Random Word Story # 32~ Moving Along to Nowhere

5211895183_cc7770c5dd_bcombatant…hard…fantastic…square…habitual…defector

Here is my story:

There was something dark about the store clerk at the new Dollar General. She stood with rounded shoulders, and a defeated look in her eyes, as I approached the counter to check out. I would have guessed that she was much older, if we weren’t face to face. She was not much beyond the age of twenty, as I would learn, yet had the demeanor of a lone surviving combatant from a long lost battle.

Her southern drawl set her apart even further.

“You aren’t from around here, young lady.” I said.

“No ma’am. I’m from Alabama. Been he’ ah for two weeks, or so. I’m hopin’ to bring my kids he’ah soon.”

“My… you have children? You’re just a young thing.”

“I was twenty last month and I’ve got three baby boys back home with my momma. Their daddies were scumbags and I cum up here and met the love of my life for sure!”

Her grin was bright and happy but the sadness in her eyes did not fade. She nervously chewed on the side of her tongue as we spoke. It occurred to me that she may have been a beautiful child, once upon a time. Her face was heart-shaped and she had large blue eyes but her hair, seemed as though it was as stressed as her posture, with frizzy ends on a carelessly gathered ponytail.

I saw her as a defector. She’d left her children, after all, while pursuing what I could only imagine was an habitual trail of scumbags. Without having to ask, she went on…

“Met James on the internet. He’s going to bring my boys up soon and we’re buyin’ a house too.” She grinned as her eyes looked through me to an imagined “happy place”.

“That is fantastic! A new beginning, in a new place. I’m happy for you.”

Then I noticed  scars in both of her thin eyebrows and one that ran along her chin too. As she packed my items, her hands trembled.

My, too quickly made judgement, softened as I asked myself, “Why  do so many young ladies have to live such hard lives?”. I felt the urge to hug her and to tell her that things would get better…that she would find her happy ending, but I didn’t believe the latter. Not everyone gets a square deal. Her children would probably have similar fates without the foundation of roots and family and I felt helpless, very helpless to remedy her troubles. In fact I, shamefully, wanted to get away from her as quickly as I could, as if hard luck and ignorance were somehow catchy.

She continued, “James will be picking me up soon and we’re gonna call my kids to tell them about our house. We ain’t been approved yet but we’re hopin’ to hear this week. That ‘ill be ten dollars and seventy cents ma’am.”

“Thank-you. Best wishes to you and James.”

That night, I said several prayers for her family. I held on to a glimmer of hope for her sons, realizing that they might have a slightly better chance to find stability, simply by not being  “beautiful” daughters.

It has, now, been six months … and I have not seen her at the Dollar General again…

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My other Random Word Stories were complete fiction. Sadly, this one, came from a true encounter that I had last Fall.

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Girls will be girls…

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I’ve watched small children for almost 40 years (as a Family Day Care Provider) and there are some “stereotypes” that, I must admit, are true.

Little girls and little boys are definitely “wired” differently.

This post is motivated by my anxiousness about the, soon to happen, summer school vacation. My 7-year-old granddaughter, her 6-year-old (girl) cousin and a 3 1/2-year-old girl, will be in my care every weekday throughout the summer.  I am still recovering from the week-long Spring break with this trio.

Throughout my day care years, I was blessed by groups with more boys than girls. Don’t get me wrong, little girls make the better companions when alone. They are much more verbal and enjoy engaging with adults, a bit more. But, put them in a group, and there is competition without limits.

My scientific curiosity, about human behavior, always stems from Nature and, our similarities to animals. Females compete for the reason of propagating the human species. It is simply hard-wired into their nature, in my opinion. This further explains the many girls who find keeping “male friends” much more satisfying and less complicated through their early years. For me, the valuing of female friendships didn’t appear until after I was married with children. The “drama” created by groups of females always detracted from the uncomplicated “rough and tumble” play that I enjoyed most.

