I’ve never played baseball, but sometimes I think my life comes so fast and furiously that I experience what a baseball player must feel like when one of those pitching machines is shooting hard balls at him. Today it felt like the machine was jammed and wouldn’t stop. I don’t know if pitching machines go awry in real life or if I’ve seen too many movies, but I’ll tell you that too-fast feeling is real, and comes often.
My husband was out of town for business. I had already run three girls back and forth to art class. The toddler hadn’t napped, so a good mood for her was iffy. Our lunch, because I hadn’t been able to fit in a trip to the grocery store (and I couldn’t find where I had left the checkbook and my wallet was empty so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway) was whatever I could throw together out of the fridge. I had just settled into the dance studio for three hours of classes and rehearsals (and had forgotten the snacks for the break in between) and was taking the grumpy and sleepy toddler’s coat off when my 17 year-old-daughter, Caroline, called me on the cell phone.
“Mom, my tire blew,” she said.
“What?” I asked.
“My tire blew. I’m at the side of the road on Miami Street, and this lady’s blew about 30 seconds before me. She has AAA coming.”
Miami Street is just where I had come from, and a full 20 minutes away. We don’t have AAA, and I don’t know how to change a tire. The only other people in our family who do know how to change a tire were (1) in New Mexico for business — my husband — and (2) in college in southern Ohio –my sons.
“I’ll be right there,” I managed to say. I had no idea what I was going to do. To make things worse, I could hear her annoyed younger brother in the background, who was repeatedly reminding her she should have gone around the pothole which caused the blown tire. This wasn’t helping the mood.
I arranged for another dance mother to keep an eye on my 6-year-old daughter who would be finished before I could get back. Then I rushed out the door. My grumpy toddler kept straightening her body each time I tried to put her in her car seat.
“I don’t WANT to go!” she insisted.
“Come on honey”I cajoled.
“I don’t WANT to ride in the car!”
She stiffened more.
“Oh, look, I’ll open the window. We can look for dogs, and count them.”
“I don’t WANT to look for dogs! I don’t LIKE dogs!”
And so it continued….
Finally, when she relaxed for just one second, I popped her in the seat and adjusted the seat belt. She knew she had been tricked and let out a long, whiny cry. I took a deep breath, tried to soothe her with a few comforting words, and then started to wonder which tow truck company I might call.
Several minutes later, I carefully avoided the humungous pothole which had blown my daughter’s tire, and pulled in behind my daughter. The AAA fellow was calmly fixing the other lady’s tire, and I asked if he could help me when he was finished with her vehicle. Not waiting for a reply, I rummaged through my purse to try to find my credit card to pay him in the off chance he said yes (I had no money, remember?) When I looked up he was jacking up my car, changing the tire into the spare and telling me one small thing which changed my day completely.
“No charge,” he said.
I was incredulous.
“Really?” I asked, “Are you sure?”
He repeated, “No charge.”
“Oh, THANK YOU!”
I was reminded of several things this afternoon. Life throws curve balls. Peace is the answer, even if you’re uncertain as to what to do specifically. To just keep moving forward is a good general idea. Nothing lasts forever, not even a string of chaotic events. People are good, and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have AAA coverage. And the last thing I learned from one chaotic day — today — is that kindness really does make a difference in this world. So I’m going to try really hard to pass it on.