Fair Price was crowded. If I had to pick a word to describe the checkout scene, “stuffed” would be on my list. This store is conveniently located next to the subway station. In all directions, you find apartment towers. Convenience, good prices, and individual needs combine to attract a mixed crowd. In aisles too narrow to be safe, old, young, and very young navigate with varying degrees of care.
I do not know why the four-year boy reacted. I do know that his grandmother had her hands full! The noise and gestures were building. Nobody would stop this. What started as a mild complaint rapidly moved towards a hysterical outburst. Initially, she tried to ignore him. I was nearby, but all I heard was the sound. Somewhere buried in the mass of people was this boy. As the arms began to flail, the space around him cleared! This was going towards bad in a hurry.
I did not understand a word he was saying. From the puzzled looks of mothers around us, I am not sure anyone else did either. His point though was clear. He was upset. He was in distress. He was confused. He needed attention, now.
I could have been that kid. From the stories my mother has passed on, I was. I stood there wondering how to respond. I was a stranger. I did not speak his language.
I understand that life’s twists and turns are painful. I know what it is like to feel like you are not being heard. This kid was not the first, nor was I. Across the ages, dramatic gestures have been required! In one story, “after several days of visiting, a prophet from Judea by the name of Agabus came down to see us. He went right up to Paul, took Paul’s belt, and, in a dramatic gesture, tied himself up, hands and feet.” (Acts 21.10) A point needed to be made.
I turned to the grandmother and shrugged my shoulders in sympathy. I looked directly at the boy and smiled, wishing I could do more.