Several years ago, I decided to take a long weekend trip to San Diego. I really wanted to go to SeaWorld and the zoo. I love animals and thought that this would be a fun getaway. My mini-vacation was joyful and going really well until an odd occurrence happened at SeaWorld. After walking around the park for a while and playing with the penguins and sea creatures, I decided to go to the arena and see the dog show. The bleachers were packed with people cheering, clapping, and laughing as intelligent, beautiful dogs jumped through hoops and raced around the colorful stage.
When the show ended, I stood up and joined the crowd of people moving towards the exit of the arena. Because there were so many people and only one narrow exit, the audience became somewhat bottlenecked as we tried to leave. I just kept staring straight ahead as I shuffled along in small steps with the rest of the crowd. When I was about four feet away from the exit, the throng came to a sudden stop. I stood in the middle of the crowd, staring straight ahead and keeping surprisingly patient. I guess I was just in a great mood after seeing the amazing dogs. I just love dogs. I think they are so…
HEY, WHAT WAS THAT?
To my surprise, I suddenly felt something smack against the back of my head. Though I was shocked, I choose to ignore the situation. The hit didn’t hurt me. Besides, I just figured that since I was in such a large crowd of people accidents were bound to happen. People were going to stumble over each other. Bodies were going to collide together. People were going to get hit on the back of the head. These were just accidents; nothing was intended. Just let it go. I didn’t show any reaction at all. I was sure the smack was just an awkward mishap. I just took a deep breath and continued scuffling forward with the rest of the crowd.
BUT THEN SOMEONE HIT ME AGAIN!
This time the smack was a little harder but otherwise it was the same as before. A quick sharp whack swooped across the top of my head. Accident, just an accident, I told myself again, though I could feel my face beginning to beat red and my hands curl into fists. Except for sweeping my hand over the top of my head to make sure there were no foreign articles tangled in my hair, I choose to ignore the sudden, surprising contact. I kept my eyes focused on the exit and sighed deeply as the crowd surged forward once more.
BUT THEN I WAS HIT A THIRD TIME! A THIRD TIME! I couldn’t believe it!
For the third time, something or someone smacked me directly on top of the head. Now, I was MAD! This was no accident. Someone was hitting me purposely. This was intentional! Why? Situations teased through my mind. Maybe I had a bug in my hair someone was trying to remove for me. Maybe there were bees around and someone was trying to swat them away. What if someone behind me thought I wasn’t moving quickly enough and was trying to force me to walk faster? This was mean! This was cruel! Why would anyone think he or she had the right to put his or her hands on me for any reason, especially to hit me? I just wanted to have a good time, and I didn’t want to argue with anyone. I had been trying to avoid a confrontation, but now I felt like I had no choice. I would have to deal with the situation or be beaten absolutely senseless before I made it to the exit.
A quick small slap suddenly landed on the side of my head as I spun around to face my assailant. I turned and came face to face with…a baby! A BABY!? Oh, my goodness, the child couldn’t have been more than a year old. She had bright, sparkly, clear, brown eyes, beautiful pure skin, and dark hair that was hanging down in chunky spikes all over her head. Some of her thick hair was tied with a red ribbon into a poofy little sprout that shot straight up and then over on all sides as if the baby had a miniature little chocolate fountain on the top of her head. She was dressed in a ruffly, little, pink sunsuit. I have never been assaulted by anyone wearing a cute sunsuit and red ribbons before.
I was shocked to see that my abuser, my tormentor, my adversary was about twenty inches tall and weighed approximately nineteen pounds. This was not at all what I had expected, especially when the child smiled a big, three-toothed, gummy grin as I stared into her tiny adorable face. Now, the baby was all excited. “Hi, Hi, Hi!” she started shouting to me as she waved her little hands frantically. I stared at the child and watched as her tall, attractive, sun-glassed father tried to hang on to her with his right arm and hold the child’s hands down with his left. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered to me as the baby continued her chatter of “HiHiHiHiHi!” “I really tried to make her stop hitting you,” the father was saying. “She just really wanted to meet you. I think she just likes your red hair.”
I told the baby hello and reached out for one of her little hands. I shook the baby’s hand and said Hello back to her and then introduced myself. I couldn’t stop laughing. I had been getting angry over what I had assumed was an assault, an insult, rude behavior, hatefulness…and my hater was actually a baby who just wanted to say hello. I walked with the baby and her father until we finally reached the exit and then went our separate ways.
I thought about the situation as I continued walking through the park and watching all of the animals. I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s funny how we judge situations before realizing what’s really happening. How many times in my life have I been angry? How many times have I gone off on tangents and raged over situations that turned out to be completely different from what I had imagined? My reality is usually so different from any of my pre-conceived or conditioned viewpoints? So funny that the times I have been so upset have usually proven to be nothing at all. How many times have I worried, stressed, and been angry over situations that turned out to be to my advantage? Lessons to be learned or good things coming my way. Because sometimes what we fear or what we believe to be a threat is really nothing more than a blessing, a message, or a baby who just wants to say Hi!