I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I have twins. Tiny, helpless, cart-me-around-all-day-because-you’re-my-lackey, twins. Part of my job involves hauling around a big-ass double stroller. As opposed to a wider side-by-side, we opted for a stadium-style stroller which essentially means one kid can’t see anything and one kid has front-row seats. It also means that the front-row kid gets their seat kicked ad nauseam. Pros and cons.
Maneuvering such a stroller took some practice. Turns need to be taken wider. Curbs aren’t so easy to jump. And doors, man…doors are a pain in the ass. I can’t reach the handle to open a door if I try to push them through but when I back through, the door often pinches little fingers as it closes. Handicap buttons are my best friend although many places don’t have them and it seems like half the time they don’t work.
I look equally as awkward and ungraceful when trying to collapse our stroller and get it into the back of my vehicle. We bought one of the “lightest-weight double-strollers” in production but it’s still goddamn heavy. It’s also big and clunky and literally just fits into our car. It’s like squeezing a lego piece up a nostril; it’s tight but it’ll go. So I have to get our stroller in at just the right angle in order to close the hatch. Sometimes this takes a few tries, even after doing it day in and day out.
You would think that, while watching me struggle, people would rush to offer their assistance. You would think.
In 19 months, I have had one person offer to help me get my stroller into the car. One. I’ll never forget it. I was in the grocery store parking lot. It was winter. I had just gotten my kids strapped back into their seats and the groceries loaded into the car. All I had left to pack-in was their wheels. As I collapsed the stroller and started to lift it, I heard the voice of a man ask if he could help me. I turned to see an elderly man, probably in his 80’s, carrying an armful of groceries and walking with a cane. I politely declined and thanked him for his offer but in my head I thought, “Are you fucking kidding me? Can I help you?”
In regards to the social custom of door opening, I would estimate that someone assists me a quarter of the time. So rarely, in fact, that I always respond with surprise when they say “can I get that for you?” I usually shriek (all too enthusiastically), “hot damn, you sure can!” Interestingly, you know what I’ve noticed? Nine times out of ten, the person offering to get the door for me (and looking slightly alarmed by my eager acceptance) looks to be about grand-parenting age.
But even though my experiences indicate otherwise, I don’t believe people are intentionally discourteous. Far from it. I think it is within our genetic make-up to want to help others. It’s the reason anytime I’m required to approach someone with a request, I start by saying “I really hope you can help me”. I feel people are inherently empathetic and want to feel good and kind. I believe people don’t assist me often because they are oblivious to my struggles. We have become a predominantly self-serving society. We are self-absorbed and blissfully unaware. Simmer down. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take care of yourself first. Absolutely. You should categorically be your number one priority. But it appears we have become so lousy at self-care that we have to absorb ourselves in it 24/7 to sustain any semblance of well-being.
Technology has created a culture of narcissism and social media is feeding the beast. Obviously this is a sweeping generalization and doesn’t apply to everyone. Feel free to smugly tell me all the reason’s I’m wrong. But from my perspective, as a culture, we seem to be frightfully unaware of what’s happening right beside us because we’re busy updating Facebook, skimming Buzzfeed and taking selfies. Using my loosey-goosey science, I speculate that the reason it is a senior who usually offers to help me is because they’re typically not connected all day and night. The seniors who I have encountered seem to use their phone to make phone calls. And while they’re sitting in a waiting room, they’re just sitting there. Waiting. In a room designated for such an activity. So when I try to get through that door, there is nothing else for them to focus on but me, my kids and the ruckus we’re causing. And they almost alway get up, cane in hand, to be of assistance.
I recognize what I’m saying may seem obvious to some and offensive to others. To me, it’s humbling. It makes me re-evaluate how often I’m blind to what’s happening around me. It’s something to consider. I’ve worked hard to not need to have my phone within reach at all times but I’m still guilty of occasionally getting wrapped up in a game of Candy Crush or trying to post just the right photo on Instagram. But maybe I’m also so focused on my kids and our business that I don’t notice the 4-year old who’s lost their Dad at Costco or the woman who is patiently waiting for us to get out of the way at the library. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with our own life but I think we could all afford to take a step away from what consumes us daily, look left, look right and embrace our inner senior.Tags: grand-parents, kindness, narcissism, Parenthood, seniors, social-media, strollers, technology, twins