I rushed onto the bus with my faithful granny trolley and stood near a pushchair occupied by a cute two year old boy.
He was facing me with his back to his young mother and shouted, “Go away!” I smiled and glanced at the pretty lady holding onto the handles. Her stony face gave no eye contact. The young boy then proceeded to tell me in his lovely infant voice that this was his bus and I needed to get off it. He then began to violently kick my trolley with his red shoe, shouting quite loudly as he did so. “Oh, am I not allowed on your bus?” I mused as he continued kicking. From where the mother was sitting, she could see clearly what her son was doing. I was laughing, finding it highly amusing that this tiny one should be so bold and adamant that I should leave his presence. However as the mother suddenly glanced at me, a hateful stare adorned her face and I began to feel that this child’s behaviour was a tad disturbing. All his mum had done during this tirade of ‘abuse’ was place a hand on her boy’s shoulder and quietly say, “Harrison.”
I’ve never encountered an incident like this before and even as I gently told the boy “Don’t worry, I’ll be getting off soon.” I wondered how much of this child’s behaviour was reflecting the feelings of his parents.
Usually if a child is cheeky, even if its not to the extent of rudeness, the mother, no matter how shy, tends to either laugh, roll her eyes, make a comment to the ‘victim’ or at least apologise.
I left the bus feeling offended but tried to laugh it off that the mother has no social skills or is having a very bad day. Her accent proved that she was not foreign so the whole experience was unnerving.
So it was to my utter surprise when on my homeward journey, I was to encounter this terrible twosome again.
I was near the buggy seats, owing to a now stuffed and heavy trolley. However, I am always prepared to move when a mother comes on needing space for their buggy.
A lady entered the bus and stood staring at me crossly. Realising she needed me to move an inch to fit her buggy next to me, I smiled and instantly shifted. My smile was not returned and there was no thanks for moving, then, quickly glancing down at her infant, proved to me that this was the same woman and child!
As I tried to move my trolley, she didn’t wait, but deliberately rammed her buggy wheels into it, causing it to jerk to the side.
It was like she was silently repeating her son’s words, “Go away, you don’t belong on this bus!”
As another lady walked on with a buggy, I got up and made my way to the far back.
Then I stared. What was wrong with this woman? Is she just plain rude? Racist? Special needs? Crazy? Sad? Depressed? She sat propping her head up with the hand that was resting on the buggy handle and I remembered that just before I moved, I had noticed she was about five months pregnant.
I felt a sudden urge of pity for her. There was no question that she had been deliberately horrible, but I was intrigued by it. The fleshly, human side of me wanted to shove her with my hand and shout, “What’s your problem, lady?”
The other side of me contemplated that only God sees inside the heart and knows what is going on. Maybe the father of her children has left her and she’s hurting and angry at the world? Maybe she’s in an awful relationship and is consumed with terror? Maybe something bad that happened to her in the past, renders her unable to respond politely to anyone? Maybe I remind her of a terrible school bully? Could she be suffering from depression? Or in great pain? The list of possibilities is endless, but one thing is for certain, that poor lady needs help of some kind and she needs Jesus.
As I began to see God’s compassion for her, my heart melted and I prayed for her. I then pondered on the fact that she hadn’t actually harmed me physically nor spoken harshly to me, yet some more unfortunate folk do suffer at the hands of the enraged public.
It also reiterated the importance of treating people the way we’d like to be treated ourselves, and I made up my mind to continue to smile at people during my travels.
Who knows? I could be the first person who has made them feel valued all week.
In the meantime, I really do hope that young Harrison learns to be polite and accepts the new baby when it comes along. And that the mother and father, wherever he is, gets the help they so desperately need.