A few days ago I watched as a rather angry young father berated his (4-year-old?) son about not rushing through the fast food parking lot without parental guidance. Only, it wasn’t a loving parental command for safety, or a reminder about parking lots and expected behavior–it was a threat to the child that if he didn’t get his %#$* act together, he would &%^$# regret it. My first impulse was to step between father and child and ask, “How big are you, Dad? How old are you, Dad?” But then I took a breath and stepped back to see further interactions.
At the fast food counter, I watched as three little boys lined up to give their order. I watched as a worried Dad carefully counted through his paper money, without saying anything to his sons. His wife kept her flock in front of her, but didn’t make eye contact with her husband.
I didn’t have the words that I so badly wanted to let this young family know that their struggle was not invisible. That too many young families are suffering from too little attention and too high of inflation. From lack of a better income. From the knowing that it is hard to live in the group called “the have-not’s.” I also didn’t have the words to say that no matter how hard the times, this little family unit was together. Doing their best to be an intact family.
I still don’t have the words. I believe that our society has made it very difficult to be a “have-not” and be respected. To point out anything about their struggles, would be (in their eyes) a denigration of self, of parents, of family.
Blessings to them, and may their circumstances improve soon–children need parents who are not always stressed out from being uncertain as to tomorrow’s ability to provide.
Be gentle with our brothers and sisters and their children–we all need the comfort of being equal in our humanity.