As I drove to a doctor’s appointment,  I planned my slice inspiration. I would capture the image of the waiting room. Awkward silence, fingers tapping on electronics, fingers flipping through magazines, the sighs of patients waiting. I wish I could have written that poem capturing the usual images of the waiting room.

Instead as a mother was talking to the receptionist, checking out, and dealing with something else, her small children (all appearing to be under 5) walked out the door and down the hall. The mother ran after the kids out the door into the hall yelling, “I told you to sit down! Get your ass back in here and do what I tell you–sit down!!” 

Back in the waiting room, one kid stayed obediently in the chair. Another one crawled all over the floor pushing his small cars and slamming them together. 

“I told you to sit down! Get back in that chair and quit messin’ with those damn cars!” she snarled.

Wanting attention the third child came over to me and told me all about the fairy on her sticker. “Her a fairy,” her smile radiated as she looked up at me with those big brown eyes hoping for a conversation.

“Yes, she’s a fairy, isn’t she?”

“Her have wings–see here.”

“Yes, she must be fairy.”

Then, the little girl took her sticker across the room as she looked for some more positive attention and began a quiet conversation with another adult.

The little boy, still crawling on the floor, shyly and quietly told me about his cars, “This one is so strong! Watch him smash the small one.”

The obedient girl sat in her chair, alone, avoiding harsh words and punishment. 

The old magazines and all the other people in the room faded.

As they walked out, I wondered about that lady–something scared me about her angry voice.I wondered about her with those sweet little children at her adult appointment. I wondered if she was all alone hollering and admonishing those kids all day and all night. I wondered if she had any kinds words for those kids. I wondered if she showed them love. I hoped that today was just a bad day.

I thought about how little we know about so many kids, how little we know about how they’re loved. I wish I had told that little girl and that little boy something special about who they are. I wish I had helped them feel loved.

My biggest fear of the lady yelling at the kids is derived from what the boy said, “This one is so strong. Watch her smash the small ones.”

This reminds me of a Neko Case song about a mom and a child at a bus stop “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu”. Pardon the language in the song–today I thought about this song. 

This is my reminder that I need to show a little more love to each person I encounter (even those with whom I struggle to love–both young and old). Just as hearts can be smashed, hope can be nourished.







5 thoughts on “Smash

  1. We never know what another’s life is like. I too hope it was just a bad day, but somehow I think there are more bad than good days in that life.


  2. Paul

    A sensitive and attentive piece — attentive to the lives and details that surround you, and the deeper, connected meaning of all things big and small in the picture (even the cars). A scene you could connect to others to make an even larger whole? Rewarding reading. 🙂


  3. I, too, hope that was a rare bad day … but the good girl in the chair makes me think otherwise. My heart goes out for those little ones. There was clearly something in your face that told the two chatty ones that you were safe, a nice grown up they could interact with. Even the small interactions you had with them were a gift. They need to know that not all grown ups will yell and curse at them.


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