In the town yesterday, by the bank, I watched a man and his little boy. The child was maybe three – still on reins but looking a bit old for that. You would have had to keep me on reins too, to make me stay with that man. Tall and meaty, glum, tattooed, buzz-cut hair, surly. The child cried persistently. Every now and then the man said to him “Shut up,” in a dispassionate, uninvolved kind of way. Through his tears the child was trying to tell him something, ask about something, protest about something. The only reply he got from his father was “Shut up.”
After a while, his voice full of weak despair, the child said twice, heart-felt: “Go away.”
What do you do? How do you help? Please don’t suggest to me I might strike up a chummy conversation with the man. He wasn’t that kind of man, and I’m not that kind of woman. Please don’t ask me how I know the man was the child’s father – what else would have induced him to spend five minutes of his precious time with a small child?
There is no defence in me against this.
I don’t go into the town very much, because there is so much evidence of similar family relationships, and it twists me up inside. I do my shopping on the internet.
The Wretched Wretch is permanently on the go and requires constant attention. I have never once heard his mother say to him “Shut up”. When he cries she stops, goes to him, holds him, asks what the matter is. If he has a tantrum she stops, talks it through with him, waits until he has command of himself and asks him to explain, then deals with the problem as he sees it. I am a lot less patient. Sometimes I will say, “Oh get a grip!” or “Give it a rest!” or some such unsympathetic thing. But I cannot imagine the situation arising in our home where a child would be reduced to saying, in a voice emptied of everything but despair, “Go away”, to his parents. I and our children’s father have character flaws by the handful, but we usually had time to listen, and we were on their side.
I tried to put this incident out of my mind, prayed the Ho’oponopono prayer all round town to soak the interface between my soul and that family with peace; but today it is still with me, and the child’s hopelessness and defeat is lodged in the pit of my stomach like a dark damp stain, bleeding into me.
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)
About a million bits of assorted hardware, all Freecycled.
A bin. And something that looks like the top of a lamp. Plus whatever else was stashed inside. What we could of these sort of bits and pieces (most of them) we Freecycled. For the rest, our town dump had (no longer has - but the one at Mountfield has) a shop for re-usable items.