Another snow storm is predicted. There is instant chaos at the supermarket; people acting as if they may never leave their homes again to shop for food.
In the midst of the crowd of panicky shoppers arises a disturbingly sharp earpiercing cry. The dreadful noise is emanating from a small child sitting on the floor under the Frosted Flakes and Chocolate Cheerios.
Turning into aisle 4 is a weary woman pushing a cart containing bread, peanut butter and baby. The family vignette is completed by middle child walking beside mother. Mom doggedly pushes onward, blinders and ear plugs symbolically in place. She will complete this errand before the snow imprisons them no matter what.
Periodically Big sister steals back to observe younger sibling. Vesuvius is still erupting.
I am on a long check out line, compelled to witness the drama playing out before my unwilling eyes and ears. If I could block those headache-inducing screams I would. I feel sorry for the miserable child, sorry for the exhausted mother and sorry for the go-between sister.
Could I help?
I could sidle up to Miss Shrill, look her straight in the eye and say,
“You are so lucky!” She would look at me with huge teary eyes and think,
“This strange lady thinks I’m lucky?”
Then I’d wow her with my grandmotherly insight and understanding of childhood frustrations.
“I have a little granddaughter”, I’d say, whipping out my photos. I’d introduce her to Violet, and validate my status as grandmother. “She’s too little to talk. So when she’s upset all she can do is scream and cry. But YOU; you can use your words to tell mommy what you want.”
Then she would miraculously stop crying. She would be relieved to have a reasonable grown up to talk to. All would be well. Mom would return, grateful for my intervention, thankful to me for saving her frustrating morning.
BUT what if the child started screaming even louder in shock or fear when I approached her? What if protective Mom charged over to the appeasement site and said,
“Who do you think you are? Why don’t you mind your own business? Get away from my child!”
Or worse, what if she accused me of being a molester or kidnapper? What if a posse of shoppers rode over to protect the defenseless babe from ME?
What if they called in the traffic cop from outside? What if he arrested me? What if, what if…
“May I help you?”
My reverie is broken. The long check out line finally propels me forward to the cashier, where I pay my bill and walk out of the store, all my good intentions and sage wisdom left behind.