I had to try to remember to write this. I even noticed when I’d forgotten about the whole thing. I got off the bus, noticed the lights, ran to it, crossed the street and headed into the food court, where I thought, hang on, what was I thinking about? It took me a moment of concentration. Then out into the produce aisle at Aldi, I thought more about it and tried to remember what I was planning to write about – then remembered it. I had to work at it, I had to try.
I don’t remember what it was they chucked. I don’t remember your shirt, but I remember it had something written on it. I don’t remember if you had glasses or not. I’m writing this after trying to commit this moment to memory to write this piece. It’s going to go into a scheduler and it’ll get put up in maybe a week, maybe a month, depending on if anything bumps it, whatever. By the time this goes up, I will not remember you or your kid or the baby or any of it. It is a comforting amnesia, a thing that our brains do, pushing unpleasant things out of the way where we don’t need to deal with them.
I need to you to understand that: Because I need you to understand how I looked.
I know I looked uncomfortable. I know the screaming kid made me uncomfortable. I know that’s how I react to that sound. Your kid was screaming, and I mean screaming, I think, or maybe it wasn’t that bad, it’s hard to remember now, but the thing is, there was a screaming baby. Or small kid. Jeeze, this is hard to remember.
I know that sound makes me deeply uncomfortable. Me, I have a bad reaction to that screaming, and I know my problem solving for that tends towards aggression – I tend to shout at little kids or get mad at them when they behave badly, and I know there’s a part of my brain that thinks ‘hitting a kid will shut them up,’ and I don’t like struggling with that feeling. It’s just this little subroutine going on in my brain, over and over. Either way, I know I didn’t look happy. I know you and I made eye contact – that I sure remember.
And I remember feeling guilty, because I knew, in that moment, you almost certainly thought I was thinking you’re a bad parent, because that’s what I know people think and say and mutter to one another about people with screaming kids.
I just wanted to say : It was a fraction of my day. It was barely a moment. It didn’t matter. And I hate that I know this minor incident, this nothing event led to a person like you, doing a hard job and trying to decipher the behaviour of a small and loud bundle of person, thinking a person like me – multiple people like me – were mad at you. I don’t know about anyone else, but I knew in that moment that I was going to forget about this. That it was okay. That the screaming of a child wasn’t going to impose on my life for a long time, just annoy me for a minute.
I get it.
I wish it was easier on everyone, but it’s hard on me for a small amount of time.