Last week the girls begged me to drive them to the store for some art supplies for a project they were dying to do. I could write a whole post on going to the store with my 3 littles which include one baby and one 4 year old non-walker--the do I bring the power chair, double stroller or single stroller dilemma?--but that's another post. So we stopped in to a Dollar Store and was bummed to only find 1 of our 3 specific art supplies. We made our way up front to pay for said art supply and when we got to the front of the store there was a scene already playing out. A customer was very agitated at the manager and it was quickly escalating. The customer went from talking loudly, to yelling and threatening the manager in just a few seconds. Cussing, dropping lots of F-bombs, and again threats. OK I wasn't going to go into the whole do I take the power chair or stroller scenario, it actually comes into play so let me just explain. It was a quick trip, I didn't want to take the time to get the power chair on and off the lift, but that also means I couldn't bring the double stroller because I can't open the back of the van with the chair on the lift. So I decided to put Lamp in the single stroller and hold Zuzu. So with a baby on one arm, a diaper bag on the other, Lamp in a stroller, and my 7 year old by my side I'm standing there with my innocent babes, watching this scene unfold and growing more than a little anxious. I am expecting this to come to blows at any second. And the thing is this guy cussing the manager out is sorta blocking the front door so it's not like we can just quietly leave and get out of the situation. Additionally, my hands were literally full and I felt that much more helpless to protect my children should I have needed to.
So we stood there with other customers, looking while trying not to look, and absorbing the tension and anger being carelessly thrown about. As I stood there holding my 7 year olds hand--the only one I think who really saw what was going on--I was hoping I could somehow absorb her share of the anger and ugliness. Fortunately, the angry customer walked out before it escalated into violence. The woman next to me literally sighed in relief.
I still felt an urge to get out of there as fast as possible so we paid and booked it to the car. We stopped in one more store and on the way in I grabbed PSP's hand and asked if she was ok. She nodded. I asked her if that scared her. She nodded again. I agreed and told her it was a scary situation. I told her that there are a lot of scary things in the world, bad people even, but to remember that no matter what there is always more good than bad.
I was saying this for my benefit as well as hers as if speaking those words out loud made it so. Truthfully, I do believe there is more good than bad, but sometimes it's hard to believe as it seems as if the world is filled with ugliness, bad people and evil actions. I am someone who can become easily overwhelmed with dreadful headlines and news stories so I have to actively seek out the good to counterbalance the bad. I know our experience was mild compared to what many people, younger and older, witness on a daily basis. Regardless, I was still frustrated for this scene playing out in front of innocent eyes and me as a mother helpless to do much to shield them this kind of ugliness.
I know they'll be fine, but I also know this won't be the last time they confront these situations and worse. We'll continue to seek out the good in the world--the beautiful, lovely, kind--and hope that those things build a reserve of evil-absorbing antibodies in their hearts and minds. No one gets out unscathed in this life and realistically I don't expect my children never to see 'ugly.' I just hope to present them with enough empirical evidence to prove that there really is more good than bad.
How do you shield your kids from the ugly out in the world? Or do you? Can you? What do you tell your kids when they see or hear about some of the more disturbing, evil or terrible things out there? My kids are too young to really know the details about 9/11, but situations like that come to mind, or even Sandy Hook. Do you think about it like building up a reserve of positive energy, do you talk to them when they've seen the bad? I'm super curious and would love to hear your thoughts.
Art Herbert Pfostl