I’d spent the morning watching the wind whiplash the daffodils, watching the dogs snuggle deeper into blankets, and working myself hard to get poems ready for a national contest.
My 20-year-old niece Rebecca and I needed a break from the house.
I located my keys, and we braved the 30-mile winds, headed to Norfork, my old town in the hills. Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at Heidi’s Ugly Cakes.
When we enter the restaurant, there’s Heidi, still taking lunch orders. She calls Rebecca “Gorgeous!” I love the interaction and enjoy the expressions.
We find our way to a table and people-watch. Tables grow empty as people line up to pay for their food.
Then a grandmother, mother, son (maybe two years old), and a daughter (probably three or four years old) come in. The mother directs the children toward a table. The grandmother follows.
They sit at the table next to us. The little girl has a bag of Cheetos in her hand. She opens them and decides she doesn’t want them. The little girl’s brother quietly eats his chips, but she wants Doritos. The mother says, “No, you have already opened these.”
Sounds like natural consequences. Rebecca and I smile at each other.
Then bam! The little girl is on the floor, flailing arms and legs and howling at the top of her lungs. She wants Doritos! It’s the harshest music.
The girl has my attention. She has the attention of everyone in the restaurant! But she is unaware of anyone except her mother. She bawls loudly. Such misery for her.
The mother ignores the daughter but stands nearby, blankly looking at a display of bags of chips.
No one intervenes. The girl is not hurt. The grandmother stays out of the way with the grandson and offers no suggestions to the mother.
It’s a fit-throwing drama. The mother remains calm. No words.
After the girl wears herself down a little, the mother picks her up. Her daughter crumbles in her arms, quickly puts thumb in mouth, arms around the mother’s neck, and cries fitfully. The mother holds her close and carries her to the restroom. Inconsolable sobbing but less frequent yells. No private meanness is happening.
I checked in with Rebecca, an elementary education major in college. “My sympathies lie with the mother. How about you?”
“Yes,” she said. “She is remaining calm and in charge. The daughter sounds tired.”
“Exactly. No one is being harmed.”
While the two are in the restroom, the grandmother gathers the drinks for “take-out” while watching her grandson.
There’s a drumming going on in me.
I hear the tired child, but my heart sympathizes with the mother. It’s a dark time, a teaching time. I recall such times with my own children.
The mother and daughter exit the restroom, giving no one eye contact, but my hunch is that many of us stay silent but know the mother’s sadness. I want to say, “It’s okay,” to soothe the mother, but she does not look up.
My compassion grows for her. She is grieving the moment, surviving the moment.
“I want to go home…. I want to go home….” the daughter cries lowly. Nothing else will do.
No words or anger from either of the women. No abandonment. They are accepting what they cannot change, solving problems as they come, and showing care to both children.
Heidi has the order ready.
The women pay while the young girl holds on to her mother’s hand.
I want to stand and give these two parent-people a standing ovation for smart parenting.
Instead, Rebecca and I finish sandwiches and head down the highway to my friend’s house, where we can see a four-day-old goat.
We stop the car at the coop of ducks, chickens, and goats. Rebecca sees a baby goat and says, “Oh, look!” Next thing I know we are walking toward the goats in March’s wind.
The black-n-white baby goat’s name is Rebekah! Boaz and Ruth, her parents, are right there with her. My Rebecca and I laugh when the baby bleats and bellyaches. Oh no, another bawling baby!
Rebecca picks up the baby goat and holds, cuddles, and soothes her. She quietens.
Hey, there are three baby goats! Enough for all of us women to get our baby-fix for the day.
We had been primed for loving on these babies. O my sisters! More to this life than we know. The scent of my old life returned! What delight! But don’t be fooled—it’s the hardest and most rewarding job ever!
The wind blows past everything.
God bless you,
P.S. Thank you, kind readers, for taking the time to share and comment.
Rebecca Bland and Rebekah, the four-day-old goat in Norfork, Arkansas. Photographed by Pat Durmon, March 14, 2019.