Wednesday, June 16, 2010

a little overwhelmed by life and the mean mother next to me at the grocery store

I’m feeling overwhelmed by evil people right now, or at least people that act that way. The situation in southern Kyrgyzstan is giving me an anxiety attack. I’m so worried about friends there, so appalled by the violence that has taken place, so angry at those who could orchestrate something like that. I have so many beautiful and kind memories there, memories that take place in a safe and colorful landscape that is now dangerous, pained and charred. At the same time, we’re have continuing problems with our mean former landlord, who refused to let us out of our lease and is now trying to charge us for everything under the sun. And the oil continues to spew out into the ocean.

Just as I’m writing in my journal these worries, evil mother of the world sits in the booth next to me at Whole Foods. She emits a constant stream of harsh, nasty words to her children in Russian – eat! Now! Faster!

I started to glare at her, especially since her super sweet toddler had waved upon first seeing me – a little glimpse of innocence in a world I’m feeling right now is pretty sad. Then I saw the mother slap her daughter across the face as she told her to eat. As she was talking to someone on the cell phone, she started to scream at her daughter (for what, I don’t know - holding a plastic fork?) and shook her arm. By that point, I wasn’t the only person staring at her. She then went back to talking to this person on the phone, who for whatever reason didn’t seek psychiatric help for her, and continued the conversation.

At one point, she told her daughter, “That lady is going to take you away because you haven’t eaten.” She was referring to me. The little girl looked at me. “No,” I said to her in Russian. “I’m not going to do anything to you.” And I gave the mother a nasty look, communicating that yes, I do understand what you are saying and you are a crazy nut.

When it was time to go, she asked her son to take the garbage to the bin. He walked carefully, as though terrified he’d drop something. “You, you can’t do anything,” she said to the toddler girl.

When they left, the little girl waved at me again. “Paka,” I said, bye in Russian. And the feeling of helplessness again overwhelmed me. There went two little people to face anger and abuse and there was nothing I could do. The same way there was nothing I could do to stop the violence across the world that was putting my friends in danger.

“What the hell was that?” the store employee seated nearby asked me when they left. I told him what the lady said about me and how I responded. “Haha! That’s great that you understand Russian!” he said. “I bet she wouldn’t have guessed it in a million years. That’s a slap in the face to her.”

Unfortunately, it’s not really. Especially compared to the slaps the kids are getting.

I know some parents have bad days and some kids act up. But this kid wasn’t doing anything terrible and the mom truly seemed abusive. I know that my ticking her off could just result in more abuse to the kids at home. But she was screaming loud enough to attract the attention of everyone seated nearby. It’s impossible to ignore anyone being treated that way. What does one do in such situations? Is there anything one can do?

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