Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Reece was giggling in the change room as I tried to wiggle out of my wet swimsuit. We had just finished swimming at the local pool and were enjoying a few jokes and giggles as we bundled ourselves up to head outside into the blustery cold just waiting to wrap its winter arms around us.
I tried to keep him giggling. I didn't want him to hear it. A toddler in the other dressing room, upset, hitting her mother. The mother calmly at first, and then not so calmly, telling her we don't hit. I tried my best to keep the jokes and giggles going, I didn't want him to hear. I could tell things were escalating. Then a loud slap and a crying child.
My. heart. sank.
Reece, now concerned, as the child cried, began to ask questions. I wasn't quite sure what to say. And as I think back I am not even sure what I said. I just gathered up our stuff and left as fast as we could.
This has been on my mind all weekend. And the question I keep asking myself is: What If?
What if...she had felt comfortable enough to ask for help? To allow herself a moment to step away and take a deep breath.
What if...I had felt comfortable enough to knock on the change room door to offer help, so she could take that moment?
What if...our society was more open to helping each other?
What if...I didn't feel afraid to offer help, afraid that I might offend her, or make her feel like I was judging her?
What if...just keeps coming up in my head.
It takes a village doesn't it? At what point did we stop reaching out, or the better question might be, at what point did we close ourselves off so much so that we can't lend a helping hand.
It was obvious to me in the pool that this child was a fun, loving, energetic child. I have no idea what happened earlier in the day, what was going on in their world. What I do know is a message of we don't hit does not get translated when the person giving it reaches out and hits.
I keep thinking about the scenario, wondering what I could have done, or should have done. I wish I had the courage to step in, but the truth is I didn't. I have been asking myself why, and it all comes back to fear. Fear of what I might get myself into, fear of her reaction, fear of her feeling judged...fear.
I will never know what might have happened if I had done something. Maybe she would have said thank you, I could use a minute to gather my thoughts. Or maybe she would have told me it was none of my business.
I will never know. But what I do know is our society has changed. The village we need isn't there. I am working hard to build my village; a village to be there when I need them and to be there when they need me. We can't do this alone, we are not meant to do this alone. No other generation ever has. We need each other.