Offspring the Third is doing well at his driving lessons, and will be able to test for his license soon (within a few weeks). Egads. He is excited; I am nervous. He will do well, I'm sure.
He likes to leave on a particular radio station in the truck -- the station which, for a couple of months out of the year, plays All Christmas Music, All The Time. After he drives to school under my supervision, I drive the truck home, listening to the carols. Yesterday, it was a snowman-themed song that brought to mind a snowman recollection from forty or so years ago.
It was a very snowy winter in Massachusetts. My brother (a year older than I) had built a snowman in the back yard. It was a fine, tall snowman. My brother later developed a cold and so was required to stay inside, but I was still allowed to go outside to play.
I was inside too one afternoon and happened to glance out of the window to see -- much to my surprise -- an older kid, in a dark jacket, hopping back over our picket fence from inside our yard. I could not imagine why the kid would have been in our yard in the first place. I looked further, and saw that the kid had knocked down my brother's snowman. Why on earth would someone trespass into a person's yard just to knock down their snowman? What a terrible thing to do.
I suited up in my many layers of snow gear and went out. I carefully reconstructed my brother's snowman, carrot nose and all. When I went back inside to tell my brother what had happened and what I had done, he was greatly bothered: he was angry first at the kid who knocked down his snowman, but disappointed, too, because when I put the snowman back together, I had made it facing out of the yard, rather than towards the house so my brother could see its face while he was inside recuperating.
I had tried. But failed. I hadn't thought of pointing the snowman toward the house. I hadn't realized that my brother might want to see its face from the window.
That was decades ago, and I doubt my brother even remembers that infinitesimal moment in our childhood. I had not thought of it for ages, until yesterday. I am not sure why the memory surfaced now, since I have heard a hundred snowman songs and read a hundred snowman-themed stories to small children since then without recalling my brother's snowman.
I'm sure the moment has played out in parallel since then, though: I try to do what I think would be kind or thoughtful, yet my efforts fail somehow because I have not taken into account the person's thoughts and feelings on what should be done. Alas. Perhaps I have always had trouble putting myself in others' shoes. (At least when it comes to which way a snowman faces, I do.)
Hopefully it is seen that my heart is in the right place.
I'll keep trying. Perhaps eventually I'll learn.
This marvelous snowman by Rib, CC BY-SA 2.0was found here: