After a couple of weeks respite, I am back on my soapbox! The young people who are standing in pairs along 6th Street, and Congress Avenue, asking if I want to do 'something awesome for kids', have sparked quite a few spontaneous comments from moi!
I have to admire these do gooders as they do not let anything deter them. Earlier in the week, I heard someone say, 'Are you intending to get punched?' A little over the top, but in their enthusiasm, they can be rather irritating. Perhaps it is their preamble, that I find most offensive. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, what makes an unkempt, uncouth youth think that I would want to spend the afternoon with him, much less, ten minutes of my time. However, they believe in what they are doing, and their perseverance is admirable.
My message back to them, this week, was to attempt to save some children at home! There is an old saying, (I believe of African origin,) 'It takes a Village to raise a child'. There have been several people with whom I have recently come into contact, that seem to take this quite literally, and have already, without prior knowledge to those they have designated, assigned jobs to each and every one of us. Samantha and I were on our weekly tour around the local Walmart, when I happened to pass a shopping trolley (cart) inhabited by two small children. The design of the cart was such that there was a two seat bench just below the push-bar, and behind the main basket area. The two children were playing, 'let's see if we can slip off the footbar', and having a lot of fun. An older sibling was looking far into the distance at something, and ignoring the laughter that came from the duo. The little boy slipped down, and promptly hit his chin on the bar upon which he had his hands. After a very prolonged intake of breath, he exhaled with an ear-shattering scream. His older sibling appeared not to notice, but his mother ran to his side, and after examining her child, looked over at me, the innocent bystander! 'What happened?', she almost demanded. I explained (being friendly) that he had slipped off the bar, and hit his chin. He was probably more shocked than hurt. Once again, she examined her offspring and looked at me. 'What happened', she shouted, this time definitely demanding a reply. My answer was quite simple. 'You know what', I started, perhaps more flippant than necessary, 'I don't know. I wasn't watching. He isn't my responsibility!' and walked off. The older sibling had now decided to take and interest and looked rather stunned. I am not sure whether it was because her mother was shouting at me, or whether it was because I had the audacity to speak to her mother in such a manner. It appeared that I had missed the rosta assignment meeting in the village hall that morning. ! I continued to shop, and not a minute later, the young lad repeated the failed attempt at 'cart slipping', and screamed again. Fortunately, I was far enough away not to be questioned, but wondered why his mother was, once again, leaving her child to play on an apparatus that is clearly marked, 'do not leave children unattended'. I am sure the child will grow up without being traumatised by what happened but it did have an impact upon me. The first young couple to jump out at me, with a cutesy remark about how I could do something awesome for kids, were told, 'You want to save kids; go to Walmart!' If nothing else, they were stopped in their tracks.
Perhaps I was an over-protective mother, but considered my children to be my responsibility. I am sure the old (African) saying has a variety of options as to its true meaning, but I would hazard a guess that a favourite means that all look out for the child, and it learns from the experience of the elders (or others). I am sure it does not mean that one person feeds the child, one person clothes it, and one person follows it around at all times. However, there was a second time last weekend, when I had been designated the latter task without prior knowledge. Dana and I took a walk up to Mount Bonnell, a high spot in Austin, with amazing views of the river and surrounding city. The sun was about to set, as we climbed the stone steps to the top, and watched as the rays appeared to dance on the water. It was a popular time to ascend the local tor, and there were many families sitting around the roped edge. Most of the people respected the 'do not go beyond' sign, but some found it too much of a temptation. 'If you don't come back, you wont get candy', is not really much of a threat in my book. 'If you don't come back you might fall and break your neck', is probably what I would have opted for, but perhaps that is why I am not the villager who is put in charge of 'making nice'! (Even in my tardiness of not attending the meetings!) Candy did not match up to wild adventure, and eventually fathers were enlisted to climb over the ropes to retrieve their disobedient offsprings. As we walked down the path, a young mother walked with her dog, and son. The dog was on a leash. The son should have been on a leash! As she stood and petted the very cuddly animal, her son disappeared down a treacherous path, beyond the 'do not enter' sign. 'Where did he go?', she turned and asked me. Presuming she meant her son, I pointed. (I felt somewhat like Marley's Ghost in the movie Scrooge!) 'Where is he?' she then exclaimed. Although I felt her pain, I was not particularly sympathetic. The urge to let her know that it was my day off, and that the village really needs to find someone who is more responsible, and of a kinder disposition, was making its way to a verbal retort, but the child reappeared before it reached my mouth. I left the scene before the same child decided to ignore another boundary and risk the opportunity of no candy. Although metophorically speaking, if he kept going down the path that was out of bounds he may have found the house that Hansel and Gretel came upon, together with the resident bad person!
The children saving crew were also not around to see the lady standing at the corner of the Interstate with her cardboard sign in hand. 'Help. 2 children. No job. Hungry'. Perhaps if she spent a little less on her make up and manicure, her children would not go hungry! Another woman sat close to her, on the verge, with an infant. It was hot, and despite the fact that it was the first day of March, the sun was scorching. As we inched past her, waiting for the car in front to merge with the flow of traffic, she guestured to me, bringing her fingers to her mouth as if to indicate that she needed something to eat. She did get a mouthful from me, but not to satisfy hunger! I told her that if she was concerned about her children, she should take the baby out of the sun! Perhaps I can be the villager in charge of sensible options!
The adjustment to the weather forecast on Sunday saved all those who may think that I should be in the Village of the Damned rather than be put in charge of young people who run wild. When we left the house it was a balmy 71 degrees, going up to 80. However, whilst eating breakfast, a cold front came in and by the time we left the restaurant, it had tumbled to just above 50, and by lunchtime we were below 40. A hike to the top of the Iron Bridge (another high spot in Austin) would have to be postponed, and I would imagine that I am not automatically assigned a post if I am not present!
Plans to move our office, and Samantha's big day are now coming to fruision, and this Villager has far too much to occupy herself in the next few weeks, including, but not limited to ..... another story.