Line Lessons

I needed a new show to binge watch while recovering from some mysterious ailment and chose Parenthood. I watched the 2nd episode today--just skip this if you have already seen it--and got all worked up at the part where Sarah, the hardworking lawyer mom who’s trying to bond with her daughter who just wants her dad all the time is cut off in the car line by the hot, skinny, overachieving Buddhist stay-at-home mom. The latter also may or may not be trying to sleep with the former’s husband. Don’t tell me if you already know the outcome.

Anyway, seeing things like this, I instantly identify with the person who is following the rules or protocol and waiting in line as dictated. Most people I know do as well. I wrote about it a bit here. So ... Who identifies with the people who cut in line? Do the people who move immediately to the next open register even though they weren’t next in line recognize themselves in these caricatures? What about the person who cuts others off in traffic? How 'bout the driver who speeds all the way along in the right lane knowing that it’s gonna end then cuts over at the last minute bypassing the 84 people who got over when the sign said “Right lane closed ahead”? Who do they identify with when they see these situations played out?
I don’t know, because I don't hang out with anyone who does such things. I mean, who could do things like this and be good friend material? If you are my friend, and you recognize yourself in any of those above scenarios, our friendship is doomed. Still ... these people exist. I know the lady who parks her car at the elementary school in the spot that's not a spot every day. She seems very nice. She's not one of my people though.

Brad calls these people di@#s. Some people take offense to that word. I don't; my brother is a Di@#. And it's just a word, anyway, if you get all worked up about a word, then...well, that's your business, but you probably shouldn't read my writing because I sometimes use salty language.

Anyway, we have had many discussions about what constitutes a di@#, and Brad attributes it solely to di@#ish behavior. The above examples for instance. Also there is a large percentage of di@# drivers in Pittsburgh. HUGE di@#s. I mean they will run you right off the road and then flip you off for being in their way.
Name calling aside, do you think these people see their behavior as inconsiderate and rude? We all are works in progress, but if you’re not recognizing and working on your stuff, then you’re not in progress, cause you aren’t going anywhere so ... you’re just a piece of work.
In the past, I've gotten frustrated when my kids were involved in events that required getting in line. All three of them were very passive and let everyone go in front of them, always ending up last in line. “Get in line,” I would urge from wherever I was watching. They’d glare at me, their wide eyes communicating, “Zip it, you lunatic, you're embarrassing me!” and shrug their shoulders. Seriously, all three did the exact same thing.

I would silently seethe reasoning that they were getting walked on, letting people push them out of the way. I feared they weren’t capable of assertiveness and that not being first in line in pre-school soccer or wherever we were was some testament to how successful they would be in life. The space on my mantle is still waiting for the coveted Mother of the Year trophy.

In hindsight, I realize: There’s no hurry. Being last in line doesn’t mean you'll be last in life. Just as being first in line doesn't make you better than anyone else. Being kind, patient and compassionate are characteristics that we value far more than being first. Personally, I always gravitate to the back of the line. Brad does too. It's natural that our babies do. And it’s okay. Sometimes in the back of the line, you get to have conversations with people who are kind of like you. You get to watch other people take their turn so you understand what to do when it’s your turn. There are lessons to learn in the back of the line.

When I look at our big girl who's a confident super-achieving dynamo, I realize that none of her accomplishments came by pushing someone else out of the way or cutting in line. So, I've let up on the younger two and let them hang out at the back of the line being their awesome little selves.


  1. pass the salty language. i love it. i use it far too infrequently. and D#ck* is one of my favorites ... there is no substitute for good swearing.

  2. Thanks, Mol! I loved your piece about your D#ck cat 😂


Mary Swan-Bell 2012. Theme images by merrymoonmary. Powered by Blogger.