It’s Time To Really Make Your Point

, , , , , , , | Related | January 22, 2018

(I am nine years old.)

Me: “Are we there yet?”

Dad: “Not yet. Another hour or so.”

Me: “What time is it?”

Dad: “3:30 pm.”

Me: “What time is it?”

Dad: “It’s only 3:32!”

Me: “What time is it?”

Dad: “3:35.”

Me: “What time is it?”

Dad: “3:40.”

Me: “What time is it?”

Dad: “3:45, and stop asking, ‘What time is it?’!”

Me: “Il est quelle heure?”

Dad: *has a fit of laughs and throws a tissue roll at me* “Just… NO asking… at all.”

Suva, So Good

, , , , , | Hopeless | January 21, 2018

This story takes place over 40 years ago, when I was four. Even though I was so young, I remember it vividly. My parents owned a tobacco farm. This was back when private farmers were allowed to grow tobacco commercially. They’re not, anymore, and the farm is now apples and kiwifruit.

During the harvest, most of the picking was done by workers from Fiji, big men who would come to New Zealand and work impossibly long hours in the fields, earning every cent they could. Their money would be sent home, saved carefully, and made to last until they returned the following year.

In the small town where I grew up, there were no people of any colour, not even Māori (native New Zealanders), so my sister and I had never seen black people before. The workers were huge, ebony-black men with big shaggy afros and deep, booming voices. The first time we met them we screamed and ran away crying. Our parents were mortified. They tried everything they could to stop us being afraid of the workers and to get us to interact with them more positively, but nothing worked.

The workers were more sad than offended. They loved children and missed their own dreadfully.

One day I wandered away from my mother in the tobacco field. Those fields were vast spaces, with tobacco plants in long, long rows, taller than I was. Soon, I was hopelessly lost. My family panicked, but it was one of the Fijians who had the bright idea of climbing onto the roof of one of the sheds so he could look down on the fields. It didn’t take him long to spot me, and he ran towards me.

I was hiding under a tobacco plant, crying. As he got closer, he slowed down and hid behind a plant, too. Of course, as he was so huge, I could see him, and I was scared. I slowly peeked out… and so did he. Then, he let out a gasp and a squeal and hid again. This went on for a few minutes; both of us peeking out and hiding again when we saw each other. I started to giggle and walked shyly out from behind the plant. He jumped to his feet and ran off down the row in a cartoon-like fashion, his arms and legs going in all directions, letting out the same high-pitched squeal. Of course, I ran after him, laughing all the way… and we ran right back to my parents, who were by that stage almost hysterical.

I soon learned that all the workers had the same comic, zany sense of humour where kids were involved, and that they loved to play as much as we did. My sister and I became fast friends with them; in fact, we were probably pains in their a**es, because we kept wanting to play with them while they were picking.

Most of us grow up and learn that racism is a terrible thing. I was lucky in that I learned it very early on, and I have never, ever been able to tolerate the notion that someone is less, or more, because of skin colour. I have always been grateful to my first Fijian buddy for teaching me this incredibly valuable lesson.

Killing Kindness

, , , , , , | Friendly | January 20, 2018

(I’m bored waiting for the rest of my family to go to the bathroom and buy snacks, so I decide to try a toy dispenser, like a gumball machine, that gives you a tiny toy inside a clear plastic ball. After I get a toy, a woman comes up with two small children, about five years old. The mother gives each child a coin to get a toy, but the machine the daughter uses doesn’t work and she starts crying.)

Woman: “Well, I don’t have any more loose change! You’ll just have to share with your brother.”

Boy: “No! It’s mine!”

Me: *to the woman* “Excuse me. I just got this from the machine and I don’t really want it. Your daughter can have it, if you want.”

Woman: “What did you just say?”

Me: “I got this from the machine. I think it’s a toy tiger. I haven’t opened it, so I thought you might want it for your daughter, because…”

Woman: *suddenly shouting* “Mind your own f****** business. Why the f*** are you watching my kids, you pervert?”

(I was a baby-faced 13-year-old girl, not your typical “pervert.” I just wanted to help an upset kid and stressed-out mum)

Bad Parenting, No Ifs, No Butts

, , , , , , | Friendly | January 19, 2018

(My manager is a very no-nonsense kind of person, and always speaks her mind. She’s out with her four-year-old daughter, and there’s a young boy acting up in front of them. The mother is doing nothing about it.)

Daughter: *to boy’s mother* “You know, this wouldn’t happen if you’d beat his a**.”

Manager: “[Daughter]! You don’t say things like that!”

Daughter: “I’m sorry, Mommy!” *to boy’s mother* “This wouldn’t happen if you’d beat his butt.”

Manager: “That’s better.”

(They walked away with the mother glaring daggers at them, my manager beaming with pride the entire time.)

The Storm After The Calm

, , , , , , | Friendly | January 14, 2018

(My husband and I are BLESSED with a very calm toddler. His calmness often worries people, usually strangers. One day while I’m out shopping with him, my toddler decides he wants to open a box of crackers while I’m browsing.)

Me: *taking the box away from him* “No, no. We don’t open things before they’re paid for, sir.”

Toddler: *whines and reaches for the box* “Mama!”

(At this point his face pinches up like he’s going to cry but I know he’s not going to do it so I shake my head at him.)

Me: *puts the box back in the cart’s basket* “No, that doesn’t work with me. You just ate before we came to the store, so you are not going to starve.”

(My toddler proceeds to very calmly jabber at me as if he’s trying to argue with me, but I keep telling him, “no,” and he finally shakes his head and goes back to playing with his stuffed animal. At this point, I realize that a woman is staring at us with a shocked look on her face.)

Woman #1: *awed* “I just knew he was going to have a meltdown, but he never did. How did you get him to act like that?”

Me: *shrugs* “He’s always been like that. He’s never actually thrown a tantrum, either.” *laughs* “My husband likes to joke that we’ve got a defective kid because he’s so well-behaved for his age.”

(The woman laughs and I hear a loud “harrumph” behind me so I turn around to find another woman glaring at us.)

Woman #2: *accusing tone* “You should be ashamed of yourself! Your son is obviously autistic or has something else wrong, and you’re making fun of him by calling him defective!”

Me: *rolls eyes* “No, ma’am, he does not exhibit any signs of autism or any other disorders. If you must know, his pediatrician says he is in good health and is a very happy and average toddler, and that he is calm because my husband and I are calm. Kids learn by example.”

Woman #1: “Yeah, which means if you have any kids, they’re probably rude little a**holes just like you.”

([Woman #2] stomped off in a huff and [Woman #1] and I shook our heads before wishing each other a nice day and returning to our shopping.)

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