Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Wrong Side Of The Stroller

Talk about some cool wheels. It's a double seater with plenty of cup holders, peeky boo plastic windows over the kids’ heads, and two pull down shades sporting a Do Not Disturb attitude aimed at the sun. It’s easy to push and maneuvers through narrow spaces while you yawn with one hand. My two granddaughters loved climbing in and out of the seats for a better look at any lion or elephant we chanced by on our visit to the zoo last Tuesday.
But late in the morning, after sharing a snack with ducks and other exotic water fowl at the picnic area, two-year-old Juliet began to cry. 
“What’s the matter?” I asked with concern, as I leaned over the top of the stroller and looked down on where she’d climbed into her seat.  “Is the sun in your eyes?” I continued, trying to pull down the shade. “Are you still hungry?” I pursued.  “Is she just tired?” I queried my daughter, as she came close to investigate.
“No, her foot is caught in the strap,” she replied, and untucked Jules’ bent leg from beneath her, freeing it so she could sit down comfortably again.  I had no idea that’s what was causing her pain, but the more I tried to guess at the problem, the louder she cried and the less I could help.  It wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t figure it out—it’s just that I was on the wrong side of the stroller.  Her mom was the only one with the right perspective.
Facebook reminds us now and then to “be kind – for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.”  I’m not a person who naturally reads people well. I realized early on in life that my first impression of someone is usually the opposite of what is true of that person. At least I was smart enough to recognize how clueless I am.
I can’t tell a book by its cover.  I haven’t walked in another’s shoes. But most of all, in the words of Mark Twain, I can’t depend on my judgment when my imagination is out of focus.
Few of us can.
My husband and I tend to the quieter side of the personality rainbow.  In school, we both were accused by some of being “stuck up”, when the truth was we were both self-conscious. To an insecure teenager, hearing something like that from her peers is like a one-two punch. Then acceptance, which is so integral to human nature, eludes again. 
All  because someone stands on the wrong side of the stroller.
It isn’t always the quiet ones who are misunderstood, though. Sometimes mirth is its own mask.  E.H. Chapin warned not to “judge men by mere appearances; for the light laughter that bubbles on the lip often mantles over the depths of sadness, and the serious look may be the sober veil that covers a divine peace and joy."  I’d like to see that one passed around on Facebook.
It isn’t easy to identify with other personalities when we are all so uniquely made. It may be more comfortable for birds of a feather to flock together, but that doesn’t make all the other neighbors in this zoo worthless. The wounds we’ve each suffered in life have left scar tissue that can cripple and obscure the original injury. Maybe it would help if we knew we at least have this much in common: every one of us is a casualty living in a fallen world.
I don’t have the last word on what makes people tick. And I may never be able to understand my own heart well enough to explain it to others. It would help, though, if we could each be open to the possibility of another point of view—a different perspective. 
Who knows what you could be set free from if I could just step around to the front of the stroller.


2 comments:

  1. Fantastic, Eula. And so true. We never know what's going on in that other person's life.

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    1. Thank you, Liz. Sometimes word pictures get through to me when words fail.

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