Just Be Kind

I saw this quote today and it reminded me of something that happened years ago. I was at the pharmacy filling a prescription for my daughter. I can’t remember what it was for, but I know it was something minor like a skin irritation or allergy.

It had been a long day that started before dawn. My husband was travelling and I was on single-parent duty. I got up very early so I could shower and get ready for work before waking the kids. When I was sure they wouldn’t roll over and go back to sleep, I went to prepare breakfast. I fed them, finished packing their lunches, tidied up, made sure they were warmly dressed and got them to the bus stop. Then I made it to work with no time to spare.

I left the office early to take Luce to her medical appointment. With the prescription in hand, we drove back to the school to pick up Erik and head home. I prepared dinner and threw in a load of laundry while the kids started their homework. Only while we were eating did I remember that we hadn’t filled the prescription.

So, after dinner Luce and I put on our coats to go to the pharmacy. Erik was sitting comfortably on the couch watching the hockey game. “Do I have to come?” he asked. He was only 10 but we would be gone less than 20 minutes.

“OK, you can stay here, but lock the door and stay in the house,” I said.

While we waited for the medication, my mind wandered over my ever-growing “to-do” list. The pharmacist brought me back to the present when he handed me the medication and said, “You could also buy some anti-bacterial soap. It’s in aisle six.” I know he was trying to help. But I was exhausted, it was getting late, my son was at home alone, it was dark and cold out and I just wanted this day over. So, I sighed and hesitated for a fraction of a second.  And that’s when he added in a judgmental tone, “It’s not expensive.”

I could feel Luce looking at me as I locked eyes with him. With that one phrase, that one look, and that condescending tone, he made me feel small, inconsequential and like a terrible parent. He didn’t get it. It wasn’t about the money. It was about reaching limits. I told Luce to go and find the soap. Then I stood, weighing my response. In the end, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

The quote reminds me of that pharmacist and that day. And it reminds me to try to be kind because I have no idea what’s going on in someone else’s life.