I had a rather odd situation occur this past Saturday. I'm sure I handled it in the best form possible. Simply by seeking out the advice from The Grizzwolds and ACS, but the entire thing is still running zingers in my mind.
Saturday started off as usual except that instead of waking up to retrieve a whiny 10month old ready for breakfast, I woke up for my town. That's a lot to ask of a mom with three children, without a career to escape to.
After all, I live for Saturday mornings.
Perhaps because of the added companionship that Bigdogg provides over our am cup of coffee as the kids morph into fighting ninjas around us early Saturday mornings. Just waking up without having to be met with demands that the week can only give, is something that I look forward to every Friday evening. Like I said,I think it's just the companionship, the change in the weekday routine, that makes it so refreshing.
But unfortunately, this past Saturday I had volunteered to help out in our town's 50Hecto race. As Bigdogg said, "it'll be good for your soul." So, I woke up extra early just for my town.
Leaving my house just before 7am generally wouldn't be that big of a deal. After all, I've spent many mornings up at 5am grocery shopping in peace. But, the kicker or lack there of for this particular Saturday, was that I had zilch coffee in my system.
Intentionally yes, but still.
I look forward to that first sip every morning. It really does help kick start my mood. It wasn't that there wasn't enough time for coffee, because there was. I was just being proactive and planning ahead.
I knew that if I'd have a cup of coffee it would only be a matter of time before the "am swimming pool would open, and the kids would stir to be dropped off." I couldn't afford to take that chance especially being that I was going to be the STOP sign for cars at whatever intersection they assigned me to. What would I do when the "kids came knocking to go swimming?" I'd be screwed. I couldn't leave my post. I had to remain there for the safety of all the runners. For quite possibly two hours.
No way was I going to chance it. Needless to say it was a fairly groggy morning, but luckily I didn't have any "issues."
After returning home from helping out at the race, I headed straight for that cup of coffee and a marvelously long drag off of a cigarette. By now my boys were dressed and were already making a mess of their toys outside in our driveway. Joining them outside,tush down on a lawn chair with my coffee and cig in hand, I picked up the phone to chat with Laine.
That's when the kookiness began.
A dual cab Truck pulled up and parked in front of our home. With tinted windows, fairly new, I initially figured they were visiting a neighbor of mine-even though it wasn't a familiar truck to my surrounding street friends. The doors opened and I kid you not, 7 people piled out of that truck. Kids first, they came running up our driveway heading straight for all the toys and things in the open garage. 4children, one baby, and 2 adults. In a truck no less.
Even more unreal was the fact that they "assumed" that I was having a garage sale. In broken English I attempted to explain to them, "no sale." They only nodded and smiled and said, "hello" in their language. By this time their children were playing with the little scooter that my children love fighting over. My own boys just standing still like you would when a hornet starts swarming by. I think it took a few minutes for them to finally take a breath, it was just so overwhelming for them. I mean, complete strangers playing with their things after running out of their car, up our driveway towards their toys?
Only in our world, Crustyland would this happen. Things like this always find their ways into our path. "There's a 1% chance of pregnancy while on birth control." Yup, I fell in that category too, the 1% that managed to create a wonderful child while on birth control.
Just like this situation. What are the odds that some random family would come bounding up your driveway on a Saturday morning looking through your items in your garage that weren't up for sale?
They finally figured it out, nodded and left. WHEW! What a weird thing to happen. Only in Crustyland, and for those of you that know me, you would definitely have to agree that is the divine truth. Only crusty.
It made me think though. I must have so much crap, after all, what would make some random stranger pull up in front of our house, get out and start handling my children's play things?
I took it as a sign, and against Bigdoggs wishes, I threw together a garage sale, last minute in roughly under an hour. In one hour I had everything from toys, to clothes, to kitchen items, to old household items placed in showy places throughout our driveway. I had prices on the baby swing, old framed vintage pictures- everything! For it being last minute, it didn't look that bad.
No sooner had I put up the last price on the many old school items of clothing that I was selling, the traffic started pulling up. The bargaining begins. Sullivan interfering with the sale by nicely pointing out that the toys were "his toys." that this clock "needs batteries." People browsing through my clothes. Asking questions about the purses and shoes that I haven't used in over a year, so why hold onto them, right? It did feel a bit intimidating at first, seeing people touching our things even though we no longer had a use for them. An old man that barely could walk without the assistance of his cane, pulling up in his brand new Cadillac bargaining down the cost of my children's matchbox cars from .25cent each to .10cent each. Fine, take them, I don't care. I even had a box of toys marked, "BUY SOMETHING HERE & TAKE SOMETHING FROM THIS BOX, FREE!" I placed that box directly up front and wrote TOYS!!!,all over it. Placed across from the baby swing and our old baby stroller that I have zero need for anymore.
