and for someone to be so cruel. You must have so much patience. Not to defend his cruelty because there is no defense but I am sure he did not know. I will pray for that man tonight....that he gains compassion and understanding and wisdom to hold his tongue when he know not of what he speaks.

You inspire me.


Rachel said...

Oh Eloise - I was just catching up a little bit on your blog. I am so sorry for this experience. I know how it feels to be stared at and get cruel comments. I am so impressed with your patience for your daughter. I have often gotten frustrated and exacerbated what's already a bad situation with my boys.

Hugs to you.