Saturday morning, I set out to tackle some more of my Christmas shopping. My first stop was Target, where I was pleasantly surprised to find a relatively small crowd of fellow shoppers, allowing me to relax and enjoy the experience.
As I was perusing the Christmas aisle, I ran into a young mother who was shepherding two small boys, each under the age of five. The woman was hugely pregnant and I immediately felt sorry for the challenge that she must be facing with those two active boys. I quickly learned that I needn't worry; that young mom guided those two boys like a very quiet, very kind, drill sergeant. The boys were given choices in a firm, sweet voice, and, the mother treated them like small humans, capable of making good choices when given the proper encouragement and opportunity; the boys responded by behaving like angels.
It was such a nice thing to witness.
Of course, I was mentally comparing her parenting skills to those of most of my clients and I couldn't help but think that she would make an awesome parent coach.
After two similar experiences with parents who are Doing it Right, one in the electronics department, and one in the checkout line (I officially love Target); I ventured to my next stop on my agenda: The Hellmouth.
Let me just say right now: there is a reason I call it The Hellmouth, and; Saturday's shopping trip did nothing to change my mind about the honorary title.
Before I even made the turn from the main road into the parking lot, I witnesses a pair of panhandlers surreptitiously sipping from a flask while taking turns hiding one another from the view of the people leaving the parking lot. This couple has been working that particular corner since early this summer; they hold a sign that declares their need to for money...to repair their spaceship (not kidding), and, prior to this weekend, I had never seen them getting their drink on while "on the job". It was disheartening. It was also quite humorous, given the whole "creating a human shield from the prying eyes of the public" thing.
Once I was in The Hellmouth, things didn't get much better. I was still feeling the glow of quality parenting from Target when I hit the grocery section and got to watch unattended children running amok in the produce, a random toddler licking an apple before returning it to its place on the shelf, and a father mildly instructing his child not to kick a small container that had fallen to the floor, and, then watching him ignore the child as he continued to kick the item across the floor.
My glow faded, quickly.
I salvaged it, however. I decided to throw some good out into the world, and, as such I moved shopping carts away from a car that had been blocked in by rude cart-abandoners, I purchased hot chocolate for the Salvation Army bell ringers and I dropped a twenty in the kettle.
I felt better when I was done.
And, I've decided that shopping at The Hellmouth will always be a chore that I attack with the lowest possible expectations. Maybe someday I will be pleasantly surprised.
Not holding my breath.