Sitting on a park bench, I watched her hustle around the lawn, chasing after two daughters, approximately aged 2 and 4. She provided extensive supervision for every step they took, pointing to ant beds, sticks that might scratch their delicate legs, and other children who posed danger due to lack of parental involvement.
Then her girls did this magnificent falling routine, beautiful to watch. I call it the waltz of the power hungry.
First one child tumbled. Immediately, the mother ran over, picked her up, cleaned her from head to toe with a Handi-Wipe, and squirted sanitizer onto her waiting palms.
Next, the other child collapsed, feigning injury from a malicious, errant, two-inch twig. Again, the mother sprang into action, executing the same routine of calisthenics, made even more amazing by her ability to balance an extra-large diaper bag stuffed with everything from a snake bite kit to a change of clothes for the kid next door. Only once did it swing off of her shoulder, like a demolition ball on a crane, and take out one of her progeny.
After carefully observing this parent-child bonding, I deduced that her daughters took delirious delight in making their mother dance like a marionette. The pangs of guilt that skewered the mother after the diaper bag ordeal only increased their joy.
Struck by this scene, I turned to the woman to my right, and said, a little too smugly, "My children are well-adjusted, because I ignore them."
"Oh," she replied, "and which ones are yours?"
(The Lord works in mysterious ways, or life is cruel; take your pick. In this case, divine providence took this opportunity to give me thirty lashes about the head and neck with a limp noodle.)
It took a moment to respond, since I couldn't immediately locate them and didn't remember what they wore that day.
I spotted one. "See the little boy over by the tree wearing the red shirt and striped scarf?"
"You mean the one that just picked his nose and licked his finger?"
"Uh, yeah. He's mine."
"I see what you mean about well-adjusted," she said, a hint of sarcasm in her tone.
At that moment my oldest child ran up and reported that while instructing three six-year-olds in the finer art of how to urinate from the top of the playscape bridge, his little sister walked under the line of fire. She now ran toward me screaming, with her dress pulled over her head.
My confidant rolled her eyes.
"Honey," I said, "why did you walk where the boys were going to the bathroom?"
"I thought it was rain," came her pitiful, soiled reply.
I could tell by the look on the woman's face, she didn't approve of how I handled the situation. She kept glancing at my oldest . . . and at my leather belt.
Obviously, the time had come for me to make an exit, so I began calling for the fourth child.
"You have more," she remarked incredulously.
My most reserved and well-behaved offspring, who can entertain himself peacefully for long stretches, trotted up holding something black that looked like a piece of bark. "Can I keep it, Mama? It's my friend." Upon closer inspection, It wiggled. It was a roach that he had played with for the last hour.
Seeing, but not believing, my new friend turned to me and exasperatedly asked, "Why did you have so many?"
Let me repeat, the Lord works in mysterious ways and life is cruel. And He made everyday for me a walk in the park.