My eldest called me the other day to tell me about an adventure she had at lunch, one of those funny-but-not-funny stories. She tells me a lot of those. She could write a book, “The Nanny Diaries,” except someone already has taken the title.
Kate, 27 and earning money to complete college, recently finished caring for a 2-year-old boy whom she loves with the passion some folks her age reserve for a boyfriend or best friend. It’s understandable: The little boy is cute as a button and smart and loves Kate back unreservedly.
Until his parents had a second child and changed jobs, Kate went everywhere with Hank for almost two years: to the museum, the library, the grocery store.
Now Kate cares for another 2-year-old — a bright and loquacious girl.
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She loves the work and says it’s preparing her for when she has her own children. It’s easy to see she’ll be a loving, firm and patient mother. She spends time with her charges, the most important thing a parent has to spend.
Now for the story: The other day, Kate took Hank and Clare to Chic-fil-A for lunch. As they were eating, a woman (Kate said an “old woman” in her “early 60s,” but I forgive her) sat down in the next booth.
She saw Kate, minus wedding ring, with her two towheaded charges, before she herself sat.
Then, without preamble, the woman began to regale a companion about her belief in birth control. She told him that she had a friend at church who didn’t share the belief.
Though she was “a good Christian,” she just thought birth control necessary in some cases.
Kate, feeling condemnation thrown her way, says she didn’t say anything to the woman. She didn’t want Hank and Clare to witness her indignation.
This made me think about that quote from Mohandas Gandhi to, I believe, a Western reporter: “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Not to get all preachy on you here, but one of my favorite characters in the Bible is the so-called woman at the well, whom Jesus chooses to draw water for him.
He knows she has had seven husbands and isn’t married to her current man, but does he condemn her? No. He sits and has a conversation with her, and she is impressed enough to tell her neighbors about him.
I also like the prostitute in the pit, the one whom Jesus says can be stoned by “he without sin.” Jesus probably meant “she without sin,” too, so the woman in the Chic-fil-A shouldn’t have been spending so much time testing the heft of the stones she could throw my daughter’s way.
Of course, the story works with Christians, Jews, Muslims . . . atheists with values. It amazes me, of late, how quick we are to judge in this country. I know I do it, and I need to quit, to quit labeling, to quit assuming.
It’s a challenge, and it seems to go against human nature to give the benefit of a doubt, to challenge stereotypes.
Now, I’m not a wise person. I just pretend to be for my children, so to close out this screed, I looked up further quotes by Gandhi and chose this advice:
“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”
It’s a tough task, but one worth trying.