Sunday, December 31, 2017

Memories and Mistakes

This morning's sermon at church was about mistakes. Sometimes, good things come out of them, of course. Sometimes not. The one thing I tell my daughter is that if you make a mistake, just own it. If you've wronged someone, apologize (even if you don't think you're entirely at fault). I'm reflecting on two recent mistakes I've made, and kicking myself quite a bit.

We have a roller rink in town (well, there's a church that sort of doubles as a roller rink, but there's only one "real" roller skating joint that I know of). The rink gets abysmal Google reviews. A lot of people around town have a lot of anger aimed directly at the owner. As far me, I know the rules of the establishment so I basically just abide by them. You have to put your gear in a locker. They will give you part of your change in quarters just so you can't say you didn't have quarters for the locker. I'm sure that they've had people (on skates) trip over errant jackets and boots (plus the occasional theft, I'm guessing), so that's the policy. If you get caught with gum in your mouth, you might end up in a headlock. I assume that the owner has spent time scraping gum off the skate floor, so there ya go. And for the love of God, if you know what's good for you, you will tuck in your laces when you return your damn skates. So yeah, it's a bit strict around there.

The kid and I were looking for something to do yesterday, so we decided to go rollerskating. Unbelievably, one woman was working. She would let a few people in, collect their money, and give them tickets for skate rental. Then she would run over to the skate rental and help a clump of people. Then back to the front door again. "Here comes another shitty Google review," I thought to myself. The place had been open 1/2 hour and we still didn't have skates. The session only runs from 1-3 p.m. Eventually another employee showed up and started helping with the skate rentals. At one point yesterday, they turned off the music until the people who left jackets sitting around a) admitted to it and b) locked them up. "Locker Nazi!" I heard one guy mutter.

A few minutes later, we had our skates and were having a good time on the skate floor. I heard a commotion and then saw a young woman lying on the carpeted area. I heard someone say her wrist was broken. Yikes. She stayed there until a man came into the building and led her out. I tried not to stare but she looked pretty wrecked. I'd be surprised if it wasn't broken.

There were a lot of younger kids there for the afternoon session. The rink offers those PVC pipe contraptions on wheels to help new skaters get around.  I spotted a couple of girls shooting those plastic wheeled helpers across the skate floor to each other. An adult was with them and I was surprised that he didn't put a stop to it. It was clearly stupid and dangerous. About an hour later, as the skate session was winding down, I was doing a few last laps around the skate floor. I saw these same two girls, about to whip the wheeled pipe thing from one to the other. It was going to cross my path directly. I decided I would just lean down and try to grab it. Apparently no one else was going to do anything about it. However, something went wrong and my feet went out from under me. I ended up running into a little girl who was skating nearby. She was also clinging to a training apparatus (but was not involved in any of the shenanigans of the other girls). I knelt down near hear and offered to help her up. "I"m so sorry!" I said. I exited the skate floor. I saw that the girl's mom had retrieved her from and had her sitting in a chair. I clip-clopped over to them, doing that awkward skates-on-carpet thing.

"I'm so sorry I ran into your daughter," I said. "I was trying to stop the wheeled thing from whipping across and hurting someone, but I fell. I feel terrible."

She was not having it. "You hit her hard! I saw what you did!" All I could do was to apologize. I had made a mistake and I did in fact topple her daughter. Honestly, if I were her, I'd be mad at me, too. She didn't see the other stuff that was going on. I'm not in the habit of tattling on children but in retrospect I should have made one of the frazzled employees get out there and stop it.

The mom then proceeded to round up her other mom friends, exclaiming loudly and stabbing her finger in my direction. I felt terrible. She doesn't know me. She doesn't know that I'm not the type of person who run into someone on purpose, particularly not a child. I still feel shitty about it. It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning.

The second mistake of the weekend happened this afternoon. My daughter and I served a meal at a local homeless shelter along with some friends from our church. Because A is under 13, she can't be in the kitchen area serving. However, she can serve desserts from a table in the cafeteria. Today's lunch included nachos, so I was serving cheese and sour cream, while the kid was doling out brownies and cookies.

A youngish kid came through the line. I don't know how old - late teens, maybe? He seemed to be on his own. He was wearing a McDonald's visor and a big black jacket. He pulled out his phone and started talking to my daughter. He said he was putting together a musical and wanted A to audition. He started talking about a movie that's currently playing, "The Greatest Showman." I could see that my daughter was flattered that he was paying attention to her. I smiled politely and said, "Thanks, but she's already in two productions plus a touring choir." He said something about how I was getting in the way of her dreams.

Finally, he sat down to eat but then he came back once the shelter's meal supervisor called for seconds. He kept wanting to show my daughter various pictures on his phone. I glanced over to make sure it was nothing that seemed inappropriate. We were trying to serve people while he was talking. Then he started telling her how he is going to take this big production on tour and that he will be traveling the world. The story was getting bigger by the moment. I heard him say that she'd get free tuition and that she could bring her parents when they tour out of the country. He also seemed to be talking about the movie Moana for some reason.Then he said she should find him on YouTube. Um, no.

As our shift neared its end, my daughter and I went back to the kitchen to dispose of our serving gloves. We were both covered in sour cream spatters. "Mom, is there a back door we can go out? He's still out there."

It was then that I realized that I should have done more to protect my child. While she had been flattered at first, I had let it go on for too long. We headed back into the cafeteria to cut through and walk back to the parking lot. He swooped towards us immediately, waving his phone at us. He started to say something but I cut him off. "She's 12. She can't talk to you anymore." He started to protest but I guided my child out the door. Once again, I had done something stupid and was feeling awful. If this ever happens again, I will throw politeness out the window and fix the situation ASAP. I probably should have been more like that mom at the roller rink who was so mad at me for hurting her child.

My daughter and I talked about it on the way home. I had become distracted with serving food and hadn't fully seen how uncomfortable she'd become. "I think he was harmless," I said, "But I'm very sorry that I didn't do a better job of protecting you." I tried to explain that I think the young man was probably a bit delusional. I didn't want to say, "He's being served at a homeless shelter - I don't think he's about to tour Europe." And yet, odds are that he's not working with famous artists and putting together a massive production. Maybe talking big is how he copes.

Tomorrow is a new day and I'm going to do my best not to stew over these incidents. Like I tell my daughter, all you can do is to apologize and try to do better next time.

2017 is winding down pretty quietly for the most part - at least in our home. I'm currently doing laundry and, I don't mean to brag, but I just ran the steam cleaner over all the carpets. P is working tonight and the kid is having a friend over for a slumber party. Here is a piece of good news: it's been exactly one year since our girl Glinda joined us. She has been such a wonderful addition to our family. Sure, she has allergies and is awfully clingy, but she's really just the sweetest dog.

For about the past week, I've been painstakingly downloading over 1500 images and videos that I had stored on Photobucket when my daughter was a newborn/toddler. I no longer store anything there (or at least I don't add anything new), but the site has become full of ads and spam and is impossible to use. I guess I can't complain - I got about 12 years of free storage out of it. I wanted to download everything before I lost access to it altogether. And wow - what a walk down memory lane! I kept finding myself thinking, "I remember those shoes! I remember when she only wore dresses and called her dad 'Father'!"

Anyway, just for my own amusement, I'll add a few of my favorites here.

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