While visiting the Post Exchange on Ramstein Air Base, I headed over to the section stocked with bath and health products. As I got near the aisle I needed, I heard a child screaming so loudly that it sounded like someone was beating it to death. Immediately I became concerned. I peeped around the corner of the aisle and stood shocked at what I saw.
A pre-teen White female about 12 years old was having a meltdown like a two-year-old. I knew pre-teen sensed that I was looking at her, but my presence only escalated her screams. So I walked towards her, but she didn’t look at me…yet. She had dark brown hair cropped short to just below her ears. From what I could see, I noticed that her face had turned intensely red, which was probably caused by the heat from the anger she was generating.
She stood about as tall as I was, and she wore a plaid pleated skirt with a white blouse and navy blue sweater, a uniform which appeared to be a Catholic school standard. As I walked further into the aisle, she frowned as she whipped her head around to look up at me when I came into her view. Her sudden move startled me a bit, and the Blair Witch Project sprang to my mind because her eyes were scarily rimmed in red. Squinting my eyes in disbelief, I could have sworn I saw horns sticking out from each side of her head. But I chalked that up to my eyes playing tricks on me. Tears streamed down her face, and snot had dripped from her nose down to her top lip. An ugly, pitiful sight indeed.
I thought my presence would make her stop the sideshow drama, but she ignored me to return to her childish tirade. She then turned to face the shelf looming before her, which I presumed had a product or products that she wanted, but that her mother couldn’t buy at the time or didn’t think she needed. Suddenly, this kid took her tantrum up a notch by stomping her feet and yelling, “You’re a liar! You’re a liar! You always lie! You never let me get anything. I hate you. I just hate you!” I had seen episodes like this before much too often where spoiled brats tried to get their way in a store by embarrassing their anguished parents. This kid’s got some hard lessons yet to learn, I thought.
I noticed further down the aisle that a young mother went about her business of browsing the shelves all the while ignoring this unruly child, who I assumed belonged to her. The young mother was a lovely young lady with thick long brown hair that fell below her shoulders. She was dressed very stylishly. Though she tried, I could tell that she was suffering from the embarrassing pressure of her kid acting up like this in public. My heart went out to that young mother. I must say that as a mother and grandmother myself, I had a grab bag of remedies to offer to this young mom, which wouldn’t draw blood or leave scars on her snot-nosed kid.
But before I could approach her to speak with her, something strange happened. Something for which I wasn’t prepared. Something which caught me totally off guard. As her misbehaving child continued to scream incessantly, the young mother looked up at me, ran towards me, threw her arms around me, and just hugged me tight as if I were her own mother.
To this day, I don’t know what drew her to me, a Black lady much older than she was. Though our apparent differences couldn’t have been more diverse, it didn’t matter to her nor to me. But I think all she needed at that time was some measure of comfort, and I was glad I was there for her. I hugged her back warmly as if she were my daughter. Without hesitation, I whispered reassuringly in her ear, “Hang in there, young mother.” No further words were necessary. She knew that I understood and that hug from me was all she needed to help strengthen her to deal with her situation. After we had broken our embrace, she held on to my arms, looked into my eyes and smiled, a signal that told me that she was grateful. For those brief moments during our hug, I think we both drowned out the screeching noise from the brat. But before leaving, she looked into my eyes again and said, “Thank you” with such sincerity that I almost cried. Then the young mother went on her way down the aisle and eventually turned the corner.
Not surprisingly, she left her juvenile delinquent in the aisle with me to continue stewing in her self-made temper-tantrum juices. With my maternal instinct now in overdrive, I started to go over to the brat to try and comfort her too or at least try to calm her down. I wanted to express to her how lucky she was to have a great mother like that. But I changed my mind when I realized that I had my fist balled up ready to land a right hook to her face. Coming to my senses, I turned the other way and left the unholy terror alone in the aisle. I thought that was the best course of action for both me and the brat.
Strangely enough, when I reached the next aisle, a sudden hush fell over that section of the store. I no longer heard the howling. Not sure if the hell child, who had calmed down for some reason, had caught up with her mother or not, but I do know one thing: God works in mysterious ways.