Monday, August 12, 2013

And this is the episode in which I watch the train wreck of someone else's life

Flickr: jauhari
A few months ago, I was waiting for my eye doctor to finalize my prescription and write up my bill, when the next patient--a young girl with her mother and brother--wandered into the office.  Or, rather, her mother wandered and the girl flounced into a chair, swung one leg upon the neighboring seat and used the other leg to repeatedly kick a nearby cabinet displaying eyeglasses.

The girl's expression I can only describe as one of glorious rage.  She was very fair, with large blue eyes, thick, sensuous pale lips, and thick, rather jaggedly cut black hair. She was beautiful in a way that was even more striking because she had obviously taken no pains to make herself pretty (she was wearing a baggy soccer uniform and wore no makeup or jewelry) and because of the intense, fixated expression on her face, which I almost never see on a young child in public. She looked like Joan of Arc as a warrior, without the saintly patience.

In contrast, the girl's mother moved uncertainly, timidly.  The mother was a large weeble-wobble of a woman, with a rather small head and small feet, large breasts and large hips.  Her daughter was a study in white, blue, and bright yellow but mom wore muted shades of brown which gave her an unfortunate sofa-like appearance. The mother also had a crunchy perm she was growing out that hugged her face and poofed out at the ends. She was carrying a ridiculously large, equally brown sofa-purse. I would describe her as a 'comfortable' looking woman, the kind of nice mother whose house was always kind of messy but who would always have boxes of Oreos and Little Debbies and Hi-C  and store brand grape and orange pop on hand and would never tell you not to spoil your dinner.

The brother was a similarly attractive boy--he wore wire-rimmed glasses, had a shock of Colin Firth girls, and immediately sat down on the floor of the waiting room despite the availability of chairs and began playing a hand-held video game.  He had a smirk on his face that never altered throughout the following exchange.

The mother accepted the paperwork for new patients from the receptionists and began to fill it out. The girl kept glaring and kicking until she grew bored and started reading over her mother's shoulder.

"THAT'S ABOUT ME!" she shouted.  Her mother looked nervous and confused.  The girl read some of the items aloud.  "Have you had a stroke?  Have you had heart disease?  HOW CAN YOU FILL OUT THIS INFORMATION ABOUT ME?"  The girl ripped the pen from her mother's fingers, sat down, and started to flick the pen open and closed.

The mother looked tired and helpless and quietly asked for another pen from the receptionist, who gave it to her without stopping her conversation with the woman in charge of billing.

This time, the girl snatched away both the pen and the chart. "LIES!  ALL LIES!" she shouted, looking at the checklists of preexisting conditions.  "How can you know this?  How can you know this about me?"  Her voice had a beautiful, clear, bell-like quality without the mumbling or harsh accents that sometimes characterize children's speech.  It was like watching a play and the child star was stealing the show.

I wanted to see the end of this drama, but unfortunately at this time my own paper work had been completed, and I realized it would be rude to wait and stare.  So I left the girl with her chart 'correcting' all of the things her mother had written "I HAVE HAD AIDS I HAVE HAD MALARIA HOW DARE YOU WRITE THAT I DID NOT" while the mother sat there, nervously uncertain of what to do and the brother simply went on, playing his game, as if this happened every day.  Perhaps it did.

I suppose the 'moral' some people would want me to draw from this tale was that the mother was a weak and ineffectual parent but since I was a very angry, odd young woman I found myself relating to the behavior of the girl...although I don't know why she was so upset about having to see an eye doctor...

There was also something about her voice and her demeanor, as well as the detachment of her brother that made me thing that there was something 'else' going on...could it be the mother was intimidated by her attractive yet Asperger-y kids?  I had the overwhelming sensation of someone on her own train track who suddenly found herself running beside someone else's train wreck of a life.

I did on occasion behave that badly with my mother, although rarely in public.  I realize some people are going to say "if my kid did that she would get smacked soooo hard" but honestly, even if my mother had been a hitter, when I was that pissed off at things, it wouldn't have made a difference.  When you are that angry you don't feel pain and the point (if there is a point) is getting a reaction from other people, even a bad one.

Of course, I am projecting on and questioning things about which I have no 'real' knowledge.  Who knows what the family situation is, truthfully? It was something private made public for reasons unknown.

We all have private secrets that are sometimes thrust into the public eye--in this case, the woman's 'public private' secret was that she could not manage her children.

I'm just grateful that mine most public private secret is that I like to eat broccoli dipped straight into a dish of mustard--like, a disgusting amount of mustard--as a snack.  I recently admitted this to a friend who said she liked to do the same thing and it made me feel less weird. 
Flickr: torbakhopper

I hope that woman realizes at some point that she is not alone in struggling with her children...because she seemed very confused and lonely.


  1. If anything I find that family dynamic kind of sad! Although I'm sure it's all much more complex than we even realize.

  2. That goes beyond ordinary rebellious behavior; I would guess there's something fairly serious going on with that girl. I hope her mom has a support system.

    Growing up, I had a friend who put yellow mustard on green grapes. She would drop them in the jar, then fish them out and eat them.

    1. I agree, @flurrious and my (completely wild) guess was that she did not. She didn't seem to have any 'behavior management' techniques at all to handle the girl. Very sad.

      Mustard on grapes? EWWWWWWWWW.