Home > Kingdom of God > What Could Have Been

What Could Have Been

There is a table in the coffee shop.  It’s low and it’s made out of chalkboard.  It’s where parents bring their kids.  Today a mom and her two daughters (3 and 5 probably).  Cute little rain jackets, pigtails, and dresses underneath that would certainly pass the “twirl” test.  Mom sets down the drinks and cookies.  Each little girl has her own drink and her own small plate with a big cookie.  Before mom has a chance to sit herself down I hear a “clink.”  5 year old has tipped over her drink.  It covers half the chalkboard and all of her cookie.

What could have been:

“There it went.  That’s ok sweetie.  Accidents happen.”  That’s the mom in a hushed, reassuring tone.  “We’ll see if they have any more cookies, and you can share your sister’s drink.  You’ll share with sister, right?  Good girl.”

What was:

“Now you’ve done it!  It’s all over the place!”  That’s mom in a loud belittling tone.  “I didn’t do it on purpose, momma.”  That’s 5 year old in an ashamed little voice.  “Well, of course you didn’t do it on purpose!”  Again, loud enough so that nobody missed the fact that daughter goofed it.  Mom storms off to the front of the shop.  Daughter shrinks into her seat.  From the front of the shop everyone hears, “My daughter just spilled an entire drink, and we’ll have to clean it up.”  Daughter shrinks even further.

And from there the cycle of parenting passes on, and surely the little girl will hear her mother’s voice for decades…even a lifetime.  Chances are good that her daughter and her daughter’s daughter will hear the same words, the same tone, the same powerplay.

I sat there with a friend, and we both looked at each other.  I wish my sister were there.  She would have said something.  She would have done something.  She would have put that “mom” in her place.  My sister is a paragon, a peerless example of justice.  The world in black and white – especially when a child is mistreated.  Dang, I wish she were there.

And now reflecting on the situation I ask myself what could have been if she were there.  I ask myself what could have been if only there had been someone in the room who knew that the little girl was being bullied.  If only there had been someone to stand up for the weak and powerless.

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