Many may feel this post is terribly sexist…to those who think this, I say, “Men and women are different. Instead of ignoring this, I suggest we embrace and value those differences.”

I am speaking from years of experience. Personally, it’s been a life-long study with irrefutable results.

The competitiveness of girls seems to be, grounded in, their superb awareness of non-verbal clues and their delightful social abilities. One example that I remember clearly:

A 4-year-old girl was sitting in a pout over not getting her way. I asked a 4-year-old boy to offer her some apple slices for snack. The girl turned her head away from the offer, since she wasn’t yet over her disappointment. The boy reacted with a shrug and happily kept the extra portion for himself. Then I asked a 3-year-old girl to make the same offer to the “pouter”. (There was “bad blood” between these two girls from other competitive moments but I hoped it might be the first step in getting them to be friendlier with each other.) The 3-year-old, happily offered the girl some apples. Miss Pout rolled her eyes and folded her arms refusing the apples. Without hesitation, the younger girl threw the apple slices in her lap and stormed away.

The boy was not at all insulted…even at 3, the girl who was offering the apples, knew she had been snubbed and, furthermore, took it quite personally.

I find the experiment quite interesting and don’t think a world made, from all of either reaction, would be fun. The boy’s reaction was far easier for me though! The girls battled daily after that and to my distraction.

Of course, these reactions can happen from either sex. Some boys are wound tighter and some girls are not as easily insulted. I am just offering a well-studied norm for your consideration. Actually, being aware of this tendency has allowed me to avoid putting girls “at odds” with each other and has reminded me to offer boys more “How do you think they feel?” moments too.

So my plans for summer are many well thought out activities. There will be well-defined consequences for extreme bickering and rewards for showing good-sportsmanship and sharing. Keeping decisions fewer and options greater may be my only salvation!

We Need Each Other…

There are many jokes about the many ways  by which men and women misunderstand each other. They are ALL funny because they are mostly true.

If we avoid anecdotes pertaining to individuals in our lives and concentrate on what seems to be really basic differences, the discussion can be quite interesting.

As an student of human behavior with many years of observations of young children, I think the most striking difference in the sexes is how we deal with frustration.

Boys most often blame forces outside of themselves before blaming themselves. Girls are much more likely to react in the exact opposite manner. If you believe that this is true, it’s no wonder how women are often emotionally misused by their spouses. Women accept blame and Men tend to blame.

Seems so simple but I believe if we consider the natural role of the sexes, men=providers/women=caregivers, there is good reason for the contrast.

First, anyone who thinks human beings can be type-cast entirely is naive.

Second, if you are not willing to believe that we evolved from and are a specialized kind of animal, you need not read further.

Third, these observations are just that, and not intended to favor one sex over the other. In fact, this whole piece is intended for us to understand and accept that we are different yet equal.

As hunters and providers, males would be less effective if their nature was to wallow in self-doubt. Being headstrong and confident are the best qualities for hunters/protectors/providers. Women, as caregivers, would be less effective if they were unable to empathize and use  emotionalism in their strategies. Tending to others requires a sensitivity and willingness to sacrifice their own comfort more readily.

Bottom line men and women, need each other. Their roles are not as clear cut in our modern times. I believe the striking differences in our basic philosophies are fading too.

Laugh we must, as our roles redefine themselves through further evolution!

Kid Power

It’s probably going to “age” me but I often think about the TV series Punky Brewster. This was a popular TV  show when my kids were little.

I don’t recall any one episode…wait…the one where Henry tries to get a loan for a photo studio but has no credit because he always paid in cash, was good.

Back to the point, Punky always believed in herself and her motto was,”Punky POWER!” . That made one big impression on me. I loved that message, especially for girls who are so often too critical of themselves.

To this day, I tell all my day care kids that they have (insert name) POWER! That it is the single most important and strongest power in the world.

I listened to my inner voice and made good choices as a kid. (Thanks Mom)

Remember to praise kids (even at the market or on the street) for making good choices. They need to know that they hold all the power!