puzzle me, more lately than usual, but usually and often. I learned a great many things from my family growing up, but understanding of people was not one of them. I quietly try to pick up things here and there, to help me understand what it is that people want, expect, intend, and hope for.
I've been told honesty is the best policy when it comes to people. If I don't understand something in my relationship with someone I've been told to ask. The assumption goes that people are basically good, kind, compassionate, creatures that are willing to help. Sometimes that is true, and those interactions have been some of the richest in my life. Sometimes it is not true, and I find that I'm left more confused than before. What is a socially stunted, struggling, dim-witted, bug stuck on her back to do? Go on (stumbling, blind, and confused, but facing forward, and for better or worse, onward).
I was told that when I became a mother socializing would become easier because I would suddenly have so much in common with so many other women. I've found, however, that I'm more puzzled than ever. There are so many differing attitude about child rearing and it seems that the subscribers of each hold them so close to their personal identities that any questioning or opposition to them results in fierce defense, as well as demonetization of the offender. I had something different in mind when I fantasized about the covenant of motherhood. I envisioned a sharing of ideas and frustrations, a collaboration amongst friends, a virtual village in which each child became all of OUR children. Was I naive?
Recently I was at a theme park, sitting alone with my sleeping babe in his stroller. Another mother stopped near by. Her son was cranky and spirited. I started talking to him, hoping to captivate him, giving an admittedly exhausted mom a small break. She then let the 11 month old crawl around the solid, elevated, concrete surface that surrounded the tree I was sitting under. The wee babe ended up on one side of me and his mother on the other. In an effort to help, I put my hand on him, so that if he started to head over the edge (which he was very close to) I could grab him easily. His mother was annoyed. It's not worth it to go into detail, but she was. I understand, and I don't. She doesn't know me, I get that. Some stranger she just met is trying to care for her child. I understand that could be weird for her. But, really, what horrid thing could I have done to her child with her standing right there?
I have to wonder if this all could be a cultural difference. Most of the time I've spent caring for infants and toddlers (as a child care worker, a nanny, or among friends and their families) was in Washington State. That was quite a different culture than this so. cal. one. Could this be the reason behind the mismatch between my expectations and my experiences? Or, was I naive? Or, is there something else I'm just not getting?
Alright universe, I'll be awaiting your answer.