Be Kind

Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.”

— Charles glassman.

I was in line at Target today. The customer ahead of me was a mother of 2 children. She had a special needs 6 month old baby and a little boy (about 4 years old) with her. While she was being checked out, we chatted for a short bit. I learned that she was a Special Ed teacher but because of her infant’s special needs, she has to take a break from teaching. She had already bought school supplies for her son who is about to enter Pre-K but the teacher in her couldn’t resist buying the teacher supplies at the store.

As she was finishing, the checker scanned her Teacher’s discount and then she presented her mobile phone wallet that had 3 Target gift cards. The gift cards were not scanning and it probably was about 10 minutes into her ordeal, I overhead behind me a voice that had said some nasty words about why the line was taking too long. As she was talking to the gentleman with her, she said something like, “they should have a separate checkout counter for these people”. She went as far as throw in some cuss words to emphatically express her impatience. She proceeded to go to another counter.

In the meantime, the lady in front of me was still having issues with her gift cards being scanned. The checker had requested the help of another staff member who “tried” to help but ended up asking the lady – “do you just want to use your gift cards next time?”

I could tell that the lady was flustered. The whole time she was dealing with the checkout issues, her 6 month old was crying and her 4 year old kept talking to her. The gentleman who was trying to help her and the cashier eventually left and the cashier assured the lady that he is willing to void the transaction and re-scan everything to see if at that point, her gift cards will work. The lady declined the offer and said, “don’t worry about it, I have a red card”. This, I would assume she meant a credit card of some sort.

The other lady who was now in another line (just next to ours) continued to express her dismay at how long our line was taking. I wondered to myself – why? If you moved to another line because where you were was not moving fast enough, then that means you need to move on with your life (and your feelings). I’ve seen those looks of disdain or disappointment far too many times and I’ve heard those nasty comments in the past when I am with my own kids that this lady got into my nerves. But I chose to keep quiet.

I felt really bad that the lady in front of me had to use a different payment method and had to pay full price just because the gift cards weren’t working. There’s a lot of people who have every cent accounted for and every available credit spoken for. So when situations like this arise, it creates a financial hardship. I wanted so bad to say – let me just pay for it. But the reality was I didn’t have the funds to pay for it. I wonder though… If I had the funds – would she have accepted it if I offered or would she have been insulted by my offer?

Many times, parents who are doing the best they can are still get subjected to stares, looks, or comments that are just simply unkind and unnecessary. When a child is screaming or is throwing a fit out in public, some people think it is due to bad parenting or someone’s lack of parenting skills.

I remember, we were at Walmart shopping for clothes when Aiden decided to play dress-up. Now, with Autism, pretend play (like dressing up) is a developmental milestone. So this was a great thing! I was extremely happy to see it. I was taking pictures and encouraging Aiden. I kept saying “Good job Bud! You look handsome!”

Unfortunately, some people passing by us took second (or third) looks at how my child looked like. One person even had a smirk on his face as if (or at least it felt like he was) really disappointed in what he’d seen. Another person looked like he was making fun of Aiden.

It feels like some people think they can do life better than others. Okay – maybe so. Maybe they really can. But is it really necessary to be unkind about it? I believe that if we don’t have the ability to help, let’s at the very least extend grace? I refuse to believe that kindness is rare.