I love to “people watch”, but sometimes the experience just makes me sad. Here is the scene from the waiting room at the eye clinic:
Big, rough-looking guy in jeans and a ragged shirt sits down in the row in front of me and starts reading a hunting magazine. His back is to me.
In about two more minutes an older woman comes in and sits across the aisle and three seats down from him. A boy about five or six runs between them.
“Sit down.” The guy loudly orders.
The boy stops next to him and slouches down, pulling his t-shirt over his face.
‘Stop that poutin’”
“He’s been doin’ that all day!” the older woman offers. It’s the first hint I have that they are together.
“He better stop it.”
The shirt comes down.
“What’d you do today?”
“You stay at Nana’s?”
“Where’s your mama livin’ now?”
“Who’s that?” He directs the question to the woman, and she shrugs. Then she looks at the boy.
“You tell your mama she can see you at Nana’s house.”
“That’s right! No need in you goin’ off to ever guy’s house where she’s stayin’” Nana chimes in.
“Yeah.” The boy answers glumly.
There was a little more discussion of the living arrangements at both houses and then the guy got a cup of coffee. There was some argument at the coffee pot which I couldn’t hear, but the boy came back nearly in tears. The woman had moved during their absence and now sat in his chair, so he sat in the far corner and pulled his shirt back over his head again. His dad ordered him to remove the shirt. He refused and said something I couldn’t quite understand, but it sounded like he wanted a cup of coffee too. His dad told him to “quit back talkin’” and get his shirt down. He refused again and his dad walked over and spanked him and then sat back down. Then his dad said he was going out for a smoke and the boy jumped up and followed him.
After they left, the woman conferred with the receptionist, realized she was two hours early for her appointment, muttered something under her breath, and left.
I sat there just shaking my head. I felt so sorry for that little boy, caught up in a world of adult problems he can’t possibly understand. This is a prime example of a family in crisis. This is why children have trouble in school. This is why my job is so difficult. This is why I’m getting gray hair. What is wrong with people?????