By this time lunch was approaching and Bigdogg and I were planning out the T-ball game that Jackson had in about an hour. He'd take Jackson and Ben, as long as I'd stay here with Sullivan. Fair enough. After all, I was making some mini -loot with all the misc. crap that I placed out to sell. Things that I didn't think would sell, did. Things that I thought would sell first, didn't.
That's when the brown van pulled up. A mother and her son. Her son translating everything for his mother. Bargaining with me over the baby swing and baby bouncy saucer, the stroller, an outfit, and finally, a old ugly Gold Plate with a lion in the center- that you'd probably see placed over a fireplace hearth. (NOT MINE! It was left here by the previous owners) I wouldn't budge. The price was the price on the baby items. After all, $20 for a baby swing barely used, not even a year old yet, is a great deal. The batteries were still fresh too. Finally she buckled and agreed to everything totally $65. She pulls out a $100 and asks for change.
The one thing I didn't do-get cash to provide change. I told her I didn't have the necessary change, but I'd be happy to set the items on the side and hold them for 30minutes while she ran with her son to get change. I assured her that as long as she returned shortly, that I wouldn't sell the items.
"Nooo, dats k. I leave son watch for me."
Apparently she felt it necessary to leave her son quickly versus trusting in my word. And that's what she did. Leaving him quickly while she ran to get change for her $100.
She left at about 12:30pm.......
She didn't return until after 3:00pm.
Yes, 3:00pm. She left her son alone with a complete stranger for more than 2hours!!
I know what I've said before about judging and so forth. I'm not judging this mom, nor the situation. I know especially how it feels to have people JUDGE ME. They judge me without understanding the entire situation. Sometimes judging me without hearing my side of the story. Judging me for my parenting skills, my wifely skills, and mainly,my religious views. Sometimes strictly because they're insecure assholes and feel necessary to hurt me to make themselves feel better. Unsolicited advice. Rude glances. Cocky self inflated individuals that think they're better than everyone else. So no,I'm not judging here, I'm just clearly stating the obvious.
That she left her son here, alone, for over 2 hours.
Her son is 13. His name is Steven. His older sister is leaving next week for Vietnam with their grandpa which makes him mad because now he'll have to do the "mail," and teach his mom. He is the 2ND oldest. With another brother 2years old, and a 8month old baby sister. He loves to draw. He loves to Rollerblade. He was the most polite boy I've come across in quite awhile. But what hurt me about this wasn't what his mother did to him. Like I said, no judging, right? What was so painful to me was the look in his eyes, the fear of abandonment. His overall disposition seemed quite mature, and understandably so as he's had to be the "grown up" considering the language barrier his mom faces living here. But the emotional side, the hidden truth, was written in his eyes. I felt his fear. I felt his concern. My heart broke for this precious child. A child. A 13 year old child. Left behind for material goods for a short time. Or probably what turned into the longest day of his life.
It turns out that when his mom left him to watch the items while she ran to get change from the local convenient store down the street, her car overheated. So, instead of returning to pick up her son and deal with the chance of losing out on baby items, she called her daughter and after her car cooled down, she drove home.
She drove home to switch cars.
She drove home,....... to Chicago.
For those of you that don't know the area of Illinois, our suburban town is about a 40minute drive to Chicago-without traffic. And there's ALWAYS traffic driving into the city because there's ALWAYS some highway road under serious renovation by massive amounts of construction trucks and closed lanes.
After about 30minutes I asked Steven if his mom had a cell phone, and if so, maybe he'd like to call her to make sure she hadn't gotten lost. That's how we found about the situation with the car.
She picked him back up, and the items, with the correct change about 2 1/2 hours after she'd driven away. Apologetic, she thanked me again and again in broken English. What was I to do? Call the police? It was getting to that point, I have to admit. If she hadn't returned by 4:00pm I think I might have had to make a non-emergency telephone call to our local PD.
But then, the impact of the police being involved would probably have made their already rough life, even more difficult.
She's lucky that she happened to leave her son at a home that is of warmth and understanding.
Again, I'm NOT judging, but it's definitely a wake up call to all of us as parents. You never know what can happen in that very short trip. That short trip to pick up milk at the local store while your young ones remain at home sleeping, can turn into something more dramatic than necessary. That short trip as you leave your kids locked in a running car while you run into pay the gas attendant. You just never know. Having experienced this rather odd Saturday it made me feel spiritually connected somehow. After all, if that random truck family hadn't popped out of their car thinking I was having a sale, I wouldn't have taken that for a sign. If I hadn't had an impromptu sale, that mom might have left her son to watch the items at another person's home. A person that may not have been as understanding as the ones here, in crustyland.
She was very lucky. As it only takes one second, one time, to completely alter your life, forever.
Welcome To crustybeef~
I do have to confess that although the situation was fairly serious, Bigdogg and I were laughing at the fact that it would figure, that another BOY would end up being abandoned at our home, versus a girl. And, we did end up making a decent amount of money for such a last minute thing.