Sordid and SandyAugust 2, 2010 at 5:00 am | Posted in Family, Giggles | 28 Comments
Tags: Curiosity, Infidelity, Judgment, Marriage, Outdoors, Parenting, Play, Relationships, Strangers
There are more than 200 parks where we live. And a few Saturdays ago, Giggles and I found ourselves at one that draws kiddos like teeny ants to a sweet summer watermelon.
This park’s got a humongous sandbox with a variety of shovels, buckets, trucks, and castle molds. It’s got a sprinkler area for little faces and hands to rinse off (and cool off) in. And it’s got swings.
Giggles was pleased as punch.
Me? I was sweaty and couldn’t get the sunscreen out from under my fingernails. And there was a scary-looking purple bug stalking the square foot of sand we had claimed as our own.
But. Giggles was pleased as punch. So we were there to stay for a while.
Like Sand Through the Hourglass …
Luckily (unluckily?), it was a thousand degrees outside, so there weren’t very many families there. In fact, there were just two in the sandbox with us.
The first — a mother with her two daughters — was constructing a sand-mermaid with some pretty complicated-looking tools I was pretty sure had not come from the One Spot at Target. The mother coached them on how to make perfectly indented scales across the mermaid’s tail. Nearby, Giggles happily dumped buckets of sand into piles.
The second family — a father with his son and daughter — was burying and unearthing plastic trucks. While the kids poured sand with gusto, the dad absent-mindedly scooped a handful of sand over the trucks every few minutes. In between scoops, he clicked away at the keypad on his phone. He smirked. His knee bounced like he’d had too many iced coffees.
I watched him. I checked for a wedding ring. And I decided that he was having an affair. Texting his mistress while his kids played and his wife cleaned their quiet house somewhere nearby. Jerk.
After the wind blew sand in Giggles’s eyes and he had had enough, we left the adulterer and the purple bug behind and headed for the sprinklers. Giggles eased himself into the spray, laughing and jumping and sticking out his tongue to taste the cold drops.
A few minutes later, the man and his kids joined us. The boy and girl ran to play with Giggles, and their dad sat down at the opposite end of my covered picnic table. Still click-clacking, still smirking, still knee-bouncing. Jerk.
’Snot You, It’s Me
Then Giggles “borrowed” the little girl’s beach ball, which she had abandoned on the concrete by the sprinklers. She ran over to her daddy, hands on her hips, lip stuck out in a full-blown pout. She had a round, squishy, green booger on her upper lip. About the size of a pea. (You know the kind.)
Without hesitation, her father laid down his phone, grabbed the hem of his Grateful Dead T-shirt and wiped that booger off. One fell swoop. Like a pro. He paid no attention to the snot streak left behind and got down on one knee to talk gently to his little girl about sharing her toys with new friends. She nodded her head. He squeezed a little water out of her ponytail and sent her back out to play.
Then he picked up his phone. Click-clack, click-clack.
But my mind couldn’t classify him so easily anymore. I had read his body language and made a judgment. One that seemed to fit the facts at hand. But, really, what did I know?
I knew this: The guy had a big snot stain on his shirt. And he didn’t care. But it was clear that he cared about his kids. Was he guilty of the sin I had imagined for him? Was he indeed a jerk? I don’t know.
Here’s the more important question: Was I?
Have you ever judged (or misjudged) a stranger? Do you imagine the stories of people you don’t know? Ever wiped snot on your shirt without a second thought??