Today I was a Nosy Parker.
There I was, patiently waiting in the queue at my local Aldi. (There was only one check-out open as usual, so it was a rather long wait.).
For entertainment, the entire check-out queue watched a frazzled Mum deal with her kids and her purchases.
One child was a toddler, the other was about four. They weren't doing anything particularly naughty; just running up and down the front of the store a bit, and clambouring under the counter where Mum was packing up a gazillion dollars worth of groceries. Just like kids do when they're a bit over-tired or have excess energy because it's been too hot or wet to play outside.
Mum begged, she pleaded, for her kids to calm down a bit, and wait patiently while she packed up their purchases. Inevitably, they did not obey, and a couple of times, the little one got hurt. Nothing serious, just fell over racing her brother, and bumped her head on the packing counter as she went to hide beneath it. (I told you it was a long wait.)
I watched as a couple of middle-aged-to-older ladies loudly tutted (really they did). Smiling knowingly, they shook their heads, and raised their eyebrows, as they waited for their partners to pay for the lamb roasts and potatoes. Those ladies really annoyed me. They weren't doing anything. I would have thought they might have rocked over and offered that lady a hand rather than smirking at her obvious frustration.
Most people made an effort to ignore both the ladies and the Mum and kids. The check-out dude gave Mum an exasperated glare every time she told the kids to quieten down and wait, and the older one trotted out silly replies like: "I'm gonna put a tomato all over your head!" No one laughed.
Me? I felt sorry for the woman. She looked close to tears. And did I mention it was really hot, so hot the air-conditioning wasn't quite up to the job. And she looked tired. Like she just needed to go home and put her feet up for a while.
The mother in me wanted to go over, look after her kids for a minute, or help her pack up her stuff. But I wasn't sure. Would she be offended, or think I was interfering? Would I cop a mouthful of abuse? (And to be fair, maybe that's why the other women didn't offer to help either, though they could have been nicer about it.)
My mind was made up when, just after I paid, the little one landed on the floor and burst into fresh floods of tears, metres away from her Mum.
I could have gone past, but instead, I helped the little girl up, checked she was okay, and told her I thought Mummy was feeling sad too, and perhaps we could go and make her feel better. She looked at me through her tears and nodded.
The I took her brother's hand and told him that Mummy had so many groceries to pack up, I bet she needed a big boy like him to help her.
He went straight over to the counter and started very carefully picking up products and passing them to his mother.
"Thanks," Mum said, looking at me gratefully. (Yay. No slap in the face for me today then!) "You've got no idea what's it's like."
"Actually I do," I said. "We've all been there."
And we have, haven't we?
I'm not perfect, and I never will be. I'm not better than that woman, or worse. Like her, I'm a parent who just tries to do the best I can. Like we all do. And it's nice to be given a hand-up occasionally, rather than a collective thumbs down.
If nothing else, I thought the Queensland floods had taught us the value of mateship and helping each other out.
On a lighter note, my bloggie and twitter mate Nooska, made me laugh this week when she included this map on a post at her lovely blog My Life Starts Now.
Yep, sounds like we are pretty much fucked.
Keep us in your prayers or send positive vibes or whatever you believe in peeps. Thanks.
And Mother Nature? We're tougher than you think.