I am the grouchy lady standing behind the young father in Williams Sonoma telling his sticky-fingered five-year-old: “No touch, please.” The darling is pulling large pots off the shelf, squealing in delight as they clatter to the floor in all their copper finery. In my day, we didn’t beg our kids not to destroy merchandise in high-end stores. We tied their hands to their strollers, gave them the stink-eye, and hissed: “Don’t make me have to talk to you.” They didn’t have a chance. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
What’s with these young parents? They cajole, reason, rationalize and explain basic principles to their kids who seem to run rough shod over them. I wonder if they realize that grouchy ladies with stink-eyes are watching. I doubt that they care.
The other day while standing in line at Whole Foods, my eye caught sight of a cherubic red-haired demon grabbing four copies of Breathe magazine from its rack. His father, a seemingly calm parent undoubtedly determined to be a different sort than his own father, patiently removed three magazines from Dan’s meaty little fingers, explaining that perhaps other people might like to read them. What? grouchy-lady me wondered. Why not just tell the tyke that this is not for him, and put all four issues back where they belong? Humph, it seems that these young parents are fearful of imposing lifelong harm on their offspring if they discipline them appropriately. Never happened in my day.
While I was standing there stewing in my own grouchy juices, I grabbed one of those now-sweaty magazines that Dan’s dad had placed back on the rack and pondered the philosophy contained within. Breathe magazine touts itself as “…the original mindfulness mag for a calmer and more relaxed you…” I had enough time to skim through articles about meditation, inspiration and yoga. Parked behind Dan, who had now moved onto plucking candy from the rack (note to Dan’s dad: hello? there’s a checkout line that doesn’t contain candy. Try it next time, why don’t you?) I felt my breathing relax and the pinpricks of judgment and agitation melt from my skin raw from the 5-degree January weather. My frozen smile, much like the hardened winter ground outside, began to thaw.
A feeling of warmth spread throughout me as I looked up at departing Dan and his dad, and I heard myself say: “Have a nice day.” I resisted a further urge to mutter Namaste, a new vocabulary word I picked up in Breathe, which means “I bow to you.” Although I have no doubt that Dan’s dad would have nodded and bowed in response. Perhaps even the now calmer Dan would bow in turn. (note to self: did Dan’s dad get him to calm down by gently reminding him of good behavior and avoiding a supermarket meltdown? I wish I’d known that in my day.)
Perhaps I would not have experienced my newfound, maybe short-lived, feeling of peace had I not been stuck in that long checkout line. All I know for sure is that grouchy-lady me didn’t even complain! Dan and his dad were my teachers for a small window of time. Maybe they imparted a fresh approach to my own usual supermarket meltdowns. Time will tell.