You could hear her screaming “sit down” at her son all the way at the other end of aisle one. They were in front of the wall of peanut butter. Her son, who was about 6 years old, was standing in the cart. She didn’t believe he’d sit, he didn’t believe he felt like obeying her, and I thought I could help. I found out quickly, there wasn’t any help for them.

Fiona climbing a tree on

Sometimes when kids misbehave and make a scene, they can get a good scare from a stranger in the store telling them to have a seat and they’ll suddenly behave and the Mother will thank you. So far, it has worked every time. I knew a little girl who fell out of a cart onto her head in this grocery store. And it wasn’t the falling and hitting her head on the floor that messed her up as much as the trauma of being Medivac-ed (helicopter ride) to a Baltimore hospital. Poor girl, she had behavior problems for a while afterwards. But in this boy’s case, those behavior problems were already here.

But when I told the kid to sit down and that the manager of the store would be upset to see him standing in the cart, he didn’t flinch. He and she were engaged in a struggle that went way beyond this moment in this day and this grocery store. He was her burden, her struggle, her disappointment, her reason to hate her existence. And he had his own agenda to prove his power that didn’t include me.

As I realized I’d made a grave misjudgment of their circumstances, and as she struggled to try to shove him back down into the seat, not daring to strap him in but yelling for him to sit again and again, I muttered that I really thought my interruption would have scared him just enough. But the truth was, nothing scares him more than being unloved. And nobody can help him.

Fury and frustration,

ignorance and outrage

occupies their souls every day.

No resolution and few apologies,

Then it repeats

I realized as I rolled down the pasta and sauce aisle, his circumstances are robbing him of his childhood and I got tears in my eyes. Sometimes you just can’t help people. Both adults and children have their own fates. These are their lives to live through and live out and you can’t help them. You can be compassionate but you will effect no beneficial change.

tea party on

It broke my heart when later,  a couple of aisles down, I heard his voice change from pre-juvenile delinquent boy to just a little boy’s voice saying something to his Mommy. I think they were in the check-out and the line way moving slowly. I heard her begin again to complain about him to anyone who would listen, the burden of her misery balanced on his little shoulders.

His fate sucks.

I sped down the next aisle emerging later to thankfully find them gone. Sometimes you just can’t help and that is the hardest thing to know, especially when it comes to children. That beautiful little boy is living out his destiny and I wish him and his people all the miracles that they can get their hands on in the future. And I hope I never see them again.

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  1. You are such a compassionate soul Shalagh! I would’ve found this very upsetting too. But as you say, we can’t help everyone. I try to help children & parents (when I see this happening) by sending them love instead. Sam xox

    1. It’s always in the grocery store that I get to see this. I usually would never “help”. Maybe sending love helps create a barrier for your own soul too. Thanks Sam for reading.

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